BoardGameGeek Reviewer EndersGame
SUMMARY: Cardistry with tangrams - why didn't someone think of this earlier?
Tangram Playing Cards was a project produced by KKD Playing Cards, and is now available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic retailer. The acronym KKD refers to designer Kiran Kuruvithadam, who lives in Switzerland.
When I first saw this deck, the first thing I thought was: Why didn't someone think of this earlier? Perhaps someone did, but this is the first deck I've personally seen which uses tangram as a theme throughout the deck. Most people will already be familiar with the classic tangram, which is an ancient Chinese puzzle in which seven flat shapes (tans) are rearranged in to make different shapes. Tangrams have also been called "The Seven Stones of Wisdom" (as mentioned on the side of the tuck box), because it was said that mastering the seven pieces of this geometrical puzzle was key to the acquisition of wisdom. Many cardistry decks have explored geometric shapes (the famous Virtuoso being a well-known example), so a deck that works with geometric shapes inspired by tangrams is a very natural and obvious fit for cardistry.
Called the "Sea Edition", this deck of playing cards employ the greens and blues of ocean colours throughout. The box cover features the basic tangram design where all the seven pieces have been placed into a square, above an aquatic horizon. As an extra thematic touch, the area surrounding the square is not plain white, but is a tiled arrangement of tiny tangram pieces in white and grey shades.
The card back continues the aquatic theme, with the rectangular shaped main panel representing a green-blue pool made up of geometric tangram shapes, with two fish being the prominent points of interest. Each fish has a trail of aqua water drops behind it, implying movement, and this also can accentuate swirls and patterns when doing flourishing manoeuvres. This deck was printed by industry giant USPCC, so the cards handle smoothly as you'd expect, and should prove durable, even for cardistry.
As you'd expect, the court cards are completely customized, with the characters being composed entirely from the seven tangram shapes, with a mirror image of each as part of a two-way design. Pips have been customized and created in a similar fashion from tangram pieces, to create a thoroughly custom and geometric look for the entire deck. They have been deliberately over-sized to ensure they are still recognizable. This is especially evident with the signature Ace of Spades, which has been created entirely from the seven standard tangram pieces. The deck includes two Jokers which feature tangram shapes formed into a sail-boat.
Two extra cards come with the deck, one containing an actual tangram puzzle that you can cut into seven pieces. The other card has pictures of more than 20 tangram challenges to try, including sea-creatures like a turtle, crab, and angel fish, and land animals like a mouse, rabbit, monkey, and rooster.
Cardists will immediately be drawn to this geometric design, but the good thing is that most non-cardists will immediately recognize the tangram shapes as well. This ensures that this is a very accessible deck that will speak to a variety of people, making it easier for cardists to showcase this deck even to those unfamiliar with strongly geometric design.
- BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame