Card Review Template for Upcoming Project:
For a video suppliment to these card reviews: http://www.vimeo.com/9345095Philosophy behind my card reviews:
As some of you know I did an extensive review of the Fournier 605s. I had a lot of fun doing that review and in the process I learned a lot about how cards are constructed and how that construction effects how cards handle. I do not believe in “grading” the artwork of a card because that, like art in general, is too subjective. What can be evaluated are the physical characteristics of a card. How smooth does it fan, how sharp does it snap, how thick is the stock, how thick is the card, ect. While these things can be evaluated don’t assume that a deck that rates highly is a better deck.
Card magicians come in all shapes, sizes, experience levels, and have different repertoires of moves. Because of this the perfect deck for one magician is not necessarily right for the next.Methods for Evaluation:
As some of you know I use the Bicycle 808 Air Cushion Finnish as a baseline for my deck review. It’s the most common deck used by magicians world wide so it is the natural choice. To begin I start with a head to head comparison of the deck being reviewed with a new deck of 808s. From here I establish an Out of The Box (OOB)
score. Next I simply record the number of hours a week I spend practicing. My average is 12 hours a week so for every 12 hours of practice I sit down and do a weekly update on all scores. For the 2 week, 3 week, and month long updates I compare the test deck to a new deck of the same type. For instance in the Fournier review the OOB scores were matched against an 808 but the subsequent updates were matched up against a new Fournier. Where I can I will use blindfold tests to gauge the score. I wasn’t able to do blindfold tests on the Fournier OOB scores since they feel distinct enough from an 808 that it wouldn’t have mattered, however most of the weekly updates used blindfold tests where applicable. Review Categories:
Now that you understand my philosophy and methods lets go on to review.Initial Impression:
Just my thoughts of the deck upon opening a deck. The Look:
As stated before I don’t put much stock is this category but I’ll offer my opinions for what they are worth.Card construction:
I’ll generally do what internet research I can to find out anything unique about how the reviewed card is made. As a general rule there are two types of cards. Paper cards, that most magicians use, and plastic cards, these are rarely used by magicians. Paper cards usually a piece of cardboard glued between paper upon which the face and the back of the card is printed. The mixture of cardboard and glues generally determine the card stock. On the paper various varnishes, linen finishes, and or calendering processes are use to create the finish. The finish can effect the durability of the card and will directly effect how the cards glide. As a general rule a deck will have a dimpled finish, like the 808s, or a smooth finish, like the Fourniers. After researching the specific cards I will split a card or two to see for myself what it’s made of. Durability:
This is what takes the most time and why I record the hours of practice on a deck. I can usually kill a deck of 808s in 1-2 weeks
of heavy practice. Bicycle UV500 Airflow Finish decks(Masters Edition, Black Tigers, ect) are usually on their last legs by the end of a month. If a card is still in good condition after a month I’ll generally state as much and terminate the review. My original test deck of Fourniers is still alive after three months but even after the final review it was obvious that the deck had plenty of life left in it. Either way a month should be good enough to determine longevity. To estimate how long a deck is likely to last in your hands simply estimate how long it takes you to kill off an 808. If it takes you a month then you might expect a Fournier to last six months.
These are the properties of a deck that I actually rate. These properties were selected because they seem to be the building block characteristics for the flourishes and or sleights that I have come across.Fanning:
Obviously this is how smooth and even a deck naturally fans or spreads. I admit that my fanning is mostly a utility function for me when offering the deck to a spectator to pick a card. I certainly do my best to review this but I will admit I may not be a great judge of this quality.
Moves used: Thumb fan, Spread fan, Carnahan Fan, (sorry but my spread fan is awful!)Spring Energy Moves:
This is basically what gives the card it’s “pop” or “snap”. I distinguish this from dribbles in that a spring move happens when tension is loaded into the card until the built up energy finally breaks free from your grip. It’s most obvious application is springing the cards from one hand to the next however many deck flips, card flips, and card productions are effected by how the cards spring free from tension. This is perhaps the best example of why you should not get hung up on judging cards by how high their score is.
Decks with more power in their spring also tend to be stiffer and make more noise. It makes sense when you think about an actual spring. The stiffer the spring the more energy it can store and thus release. If you have weaker hands you may be better served by a deck that has a softer feel. If you do a lot of card reversals in your magic a less springy deck will make less noise during the action. Additionally I recently used the Massa cards. These had a very soft flex but the cards were light enough that less energy in the spring was required to get them to move.
Moves used: Blindfold tests feeling for stiffness in both individual cards and a full deck. I also spring cards to get a feel for how much energy they pop with. Finally I do an acrobatic Diving Board Double to see how high I can get them to fly. I put most emphasis on the blindfold tests since the other tests can be a bit subjective.Dribbles:
The dribble happens as you hold tension and then release it as opposed to increasing tension until the card releases itself. As far as move applications this is primarily a flourish or just a way to play around with a deck while pattering. There are a few applications for card sleights, the dribble pass being the obvious one. A smoother dribble will tend to make a dribble pass more deceptive and a dribble force more controlled. If the cards dribble off the deck individually, as opposed to in clumps, it will receive a higher score. Obviously the finish is most important for this but if you have weaker hands even a deck with a nice finish but a stiff stock will dribble poorly.
Moves used: Basic dribble, Anaconda Dribble, Dribble Pass.Crimp hold and recovery:
This is the ability of the card stock to hold a bend and then flatten out a bend after a crimp is made. I measure this by crimping a card, giving the deck 10 riffle shuffles, and checking to see how easy it is to find the crimp. Then I try to flatten the card back out and I check to see if the crimp is still partially visible in the deck. As decks age unintentional crimps may appear in the deck due to damaged cards. In an older deck it may become difficult to discern an intentional crimp from an unintentional crimp.
Moves used: Process described above.Single card glides:
These are any move that requires one card to move separate from the rest of the pack. The most basic of these maneuvers is the obviously glide, however popover moves, hotshot cuts, culls, and long distance spinners all have a glide component in their action. One would think that this would be closely linked to fanning but I found that not to be the case. On more advanced moves using a glide, ones in which the entire glide action is accomplished in one hand, the stiff springy stocks of the UV 500s and Fournier 605s outperformed the lighter 808 stock even though 808s fan just as well or better than it’s beefier cousin and Spanish rival.
Moves used: Obviously the basic glide is used. Other moves I'll keep to myself as I did not realize some of them used a glide component until I learned them. Suffice it to say that the move include the following components. One handed top card glides to the left and right. One handed bottom card glides on both the longitudinal axiz and the widthof the deck. Two handed glide that exchanges both top and second from top card.2+Card Obfuscations:
These are some of the most critical elements for a magic deck in modern card magic. This is basically my description for any move that disguises two or more cards as one. Let’s be clear, the classic DL, where the hand essentially cradles the cards is not evaluated in this. The classic DL can be performed just as well with almost any deck. Instead this one refers to one handed DLs, push off DLs, and moves using the spinning of a card from opposing corners. Cards that have a tendency to stick seem to do these quite nicely, but then you are trading off with fanning and single card glides. Stiffer, springier stocks seem to improve this quality without sacrificing fanning.
Moves used: Less concerned about any reveal here as most of these moves have "double" in their name. Divingboard DL, Hugard/Braue Push-off double and subsiquent corner display, Derek Dingle DL, Shapeshifter change, Floop move.
Unless something about a particular deck stands out that makes me think it might be good for XCM I will likely leave this alone. Most of what you will need to know about this will be answered by one of the previous categories. Furthermore, while multi-packet cuts seem to be a staple of all XCM, beyond this, styles have emerged that rely on very different characteristics of the cards. For instance, Buck inspired moves seem to follow very fluid motions with many spins and rotations whereas Tudor’s style incorporates more aerial moves and one handed cuts.
Moves used: Always changes. I have a few Sybil based cuts I do but usually work on a new cut during the review. This helps ensure I drop plenty of cards and thus properly abuse a deck during the longjevity review.Card Splitting and Gaff construction/availability:
Are gaffs available? If not how difficult is this card to split? Who should not buy?:[/b
] Recommendations for those who may want to avoid this deck.[b]Who should buy these?:
Recommendations for those who might like this deck.Final Thoughts:
Any last minute thoughts on the cards as a whole. While I am at it I will add a few last minute thoughts for this post. First, I originally intended to set all categories for the 808 at a 7 but as I really began studying the feel of how they handled I had to admit the 808 is a fantastic deck for fanning so a few of its’ scores got bumped up upon further reflection. Second, in the interest of full disclosure I would like to draw attention to two categories. Fanning, as previously stated, is not something I spend a considerable amount of time on. The next one is single card glides. It’s an important feature of a deck of cards so I feel it is important to review, however, I suspect that in addition to stock thickness and finish effecting this move your own natural grip effects it as well. Thus, a person with a more powerful grip may find this move easier with stiffer cards and a person with a lighter touch may find supple cards work better for this. I estimate my own grip to be slightly stronger than average but without having a mercy fight with each one of you there is no way to be sure.
*wow...this is really dull...but if you really need some visuals on my process you can check this out: http://www.vimeo.com/9206867
For those of you interested in what a card is made of here is a tidbit from Creig Matsouka’s e-book “The Gaff Factory”(summarized)
Bicycle cards start out as a pulp paper comprised of linen and wool. From there two sheets of paper are fused onto the pulp using a black paste. This paper is dried, cured, pressed and then sent to a crusher that evens out the roll of paper. The dimpled pattern is then added to the sheets. From there a laminate is applied and then printed. After the printing the cards are fed through a cutting process and then on to the quality controls. For a non summarized version of this go here and read page 6. http://www.lybrary.com/images/the_gaff_ ... review.pdf
Her is a more in-depth explanation of how cards are made.http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Playing-Cards.html