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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Review: Artistic decks (Masterpieces, KADAR) (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 reviews so far I've covered many decks that were highly suited for card games or card magic, whereas in the current set of reviews I'm focusing more on artistic that will appeal to collectors, colourful decks will appeal to cardists, and also a number of decks that have been produced by Will Roya and PlayingCardDecks with the help of crowdfunding.

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*** ARTISTIC DECKS ***

Personally I'm not even remotely artistic, in terms of my own skills with paints or ink, but I do have a number of family members and friends who are artists. So I have learned to appreciate and enjoy art as an observer and admirer, and I have a special fondness for artistic playing cards. Decks with a high degree of customization, and that are truly out of the ordinary, immediately attract my interest. In this category, I'll showcase some genuinely artistic decks, which are striking precisely because they incorporate illustrations of art, or have other artistic elements.

Masterpieces deck

The Masterpieces deck is an obvious and worthy candidate for this section, because even its name suggests what its subject material is about: masterpieces of art.

This project was produced under the umbrella of Bocopo Playing Cards, and was a collaboration with seven different designers under the supervision of art director Eddie from Bocopo. The navy blue tuck box makes a statement of class, while at the same time providing key information about what it took to produce this deck: 8 artists, 348 hours of work, and 58 illustrations. The title stands out in white, while branches adorn the sides of the front piece, and while a peacock stands guard on the reverse side.

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The card backs feature a complex college of triangles full of earthy colours and patterns, that combine well to produce a singular impression. The geometric fragments enhance flourishing, while the singular whole and colourful edges with the thin white borders help create pleasant fans and spreads.

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But the real highlight of this deck is the card faces, each of which has a unique and fresh design. Each tells a different story, such as "Fear of a Powerful Monster" (2 of Diamonds) and "An Entanglement Giraffe" (4 of Hearts).

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Here we have a "Humorous Octopus Magician" (6 of Diamonds) and "Distinct Meditation" (10 of Diamonds).

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The Ace of Spades, for example, has a intricate heart shape with red and orange being key colours to convey the idea of enthusiasm and energy, while the center of the heart is filled with the word LOVE, a thought that is further emphasized with soft lines emanating from the central shape. Also shown in the picture below is the Jack of Spades, which is entitled "Fire Balloon with Sunset Clouds".

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Wherever you look in this deck, there are things to explore and enjoy, that capture the imagination and attention, from poker playing dogs to chameleons, hot air balloons, and much more. It's a true collection of fascinating individual masterpieces, and as such reminds me of the Ultimate Deck, minus the transformational elements.

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What I particularly appreciate is that the cards do not have a crisp white canvas, as in the collaborative project by Playing Arts (see my review), which does create more of a sterile look. Here instead there are whites, browns, greys, and blacks, and the result is that it feels like a more authentic collection of art, that isn't overly stark or artificial.

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The uncut sheet shown here gives an overview of the entire deck, showing some of the range of styles and subject material.

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Like many other decks, this was produced by USPCC with their classic air cushion style finish for quality and good handling.

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KADAR deck

I'm not one that puts any faith whatsoever in horoscopes or tarot cards, since as a Christian I am confident that everything I need to know about the future is recorded in the Bible, and I can trust God to take care of everything He hasn't told us about. But I can appreciate the aesthetic beauty of tarot cards, and in the beautiful KADAR deck we have a fine example of what happens when the idea of fortune telling comes to life on a deck of playing cards.

The tuck box creates an immediate sense of intrigue and wonder, with our mysterious and turbaned oracle friend Kadar staring into our eyes. The sides of the box say "Kadar knows all, Kadar sees all", which adds to the sense of mystery.

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Created by Christopher Gould, this deck is inspired by the idea of arcade style fortune-telling machines, where one could put in a coin in return for the wisdom of the great oracle Kadar. While having a lifelong interest in Tarot, Christopher Gould actually earned his living as a stage magician, and so his aim was primarily to give magicians a pocket sized deck of playing cards with plenty of nods to oracle reading.

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This is what has inspired the artwork, as well as the fortune-telling card sets from the 1950s and 1960s, and also the colourful pictorial cards of the 18th century and those that were used by travelling fortune tellers in Europe. The original idea was to make the artwork look like a cheap deck found at a disreputable fun fair in the mid 20th century, but the creator decided to make them more polished, with plenty of inspiration also from the graphic style used by "Silver Age Comics".

The court cards all have their own character, and are intended to represent a unique cabinet with its own Kadar.

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The card backs are based on old carnival fortune telling machines, and are hand drawn with intricate detail.

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The Aces picture the slots into which you would place a coin, in order to get a message from the oracle.

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Each suit has its own flavour and concept, described as follows:
Spades: The card of the thinker, the planner and the strategist. Highly intellectual and rational. Possessing of logical, sceptical frame of mind. This person can also be highly idealistic, a little unemotional, and somewhat judgemental.
Clubs: The card of the creative, energetic, entrepreneur. The person who likes to be the centre of attention. H e or she is a magnet who draws others to them. But they can also be a little headstrong and easy to anger.
Diamonds: The card of the solid dependable worker. This person lives in the material world and enjoys the good things in life and will work hard for them. At the same time he or she can be rather predictable and unlikely to take any risks.
Hearts: The card of the romantic; the person whose heart rules their head. Dreamy and intuitive, they drift through life guided by their inner voice. They can also be disorganized and rely on fate to plan their lives for them.

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The deck is rounded out with a couple of colourful Jokers, a double-backer and an blank face card.

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Christopher considers the Kadar Fortune Telling Cards as a homage to his Great Aunt Ruth, who claimed to be of genuine Romany stock, and was primarily intended to be used for fun purposes, since it is based on playing cards rather than the tarot first of all. For me, the chief appeal of these cards lies in how colourful and vibrant they are, as well as the element of intrigue that they stir up.

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Printed by USPCC, they are look, feel, and handle great. My only wish is that the white borders had been slightly thinner, giving even more emphasis to the stunning artwork, something along the lines of the image below. If a reprint ever happens, I hope it would be printed by EPCC and LPCC, a publisher that is capable of more consistent and narrower borders, while ensuring crisp registration doesn't suffer.

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I'm not about to start using these cards to try to tell fortunes, but they extremely interesting to look through and enjoy. Certainly you can have fun with them in a light-hearted way, much like you might with a magic eight ball. Card collectors will also enjoy them, due to their unique feel and look, making them stand apart from most other decks of playing cards.

While perhaps not the most suited to a traditional card game, they do especially have elements of mystery and intrigue that a magician can take advantage of. You can download a free 17 page brochure (25MB PDF) with more information about the Kadar deck and its system at geminiartifacts.com here. People who buy the deck are also entitled to a 39 page PDF which gives information about how to mark the cards, and a basic introduction to the meanings of fortune-telling cards. Also available for separate purchase here is an 111 page eBook called "Kadar for Magicians" and 118 page eBook called "The Kadar Reading System" (select "Mystery Performer Manual Only" for the first item, and "Psychic Performer Manual Only" for the second item). The free eBook gives the bare bones, while the complete "Kadar for Magicians" book has much more detail, including several routines and performance ideas.


Recommendation

So is PlayingCardDecks.com something for you? I won't repeat the more detailed conclusions I included in my initial article. But I can say that 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. Happy first anniversary Will Roya!

There's a great range of creative and high quality playing cards, the decks featured above being good examples, and I'm pleased to recommend them. Whether you're looking for decks suitable for card games, card magic, or card flourishing, you're sure to find something that fits the bill at PCD. If you're like me, you'll appreciate having a quality deck of playing cards in your hands, and I'm happy to report that the playing cards I've been able to showcase here have not disappointed.

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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:
- Artistic decks: Masterpieces ($8.99), KADAR ($18.99)
- Cardistry decks: Cardistry Fanning - White Edition ($10.99), Binary ($9.99)
- PCD produced decks: Chicken ($12.99), Friendly Felines ($12.99), The Guard ($12.99)
- PCD co-produced decks: Alice in Wonderland ($14.99), Runic Royalty ($19.99), Freedom ($9.99), Opulent ($11.99)

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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Review: Artistic decks (Masterpieces, KADAR) (0 Likes)
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