Summary: A cartoony and spooky deck with a Halloween feel
The Monster deck has rightly been described as "a new spooky deck of your favorite classic monsters in a fun cartoon style." This deck was designed by Arizona illustrator and artist Joe Ruiz, who was trained at the San Francisco Art Institute of California, and has been involved with artwork for projects that include children's books, logos, medical manuals, product packaging, humorous literature, and textbook art. This is his first playing card design, and if this debut is any indication, he has real promise!
Halloween has always generated a legion of associated products, and the Monster Deck is geared to fit within that stereotypical mould. Trick or Treat? In this case, the tricks are a treat, because the artwork is inspired by classic monsters from popular stories and myths, while still retaining a cartoon look that prevents it from feeling too dark.
The tuck box features the artwork from the Ace of Spades on the front, while the reverse side showcases the artwork from the card backs.
The card backs incorporate the kinds of objects that you'd typically associate with Halloween, such as skulls and bat-wings, and there's considerable detail here to study and enjoy.
All the Aces feature a detailed oversized image in the shape corresponding to the suit pip. Besides the skulls shown here that have been arranged in the shape of a Club pip, there's also an eye-ball Spade pip, and a heart shaped Heart, for example.
But the court cards are really the highlight of the deck, since they feature the monsters that this deck is named after. Instead of the usual royal characters we've come to expect on court cards, a selection of monsters, creatures, and mythical beings have crawled out of books, films and nightmares.
Each suit represents different monster types, such as Shape Shifters (Spades), Water Dwellers (Clubs), Undead (Hearts), and Not of This World (Diamonds). Each court card depicts a different classic monster, such as Werewolf, Vampire, Kraken, Frankenstein's Monster, Zombie, and more.
The pips are heavily customized, reprising the oversized and more detailed image on the corresponding Aces, but in miniature. They especially look good against the backdrop of the grey stone-like artwork used on the faces of the cards.
But where there are Monsters, there are also Monster Hunters, and these are depicted on the two Jokers.
Since this is a USPCC printed deck, there are two additional cards, which are both additional King of Spades. These depict the two stages of a human transitioning towards the Werewolf that is the official King of Spades in the deck. This is a nice idea and can be used for some clever colour changes - see here for a hilarious video by Yoav Yardeny with a fun performance that was inspired by and uses these gaffs.
A deck with this kind of artwork won't be to everyone's taste, but it has already proved a winner to those who enjoy Halloween associated artwork. It's particularly ideal for use in magic tricks with a spooky theme. As you'd expect from a Bicycle deck, the cards handle smoothly and cleanly, so it lives up to the kind of quality we'd insist on for a custom deck like this. - BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame