As someone who appreciates the work that goes into a deck and sometimes winces at the price tag attached to some of the most "Elite" decks out there, I have to give credit where credit is due. Theory 11 has tapped into a nice "Middle Ground" for those who like to collect but aren't ready to spend $20.00 a deck. The formula of a nicely designed tuck has started to creep inside the pack to the cards themselves. They aren't creating anything ground breaking or anything, but it's an above average option for aficionado's.
Their latest release, Contraband, has a lot to offer at a pretty good price. Contraband's ornate tuck design is embossed and foil accented, fulfill the "Eye Candy" part of the equation, taking design elements into the tuck is just an added bonus. The intricacy and line work continue on the back of the tuck which mirrors the back design with a worldly map of sorts that draws your attention but doesn't come across as cluttered. The face cards are pretty much standard except for a "Faded" look to the spots and this effect carries over to the custom court cards. The courts themselves are a bit hit or miss for me, they work, but I'm not crazy about that faded effect or the frame, which reduced the image size on the card. Of course these aren't deal breakers and we all have our own tastes. The two identical Jokers have a bit of a nautical look to them with the exploded "Compass" and underlying map. The usual embellishment's reserved for the Ace of Spades is spread across all four A's in this deck and is a nice touch.
The deck handles really well for those who "use" their cards and the addition of the gold metallic inks accenting the courts and back design give the deck a nice balance and look. Contraband is a nice package at a nice price and you won't feel bad cracking open the custom seal and enjoying the deck inside.