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

In this installment of Kickstarter Cards, we have nice bees, proud gods, a deck filled with history and a rare example of art from the late leather-bra ninja lady period. 

Bombo by Paolo Ruggiu (printed by MPC) 

You might think the niche of bee-themed playing cards is very well filled by Ellusionist’s gorgeously geometric Killer Bee deck, but Paolo Ruggiu’s charming Bombo deck makes room.

There’s a kind of classic, rustic charm to Bombo, even as it eschews playing card tradition. The black suits are printed on yellow fronts, while the reds are rendered in yellow and printed on an off black. Half the deck clashing with the other shouldn’t really work, but Bombo’s understated royals and classic numbers feel harmonious. The jokers are a bit garish, though.

Sadly, as sweet as Bombo is, you’ll have to part with big money to get the honey. (Buzz off. We all knew there was no way I was getting through this deck without at least one bee pun, and the fact I’ve held off this long shows an almost supernatural degree of restraint). A single deck of Bombo playing cards will run you a whopping $21 dollars plus shipping (which isn’t completely worldwide). The deck’s Kickstarter campaign is looking for $2,056 and will end on May 4th. 

Project Olympians by Skymember Presents (printed by USPCC)

I don’t care how slick your cardistry video is, when you start adding sound effects to your flourishes you’re journeying deep into self-parody country. Phrases like “USING METALLIC INKS FOR MAXIMUM LUXURY” don’t really help matters either.

I suspect I’m being harsh on Olympians’ promotional video largely because the deck itself is so underwhelming. I’m a sucker for dark borderless cards, but the deck’s neon-green-on-dark-green colour scheme reminds me more of the original Xbox than the Greek pantheon. The custom pips are nice, but artist Austin Ho’s artwork isn’t put to its best use on the underdeveloped royals. The gods of Olympus are tiny, presumably to save space for the unimaginative foil work. The two way backs (also borderless) look great, but again, I wish the colors popped more. 

The custom tuck case, however, is gorgeous. It opens up like a book, making for some killer opening flourishes like the one in the video above. 

Olympians is limited to just 2500 units maximum, is a Kickstarter exclusive, and will never be reprinted or resold. The campaign is looking for $24,678, has reached $6,845 and ends on May 3rd. The cheapest pledge that includes a deck is roughly $30 US worldwide shipping included. An uncut sheet will run you an extra $40.

Hidden Leaves by Mahdi Gilbert (printed by USPCC)

Mahdi Gilbert knows his stuff when it comes to cards, and seemingly every aspect of his deck, Hidden Leaves, is an ode to the decks of old. 

The card backs are an obvious homage to the iconic Bicycle Riders, while the deck’s slight-off-kilter, imperfect production and two-tone color scheme attempts to replicate the imperfect, bleeding inks of old-school card presses. The index-free numbers are designed so magicians can replicate the unique card transformations of Johann Hofzinser. The entirely custom deck was drawn by Mahdi himself, who, as you’re probably aware, literally has no hands or feet.

Hidden Leaves would be an accomplishment for any magician and artist, never mind one facing as many challenges as Mahdi. As the man himself says:

This is not a deck of playing cards. This is a symbol of overcoming the world. The motif of this deck is Play The Hand Life Dealt You! With my logo which is me holding a royal flush.  

The Hidden Leaves Kickstarter campaign was looking for $1,311 and has already blown past its goal with $5,905 from some 113 backers. A deck of Hidden Leaves will cost you about $16 plus shipping (final retail price is $18) and adding an uncut sheet to that order will run you a smooth $30. 

Fortunately for us, Mahdi was on hand to answer some questions about the deck on Instagram.


Antagon by Michele Spatola (printed by NPCC)

Maybe I’m giving Antagon a hard time because it’s right on the heels of two Kickstarter decks I’ve had to remove from the column because they’re basically pornographic, but I mean, come on, how can I not make fun of this.

If sexy women is your jam, that’s cool, but there’s a lot of competition in the field of HOT CHICKS BEING HOT ON PLAYING CARDS and Antagon isn’t even a strong contender. There’s no real central theme beyond the mobile-game-ad-tier “hot babes” and a vague stab at fantasy. Seriously, some of the royals are going for a kind of cool dark fantasy look while others are gunning for gothic erotica or even Frazetta-style pulp. 

The worst part is there’s parts of the deck that really work. The line-art style pips on the aces and indexes look really good. They’re light but ornate and are instantly readable. The edge designs on the royals are rich and ostentatious, giving the cards a real luxurious look. Even the deliberate “aging” of the cards looks pretty good. I’ve seen far worse effects on decks looking for a lot more money. The deck is being billed as a collector’s item and has the fancy limited edition tuck box to match, but honestly, pretty airbrushed women decks are a dime a dozen.   

The Antagon Kickstarter Campaign is looking for $ 5,949 and ends on May 9th. The lowest pledge that includes a deck is an early bird special that costs $12 plus shipping. Once those are gone you’re looking at around $16 per deck.  

If you’re planning to Kickstart your own deck, drop us a line and we’ll feature it here.