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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Nicolai Aaroe of Chernobyl Memorial Playing Cards



The creators of Chernobyl Memorial Playing Cards, Misery Dev, just hit its funding goal of £6,500 on Kickstarter yesterday. Commemorating the population affected by the Chernobyl accident in 1986, the Chernobyl Memorial Playing Cards have 2 decks on offer in the Kickstarter campaign, the Premium and Limited Edition.

For the Premium Edition deck, the courts feature real life Zone photography that capture well known locations. The values and pips are fully custom and formed in a color combination often found on the original wall paintings of the Pripyat buildings. The back design is a tribute to the taming of the fire that lasted for days. "1986" go along the center of the design. The worn and weathered tuck features the iconic Pripyat ferris wheel, embossing and a radioactive warning on the tuck flap.


The eye-catching Limited Edition deck will feature a striking tuck utilizing a combination of copper pigmented pantones and metal copper foils to simulate rust and an iconic artwork. The tuck will be embossed. Fully custom, the back design is represented by the iconic Pripyat ferris wheel in a delicate line art. Special sections of the artwork have special ink with copper pigment. The values and pips are designed to look time worn and combines deep red, black and 'ukrainian' green colors. The courts are a haunting representation of a disaster that should never be forgotten.

We were able to catch-up with Nicolai Aaroe, creative director of Misery Dev for a quick chat about Misery Dev, designing the Chernobyl Memorial Playing Cards and experience from previous Kickstarter projects

For those of us who don't know, tell us a little about yourself and Misery Dev? 
Misery Development Ltd. is a global team of individuals, all working on a free modification for a Ukrainian video game series called 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'


While primarily working on video game projects, rooted in themes of aftermath and post-apocalism, we do have sub-branches releasing smaller scale products, like soundtracks, and our deck projects here on Kickstarter. Our team of developers has grown rapidly over the years, and the company name was officially trademarked and registered in the UK as an independent developer in 2013.

Can you describe Chernobyl Memorial Playing Cards and why you're passionate about it? 
Chernobyl (also referred to simply as The Zone) is the interest that brought us all together to begin with. We are passionate video game modders and have been releasing free instalments to the video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.' Call of Pripyat.

The game takes place in Chernobyl and Pripyat and we've have been expanding pretty much every aspect of what the original game offers. To date our mod, MISERY, has been downloaded more than 800.000 times and we have gained a very supportive community through this, that helps us shape the next release.

Chernobyl Memorial Playing Cards are meant as commemorative boxes that serve for poker purposes but also as memorial artifacts and collectors items.


Walk us through the process you took to design this very unique deck. How did you come out with the idea and how did you get to this finished product? 
A Chernobyl themed deck was an obvious choice for us, as passionate urban explorers. Every abandoned location tells a story and carries a soul that draws us. Some locations are shrouded in mystery, while others have been abandoned due to disasters such as the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Our activities and projects serve to keep our minds fresh of the people affected by the tragedy.

With the Chernobyl playing cards it is our ambition to release a product that is a lot more than simply poker playing cards. We want to bring our audience on a visual journey through the Zone with the use of high quality photography that tells a story with every court card. Something that will leave a lasting impression and serve as commemorative reminders of the people affected and those who prevented a global scale disaster.

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck? 
With the Limited Edition tuck case we wanted to pursue something that we've never seen before for any other deck. We wanted it to appear as something else than a simple paper product and stand out as a rusty metal box, resembling a time-worm artifact that match and represent conditions of Zone industry. We've have achieved this through an artwork formed of copper foils, embossing, weathered textures and simulations of rust.



You have successfully funded numerous Kickstarter campaigns. What are a few key elements and principles you incorporated into your project that you think future Kickstarter creators could benefit from knowing?
Set a few rules for yourself that will benefit you in the long run. You must earn the trust and loyalty of backers. My rules and priorities are the following:
#1 Deliver rewards that lives up to the pitched quality (or better)
#2 Deliver the reward on time
#3 Be transparent if anything changes

What's next? Can we expect to see more card designs in the future from Misery Dev?
Absolutely. At this point we have two other ideas that we are very excited about and can't wait to present to our audience. The next one will probably be revealed by the end of this year and we already sketching some truly interesting features for it.


Finally, what are your favourite playing cards?
Going beyond our own designs I was very impressed with Defunctorum by Roman Kotiv. Elegance and power merged with success - and the tucks really feel as great as they look. I wish more deck artists would use this tuck stock.

Thank you for your time and all the best Nicolai! At the time of writing, the project is already 108% funded with less than 8 days to go. If you want to support the Chernobyl Memorial Playing Cards, you can find it on Kickstarter here! 


Pledge starts from £11 (~USD$13) and the deck will be printed by the NPCC. Dealer chip, uncut sheets and poster prints are available as an add-on. There are also multiple rewards that are waiting to be unlocked once the project hits its stretch goals such as interior tuckbox printing.

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