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Reviewer EndersGame
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Different strokes for different folks. And also different decks for different folks. Or for different occasions. The industry of custom playing cards is booming, with lots of variety and choice. And that means that there's a custom deck that's right for you, and right for the different situations you're in. But with new decks constantly appearing, it can be hard to keep up with the latest and greatest. So to showcase some of the hot new offerings that are hitting the market, here are some brand new custom decks that I've been enjoying recently.


B-Roll deck

The design on the tuck box of the B-Roll deck reminds me of one of my favourite decks, the DKNG Blue Wheel deck. The white design on a matt dark blue is eye-catching, and appears to be an abstract design at first glance, with some pips thrown in for good measure. The main flap that opens the box includes a amusing quotes related to cinematography: "Before you say `cut', wait five more seconds."


When we get our first look at the card backs and study things more carefully, we notice details revealing that the design actually features a camera. Cleverly wrapped around the edges of the card is a film strip from the camera, which has been deliberately styled to preserve a mirrored 2-way design.

The artwork all points to the theme of the deck: footage from the B-Roll. This deck is described by its creator Kiran Kuruvithadam as "a tribute to that secret side of us". It is intended to picture an alternate story, which becomes especially obvious once we take a look at the playful court cards. These have a very familiar look about them, and yet the traditional artwork has been altered enough to give them a different look - a deliberate alter ego of the original. It has a light-hearted feel about it all, while also offering a lot of charm and appeal.


There's full customization with all the other details too, including the pips, and the fonts used for the indices. The Ace of Spades depicts a roll of film, while the two Jokers feature a vintage camera. Two gaff cards complete the package as a bonus. And given the clarity of the indices and pips, this deck certainly could be used for card magic or for card games.

This charming deck has a production quality that matches its good looks. It is printed by the United States Playing Card Company with their usual air cushion finish and quality. This might be an alternate version of yourself, but the handling and performance is just the same as always.


Six Strings deck

The Six Strings deck on the other hand takes things a little deeper, by tapping into our musical side. With a design by Ade Suryana from Indonesia, this deck was produced as a collaboration between Murphy's Magic and the popular playing card website Kardify.

A tuck box greets us with intricate patterns adorning an understated beige coloured box, while elegant copper foiling presents the name of the deck and ensures a look of class. The six strings are a reference to the guitar, and its this classic instrument which is the heart of this deck. I love music, guitar music especially, so playing with this deck was always going to be music to my ears and eyes.


But once the music starts playing, our other self has a great deal of freedom. Emotions start to stir within, and that's why the court cards have a far more customized look than we might be used to. But that's okay, because in the world of music we are free to express ourselves. The characters that dwell on these court cards have a very baroque look about them, and are well suited to the instrument that this deck is a homage to. As we'd expect, each of them is strumming a different type of guitar.

The design of the two-way card backs is clearly inspired by the heart of a guitar, with its six strings prominently displayed across the length of the cards. It's symmetry feels well balanced, although I find myself wondering how the deck would have looked with an antique beige background rather than the white used for both the faces and backs.


A virtuoso guitarist inhabits the exquisite and highly decorated Ace of Spades, while the other Aces have a simpler and more straight forward look. But there is heavy customization on every card, especially in regards to the custom pips. This does come at the cost of a clear distinction between the spades and clubs, however, so this deck will suit the collector better than the card player. The small indices are accentuated with a stylish flourish below the pips for extra elegance and style, and which brings to mind the strings of a guitar.

With the two playful jokers we show no more restraint, but give full expression to our musical efforts; one of these includes a card reveal. This deck might not be the most practical to use for card games, due to the amount of customization, and the delicate look of every card. But sometimes you need a deck that just makes beautiful music, even if you're just jamming with it on your own at home. Once again this is a USPCC produced deck, so you can expect the standard quality and handling to match the music, courtesy of the air cushion finish.



So where can you get the beautiful decks and accessories featured here? Any reputable online retailer that sells custom playing cards should have these available (e.g. Rare Playing Cards). If your favourite retailer don't stock these particular decks, send them to Murphy's Magic, which is a magic wholesaler. They have an enormous range of products that they sell in bulk quantities to dealers and retailers around the world. Given their extensive contacts in the industry, all of these decks should be available from any retailer that sources their decks from Murphy's Magic.

I've seen a lot of decks of custom playing cards, but I never cease to be surprised by the level of innovation and creativity that is on display, as designers and creators continue to experiment with new ideas and concepts. Today's market is witnessing an unprecedented amount of quality playing cards that handle beautifully and also look great. The decks featured here are all fine examples of the type of quality and style that is available to consumers today. Artistic and original decks like these are great for card gamers, cardists, magicians, collectors, or for anyone looking to customize their playing card experience with some refreshing and custom elements.


Direct links:
- For the alter-ego of you: B-Roll deck, Six Strings deck
- For the traditionalist in you: Black Widow deck, Versa deck
- For the cardist in you: Proj. Subtle deck
- For the magician in you: DMC Elites deck (Forest Green), Polyantha deck
- For the exhibitionist in you: Carat XDS card display & deck stand, Carat XCB brick box


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