Second Editions, Sequels, Series, and Surprises!

The first time around isn't always the best. Sometime a good thing comes along, and only gets better with a follow-up. It's not always true, especially in the world of cinema, where a sequel is sometimes just a money grab or cash cow, trying to capitalize on the success of the first film. But it is often true, and it's particularly true in the world of playing cards.

In the custom playing card industry, success often breeds success, and there are many examples of successful designers who have produced a wonderful series of decks with a similar theme, or have gone on to produce sequels that matched or even surpassed the original. In some cases, creators have even been able to create a whole brand around a single successful deck, examples including Fontaines, Virtuoso, and Misc Goods Co. In other cases producers have turned a popular project into an entire series. In this review article, I'll be covering a number of new releases that are second editions, sequels, and series. Virtually all of these decks have predecessors, but now have come out with a shiny new edition or follow-up to the original.

So without any further ado, let's dive into our world of second editions, sequels, series, and surprises! Surprises? Yes, surprises - but I don't want to ruin the surprise, so just keep on reading to find out what lies ahead!



SECOND EDITIONS

Casual Playing Cards (V2)

Coming from designer Paul Robaia is the spectacular Casual Playing Cards (V2).



Paul's Casual deck has already been through a first edition, but in this upgraded second edition we have a completely refined deck that reflects his own growing maturity as a young designer.



I find myself completely smitten by the elegant tuck box (each hand assembled by Paul himself!), which features a well organized arrangement of geometric shapes (triangles being dominant) with a rather casual and yet stylish feel.

The colour tones work together well, with tones of brown and mint green complementing each other and offering an earthy and natural feel.



Two things especially heighten the sense of luxury as we scrutinize the tuck box: firstly the embossing, which emphasizes the geometric shapes, with diagonal lines on the white sections of cardboard really contributing to a quality feel. Secondly, the tuck box is finished with a custom gold stamp. It may say "Casual", but that doesn't mean that this deck is without class!

Things only get better once we get the playing cards out of the box. The card backs feature a clean two-way design that consists of triangles and parallelograms, with the colours being white, black, mint green, and gold. The gold here uses pantone or metallic inks for a truly elegant look, which is emphasized by a thin gold border around our rectangle that contains striking geometric shapes.



The card backs also look great when used for cardistry.

The Ace of Spades adds to the overall look of style, with an oversized pip that reprises elements of the pattern from the card backs.



Our love affair with gold pantone ink continues with the court cards, which have a traditional look, but with a simplified pattern that relies exclusively on large doses of metallic ink combined with small amounts of black. I'm super impressed with how these look, because they complement the card backs well, and also look terrific independently.



I've not seen the original version of this deck, but I'm told that the court cards lost some of their unnecessary complexity, and of course have gone through a re-colouring to make them match the card backs.

The result is just beautiful! With the minimalist design and simple colour scheme, it emphasizes the luxurious look, and especially makes the red pips on the hearts and diamonds really pop.



The two matching Jokers retain the same colour scheme seen throughout the deck, and presents a mischievous jester with a classic look, but stylized to suit the rest of the deck.



Thin crush stock from USPCC ensures that this deck handles as good as it looks.

Designer Paul Robaia has evidently poured a lot of love - and time - into the making of this gorgeous deck. The results speak for themselves - it's easily one of the nicest, cleanest, and most impressive designs I've seen recently! If you want to make a statement of class at the card table, this is a deck for you!




Mechanics Optricks Playing Cards (Red Edition)

The Mechanics Optricks deck (Red Edition) is the latest deck from Mechanic Industries, and is brimming with innovation and illusion.



I've written about the decks from Mechanic Industries before - see my review here for coverage of their original Mechanic deck, original Optricks deck, their accessories, and their video tutorials. The previous Optricks deck was in black, while the second edition is in red, and takes all the animations and innovations of the original deck to the next level.

The difference with the tuck box of this new edition is obvious: it's simply undergone a respray with the black being replaced by red. For the rest, the details are the same - why fix something if it ain't broken? But as we all know, fire engines are painted red because it's a faster colour, and there is something about the impact of this visually captivating image that grabs us from the get-go, especially in red.



The Deck

The subtitle of the deck gives us some indication of what we're in for when we take this bad boy for a joyride: "Animated Playing Cards" and "Illusion Backs". In other words, get ready for a real head spin, courtesy of some optical illusions! Don't say you weren't warned - one look at the back of the box will already give you an indication of the kind of hypnotic impact this deck can create, since it appears as an optical illusion.

The card backs feature this same signature hypnotic design, which has been inherited from the original deck, and is composed of a series of squares. The more you look at the back design, the more different shapes and styles you see popping out at you. The cumulative impact of the red and white lines in a geometric style creates a hypnotising and mesmerising look that can start making you go giddy just by staring at it!

But what is especially great about the back design is that when the deck is riffled, each card back flips from one to another, and due to slight differences from one card to the next, this creates a mesmerising and hypnotic illusion as the cards are flipped through. It appears as if the squares sink into each other and come to a point, and truly is a great piece of optical trickery. For this to work, however, the deck ideally does need to be in its original order. The flip animation doesn’t look quite as effective when the deck has been shuffled, but it still does look impressive!



The Ace of Spades hasn't changed from the successful first edition, and is composed of black and white lines, that simultaneously does its job of communicating the Spade suit, as well as continuing the illusion effect.

Besides the Ace of Spades, the cards have a relatively standard look - which is what we'd want in a deck that is also intended for card magic. The Jokers are custom (we'll get to those in a moment), and the court cards have undergone some simple customization by giving them a simple red and black colour scheme. This adds to their striking impact, despite the familiar look.



Gaff Cards

But you can take things to the next level once you realize that besides the optical illusion and animations of the card backs, the Mechanic Industries crew have also built in the potential for some more great magic courtesy of four special gaff cards. These extra cards allow you to perform some great and creative magic, especially with the help of the great tutorials available from Mechanic Industries.



1. Double Backer

The first of the gaff cards is fairly standard: a versatile double-backer.

2. Grinder card

The previous version of this deck had two Jokers that featured a coin-like back design, and could be used in conjunction with the blank faced card to create the illusion that the ink was being shaken off the Joker card, or that the coin design was being pulled off. This illusion worked best when performed with a matching Grinder Coin available from Mechanic Industries.

The Red Edition of this deck improves on this concept by making the artwork of the coin on the card much more realistic. It's now a double-faced card, and while one side pictures the Grinder Coin, the other pictures a very realistic tear hole. This gives possibilities for creative routines which make it look as if the coin is being ripped right out of the card!



3. Anamorphic Gaff

This is perhaps the best gaff card of them all, and certainly will add a whole new dimension to your card magic. This gaff card pictures a Queen of Hearts, which can be used in conjunction with the regular Queen of Hearts from the deck, to create a most original optical illusion, that makes it look like the card is somehow being seen through the deck! Known as an anamorphic illusion, it relies on distorting or stretching an image to create an artificial sense of perspective. It really does bend the mind, and gives the potential for performing magic of a type that has never been seen before!



4. Optibox Gaff

The final gaff card requires some set-up, but once it is ready to go, it will make your card box look empty - even though it contains an entire deck. Angles and lighting are important in order to pull this off, but it is a very creative and convincing illusion when everything comes together perfectly. While not likely to be a headlining routine in and of iteself, this is something that can easily be used in conjunction with other effects, for that extra punch that really blows peoples minds.



Video tutorials

Given the unique nature of these gaff cards, you'll need some help getting started with these fun cards. Fortunately Mechanic Industries is providing us with everything we need, including full online instruction via detailed video tutorials. In fact, you don't even need a secret code to access these - you can go ahead and check these videos out right now for free. So you'll know exactly what you get, how it works, so that you can make an informed decision about whether this is a deck for you.

Video tutorial: Grindoff
Video tutorial: Anamorphic Queen Gaff
Video tutorial: Optibox

See the official video trailer for the deck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PZkQFaoVsM




SEQUELS

NEO:WAVE Classic Playing Cards

The NEO:WAVE Classic Playing Cards immediately brings to mind an ocean scene, with a wrap around tiled pattern on the tuck box that incorporates anchors as well as wavy lines.

It's what you'd expect to see at the seaside, complete with the influence of refraction. But there are some bright spots in the form of a vivid red/orange star, which ensures that this is no ordinary waves we are looking at!



This deck was produced as part of a set of two decks created by Montenzi Design, with the NEO:WAVE Classic deck being a standard deck, while the more pricey NEO:WAVE Ultra deck was a similar design but with foil on both sides of the cards.

Both decks were a follow-up project to the original NEO! deck that Montenzi produced previously, also in two editions. The original deck was described as "inspired by Cubism and the Avant-garde fashion trends of the early 1900's. Spearheaded by the works of Pablo Picasso this new art movement displays many geometric shapes incorporated into abstract designs and colors."



The card back design of the NEO:WAVE Classic deck picks up the pattern we've already been introduced to from the tuck box, but the addition of white borders produces a different look. Rather than feeling out of our depth in the middle of an ocean, it feels like we are paddling in ankle deep water alongside a white sandy beach. The two-way design ensures that even though we can't tell up from down or top from bottom, we're pleasantly at home in our new surroundings.



The design is quite different from the original NEO! decks; the white borders also distinguish the Classic Edition from the borderless Ultra Edition. Even with the borders these cards still look great in fans.



The wave theme carries over onto the faces of all the cards, with a series of parallel wavy lines producing a very novel and modern look. Each suit's lines are is given its own colour, with the Spades and Clubs being assigned an aquatic green and blue respectively, while the Hearts and Diamonds use a brown and purple. Do they represent the blowing of a gentle breeze, or the waves lapping on the shore? Either way, they fit well with our ocean-side theme, and are something you won't find in the original NEO! decks.

If you're a fan of fresh designs for the court cards, you're likely to love what you'll find here. Each of the court card characters has an internally consistent style in terms of graphic design, but the specific geometric shapes and colours vary slightly between the suits. Our royal figures of Kings, Queens and Jacks are clearly distinguished, and the focus is on the faces rather than the clothing and accessories that get attention and detail in most other decks. The style of these courts will be somewhat familiar to those who have seen the original NEO! decks, but the NEO:WAVE deck does offer a fresh take and colour scheme; the addition of the wavy lines also creates an entirely different look.



One fascinating thing about the courts is that if you flip them, they have alternate artwork. This is chiefly noticeable in the hair, which creates a wind-swept look.

Maybe our royalty has had a dip in the ocean or their hair has become wind blown - either way, this seems to suggest something about a beach experience.



What all the courts also share in common is a vibrant orange, red and yellow. We may be at the ocean, but the warmth of the sun ensures that we still are energized, and don't feel too lazy!

The pips used for this deck are all heavily stylized, and relatively small in size, so that they don't become a point of focus or distraction. I especially liked the shape of the Spade pips, which seem to me to have been inspired by the anchors that decorate the card backs and tuck box - although the pips do appear to have been inherited from the first NEO! decks.



Anchors certainly dominate the faces of our Jokers. These just have the word Joker in small capital print, and are filled with a tiled arrangement of anchor icons.

A double backer and an extra gaff card round out the deck. The gaff card is unusual in that it has the Jack of Hearts indices, but has the artwork for the King of Hearts character in one direction, and the Queen of Hearts artwork in the other.



The NEO:WAVE Classic deck was printed by USPCC in an unlimited edition, whereas the foil NEO:WAVE Ultra decks were produced by Cartamundi in a limited edition on their B9 true linen stock.



VeneXiana Dark Playing Cards (Revealed Edition)

The VeneXiana Dark deck (Revealed Edition) is part of a series from popular Greek designer Lotrek, who is known for his innovation, and for creating lavish playing card designs that often rely on foil, and is the sequel to the original VeneXiana deck created two years earlier.



Lotrek launched his own label of playing cards, Half Moon Playing Cards, in 2013. The first deck he produced under this new banner was called VeneXiana, and his first solo Kickstarter project was a white version of this deck. It captured something of the elegance and joy of life found in 18th century Venice, including carnival costumes for the court cards. The following year he created VeneXiana Gold, which was basically the same as original VeneXiana, but a luxury edition. This has the distinction of being considered to be the first deck with hot stamped gold foil on every card back.

But already when he published his first VeneXiana deck, Lotrek had planned to follow up by creating a Dark VeneXiana deck as a true sequel, in order to deal with the more obscurer side of the city. Two VeneXiana Dark decks (Masked and Revealed Editions) were published in 2015. I have the Revealed Edition, which has gold foil on the tuck box, and that's the deck I'll be focusing on.



Like the original decks, the VeneXiana Dark decks are set in 18th century Venice, but are intended to show some of the city's darker side. Unsurprisingly, the tuck box is primarily black. But even when in seedy territory, our Venetians remain stylish, and thus the tuck box is heavily decorated with a lavish gold foil mask-inspired pattern. It also has another ornate pattern that relies on blind embossing. An elegant numbered red seal completes the look of elegance, and emphasizes that this is a limited edition.

The ad copy describes it as follows: "Venexiana Dark features a series of obscure and marginal characters who complete the picture of this haunting city. Thieves, assassins, prostitutes, wicked noblemen and masters of deception are all on board in this imaginary gondola. Hop in and follow the journey to the unknown through the narrow canals of Venice."

The two decks that comprise VeneXiana Dark are companions, the silver Masked edition depicting all the court characters wearing masks, while the gold Revealed edition depicting the same court characters without their masks.

The card backs feature an ornate design of swirls and patterns, but if you look closely you will recognize a mask, which is central to the theme of this deck. While the silver Masked edition has an ornate silver pattern with black borders, the gold Revealed deck has an ornate gold pattern with reddish/brown borders.



The Ace of Spades is arguably one of the most ornate cards of the lot, with a heavily stylized image in gold metallic ink, along with the name of the deck and the publisher.

The court cards feature different characters from the world of Venice, with well-dressed Venetians engaged in a range of activities and wearing various costumes. Studying the artwork shows a variety of shenanigans going on that reflect the seedy side of life, including stabbings and poisonings.



Lots of attention has been given to detail, such as with the Jack of Clubs, which incorporates a clever card reveal for the Ace of Clubs.



The borders are textured with a detailed design for added elegance and sophistication.

These borders are also a key feature of the faces of the cards, which have black rectangular panels which emphasizes the exotic look of the pips and indices. These are gold for the Spades and Clubs, and red for the Hearts and Diamonds. I particularly like the style of the pips, which feature a split design in which one half is semi-shaded.



The cards themselves feature a strong use of metallic colours, with both the front and the back of the cards employing metallic inks. As such these decks show marks of Lotrek's extravagant style that would later be refined in his later all-foil deck designs, and show a further progression to the more elaborate and lavish style of playing cards that would later become the hallmark of a Lotrek deck.

There is also a story behind the events depicted on the court cards. For example, the Queen of Hearts asks for our silence as she poisons her husband's wine. In the Masked deck we see him drinking the poisoned wine, and in the Revealed deck we see the storyline advance, and he knows that he has been poisoned but leaves behind a note.



The Jokers return to the costume theme that these decks are immersed in; they are almost matching, but one has its eyes closed and the other has its eyes open. A gaff card (double backer) is also included, as is an extra Jack of Spades.

This deck is printed by EPCC in their durable and smooth feeling Master finish, so it handles quite different from a typical USPCC deck. EPCC is a highly respected printer in the playing card industry, and this is a very popular finish. The cards do fan and spread nicely, and have a nice snap to them.

But while the cards do handle more than satisfactorily, the many lavish touches make it clear that the VeneXiana Dark deck is first and foremost a deck for collectors.



SERIES

Superfly Spitfire Playing Cards

Estonian cardist and designer Toomas Pintson has produced a number of popular decks under his Gemini Decks label, and the most recent addition is Superfly Spitfire Playing Cards.



The Superfly Spitfire continues his Pintson's Superfly series, and follows two previous decks: Superfly, and Superfly Stardust. The first deck was inspired by modern streetwear, fashion, and culture, while the second deck offered a modern art and cubist interpretation of the original Superfly deck. This third deck offers a new approach again, along with a new "Spitfire" colour scheme.



The tuck box introduces us to the three main colours employed by this deck: teal-green, yellow, and black, all on a white backdrop. The main design reminds me here of a finger-print, and brings to mind the idea of making your mark, and leaving your personal imprint on something behind - an idea that should speak to artists and cardists.

The card backs look symmetrical at a glance, but closer scrutiny shows them actually to be a one-way design.



Another feature of these card backs is something that we don't see all that often in cardistry decks, at least not that obvious as it is here: name branding. The Superfly name is draped vertically across the length of the card, and is used both as an artistic addition, as well as giving the brand added visibility.



The deliberate name branding also has been applied to the face cards. But the first thing we notice on the faces are the striking colours, which reprise the main colours of the tuck box and card backs, with teal-green, yellow, and black. It's an unusual combination, but I find it refreshing and energetic, and they work surprisingly well together. The teal-green has been used as a substitute for the traditional red, and so is used for the hearts and diamonds.

The most customized treatment of all is reserved for the Ace of Spades, which showcases an oversized Spade pip - brand name edition of course - decked out with Superfly name and style. But all the cards are dressed in this urban streetwear style look.

The court cards have a relatively traditional look in terms of graphic design, but several things make them stand out sharply from a standard deck. First of all, the colour scheme gives them a whole new look. Secondly, the Superfly name is emblazoned very conspicuously on each card. And thirdly, each court card has one pip that picks up the finger-print style design of the card backs - this was a feature of the original Superfly deck and has been brought back with this third title in the series.



In fact, this finger-print style design is something you'll find on exactly one pip on every single card, including the number cards. This helps ensure that each card has a very customized look.

Once again, name branding has been applied here too, and in small print right in the middle of these customized pips we find it again: Superfly. Whether this is a fly in the ointment or whether it adds to the appeal, I'll leave it to you to decide.



The two Jokers bring together the deck's signature design in an abstract way, continuing the style of the Jokers from the previous decks but with the new colour scheme, while the two bonus cards are both ad cards.



The choice of thin-crush USPCC stock leaves little doubt in my mind that this deck was created for cardists first of all. But I find it a very original and fresh design that is equally at home in my hands when doing card magic.

See the official trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq9kniAlzqo

And here's another video trailer from Gemini decks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3VdajgnMZY



Cherry Casino Playing Cards (Reno Red)

Since the debut of an aqua coloured Cherry deck in 2015, the Cherry Casino series of decks has proven extremely popular with magicians, cardists, and collectors.

Now there's a new family member in the series: Cherry Casino Playing Cards (Reno Red).



The Cherry Casino decks have a retro feel, and have made quite a hit in the world of magic and cardistry, and version 3 of this deck has appeared in several colours already.

The recent "Tahoe Blue" entry in this series is one of my favourite decks in recent times; it's so practical for card magic and playing card games, while also adding an immediate touch of style and class courtesy of the bold metallic ink that is used for the signature "tahoe blue" colour on the tuck case, and all the maroon colours that substitute for the traditional garish red.



Like the Tahoe Blue deck, the tuck box of the Reno Red deck immediately impresses, because the familiar metallic maroon/red of the cherries has now been applied to the entire box. Minimalism taken to an extreme can become a grand thing, and that's precisely the case here!

Besides the white of the signature label and the small print elsewhere on the tuck box, it's just all red, baby! The ad copy describes it as "pearlescent red", and wants it to get our blood pumping as we get these trusted cards into our hands: "Your heart beats faster as the blood rushes throughout your body ... You begin to handle the snappy, crushed card stock, and your fingers are the first to realize - these are the Reno Red Cherry Casino Playing Cards. It is your trusted tool as you approach the card table ... The pearlescent red of the Reno Red Cherry Casino Playing Cards is symbolic of your lust for greatness."

Once we set the cards free from the box, and check out the card backs, we aren't disappointed. The white borders and pattern all help emphasize the hypnotic effect of the pearlescent red, emphasizing its eye-catching look. As with other decks in this series, the idea is to capture something of the old time casino feel, with classic cherry artwork familiar from iconic slot machines.



The card faces employ a traditional look that we've come to expect from the Cherry Casino series, which ensures that they are ideal for card games or card magic.

As expected, the Ace of Spades makes a statement of style and brand identity, with an oversized pip that reminds us of the Cherry Casino brand. There are two gaff cards - a blank faced card and a double-backer.



Unlike some of the other decks, however, the red of the Hearts and Diamonds on the card faces doesn't match the pearlescent red of the card backs. I feel that an opportunity was missed here, because it seems a pity to me that the red of the face cards clashes rather than complements the red of the card backs.



The distinctive Jokers are an exception, however, with their familiar metallic/pearlescent red. These match the card backs beautifully, and only serve to make the rest of the deck seem unexpectedly ... normal.



With USPCC's thin crushed stock, the cards themselves handle smoothly and softly.

I can see fans of the Cherry Casino series finding a lot to like here, and perhaps I'm alone in wishing that the pearlescent red had been used for all the red on the card faces as well. But on the positive side, it does mean that this is a very practical and familiar looking deck, which makes it a universal fit that will suit almost every occasion.

See the official trailer from Murphy's Magic here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD1EnzArx-Y




SURPRISES

Sakura Playing Cards

The Sakura Playing Cards (Spring Edition) was created by Francis and Dominic Garcia, and is named after the Japanese word for the cherry blossom tree: Sakura. The cherry blossom is of course an important symbol and very recognizable icon known for its beauty. Creator Francis Garcia loves Japanese culture, and has dedicated this deck to the cherry blossom trees in Japan. It's a unique deck that is entirely done in shades of pink.

Beauty is also what describes the image on this deck's tuck box, with a lovely view of Japan's Mt Fuji, looming in the background with cherry blossoms in the foreground. But these cherry blossoms are the real focus, and the back of the box introduces us to the soft pink design with silhouetted leaves that we'll soon become very familiar with from the card backs.



The tree branches come together in an X shape. With white borders, the three tones of pinks complement each other nicely, and offer a very pleasant and soft look, that also makes for lovely fans.



The Ace of Spades gets special treatment, and features a gorgeous over-sized pip that picks up part of the design from the center of the card backs, again with three pink tones.



Two of these tones are also used to distinguish the traditionally black and red suits. This does mean that they aren't sharply distinguished, but that's the point: this deck is an exercise in harmony, not contrasts. The shape of the pips and indices is completely traditional, however, so identifying them happens readily and easily, while still ensuring a sense of continuity provided by the colour scheme.

The court cards have a very simplified and geometrical look. In fact, all the Kings have the same shape, but they are distinguished by varying the arrangement of pink tones. Miniature pips corresponding to each suit also adorn their garments, to ensure that each has a distinct look.



If you're looking for strong contrasts and individuality, you won't find it here. But that's a deliberate design choice, because this deck isn't about an art gallery of 52 distinct and different individuals. Rather it aims to have a more unified look, where only slight adjustments in colour and design exist, to help create an overall impression of harmony and unity.

The two Jokers feature matching artwork of detailed blossoms, with a slightly different tone of pink for each, but otherwise identical. A double-backer and a bonus card with artwork matching the tuck box cover complete the deck.



This lovely deck has been produced by USPCC with their standard air cushion finish, and their Bee Casino stock for durability and good handling. Its fully pink feature dedicated to cherry blossoms makes it unique, attractive, and memorable.

See an official video trailer for this deck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aceoRt07X48



Bicycle Censored Playing Cards

The Bicycle Censored Playing Cards immediately begins toying with our minds. Is this a naughty deck, and has something really been censored?



Designer Joey Minor originally had another name intended for this deck. It was also intended to launch his new brand, which rather boldly or foolishly (depending on your perspective) began with the letter F and rhymed with Ducky. Fortunately USPCC saw wisdom in going with a different title.

I don't think that Joey was going out of his way to deliberately offend, but rather was trying to create something unconventional: "Too many decks follow the same basic concepts these days. There isn't too much originality in playing card design. So, I set out to break that pattern and design something original."



The tuck box introduces us to the funky little creatures that inhabit this deck. I especially like the touch of including a card reveal (3 of Clubs) on one of them on the back of the tuck box.

These little critters may have unusual colours and looks, but actually they're rather charming.



The card back features a college of the monsters we were already introduced to on the tuck box, and it is a mirrored two-way design.



The face cards are relatively standard with some pleasant exceptions. Firstly, the court cards all feature a single rectangular panel jam packed with critters of the same style and colour. These actually look fantastic, and are surprisingly effective.

Maybe I missed the obvious, but there didn't seem to be any definite pattern to how these were arranged among the four suits, and the 12 different artworks appear to have been distributed more or less randomly among the court cards.



The Ace of Spades also delights, with a massive pip that incorporates the deck's back design, and two fun-loving critters poking their heads out at us. Besides this, all the number cards are standard.

The other custom elements come in the forum of two custom Jokers, both of which have the Censored banner emblazoned across them, with critters added in the case of one. Two ad cards round out the deck, one which includes a thank you from the designer to all his Kickstarter backers.



Once again USPCC thin-crush stock is used for optimal handling.

This is certainly an unusual deck, and given that this is what designer Joey Minor was targeting, I think it is safe to say that he has succeeded. From the first time we set our eyes on the tuck box, it certainly gets our attention right away.



My only concern is that the card back is quite busy and has somewhat of a juvenile feel. But to be fair, this kind of non-conventional look is exactly what the designer was aiming for.

Overall this deck has enough standard elements to prevent it seeming too wacky. It's still very practical and usable, and should appeal to people who are drawn to the colourful and energetic design, especially the card backs.




SECRETS

King & Legacy Gold Edition Playing Cards

As a bonus section, I'd like to share some secrets. Why haven't I mentioned this before? Because secrets aren't uncovered easily, and you need to seek them out!

King & Legacy Gold Edition Playing Cards is a brand new deck release, that is billed as being designed by Destino and presented by Julio Montoro. Julio is a magician, consultant, and creator from Spain who has put out a few DVDs and magic effects, some in combination with Joao Miranda.

The thematic concept this deck is intended to evoke is the ancient idea that when kings died, they left behind a legacy through which they lived on. Life is about creating memories and footprints, and these remain when we ourselves are no longer here. These playing cards are imagined to be the legacy of a departed king, and by opening the doors of this box we feel his presence even though he himself is absent.



The tuck box is presented in a low key white matt cardboard, which features delicate lettering and patterns in metallic gold inks, with embossed concentric circles helping make a strong first impression. The back of the box features the same design as the card backs, which we'll see in a moment, while a custom seal completes the overall presentation. Upon opening, the flap greets us with some Latin, Certum est quia impossibile est, which means "It is certain because it is impossible."

The card backs have an ornate and classy design that incorporates all kinds of icons and symbols into the design, and the more you look the more you will see, like music notes, eyes, flowers, and fish, in an overall pattern that looks like a labyrinth.



I especially love the Aces, each of which has a single Giant pip inscribed with a labyrinth design that picks up some of the feel of the card backs. The Ace of Spades is particularly lush, with a rich metallic stripe of gold decorating the outskirts of the over-sized pip, along with a banner that reads "King & Legacy".



In fact all the faces are heavily customized, especially the court cards, and that immediately moves this deck in a different direction from a standard deck and makes it feel unique and special. The court cards are either all red (hearts/diamonds) or all black (spades/clubs), and the minimalist colours helps accentuate the styish artwork. The pips are also very stylized without being over-the-top, to ensure that the deck doesn't abandon all practicality.



The matching Jokers pick up the legacy of the king concept with gold metallic ink depicting a regal sword gripped firmly by two hands.

USPCC printing ensures a quality look, feel, and handling, and completes the package of a wonderful package that the discerning magician looking for an elegant and stylish marked deck will really appreciate.



So where does the secret come in? Well, this is a marked deck, and that will make magicians immediately sit up and pay attention, since they'll realize that this can be a very useful weapon in the right situation.

The secret markings are easy to read, and don't require learning a system. Their style and implementation reminds me somewhat of the Dapper Deck from Vanishing Inc Magic, and they are well integrated into the pattern on opposite corners of the card backs, with a cursive font style assisting in their disguise. An additional card provided with the deck provides a complete key to the marking system, and it will literally take you less than 30 seconds to learn and master.

See an official video trailer for this deck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7Nk-1C2wGc



Recommendation

So are any of these decks of playing cards for you? If you're looking for practical playing cards that you can actually use for playing card games, performing card magic, or for card flourishing, you'll almost certainly find something here that fits the bill.

So where can you get the decks featured here? Any reputable magic dealer or online retailer that sells custom playing cards should have these available. If they don't, send them to Murphy's Magic, which is a magic wholesaler that has an enormous range of products they sell in bulk quantities to dealers and retailers around the world, including a massive amount of custom playing cards. They have a huge network of contacts in the retail industry, and all of these decks should be available from any retailer that sources their decks from Murphy's Magic.

With good looks and good handling, these decks continue the solid contribution that Murphy's Magic is making to the custom playing card market, by supplying quality decks like these to our favourite retail outlets.



The decks reviewed above are all available at your favourite Murphy’s Magic retailer. Want to learn more? Murphy's Magic: www.murphysmagic.com

Here are direct links for all the decks featured in this review:
- Second Editions: Casual (V2), Mechanics Optricks (Red Edition)
- Sequels: NEO:WAVE Classic, VeneXiana Dark (Revealed Edition)
- Series: Superfly Spitfire, Cherry Casino (Reno Red)
- Surprises: Sakura (Spring Edition), Bicycle Censored
- Secrets: King & Legacy Gold Edition Playing Cards


BoardGameGeek reviewer

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Russ Williams
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Some interesting weird ideas and art in these decks!


PS:
Quote:
the Jack of Clubs, which incorporates a clever card reveal for the Ace of Clubs.

You mean Spades, right?
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