FUNGI MYSTIC MUSHROOMS DECK

I love a good pun, and there's some great one-liners about mushrooms. You may have heard classics like these:
Why did the Mushroom get invited to all the parties? Because he's a Fun-gi! (fun guy)
Why did the Fungi leave the party? There wasn't Mush-room.
Did you hear the joke about the Fungus? I could tell it to you, but it might need time to grow on you.

It turns out that mushrooms aren't just a useful ingredient for punny jokes or tasty meals, but they also make great subject material for decks of playing cards. The newly released Fungi Mystic Mushrooms Mycological Playing Cards is a deck that is dedicated to mycology, which is the study of fungi. And sure enough, as you'd expect, it's full of mushrooms! The designer is Azured Ox, also the creator of a couple of other designs produced by PCD, namely Friendly Felines and the Royal Vortex anniversary deck.

Here's how the official ad copy describes it: "You will find a selection of various fungi represented throughout the deck, colorful digitally hand-painted designs enchanted on a dark background. This fun, functional, unorthodox deck can be used for all your playing card needs and makes a great deck for your collection."



Tuck box

Our first glimpse of this magical world starts with the tuck box, which features exactly what we might expect: a mushroom, surrounded with sprinkles of magic, and some appropriately purple text.

The back of the tuck box features the colourful design that we'll soon see over and over on the card backs. Meanwhile the sides of the tuck box give a hint of the trippy design on the inside, each side featuring nine different circular designs with brightly coloured digital colours. There's also a Six of Spades card reveal on the inside flaps of the box.



Card backs

The design on the card backs has already been introduced on the back of the tuck box: it's a full-bleed design featuring a colour spectrum from an aqua blue to a indigo violet. As you'd expect, the design looks particularly beautiful in fans and spreads, and reversing the fan or spread produces a whole new look.



Court cards and Aces

But perhaps the highlight of this deck are the court cards, each of which depicts a different fungus in a digital hand-painted design. Each of these features psychedelic and vibrant colours, which stand out boldly against a dark background, and they are decorated with magical sparkles to help set an enchanting and charming tone. Apparently there are actually mushrooms that do glow in the dark, and this entire deck has a glow-in-the-dark feel about it.



For those with a mycological interest, here's the complete list of fungi that are pictured on these cards, in order of Ace, King, Queen, and Jack for each suit:
Clubs: Enoki Mushrooms, Puffball, Death Cap Amanita, Black Trumpet
Spades: Oyster Mushrooms, True Morel, Parasol, Charcoal Burner Russula
Hearts: Amethyst Coral, King Boletus Porcini, Fly Agaric Amanita, Saffron Milkcap
Diamonds: Shimeji Mushrooms, Chanterelle, Amanita Caesarea, Shiitake Mushrooms



Jokers

The two Jokers provide us with some additional fungi as follows:
Jokers: Magic Psilocybe, Devil's Bolete



Number cards

The background on the cards numbered 2 through 10 is a range of colours with a gradient that creates a rainbow look.



Meanwhile the suit colours are pictured in red (hearts and diamonds) and white (clubs and spades).



Extra cards

Two gaff cards bring the deck to 56 cards, with a standard double backer plus a double backer with an alternate colour scheme which can be used for a magical colour changing effect.



Impressions

Is the Fungi Mystic Mushrooms deck for you? Given that it's produced by USPCC, it will come as no surprise that it handles smoothly and evenly, although you might start seeing signs of wear more quickly than usual since the cards have dark rather than white borders.

But the real appeal of this deck lies in the very lively and colourful design, in which each and every single card looks and feels unique. Certainly anyone with an interest in the world of plants in general, and mushrooms in particular, will be drawn to the mycological theme. But you don't have to be a fan of mushrooms to be able to appreciate the vivid colours and vibrant style of this deck. While mushrooms aren't really to my taste in the real world, I certainly was quite taken by the colourful design, and the charming look of this deck.

And I'm not the only one who has a positive impression. Sample comments from satisfied Kickstarter backers include the following: "Niiice!!!" "Absolutely beautiful." "Very beautiful, unique cards! Glad to have these in my collection." "They look awesome." "Beautiful cards." So whether you have an appetite for mushrooms, or for colourful playing cards, this might just be a deck for you!




ARMAGEDDON DECK

I must admit that this deck didn't exactly excite me when I first heard about it. Armageddon Playing Cards. In my mind I envisaged a barren landscape in a post-apocalyptic world, perhaps populated with a few zombies, and inevitably some blood and gore. Certainly I wasn't expecting something that would be relatively family friendly, visually appealing, or attractive.

So imagine my surprise when this deck turned out to be quite different than what I'd imagined. Perhaps I'm it was just my expectations that were faulty and unfair, and I'm to blame for being too ignorant about the genre. And maybe the title is a little ambiguous, because the word Armageddon actually originates directly from ancient Greek, and its mention in the Biblical book of Revelation has led it long being associated with the gathering of armies at the world's end, in a final apocalyptic showdown. But to be fair, over time this term has come to be used in describing any end-of-world scenario, and the subtitle does indicate that these are post-Apocalypse playing cards.

Whatever the case, even if it depicts a post-Armageddon scenario rather than the Armageddon itself, the Armageddon deck proved to be a pleasant surprise!



Tuck box

The Armageddon deck is inspired by popular works like Mad Max and Fall Out, which are set in a post-apocalyptic world.

The artist behind this interesting deck is Nick Rovakis, who is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer born in Athens, Greece. His qualifications include a degree in graphic and fine arts. He has over a decade of experience in branding design, packaging, font creation, as well as in doing illustrations for board games and magazines, and he has a special interest and expertise with terrain pieces and miniatures.

Nick explains the genesis and concept of this deck as follows: "I've always wanted to design something that displays characters out of this kind of environment, the ones striving to survive and this would reflect on their characteristics and equipment. When I was given the opportunity to create a deck of cards with a theme of my choice I was more than happy to combine it with this concept. So I've created four different factions with the characteristics I had in my mind for that kind of world."



Court cards

Each suit represents a different faction in this post-apocalyptic world: Wastelanders (Clubs), Enslavers (Hearts), Rangers (Spades), and Brotherhood of Metal (Diamonds). These rough and ready characters are dressed for battle - after all, the world they inhabit requires a battle for survival, and they will need to fight for their lives if they are going to last. Each faction has a unique set of clothing and weapons that captures something about it.

The court cards all have symmetrical designs, to ensure that the deck is also playable and functional, and the level of detail is amazing.



Factions

Here's a closer look at the four factions represented on the court cards in this deck.

Wastelanders (Clubs)



Enslavers (Hearts)



Rangers (Spades)



Brotherhood of Metal (Diamonds)



Aces

All the Aces feature oversized artwork that reflects something of the harsh landscape of this post-apocalyptic world, with metal and wire being common elements.



Number cards

Every single aspect of this deck is 100% customized, including the number cards, all of which also include artwork and a style unique to each faction/suit.



Jokers & Card backs

The Jokers add two unique characters to the deck, a Mutant and a Cyborg.

Meanwhile the card backs have a two-way design with an intriguing look that brings together the kinds of colours and icons you'd expect to see in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by war and destruction.



Extra cards

Two gaff cards (a double backer and a QH/5C double facer) fill out the deck to 56 cards.

There's also a card reveal on the inside flap of the tuck box for the Queen of Clubs.



Impressions

Is the Armageddon deck for you? In terms of handling and quality, this deck has been produced by USPCC in their standard stock with the usual air cushion style finish, so it handles well and give an immediate impression of quality.

The main appeal of this deck lies in the world that it depicts. Taking that premise for granted, it does a good job of capturing the elements of a harsh post-apocalyptic world where everything is about survival. All aspects of this deck - the card backs, the characters on the court cards, the pips, and even the textured background on the card faces - contribute to a look which fits well with this theme.

Unsurprisingly this deck has made a strong and positive impression, and has been well received. All the comments I have seen have been very positive about it, with sample comments from satisfied Kickstarter backers including the following: "Lovely and just what I wanted." "An awesome addition to my growing card collection." "Looks great. Awesome job with the art." "Fantastic!" If you like the concept and theme of this deck, then you'll almost certainly be pleased with making this new release part of your own collection!



Want to learn more? You can find these decks on PlayingCardDecks.com here:
- Fungi Mystic Mushrooms deck
- Armageddon deck


BoardGameGeek reviewer

For more of my reviews on custom playing cards, subscribe to this list: Pictorial Reviews of Playing Cards by EndersGame

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