Elysian Duets Playing Cards Review: A Symphony Of Elegance And Deception

The Elysian Duets is the first deck in a new series of marked playing cards designed by Phill Smith, a renowned creator of magic and mentalism products.

The Elysian Duets is not just a regular deck of cards, but a sophisticated tool for magicians, cardists, and card enthusiasts. It features a unique and elegant design, a powerful and practical marking system, and a high-quality printing process.

In this review, we will explore the basic parameters, the design and gameplay highlights, and the printing processes of the Elysian Duets, and explain why this deck deserves a place in your collection.

Basic Parameters of Elysian Duets

Before we delve into the heart of the performance, let’s brush up on the technical specifications of the Elysian Duets:

– Card Stock: Premium 310gsm black core stock with a smooth, linen finish for optimal handling and performance.

– Faces: Standard poker format with a custom, two-tone blue and red color scheme.

– Backs: One-way back design with a mesmerizing geometric pattern.

– Markings: Phill Smith’s signature Optical Marking System discretely woven into the card design, allowing for effortless card identification without compromising aesthetics.

-Included: 52 standard playing cards, 2 custom Jokers, and an informative double-backed gaff card.

The Elysian Duets is a standard 52-card deck, plus two jokers, a double backer, and an instructional card. The cards are poker-sized, measuring 2.5 x 3.5 inches, and have a smooth finish. The cards are printed by WJPCC, a Chinese company that specializes in producing high-end playing cards for magicians and cardists. The cards are made of premium paper stock, which is durable, flexible, and easy to handle. The cards have a black core, which prevents any light from shining through and revealing the markings.

The Elysian Duets comes in two colors: blue and red. The tuck boxes are simple and elegant, featuring the name of the deck and a symmetrical pattern of musical notes and symbols. The tuck boxes are also marked, allowing you to identify the color and the stack of the deck without opening it.

Design and Gameplay Highlights of Elysian Duets

The aesthetic of the Elysian Duets is nothing short of breathtaking. The two-tone blue and red color scheme evokes a sense of timeless elegance. The custom court cards are particularly noteworthy, adorned with intricate geometric patterns that echo the back design. Each suit possesses a distinct personality, from the stoic diamonds to the swirling clubs, ensuring visual interest with every hand dealt.

But the true beauty of the Elysian Duets lies in the seamless integration of form and function. The Optical Marking System is woven into the design with masterful subtlety, visible only to the trained eye. This allows magicians to perform impossible feats with ease, while Cardists can manipulate the cards with deceptive grace, leaving audiences spellbound.

The one-way backs, a standard feature in magic decks, further enhance the possibilities for sleight of hand. Flourishes and cuts become seamless visual experiences, blurring the lines between reality and illusion.

Printing Secrets of Elysian Duets

1. Elysian Duets Marking

Elysian Duets Marking

Phill’s created an ingenious “optical marking system” on card backs, readable from a distance across a room. The Elysian Duets, the latest version of this marked deck, goes beyond the typical corner marking. In Mnemonica order, it reveals stack positions and values/suits above and below a selected card.

The system, relying on subtle design variations invisible to the naked eye, is incorporated into backs, faces, and pips, providing abundant information without compromising the deck’s visual integrity.

Once you grasp the system, the marks become unmistakable, standing out as plain as daylight.

2. Elysian Duets Cardstock

Elysian Duets Cardstock

Printed by WJPC on their 310gsm German black core paper, the Elysian Duets boast a quality that strikes a perfect balance. The slightly thinner 300gsm cardstock is processed with a technique akin to USPCC’s crushed stock, ensuring a remarkable feel and durability.

The 310gsm stock stands out as a solid choice, delivering excellent performance straight out of the box. Its reliability doesn’t just stop there; it holds up well over time, adding to the overall longevity and resilience of the deck.

Whether you’re a seasoned card enthusiast or a newcomer, the thoughtful selection of materials ensures a satisfying and enduring card-handling experience.

3. Elysian Duets Tuck Box

Elysian Duets Tuck Box

The Elysian Duets tuck boxes boast a thoughtful design, featuring distinctive markings that enable you to effortlessly discern both the color variant and the specific arrangement within the deck stack, all without the need to open the box.

This ingenious feature not only adds a touch of practicality to your card-playing experience but also enhances the overall convenience and efficiency of handling and organizing your cherished Elysian Duets collection.


In the realm of magic playing cards, the Elysian Duets emerge as a pinnacle of design, offering an exquisite fusion of aesthetics and utility. Phill Smith and his team have not only raised the bar but also crafted an enduring masterpiece that will undoubtedly captivate card enthusiasts for years to come.

As you shuffle, deal, and experience the magic within each card, the Elysian Duets prove that the world of playing cards can be as enchanting as it is skillful.

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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame has also written positive reviews of the Elysian Duets, you can see his article here: