Top 12 Playing Cards of 2021

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Top 12 Playing Cards of 2021

What a year for playing cards! We are incredibly fortunate to be part of such an inspired community of artists, designers, cardists, magicians, and collectors! We've compiled our favorite decks for 2021 right here. This will be the third of four articles counting down to our Deck of the Year reveal next week.

Top 5 Cardistry Decks

Top 5 Collector Playing Cards

Top 12 Playing Cards of 2021

Deck of the Year 2021

If you think we've missed your favorite deck, let us know in the comment section below. Note that the selection expressed in this top 5 are solely those of the author and the list is in no particular order.

Kingdom & Kinghood

The KINGDOM & KINGHOOD decks are based on the royal theme of the Middle Ages and its illustrations are drawn from the luxurious style of the Renaissance period. Throughout history, the royal element has always been the most luxurious and noble symbol. The decks are fully custom, from the Aces, Jokers, and the Court Cards. The illustrations are drawn using the classic Sgraffito painted technique. Each illustration was first drawn and colored carefully on the paper and then using high-precision scanning transferred into digital images, the whole process over 3 months to complete. 

Harry Potter

Theory11's stunning decks showcase all of your favorite Harry Potter characters in four spellbinding color editions, representing the four houses. Theory11 features completely custom artwork in every aspect of the design, with the Aces, Jokers, box design, and court cards inspired directly by fan-favorite characters and events in the Wizarding World.  


Joker and the Thief's Wayfarer embodies the spirit of travel and adventure with a bold, and commanding design. Inside, the Wayfarers courts are gorgeous and fit the overall theme beautifully. Each suit of the Wayfarer’s court cards represents nature’s elements, with each royal having dominion over that aspect of reality. Packaged in an incredibly luxurious tuck box, Wayfarers showcase an incredible bronze embossed foil with white pigment foil impressed into the premium black paper stock. 

Black Market

This Thirdway Industries' Black Market can only be purchased with a password. The deck is the official deck of a fictional secret trade society, whose target is to make a lot of money selling extraordinary items to members. Beautiful artwork, incredible details, and a cool narrative! Like all Thirdway decks, there are secrets to discover! 

Blue Jay 

Blue Jay Playing Cards is the second installment in Meadowlark's custom playing card series. This beautiful deck is designed in collaboration with Elettra Deganello. Fully custom, the back design took some of the core features from the Meadowlark Deck and redesigned it to maintain its uniqueness. The Dentistry sub-theme was also incorporated in a fun yet sophisticated way. For the face cards, the Blue Jay was drawn in a fashion to be cohesive with the rest of the deck including the court cards, Aces, and Jokers. 


The Pioneers deck by Ellusionist is a celebration of exploration, scientific discovery, and innocent curiosity from a bygone era. These beautiful decks are fully custom, inside and out... from the distinctive deck seal to the impeccable pips. Every detail and line on the tuck, backs, aces, and jokers was painstakingly hand-drawn by renowned playing card artist Oban Jones.

Alice in Wonderland

Take a trip down the Rabbit Hole in Wonderland with Alice and the wildly unusual and whimsical characters of the beloved story, 'Alice in Wonderland'. Each card in Kings Wild's Alice playing cards is meticulously designed in exquisite detail by Jackson Robinson. With intricate borders and colors throughout the deck.


From Kings & Crooks comes a fully custom-designed deck of cards inspired by an unforgettable night of glitz, glamour, and fortune at an iconic, fictional casino. The luxurious deck is fit for the elite high-roller tables of vintage-era Monte Carlo, an intoxicating place of grandeur that attracts the beautiful, billionaires, and the crème de la crème of high society. Elegantly playful but ultra-sophisticated, the Royales celebrate a fine line between modern-minimal and old-world-classic style. 

52 Plus Joker Club Deck 2021

This limited edition deck is a fantastic representation of the world’s greatest playing card collector’s club, 52 Plus Joker. Designed by Stockholm17, the deck features a meticulously crafted tuck with two-piece tuck construction. You will notice a special Spade die-cut on the front of the tuck. Gold hot foil on the tuck and a numbered custom-shaped label make this deck look incredible! Inside, the deck comes with fully customized courts and jokers. Gold cold foil has been used on both sides of the cards, making them look absolutely stunning!


Atlantis Playing Cards is a gorgeous deck by Riffle Shuffle inspired by the mysterious and majestic lost city of Atlantis. Insides, the intricate card backs are divided into symmetrical sectors. They are presided over by two big triangles featuring the head of Zeus surrounded by heavenly light shining upon the rest of the scene. The custom court cards offer us a rare look into what the people of Atlantis might have looked like. The royals are dressed in sophisticated, richly decorated clothes in blue and gold. The bold Ace of Spades sports a blue and silver colorway consistent with the color palette of the deck.

Marvelous Hummingbird

The Marvelous decks are inspired by the marvelous Hummingbird feathers. The deck is conceptualized by Kellar O'Neil and masterfully created by designer Chris Tipton. The tuck box of the deck is extremely striking with sculpted embossing, and multiple holographic foils beautifully mimicking the iridescence of the hummingbird feathers. Inside, the borderless card backs feature holographic foil feathers and face cards come in a recognizable classic style but refined and customized for the theme and feature highlights of holographic foil as well. 


UUSI's REPUBLIC Playing Cards is a custom playing card deck based on Finnish/Nordic folk art and design. The deck sports a predominant beige/black colorway with a seamless pattern inspired by traditional Finnish design on the card back. The court cards, Ace of Spades and Jokers are fully custom yet at the same time very familiar and immediately recognizable. 

Honorable mention:  Gourmet by Alba Zapata, Wizard of Oz by Kings Wild Project, Avengers by Theory11, Pinocchio Vermillion by Elletra Deganello, Fulton's Day of the Dead by Fulton's Playing Cards, Galaxia by Thirdway Industries, Fontaine Fever Dreams by Fontaine Cards, ARW V2 by Luke Wadey, The Grand by Riffle Shuffle, Room 237 by Penguin Magic, Butterfly Seasons by Butterfly, The Cut by Kings Wild Project and Lepidopterist Patina by Art of Play.

Note that the selection expressed in this top 12 are solely those of the author and the list is in no particular order.

Top 12 Playing Cards of 2021 Reviewed by Ivan on 12/26/2021 Rating: 5

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