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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magical Accessories » » False Anchors V3 deck marking system (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of Nikodemus
This is a review of the marking system for the False Anchors v3 (and Workers deck) marking system.
The card stock is good, and there are a couple of useful gaff cards - but that is not may focus here. (There are other reviews online that address these aspects).

I am always looking for the "holy grail" of a marked deck that is (1) easy to read with poor eyesight (or in poor light) (2) well-disguised from the casual observer.
My opinion is that reader decks get too obvious as the marks get larger. Therefore an easy-to-read system will almost certainly use some sort of code. The possible exception to this is the DMC deck which has pretty large characters - BUT the way they are camouflaged makes them tricky (for me) to read; which kind of defeats the point,

The False Anchors v3 system is very, very good - except for one annoying detail that lets it down (see below).

NB. The deck came without any instructions (or info on where to get them online)!!! I emailed Penguin, and the emailed me a PDF very promptly.

The deck has a total of 5 markers. They are all grouped in the top left area of the card back pattern. They are NOT all close to the edge, as with several well-known reader decks. Nevertheless the placement practical enough. All of them are of a size and shape that is very easy to see. The marks "hide in plain sight" amongst the rest of the pattern. This means the deck will definitely not pass a riffle test; but that is not a concern for me.

The Value marker uses a familiar system, that I believe started with the DeLand deck. This allows a very intuitive read of 12 different values. In other such decks often the King (13) is "marked" by not being marked. I don't like this approach, because it forces you to check for the absence of a mark; I prefer to look for something rather than nothing. In this deck, the designer (Ryan Shlutz himself?) has used the same mark for Queen and King - with one tiny difference. This is the design flaw I mentioned above. Everything else is so easily readable; but this relies on a tiny circle being filled or not. If you have good eyes this will not be a problem. But for me, it is a huge disappointment. I can think of plenty of alternative ways this could have been implemented so that it was easy to read but still sufficiently disguised.

The suit marker follows a similar approach, requiring only 4 suits of course.

There is an additional colour marker, so you don't even need to look at the suit if you just want the colour. This is well-located at the edge. It is very subtle, yet very clear once you know the secret.

There is a one-way indicator, close to the edge.

Also a rather unusual feature - a marker to indicate characters curved at the top (2, 3, 6, 8, 10, Q) vs the rest (flat or pointy on top). This allows you to quickly divide the deck into two halves (24/28 actually) that look random but are easily identifiable to you. This system means you can spot an odd-card-out from either the faces or the backs.

Overall, I think this marking system is a great concept, but let down terribly by the Queens and Kings. If you have reasonably good eyesight, that probably won't matter to you. But if you have poorer eyesight like me, this is not the Holy Grail.
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Profile of jerdunn
Excellent review, Nick, and you're so right about the fatal flaw in the marking system for those without excellent vision.

However, the red/black marker makes the deck useful for OOTW effects such as Gordon Bean's great "Splitting the Difference," so I'm glad to have it.
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Profile of Wravyn
Great review, thank you.
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Profile of RSchlutz
Thanks for the review. Love to hear your thoughts on alternatives to the king/queen marks.

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