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If you're a discerning buyer looking for a pure-bred pet, you'll know that pedigree is important. The same is true of some custom decks, and that's certainly the case with the Memento Mori Genesis deck. This is the fourth in a line of decks that began with the original but still popular Memento Mori deck.

The original deck was created with the involvement and vision of Chris Ramsay, a prominent youtuber who is often associated with the deck. Chris came up with much of the vision and some of the concepts, but to produce the deck, he employed the services of designer Adrian Valenzuela (who uses the handle avtones online). Adrian isn't as well known as Chris Ramsay, because he doesn't have a youtube channel with millions of subscribers. But he should be getting as much credit for the original Memento Mori deck as Chris Ramsay because he is the graphic designer who created it, in consultation with Chris, and he also created all the other decks in the Memento Mori series.

Regardless of who you think deserves more credit, what is beyond dispute is that the original Memento Mori deck is a best-selling product that is one of the most recognizable custom decks of the modern era. It features low-poly artwork, along with a distinctive and vibrant colour scheme that makes good use of white space on the card backs. Versions of several popular gaff decks (e.g. Svengali Deck, Stripper Deck, Invisible Deck) were even produced with the Memento Mori artwork. Since then, Adrian Valenzuela has now created three further Memento Mori decks on his own, the latest one being Memento Mori Genesis deck, which is the one I'm reviewing.


The first deck to follow the original Memento Mori deck was its sequel, Memento Mori Blue, which featured the same artwork and design but with a more subdued and cooler blue colour scheme. Then came the Memento Mori NXS (Nexus), representing the third generation of this series. This was a more radical departure from the original. The pips and court cards retained the low poly look that was the hallmark of the Memento Mori decks, but a new colour scheme (focusing on pink, purple, and blue) was adopted. More significantly, the card backs saw a significant change. The basic formula and overall design of these was similar to what we'd seen previously, but now used a more 3D looking skull. This created an entirely new look, while preserving the original memento mori concept, which means remember your mortality.

The Memento Mori Genesis deck continues to display characteristics of these ancestors, and is very much part of this family line. But you only need to take a look at the box to see that the brand has had a complete makeover. And for the first time, the card faces have also had the benefit of a new style, and it's much more than just a change of colours, as you can see immediately from these court cards.


According to the creator, this new deck was intended to be a "reimagining" of Adrian's widely celebrated design, and originated as a "self-challenge to re-create the brand using only 3D software." This accounts for the 3D images on the card backs, and also explains why all the artwork on the card faces has a fresh new look. To achieve this, the design process involved turning the poly shapes into three-dimensional angled glass, and then painting this digitally with a photorealistic light source. So instead of just getting a low poly look, we now have the impression of an actual shape with angled surfaces, onto which a light source is shining brightly. Different angles show different colours, depending on their proximity to the light source and the angle in which they reflect the light.

The court cards do this spectacularly well, and are the real highlight for me. These consist of burnished surfaces that reflect a spectrum of colours, bringing to mind the golden colours of sunset. The resulting spectrum of colours ranges from yellow/orange through purple/blue, and even gives the impression of moving from hot to cold.


The same redesign has been applied to the pips. These no longer feel like a splash of colour blurred together as part of a flat 2D image as was the case in the previous Memento Mori decks, but instead have the appearance of shiny crumpled foil in full 3D. Not only do the pips on the Genesis deck match the 3D design style used for the court cards, but they are also smaller than what they were on the previous decks. There are colour adjustments too, with blue (Spades and Clubs) and red (Hearts and Diamonds) now being the chief colours for the pips, instead of the purple and pink of the original.

Small colour changes appear elsewhere as well, e.g. instead of black being used for the Spades/Clubs indices and for the thin borders on the card backs, these indices are now blue/purple, while the thin borders are now orange/yellow. The Jokers also have a completely new look, and feature a photo-realistic digital design of a skull wrapped with a coiled snake below a floating apple. In contrast, the original deck had more of an abstract design where a triangle was the main piece.

Like the original Memento Mori deck, this was printed by the United States Playing Card Company, but there is an immediate difference in handling and feel. The original deck used thin-crushed stock, but the Genesis deck uses the standard Bicycle stock, so it doesn't feel as soft, and should also prove slightly more durable.


A big factor in deciding which deck you prefer will be the style of artwork, and whether or not you prefer the 2D low-poly style of the original, or the more photorealistic 3D style of the Genesis edition, which gives more of a three-dimensional feel, with multiple angles and colours. For me personally, this is the nicest deck in the series along with the original. It best captures what I liked about the original, while also departing from it the most. And while the back design of the Genesis deck is most similar to its immediate predecessor the Memento Mori NXS (Nexus), with more realistic skulls, a new colour scheme ensures that these still have a different look and feel.

Since it's especially the first Mementi Mori deck that sets the benchmark for this family of decks, here is an overview of all the ways the Genesis deck departs from the original:
● unembossed tuck box (vs embossed tuck box)
● 3D realistic art (vs 2D low-poly art)
● yellow/orange/red/purple/blue colour spectrum (vs yellow/green/blue/purple/pink colour spectrum)
● blue and red suits (vs purple and pink suits)
● slightly small pips (vs larger pips)
● coloured indices for spades/clubs (vs black indices)
● coloured borders on card backs (vs black borders)
● skull/snake Jokers (vs triangle footprint Joker)
● 1x ad card and 1x double backer (vs 2x ad cards)
● standard stock (vs thin-crush stock)

Which is better? I love them both, and for me the original Memento Mori deck and this latest Memento Mori Genesis deck are easily the two standout decks in this series.

The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Review: Memento Mori Genesis Playing Cards (Adrian Valenzuela) (0 Likes)
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