I admit, I wasn't expecting too much from the invitation that accompanied my Phoenix deck, to create an account to watch the free accompanying video. What was there to know? This was a stock deck, wasn't it?
All right, now I've well and truly seen everything. This deck is the product of dozens of small but significant design decisions, from aesthetics to construction methods to practical elements, such as the enlarged ace designs meant to be more visible in a crowd of spectators who can't all be right up to the performance surface. Everything about it was the product of a conscious, deliberate engineering decision. The video enumerates these, discusses them, describes the reasons behind these choices. It's possibly the geekiest thing I've watched in ages, and I assure you, I speak that word with palpable reverence. I will be very surprised if, a few minutes into the video, you aren't thinking along with me, "This guy really, truly cares about these cards. This project has meaning to him."
What cards they are. I lack the dexterity to faro shuffle, alas, but even in my clumsy riffle shuffles, the cards bend gracefully, then settle smooth and flat again. They separate easily but stay at rest until nudged. The pips and text are easy to read, and the jokers, facing in opposite directions, work beautifully for framing a card during a routine, or performing a "seeking jokers" effect.
I cannot emphasize this enough: register and watch the free video linked in the card included with the deck. There are so many more brilliant details hiding in that Phoenix deck, useful ones, brilliant ones, ones that further reinforce the care and thought put into their engineering...but these are for their manufacturer to reveal. You will want to take the time to watch the video and learn about them. Don't miss it.
This is the sort of quality and design attention I would expect from a bespoke, custom deck....a specialty deck, from the Marksman, from the UMD, from the Butterfly deck...something in that family of original, masterpiece decks. But this is really what the Phoenix deck is...a bespoke, custom...everyday magician's dream stock deck.
For $5. (At time of this review.)
So far, every Phoenix deck product I've seen has impressed me. I loved the Ultimate Brainwave. I was impressed by the marked deck, and I'm anxious to check out the S.U.M. deck in greater detail. But as much as these well and do truly impress me, I am even more impressed by the simple, humble, brilliantly-engineered basic Phoenix deck.
If you're beginning down the road of card magic, this is your deck platform. If you're a longtime Rider/Mandolin user and wondering why you'd want to invest in yet another deck platform, pick up this deck, and I think you'll agree that it makes a very compelling argument for Phoenix as a platform.
When was the last time you saw a company put forward its most affordable product as its flagship? The amount of care, time and energy that went into a feature-length video manual to the deck was entirely justified. Even if you don't plan to jump deck platforms, this deck's a must-have addition to any performer's card collection, and owning one makes the case for using one.