BoardGameGeek Reviewer EndersGame
SUMMARY: Beautiful and thematic playing cards
Wow. The deck of Revolution Playing Cards is easily one of my favourites that has been produced by Murphy's Magic.
The provocative and official video trailer for this set of playing cards has images featuring information and technology, accompanied with the following voice-over: "Information is the new weapon. The most dangerous is also the most hidden. They collect your data. They record your every move. They use it to keep you predictable, keep you profitable. But I have information of my own. And they're just as vulnerable. If you're reading this, you're a part of their system, you're a piece of their property. The bets they make are at your expense. What if the key was at your fingertips? What if you could bring them down for good? What if you could start a revolution?" This revolutionary concept is embodied in a quotation from Thomas Jefferson that appears several times throughout the deck, including on the tuck case: "When injustice becomes law, revolution becomes duty".
There are two types of revolution symbolized by this deck. First of all, the systematic collection of digital information represents a technological revolution that is presently taking place in our world; one that will be accomplished without angry mobs, and will be over before we even realize it. But what if we could use the same tools of information to defy this modern revolution? Efforts by the WikiLeaks projects and Edward Snowden come to mind as contemporary examples. This deck, produced by Jason Brumbalow with artist Abraham Garcia, is especially a homage to the defiance of this second type of revolution.
My love for this deck begins with the tuck box. When you first hold it in your hand, it looks rather plain: red, with three solid white stripes. Those three stripes (or triple bar) are the deck's signature icon. The plain red looks non-descript and ordinary - until you take a close look and tilt it in the light, when you notice that it features an intricate design that has been applied with a glossy UV spot varnishing in the same colour! This is a very neat hidden revelation effect, that really looks impressive. The images and phrases (e.g. "be the change you want to see in the world" and "better to die on your feet than to live on your knees") give suggestions that hint of the revolution theme within.
The card backs are a bold and simple red, again featuring the triple bar in white, just like the box cover. They have thin borders - ideal for cardistry - that have been printed consistently and beautifully throughout the deck. This deck was printed in Taiwan by Expert Playing Cards, and in my opinion that means it has a quality that surpasses USPCC produced decks - the cut is cleaner, and the printing registration is crisper and more accurate, and that's why the borders on the cards are perfect.
The simple triple-bar icon has several different context-dependent meanings, and it's not immediately obvious which one is the intended one, because it's used differently in mathematics, philosophy, science, and technology. I was able to ask the designer about this, and he explained that it is a throwback to a binary operation, but also has the same philosophical roots as the Triforce symbol (familiar to some from the Legend of Zelda game), known as the Mitsuuroko which means "three scales", and represents Power, Wisdom, and Courage. Here that concept is combined with the digital information Revolution theme of the binary three bars, and is a visual statement that emphasizes elements necessary in taking a defiant stand against something.
There's a very polished and intriguing Ace of Spades with customized artwork that featuers the curious eye symbol which is sometimes associated with the new world order conspiracy and rule of the elite. It is against this kind of rule and all-seeing eye that the revolution of this deck is envisaged. This card also introduces the two main colours of the deck: black and a very deep almost burnt red.
The bursting lines that emerge from the Ace also are evident in the court cards. These are my favourite cards in the deck, and have a haunting and intriguing beauty and refinement. Many of the cards have characters with elements that protrude outside the carefully framed borders. Clearly, this is a deck that isn't about staying within the lines, but about stepping outside when necessary, in order to effect change. The deck's main motif, the three bars, also features in the centre of each court card as a belt buckle style ornament.
The Jokers build in a nice reveal, with the "Semi Free" on one Joker transposing into "Queen Hearts" on the other. They repeat the deck's thematic motif taken from Thomas Jefferson, while the security camera artwork reflects the idea where law has become repression.
The pips do a fine job of combining burgundy red and black in a clever way. All the pips have the deck's flagship 3-bar icon in their center in the opposite colour, which is also used for the outline of the pips. So the black pips are tinged with red and have the 3-bar icon in red; while the red pips are tinged with black and have the 3-bar icon in black. The pips are also quite refined and delicate, with a custom arrangement. On the indices they are accompanied with a square shaped font for an altogether intriguing look.
Each suit also has its own style of lines as a background image, reminiscent of the lines we saw bursting from the Ace of Spades. But each suit has adapts this in its own style. For example with Diamonds, these are styled as lightning bolts, with Hearts they are single lines, and with Clubs they are straight lines alternating with dotted lines.
With the Revolution Playing Cards, everything has been customized from the ground up. This is a very fine looking, cleverly designed, and thoughtfully created deck, that handles beautifully, and will find a welcome place in the home of a discerning collector and card gamer.
- BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame