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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Review: Sophisticated decks (Monarchs, Queens) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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Playing Cards for an Anniversary Celebration

In this review series, I'm featuring a number of decks I recently received as part of my first ever order from PlayingCardDecks.com (which I'll mostly refer to as PCD in this article). And because PlayingCardDecks is currently celebrating their first anniversary, from 24 - 30 April you can get 20% off everything on their website using the coupon code "YEAR1" at check out. They have 10,000s of decks in stock, with over 1500 different decks as part of their range. In my previous article I covered three decks from the "Texture" series, while in this article I'll cover some vintage style decks, in other words playing cards that have faux aging.

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*** SOPHISTICATED DECKS ***

Sometimes you're not looking for a deck of playing cards that is too different from the usual. You just want something that has the look of something immediately recognizable and familiar, and yet makes an immediate statement of style and class. PCD has a large range of sophisticated looking decks that meet those criteria, and here are two very fine examples.

Monarchs deck (Blue)

The Monarchs deck (Blue) is a super usable deck of cards that has the look of complete class and sophistication, in fact so good that they are fit for a king, hence the name. These cards are widely hailed by many people, and are very highly regarded as one of the best decks in the business. They are produced by Theory11, one of the largest custom playing card and magic companies around, and are available in several colours, the most popular one being the blue deck featured here.

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These beautiful cards are found in an absolutely amazing tuck case, laced with royal gold foil all over a navy blue tuck case. This exquisite work of art comes complete with amazing embossing touches that create a classy box that will catch the attention of anyone who sees it.

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The back design features two swords in white on a very dark navy blue background, with snakes entwining around them, and leafy branches coming off the swords. The single colour keeps the cards from being too distracting, and makes them seem standard - hence ideal for card games or magic. At the same time the design is very visually appealing and intricate to look at.

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It is a super classy design that is usable for all kinds of uses: it’s not too complicated and distracting for magic or games; it's great for cardistry; and even collectors can appreciate the great design.

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The faces of these cards are mostly standard, making them a very practical, since they are quickly recognisable and identifiable. The Ace of Spades has an enclosed crown depicted in rich gold metallic ink, fitting in with the royalty theme of the deck.

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The court cards are standard, but composed of a red, black and gold metallic ink which again creates that regal feel to the deck, and looks super classy.

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The two Jokers are a man on a penny-farthing, which creates a more vintage feel of joker.

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The regal presentation is finished off with a gorgeous red seal that stands out from the gold and blue of the tuck box, and is labelled with a gold crown to show how royal this deck of Monarchs is.

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These cards are made in the USA on a FSC-certified paper from sustainable forests, and are a nice and durable stock that fans and spreads great. It’s usable in all ways, in design and quality, for anyone who has a use of cards.

A cool trivia note about these cards is that they were actually used in the movie "Now You See Me”, which is a cool film about some magicians. Theory11 even released a special deck in connection with the film, a black edition of the Monarchs, but the deck actually used in the film is the standard blue edition featured in this review.

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It won't come as a surprise that whenever I'm looking for a deck that exudes sophistication, and yet is very practical, the Monarchs deck is one of the very first that I'll turn to.

Queens deck

The Queens deck of playing cards has been created by Murphy's Magic, and exudes style and sophistication from the moment you first set your eyes on the tuck case. With loving touches of red and silver foil, it features a Queen chess piece, standing tall above a couple of knights.

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But that is only the harbinger of what is to come, and the back of the tuck box features a stunning design that is quickly going to become a familiar friend once we see the card backs, namely a chequered pattern in red and white that immediately brings to mind the image of a chess board. When held up to the light, the red and silver foil beam back a shining reflective image, which features a diagonal red swath of colour, the queen again playing central role, alongside a bishop and rook.

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It's obvious of course, that this deck has been inspired by the classic game of chess. The official ad copy alludes to the special rule of chess in which a pawn which reaches the end of its file is promoted to a queen. "With enough blood and sweat, even the simplest Pawn can become the most powerful piece on the board. The Queens Playing Cards embraces the inner fire and unrelenting drive of those brave enough to chase their passions. It speaks to the underdog who dares to defy the doubters with 10,000 hours of unbridled focus. It stands for those who realize that the most powerful piece is always the one they never see coming."

The tuck box flap invites us to enter this world with the words "Make Your Move". And you won't be disappointed when you do, because one of the first things that will strike you is the sophistication of the ornate Ace of Spades, which has beautifully garnished with touches of sparkling silver foil. Photos really don't do this beautiful deck justice, with all the silver you see here actually being metallic foil silver that gleams in the light.

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But my favourite cards in this deck are unquestionably the court cards, which have a thoroughly traditional look, but have been given a new lease of life with the addition of silver foil. I've especially enjoyed using these cards for family games of Poker, and getting a pair of Queens in my hand for a winning two pair has never as satisfying.

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As this terrific Ivan Choe image from Kardify shows, the number cards have a relatively standard look despite some small customization, and it's alongside these cards that the royalty of this decks looks even more stunning.

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Our Jokers are a matching pair of friends whose artwork has been inspired by the classic knight. Once again classical iconography is evident, and these shapes are deliberately engineered to combine with bold modern design, and unchecked passion, "created for the underdog whose raw talents and have yet to be realized. Why should you fear the underdog? Because outthinking them only makes them smarter. Because beating them only makes them work harder. Because the most powerful piece is the one they never see coming."

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Unlike most of the other decks featured here, these have been printed by Expert Playing Card Company in Taiwan. But that doesn't make them inferior, because EPCC is considered an industry leader that produces quality playing cards that are the equal of USPCC decks. In terms of size, EPCC might be considered a Pawn, but in terms of quality, they are Queens on the board of the custom playing card industry, and these cards are extremely durable and handle beautifully. They feel different than a standard Bicycle deck, but have a greater snap and durability, and spread and fan in a most satisfying way.

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Recommendation

So is PlayingCardDecks.com something for you? I won't repeat the more detailed conclusions I included in my previous article, except to say that these playing cards deserve similar praise for their creativity and quality. Whether you're looking for decks suitable for card games, card magic, or card flourishing, there's something that fits the bill, and the decks featured here are good examples.

So if you're looking a high quality deck of playing cards, PCD is definitely a terrific online retailer to check out, based on my own very positive experience. And getting 20% off with their anniversary sale that is running from 24-30 April (use the coupon code "YEAR1"), now is a great time to discover this site. I'm very pleased to recommend all the decks featured in this review!

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Want to learn more? Check out PlayingCardDecks.com
- Online Store: playingcarddecks.com (use code "YEAR1" to get a 20% discount site-wide during the first anniversary sale 24th to 30th April 2018)
- Related links: Blog, Kickstarter projects, Loyalty Rewards Program, Pip Box Club
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Textured decks: Metal - Blue Edition ($17.99), Wood ($14.99), Denim ($12.99)
- Vintage decks: Expert Back ($5.99), Vintage Classic ($9.99), Texan ($6.99)
- Sophisticated decks: Monarchs (Blue) ($9.99), Queens ($11.99)
- Gaff decks: Super Gaff ($13.99)
NB: prices listed in brackets are prior to applying the 20% off anniversary sale discount.

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