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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Virtuoso - 3. The evolution of the world's best cardistry deck (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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This review is part of a three part series of pictorial reviews about the Virtuoso deck of playing cards:
Virtuoso - 1. Introducing the group, their deck, and their art-form
Virtuoso - 2. The world's first ever deck created just for cardistry
Virtuoso - 3. The evolution of the world's best cardistry deck


VIRTUOSO & THE VIRTUOSO SS16 DECK

In an earlier review, I introduced the art of cardistry, and introduced Virtuoso, also known as The Virts, a group of expert cardists from Singapore that was formed in 2009. With their videos, they inspired many to take up cardistry, which is the art of card flourishing. But what began as a hobby, eventually turned into a business, as The Virts created the Virtuoso deck, a deck of playing cards designed specifically for cardistry. With its eye-catching design and visual aesthetics that were optimized for cardistry, it proved to be a big success.

The most recent version of the deck is the Virtuoso Spring/Summer 2016 deck, commonly referred to as the Virtuoso SS16. But in fact this deck has undergone a process of systematic revision and careful improvement since the launch version of 2013, and is currently in its fourth incarnation. All the previous decks have already been sold out long ago and are out of production. In this review, I will share with you a short overview of the decks that have preceeded the one that is currently on the market, to give some sense of the history and development that brings us to today.

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THE VIRTUOSO LAUNCH EDITION 2013 DECK (SS13)

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The first version of the deck was launched in 2013. It featured the cardistry-optimized graphic design that has remained over the years.

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The number cards were fairly standard on the faces, but the court cards were quite stylized.

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The striking patterns and lines made it ideal for cardistry, and so was the simple colour scheme using black and red.

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Here's an example of one of the custom court cards, with sleek diagonal lines, in keeping with the style of the rest of the deck.

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This edition is long out of print, and I noticed that copies on eBay typically list for anything from US$120 to US$200.

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THE VIRTUOSO SUMMER SPRING 2014 DECK (SS14)

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The 2014 version saw a colour change, with orange and blue being the focus.

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Here, featuring the Virtuoso SS14 deck, is The Virts "Card Flourishes" video, with some very cool moves!



Once again, the striking colour combination made this deck ideal for cardistry.

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Due to the graphic design of the card backs, it also looks great when fanned.

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Blue was used instead of black pips, to give a greater unity of colour during flourishes.

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THE VIRTUOSO SUMMER SPRING 2015 DECK (SS15)

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The SS15 Virtuoso was released for the Spring/Summer of 2015.

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Here, featuring the Virtuoso SS15 deck, is The Virts stunning "Air Time" video, that is one of their best ever. This was filmed with a slow motion camera to really highlight the cardistry. Featured in this video are Virtuoso's Huron Low, Kevin Ho and Daren Yeow, and there's a list of all the individual moves here. Definitely check out this clip!



To give an indication of the demand and popularity of the product by this point, the first print run of these sold out in a record 9 hours flat!

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The non-standard arrangement of the pips is very evident in this next shot.

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You can still get them on eBay, but expect to pay around US$50.

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Here we can see one of the court cards.

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The Virts made a second video featuring the Virtuoso SS15 deck, entitled "Versus". It features seamless transitions between the SS15 and a Bicycle deck, while demonstrating some slick cardistry moves - it's a brilliant video that will give you a good idea of how much of art form this can be.




THE VIRTUOSO SUMMER SPRING 2016 DECK (SS16)

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This is the current deck, which is the primary focus of this review.

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Here's another video of cardistry highlights performed by The Virts, entitled "Liquid Paper", this time featuring the Virtuoso SS16 deck:



A noticeable change is the absence of borders on both the front and back of the cards.

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This gives the cards more of a continuous feel when spread, and minimizes any distracting elements.

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The Virtuoso 2017 deck? (SS17)

No deck has been officially announced yet for 2017, but the publisher has indicated that they are working on a new edition, to be released in the second half of this year. I look forward to seeing what The Virts come up with this time!

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CONCLUSION

I've had a lot of fun learning about cardistry in the process of reviewing the current version of the Virtuoso deck. It's amazing how silky smooth it makes ordinary cardistry moves look, even for a novice right out of the box. Even fairly common techniques like a card spread and a fan looked absolutely stunning! I have been completely blown away by how much of an impact this deck makes on standard manipulation that you see card handlers do regularly, because it increases how impressive they look by tenfold. The colours look fantastic as well. Even though I came in with high expectations from the pictures and videos I'd seen in advance, the real thing turned out to be even way more impressive than I thought it would be.

The Virts have already inspired many people to take up a new hobby with their cardistry videos. Now with the creation of their own deck, they've inspired even more people to explore and develop this new art-form. With a proven track-record that reflects success and improvement for several years running, they are definitely the leader in this field. And because this is a company birthed from people passionate about the art and who are skilled performers themselves, we can be confident that these guys know what is needed in a good cardistry deck.

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Due to its origin and intent, it's true that the Virtuoso deck will always be a deck that primarily appeals to cardistry fans as its main target audience. As a deck designed for their needs, it more than adequately serves its purpose, and has to be considered the top of the line product for that. But even if you're not a cardistry expert, don't too quickly think that this deck isn't for you. It's still a very accessible deck for anyone who is interested in basic cardistry, and wants to learn some elementary moves. Even if you just enjoy doing a basic spread or fan, you will find that this deck turns them into art, and will inspire you to learn more. Congratulations to The Virts - mission accomplished!


For more information about the SS16 Virtuoso deck featured in this review, and to be notified when the next version releases, visit Virtuoso's official website.

The Virts - http://thevirts.com

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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==
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