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Introducing Gambler's Warehouse

Gambler's Warehouse is based in Texas, and while they have close connections with the gaming industry in Las Vegas, they are especially serious about playing cards.  You only need to visit their subsidiary website PlayingCards Dot Net, to get some sense of the enormous selection they have available for sale (prices include free shipping in the US).  They have been part of the playing card industry for more than two decades, and are passionate about the design, production, and use of decks of cards.  They have gained a very positive reputation in assisting many designers of playing cards make their playing card projects a reality via crowd-funding, in part due to the strong relationship and connections they have with well known printer, US Playing Card Company.

But Gambler's Warehouse also produces high quality custom playing cards of their own design, and that's what this series of reviews is all about.  In a previous review, I have taken a close look at the Alloy series of Playing Cards that they produced  - you can see that review here.  I was super impressed with these decks, and they quickly became among my personal favourites.  Now it's time to look at some of the other playing cards they have produced in-house.




Mystique Playing Cards

The Mystique deck is an enchanting set of playing cards, designed by Shapeshifters Playing Cards.



The word mystique means "a framework of doctrines, ideas, beliefs, or the like, constructed around a person or object, endowing the person or object with enhanced value or profound meaning", and it is this endowed aura that these mysterious cards set out to evoke.

It pictures a world of indefinable allure, which begins with the swirling patterns and complex design of the card-backs, and intricate coils on the Aces.



The court cards have extremely elaborate and rich designs, and the detail of the artwork is emphasized with a largely mono-coloured look.  This minimalism of colour enhances the complex and original designs; it also ensures that the red and black suits are very clearly distinguished, making this a very functional and playable deck.



If you look carefully, you'll notice an elaborate watermark-style background, which is evident also on the number cards.  You'll also observe that even the pips are decorated with ornate lines. That's what this deck is all about - ornate decorations that you can lose yourself in.

Another unique aspect of this deck is the fact that the pips are also displayed on the top right corners, which enhances the beauty of a right directional fan or spread.



The middle of the cards also has a full bleed band that goes right to the edges, which also makes a spread or fan look absolutely fantastic.  While this does carry the risk of making the deck marked in terms of colours, I don't find it to be a huge issue since the only differential is between red or black, so even the suit isn't given away by a face-down card.



This image of an uncut sheet gives an overview of the entire deck, including the over-sized aces, coloured borders, and the mono-coloured court cards.



I especially love the over-sized Aces, which have incredibly ornate and intricate artwork.



Even the Joker has a mysterious look about it!



This deck also comes with two extra cards, a gaff card (double-backer) and a promo card.

The quality and handling of the cards is excellent, as you'd expect from a USPCC printed deck.
 

Conclusions

Mystique deck: The minimalist reds and blacks of this decks ensures that all the focus is on the designs, which feature exquisite and complex patterns, that you can lose yourself in upon careful examination.  The full bleed on the sides of the cards ensures a band of colour when spreading this deck.  These playing cards are really suited for the person who is attracted to minimalism on the one hand, and yet appreciates complexity and detail.  Totally ornate!

Card quality: All the decks that I've looked at and own that have been produced by Gamblers have been outstanding quality, and are typically produced by United States Playing Card Company or Expert Playing Cards.  The Mystique deck I've reviewed above is a USPCC produced deck.  USPCC decks have a high quality card stock and finish, that ensures both durability and good handling, and is exactly the kind of quality that most people will be familiar with from a quality Bicycle style deck.    And in every case, the cards are packaged in an appropriate and attractive tuck box, which is true here as well.



Recommendation: I continue to be impressed by the decks produced by Gamblers Warehouse.  In an earlier review, I gave a glowing report about their Alloy deck, which featured remarkable iridescent foil on both the back and the front of the cards - an industry first, and a remarkable achievement.  Not only can you purchase their own decks at their subsidiary playingcards.net website, but they also have a wide range of other quality playing cards for sale there too.

In addition to this, Gamblers Warehouse also acts as a fulfilment company for a lot of other card designers, who rely on their expertise and experience.  Clearly, these guys know what they're doing, and I know that if I was producing my own deck via crowd-funding, I'd definitely be considering them as a partner to assist with this.  If my positive experiences are anything to go by, this is a reliable and a good choice to consider as a source for quality playing cards. I can certainly recommend very highly the decks I've reviewed above.

Want to learn more? 
Gamblers Warehouse: http://gamblerswarehouse.com
Playing Cards Dot Net: http://playingcards.net



Direct link for the Mystique deck featured in this review:
- Mystique Playing Cards
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Introduce Yourself / New guy
« Last post by Evil Boweevil on Today at 11:30:32 AM »
Hello, I just wanted to see if anyone was interested in a card game as weird as mine. https://youtu.be/so1bEQkgtGI is the link to the youtube version of my kickstarter page. This one is the actual kickstarter page  http://kck.st/2rAGugk. I would love to know what you guys think of it, and need some feedback from people other than friends and family. 
3
Title: Mind Invasion
Creator: Morgan Strebler
Publisher: Sans Minds
MSRP: $ 20
Skill Level: all
DVD Run time: 13 minutes

Type of effect:

Manufacturer's Write Up: From the mind of Mentalist Morgan Strebler, this is a creation he has developed for himself and, after over a decade, is now ready to share with the world! This is Mind Invasion!

Have someone write or draw anything they want on a piece of paper, whether a symbol or a word. With Mind Invasion, you apparently read their minds by revealing what was written down! A peeking technique like no other! Learn all the techniques necessary and freak out even the toughest, most skeptical audiences!

Some say peeking is the mother of Mentalism. While many peeking techniques have restrictions tied to them, this one has been refined to allow for the most versatile performances possible!

How accurate is the ad copy? No deception
 
What's in the box?  1 Mind Invasion Instructional DVD

Key points: No restrictions to Lighting, Positioning, or Tearing!
 
How are the production values: Chiefly itís 2 or 3 live performances on the street and then itís Morgan back in the studio, dressed in black against a black backdrop. Heís well micíd and there are two torso camera and one close up for when you need to see the peek close up.

Is it well taught: Morgan gives you the basic moves and a few extra final thoughts.
 
Storage? Does it "pack flat?"  All you need is a business card and a sharpie marker
 
Does it "play big?" Can be combined with any standard mind reading routine or any time you need to glance a piece of written information.
 
Difficulty / Skill level required:  This is fairly simple with some practice.
 
How much arts and crafts are involved? You need to be able to fold a business card into fourths.
 
How practical is this in the real world? (can it really be done?) Yes, it can be done. It relies on a sort of ďdodgeĒ but should fly right by most.
 
Overall score: let's toss out the traditional score of 1-10 and make this something that we all can appreciate and understand.
 
_____ Very Satisfied
__X___ Somewhat Satisfied
_____ Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied
_____ Somewhat Dissatisfied
_____ Very Dissatisfied
_____ No Opinion
 
 My thoughts itís ok. Iíve seen a few peeks and Iíd say this is probably the easiest one I have seen and would be great for beginners and those just starting out. This is a perfect ďfirst peekĒ to learn.

+ Hey do you want to see my full review with even more of my opinions and ideas? Visit this link for my video review:  ​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIm7E0Lnuag
4
A Cellar of Fine Vintages / '45 Texan Stripper/Wizard's deck
« Last post by EndersGame on Today at 07:16:06 AM »
Here's something that was recently given to me - I'm curious what year or era it might be from.

Inside it has a paper that that says "Directions for Using The Wizard's Pack of Cards", which has descriptions of 15 effects that can be performed with the deck.  And yes, the cards are tapered, so it is definitely a Stripper deck!  Love those Palmetto card-backs!

Front of the tuck box: '45 Texan Playing Cards, The U.S. Playing Card Co, Cincinnati USA, Russell & Morgan Factories
Back of the tuck box: Texan Playing Cards, Palmetto Back

Below are some photos of what it looks like.







5
Playing Card Plethora / Re: David Blaine 2017 Tour Signature Limited Edition?
« Last post by Cardfool on Yesterday at 09:59:56 PM »
Someone put the White Lions Tour deck up on eBay...looks nice...he also has the other deck in a separate listing...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/David-Blaine-White-Lions-tour-playing-cards-black-new-rare/201960680095?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

The deck that seems to be like the MS Create Magic deck in black and gold is the reverse of the Eye in the Spade deck, which I was printed by EPCC (like the MS Create Magic deck).
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A Cellar of Fine Vintages / Re: Ask the Experts at 52 Plus Joker
« Last post by Djh2752 on Yesterday at 12:30:56 PM »
I just bought a box of 45 decks of cards the other day for 20 dollars. Ended up containing a few decks worth some money but I'm not as curious about them as i am with one deck in particular.  It is a 1915 squeezers number 35 from London about the same time as the triplets came out, " the only real competition against the squeezers".
Info wise this is all I've been able to find, I'm wondering about rarity, when they stopped being produced. I'm just missing the actual box, but still all 52 cards and jokers if not mistaken. I'm not wanting to handle them more than absolutely needed. Any and all info reguarding worth and the like would be wonderful. Quality wise for age and all i would rate it lower than it actually is but they would be between a 6 and an 8, very limited damage. Pictures avalible upon request.
7
Title: Chinese Tweezers       
Creator: Mario Lopez
Publisher: Tango Magic
MSRP: $ 50
Skill Level: intermediate to advanced
DVD Run time: 12 minutes

Type of effect:  Classic Chinese tweezers routine

Manufacturer's Write Up: Mario Lopez is one of the recent big surprises of the world of magic. He won the second prize in Micro Magic at the most recent FISM -- his magic is original, simple, different, and fresh.

Imagine poking a pair of tweezers down through the small hole in the center of a Chinese coin, and upon pulling the tweezers back up through the hole, a large Eisenhower Dollar appears on the tip of the tweezers. Amazingly visual!! The effect can be repeated numerous times with the same audience, becoming more magical each time! This looks incredible! There are other ways to make the dollar appear - your imagination is the limit!

Now you can perform this beautiful and incredible magical routine. See what all the excitement is about!

How accurate is the ad copy? No deception.
 
What's in the box?  The set includes all the necessities: coins, tweezers, and a link with video instructions in both English and Spanish. The link also gives you access to 50 more coin effects

Key points: Chinese Tweezers is one of his creations, the kind of magic that can only come from a brilliant mind.
 
How are the production values: The entire video is shot very dimly lit. Everything blends together and there are no close up shots, which I would have liked for a coin routine.
 
Is it well made: Everything is 100% real, but I would have appreciated better quality tweezers at this price point.

Is it well taught: I didnít think the video was long enough and Mario has a heavy accent.
 
Storage? Does it "pack flat?"  It all packs in your pocket.
 
Does it "play big?" Itís a beautiful routine if you can perform it like this FISM winner
 
Difficulty / Skill level required:  This is sleight-heavy and palming heavy
 
How much arts and crafts are involved? None
 
How practical is this in the real world? (can it really be done?) This is best as a table hopping routine.
 
Overall score: let's toss out the traditional score of 1-10 and make this something that we all can appreciate and understand.
 
_____ Very Satisfied
_____ Somewhat Satisfied
_____ Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied
__X___ Somewhat Dissatisfied
_____ Very Dissatisfied
_____ No Opinion
 

 My thoughts: I was really hoping for gimmicks at this price point. Iím not a coin magician, so I donít think I have the time or skill to sit and learn this routine.

+ Hey do you want to see my full review with even more of my opinions and ideas? Visit this link for my video review:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz5HVJZqt50
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Playing Card Plethora / Re: Bharata Playing Cards - Live now on KS
« Last post by leangyan on Yesterday at 07:56:48 AM »
Survey for expression of interest in handcrafted deck here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sunishchabba/bharata-playing-cards/posts/1916744
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The Conversation Parlor / Re: The Multitude Game Set
« Last post by Don Boyer on Yesterday at 06:02:24 AM »
During the evolution of this game there was a design that used standard playing cards. 

The design used 2 standard Bicycle decks in a Poker Set configuration with one deck having a gold Rider back and the other having a silver Rider back. The suits were in 4 different colors which matched 4 colored dice in a dice set. The 4 dice combined with a 5th black dice were used to match a 2 dice roll with every card in the deck. 

It was submitted to the custom card division of Bicycle (USPCC).  The custom division liked it, but the brand manager and legal division rejected it because Bicycle does not produce games, only cards and dice as separate products.

The Bicycle game set would have actually cost more than the current design and because the minimum amount to be printed would have been 2,500, the Kickstarter goal would have been significantly higher.

If all of the games in the set were mostly card based, then a standard card variation would be more advisable.  There are several mostly dice based games in the set, and there are board game games that use dice and the special board game cards.

I will definitely consider your suggestion of a Rule Book based product for the future.  It actually fits in somewhat with another "rules based" card product I am working on.

...and there's also the fact that some other companies have created gold and silver Rider Back decks!

I think there's a way you could have done it.  For example, you might have ordered just the extra cards, then packaged it yourself with a standard Bicycle deck and the dice.  When you're ordering decks from USPC, you don't necessarily have to tell how they're being sold, do you?  Or for that matter, if they're even being sold?  I mean, there are magicians that order decks strictly for their own consumption!  Some often end up on the market, but many never do, and if they do, it's only because they gave some as a gift and it's in the after-market, not the direct market.

But it sounds like you have a clear reason for not using that idea.  It's something to consider, though.

I know of a guy here on the forum who had a concept for "simplifying" playing cards by adding more court cards and suited jokers to a standard deck.  In my own experience, at least from playing certain types of solitaire, it just made things more complicated - never won a single game, defying the odds for the number of times I played (using odds for a standard deck, of course).  I had suggested to him that his deck could have been less costly if he made it as sort of an "expansion set" to an existing standard poker deck, but he insisted on a custom index design and four-colored suits.  He even had plans for creating a custom casino game to go with his deck and selling it to casinos, but I tried to explain to him that players would never cotton to it - they're very traditional to start with, it would have been just a little bit too alien and would have required way too much explanation to the average bettor.

I haven't heard from him here in a while - I wonder what he's up to.
10


* * * A NEW TOOL: Videography * * *

The School of Cardistry decks have set a new standard for the new art form of cardistry, with their revolutionary decks that have identical faces, which I have reviewed in two previous articles.  But this new art form also has at its disposal new tools that allow this art form to grow in an unparalleled way.  After all, we live in a digital age, and that means that the technology is there for people to produce high quality instructional and educational videos in the comfort of their own home.  In addition, the global use of the internet and social means means that it is possible to share these videos with the rest of the world.

All this means that at almost any other point of history, this new art form would be consigned to the fate of being unheard of, and at best experimented with by a select few.  But in our modern age, cardistry enthusiasts can connect with and learn from each other, and share their expertise.  One of the leaders in this, is the New Deck Order.  It certainly helps that Jaspas Deck has qualifications in Fine Arts in Digital Film Making, and he has put these skills to good use for NDO's School of Cardistry.



Free Tutorials from School of Cardistry

The creation of their School of Cardistry channel on youtube in 2013 has to be one of the biggest achievements of the New Deck Order, and really established their credibility in the world of cardistry, and and helped put them on the map.

This channel currently has over 70,000 subscribers, and more than 3 million views.  Why the big appeal? Well there's no shortage of cardistry tutorials online, but they tend to be scattered all over the internet, and some of them are very poor quality.  The School of Cardistry was designed to function as a centralized and structured platform for complete beginners to pick up the wonderful art of cardistry. This channel is self-described as follows: "School of Cardistry is the best free Cardistry resource for absolute beginners. Tutorials for each card flourish are kept short, and include easy-to-follow verbal instructions."  So if you are relatively new to cardistry, the School of Cardistry is a fantastic place to start.  Here's a skill tree that explains how they give the ability to develop more complex skills, and progress to more advanced moves.



This progressive system of learning ensures a systematic approach in which you can build up skills, with the benefit of videos that are short, and yet have clear instructions.  Performance videos are also available which illustrate how different moves can be put together in a single whole (see an example performance video here).



Premium Videos from School of Cardistry

In addition to their free content, which is extensive, and will especially be welcome to beginners, the School of Cardistry also has a number of premium tutorials, which can be accessed on their website here.

Most of these are tutorials for single moves that cost $3.99, such as Shapeshifter, Elevator Cut, and Geometrics.  Others are more extensive, such as Ripple + 4, SpinGod, Unzipped, Ampersand, Triplex, and HK Tutorial Pack, all of which sell for $12.90 each. There's even a DVD - for $29, you get a digital download of an entire 90 minute film about cardistry, entitled "The Cardistry of South East Asia".

Purchasing the School of Cardistry decks entitles buyers to a discount code for a free download of one of the premium tutorial videos, each normally a $4 value:
V1 - Elevator Cut, a 19 minute video for a unique cut created by Jaspas Deck, with three variations.
V2 - Shapeshifter, a 20 minute video for a unique cut created by Jaspas Deck.
V3 - Geometrics, a two handed cut by Jaspas Deck.  This video also includes some tips for camera techniques to use in making cardistry videos.



The Cardistry of South East Asia DVD

As a way of sampling the premium videos available, I checked out the digital download for The Cardistry of South East Asia (CoSEA) DVD, which sells on the site for $29.  I sat down to watch this with my cardistry friend, for whom it was a gift.  The DVD is part documentary, part travelogue, and part Cardistry tutorials.  Even though I'm not an experienced cardist myself, I enjoyed the journey, and learned a lot about the friendly faces that make up the South East Asian cardistry community, and more importantly, I was amazed at their skills.  Even if you don't share Jaspas' love for the art, this is a memorable and entertaining trip, that gives you good insight into what cardistry is all about, and the people who practice it.   You can view a trailer for this DVD here.



The concept

The video is 90 minutes long, and is narrated by Jaspas himself, with helpful subtitles in English so that you don't miss any of the narrative.  Over the summer of 2014, the NDO team of Jaspas and Loretta spent 48 days travelling around various Southeast Asian countries to conduct lectures and document the Cardistry scene in the region. Locations visited included Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Manila.  Their mission was to bring the talents of Southeast Asia to the rest of the world. The concept was to share ideas from Singapore's cardistry community on a wider scale, and was initially intended to be crowd-funded with the help of a Indiegogo campaign, but ended up being self-funded.  Jaspas has a degree that includes film-making, and he's put these skills to good use in making this video.  The footage is clear, the transitions are smooth, the narrative is interesting, and the package is completed with a decent sound track and music where appropriate.

Here's how the NDO team describes it: "The Cardistry of South East Asia DVD was to feature tutorials from 10 of the best cardists across 5 countries in the South East Asia region. More importantly, we wanted to document the various communities in each of the countries Ė Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines Ė and see what we could learn from them. Over the months of June and July, we were treated to a delectable mix of cultures, all so diverse and yet so similar in their passion for Cardistry. Some communities were already very established, and met up as friends and family rather than as cardists. Others were in their early stages of growth, but despite being few in number, you could see a strong desire to push their community forward. And still others seemed to be at the peak of their progress, with a large but close-knit group meeting up practically every day, and each and every cardist among them was a beast.  In this 90-minute DVD, join us on our journey as we meet the cardists on this side of the world. Hear their stories. Be inspired by them. Then go forth and inspire others."

A special deck was even produced and released  for the occasion, and it is the one featured throughout the video and the included tutorials.



The travel

You certainly don't have to be a cardistry fan to enjoy watching this film.  The fact that the NDO team is on the road ensures that there is an overarching narrative that brings the entire video together.  We get to join Jaspas as he travels to various places to deliver lectures on the subject of cardistry. He's clearly a well-known and respected figure in this scene.  It's very interesting to see him meet various other figures who inhabit this art, and see them showcase some incredible moves, and the variety of talents that are on display.  Ones that stood out for me included some springs off a wall, and some twirls that involved blowing.

The travel journey is also humorous at times, and some of the particularly memorable and entertaining parts for me was when the team cross the border into Thailand with a bag of 100 decks, especially since it is illegal to sell cards in Thailand ("We are now outlaws!"), and the Vietnamese Shuffle - a move you'll just want to try on any of your friends that owns a deck of cards!  And you won't want to miss the tour of Terry's Toilet, especially when the lights come on!  And you'll get to see some random beat-boxing in Indonesia, some real Jerry's Nuggets, plus Jaspas' $100 trick (some magic he performed to avoid a $100-200 customs fee).  His concluding insights about city lights and taxi drivers also ring very true.  But it's especially the community of cardists that are of real interest, as are the various elements of the cultures in which they live.



The tutorials

Cardistry fans will appreciate the fact that the video features tutorials from 10 reputable Southeast Asian cardists, including Rama Dimasatria, AJ Arandilla, Terry Lu, Amsyar Fikri, David Gooi, Tran Bui Thanh Tien (Zombieflourish), Khanh, Huy Phan (Ilyta), Abie Jie Assegaff and Duong Nguyen (Yang). The tutorials are not extensive, and mainly consist of a follow-through from a couple of different angles. While not suited for beginners, they are just the kind of thing that intermediate level cardists will appreciate, and they give enough information to teach the required skill, without occupying too much time in the video or detracting too much from the travelogue.

Here's a complete list of the moves that are taught: Scorpio by Yang Nguyen; Claire by Zombieflourish; Le Blanc by IIyta; XIII by Khanh; Rum Cut by Terry Lu; Paradox by Amsyar Fikri; Switchblade by David Gooi; Dizzy by Abie Jie; Drag by AJ Arandilla;  Asterisk by Rama Dimasatria.




* * * A NEW STYLE: Jaspas' own deck * * *

Jaspas Deck

It's evident from his videos that Jaspas is a very colourful and amusing character, and so it's no surprise that his energetic character would find its way onto a brightly coloured signature deck, which needs to be seen to be believed!  It's called by his own name,  Jaspas Deck, and surely has to be one of the brightest decks in the cardistry  world, with bold pink and yellow colours combining with Jaspas' personal monogram.
 


Here's how NDO describes them: "Designed by Jaspas Deck, the Jaspas Deck features rotationally-symmetrical pips that have been repositioned to enhance spinning moves. "



A triadic colour scheme of fluorescent colours was used.



Unlike the NDO playing cards, and despite the radical design, these do have traditional suits and numbers - although the pips are positioned and shaped to optimize how they look when rotationally twirled.



They are certainly bright enough to make a splash in any setting!



Only 816 copies of this deck were printed, all individually numbered.




* * * CONCLUSIONS * * *

What do I think?

So what do I think of The School of Cardistry V3 Deck?  That's what I'll be focusing on the comments below, because it's the deck that I have the most first-hand experience with, and is the one most readily available.

Vibrant colours: The first thing that strikes you when you see this deck are the eye-catching colours.  The vibrant green brings to mind the freshness of spring growth, and conveys a sense of life, vitality, and energy.  The addition of pale blue as a counterpart serves to make the green stand out all the more, and the result is a combination that immediately gets attention whenever you pull out this deck.

Circular back design: The design on the back of the cards ensures that the fresh green colour remains the focus, and the circular design means that spins and flips create the illusion of a complete circle that is much larger than the size of the card.  This "Beyond Borders" design is hypnotic and effective when seen first-hand.  I just love the card backs!

Identical faces: This is the revolutionary element that really defines the NDO decks, and makes them stand out from virtually all other cardistry decks currently on the market.  It really does add a great deal more to the whole cardistry experience, because you have both sides of the deck to work with, with no distractions as a result of court cards or varied numbers of pips.  You can expect more consistent visuals in everything you are doing, with both sides of the deck.  When performing in a way that emphasizes the card faces, there's a smoothness that results from the card movement being uninterrupted by what happens with a regular deck, where the sudden appearance of court cards or varied number and shapes of pips can disturb the flow.  Plus you can do an amazing and endless Ambitious Card routine with no sleight of hand whatsoever, as a way of introducing the unique character of this deck!

Two-way fans: The back design is symmetrical, so fans in both directions look the same.  But because of the design of the card-faces, fanning in different directions instantly creates a very different look, with a green band of colour when fanning in one direction, and instantly turning into a white and blue band of colour when fanning in the other direction.  This is a compelling and powerful effect that works well, and which cardists will really enjoy!

Eye-catching visuals: Because this deck is designed specifically for cardistry, it  should be no sruprise that it looks visually stunning when flourishing cards in various patterns - that's exactly what it has been designed to do.  The deck's design immediately enhances the visual appeal of any card flourish, thus improving the aesthetic beauty of fans, cuts, twirls, displays, and cascades.  Traditional decks aren't designed with card flourishing in mind, and their backs and faces typically don't lend themselves to cardistry moves.  In contrast, the design of this deck is geared entirely and purely to looking good when doing the kinds of moves favoured by card flourishers, and so the colours and patterns magnify the aesthetics of these moves with eye-catching visuals that maximize the impact.

Cardistry optimized: This deck is truly optimized for cardistry, and that is evident even with the attention to detail throughout.  An example of this is the marker that indicates the center of the card, which gives a helpful point of orientation that can be very useful for instantly determining the exact point of balance when doing advanced dexterity moves and spins.  And even though the cards don't have traditional faces, they still have indices, which is a deliberate point of design, to ensure that the cards don't blur together as a single coloured mass, but remain individually distinct to convey a real sense of motion.  You really need to see this deck being put through its paces by someone who knows cardistry to see its potential.  I'm fortunate that I have a cardistry friend who could demonstrate the true possibilities of this deck for me, and I was amazed how even fairly basic maneuvers like simple fans and spreads were brought to a new level.  Of course, that does also mean that you can't use this deck for much else - you certainly can't use it for playing Cribbage or any other traditional card game.



Secret printer: The School of Cardistry V1 deck was printed in Asia with a company that NDO sourced for the CoSEA video. The V2 deck was printed by Legends Playing Card Company, in their Emerald finish, which has a stiff and snappy card-stock that is incredibly long-lasting, and I suspect this might also have been used for V1 as well.  But the V3 deck was printed by a different Asian printing company, and the stock used for the V3 deck is softer than the previous two versions.  Understandably NDO isn't too eager to disclose too many details behind the make-up of the deck, because they don't to give away their secrets or inspire copy-cats.   They want their cards to stand out from all the other ones that are printed with the usual printing companies, and thus feel much the same as each other; they wanted to produce something different.  I do know that unlike the two previous versions of this deck, the V3 deck is not the Emerald finish from LPCC, and my experienced cardist friend tells me that the finish and handling most closely resembles his experience with EPCC/LPCC's Classic finish.

Smooth handling: The handling of the cards lives up to the beautiful visuals.  It is no secret that cardists are very fussy about their decks, and how they handle.  Cards have to have have just the right thickness, weight, and friction in order to spread easily and packet well.  Most people won't notice much difference between the performance of this deck and the typical Bicycle deck, but the experienced cardist will quickly notice the difference in quality.  In this case the results speak for themselves: the cards are the ideal meeting place between durability and functionality: they're durable and long-lasting, and yet still soft-enough for smooth handling.

Durable: Given the amount of use a deck like this will get in the hands of a cardist, it needs to be something that is durable, otherwise it will quickly wear out.  From my experience so far, this deck is as long lasting as they come.  My cardist friend is extremely pleased with his decks, and has given them an intense workout on many an occasion, and they're still holding up well.  Obviously a deck of playing cards will eventually wear, no matter how good quality it is, but these are certainly a lot longer lasting than a cheap deck, and have a quality that people familiar with decks from printers like USPCC, EPCC/LPCC will require as a minimum.

Ongoing development: The NDO team continues to learn from their experience, and so the V3 deck shows a number of enhancements and improvements from their very first attempt at a deck of non-standard playing cards.  The School of Cardistry deck has continued to evolve since the release of the V1 and the V2 editions.  Not only is there a fresh new series of colours, but they are also willing to experiment with different card-stocks that might improve an already good product, and also with a very different graphic design from their first two efforts.

Cardistry tutorials: The School of Cardistry offers free videos to get you up and running with the basics of cardistry.  But if you want to start learning any advanced moves, you'll have to get some of their premium videos.  Fortunately buying one of their decks will get you started with a coupon code for one of their premium videos, so you can get a taste of what these are like.  When you own a deck like this, you'll want to be watching videos so that you can do some of the cool moves that is the whole point of this deck.  Fortunately, these video tutorials are excellent, and will give you a head start in your learning.  Check out the complete list here.

Cardistry culture: I especially enjoyed getting an idea of what cardistry culture is like by watching the Cardistry of South East Asia DVD, which I obtained via a digital download from NDO's site.  This 90 minute video offered fascinating insights into the world of cardistry.  Jaspas Deck is a good narrator and videographer, and he's also a very respected cardist, so he was well-placed to produce a video like this.  He also has a great sense of humour, which comes out many times in this video.  I've never met him or spoken with him personally, but if this video is any indication, he seems like a terrific guy who would be a lot of fun to hang out with!

Competition: Compared with the competition, the NDO deck compares very favourably.  The other main option to consider is the excellent Virtuoso deck, which is uniquely made for cardistry, but unlike the School of Cardistry deck from NDO, the Virtuoso deck does have 52 distinct faces.  There are a few other options to choose from, including the popular Fontaine playing cards by Zach Mueller (although I'd respectfully suggest the success of that deck for cardistry is primarily a result of his clever marketing), and the Smoke and Mirrors series from Dan & Dave.  But for a deck specifically optimized for cardistry, your two best options right now are either the Virtuoso deck, or the School of Cardistry deck from the New Deck Order.  As a non-standard deck with identical faces, the School of Cardistry deck is truly unique and without peer.



Where do you get them?

If you're interested in picking up some of these playing cards for yourself, the first place you should look is the official New Deck Order online store, which is where you can get some of the NDO decks, premium videos, and some other cardistry related merchandise.

Recommendation

Due to its intended design, it is true that the School of Cardistry deck from the New Deck Order will always be a deck with a select appeal to a very specific audience: cardistry fans.  As a deck designed for their needs, this more than adequately serves its purpose, and has to be considered as one of the top of the line products on today's market, both in terms of card quality and visual aesthetics.  Cardistry enthusiasts will find it difficult to resist the temptation to find out what impact the designs on both sides of this deck will have on their repertoire, and to experiment with new moves that this deck offers, particularly with the uniform faces.

But the New Deck Order is also an excellent starting point for someone who is wondering what cardistry is all about, and wants to give it a spin.  It's much more fun trying to learn basic skills like fans and spreads when the visual effect is amplified by the visual beauty of a lovely deck like the School of Cardistry V3 deck.  And furthermore, the free video tutorials available from the New Deck Order will give you all you need to try your hand at this new art form, and you'll be amazed how easily you can impress your family and friends with basic moves that are not difficult to learn, when a remarkable deck like this is in your hands.  As such, fortunately the School of Cardistry V3 deck is not outside the reach of the rest of us, and is a very accessible and ideal deck for anyone who is interested in basic cardistry, and wants to learn some elementary moves. 

If you are at all into cardistry, or even just enjoy doing a basic spread or fan, then this deck will instantly turn moves like that into visual art.  I recommend giving it a whirl - literally!
 


What to learn more? Check out:

The New Deck Order: http://thenewdeckorder.com
The School of Cardistry: https://www.youtube.com/user/SchoolOfCardistry

Direct links for the items featured in this review:
- School of Cardistry V1 Deck
- School of Cardistry V2 Deck (sold out)
- School of Cardistry V3 Deck
- Premium Video Tutorials
- Cardistry of South East Asia DVD

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