Kickstarter Cards with Carter: April 11th, 2018

April 11, 2018

Kickstarter Cards with Carter is our daily column about playing card Kickstarter campaigns. Remember, Kickstarter pledges are not pre-orders and results are not guaranteed. 

Welcome, gentle readers. In this bumper edition of Kickstarter Cards we tackle some of the weirdest and prettiest decks I’ve come across in my time here at GeniiOnline

Charlemagne: New Figures by Krishtofor (printed by Makwell)

Adolf (not that one) Iosifovich Charlemagne (not that one), for those of you who aren’t familiar with the artistic legacy of the great Russian Empire, was a notable Russian painter and the designer of the Satin Deck, which became the nation’s most popular playing cards

In 1862, Emperor Alexander II commissioned Charlemagne to produce a successor to the Satin Deck. The deck, a traditional Russian variant with aces or jokers, was never completed, and the great artist’s work on it never went beyond a series of sketches of the royals he dubbed “New Figures.” Now, some 155 years later, Estonian “creative brand” firm Krishtofor has done their best to finish Charlemagne’s work, putting their own artistic spin on his sketches and converting the deck to the modern, 52-card standard we’re all familiar with.  

And, yeah, it looks pretty good. The new royals are far more saturated than anything Charlemagne could have achieved with his watercolors and the card printing technology of the time, but are otherwise very faithful to his original designs. The background design is complex, but not overpowering, though the shields around the indices are a little bit overdone. The backs are beautiful too. They feature that ever-present enemy of good taste, gold foil, but matte printing on the standard variant ensures it’s not too obnoxious. The only real issue I have with the deck is the plastic sapphire on the front of the otherwise pleasant tuck box. It makes the package look less like a deck designed in the 1800’s and more like something you’d find for sale next to cans of energy drinks at a Magic the Gathering Tournament. 

Charlemagne has already passed its $8,406 campaign goal. A deck will run you $17 plus shipping, with higher tiers offering fancy tins, coins, shiny gold foil, etc.

Side note: This Kickstarter campaign is a fantastic example of why you should hire a competent English speaker to at least check your copy. It’s very hard to take an advertisement seriously when it contains images like this. 

Voyagers by Visionalta 

Have you ever been so rad, so hip, so impossibly cutting edge that you’ve accidentally made a deck of drink coasters instead of playing cards? The people at Visionalta have. Their new Voyagers deck is so far beyond the current playing card paradigm that I’ve got no option but to end this segment here lest I be annihilated by a tidal wave of zeitgeist-pushing creativity. Oh, and they cost $28 a pop. 

Thorns and Roses by Steve Minty 

You can tell a lot about a person from which of the Bard’s plays they’re most partial to. I’m a fan of Twelfth Night myself, mostly because of all the rude jokes and cross-dressing. Graphic designer Steve Minty on the other hand, is very much about the murder/suicide tragedies if his twin decks Thorns and Roses are anything to go by.

Both the Roses and Thorns decks feature characters from Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, who, spoiler warning, all die at some point during their respective plays. Roses shows the characters holding an item of significance, while Thorns depicts their predictably tragic deaths. The decks have similar but subtly different backs, aces, and numbers, with Thorns having darker colors and line work to match its more morbid theme. The royals are largely black and gold, with an occasional splash of white to highlight weapons and crowns. It’s all very nice. 

A standard deck of Roses or Thorns will run you $15 plus shipping with delivery expected in October. The limited edition decks, which feature a double foiled tuck, hand gilded cards and a signed and numbered label, cost $39 plus shipping. The campaign is already well past its $25,000 goal and will end on May 18th.


Galactic Destiny Cards – Red Eastern Castle of Turning by Space Station Plaza

“Space Station Plaza is your Galactic Activation Portal to alignment with natural cycles and rhythms calculated using the 13 Moon Dreamspell Synchronometer. Conversion to daily kin happens automatically, illuminating relationships to history, celebrities and passengers!”

 Enliven (Blue Edition) by Bryan Nirattisai 

The first version of Enliven was young magician Bryan Nirattisai’s first foray into deck design and unfortunately, the deck’s campaign fell three grand short of its $9,500 target. His second attempt, Freedom, is a much stronger deck across the board and just narrowly snuck past its $6,500 goal. Nirattisai is now giving Enliven another shot, and the changes he made are not all for the better.

The main issue with Enliven the first was that it was a personal project with very little appeal to anyone but Nirattisai himself. The fronts were standard, the backs featured his personal logo, and aside from a decent ace of spades and a few built in gimmicks, the deck was an obvious no-starter. Enliven Jr. has blue backs instead of red, but makes all the same mistakes it predecessor did. In fact, it even doubles down on some of them. The ace of spades now has an ugly chromatic aberration effect applied to it and the royals have been replaced with pictures of Nirattisai’s co-workers and friends.  That’s just kind of tacky, to be brutally honest. I’m all for personal touches on decks: Chris Ramsay’s 1sts are pretty much a playing card monument to Chris Ramsay. They’re still gorgeous, but I’d draw the line if I opened up the pack and the ace of spades was a picture of his dog.

The campaign for Enliven is looking for $7,000 and ends May 28th. A single deck will run you $10 plus shipping, with expected delivery in September, 2018.  The lowest pledge that contains an uncut sheet is $40. 

Passione’s Pizza by PassioneTeam (printed by USPCC)

I think the most telling thing about Passione’s Pizza decks is that is that in the Delivery Service Edition, the faces for the royal aces feature Native Hawaiians holding Hawaiian pizzas, despite the fact the Hawaiian pizza was actually created by a Greek man living in Canada. That’s right, I’m using my platform  to dunk on a deck of cartoon, pizza-themed playing cards for a lack of research into Hawaiian pizzas. This is exactly what I want to be doing with my life.

I can’t really figure out exactly who Pizza is aimed at. The decks’ cartoonish art style and the fact the two tuck boxes can be combined together to make a model of a pizzeria screams “kids” while the national (and ethnic) stereotypes on the Kings and Jacks and the sexualization of the queens makes me think “kids that are older than thirty.” But then the pizza-themed version of the famous Bicycle Riders on the backs is a gag only card aficionados will get. Are they going to want to put cartoon Pizza cards in a case next to their Private Reserve?

Passione’s Pizza’s Kickstarter campaign is looking for $15,000 and ends on May 10th. One deck will cost you $15 with free shipping inside the US. If you pledge to a tier with 4, 8 or 12 decks, they’ll be shipped in pizza boxes. No, seriously.  

 Epehemerid by Mr Cup  

Did you know the origin of playing cards? It was a kind of calendar, with 4 colors for the 4 seasons, with 13 cards for the 13 weeks of each season. 52 cards in total which are the 52 weeks of the year!

Now, I hate to be the one to question Mr Cup, but the first playing cards weren’t printed in color, consisted of about 30 cards total, and often had more than four suits. This is why you shouldn’t take historical claims made by kitchenware seriously.

But while it might not be historically accurate, Ephemerid is a total looker. That’s likely why the deck has already blown past its $7,418 goal despite the fact its royals aren’t finished yet. So what do we know so far? Based on Mr Cup’s collection of antique letters, invoices, bills, tickets, and photos, each card in Epehemerid is unique and each suit has its own background color. The deck’s scattershot “vintage” design would look awful on a weaker deck, but the bold design of the numbers and aces leaves a lot of space for ornate accents while keeping the cards eminently readable. The standard tuck box is pleasant, but the gold-foil on black of the deluxe edition box looks a lot better.  

The Ephemerid Kickstarter campaign has already reached $12,474 and ends on May 6th. A standard deck will run you $10 plus shipping, with delivery expected in October.