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 Post subject: Carta Mundi: Casino Deck Review
PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 8:05 am 
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born to perform.

Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 2753
Casino Playing Cards By Cartamundi
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Where to buy:
http://www.cards4magic.co.uk/acatalog/c ... Mundi.html

Price: £2.00

For more information about my reviewing methods and a list of other reviews: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=156760&p=1224367#p1224367

Video Addition: (Describes an Aerial cut that is kind of fun.)

http://vimeo.com/16486111


Initial Impressions: Okay I have been a bit to busy lately to keep up on the writing end of my current review project however I have found the time to play with these decks so this is a combo OOB/1st week review. In a nut shell I’d say that the stock and finish is promising but the artwork and design…not so much. This is a smooth finish deck with a medium stiff flex and a borderless back. It is not that there is anything bad about the components of this deck but, as I’ll discuss in greater detail later, this deck doesn’t seem to have the right combination of individual parts to really make it a great deck.

The Look: This is where my biggest issue with the deck comes from. I just think they have the look of a cheap knock-off of a Bee deck. It has a diamond printed borderless back design just like the Bee deck but somehow this one just doesn’t do it for me. In truth I was never a huge fan of the Bee backs anyways (for a borderless design nothing beats the Steamboats), but these cards are seriously boring. The ace of spades….same thing. Arrcos manage to make a simple AOS look good….these do not. The court cards are not ugly enough or pretty enough to really comment on. The only highlight of the deck are the Jokers. The Jokers have a picture of a jester standing on a globe(earth maybe?) dropping a deck of cards one by one. You get two of these Jokers plus a reveal card with the Joker holding a large King of hearts. It’s always nice when a reveal card is added to a deck of cards although I’m not sure it fits the character of the deck.

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Card Construction: As I mentioned this is a smooth finish deck and it is a bit thinner than an 808. They come in at about 14.3mm in thickness and lying next to a Bike they will be about 3 cards thinner. These cards weigh appx 90. The dimensions are the same as standard poker sized decks but like other European cards the corners are rounder.

Handling:
Fanning: OOB: 8.5
1 Week: 8

Not bad with a fan, either OOB or after the 1st week, but it certainly won’t match a deck with a well made air cushion finish.

Spring Energy: OOB: 8
1 Week: 8

It ranks up there with a UV500 deck in terms of stiffness. If you are interested in smooth finish decks but are afraid that Anglos or Fourniers might be a bit much for you these might worth a look to strengthen your hands.

Dribble: OOB: 7
1st Week: 7.5

It dribbles Okay but nothing to get excited about. Their was a slight improvement over a week as the deck broke in.

Crimp Hold/Recovery: OOB: 7
1st week: 7/6

This deck has actually been through fairly light use in it’s first week(by my standards) and it is already developing several unrecoverable crimps. Combined with a crimp hold that is just about average and I can safely state that you will need medium to strong crimps for your performances and breather crimps should re-creased prior to a night out on the town.

Single Card Glides: OOB: 7
1st Week:8

Though not impressive OOB it seems to have improved. Very strong performance in bottom card glides but only average performance on top card glides. To be specific, top card glides with the fingers are pretty strong but with the thumb can be problematic.

2+ Card Obfuscations: OOB: 8
1st week: 8

These cards hold together pretty good and the borderless back will be great for push-off techniques. I have no complaints at all in this category. Your only issue will be, as with many other European decks, how easily you adapt to the rounder edges.

Gaff construction and availability: None that I know of.

XCM Flourishing:
I’m going to give this deck high marks for a “Practice Deck.” Frankly I think the deck is just to ugly for performance but this deck has an unusual blend of characteristics. It’s decent in the fan and also holds together well for packet cuts and aerials. That particular combination should appeal to those whose flourishing style is a mixture of fan/spread techniques and complicated packet cuts. It should also appeal to those who are just beginning flourishing and are unsure of what style they are likely to adopt.

Who Should Buy?: Flourishers fitting the above criteria who a looking for a solid “practice” deck.

Who should not buy: Probably everyone else.

Final thoughts:
So on the face of it, the Cartamundi’s seem to be a deck that has a nice blend of stiffness and fanning smoothness, and most of the performance characteristics are above average at least. So why don’t I like them…..The looks. Sounds harsh I know, especially from a guy who tries not to recommend decks based on the looks but in this case it is more than the simple cosmetics of the deck. I don’t really like the looks of the Aladdin’s but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. This is different. A cheap appearance might be forgivable with such a nice stock and finish but the problem is the stock and finish lend themselves more towards modern style of card magic while the borderless back lends itself towards gambling demos and the like. Simple fact is that a lot of the best modern effects may include reversed cards and the borderless back just doesn’t lend itself to that kind of stuff. Furthermore, a good gambling demo is more than just disguising the second deals. Good gambling Demos often require nice shuffle work and bottom dealing. Both of those techniques are generally easier with a softer deck. Regardless of how much I break in my stiffer decks they still won’t faro like a Bee and neither will these. Buckling the bottom card for a bottom deal get ready will be easier with the Cartamundis than say an Anglo but they still won’t beat a Bee. So basically the advantages of the stock/finish are lost with the borderless design and vice versa making these good for flourishing practice and that’s about it. Cartamundi makes a bunch of cards and I assume the stock/finish combo will be similar with most of them. If you happen to find a deck with a design you like definitely check it out but I can’t recommend the Cartamundi “Casino” deck.


Last edited by eostresh on Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Carta Mundi: Casino Deck Review
PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:47 pm 
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Joined: 26 Dec 2009
Posts: 313
Location: Illinois
so great to read these. I've always wondered if cartamundi's were worth a darn or not. i knew it would be either really good. or not good at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Carta Mundi: Casino Deck Review
PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 5:30 am 
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born to perform.

Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 2753
Yeah well I still like the stock and finish...just don't think it is the best for a gambling routine. Unfortunatly boartderless decks lend themselves to Gambling routines. Just a matter of design choice not matching up with the strengths of the deck. Keep your eyes peeled and if you find a boardered deck that you like they are definitly worth a try. Just steer clear of the Casinos.


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 Post subject: Re: Carta Mundi: Casino Deck Review
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:44 pm 
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Carta-Mundi Casino Deck (2nd&3rd week Update)
I’ve been so busy prepping for my Halloween show and Haunted House that I haven’t had much time to do the write ups on this but I have continued to use it as my practice deck so this will serve as both 2nd and 3rd week update. Overall I have really grown fond of this stock and finish. After the first full week of practice the edges finally faded a bit so I was able to start using reversal moves without any glaring discrepancies, provided my technique was sharp. The borderless back still isn’t the best for all around magic but It has been working fine for day to day use when a friend comes up and says, “hey show me a trick.”

Handling:
Fanning: 2nd week: 7
3rd week: 5.5

The fan continues to deteriorate at a steady rate. It didn’t start getting really blocky until just recently. Considering the age of the deck I still think it is an admirable performer in this stat. Example, at least for me, the Bike 808 has a better fan but as soon as an 808’s fan starts to deteriorate it goes down hiss rather quickly. (less than a week) So, while in it’s prime the venerable 808 will smoke the Carta-Mundi in this stat, the C-M will definitely outlast the Bike.

Spring: 2nd week: 7
3rd week: 6.5

There was a steady decline in the overall snap of this deck. By the 3rd week I could detect a slight difference with the Bike 808. Still it is holding its energy quite well for the third week.

Dribble: 2nd week: 8
3rd week: 7

By the second week the C-M was dribbling quite well but I have noticed it is starting to clump again.

Crimp: 2nd week: 6 hold/6 recovery
3rd week: 6 hold /6 recover

This deck definitely looks it’s age. The crimps dings and bends are not great enough to call off the review but if I am using a crimp in an effect I definitely make it a strong crimp.

Glide: 2nd week: 8
3rd week: 7
The peak of the glide has come and gone with this deck. From the 1st and 2nd week the only issues were from thumb side glides from the top of the deck. As of the 3rd week I am also noticing longitudinal glides off the bottom are beginning to become unreliable, requiring a break before execution.

2+Obfuscation: 2nd week: 8
3rd week: 8

The C-M is still performing great in this category. The only issue has been the Hugard-Braue push-off. This shouldn’t be a surprise, smooth finish decks usually out do “air-cushion” type finishes in these maneuvers.

Additional Thoughts: This is a fantastic stock and finish! I just happened to start reviewing these cards at about the same time I got Daniel Madison’s Dangerous. Those familiar with his style of Cardistry know that it is a very balanced style. A good blend of packet cuts, aerial moves, spreads and fans. This stock and finish of the Carta-Mundis are vary balanced as well. These cards have made learning some very difficult flourishes realistic even for a card klutz like me. It is also a great stock and finish for general magic. If you look at what makes Bikes great and what makes Fourniers great you will get just a little bit of each with this deck. I can already tell that this deck has the mustard to make it through a full month review. With that said, I still can’t wait for the end of this week. These are just such an UGLY deck!

Allow me to add a plea to Carta-Mundi, and other card makers. You should really make a deck that is designed to appeal to magicians and flourishers. What I have found from Carta-Mundi seems to be this deck, some plastic decks, and a bunch of decks made to promote movies(Star Wars, Indiana Jones, ect.) It is obvious to me that you have the stock quality to make a fine product but unfortunately looks do matter….at least to some extent. So folks keep your eyes out. Perhaps some intrepid magician or magic company might decide to make a custom deck with Carta-Mundi. If that happens, snatch them up and give them a try.


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 Post subject: Re: Carta Mundi: Casino Deck Review
PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:18 am 
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Carta-Mundi Casino Deck (Final Update)Well the fan finally got about as bad as what I experienced with Anglo rugs though the CM lasted about a week and a half longer before this happened. The spring finally softened up to where I could practice some bottom deals but by then the shuffles were clumpy and uneven(due to the poor fan.) Therefore, while I could practice some gambling deals I couldn’t really practice a full gambling routine.

Handling:Fan: 5This deteriorated to an unacceptable level at about when I was ready to call the review quits anyway.

Spring: 6.5No real change from the 3rd week.

Dribble: 7Again the dribble was little changed from the end of week 3.

Crimp: 6After a month of abuse this has become a pretty ugly deck.

Glide: 7The CM has continued to maintain a respectable performance here.

2+O: 8From the beginning to the end of this review the doubles have been one of this decks strong suits. This is one of the reasons I would really like to see Carta-Mundi print some cards with nicer designs.

Final Thoughts:Yet another deck from the European competitors to make it to four weeks. I’ll have to hand it to the competition abroad. When it comes to durability they pretty much smoke USPCC. That is not necessarily the fault of USPCC. These companies(Fournier, Carta-mundi, Offason, and Piatnik) all have ready access to black liner board coming from Europe. Word on the hard core printing web-sites states that the best black liner board(card stock) being produced right now is coming out of Germany. Not a surprise if you know anything about the state of the U.S. timber industry right now.
Durable decks not withstanding there is more to a deck of cards than just longevity. While I did like the stock and finish of this I stand by my previous statements that it wasn’t properly matched up with the borderless back. If you want a nice borderless deck for gambling demos nothing beats the USPCCs Bee brand and these are a far cry from a Bee.

If I rated this on the stock and finish alone I would have to give the Carta-Mundi very high marks. It managed to maintain a pretty decent fan for the first few weeks and had stiffness in the stock that might appeal to some people. Overall it was a nice balanced deck whose strengths and weaknesses fall right in-between the Fournier, Piatnik, Offason brands and the USPCC brands.


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 Post subject: Re: Carta Mundi: Casino Deck Review
PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:04 am 
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born to perform.

Joined: 13 Jan 2010
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Location: Western Australia
wow your dedication to testing out this deck is amazing.


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 Post subject: Re: Carta Mundi: Casino Deck Review
PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:13 am 
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keepitbottled wrote:
wow your dedication to testing out this deck is amazing.

HaHa...It's kind of become my thing. My big push for this "Eurotrash deck review project" was to try to open some eyes to some non USPCC decks. I'd like to see magicians and magic companies giving some of the European decks a try. It is poker and bridge enthusiasts who generally seem to have a more ecclectic collection of cards these days. All they do with them is shuffle and cut them, no flourishes, no sleights(unless they are crooked). I find that embarrassing. Other than the small sliver of the market share that Offason and Lee Asher have carved out the "custom" deck market is dominated by USPCC. And those are the decks that cater to magicians who are card enthusiasts and collectors.


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