Review: Tendril Playing Cards

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Review: Tendril Playing Cards

This review is written by Joey Heininger for kardify. No part of this review can be reproduced without written permission from the author. You can check out Joey's Australian based online playing card store at Use discount code KARDIFY to save 10% for orders above $50.

The Man ‘O War or the Bluebottle as it is known here in Australia is a rite of passage. You are not considered a man until you have had to untangle the stinging mess of fire wire from your junk. The more courageous (read sadistic) of us would gather them up and use them as a depraved projectile in a game where there was no clear winner, except perhaps the Fish and Chip shop that sold us the vinegar to cure ourselves. Fast forward a few years and imagine my surprise to receive a deck of cards that immediately transports me back to those days of tweenage delight and the beach I grew up on.

Tendril by Paul Carpenter is one of those rare decks, for me at least that engaged an emotional response, after a quick wince and a twinge in my giggle berries after being forcefully reminded of days gone by, I sat down to have a better look. An interesting deck to say the least!

Tendril, a deck that is oddly polished enough to ensure Paul was to be forevermore taken seriously by the playing card collecting community as a designer, but somehow manages to remind you of those kindergarten days of creating butterfly art and relief paintings.

Paul introduced into the mainstream card design some really innovative and functional elements with Tendril. The back design that appears to be organic and random while remaining mirrored, the boarders on the face of the cards and lastly a box… most cards come in a box, but this one was designed specifically for the Tendril playing cards and manages to complement the deck.

How do they handle?

They handle well, as well as can be expected of any deck printed by the USPCC. There was very little clumping after good use and they spring as expected. I dropped one, but that could probably be blamed on me being a terrible shuffler.

The art

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking here, but I have to say photos just don’t do the deck justice. My personal opinion; they’re beautiful, to others they’re odd. It was the deck the cemented Encarded into playing card stardom so surely they must be alright. If nothing else, the courts are fully customised, and I know that is important to some people.

What I don’t like

The colour, it’s weird, but also somewhat hypnotic in XCM displays.

What I do like

In this case it has to be the boarders. I’m a magician so blending cards into each other is an important feature. This deck provides the shock value of black faces with a boarder to ensure upside down cards get lost in the pack.

What are they good for?

Playing poker and such. No seriously this deck is hands down one of the more versatile fully customised decks out there. Very usable in magic, XCM and for game play, I know they’re good for collecting too, as they are getting a little hard to get your hands on these days and a good chunk of them has found their way into the hands of collectors. Mike, Jackson, Victor… you know who you are, I have my eye on you.

I really should summarise this deck. It is strangely beautiful. There isn’t a deck out there like it and anyone that has tried to emulate it has failed miserably, and rightly so, this deck could have only been pulled off by the master himself; Paul. The colours are hypnotic, but not to my tastes, and the art is both organic in design by functional by nature, and somewhat cool.
Review: Tendril Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 6/21/2014 Rating: 5


  1. Definitely one of my favorite decks. Gorgeous unique design, great quality cards. Too bad they're sold out everywhere (managed to snag one on eBay!)

  2. Yeah... most Encarded decks are hard to find now.


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