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EndersGame
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*** NEWLY RELEASED DECKS FROM ART OF PLAY ***

Dan and Dave Buck's Art of Play

Art of Play is the online home of Dan and Dave Buck, twins who first made a name for themselves as magicians. They subsequently branched out into the world of cardistry (i.e. card flourishing), and are widely regarded as one of the top pioneers and innovators in this relatively new art-form, playing a major role in its growth and development.

Their interest in the world of playing cards also led to the establishment of Art of Play as their own brand and online retail outlet. Since 2013 they have been selling a range that includes hundreds of different decks of quality playing cards, as well as unique games and puzzles. And besides carrying a large inventory of luxury playing cards, Dan and Dave have also been contributing to the custom playing card industry by producing decks of their own, under the Art of Play label. Over the last couple of years alone, they have been producing well over a dozen different decks of custom playing cards every year, with many wonderful and popular designs. In these articles I'm focusing on some of their newest releases which have just hit the market in the last six months or so.

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*** DECKS FOR THE COLLECTOR ***

The decks in this category can certainly be used for card games or card magic if you wanted, because the suits and pips are still clearly recognizable. But the degree of customization in these decks is a little more radical. While that might make them somewhat less than desirable for normal usage, it's exactly this quality that will make them very appealing and attractive to the collector. These are decks of playing cards that are very creative, and each has a truly unique personality that will quickly become apparent once we start looking at the cards.

Into the Weird

The Into the Weird deck of cards is very different from your average deck. It's truly a weird and wonderful deck of cards, and enables you to discover a story within as you look at it.

It’s not easy to describe what this deck is like, since everything about it is truly out of the ordinary, but the tuck case immediately gives a taste of what the deck is like. The front of the tuck depicts an unusual cave entrance with the words "Into the Weird" in the centre. White wisps near the top emphasize a sense of mystery, and the entire image conveys the impression that as you open the deck, you are entering into a weird and strange world. The choice of unusual red and green colours on a black backdrop also emphasize a first impression of something strange and ghostly, and this impression is only going to be confirmed once we start looking at the cards themselves.

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A special card is included inside the deck to explain the back story. This deck was produced by Art of Play in collaboration with Jenny Gebhardt and was inspired by a fascination with the strange and unusual. Here's the card that summarizes the concept behind the deck:

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With this new piece of information in mind, we return to the tuck case, and notice that on the inside of the tuck flap there are the words “Wonders of an Odd Journey”, which capture exactly what this deck is about. The back of the tuck case features the back design of the cards, which we will see shortly.

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The back design of the deck uses the same strange and mysterious colours as the tuck case, with a ghostly green and unusual red being prominent. It also features a large eye in the centre of a starry diamond, with green plant-like ripples coming off of it. Everything about this design confirms our initial impressions: we are really entering the realm of the strange and unusual.

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The faces of these cards all have individual unique artworks on every single card, and you can see all of them directly from where the artist has posted them here (although note that the designs have been slightly changed to make them more practical on playing cards). Each suit even has its own "theme", with the Diamonds being air/science, Clubs being earth/nature, Hearts being water/dream, and Spades being fire/nightmare.

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While there are unique eye-catching artworks on every card, a real strength of this deck is that the indices are nonetheless clear and distinct. This ensures that Into The Weird remains a very usable deck, still you can even play games with the cards while appreciating their designs.

The courts also have a very unique feature of being slightly different when flipped upside down, and this quality gives added details to explore and enjoy.

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The deck also comes with two jokers, an ad card, and an information card about the deck. The Jokers picture an intriguing eye type figure that has been divided in two and is floating in space.

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More surprises await discovery by the curious, including full interior printing on the inside of the tuck case, which has been printed with red on black, showing an image of a black hole sucking things into it.

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The cards have been printed by USPCC on a thinly crushed stock, and they handle amazingly, being soft and still long lasting. The back design is actually quite nice for cardistry, being unique and detailed while also have a few key focus points. Since the indices are very clear, the deck can also be used for card games, while the unique design ensures there's additional interest that goes beyond mere functionality. While not for everyone, this is certainly an intriguing and interesting deck that stretches us far beyond the ordinary!

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Seekers

The unique Seekers deck tells a special story of two parallel worlds, and the ongoing struggle for victory. This deck is comprised of very attractive and yet functional cards that have been well illustrated by a talented graphic designer, Billy French, in collaboration with Art of Play.

This tuck case is made from a very dark navy blue, and the front shows the name of the deck, "Seekers" and the Ace of Spades in an archway with a starry background. The torch represents an ongoing struggle for victory before our light is extinguished.

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The back of the tuck features the back design of the cards, which we will look at later. The entire box has lines of design adding classiness to the deck.

The interior of the box has been printed with a gold metallic ink, and has been designed to create the impression of a starry night of darkness inside the box. This really adds an extra touch of quality and style to the deck, and evokes a true sense of elegance and sophistication.

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The cards themselves have a single blue coloured back design, with an economy of design that ensures that it is not too distracting for users of the deck, while at the same time not detracting from class and style. In the centre of the card backs is a large diamond with a starry night sky, and two entwined rings with the Eye of Providence in the centre, representing the fact that there is a God watching over everything.

The customized Ace of Spades is a spade with a torch and a starry background, as on the front of the tuck case.

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A unique feature about these cards is that the Clubs and Spades employ a blue that matches the colour used on the card backs, rather than the standard black. While this is unusual, this doesn’t make the cards less usable, but instead makes them so much more interesting and special, and also ensures a thematic unity with the card backs.

The indices of this deck are very clear, again allowing the cards to be very practical and functional. The pips are all exquisitely customised, thereby contributing to a sense of something original and stylish. The court cards of the Hearts and Diamonds depict undead characters, which are juxtaposed against the living characters on the Clubs and Spades.

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The courts are all customised and look very nice, yet are still clearly identifiable and thus usable.

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Included in the deck are also two Jokers, namely a living blue wizard and an undead red wizard, which fits well with the rest of the theme of the deck. Also included are two ad cards, one for Art of Play, and the other for Billy French, the illustrator.

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The seal is particularly nice, with metallic gold ink and a key-hole, which you must "unlock" to enter into this deck. Indeed, from the moment we have entered the tuck box and explored the cards within, we cannot help but be impressed with the creativity and quality.

These cards have been printed on a crushed stock by the USPCC, and handle amazingly, like all Art of Play’s decks. The crushed stock means the cards are softer than usual and are ready to use right out of the box, whether for games, magic or card flourishing, all of which this deck is great for. The artwork is amazing and well-thought out, well worth looking at and enjoying, making this deck ideal for the collector, or the magician or cardist.

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*** CONCLUSION ***

So are decks from Art of Play something for you? I've sourced playing cards from Art of Play previously, and continue to be very impressed with the custom cards that they produce, along with their other products.

With their background in cardistry and magic, Dan and Dave Buck know exactly what good playing cards are about, and they demand exacting standards of quality that ensures that they make and sell only the very best. They understand what kinds of patterns, colours, and aesthetic designs are appealing and functional, and they also have good connections in the playing card industry to ensure that the cards they produce are of the highest quality, prove durable, and handle smoothly. As such, those with an interest in card magic or card flourishing are sure to appreciate the custom playing cards that they have contributed to the market.

But there's also a lot of other fantastic material over at Art of PLay for those who enjoy card games like poker or other traditional card games. Some of their decks are creative, or opt for a more classy and sophisticated look, while they still look familiar and recognizable enough to be very usable and practical. With fresh designs, as well as carefully placed details on the tuck boxes like foil accents and embossing, these are exquisite and high class products that are certain to please the discerning buyer.

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Recommendation

Whether your interest is in card magic, card flourishing, or card games, or even just card collecting, you're almost certain to find some treasures in Art of Play's growing collection. For anyone who enjoys quality playing cards, puzzles, or games, this is definitely a site I recommend you check out!

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What to learn more? Check out Art of Play:
- Official website: artofplay.com
- Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
- Youtube channel: DanAndDave

Direct links for items featured in this review:
For the Card Gamer or Magician: MAKERS: Blacksmith Edition, Antler: Tobacco Brown
For the Collector: Into the Weird, Seekers
For the Cardist: Peau Doux
For the Clever: Red Goose Puzzle

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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==

Want me to write a review of your playing cards or magic? Contact me via Private Message.
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