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11


* * * A NEW STANDARD: Non-Standard Playing Cards * * *

The New Deck Order was first formed in 2013.  That's when they created their popular youtube channel, School of Cardistry, which provides free instructional videos on cardistry.  In 2014, the New Deck Order team took things to the next level, by producing their own deck designed completely for the art of card flourishing.

Now they aren't the first to produce a deck designed exclusively for cardistry, with the Virtuoso deck having proven to be a big hit in 2012, and a new edition of it appearing each year.  But what is unique about the School of Cardistry's deck is that they went a step further.  They took their starting point in the fact that a traditional deck of playing cards has one big limitation that until now had not been overcome, namely that the need for 52 different faces proved to be an obstacle for aesthetics, no matter how they were designed.  So why not abandon the idea of having 52 different cards, and instead completely do away with the idea of a traditional deck, and make the cards ideal for cardistry - front and back?!  Genius! 

Hence was born the new standard for cardistry: non-standard playing cards.  The evolution of the playing card deck was now truly at an unparalleled point in its history, moving yet another step further away from its originally designed purpose as a gaming tool, and now becoming the tool of choice for an entirely new game.  In a separate article I reviewed the original version of the School of Cardistry deck, so now I'm reviewing the second and third versions of this deck.



School of Cardistry V2 Deck

In conjunction with their second season of video tutorials, The New Deck Order released a new version of their deck.



It features quite different colours and design, and improves the original concept with a card-back design that looks less traditional in style.



The backs have borders and a splash of black, to help emphasize flips and twirls.



Just like the first version of this deck, the card faces have the same design on all 52 cards, which make a simple spread look amazing.



At the same time, the design still has elements that are a tribute to traditional cards, with a mandala on the card faces that consists of elements inspired by court cards from a standard deck.  The mandala means that spinning moves look particularly good!



Once again, the design was created by Singaporean illustrator and visual artist Marcus Lim.



The colour scheme is more bold than the first version of the School of Cardistry deck, with a striking combination of black, orange, and blue colours.



To really get an idea of the colours of this deck and what it looks like when it's being put through its paces, don't miss this short launch trailer video, which shows some impressive video footage and cardistry skills:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFrMM5hXZYk

As for the quality of the cards, the V2 deck was again printed by Legends Playing Card Company with their Emerald finish.



School of Cardistry V3 Deck

This is the most recent version of the School of Cardistry deck, and was launched with the advent of the third season of School of Cardistry tutorials, which feature expert cardists Leon Tai and Sebastian Goh.



The artwork on the card backs makes spins look terrific, because the circle design is truncated by the edges of the cards, but becomes complete when spun - NDO terms this a "Beyond Borders" back design:



Once again all the card faces are identical.  Notice the center-indicator on the faces - this helps give a point of orientation for more advanced dexterity tricks like spins.



For this deck, the NDO team collaborated with a different designer, Edo Huang, who is also the designer of the Mantecore deck.



The real benefit of having identical faces means that you can fan in both directions, and fanning look good either way, whether using the card-backs or the faces.



There's also consistency in how the cards look when springing them from hand-to-hand, regardless of which side of the cards are facing.

The indices on the card faces help ensure that the cards don't blur together, but remain individually distinct.



Now do yourself a favour and check out this launch trailer video for this deck, which features some amazing cardistry being performed by our man Jaspas himself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJG--X5af3k

Cuts also look terrific.




* * * CONCLUSIONS * * *

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

12


* * * A NEW ART FORM: Cardistry * * *

The New Deck Order (NDO)

Most of my readers have probably heard of the New World Order.  As argued by various conspiracy theories, it refers to a powerful elite that is secretly working together in the highest levels of governments around the globe, with the aim to create a single authoritarian leadership that will govern the world.

Likely much less of you have ever heard of the New Deck Order, commonly designated to as NDO.  No, it's not another conspiracy theory.  It was formed in 2013 by Jaspas Deck (real name Justin Ye) and Loretta Sze, with a dedicated web-site that aims to be a hub to help bring together cardistry fans from worldwide.  Don't worry, for the benefit of those unfamiliar with cardistry, I'll give you an explanation in just a moment, but in short it's the art of fancy flourishing with a deck of playing cards.



Jaspas Deck is the Creative Director of the New Deck Order, and has been involved with card flourishing since 2003, when he was just 15 years old.  This video will give you a short overview of some of the many achievements, qualifications, and skills that he brings to the table. He has an unconventional style that immediately sets him apart from most other cardists, and his impressive credentials include being crowned as the World Kardistry Champion for 2013-14, and the winner of many other cardistry competitions.  He has also given lectures on cardistry internationally, and has a following of fans and students.

An important element of cardistry is the ability to showcase it with skills in technology and media, and the fact that Jaspas has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Film Making serves him well to create high quality and inspiring cardistry videos.  The New Deck Order's manager Loretta Sze takes care of the more administrative aspects of the business, including running the website, marketing, and customer service.



A New Art Form

So for the uninformed, what exactly is cardistry?  It is what happens when you take traditional playing cards to the next level - literally!  It's about spinning them, tossing them, cutting them, and otherwise manipulating up, down, sideways, and around, and however else you can to create an aesthetically pleasing display.  Cardistry does have a long history, because when card tricks became popular in the 19th century, magicians would often do simple card flourishes as a way of demonstrating their skills, to entertain, or to otherwise enhance a magic performance.  But even though many magicians are good at cardistry and card flourishing because using cards is part of their job, cardistry itself is not magic. 

The word "cardistry" is a combination of the words "card" and "artistry", and it refers to a skilful activity which you create a beautiful display through the movement of individual playing cards or an entire deck.   In other words, it does things with playing cards that you never considered, and perhaps never even thought possible, and turns using a familiar deck of cards into an art form by doing unfamiliar things with it.  You could describe it as the next step in the evolution of playing cards - where the game components turn into a new and interesting dexterity game of their own, without the strict rules and boundaries we're used to.  And that's how it becomes a performance art, because it lends itself to creativity, and forces you to widen your usual perspective on a deck of cards.

It's been described as like juggling, but with playing cards.  Instead of doing ordinary cuts and shuffles, expert cardists do one-handed cuts, complicated shuffles, fans, turnovers, tosses, and catches, in a creative way with a high level of skill that is a beauty to watch.  Cardistry moves are typically given their own signature names and titles, the Sybil Cut being the most well-known basic maneuver that many beginners start with.



A Growing Art Form

This new art form has been enjoying unprecedented popularity and enormous growth in recent years.  What was once considered to be an activity used as a filler in a magic performance, has now become its own separate and legitimate art form.  Creative and skilled performers are performing moves of increased complexity.  As evidence of how big this new art form is growing, you will find many performance videos and cardistry tutorials on the internet.  There are even international gatherings of top performers, and over the last few years Cardistry Con was organized as an international and annual convention for cardistry enthusiasts.  The next event is planned for July 2017 in Los Angeles, with big name attendees from around the world.  Social media and sites like youtube and instagram have really helped popularize and advance the art, because cardists can share their new moves and tutorials and videos with other enthusiasts globally.

And yet this is an art form that remains well within the reach of beginners, because all you need to try it is a good deck of cards, and from there you are limited only by your imagination, creativity, and manual dexterity.  But you can also buy specialized decks of playing cards that particularly lend themselves well to cardistry, and that's what this review is about. The New Deck Order is one of groups that is at the forefront of cardistry, and actively promotes it by instructional videos, lecture tours, and furthermore, their very own deck designed specifically for cardistry.



An Evolving Art Form

Since cardistry is all about creating a visual impact, creating a deck of playing cards that have carefully designed aesthetic qualities to maximize this appeal when fanning and spreading cards makes obvious sense.  It's only a logical progression to create a deck with aesthetics that will visually accent every card flourish, from spins, to cuts, to pivots, to fans, and the New Deck Order has done exactly that.  A growing art form needs evolving materials, and that's what the Non-Standard Playing Cards from NDO are all about.  With these decks, playing cards have arrived a point they have not been before: 52 identical cards, front and back, designed purely for cardistry, and so further removed from the original purpose of a deck of traditional playing cards than ever before!


* * * A NEW STANDARD: Non-Standard Playing Cards * * *

But first let's travel back in time to 2013, when the New Deck Order was first formed.  That's when they created their popular youtube channel, School of Cardistry, which provides free instructional videos on cardistry.  In 2014, the New Deck Order team took things to the next level, by producing their own deck designed completely for card flourishing.

Now they aren't the first to produce a deck designed exclusively for cardistry, with the Virtuoso deck having proven to be a big hit in 2012, and a new edition of it appearing each year.  But what is unique about the School of Cardistry's deck is that they went a step further.  They took their starting point in the fact that a traditional deck of playing cards has one big limitation that until now had not been overcome, namely that the need for 52 different faces proved to be an obstacle for aesthetics, no matter how they were designed.  So why not abandon the idea of having 52 different cards, and instead completely do away with the idea of a traditional deck, and make the cards ideal for cardistry - front and back?!  Genius!  Hence was born the new standard for cardistry: non-standard playing cards.  The evolution of the playing card deck was now truly at an unparalleled point in its history, moving yet another step further away from its originally designed purpose as a gaming tool, and now becoming the tool of choice for an entirely new game.



School of Cardistry Deck V1

And so the first edition of the novel School of Cardistry Deck came about.   The box cover says it all: "fifty-two non-standard playing cards".  This is what the New Deck Order considers to be cardistry's new standard: non-standard!



The look of this original deck was a deliberate blend between the classic/timeless and the contemporary, and the hand-drawn designs were created with the help of Singaporean designer Marcus Lim.  NDO explains the concept as follows: "The back design is inspired by traditional playing card backs, featuring Cardistry moves on top of intricate details."  The card backs feature hand-drawn images with obvious nods to cardistry.



But the revolutionary aspect of this deck is with the card faces: they are all identical!



As NDO says: "The face design takes on a modern look, inspired by court cards. It was made to accentuate spinning flourishes, flowing movements, as well as large, multi-card displays."  The abstract design on the card faces means that displays have a very unified and different look, and that not only the back of the cards, but also the faces can be used for neat presentation.  Even fans, spreads, and twirls can capitalize on the face designs.



This unique design also helps cardistry enter a new phase of development and evolution.  In the words of The New Deck Order: "At the rate Cardistry is growing as an art, it’s about time we had something to call our own. A deck of cards made only for card flourishing."  With a deck like this, there's no chance you'll be confused for a magician or a poker player, and the identical cards will immediately become a point of interest, and help set you apart as someone dedicated to this new art form.



As for the quality of the cards, they are what the NDO describes as their "legacy finish" with "double varnishing"; they are somewhat guarded about the details, but I've not seen any negative reports about the handling or quality of this deck.



To see this deck in action, do check out this launch trailer video, which features some stunning cardistry and videography!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni4VdUKqgAg

This is definitely a deck made entirely and only for card flourishing - even more so than the Virtuoso deck ever was!




* * * CONCLUSIONS * * *

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

13
Playing Card Plethora / Re: Bharata Playing Cards - Live now on KS
« Last post by leangyan on June 20, 2017, 09:14:47 PM »
New addons included: a custom Bandana (with card back design) and uncut sheets.

Check latest update here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sunishchabba/bharata-playing-cards/posts/1916708
14
Bare
Creator:  The Other Brothers
Publisher:
MSRP: $ 35
Skill Level: All
DVD Run time: 35 minutes

Type of effect:

Manufacturer's Write Up: In what is destined to become the go-to trick for professionals around the globe, Bare generates screams, gasps, and reactions like no other trick we know. This special, hand-altered Sharpie marker allows you to cause ANY card, initials, number, or simple shape to appear ON A SPECTATOR'S HAND.

They hold out a hand, palm down, and you gently sprinkle salt, pepper, coffee grinds, or sand on their hand. By rubbing their hand gently, their thought-of shape APPEARS on their own hand.

The Bare Sharpie allows you to invisibly write or draw anything on YOUR hand, which you easily and imperceptibly transfer onto their hand. The best part? It has no scent or stickiness, and can be easily wiped away after the performance. This is a hygienic, "neat" version of the "Ashes on Arm" trick -- it doesn't endanger a spectator's clothing or look "dirty."

How accurate is the ad copy? Wonderfully accurate, they really tell you what this effect is – very clearly.
 
What's in the box?  Gimmick pen and download code

Key points:  The pen lasts for hundreds of performances, and is disguised inside a real Sharpie marker. Includes download link for full video performance and explanation. Easy to perform.
 
How are the production values: It’s chiefly the other brothers sitting in a living room on a couch talking to a stationary camera.
 
Is it well made: This is made to look like a real sharpie marker.

Is it well taught: the other brothers are fun teachers and I think they always try to give you as much as you can.
 
Storage? Does it "pack flat?"  This effect packs the same as a standard sharpie and your “set up” is mostly pre-show work.
 
Does it "play big?" The ash effect always plays well if done well
 
Difficulty / Skill level required:  Super easy – no sleights or difficult moves. You will need to practice a bit with different substances for the reveal.
 
How much arts and crafts are involved? You need to be able to write backwards (in mirror image)
 
How practical is this in the real world? (can it really be done?) Yes, this is great for strolling and street magic.
 
Overall score: let's toss out the traditional score of 1-10 and make this something that we all can appreciate and understand.
 
___X__ Very Satisfied
_____ Somewhat Satisfied
_____ Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied
_____ Somewhat Dissatisfied
_____ Very Dissatisfied
_____ No Opinion

 My thoughts this definitely moves the ashes effect into the 20th century.

+ 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=BVcncrjnDaM
15
Hey,

I am interested. Will you ship to Singapore?

Cheers
Ben
16
Playing Card Plethora / Re: Damask Finish
« Last post by EndersGame on June 20, 2017, 01:07:18 AM »
In further addition to what Don mentioned, Expert also uses another plant in Mainland China that may or may not be used by Legends ;)

Jackson Robinson's Legal Tender was produced there as an example which will be in the hands of its backers soon.

Reports are suggesting that the quality of the Legal Tender decks produced by the factory in China is disastrous.  See for example the very negative review and follow-up posts here:
Legal Tender - By Jackson Robinson

Examples of the new JN finish and new Stud finish were produced for the Skull & Bones deck - there's some comments and impressions about them in this thread here:
Skull & Bones - Sample Editions with New Finishes

Was the Legal Tender deck considered to be the new JN finish, the new Stud finish, or neither?
17
The Conversation Parlor / Re: The Multitude Game Set
« Last post by RandCo on June 19, 2017, 10:47:49 PM »
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.
18
Hi, Im cleaning up my collection a little bit in preparation for CC2017 have some decks available for sale and i don't have a lot of love for them.

I take paypal payments and have already done some deals in this forum so no problem here.

EBAY - http://www.ebay.com/usr/hecrobprz

DIRECT SALES

D&D

• 1 - V1 Smoke Deck - $ 100
• 1 - V2 Mirror Deck - $ 75
• 1 - V3 Autographed Mirror Deck - $ 100
• 1 - V4 Autographed Deck Eco - $ 75
• 1 - V5 Autographed Deck Denim - $ 75
• 1 - V6 Autographed Deck Rougue - $ 75

Fontaine

• 1 - Sleight Edition - $ 45
• 1 - Red Fontaine - $ 400
• 1 - Green Fontaine - $ 55
• 1 - Pink Fontaine - $ 65
• 1 - Blue fontaine - $ 85
• 1 - Black Fontaine - $ 75

or buy the complete set for $ 700, shipping included.

EPCC

• 1 - Gold Skull & Bones JN finish - $ 100
• 1 - old Skull & Bones STUD finish - $ 100

Im shipping from Mexico, every package will have a tracking number available. All the decks will be properly packaged to ensure the best condition at delivery.

USA shipping is $10 USD for 1 deck + $3 USD for each additional deck.
International shipping is $20 USD for 1 deck + $2 USD for each additional deck

Payment would be through paypal at hecrob@hotmail.com

Thanks for reading
19

3. I'm not sure that Gamblers Warehouse should be mentioned alongside USPCC, EPCC/LPCC and MPC.  Aren't they more of a production/fulfilment company, rather than a printing company?  The in-house produced decks that I have by Gamblers Warehouse have been printed by different companies, including USPCC (recent example here), but also EPCC/LPCC (recent examples here and here).

Gambler's Warehouse also owns the Liberty Playing Card Company, a printer founded in Chicago in 1970.  Less than a decade later, they relocated to Arlington, Texas, and after another decade they acquired Western Publishing's playing card operations and brands.  Arguably, their most well-known product was the "Iraq's Most Wanted" deck in 2003.

There's even a bit of controversy around that deck.  The US military inadvertently used Hoyle jokers on the deck without obtaining USPC's permission; though the company didn't formally object to the military using their design, they did object to a private company using their design.  While I don't know what action if any was taken, I suspect that USPC didn't pursue anything legal against Liberty - they were simply printing it for the government.  Regardless, it raised the company's profile noticeably and resulted in an increase in their business, though to this day they're still more known for making company decks and ad decks than they are for making collectible decks - as noted, most of their production work in the field of collectibles has been farmed out to either Expert PCC or USPC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Playing_Card_Company
(It's a very short read - half of what's in the article I posted in the paragraph above!)
20
THE TENDRIL TRILOGY

Custom playing cards don't have to be expensive, but they certainly can be.  Take for example the original Tendril deck created by graphic designer Paul Carpenter, which is the deck that launched his brand Encarded.  When it was created in 2012, it broke the Kickstarter record for the highest funding for a playing card project at the time.  Since then, prices for this deck have gone through the roof, and they typically go for well over $100 each on eBay right now.

So why so was the Tendril deck so successful?  Certainly it did have some unique features in playing card design, including the fact that it had black borders with shadows that faded to light gray, plus an unusual and colourful flourescent style design on the card-backs, as well as very striking card faces that were completely custom.  It was also printed in USPCC's highest quality, so the card quality was excellent.  And perhaps most importantly, the Tendril deck came out just as Kickstarter was really starting to take off, and so it could tap into a market which looks very different from the one today, where crowd-funding platforms are flooded with custom designs.  All these elements came together to create a deck that was perfect for card flourishers, magicians, and collectors.  In the words of the ad copy: "Dark, yet colorful.  Symmetrical, yet not.  Sinister, yet inviting."

After that initial record-breaking success, Encarded has gone on to produce nearly 30,000 decks of custom playing cards.  The original Tendril deck has inspired what has now become a Tendril trilogy, with the addition of two other decks in the series: Tendril Nightfall, and Tendril Ascendant, both of which are readily available for around $12 from the designer.  Encarded has also produced some other great decks, including some affordable ones, but also some more exotic limited editions.   In this review, I'll cover a couple of these decks, and give some closing thoughts about the Tendril trilogy and about the other playing cards produced by Paul Carpenter's Encarded.




NON-TENDRIL DECKS

Paul is a designer with many talents, and he's put these talents to good use by making other beautiful designs under the Encarded label.
 
Encarded Standard

I'll start with the cheapest deck that Paul sells, which is something he calls Encarded Standard.  As I'm writing this, the current price point for this deck is around $8.



It's deliberately designed to be a very affordable and usable deck. The court cards are styled on classic faces, but with a completely reworked and custom look.  But beyond this, the degree of customization in the entire deck is minimal, to ensure that the overall look is easily recognizable and functional.



The first edition of Encarded Standarded was printed in 2014 with a classic blue tuck box and card backs.  The box has a very neat and clean look, and yet an elegant touch with the addition of silver foil and subtle embossed features, while the back of the box has a patterned design not unlike the card-backs, but with inverted colours.



These cards were printed by the Expert Playing Card Company in their Master finish, which is the equivalent of the Diamond finish from Legends Playing Card Company (see my detailed review of their finishes here).  These cards are thinner and snappier than a typical USPCC produced deck, but are also more durable, have much cleaner edges, and shuffle, fan, and handle beautifully.

Celestial

The Celestial deck is a good example of one of the limited releases from Encarded.  Only 1000 individually numbered decks were produced, and like many of Paul Carpenter's other limited releases, these tend to be snapped up quickly by collectors and fans of his style.

The tuck box is absolutely exquisite, with embossing, a combination of pearlescent white and metallic red foils, and an individually numbered seal that collectors will appreciate.



The name already hints at the inspiration of the design, which captures elements of ancient astronomers, their instruments and charts, probing a limitless expanse.

The court cards showcase a deliberate attempt to work with a classic and familiar look, but with a minimalist use of colours that emphasizes the polished design of the characters themselves, while the delicate borders and the fine detail below the indices creates a sense of refinement and style.



The red card backs have a simple and practical design that captures the thematic elements of astronomy instruments from ancient times.



These cards were also produced by Expert Playing Company, but in their Classic finish, which will feel softer and more familiar than the Master finish, and is a popular choice for many decks these days.

More?

Many other examples could be given of the terrific decks that Paul has produced in limited numbers under the Encarded label, including Aurum, Deco, Zenith, Chancellor, more.  I'll not cover these here, since the focus of this review is the Tendril Trilogy, which was more widely produced and more readily available.  But if you do like the look of what you see here, definitely consider following Encarded, so that you can be among the hungry few who quickly gobble up the quality limited editions of Paul's beautiful designs.




CONCLUSIONS

Glowing: The whole feel of the Tendril trilogy decks is a sense of luminescence.  They feature a very unusual set of colours, that feel simultaneously jarring and yet relaxing at the same time.  It's a paradoxical combination of being boldly striking and yet pleasantly calming.  The neon colours gives the sense that the pips on the cards are glowing, and looks fantastic!

Eye-catching: Even though I've seen a lot of custom decks of playing cards, there was something immediately eye-catching about the Tendril design.  It features an unusual design, particularly on the card backs, but this is enhanced by the striking choice of colours used for the card backs and faces, especially the dominant use of black as a background, against which vivid colours stand out brightly, with the colours themselves flowing into one another rather than being static.  The effect is hard to describe, especially if one sees it first-hand - it is oddly hypnotic and at the same time ethereal.  While it won't be to everyone's taste, there's no disputing the fact that this is a very eye-catching design!

Creative: Paul Carpenter is a man of creativity, who likes experimenting and trying new things.  He describes his own passion for playing card design as follows: "I like to pursue new ideas, trying things that other designers might not have thought of. Holding a deck of custom cards in your hands is a wonderfully tactile experience, and I want to bring a little sense of wonder to each deck I make."  This creativity is certainly evident in the Tendril trilogy that fuelled the beginning of Encarded.  Fortunately there's no reason to think that he's lost this creativity, and whenever he releases a new design it immediately attracts a lot of interest.

Trilogy: I especially like the fact that the two sequels not only build on the success of the original Tendril deck, but also its design.  There is a unity of style that binds them together, especially the close relationship that Tendril Nightfall has with the first deck.  Of the two sequels, I probably like the Nightfall deck the best, for this reason, but they are both excellent, and the flourescent yellow-green of the Tendril Ascendant has a lively spring-time feel that many will appreciate.

Quality: There's a lot of debate about handling of different decks in playing card circles.  But the truth of the matter is that if a deck is produced by United States Playing Card Company, there's not going to be many differences in quality.  The only real choices designers have are whether a deck is smooth or embossed, and the vast majority select the embossed option, since it is the one that produces an air-cushion style finish that is optimal for good handling. Aside from that the only other significant choice to be made is whether to use Standard/Bicycle stock, or to use the slightly thicker and higher quality Bee Casino stock.  The Tendril decks use the latter, and so they are very well produced, effectively at the highest USPCC standards possible.  For some of his other decks, Paul has used Expert Playing Card Company as the printer.  I personally havea lot of experience with EPCC decks, and can confidently affirm that their quality is equal to or higher than USPCC decks.  In other words, all Encarded decks are going to be quality playing cards.

Inexpensive: While the limited edition decks might be out of the reach of some people's budgets, the prices for the Tendril sequels are very reasonable, especially compared with the prices of other custom playing cards in the market right now.  And certainly they are a bargain when compared with the large figures that the original Tendril deck is commanding on the secondary market right now!

Record-breaking: When the original Tendril deck was released on Kickstarter in early 2012, it easily achieved its goal of $20,000, and went on to reach a total funding level of $41,648, with over 1000 backers.  At the time, this was easily a record for the highest amount of funding ever for a set of playing cards, crushing the previous best result.  Some consider this deck to have played a role in beginning the playing card revolution on Kickstarter that followed in the years afterwards.  After this hit, the word was out that Kickstarter was a viable platform for quality projects, and so collectors and magicians began flocking to this crowd-funding platform in search of other hidden gems.  It's a result of successes like the Tendril story, that talented independent designers were finding themselves able to tap into a market that previously was monopolized by big publishers such as Ellusionist, Theory11 and Blue Crown.

Enterprising: The man behind Encarded is Paul Carpenter, who has a background in graphic design.  His interests include collecting playing cards, cardistry, and simple sleight of hand, as well as outdoor activities around his home in Florida.  He founded his company Encarded already in 2011, but it was on the strength of his Tendril success that he was able to go on to future successes.  His Kickstarter for the original Tendril effectively and successfully launched Encarded as a viable enterprise, and since then he's created numerous Encarded projects, many of which are produced in limited numbers, and sought after by collectors.

Other decks: Clearly a talented individual, Paul has also produced numerous other designs under the Encarded label, including Aurum, Deco, Zenith, Chancellor, Celestial and more.  Many of these classy playing cards are in high demand, so if his style appeals to you, you'll want to keep an eye for his future projects.

Where can you get them? The best place to look is at Encarded's website.



Recommendation

Are the Encarded decks of playing cards for you?  The original Tendril deck is probably out of reach for most of us, but fortunately you don't have to sell one of your kidneys before having enough money to buy one of the two sequels that completed the trilogy of Tendril decks, Tendril Nightfall & Tendril Ascendant.  Paul Carpenter's style is unique, and the unusual colour choices and eye-catching design of the Tendril trilogy make for very striking and memorable decks, that instantly leave a positive impression on most people who see them. His other decks continue the trend of creative and beautiful designs, and his limited editions are definitely something that collectors would appreciate.

I am happy to have come across Encarded, and glad to recommend Paul's work to anyone who enjoys quality playing cards!



Want to learn more? Encarded: http://www.encarded.com

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
Tendril Nightfall: https://encarded.com/collections/playing-cards/products/tendril-nightfall
Tendril Ascendant: https://encarded.com/collections/playing-cards/products/tendril-ascendant
Encarded Standard: https://encarded.com/products/encarded-standard-first-edition
Celestial Red: https://encarded.com/products/celestial-red-edition

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