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 Post subject: T-11 Sentinels: Deck Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:59 pm 
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born to perform.

Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 2753
T-11 Sentinels Deck Review
Where to buy:
http://www.theory11.com/playingcards/
Price:$5.95

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For more information about my reviewing methods and a list of other reviews: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=156760&p=1224367#p1224367
If you are interested in my Buyers guide
check out this link: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=159568 http://forums.theory11.com/showthread.p ... yers-Guide




Initial Impressions:
Well I am certainly not the first to review this deck. Seems this deck has generated as many reviews as the Smoke and Mirror decks do. Most people who have reviewed these have been very pleased and have raved about this deck. I’m inclined to agree with most of those opinions. This is a great deck of cards. It has a great feel to it if you are into medium stiff decks, it has a great look to it if you are into cool looking decks. The box is even cool. This may not become a “favorite” deck for everyone who buys them but I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with it. You can tell the T-11 design team and the card specialists they used to select the stock and finish really put their heart and soul into this deck. This just may be T-11s Magnus opus.

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The Look:
I’m sure you have all seen the backs by now. The back design is reminiscent of the imagery you will see on U.S. one dollar bill. There are two pyramids with a single eye in each. Above each pyramid is a II(assuming it stands fot t-11) and below, scrolled in a banner is, Ερμης δ ΤριδμεΥιδτος. There was a thread on T-11 that said this is a phrase about the gods of Olympus though plugging it into good ol’ Babelfish came up with jibberish . All it gives is a letter to letter translation. It should be pronounced something like Ermis d TridmeYidtos? Babelfish translates modern, not ancient, Greek so it may indeed be as stated on the T-11 thread. I asked a friend of mine who teaches linguistics at London College, Professor Ardrahan Cheddar, and he was able to translate it into the following cryptogram.
14,11,9,9,12,24,13—10,11,9,1,13---8,4---1,12,14,13

All jokes aside as a magician and performer you are free to use these cryptic words to mean anything you like. These backs definitely lend themselves to the mystery performer.
The faces of the cards have completely changed as well. The pips are smaller and rounder. The Jokers and court cards look very similar to the modern styling of the Offason Anglo cards though there are various symbols scattered throughout. The ace of spades keeps with this style. There is a sword standing point up that bisects the card. About the middle of the spade pip there are a series of triangle runes, two on each side of the sword. These look like Masonic runes to me but I wasn’t able to track down specifically which ones. Basically, these are different enough in look that it is probably better for you to look at the pictures I provided or check out the photos at the Sentinel page at T-11. You would probably need a PHD in symbology to figure out what all of the symbols mean but a quick look at the photos should tell you if the theme of the deck fits your style.

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Card Construction:
These cards are about 15.2 mm(About 2 cards thinner than an 808) which makes them a bit thinner than Guardians and Centurions but about the same size as a Propaganda. It may be using a similar stock to the Propagandas but the Sentinels will feel a tad stiffer. My cards were cut just a hair off center(less than a millimeter) I don’t know if that is within the normal range of Q1 processing or if I just got unlucky? Of all the T11 decks these guys faro the best. Though not a traditionally cut card they will faro as well as a Richard Turner Gold seal card(just in a different direction. They have the smoothest edge of all of the T11 cards, which should say a lot since all T-11 cards are pretty smooth.

Handling:
These cards are so smooth that they may be a bit hard to handle until they break in.

Fanning: OOB: 9.5
1st Week: TBD
2nd Week: TBD
3rd Week: TBD
4th Week: TBD

The only cards I have felt that could beat this are the Split Spades and the Bee Aristocrats though even those…not by much.

Spring Energy: OOB: 8
1st Week: TBD
2nd Week: TBD
3rd Week: TBD
4th Week: TBD

About the same stiffness at most T-11 cards.

Dribble: OOB: 9
1st Week: TBD
2nd Week: TBD
3rd Week: TBD
4th Week: TBD

These feel great in a dribble.

Crimp Hold/Recovery: OOB: 8
1st Week: TBD
2nd Week: TBD
3rd Week: TBD
4th Week: TBD

Out of the box these did a good job of holding and recovering from crimps.

Single Card Glides: OOB: TBD
1st Week: TBD
2nd Week: TBD
3rd Week: TBD
4th Week: TBD

About the same here as a Bike 808.

2+ Card Obfuscations: OOB: 6.5
1st Week: TBD
2nd Week: TBD
3rd Week: TBD
4th Week: TBD

Another deck that likely suffers a bit here because of it’s ultra smooth feel elsewhere. Only use doubling techniques that you are very confident with when you use them out of the box.

Gaff construction and availability: Like all T11 decks you get one double backer with each deck. All others will need to me homemade.
XCM Flourishing: Should be good for fan and spread displays but may be a bit sketchy for aerial packet tosses and multi packet cuts.

Who Should Buy?: Mystery performers and anyone else who likes the look of these. It is also a good deck for followers of Alistair Crowley, Masons, Symbologists, and geeks with a lot of free time to surf the net looking for answers to the symbols used.

Who should not buy: People apt to get sucked into the trap of trying to find out what all the symbology means.

Final thoughts:
This is a great deck and easily stands above all other T-11 decks in terms of quality and design. A lot of thought went into this deck from both the artistic design team and the performance design team. That said, too each their own. I don’t necessarily recommend this deck for everyone. Many people won’t find ways to justify this deck in their performance. Others might not have the skill, or style, to make full use of such a smooth deck. Smoother is not always better unless you have the skills to appreciate it. This is a masterpiece deck for T-11 for my personal style I would opt for the Propaganda. It fans about as well and manages to be a bit more secure for difficult sleight of hand. As always I will reserve my final judgment for the end of the longevity review.


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 Post subject: Re: T-11 Sentinels: Deck Review
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:40 pm 
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Posts: 2753
Okay so I finally got a chance to put the Sentinels through their paces and I have to admit the first impressions were not far off. It is an outstanding deck and easily the best of the Theory 11 line(though now that they have released the Monarchs I'll have to check those out.) I have it on good athority from another card nut friend of mine that these cards are almost the exact same cards, handling wise, to the Theory 11 Deck Ones. So for a performance review you can probably read the two as the same. If anyone feels the decks are sufficiantly different in handling to warrant a review feel free to chime in.

Fanning:
Week 3: 9
Week 4: 8.5


These decks seem to never lose their smooth fan regardless of how trashed they get in other areas.

Spring Energy/ Stiffness:
Week 3:6.5
Week 4: 6


There was a steady decline in the stiffness of this deck. When I originally reviewed them they were about as thick and just a tad stiffer than Tally Ho stock leading me to wonder if the differences were just a matter of the way TH stock comes out after getting a run through the web press. I am convinced this is a fundamentally different stock than the TH stock. TH stock loosens up pretty quickly(like about a week) once you start putting it through the paces. This stock just has a slow steady softening over time. That is great for guys who like stiffer decks as in this category the Sentinels will outpace an "Out of the Box" Bike all the way to the third week.

Dribble:
Week 3: 6
Week 4: 6


The dribble on this deck does deteriorate pretty quickly. That is mostly due to the distinct concave shape it develops early on. If you were to flip the card over you can expect better performance in this area but then....you dribble pass might be a little less deceptive

Crimp:
Week 3: 7
Week 4: 7


Well the crimp started off a bit better than average and fell to average as time wore on. It is kind of a mixed bag. The overall deck developed one of the most pronounced convex shapes of the "high end" decks I have reviewed. In that shape it was more likely to get unwanted crimps and smooth out wanted crimps. In short, a breather crimp will last a few hours of heavy use, but if you want something foolproof you may want to opt for a short card with this deck.

Single card glides:
Week 3: 7
Week 4: 7


Not too much to say here. Single card gliding techniques started out average and stayed average throughout the review. I will say, however, that the extreme curve on the deck made some techniques problematic when gliding face up and face down cards onto and off of one and other.

2+ obfuscations:
Week 3: 9
Week 4: 8.5


Wow! So the disadvantages to the convex shape were made up by this statistic. If you can get a good double, holding that double is a breeze! In this category the Sentinels outshine every card I have ever reviewed except the Lee Asher's Foutnier 605s. That is an amazing accomplishment considering that that means they bested both Carta-mundi, Piatnik, and the Anglos in this category. Considering this deck is USPCC....I'm still stunned by that.

Final Thoughts:

Performance wise, this is a magicians deck! If Red Back Bike Nazi's could get this card mane in traditional Bike colors, they would be nuts not to buy it. Though it takes about a week to develop that pronounced convex shape, that shape manages to create a bizarre combination of a deck that helps you fan like Andrei Jikh and Double like Lee Asher. As far as the looks, I think you shouldn't have too many troubles. It will lend itself to people who adopt a mysterious persona but is likely too much for a comedy magician. So weather it becomes a practice deck or a performance deck for you will really depend on your character. What is sure is that it is not "black" enough, or "white" enough to come off looking like a trick deck unless it vastly clashes with your performance character.

For flourishing I felt it was a good and balanced deck in its handling. Obviously dribbling was an issue but springing was nice and smooth. Aerials were OK and multi-packet cuts were acceptable. Never the less, I would not say it "shined" in this area. I got some great oohs and ahhs flourishing for laymen with my deck. I can only assume it was the deck as my flourishing sucks. The nice thing about the design is that it gives a few distinctive and simple objects to catch the eye. It is not to "busy" a design. This helps people really focus on packets twirling around in your fingers. So visually the deck is an excellent choice for flourishing.

For gambling...forget it. That nice faro it started out with had petered out mid way through the second week. Also that is where that convex shape really kills your technique. You are fighting not only the overall stiffness of the deck but also that shape when trying to buckle cards for centers and bottoms. You will also be fighting the grain for riffle stacking. Certainly you could use it only for gambling and you will likely develop a convex instead of concave shape but even at that the stock is a bit to stiff to shine on the table.

So overall, for a general performers deck and for a general flourishing deck, this is one of the best decks ever made. Expect this one to last three to for times as ling as a Bike 808. The Bee "Expert at the card Table" deck left the market this year meaning that there is an opening for another "Five Star" deck.(for those who don't know of the deck I review there are always no more than five, five star decks) I'm holding judgement until I polish off the last of these reviews but this one will be a strong contender for that position. Until then consider it a very strong 4 star deck.


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 Post subject: Re: T-11 Sentinels: Deck Review
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:42 pm 
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born to perform.

Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 2753
video review supplement

http://vimeo.com/33067110


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 Post subject: Re: T-11 Sentinels: Deck Review
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:49 pm 
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born to perform.

Joined: 13 Jan 2010
Posts: 942
Location: Western Australia
Sentinels are my favorite by far in terms of design.


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 Post subject: Re: T-11 Sentinels: Deck Review
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:01 am 
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Joined: 22 Mar 2003
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Location: of my spongeballs eludes me.
Thank You for the very very thorough review. Even though I don't like the back design in the least your efforts are appreciated.


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