SUMMARY: Ideal for magic and cardistry
The deck of Mandalas Playing Cards is ideal for magicians and cardistry fans.
TUCK BOX: It begins with a very non-descript but elegant tuck box in a plain but shiny black. All black - except for the flap, which has Mandalas in a cursive script, and the back of the box, which has two mandalas in raised and glossy grey. The jet black tuck box exudes a sense of mystery, and begs to be opened.
THEME: Mandalas have a long history in Hinduism and Buddhism, where they are used as symbols to represent the universe. But they are used more commonly outside of these eastern religions for geometric patterns that represent the universe as well. The mandala design is understood by many to capture spirituality, balance, and beauty. Designer Damien O'Brien is a magician with a passion for magic, and for aesthetics. His name may be familiar to some of you from BBC's Killer Magic. In this unique deck of playing cards, he has brought together his interest in mandalas together with his interest in tattoo art. These mandala designs are what the deck is about - a sleek black look, with a straight forward design.
CARD BACKS: The card backs have the same design of twin mandalas. The position of these is excellent for cardistry, because they emphasize the trajectory of movement during cuts. The mandalas themselves consist of intricate patterns in a soft gray that isn't quite as bright as the white of the card borders.The borders are much thinner than normal, which creates a very pleasing look, much better than the standard width borders, especially given the relatively plain card backs. The thin white contrast starkly with the black, and means that it has a much more pleasing look for spreads and fans.
ACE OF SPADES: Certainly this deck still has some customization, and it is perhaps the most noticeable in the deck's signature card, the Ace of Spades. It's easily my favourite card in this deck, with an absolutely gorgeous design.
COURT CARDS: The court cards can sometimes be the high point of a deck, but in this case the deck is seeking a somewhat subdued and darker look, and so the usual garish colour scheme for the court cards has been abandoned. Instead, all the court cards have the same basic colour scheme: red and black. But there is customization here too, even though the clothing style of the courts is completely standard within this simplified colour palette. But the customization lies in the faces, which all feature actual faces from Damien's real world friends and family, many of whom are magicians, like Daniel Madison. Other notable figures featured in the Mandala court cards include Chris Ramsay as Jack of Hearts, Dee Christopher as King of Clubs, and Jeremy Griffith as King of Hearts. The queens are also all members of Damien's family, although the Queen of Hearts is Laura London. Damien himself is featured as the King of Spades.
JOKERS: The two Jokers pay tribute to one of the ideas that inspired this deck, tattooing. The likeness may elude some who are unfamiliar with body art, but what the image on the Jokers pictures is a dripping tattoo needle.
GAFFS: Finally there are two gaff cards, a double backer, and a card which is blank on one side.
NUMBER CARDS: Aside from the court cards, most of the deck has a relatively standard look, although the red used for the traditionally red suits of Hearts and Diamonds is a deeper burgundy colour than normal, in keeping with the darker theme and tone of the deck.
HANDLING: This deck has been printed by USPCC, with their standard air cushion finish, which has embossing to ensure smooth handling and performance. - BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame