[Repost] Secret Tale of King Arthur Playing Cards Review

Original article from BoardGameGeek, written by EndersGame.

Secret Tale of King Arthur Playing Cards

The Dutch Card House Company first got my attention with their Diamon series, which features colorful geometric designs that are perfect for Cardistry, and are also at an affordable price point.

Based in the Netherlands, their team has now produced several different successful series of custom playing cards, including Tulip, Paisley, and others.

But it was when I first saw their Secret Tale of King Arthur Playing Cards that I knew that they were for real.

This is not just your average “custom” deck but is a luxurious project that consists of two fully custom luxury decks that draw on the famous Arthurian legends.

Secret Tale of King Arthur

Most of us are familiar with the classic tale about King Arthur, who was raised by the wizard Merlin, successfully removed the sword Excalibur from the stone, and became king.

The Dutch Card House Company has come up with the idea that a secret manuscript written by Merlin has been discovered, which tells more of the story about Arthur.

This newly found document is called “Merlin’s Confession”, and reveals a prophecy from the Lady of the Lake that Arthur and Guinevere will father a son who will rule over Britain and all of Europe.

It further tells the story of how King Clovis of the Franks works together with the sorceress Melina to try to prevent this prophecy from coming to pass. It is this “secret tale” that forms the back story behind this lovely custom deck.

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A 68-page mini-booklet telling this story was even created as part of the project. It includes pictures of all the court cards, along with a summary of how each of the depicted characters plays a role in the narrative.

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But let’s start by talking about the decks that are part of the project. There are two companion decks:
● Black Knight Edition, which was printed by LPCC in their Viper finish.
● White Knight Collector’s Edition, which was printed by WJPC in a limited edition of 500.

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The design of the card back centers around a keyhole, which represents the entrance to the cabinet where Merlin has hidden his secret tale. Careful observers will also notice details from the Arthurian stories as part of the ornate design, such as the legendary sword.

The Black Knight Edition and White Knight Edition both have the same combination of colors and while the face cards are identical, the card backs have a very different look as a result of having either a black background (Black Knight Edition) or a white background (White Knight Edition).

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The style of the artwork on both the backs and the faces of the cards combines old folk art with antique colors from the Middle Ages. The court cards especially bring the story to life, with lavishly illustrated characters that make good use of the space offered on the faces.

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The court cards depict the following characters in each suit (from Jack through King):
● Spades: Sir Galahad, Lady of the Lake, King Arthur
● Hearts: Arthur as Ibex, Queen Guinevere, Sir Lancelot
● Clubs: King Clovis, Melina, Sir Pellinore
● Diamonds: Merlin, Lady Morgause, Sir Mordred

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The pips and indices are beautifully customized in a style that is in keeping with the rest of the artwork. The dual tones used for the pips make them look very elegant, and the custom arrangement adds to the unique feel.

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The deck is rounded out with some fine Jokers. There are two Jokers in the LPCC Black Knight Edition, and three in the WJPC White Knight Edition, namely the Holy Grail, Excalibur, and Guinevere.

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Naturally, the Ace of Spades also enjoys a fully custom look and showcases some details from the secret story. Head over to this gallery at the Playing Card Scan Archive to see all the cards in the deck.

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The tuck boxes of both decks are already beautiful, with embossed card stock and multiple foils. But it gets better because a deluxe “Camelot Box” was produced for each box. These were created by WJPC, which also printed the Black Knight edition.

WJPC is an increasingly respected playing card manufacturer based in China that specializes in printing playing cards, as well as every aspect of luxury packaging for playing cards, and has a growing track record of real success.

The Camelot Box is a very sturdy box decorated with lavish gold foil for a classy look and has a drawer with a ribbon that you pull open. This drawer has ample room for storing a single deck along with the mini-book and makes for a lovely presentation.

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I can’t say enough about how beautiful this project has turned out. If you are going to search for a copy, I especially recommend a gilded edition, which adds that special touch in keeping with the luxury of all other aspects of the Secret Tale decks.

The gilded editions were produced in even more limited numbers, the Black Knight Edition with gold gilding, and the White Knight Edition with blue gilding. These also both come with a custom numbered seal.

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Collectors who appreciate what they see here will be pleased to know that the Dutch Card House Company has gone on to create a second installment in the Secret Tale Playing Cards series.

This time they draw on the legendary Robin Hood, with a project entitled The Secret Tale of Robin Hood. This project is currently in the process of being fulfilled, after being successfully crowdfunded. It looks to be just as spectacular as the first installment of the series.

With the newest Robin Hood project, all the decks are being printed by WJPC. If the quality of the Arthurian decks is any indication, the Robin Hood decks will be equally wonderful.

With this beautiful series, the Dutch Card House Company has certainly shown itself to be an important contributor to today’s playing card industry, and well worth keeping an eye on!

About the original writer:

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A well-known and highly respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, Cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred board games and hundreds of different decks of playing cards.

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. In his spare time, he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of Cardistry and card magic.