SUMMARY: A stunning deck for the risk-taker at heart
The theme of Run Playing Cards embraces a love for poker, and evokes the idea of surviving a competitive gambling context, coming out on top, and then heading for the exit and making a fast-getaway. You'll especially need to run after performing a hustle or fleecing someone with some gambling tricks!
Under the direction of well-known producer Jason Brumalow, and illustrated by Chris Yoon, this deck is intended to convey something of the energy of a dynamic lifestyle where there is constant motion and activity. It is deliberately designed to capture a sense of something raw and rebellious - but you wouldn't know it initially from the polished presentation of the box.
My version of this deck came in a well-presented hardened black external case that consists of two halves, and offers additional protection to the tuck box itself. It has gold lettering on the front and the side of this external box, reminding us of the deck's theme: "After the score, there's only one thing to do." A solid protective box like this is not very common with decks, and not only does it protect your tuck box and playing cards, but it also fits with the Run theme, where an energetic lifestyle requires taking additional measures to ensure safety and protect. Only the original print-run comes with this hard case, so if there are future printings, they will be without the additional case.
Once you open this baby, you get access to the tuck box itself - and wow, is it ever pretty and stylish! Three versions of this deck were produced, and what I'm reviewing is the one that had the largest production, namely the Standard Edition (Green and Gold). With the Standard Edition, the matt look of the forest green tuck box provides a beautiful background for the stylish gold foil and embossing to really shine.
It's a very stylish pattern that has a diagonal stripe wrapping vertically around the box, creating an infinite loop. One side of the box has a ornate dollar shaped design incorporated into the vertical stripe, a theme that the card backs will pick up, while the other side of the box has a golden Ace of Spades. A light tiled pattern completes the look, and if you notice carefully this incorporates tiny spade and diamond pips along with tiny gems to make up the design; these gems representing the treasure that motivates a gambler and risk-taker at heart.
Initial positive impressions of the tuck box continue when we observe something else unique about it: a side loading design. Yes, this is a deck that defies the usual conventions in many ways - and yet it remains very polished. Even the flap has embossing and gold lettering, and opening up the tuck reveals hidden secrets, with a website at Murphys Magic that promises more: "Learn a gambling routine with your included gaffed cards". I checked it out, and sure enough, it offers two videos for routines that use the two gaffs included with the deck, and both these videos can be either streamed or downloaded.
The card backs repeat the design already introduced on the tuck box, with a bold diagonal stripe in which a dollar symbol is prominent, as part of a very ornate and bordered design. The diagonal stripe has its roots in the image of a race-track, and along with the rest of the deck is intended to convey something about motion and dynamics. The colours remind me of banknotes and greenbacks - which is no coincidence! The Ace of Spades should also look very familiar - it also echoes what we've seen before on the tuck box, along with a reprise of the deck's thematic one-liner, this time in print below the over-sized pip.
One of my favourite aspects of this deck are the court cards. For all four suits, they have a traditionally inspired design, but using an unusual and simple colour scheme of a pale yellow accompanied with a blue-grey, creating a very striking and original look. The colours, I suspect, have been inspired by the colour of money: banknotes and coins, gold and silver.
The pips on all the cards have diagonal lines running through them, to match the sense of diagonal conveyed on the card backs, thus creating a unified and overall impression of diagonal lines on both sides of the cards. They also have a very thin yellow outline around them. On the number cards, the pips are considerably smaller in size than on the court cards, and the arrangement of the pips also is custom to this deck.
The colour of the traditionally red suits departs from the usual, with an orange that complements the blue/grey and yellow found elsewhere in the deck. As we have said all along, this deck doesn't follow the usual well trodden pathways of the expected, but likes to be rebellious.
The Jokers include a subtle and clever 6 of Spades reveal that magicians will love, and picks up the classic theme of a sword stabbing a heart, found also in miniature on the card-backs, and which historically represents treachery - the thematic connection for this deck being obvious.
The indices use a square-like font that is reminiscent of a type face you'd see on a computer. Somewhat surprisingly, the indices on the traditionally black suited cards is indeed black, and doesn't quite match the lighter blue grey of the pips on the middle of the card. More rebellion!
One other interesting thing about this deck is the banner style arrangement of lines below the indices, running down the sides of the cards. This also enhances the impression of movement, which is related to the deck's "run" theme.
In many ways this is really a deck that magicians will appreciate, and two gaffed cards that are included will be welcome weapons in the hand of magicians. These gaffs are especially well-suited for performing Skinner's Ultimate 3 Card Monte routine or other 3 Card Monte effects, like the one taught at the video link provided with the deck, which features teaching from Jason Brumalow and Chris Huang. The 3 Card Monte routine provided is a 13 minute video, while the Tantalizer routine is just over 10 minutes, and is based on an improved version of an effect found in Royal Road to Card Magic. The gaffs are very versatile, and in the hand of a magician, they can be used along with this deck to produce apparent miracles, including transpositions, sandwiches, and monte effects. The choice of gaffs also fits well with the gambling and risk taking motif.
The Run deck was in development for over a year, and if you're interested in learning more about the design, check out the video here in which producer Jason Brumalow explains all the thinking that went into the small elements of design.
It was printed by USPCC in their standard air cushion finish for quality performance. So bring this along to the table and get playing. - BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame