More Playing Cards from BOMBMAGIC

In a previous review, I covered some decks from BOMBMAGIC, a Taiwanese based publisher. Taiwan is also the source of high quality playing cards produced by industry leaders like Legends Playing Cards, and the quality of the BOMBMAGIC decks matches some of the best in the business. To read more about the background of this publisher, you'll find that earlier article here.

In this review I'll cover some of BOMBMAGIC's more recent decks, including their artistic Cardistry Calligraphy decks, and their spectacular new budget deck, The Hidden King Playing Cards, which offers remarkable value at only $3 a deck!




THE HIDDEN KING DECKS

Tuck boxes

The Hidden King Playing Cards are one of the recent deck releases by BOMBMAGIC. This publishing company is run by Hanson Bomb and has also produced creative designs like Casino Royale Playing Cards and Fujin & Raijin Playing Cards, and more.

With their two Hidden King decks, one white and the other yellow, BOMBMAGIC has created a stylish low-cost deck (only $3) inspired by the Siberian Tiger.



The two tuck boxes both feature the same graphic design, with a mono-coloured brown/black drawing of a Siberian tiger on the white and yellow fronts.

Especially noteworthy is the artwork on the tiger's forehead, which has often been compared with the Chinese symbol for King (Wang), a clever connection with the deck's theme. The creator's intent is to reflect the fact that the person with the deck is the King of the cards.



Card backs

The thematic concept is emphasized by the design of the card backs, which are also featured on the back of the tuck box. An inverse S shaped design links two tiger heads together to create a mirrored two-way design with bold features not unlike traditional Bicycle rider-backs. A thick hand-drawn border evokes elegance and suggests something of the tiger's raw power.



I love the idea that as the Hidden King, you the player are the one who releases the tiger from captivity when taking the cards out of the box.



Card faces

The canvas of the playing cards themselves is a beautiful and clean white that immediately captures attention, and makes the pips and indices really pop. With this deck, BOMBMAGIC had the goal of creating a traditional casino-style deck but with a tiger motif on the card backs, and that's the reason that the card faces are mostly standard and instantly recognizable.

The pips are pleasantly oversized and somewhat inflated for a fresh look. The indices utilize a smaller font than usual, they are still clear and functional, and the smaller size makes them superb for fans.



Court cards

The standard look of the court cards has a stronger impact due to the vibrant white canvas and the finish used by the publisher.



Aces

Customization of the card faces is otherwise limited to the expected Ace of Spades, which includes mention of "Taiwan Playing Card Company".



Jokers

There are also two lovely custom Jokers, one which pictures an adult tiger, and the other which pictures two playful tiger cubs.



Handling

The finish and card stock is one of the stand-out highlights of this lovely deck. Besides the crisp white colour, they have a thinner than normal card stock that creates an immediately soft feel, and has an air-cushion style embossing pattern that handles smoothly and evenly. Extended use so far hasn't created any undesirable clumps, and they spread and fan nicely.



The soft and thin feel is very pleasant to use, although it does make it somewhat unsuited for certain card sleights, such as double lifts or colour changes that require aggressive handling of the cards, because with soft cards like these it can result in accidental folding. But the soft feel means the deck doesn't require any breaking in and handles superbly straight from the box.

Recommendation

For a mere $3 each, The Hidden King decks are outstanding value. They have a traditional casino look to ensure that they have lots of practical application, and yet enough customization to make them stand out as immediately stylish, and are accompanied with a production quality for pleasant and reliable handling. Very good value, and well done to BOMBMAGIC for creating The Hidden King!




CARDISTRY CALLIGRAPHY DECKS

Tuck boxes

Combining Cardistry with Calligraphy? Why not! That's the concept of Cardistry Calligraphy Playing Cards, a series of stylish decks produced by Hanson Bomb's BOMBMAGIC, a Taiwan based publisher which has also published other solid designs like Casino Royale Playing Cards, and more recently Hidden King Playing Cards. The Cardistry Calligraphy decks were first released at the 2017 Cardistry Con.

The series consists of three decks, a red and blue pair with silver foil lettering on the tuck box, and a more luxurious limited edition deck that has gold accents on the tuck box and on the card backs as well. In each case the graphic design of the boxes emphasizes the calligraphic lettering which gives the deck its name.



Card backs

The card backs themselves have lovely and consistent narrow borders in white, which stands out beautifully against the solid red and blue that fills the majority of the landscape of the cards.



The overall design is the same as what appears on the back of the tuck boxes, but with a reversed colour scheme. But there is one further change: the word Cardistry now appears in a stylish calligraphic font in the very center of the cards. This does also mean that the cards have one-way backs. In keeping with the elegant lettering, ornate decorations with a floral design surround the border.

In the case of the limited edition, the card backs are a simple white with all the artwork and lettering with gold foil, for a truly glamorous look.



Card faces

The card faces on all three decks are identical. They have large over-sized pips, which we have seen in other BOMBMAGIC designs, and this makes them very recognizable, while at the same time giving them a fresh feel. The small indices are still very clear, and ideal for large spreads and fans of cards.



Court cards

The standout feature of the card faces lies in the customized cards: the Aces, court cards, and Jokers. The court cards just have a single large letter - K, Q or J - done with calligraphy.



Aces

All four Aces have a large decorative image in the center, which is in the shape of the pip corresponding to its suit, and made up of calligraphic curves and shapes. If you look closely, they appear to incorporate letters from how the suit is spelled.



Jokers

The Jokers are arguably the nicest of the lot, with the card face beautifully decorated with calligraphic swirls and lines, along with the word Joker, and with red used along with black on one of the cards.



Handling

All three decks use BOMBMAGIC's Casino Stock and Royal Finish, which was the same combination used for their Casino Royale Bright edition and their pair of Japanese inspired Fujin and Raijin decks. It's less slippery than their Magic Finish and their Legendary Finish, and has a stiffness that is better for card sleights than their very soft Luxury stock, and also offers good control for packeting. The decks fan and spread nicely, and the finish and card stock has worked well for card flourishing, especially once the deck has seen some use and been broken in. Surprisingly the gold accents on the card backs of the limited edition deck don't seem to have much of a negative impact on the handling or performance.



The graphic design of these decks also favours card flourishing, with a bold colour on the card backs that emphasizes colour and shape. The use of ornate calligraphic letters for the court cards is somewhat unusual, but suits the deck well, especially when used for cardistry, because it means that the card faces have a more consistent look, and don't have pictures on selected cards which can distract when the cards are in motion.

The card stock and finish also works well for cardistry, and these decks have a graphic design that really looks nice in motion when in the hands of an experienced cardist. While the indices are clear, the artwork on the court cards and aces makes these less functional than a normal deck, and so this wouldn't be my deck of choice for a card game or for a magic trick. But this characteristic is also what makes it more ideal for cardistry than a typical deck. The concept of calligraphy with flowing lines and curves also works very well as a thematic concept suited card flourishing well - cardistry and calligraphy are a natural and appropriate combination.



Collaboration

The attractive Cardistry Calligraphy decks were the result of a collaboration with the world's first international calligraphy school, Ink Academy.



This is acknowledged on the base of the box with the following credit: Calligraphy by Ink Academy, California.

Ink Academy is a school that aims to bring calligraphy masters and students together, and offers courses and programs to help learn this historically rich art-form.



Video Trailer

You can watch the official video trailer for the Cardistry Calligraphy decks here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlriRrP7cUc



Recommendation

BOMBMAGIC deserves to be congratulated for contributing another unique concept for the world of cardistry to enjoy. At a very reasonable price of just US$10, the Cardistry Calligraphy decks are excellent value, and can be recommended for all who enjoy card flourishing.



Want to learn more? Visit BOMBMAGIC:
- Official website
- Facebook, Instagram

Direct links for where some the decks featured in this review can be purchased:
- Hidden King Playing Cards (cost: US$3 each)
- Cardistry Calligraphy Playing Cards (cost: US$10 each)




BoardGameGeek reviewer

For more of my reviews on custom playing cards, subscribe to this list: Pictorial Reviews of Playing Cards by EndersGame

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