When Dead on Paper announced Arcana I was instantly on board. Besides my interest in Poker decks, I've always had an interest in Tarot cards. Much like the custom decks we see today, Tarot offers some amazing artwork and the added mystery of Tarot itself has always intrigued me.
Arcana is a great concept by Chris Ovdiyenko, it is by most interpretation a poker deck. But the way the deck has been presented and the available expansion to complete the Tarot side of things was well conceived. Arcana is available in White and Black and you can add a Major Arcana Expansion deck to complete the Tarot set.
Arcana's tuck is striking and simple. Beautifully detailed imagery and symbolism adorn the matte tuck that also seems to have a bit of a "Perlized" shimmer when the light hits it just so. Subtle embossing on the front and back add to the look and feel of the deck, while the light blue foiled interior completes the package.
The deck itself is presented for the most part as a poker deck. All the suits are represented as well as face cards and courts. The one omission to the "Standard" composition of a poker deck is the lack of Jokers. With the deck printed by USPC, there could only be 56 cards at most, 52 plus Jokers and 2 additional cards if needed. Chris opted to remove the Jokers in order to balance out the Tarot side of the deck by adding 4 Major Arcana cards (which come into play with the expansion deck), The Tower, The Lovers, The Fool and the Death card. In order to make the other cards in the deck work with the Tarot functionality, the Tarot suits were included in the overall design of the deck, with Spades, Clubs, Hearts and Diamonds matching up with the Tarot Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles. At first glance you really don't notice the Tarot suites because they fall into the design of the cards so well, but upon closer inspection you'll find the Tarot suite "Indices" opposite the standard Poker suites indices.
Tackling the task of combining a Poker deck and a Tarot deck is no small feat, but I think Chris pulled it off really well with Arcana. As a card collector the deck is just spectacular, as a Tarot fan its a great "Hybrid" so to speak. Whichever side appeals to you most, there is no denying the work and thought that went into this project, and the finished product speaks for itself.
Dead on Paper's projects continue to be among my favorites and Chris' artistic talent and willingness to explore outside the box make his projects that much more appealing. Card collectors should give Arcana a serious look and fans of Tarot decks will love the artwork and functionality of the deck as well. One note for those looking at Arcana as a Tarot deck, Arcana does not include the Page/Knave cards.
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