This is the first part to my review for Theory11′s new custom deck, Sentinels.
These are going to be my initial thoughts and first impressions; I’ve been using the deck extensively for two days now. In a couple weeks when I’ve broken the deck in all the way and have actually performed with it, I’m going to write the second half. Now, about the cards.
Feel: The deck has (almost) the same feel we’ve come to know and love from Theory11 decks; the fninish is smooth, the cards fan well, and they seem fairly durable so far. No noticeable clumps or anything of that sort after an hour of continual use.
Sleights and moves feel the same as most custom decks; nothing noticeably different. Same for cuts, spreads, and fans. Good quality we’ve come to expect. Aerials are decent, but I’m going to reserve judgement on these until the deck is broken in and doesn’t have that slippery feel anymore.
There are a few differences in feel though… at first I thought these cards felt thinner, and had a bit more of a snap to them. And sure enough, after comparing them to a pack of Guardians, the Sentinels are 2 to 3 cards thinner. This is definitely a plus in my book. Also the finish seems to have a slightly different texture. It’s a hard thing to explain, but they seem to have more of a grip on them than the Guardians or Centurions. All in all, nothing drastically improved or worsened. The feel doesn’t seem to be the selling point though, the design is what caught my eye.
Design: Overall; Wow. These cards look phenomenal. I can see so many opportunities to work the design into my patter and presentation. They have a nice occult look to them. The all seeing eye is a very nice touch to the backs, as well as the lettering underneath.
Court Cards: This is perhaps my favorite part of the pack. I never did like the thin line around face cards, and they’ve done away with that. Gone as well are the hideous, bright oranges and yellows. The red face cards have tones of a dark red, while the black ones have tones of a dark blue. This makes for a very nice distinction between the two, especially in red black separation effects. The shape and design of all the court cards are redone and it’s definitely an improvement. Also each card has many little symbols on it. For example, the King of Hearts has a card up his sleeve, there are cups & balls in front of him, and linking rings off to the side. Each suit also has it’s own symbol of fire, air, water, and earth associated with it. These cards seem to borrow a lot of images from tarot cards in addition to magic history.
Spot cards: The dark red (like on all t11 decks) is again very nice. The pips have also been redesigned, and I’m on the fence about this. The new, more bulbous looking shape to each one does look good. The size, however, is what gets me. I don’t know if it was a clever ploy to save on prices of ink being used & look new at the same time, but they have got to be at least half the size of a regular deck. If the pips were a bit bigger I’d have no reservations about them. One last little change is that all the pips that are in the center strip of spot cards and the pips on the corners of face cards have a small grey outline. It’s a nice little touch of variety.
Ace of Spades: Looks nice, but seems sort of lacking in comparison to the court cards color-wise. The swirls & circles in and around the spade remind me of Smoke & Mirrors. The details are smooth as well.
Jokers: Just like the different colored face cards, one Joker has a red theme while on the other all the red is replaced with blue. I’m not of fan of this because in any effects where one Joker needs to be displayed twice to represent both, the observant spectator may catch the color. The design of the joker looks good though. Just like the other cards the small details make it interesting. Some symbolism here as well.
Box: Saved the best for last. This box is definitely a piece of eye candy. No, it doesn’t do anything to the cards themselves, but it looks amazing. The metallic accents are done extremely well, enough to look good but they didn’t overdo it. The embossed artwork looks and feels great as well. The most useful feature is the added thickness. The box doesn’t get creased, ripped, or smooshed (for lack of a better word) as easily as other tuck cases. The thicker paper makes it much more durable. This is one quality box.
So here are the ratings:
I would definitely suggest picking some of these up, if the design fits you. The mysterious, Illuminati-style of these cards can add some depth to your presentation. The multitude of symbolism can be a great conversation piece as well. They feel great. Just like Guardians or Centurions, but a little better. The only negative is the down-sized pips; not sure how much that’ll really affect performance yet.
After a couple weeks I’ll be writing the second piece to this review. It’ll cover feel after the deck has been completely broken in, and I’ll also talk about performance pros and cons. Until then, go buy some Sentinels.
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