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Collections: Rome by Midnight Cards



Historical themed decks are kind of hit or miss for me. I’m not a huge fan of decks that end up being a documentary spread over 52 tiny pages with stock photographs. I am a fan though of those artists and designers who bring their own interpretation and vision of a certain period or historical figure.

Rome by Randy Butterfield and Midnight Cards does a great job capturing the look and feel of Roman times with vibrant colors and beautiful detail. The Rome playing cards are offered in two versions, the Antony deck in blue and the Caesar deck in red. Both decks feature 100% hand drawn custom artwork in both the tuck case and playing cards.


The base color of both tuck cases has a nice gradient effect on a textured background lending itself well to the theme. Each tuck has beautiful gold foil scroll work that wraps around the tuck on the top and bottom as well as a nice vertical banner on the back side of each with the initials SPQR, which are the Latin initials of what loosely translates to “The Senate and People of Rome”. Both tuck cases also feature a very cool map of ancient Europe printed across the entire interior of the tuck box. From there each version takes on a bit of its own uniqueness.


The Blue Antony deck features a gold foiled Lions head emblem on the front of the tuck as well as the “version“ name under the deck name. The top flap of the Antony deck also features a quote by Mark Antony “Tarum et clama dimit canibus quatit”, “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”. The Red Caesar deck features a gold foiled Eagle emblem on the front of the tuck, again, indicating the “version” name under the word Rome. The Caesar deck has two quotes on the tuck flap, “Alea iacta est”, “The die is cast” a Latin phrase attributed by Suetonius to Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 BC as he led his army across the Rubicon river in Northern Italy. And “Veni vidi vici”, "I came; I saw; I conquered" is a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar, the phrase is used to refer to a swift, conclusive victory.


The playing cards have a two-way custom court set depicting the men and women of the Roman Republic such as Marcus Brutus and Cleopatra. The courts are set over a diagonal banner with line work appropriate to the period and a nice gradient to black to the card edge, which is a bigger deal than you think because it eliminates the visual key of identifying the suite colors by looking at the edge of the card. The face cards feature the same diagonal banner, now fully exposed, revealing a gold roman styled shield on the middle of the banner.

The pips and indices are very reminiscent of Randy’s past pip design, but tweaked to match the design concept of the Rome deck. The pips are placed on either side of the banner representing opposing shields. The banners are also matched to the red and black suites respectively, the red having a red banner, while the black suites feature a blue banner. The Aces in the deck, including the Ace of Spades, are all oversized pips surrounded by a laurel wreath. Each also has its own unique tag. The AoS says Rome, the AoD, SPQR. The AoH reads “LEG XIII” referring to Julius Caesar's 13th Twin Legion, while the AoS refers to Mark Antony's Cyrenean Third Legion with “LEG III”. The custom Jokers depict both Antony and Caesar as statues upon pedestals engraved with their respective names, a laurel wreath rising from around the pedestal and an eagle icon on the upper left side with a panel reading “Joker” complete the layout.


All the card backgrounds, courts, face cards and Jokers, feature the same map of ancient Europe seen on the inside of the tuck case, but has numerous little details such as the respective number of the number card in roman numerals on the map along with other cool little elements and other unique details you will have fun tracking down.


The back design, while at first glance looks like just a color swap, are unique. Both feature the same banner design found on the card faces but the banners are now surrounded by scenes depicting the deaths of both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony with a subtle fade on the card edge. The cards were printed by the Legends Playing Card Co. on their Classic finish, one of my all-time favorites.


I really like the Rome decks, the bold color, look and design perfectly work with the concept behind the design. If you weren’t following the Kickstarter campaign you’ll be really impressed with all the small details on this projects design, again, at first glance many see a basic color swap and not much else, but there is so much more to the Rome deck than meets the eye it’s crazy. I for one was really impressed with all the small details hidden throughout the decks. The project did feature a nice little “Toga” sleeve for the decks as a limited run of only 600… a perfect little touch in my opinion. If you’re not familiar with the project I strongly recommend considering it, if you’re a fan of ancient history the desks will surely please and if you’re a collector, the unique elements of these decks should impress you and surely open a spot in your collection.


For more information on Randy and Midnight Cards you can follow him on his Facebook page and you can find out more on all the details that went into this project by taking a visit to the Kickstarter project page. You can also visit the Midnight Cards shop and pick up a few of these beautiful decks. 


The Collection segment is produced by Anthony Ingrassia of Kardify. No part of this article, images or video can be reproduced without written permission from the author and Kardify.com. To see more of Anthony's (Sparkz) work you can visit his site at AI Photography as well as his collection images by following him on Facebook and Instagram
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