[Repost] How Playing Card Improvements Have Helped Card Magic 2

How Playing Card Improvements Have Helped Card Magic

This article is excerpted from the article originally published on PlayingCardDecks by EndersGame.

Let’s begin the second part of “How Playing Card Improvements Have Helped Card Magic 1“.

How Playing Card Improvements Have Helped Card Magic?

The Impact Of Other Playing Card Developments

There were also artistic and other trends that led to innovations in playing cards, besides innovations in machinery. Corner indices were practically unknown before the end of the 19th century, and could you imagine doing card magic today without them? To that we could also add things like two-way courts, and the addition of Jokers to the deck.

Another significant development that Lee highlights is an economic one. At the end of the 1800s, card manufacturer Russell Morgan bought out all their competition and eventually became USPCC.

In 1899, they built their Norwood factory in Cincinnati, Ohio, which they would then use for over a century. As an industry giant at the time, USPCC could afford to equip their new factory with all the latest technology, and playing cards were mass-produced in a quality and volume like never before.

This in turn helped produce a renaissance in card magic, because these new and improved playing cards placed into the hands of magicians the very tools they needed for to innovate and be creative.

Until now, playing card manufacturers have flourished, and some printers like WJPC, which not only guarantee quality but also provide high cost performance, are contributing more to the prosperity of playing cards.

Lee points out that the 20th century produced most of the top card handlers, who have collectively influenced and made card magic what it is today. Big names such as Erdnase, Thurston, Vernon, Marlo, Scarne, Annemann, and many others all benefited from improved playing cards.

The Impact Of Other Playing Card Developments

A couple of other separate developments are also worth observing, both of which were responsible not so much for improved techniques in card magic, but rather for increasing the number of people doing card magic. DeLand’s marked deck had been marketed towards laypeople already at the turn of the 20th century.

But with the arrival of television came increased opportunities for advertisers to bring products to the mass market, and this was especially responsible for the sales of millions of Svengali decks, which were advertised as “TV Magic Cards”. As Lee rightly points out, the arrival of these decks into countless homes must have inspired many to begin their journey into card magic.

The second example Lee mentions is the rise of the custom playing card industry. He traces this back to the popular Black Tiger deck that first appeared in 2004, and was used by Ellusionist’s Brad Christian to help make card magic appealing to a whole new generation.

This was also a big catalyst that helped grow the custom playing card market, and by putting a wide range of novel playing cards into the hands of people around the world, has attracted even more newcomers to card magic.

In my view, the rise of the internet videos and of social media has helped accelerate this trend. As playing cards flourish, so does card magic, and the internet has unquestionably helped breed a whole new generation of card magicians, many who began their journey into magic with a deck of high quality playing cards already in their hand.

Fox Lake playing cards

What Does The Future Hold?

Some of the final items on Lee’s timeline are worth sharing, as we consider what the future of playing cards holds, and speculate what this might mean for card magic. In 2019 Cartamundi bought out USPCC, giving Cartamundi global dominance of the playing card industry as a manufacturer.

To be fair, improved technology has also seen the rise of growing competition in the form of smaller players that are also able to produce high quality playing cards, such as LPCC and EPCC, but Cartamundi / USPCC is the undisputed giant in this sector.

Cartamundi has openly stated that one of the driving forces for their acquisition of USPCC was because they see a huge growth potential in the playing card market, particularly as a result of the increased popularity of card magic today, and the rise of cardistry as a relatively new discipline.

In the past the innovation in playing cards was largely dictated by trying to improve the playing experience for card gamers, and card magic was mostly a beneficiary of whatever changes this produced. But today it seems that the direction is being reversed, as innovations in cardistry and card magic, along with their unique needs and demands, are what is helping drive the direction of playing cards and their development.

The final entry on Lee’s timeline notes how USPCC has ventured into the digital world, by producing Bicycle NFTs in 2021. Despite the reservations some may have about this, the truth is that most of us have been comfortable using digital cards by playing Solitaire on our PCs for decades already.

But it remains an open question how card magic will make use of digital developments in the future. As playing cards continue to evolve, they will inevitably continue to have an impact on card magic, and how magicians will make use of these possibilities in innovative and creative ways is unknown. But what is certain is this: card magic owes a significant debt to advancements in playing cards, and there is good reason to expect that to continue.

How Playing Card Improvements Have Helped Card Magic

The Video Lecture For Card Magic

Want to learn more? You really need to hear what Lee Asher himself has to say about this topic, and listen to his FISM lecture for yourself. And you don’t have to be one of those people that likes to dabble in both playing cards and in card magic in order to enjoy and benefit from his presentation. Even if your interest is just in one of those disciplines, it is fascinating to learn how they developed alongside each other, and how improvements in one helped the other evolve.

The good news is that digital access to a video of the lecture is included when you buy the timeline book. Right now it’s priced around $30 over on Lee Asher’s website, and for that amount you get both the book, entitled Lee Asher’s Card Magic & Playing Card History Timeline, and the video.

The video runs for about 45 minutes, and is filmed in high quality, with good editing and clear sound. Most of it features Lee Asher himself presenting, but along the way he shows us slides of various historical cards and other details that illustrate the points he makes.

If you’ve ever heard Lee speak before, you’ll know that you can expect something that is articulate, passionate, carefully researched, well presented, and interesting, and this is no exception. I loved every minute of his talk, and for me this is the real value here.

The Video Lecture For Card Magic

The Accompanying Book

The book was somewhat smaller than I expected, with dimensions of 8.25 inches high and 5.25 inches wide. It’s a relatively slim volume, and consists of 104 pages. But it is packed with information, and the high quality glossy presentation includes numerous color photographs of playing cards and decks featured in the timeline.

The timeline begins with mention of the roots of Tarot in connection with the Egyptian deity Thoth, and the origin of playing cards in China. Items are arranged in order by date, with the year listed in large bold printed, followed by a statement about a notable development in either the world of playing cards or in card magic.

These are presented in a very objective and factual way, with a brief summary of what the development was, often presented either as a direct quote from an appropriate source. In each case the source is referenced directly beneath the overview of the item, and is typically a book or periodical article along with the relevant page number or chapter, or a link to a website.

As good as the video lecture and book are, I have two minor criticisms about the book. Firstly, most of the quotations and information are presented without comment or analysis. But it seems to me that not all of them are equally reliable, a prime example being the first item on the timeline, which quotes a book from 1912 that seems to make too positive a connection (in my view, anyway) between the origin of the Tarot and Ancient Egypt.

Secondly, the book only has a brief introduction to set the stage for the timeline, and one really needs to first watch the video lecture in order to appreciate the content. I would love to see a future edition of this book where Lee expands on this introductory content, by providing more of his own commentary and analysis on the items included on the timeline, as well as an introductory or concluding essay that summarizes the key points of his lecture.

The above-mentioned nitpicks aside, this book is a terrific contribution to the history of playing cards and of magic, precisely because it documents so many key points, along with references to source material where more can be learned. Lots of people love playing cards, and lots of people love card magic. But we also need dedicated researchers to take the time to document their history, and that’s exactly what Lee has achieved with his book.

The Accompanying Book

Final Thoughts

It should be obvious by now that Lee Asher has produced a wonderful contribution that can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in playing cards or in card magic. Best enjoyed together, the video lecture and the book will help you be more informed about playing cards, and help you appreciate how big an impact they have had on card magic.

Hopefully this article has whetted your appetite to learn more. And at the very least, it should make you love playing cards all the more, and realize how important their evolution has been for the history of card magic.


Info Box

 EndersGame is a well-known and respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time, he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.

[Repost] How Playing Card Improvements Have Helped Card Magic 1

How Playing Card Improvements Have Helped Card Magic

This article is excerpted from the article originally published on PlayingCardDecks by EndersGame.

The Relationship Between Playing Cards And Card Magic

Playing cards and card magic have always enjoyed a close relationship. The original spread of playing cards was largely due to the popularity of card games. And the rise of card games was closely accompanied by the two ugly step-sisters of gambling and cheating. But there was also a Cinderella to be found close nearby: card magic.

Magicians employed similar techniques as card cheats, but instead of using them to swindle others, put these methods in the service of entertainment. As a result, the history of playing cards is closely linked to the history of card magic.

But how exactly have improvements in playing cards helped card magic? It seems obvious that as playing cards evolved, the tools that magicians had at their service became increasingly refined. And that made some techniques in sleight of hand easier, while opening the door for other techniques that were previously impossible.

Wouldn’t it be an interesting exercise to track the history of playing cards alongside the history of card magic, and see how significant developments in one have impacted the other?

Exactly this question has occupied the attention and interest of playing card expert and magician Lee Asher. And in July 2022 he delivered a lecture on the subject to FISM, which is basically the Olympics of magic, and attracts some of the best minds in magic to perform and learn.

In connection with his lecture, he also published a useful resource on the subject, a book entitled “Lee Asher’s Card Magic & Playing Card History Timeline”, which further explores this topic by identifying key points of development in each area on a single timeline.

The Relationship Between Playing Cards And Card Magic

Lee Asher is the perfect person to take on an important and fascinating subject like this. Because his credentials make it obvious that he has a foot in both disciplines, with expertise in both playing cards and in card magic.

His roots lie in card magic, and as a second generation sleight of hand artist, he began performing magic professionally already in his teens. He’s travelled the world, performing and lecturing on his brand of sleight of hand magic. Even today, he continues to serve as a magic consultant.

But Lee is unlike any other magician, because he is also the President of 52 Plus Joker, the world’s largest club for playing card collectors. He’s served in that capacity since 2016, and is well qualified for this role, as one of the world’s leading experts on the subject of playing cards.

In fact, at 52 Plus Joker’s most recent annual Convention, Lee was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Dawson Award, which is only awarded occasionally, and given in recognition of monumental contributions to the club. The fact that he was already deemed worthy of this prestigious award, says volumes about the size and scope of what he has contributed to playing card creators, consumers, and collectors.

Lee’s expertise on playing cards is frequently sought, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else on the planet more passionate about playing cards, where this passion is matched by a careful scholarly approach and deep knowledge on the subject, all within the body of a person who is a warm and friendly human being.

Lee’s lecture focuses on the topic of how playing card advancements over the last few centuries have influenced the development of card magic, and I’m indebted to his insights for most of the material that follows.

If magic has benefited from improvements in playing cards, by refining the tools of its trade, in what ways exactly was this the case? Join me in benefiting from Lee Asher’s research and insights, as I share some of the key takeaways I learned from Lee on this topic.

Lee Asher

The Impact Of Playing Card Quality Innovations

To begin with, playing cards today have many different physical qualities than those of yesteryear, because they have evolved over time. Lee observes how playing cards have come a long way, pointing out how early playing cards were made of rough paper, had square corners that war quickly, and were of uneven sizes.

It’s not hard to imagine that these qualities made it more difficult to perform sleight of hand smoothly. Playing cards were typically handmade, either entirely or in part, making them very expensive, and so as a magician you couldn’t afford to quickly replace them, but had to use them even when well-worn.

Along the way, Lee shows us examples of old cards that have stood the test of time, and asks us to imagine: How would magicians of the past have used these? There is documented evidence that many popular techniques of sleight of hand were used already centuries ago, such as the Double Lift and the Glide.

Suppose you were using the playing cards from that time, with their lack of durability and inconsistent handling, to perform sleight of hand card magic today. Imagine how much more difficult it would be to do the card magic that you do presently!

The Impact Of Playing Card Quality Innovations

The Industrial Revolution was a major catalyst for change in the quality of playing cards, and as printing technology progressed, playing cards became more affordable and more consistent. Especially in the late 1800s and 1900s, there were landmark developments that contributed to this development.

Examples that Lee points out include the invention of machines that automated the paper making process, punched cards instead of cutting them, and techniques that enabled production of playing cards with rounded corners, textured embossing patterns (finishes like Cambric and Linoid, both named after the types of cloth patterns they sought to emulate), and glazed coatings.

Lee’s thesis is that over time there is a basic trend where playing cards become more consistent, making them easier to perform with, and this leads to innovations in card magic. He makes a convincing case, giving numerous examples that support it. For example, mid-19th century magician Hofzinser placed great importance on the quality of playing cards, and their improved quality facilitated the development of sleights that he popularized, such as the cull.

The late 1800s saw a real increase of card manipulation and flourishing as part of magic performances (e.g. card-throwing, springs, and fans), and this simply wouldn’t have happened without the higher quality playing cards that these feats of skill require. The ability to more easily produce gaff cards was also game-changing, because it opened up the door to many popular packet tricks and other aspects of card magic that many of us love today.

Let’s continue in the next article.


Info Box

 EndersGame is a well-known and respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time, he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.

WJPC And Its Limited Edition Decks, Will Debut At Cardistry Experience 2024!

WJPC with Cardistry Experience 2024

WJPC and its limited edition decks, will debut at Cardistry Experience 2024!

In the world of card flourishing, also known as cardistry, there is one event that stands out as a true celebration of this mesmerizing art form – the Cardistry Experience. Organized by a passionate team of cardists and enthusiasts, this annual gathering has become a mecca for those who appreciate the skill, creativity, and dedication required to manipulate playing cards in a visually stunning manner.

Highlights Of Previous Cardistry Experience Events

Cardistry Experience Events

Looking back at the previous iterations of the Cardistry Experience, it’s impossible not to be awestruck by the level of artistry and innovation on display. These events have become synonymous with pushing the boundaries of what is possible with a simple deck of cards.

One of the standout moments from Cardistry Experience 2022 was the stunning performance by the reigning World Cardistry Champion, Alex Pandrea. His intricate and seamless routines left the audience spellbound, reminding everyone why he is considered one of the most talented cardists of our time.

Another highlight was the Beginner’s Workshop, where seasoned veterans shared their expertise with newcomers to the art form. This welcoming atmosphere fostered a sense of inclusivity and encouraged aspiring cardists to embrace their passion without fear of judgment.

The Cardistry Experience has also been instrumental in nurturing the growth of the community by providing a platform for up-and-coming talent. In 2023, the world was introduced to the mesmerizing skills of young cardist Sophia Delgado, whose innovative moves and creative flair captured the hearts of spectators and fellow performers alike.

What You Can Expect From The Upcoming Cardistry Experience 2024

Cardistry Experience 2024

As the anticipation builds for the Cardistry Experience 2024, organizers have promised an event that will exceed all expectations. With a lineup of world-renowned cardists and exciting new additions, this year’s gathering is poised to be a true celebration of the art form.

One of the most highly anticipated aspects of the event is the introduction of the “Cardistry Fusion” category. This innovative competition will challenge participants to seamlessly blend cardistry with other art forms, such as dance, music, or even digital media. The fusion of these disciplines promises to push the boundaries of creativity and artistic expression, inspiring attendees to think outside the traditional boundaries of card flourishing.

Another exciting addition to the Cardistry Experience 2024 is the “Cardistry Masterclass Series.” This series of workshops and seminars will feature some of the most renowned cardists from around the world, sharing their insights, techniques, and personal journeys with attendees. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a curious newcomer, these masterclasses promise to be invaluable learning experiences.

Of course, no Cardistry Experience would be complete without the highly anticipated competitions. This year’s events will feature categories for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, ensuring that every participant has the opportunity to showcase their talents and be recognized for their hard work and dedication.

WJPC sponsor

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Cardistry Experience 2024 is, WJPC will participate in the conference as a sponsor for the first time! As the only “player” from China, WJPC will appear with out-of-print cards co-designed with the organizer. Each ticket comes with a free “Aussenseiter” card deck printed by WJPC and included in the gift bag. You can enjoy the top playing card craftsmanship from WJPC:

  • 300gsm German black core paper with air linen surface
  • Premium butter varnish for both sides
  • Silk matte lamination for outside the box

As the anticipation builds, one thing is certain: the Cardistry Experience 2024 promises to be a truly unforgettable celebration of an art form that continues to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide. Welcome to meeting WJPC on XP!

Direct Review Of Zine Deck Playing Cards 


What Is Zine Deck Playing Cards?

Taking inspiration from the photocopied flyers and zines of the ’80s and ’90s, the Zine Deck playing cards by ShyBrainsGetNowt is a one-of-a-kind deck. Each component was printed, cut, pasted, and then scanned to create a raw, textured deck with a unique aesthetic.

The concept for the project arose when Kelv, the creative force behind ShyBrainsGetNowt, was tasked with designing a new deck of playing cards at work. This project led him to dive deep into the world of contemporary card design, exploring various crowd-funded card decks.

Kelv recalls, “All of them seemed so majestic and sophisticated, with minimalist concepts and precise execution. It just didn’t resonate with my punk rock vibe!” This prompted him to create a deck that embraced a more DIY, grunge-inspired style.

Zine Deck Playing Cards Review 3

Kelv had been dabbling with cut-and-paste Xerox art for some time, but it wasn’t until the first lockdown that this interest truly blossomed.

He explains, “I saw a chance to create something more tactile and unique compared to the cards I was making at work – something that would stand as a playful contrast to the polished decks I’d seen online. It gave my cutting and pasting a sense of purpose and a reason to bring my sixteen-year-old laser printer out of retirement!”

In a previous venture, Kelv was the driving force behind Hundred Million LTD, a company that successfully crowd-funded the Sugar Skull Spoon in 2013. The company also launched the CMYK Playing Card deck, with each suit representing a different CMYK print color, and the numbered cards showing varying percentages of ink.

This experience with designing a deck of cards and working with manufacturers made the process less daunting for Kelv, making it an easy decision to aim for mass production of his latest creation.

How Were Zine Deck Playing Cards Designed?

“The design process was the most fun part,” says Kelv, the designer behind the unique deck. For him, it was crucial to preserve the traditional elements of a classic playing card deck – like which Jacks have one eye visible, what weapons are held by each suit, and how the King of Hearts appears to be stabbing himself. Kelv began with a blank deck of white cards and drew inspiration from recurring themes on his Instagram, such as ghosts, flamingos, skulls, and bugs.

Zine Deck Playing Cards Review 2

To bring his vision to life, he started by designing the court cards for each suit, opting for a playful and whimsical style that contrasts with the more “serious” decks on the market.

Once the court cards were complete, he moved on to the number cards, creating and illustrating the entire deck before printing it. The printed cards were then meticulously cut out with a scalpel and pasted back together, adding a tactile, hand-crafted touch.

Next, the cards were scanned at a high resolution of 600dpi. Throughout this process, Kelv would sometimes rip the cards, scribble on them, or even manipulate them while scanning to create a warped effect.

No digital effects or Photoshop tricks were used—every tear, scribble, and scanner distortion was authentic. The only exception was flipping the black color to neon pink for the red suits. This analog approach resulted in a deck with a raw, tactile aesthetic that stands out from the typical digital designs.

After fulfilling the crowd-funded rewards during the summer, Kelv now has a limited stock from the first print run available in his Etsy store. He plans to extend his subversive style and grunge-inspired approach to other products, including tarot cards, board games, ceramics, and beyond.

If you also have good design inspiration, come and create your own playing cards with WJPC!

[Repost] Factors That Affect The Handling Of A Deck

Factors That Affect The Handling Of A Deck

This article is excerpted from the article originally published on PlayingCardDecks by EndersGame.

What are the factors that affect the handling of a deck? Let's follow this article to explore!

Most creators of custom playing cards today choose to print their decks with United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), makers of the famous Bicycle brand of playing card. USPCC is a well-known publisher with solid credentials, and has a long history and positive reputation for creating quality playing cards.

In previous articles we have covered the process by which Bicycle playing cards are made, why it’s worth the money to get a Bicycle deck, and what factors affect their handling.

But USPCC doesn’t produce perfect playing cards. Their decks are often printed in high volume on a web press, and one disadvantage of this process is that the print registration can be slightly off, creating slightly misaligned borders. We’ve probably all seen decks like this, and it can be disappointing to receive a deck that has this issue.

The good news is that this issue is typically a rarity when decks are printed on a sheet-fed press, which is the printing method used by most of the competition, which typically produces runs of playing cards in lower volumes.

As a result several reputable publishers like WJPC have emerged in recent years that offer an excellent alternative to the industry giant of USPCC, and many of them have already earned for themselves a solid reputation for producing consistently high quality playing cards.

Factors That Affect The Handling Of A Deck

1. Stock

The stock refers to the paper used to print the playing cards. The WJPC-printed poker-sized decks in my own collection nearly all use German black core paper, with the 300 or 310 gsm thickness. This is fairly comparable to the thickness and handling performance we’ve come to expect from manufacturers like USPCC.

The 310gsm stock doesn’t feel as thin and flexible as USPCC’s thin-crush stock, but is a reasonable equivalent in thickness and feel to a standard Bicycle deck. Comparing the 310gsm stock to a standard Bicycle deck and the 300gsm stock to crushed stock will give you some idea of how the two compare in terms of handling.

Unlike some cheaper playing cards I’ve seen, the cards hold their shape quite well even after heavy shuffling and handling, so there’s a healthy balance between stiffness and flexibility. I’m told that for cardistry style decks, the 305gsm Italian black core paper is a good choice, but I haven’t personally had the chance to try a deck with that card-stock.


2. Texture

The texture refers to the embossed surface of a playing card. While you won’t notice significant differences in embossing with USPCC produced decks, the different “finishes” of LPCC/EPCC produced decks do have different types of embossing, both in terms of the pattern and the depth used.

The Diamond/Master Finish and the Emerald/JN Finish decks are the least-embossed paper stock, and that makes these cards feel somewhat oily and plastic-like. Yet these decks are also their stiffest and longest lasting cards, since these cards have a real spring to them, and prove very hardy and durable.

Their Classic Finish decks have a deeper embossing pattern that the most similar to Bicycle’s “Air Cushion Finish”. As a result, it feels softer, and has an overall feel that is arguably closest to a Bicycle-type deck from USPCC. The deeper the embossing, the softer the cards will feel, so while the Elite/Damask Finish decks use a similar paper stock to the Classic Finish, a different and deeper embossing pattern on these cards makes them feel even softer yet.

In practice, this means that a deck of custom playing cards by USPCC will feel most similar to LPCC/EPCC’s Classic Finish. In contrast, LPCC/EPCC’s Diamond/Master Finish and Emerald/JN Finish deck are noticeably stiffer and also feel more “tacky”, making them more ideal for moves and sleights like springs, cuts, and even double lifts.

thickness 0.31mm black core

3. Coating

WJPC offers several options for the actual finish (or varnish) that is applied to the cards afterwards. Applying a finish to playing cards is standard practice in the playing card world today, and along with the embossing pattern in the paper stock, it ensures good handling and durability.

The “butter finish” is what WJPC typically uses for most of their cards, and it is available either as a glossy varnish for ordinary playing cards, or as a semi-matte varnish for higher end playing cards like those used for casino games, cardistry, and card magic.

Butter varnishing finish

4. Cut

Cut is also important to serious playing card connoisseurs, because it impacts the ability to do faro shuffles. WJPC uses integrated slitter-cutting machines to do this job. So unlike the inferior quality decks that some printers manufacture and cut with lasers, and are thus impossible to faro shuffle, WJPC playing cards faro shuffle reasonably well, although perhaps not quite to the same standard as what you might be used to from a USPCC printed deck.

5. Quality Control

Some publishers also have exceedingly high standards of quality control. Special mention should be made of USPCC, which has different standards of quality control, depending on the deck they are printing. Q1 is their highest standard, and where they check the most closely for the best results in areas like centering, print registration, cutting, colour, and flaws.

Q4 is their lowest standard, and is considered “tolerable” – it means that more margin is given for error. In most cases, this will only affect how the cards look, and not how they handle.

6. Press Type

WJPC uses a sheet-fed press exclusively, which USPCC also uses for smaller print runs. In contrast a web press is preferred by USPCC for the sake of efficiency and speed when doing higher-volume print runs of many thousands. A sheet-fed press gives greater precision in printing and cutting, and a consistently crisp and bold printing registration.

This also enables the use of narrower borders than normal, gives a greater range of options for designers, and also can produce a classier look. In decks printed by USPCC on their web press in high volume, you’ll sometimes notice that the borders are slightly off-centre for this reason, while this problem is rare to non-existent with WJPC decks. However, this will typically only affect the look of the cards, and not their handling.

Self-Publish Using An Offset Press

7. Metallic Foil

High gloss embossed metallic foil stamped onto the back of playing cards adds a real element of bling and visual appeal. But one challenge resulting from this extra bling, due to the materials needed to create these unusual cards, is that they do handle somewhat differently than a standard deck.

The significant amount of foil on the backs does make them feel somewhat slippery, and you will find fanning and spreading a bit more challenging to master with these decks.

8. Spot UV Printing

Another area of innovation in recent years is the use of technology that allows printers to produce embossed and glossy ink via UV spot printing. Basically this adds a secondary printing process where a layer of polymer is applied to create a raised glossy effect on the card faces.

Cards printed in this way are like those of a regular deck, but in addition they have a glossy and raised surface that stands out visibly and can actually be felt. This naturally affects handling, because it can reduce the effect of the normal embossing and coating, since the raised surface that has been subject to UV spot printing becomes the point of friction instead of the entire card.

When this happens, certain cards can become slightly more slippery, making it harder to have completely consistent fans.

9. Deck Condition

Even the best deck will eventually wear out. A good quality deck will still handle and perform consistently over a long period of time. But eventually the coating will wear, and the cards will attract oils and dirt from your skin. When that all happens, your deck will no longer handle as smoothly as it did initially.

A new deck will typically handle like a dream, and depending on its quality, will continue to handle well for a decent amount of time. But its handling performance will eventually be affected by sheer use as it wears, and slowly deteriorates.

10. Skill

A poor workman always blames his tools. No matter how good your deck handles, it is no substitute for skill, practice, and experience in card handling. The more time you spend mastering card flourishes and card fundamentals, the better you’ll get. On the other hand, don’t expect a good quality deck to be a shortcut to mad card skills! It will certainly make difficult card flourishes easier to master, but is no substitute for skill!


Info Box

 EndersGame is a well-known and respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time, he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.

[Repost] 10 Top Playing Card Designers #2

10 Top Playing Card Designers

This article was originally published on PlayingCardDecks by EndersGame.

Here are continuing with “10 Top Playing Card Designers #1”:

10 Top Playing Card Designers

6. Lorenzo Gaggiotti (Stockholm17 Playing Cards)

Few playing card designers are in as much demand as Stockholm17. Such is his reputation, that his name on a deck almost guarantees its instant success. Originally from Italy, Lorenzo eventually made his home in Stockholm, Sweden, hence the name of his brand.

Already a gifted graphic designer, it was when he discovered the world of custom playing cards that an avenue opened up for him to explore and develop his creativity further.

Virtually all of Stockholm17’s decks are in high demand from collectors. His work started making an appearance around 2014 with a series of successful decks that began with Requiem, Heretic, No.17 series, Ravn, Gemini, House of the Rising Spade, and several more since.

He has a unique style of his own that is instantly recognizable, and his work reflects both artistic creativity and careful thought. This is evidenced by the fact that some of his decks draw on classical themes and even include quotations from ancient Greek poetry.

But talent alone won’t produce success, and Stockholm17 has found a way to match his talent with a pursuit for perfection, an attention to detail, and an ability to understand the market. He’s very active online, and does a good job of interacting with those who enjoy his work.

He was invited to produce 52 Plus Joker’s 2021 Club Deck, which won three of Portfolio21’s awards, including the prestigious 2021 Deck of the Year. It’s not the first award his decks have won, and it won’t be the last.

Stockholm17 has printed several of his decks with WJPC. To learn more, see this article: Diamond Award winner Stockholm17 and his Notorious Gambling Frogs.

Lorenzo Gaggiotti

7. Lotrek (Oath Playing Cards)

If designers like Alex Chin and Stockholm17 are playing card rock stars, then Lotrek is a star among stars. Few designers have won as many awards as he has, including the 2017 “Deck of the Year” Diamond Award for his stunning Golden Oath deck, and four United Cardists / Portfolio52 “Deck of the Year” awards for his decks Icons Imperial (2016), Golden Oath (2017), Silk (2019), and Crypt (2020).

Almost every deck Lotrek produces wins something, and there’s a good reason why. His Golden Oath deck from 2017 stunned the playing card industry with its amazing all foil artwork on all the cards. If there’s anything Lotrek knows how to do well, it is work with foils. His playing cards often feature gorgeous gold and silver foils, and are unrivalled in terms of beauty and design.

These qualities have led Lotrek to become one of the most sought-after and highly regarded playing card designers in the world. When it comes to innovative luxury playing cards, he’s at the top of the game, and he continues to produce masterful works of art on a regular basis.

He regularly pushes the boundaries of what is technically possible, especially with multiple foils, and matches this with an artistic style that is classic in every sense of the word.


8. Lee McKenzie (Kings & Crooks)

Lee McKenzie’s first custom deck designs are probably more well-known than his name. That’s because he started off his career around 2008 as a playing card designer working for Ellusionist. This was right in the middle of when the playing card industry was booming, and when Ellusionist was one of its biggest players.

Lee created their popular Arcane, Artifice, Infinity, and Fathom decks, decks that were largely responsible for getting non-Bicycle branded custom decks entering the mass market, and for helping the Ellusionist brand achieve remarkable success.

Lee’s five-year stint with Ellusionist ended in 2013 when he started his own brand, Kings & Crooks, which debuted his incredibly popular Empire series of playing cards. This was followed by further successes, including Empire Bloodlines, Outlaws, and most recently, the remarkable Royales, which is a classic looking deck oozing with luxury and style.

I’ve corresponded with Lee numerous times, and few playing card designers are as passionate and perfectionist as he is, or as deep. He’s a real philosopher and thinker, and puts a huge amount of thought into every aspect of his designs, and into life generally.

His epic interview has some wonderful insights that are well worth reading and thinking about carefully, and will give you even more appreciation for his work and ethos. Lee’s decks are much like himself: symbols of passion, philosophical thought, and excellence.

Lee McKenzie

9. Giovanni Meroni (Thirdway Industries)

You can instantly tell when you see a playing card designed by Giovanni Meroni and his brand Thirdway Industries. He’s very active as a playing card designer, with constant projects on the go, and has developed an inimitable and distinctive style of his own that is immediately recognizable.

Based in Italy, Giovanni brings an enormous wealth of experience as a freelance designer and art director to the table, along with a real depth of substance. His first deck already appeared in 2014, but it was with his series of Omnia and Dedalo decks from 2015 onwards that he really came into his own, showcasing his unique approach to playing cards.

Not only did these decks feature a visual aesthetic different from your run-of-the-mill playing cards, but Giovanni also drew heavily on mythology, literature, and art in their creation and design, with the artwork hinting at huge background stories and mythology behind them. Many decks would follow these, all featuring his modern and sharp vector style.

Unlike some creators today, Giovanni does not stoop to lazy designs or simple recolours as a way of producing more decks. His playing cards are all about full customization, and every creation has had the benefit of much thought and work.

What you can expect from a Thirdway Industries deck is a sophisticated style of artwork with a Mediterranean and classic feel, accompanied by a thematic depth that is closely woven with his artistic vision. His playing cards aren’t just pretty faces, but have depth of personality and character.

Giovanni Meroni~2

10. Jackson Robinson (Kings Wild Project)

Jackson Robinson represents a very rare breed: he’s one of the few people around the world that makes a full-time living as a designer of custom playing cards. When he first announced his arrival in the playing card industry, he was just a one-man operation.

Today he runs a business with around 20 employees, who help him produce an ever-growing number of playing card designs and accessories, and send them to collectors around the world.

The deck that launched his career in 2013 was Federal 52, a wildly successful project that was cleverly inspired by paper currency. It featured a graphic design that borrowed elements of style from the traditional engraving designs of banknotes.

A follow-up project similarly proved to be an even bigger hit, and was one of the most successful crowdfunding projects of its time. Jackson continued building on this formula with further successes, including a Reserve Note deck and a Silver Certificate deck.

One of the reasons for Jackson’s continued success is that he creates limited edition decks on a subscription basis, which command premium prices and are highly desired by collectors. These include his Kings Wild Shorts and his Table Players subscription decks.

His output is enormous, and his decks showcase a range of styles and subject material, and reflect versatility and quality. It was no surprise that he took out the 2020 Diamond Award for 52 Plus Joker’s Artist of the Year.

And despite the constant stream of new decks coming out from Kings Wild Project, the quality is rarely diluted, and the impressive range of associated brand name products like clothing and even coffee only continues to grow.

Jackson Robinson

Final Thoughts

As mentioned at the outset, this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are certainly other strong contenders that deserve to be considered for an official Top 10 list, such: big names such as Steve Minty, Jocu, Uusi, and Montenzi. Each of these also represents top designer talent in the world of custom playing cards.

But there’s no doubt that the ten designers on the above list are among the elite playing card designers around today. If you look at the Deck of the Year award winners and Artist of the Year award winners from 52 Plus Joker’s annual Diamond Awards, as well as winners of similar awards from United Cardists (now Portfolio52) and Kardify, you’ll see their names feature prominently, as nominees and winners, and in many cases even as repeat winners.

These aren’t playing card designers who produce a one-trick pony, but all of them have made numerous and strong contributions of supreme quality, and rightly deserve to be regarded as among the very best in the industry.

Some collectors focus on specific brands, and that’s a legitimate approach to collecting playing cards. But another approach is to focus on collecting playing cards from specific playing card designers like these.

Many of these creators have their own brand, although Randy Butterfield is an example of a designer who has also published a significant amount of work under a variety of different labels. Whatever your preferences in custom playing cards may be, these are names that represent high quality work that you absolutely should be familiar with and check out.

We are certainly privileged to live in a golden era of playing cards, where creative individuals like these are sharing their talents with us, and where we can even own a piece of their artistry in a small box that we call a deck of playing cards.

If you are also a talented designer, why not work with WJPC Playing Cards, and turn your artwork into reality!


Info Box

 EndersGame is a well-known and respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time, he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.

[Repost] 10 Top Playing Card Designers #1

10 Top Playing Card Designers

Together with us here at WJPC, prepared to be inspired as you delve into the stories and designs of these top playing card designers, whose artistry continues to captivate and elevate the humble deck of cards into something truly extraordinary.

Let’s take a look at ten top playing card designers.

I should explain what I mean by a “Top 10 list”, so that this doesn’t cause anyone to shoot flames across the internet in my direction. I’m not suggesting that this list represents the absolute best ten.

It’s hard to narrow down a strong field down to just ten names, and it is not my intention to suggest that any name not included isn’t as good as the ones that are included. This list simply represents ten top candidates, while recognizing that there are others that could be mentioned alongside them.

Hopefully what we can all agree on is that if we are going to have a discussion about the best, these ten names belong in that discussion. So here are ten top playing card designers, listed in alphabetical order by their last name.

10 Top Playing Card Designers

1. Randy Butterfield (Midnight Cards)

Randy Butterfield might be one of the lesser known names on this list, but in terms of the sheer volumes of cards he’s produced, he is also one of the most prolific playing card designers of today. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there are literally hundreds of thousands of decks that have been produced with his designs.

Some of these are under his own brand, Midnight Cards. This name refers to the fact that while he works as a packaging designer by day, at night he burns the midnight oil designing playing cards.

Other designs he’s made have been under other brand names, and some have even hit the mass market in large numbers. His first deck, Ornate, was for the House of Playing Cards in 2012. One of my favourite designs from Randy is his Draconian series, which features incredible borderless card backs that convey the sense of a spiral of dragon scales.

Maybe you’re familiar with the beautiful Honeybee decks from Penguin Magic? Also Randy’s work. The gorgeous LUXX decks produced for JP Playing Cards were his designs too. He’s also produced several exquisite decks themed on ancient Rome. And much more.

There’s no doubt that Randy is an extremely versatile designer who has his own unique style, and has the ability to produce a wide range of diverse and well-themed playing cards. If you’re a serious card collector, there’s a good chance you have one of Randy’s decks.

Randy Butterfield

2. Paul Carpenter (Encarded Playing Card Co)

Paul Carpenter isn’t the kind of designer you’ll see pushing out one Kickstarter after another, quite simply because he doesn’t need to. The deck that made him famous was called Tendril, and was an eye-catching design featuring luminescent colours and flowing lines. At the time in 2012, it was the highest funding playing card project ever.

Since then, Paul has acquired a steady following of fans, and releases high-end playing cards in extremely limited editions to the collectors willing to pay their premium price tags. Many of his designs have sold out and become prized items for collectors. So while crowdfunding gave him his initial success, today he no longer has to rely on it, because the market for his limited edition decks is already well established.

Some of the decks that Paul has produced under his Encarded label include Aurum, Deco, Zenith, Chancellor, Celestial and more. These are classy playing cards that are in high demand and sell out quickly. If you find his style appealing, you’ll have to stay closely informed about his newest releases in order to get your hands on them.

Paul Carpenter

3. Alexander Chin (Seasons Playing Cards)

If playing card designers were musicians, then Alex Chin would be a rock star. In fact, if they wanted to do a Super-bowl half-time show with one of the all-time greats, he would be one of the first names on the list.

Alex describes himself as a visual communications professional who specializes in interactive package design. And there’s no question that he brings a wealth of expertise in illustration and design to his playing cards, because when it comes to innovation, especially in the area of package design, nobody does it better than Alex Chin.

He’s one of the few designers whose playing cards have won multiple awards in general design competitions, competing alongside non-playing card related products.

Seasons Playing Cards is Alex’s brand, and his gorgeous series of Seasons Playing Cards marked his debut as a designer, with separate decks representing different seasons. He applied a similar concept to later designs, such as his Apothecary series, which includes a limited edition colour-changing tuck box that responds to heat and touch.

His Magna Carta series features a gorgeous panoramic polyptych on the tuck cases. Alex is a true artist, whose designs are all about elegance, luxury, and innovation.

Alex is also very involved in the community. He pioneered the National Playing Card Collection Day, which is a global event that runs in the middle of October each year. For many years he’s also produced a very special and limited edition deck – much coveted by collectors – in honour of the day.

He is also the man behind Portfolio52, the internet’s free online database that lets you help keep track of your collection. He’s a fixture at playing card conventions, and almost every year either he or his decks are nominated for Deck of the Year and Artist of the Year awards.

Alexander Chin

4. Elettra Deganello

Elettra Deganello is one of the up-and-coming designers on this list, and her contributions are more recent than most of the other names that appear here. Besides working as a visual designer and illustrator, she also teaches classes on illustration and graphic design at the International School of Comics in Florence, Italy.

Elettra only discovered the world of custom playing cards around 2017, but her first design (Pinnochio), which appeared under the Passione Playing Cards label in 2018, was a Silver Design Award winner in the Toy, Games and Hobby Products category at the prestigious 2018-19 A’Design Awards & Competition.

After her Florentia deck (2020), Elettra produced the amazing Blue Jay Dentistry decks, which in my opinion are the most beautiful of all her designs, and which take full advantage of beautiful cold foil technology. Her Bold deck recently won Portfolio52’s Deck of the Year award for Best Graphic Deck.

She’s currently finalizing more beautiful designs, which include the Genoese Tarot, a huge deck which draws on the traditions of tarot deck; the Rx Almanac, a light-hearted but clever deck featuring fictional advertisements for imagined pharmaceutical products; and Once Upon a Fly, which promises to be an incredibly creative transformation deck. We certainly haven’t heard the last of this very talented lady.

Elettra Deganello

5. Jody Eklund (Black Ink Playing Cards)

The name of Jody Eklund’s company, Black Ink Playing Cards, describes well his favourite modus operandi. Jody has a real eye for clean artistic design, which he creates with a pen and ink look, accomplished through a process of digital design, in an instantly recognizable style of his own.

But what makes Jody’s work stand out isn’t merely his attention to visual aesthetics, but his attention to historical detail. His decks typically tell the story of a unique era of history, and depict the individuals that populated it.

His success as a playing card designer began with his Golden Spike deck in 2014, and numerous Kickstarter projects followed, which covered a range of fascinating themes and individuals from innovators and inventors, to business tycoons and flying aces.

It’s obvious that Jody immerses himself in the historical background behind the characters and stories that his decks depict, and much research goes into each project.

This also makes the end result all the more rewarding for those prepared to pay close attention to the detail he has incorporated into his playing cards. Over time, he has developed a solid base of supporters. Fans of history and science will particularly enjoy his work.

This article was originally published on PlayingCardDecks by EndersGame.

Jody Eklund

Info Box

 EndersGame is a well-known and respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time, he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.

Effective Solutions Of Custom Playing Cards Cost

Effective Solutions Of Custom Playing Cards Cost

Playing cards are a versatile tool used for entertainment, education, and even magic. Whether you’re a magician creating a custom deck for your act, a game designer bringing your vision to life, or a business looking for a unique promotional tool, custom-printed playing cards can be a powerful option.

However, with the excitement of creating your own deck can come the concern of cost. This article will guide you through the factors that influence the custom playing cards cost, along with strategies to achieve a high-quality deck that stays within your budget.

Structure Of Custom Playing Cards Cost

The world of custom playing card printing offers a surprising amount of flexibility. You can design everything from the card faces and backs to the tuck box (the box that holds the cards). The level of customization you choose will be a major factor in determining the final cost.  

But, before diving into specific strategies, it’s important to understand the breakdown of costs associated with playing card printing.

Structure Of Custom Playing Cards Cost

1. Quantity

This is often the most significant cost factor. Printing companies like WJPC typically offer tiered pricing, with per-unit costs decreasing as the number of decks ordered increases.  For small orders under 200 decks, digital printing is often used, which can be more expensive per unit but has lower setup fees. So you may see that offset printing becomes more cost-effective for larger orders.

2. Card Stock

The thickness and quality of the card stock will affect the durability and feel of your cards. Standard card stock is a common choice for basic decks, while plastic or linen finishes can provide a more professional and luxurious feel, but at a higher cost.

3. Printing Options

The number of colors used in your design will influence the price.  A simple single-color design will be the most cost-effective, while decks with full-color images on both sides will naturally be more expensive. We can also offer special finishes like metallic ink or embossing, which can add a unique touch but come at an additional cost.

4. Customization

The extent to which you customize your deck will impact the price.  A standard deck with just a logo on the back will be cheaper than a deck with completely customized faces, court cards, and a tuck box.

How to Minimize Printing Costs Without Affecting Quality?

While customization is a key advantage of creating your own playing cards, it can also lead to unexpected costs. The good news is, with some smart planning and strategic decision-making, you can achieve a fantastic deck without breaking the bank.  

Next, we will introduce various strategies for minimizing printing costs without sacrificing quality.  By applying these tips, you’ll be able to create a visually stunning and durable deck that stays within your budget.

How to Minimize Printing Costs Without Affecting Quality

1. Plan Your Design Carefully

While customization is a major advantage of printed playing cards, it’s important to design strategically to avoid unnecessary custom playing cards cost.

If you decide to use a full-color image on the card back, for instance, consider if a simpler design might achieve a similar impact.  Similarly, for the card faces, striking a balance between visual appeal and complexity can help keep costs down.

2. Optimize for Printing

Discuss file formats and color requirements with your chosen printer.  Many printers like WJPC will have templates or specifications to ensure your design files are compatible with their printing process. Optimizing your design for printing can help avoid errors or the need for file adjustments, which can add hidden costs.

3. Consider the Quantity

If you’re on a tight budget, be realistic about the number of decks you need.  Printing a larger quantity will bring down the per-unit cost, but you don’t want to end up with excess inventory.  If you’re unsure how many decks you’ll need initially, consider a smaller print run with the option to reorder later. Among them, 200 card decks are the most appropriate economic inventory quantity.

4. Get Custom Playing Cards Cost from Multiple Printers

Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare quotes from different printers.  Provide the same design and specifications to each printer to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples. Pay attention not just to the total price, but also to the breakdown of costs and any additional fees.  Some printers may offer hidden costs for things like setup, cutting, or finishing. At WJPC, we strive to provide USPCC-like quality at a more affordable price.

Additional Cost-Saving Tips

  • Standard vs. Custom Sizes: While custom-sized cards can be an interesting novelty, they can also be significantly more expensive to produce. Sticking with standard poker or bridge-sized cards will keep your costs down.
  • Bleed and Margins: Understanding printing terms like bleed and margins can help you avoid costly reprints. Bleed refers to any design elements that extend to the edge of the card, which will need to be trimmed during the finishing process. Margins ensure important design elements aren’t accidentally cut off. Discuss these details with us to ensure your files are set up correctly.
  • Proofing Carefully: Typos or errors on your cards can be a frustrating and expensive mistake to catch after printing. Take advantage of any proofing options offered by WJPC, and carefully review your proofs before giving final approval.


Creating custom playing cards can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to bring your ideas to life and impress your audience. By understanding the structure of custom playing cards cost and implementing these cost-saving strategies, you can achieve a high-quality deck that stays within your budget at WJPC.

Bharata Playing Cards – Series 2 Review: Indian Folklore through Design and Execution

Bharata Playing Cards - Series 2 Review

The world of playing cards offers a captivating glimpse into diverse cultures and artistic expressions, like the “Bharata Playing Cards – Series 2,” designed by Sunish Chabba and brought to life by the Guru Playing Card Company (GPCC). This second iteration of the Bharata series promises to immerse players in the vibrant tapestry of Indian folk art, offering not just a deck for games but a gateway to cultural exploration.

This review delves into the details of Bharata playing cards – Series 2, examining its visual identity, gameplay potential, and the printing secrets that contribute to its premium quality.

Basic Factors of Bharata Playing Cards

  • Theme: Indian Folk Art
  • Number of Cards: 54 (Standard deck + 2 Jokers)
  • Card Stock: Premium embossed black core European card stock
  • Finish: Linen Air-cushioned
  • Printing: WJPC
  • Package: Elegant tuck box with embossing & silver foil, inner tuck printing with silver foil

You may hear about Bharata Major Arcana Tarot. The “Bharata Playing Cards – Series 2” is its sequel. It is a limited edition set that has been crafted with attention to detail and quality. The deck consists of the standard 52 cards, along with two Jokers, making it suitable for a variety of card games. The cards are printed on premium paper stock with a smooth finish, ensuring durability and a comfortable handling experience.

Bharata Playing Cards’ Design and Gameplay

A. Visual Feast

Bharata Playing Cards’ Design and Gameplay

The Bharata Series 2 deck is a visual treat, drawing inspiration from various regional folk art styles of India. Each card, from the Aces to the court cards, is adorned with intricate artwork depicting mythological figures, cultural icons, and scenes from folklore. The Aces, for instance, showcase iconic landmarks like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, while the court cards feature characters like Ganesha, Krishna, and Durga. The Jokers are reimagined as whimsical representations of Yakshas, mythical guardians often depicted in Indian art.

This fusion of theme and design extends to the pips and indices. The standard indices are replaced with Devanagari numerals, adding an authentic touch. The pips themselves are transformed into intricate paisley patterns, further emphasizing the cultural connection. The back design features a mesmerizing mandala, adding a touch of symmetry and elegance.

B. Gameplay Considerations

While the artistic merit of the deck is undeniable, its playability is an essential aspect. The air-cushioned finish and high-quality card stock ensure smooth handling and shuffling, making them ideal for various card games. However, the intricate designs on the pips might require some adjustment for players accustomed to standard decks. The use of Devanagari numerals might also pose a minor challenge for players unfamiliar with the script.

Printing Magic of Bharata Playing Cards

A. Premium Cardstock

Printing Magic of Bharata Playing Cards

The card stock is premium-embossed black core European with a linen magic finish, limited to 500 decks. Printed by WJPC, the cards boast incredibly thick stock. If you prefer durable, resilient cards suitable for frequent use, this thick, sturdy stock is an excellent choice.

B. Embossing And Silver Foil

Embossing And Silver Foil

The tuck box boasts stunning embossing and silver foil, while it dazzles with an array of vibrant colors. The turquoise accents truly elevate the overall design. Additionally, intricate ornamentation adorns the inside tuck flap and the two smaller tuck flaps. These silver foil lining inside the tuck adds a luxurious touch.


The Bharata Playing Cards – Series 2 is a cultural artifact, a conversation starter, and a gateway to exploring the rich tapestry of Indian art and folklore. The visually stunning design, coupled with high-quality printing and thoughtful gameplay considerations, elevates the deck beyond mere functionality.

While the non-standard pips and indices might require some adaptation, the accompanying booklet and the overall immersive experience compensate for it. For collectors, enthusiasts of unique playing cards, and those seeking a glimpse into Indian culture, the Bharata Series 2 is a must-have addition to their collection.

The starting point for the creation of this article comes from an article by EndersGame:
Review: Bharata Playing Cards – Series 2 (July 16, 2018) https://www.playingcardforum.com/index.php?topic=12228

EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards.

A Celebration Of Ingenuity: The Joy Deck – A Different Deck Of Playing Cards Review

The Joy Deck - A Different Deck Of Playing Cards Review

Playing cards have served as a source of entertainment and challenge for centuries. From classic games like poker and blackjack to elaborate card magic routines, these simple rectangles have captured the imaginations of people worldwide. But what if a deck of cards could be more than just a tool for games?

Enter the JOY Deck, a creation by Brian South that pushes the boundaries of traditional playing cards, offering a unique blend of artistic design, hidden surprises, and a playful twist on functionality.

The Joy Deck – A Different Deck Of Playing Cards Review

Basic Specification Of Joy Deck

The JOY Deck maintains the standard format of a deck of cards, comprising 52 cards across four suits (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs) and two Jokers. However, its departure from tradition lies in the way these elements are presented.

JOY Decks Designs and Fun

The JOY Deck’s design philosophy extends beyond novelty. Here’s how it elevates the gameplay experience:

1. Hidden Messages

JOY Deck’s Designs and Fun

The JOY Deck isn’t just about aesthetics. Look closer, and you’ll find a treasure trove of hidden details woven into the design. The cards are infused with hundreds of words and numbers, including the word “JOY” itself, cleverly concealed within the artwork. This element adds a layer of interactivity, encouraging players to become detectives and uncover the secrets embedded within each card.

The meticulous artwork on each card transforms gameplay into a visual treat. Imagine the delight of revealing a meticulously crafted Queen of Hearts, where the card itself is composed of numerous miniature queens. This visual intrigue also adds a fresh dimension to familiar games.

2. Improved Recognition

The Joy Deck Improved Recognition

For beginners or those unfamiliar with traditional pips, the JOY Deck’s design offers a more intuitive way to recognize card values. Thematic representations like “Three of Clubs” formed entirely by threes are easier to grasp than abstract symbols. This can be particularly beneficial for younger players or those new to card games.

What’s more, the JOY Deck isn’t bound by the traditional imagery of court cards. Brian South, the creator, has hinted at the possibility of unique character designs for Jacks, Queens, and Kings, potentially adding a thematic layer to classic card games.

JOY Decks Printing Highlights

A deck of cards is only as good as its physical quality. The JOY Deck takes pride in its exceptional printing, ensuring a delightful user experience:

A deck of cards is only as good as its physical quality. The JOY Deck takes pride in its exceptional printing, ensuring a delightful user experience:

1. Premium Card Stock

The deck is rumored to be printed on high-quality, 310gsm black core paper with a linen finish, similar to what one might find in high-end casino decks. This translates to a luxurious feel, increased durability for shuffling and gameplay, and a satisfying snap when dealing cards.

2. Vivid Colors

JOY Deck’s Printing Highlights

The vibrant color palette used in the JOY Deck’s artwork is brought to life through a superior printing process. Expect crisp details, rich colors, and a level of visual fidelity that complements the intricate designs.

WJPC’s advanced printing method ensures crisp details, allowing you to appreciate the intricate lines, subtle textures, and hidden elements woven into the artwork. Every detail, no matter how small, will be sharp and clear.

3. Flawless Finish

The Joy Deck Flawless Finish

By eliminating friction and card clumping, the linen finish contributes to a more fluid and uninterrupted gameplay experience. You can focus on strategy and enjoyment without technical hindrances.

Also, the smooth, consistent finish elevates the overall quality perception of the cards. It feels more sophisticated and durable, adding a touch of luxury to your game nights.

4. Special Edging

The Joy Deck Special Edging

The addition of a special purple foil edge elevates the JOY Deck beyond a standard playing card experience. It adds a touch of elegance and sophistication, making the cards feel truly special.

The shimmer of the purple foil catches the light, creating a visually stunning effect. It also adds another layer of playful energy to the design, making the cards even more captivating to hold and admire.


The JOY Deck is a celebration of creativity and a testament to the potential for innovation within a familiar format. It offers a captivating visual experience, introduces a layer of discovery through hidden details, and caters to both seasoned players and newcomers alike.

With its launch on Kickstarter still underway as of March 11, 2024, the potential for further exploration and discovery remains. Support it now!

Related reviews:
BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame also helped promote his Kickstarter project about this deck, you can see his article here: