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Phoenix Deck (Blue) Review

March 27th, 2014 3:33pm
Rating:
Reviewed by Dr. J. M. Ayala de Cedoz
There are a seemingly endless number of collector-type decks available these days, new ones coming out almost every month. Many of them are very cool and I like to collect some of them myself, BUT that is not what Phoenix decks are meant for.

It is the aim of the Card Shark, Christian Schenk, to make the Phoenix deck the next work horse for card workers and magicians everywhere, and why not? Bicycle has changed a lot of things since the "old days" when boxes still had the back design of the card printed on the box. That was one of the first things to change, then came the discontinuation of certain gaffs, and then the Rider Back altogether. That is not to say that the Rider Back decks have ceased to exist on retailer and magic store shelves, but that day may well come.

Christian went about designing a new back for playing cards, aimed at being a tool specifically magicians but which could be used by laymen for card games. The result was fantastic in my opinion! Some people may not like the design, but I would urge those to give this deck a chance. Why? I will tell you...

Because of the lengths and expense that Christian went through to ensure the highest quality cards and decks possible, the following do and/or will hold true:

First of all, if you have put any time at all into the faro shuffle, these cards faro perfectly right out of the box without any need to break the deck in first. In the past, depending on the way the cards were punched (read: cut), decks would faro better in one direction than the other (from the face vs. from the back), and that would vary from deck to deck. With the Phoenix cards, eventually, every deck will be cut from the same side so that they all faro from the face (backs to the audience).

One of the things I always had trouble with in using gaffed 'anything' with the Tally Ho brand is that it was hard to come by even some of the more common gaffs for them. For Bicycle it was easy to find, but often you might find yourself buying unnecessary multiples because the ink tone/depth did not quite match the deck you were using them in. Not so with the Phoenix decks! The color of every deck, whether blue or red, will match exactly from one deck to another, including all gaffs and different types of deck, such as the Parlour Deck and in the future, mini decks, etc. No more sifting or digging through gaffed cards to find the ones whose ink tone/depth matches the deck you are using.

The finish is the same air-cushion finish you are used to if you use(d) Bicycle decks - it fans extremely well, the cards are sturdy and they handle very smoothly.

The faces, with a few slight exceptions, are exactly the same as the Bicycle decks. One of the exceptions are the Aces, which I really like. The center pips of the Ace of Diamonds, Clubs and Hearts have been enlarged but are still smaller than the center pip of the Aces of Spades. This makes them more visible for an audience and they look really good in any sort of four Ace effect. There is one other difference that I will leave to the reader to discover, and boy is it very clever and very useful! To my knowledge, no other deck in the world has this particular feature.

The ad copy here is 100% accurate although since it was added to this site, the contents of the deck case have changed: 1) Now you get TWO Jokers with a really cool feature. For instance, suppose you are performing a sandwich effect; depending on which direction you fan the cards, the phoenixes will either both be looking AT the selection in the center or AWAY from the selection. Lots of possibilities with that feature. 2) You get a blank face card - again very useful. 3) There is a Poker Bingo card that is more than it appears to be. When you get a deck, be sure to pay close attention to this card and not just toss it aside or throw it away! 4) You no longer get the old-style Aces with the small center pips, just the new style with the larger center pips. The Ace of Spades is still customized.

The box has the Phoenix back design printed on it like the old Bicycle decks used to have (and that some other designs and types (mostly collector decks) still have today). This allows for many, many different effects using this feature. Though extra, empty boxes are not yet listed on the Card Shark website, they are available by request.

The backs of the cards are not so flashy and distracting, as the ad copy says, so they are not suspicious at all. I will say that the Phoenix in the center almost reminds me of a pheasant, but I personally like the design - especially the one-way feature. Very useful! Also, this feature is built into every single Phoenix deck that is printed, including extra and gaffed cards.

The new-deck order for the Phoenix is different than you are used to, as outlined in the ad copy. This set-up allows you to get right into the Tamariz Stack (Mnemonica) from new deck order with only a few faro shuffles and an overhand shuffle. Short of that, you can also get into a stay-stack order.

You can also have your own cards and decks custom printed by Christian for a much lower cost than Bicycle decks. This includes printing your business cards on the back, custom printed cases, etc. If you want the Phoenix design in another color, that is possible too!

Speaking of cost, you get all these features for a measly $3.00/USD per deck! The Card Shark website also offers packaged selections of 4, 8 and 12 decks. The 12 deck option comes in its own dispenser, and the best part is that with any of these selections, you can order any quantity of the colors you want, so if you want 4 blue decks and 8 red decks in your brick, that is what you will get.

I have long since replaced my Bicycle decks with Phoenix decks for performances, with only two exceptions. I strongly urge all card workers and magicians to give this deck a try because just about everything you could ask for is in this deck and for a really good price. There really is no reason why these cards could not and should not become the standard for magicians.

VERY HIGHLY recommended!

Product info for Phoenix Deck (Blue)

Author: Card-Shark
Publisher: Card-Shark.de
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $3.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

The idea was to establish a new brand and design especially made for magicians. This deck is not the 531st deck of fancy looking cards that hits the magic community on a monthly basis and that ends up on a collector's shelf. I am talking about a working horse for all magicians around the globe. A deck that should look nice and modern, but not at all fancy or suspicious. A deck that has secret weapons built in that can be used but don't have to be. Well hidden and secret that no layman would ever find! And if he did find them he would not think about it as a weapon!

What are the similarities to a Bicycle Deck, what are the differences?

Similarities:

  • the card stock will be the same, also the air-cushion finish
  • the card case will look familiar and will use the back design on the back of the card case as it WAS USED TO BE.
  • USPCC changed that recently and a lot of magicians are concerned.
  • the faces will be the same like your favourite Bicycle deck (with a few exceptions)
Differences:
  • the decks come sorted in the bricks and not mixed. If you only want red decks, buy only red decks! No problems to get rid of the blue decks then.
  • The Joker has a new design, as the deck is called Phoenix Deck, it shows a Phoenix rising from Fire. Having a mythology bird as a Joker perhaps give you new ideas for torn and restore effects, burning cards etc. (BTW, there is only one Joker in the deck, do you really need two? Buy two decks...)
  • The Ace of Spades is different, but somehow still feels familiar...
  • all the other regular aces are still included but only as a backup if you do have problems with the new ones. There are new aces that have a larger middle pip, they look great in closeup but also perfect on stage! No more difficult-to-see ace routines!!!
  • The back design is changed to the Phoenix theme. Can you spot the hidden one way information on the back?...
  • The deck setup will be different to the one you are used to. Joker, Ace-King of Clubs, Ace-King of Diamonds, King-Ace of Hearts, King-Ace of Clubs, the old three aces of Diamonds, Hearts and Clubs.


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