USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handling

Anything and everything playing cards!

USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handling

Unread postby EndersGame » Fri May 05, 2017 10:58 am  

I've been researching some of the elements that come into play that affect that quality and handling of a USPCC deck, and a comparison with decks by Legends/Expert Playing Card Company. This post has had the benefit of extensive input from Don Boyer, whose expertise and insights I gratefully acknowledge. Hopefully this article will help others who might be wondering about this, and prove a useful resource in the future.

==========
USPCC Produced Decks

A common question is how the card quality of Ellusionist decks compares with regular Bicycle and other decks from US Playing Card Company, which is generally regarded as the top American producer of quality playing cards. The short answer is: Very well, thank you! That's because (with the exception of their mini decks, and their Artifice gaff decks) Ellusionist has their decks printed by USPCC! However there are different options available when having cards printed by the US Playing Card Company:

1. Stock: Bicycle Standard, Bee Casino, or Thin Crush

This refers to the paper used in the printing process, and qualities like its thickness, stiffness, and durability.

The original printings of Ellusionist's Black Tiger decks were on a special "UV 500" stock, which was sensitive to (ultraviolet) black light, but USPCC discontinued using that card-stock when they relocated to Kentucky in 2009. Since then USPCC only gave two choices of card-stock: Bicycle Standard stock or Bee Casino stock. More recently they added a third choice, Thin-Crush stock, which is more thin, slippery and quicker-wearing but hence usually preferred only by magicians. Ellusionist decks are typically printed with the Bee Casino grade stock, which is often (but not always) slightly thicker, stiffer, and more durable than the Bicycle stock, and can require some breaking in.

There can be variation in paper shipments, so while Bee Casino stock is usually thicker/stiffer than Bicycle Standard stock, this isn't always the case. According to Don Boyer's post here, as of around 2013 USPCC no longer offers their card stock by weight in grams per square meter. So you can no longer state that Bicycle stock is 325 gsm, 300 gsm or any such number. From one of USPCC's biggest custom customers Don learned that when offering their two main stocks - Bicycle (lighter) and Bee Casino (heavier) - these are measured by thickness, and the thickness of each stock actually falls within a range of thicknesses, and these two ranges actuall overlap. So it can sometimes happen that a deck produced with Bicycle stock has paper as thick as some Bee Casino stock decks, while a deck with Bee Casino stock has paper as thin as some Bicycle stock decks.

2. Texture: Smooth, or Embossed

Technically the "finish" of a playing cards refers to its texture, not the coating.

Aviator decks are well known for having a smooth texture (sometimes called "Ivory"), but most other decks (including Bicycle) use an embossed texture, which simply means the paper has dimples to help reduce the amount of friction on the cards for best handling. Sometimes this is referred to as an "air cushion". Cheap quality cards are typically very smooth and don't have an embossed texture, thus handling poorly, whereas Ellusionist and other USPCC produced playing cards are embossed just the same as standard Bicycle decks. The principle is the same as that the dimples on a golf ball, which create little pockets of air to reduce the wind resistance around the ball, allowing it to have more slip and travel further. An optimal dimple pattern in the paper's surface allows for better glide between cards, as well as between cards and a table's surface.

In older decks, the dimples of an embossed card were created not by pressing a metal roller with bumps into the paper, but at the end of the production process by the application of the card's coating using cloth rollers. Many finish names still used today (e.g. linen, cambric, linoid) originated in the fabric used on these cloth rollers, and these names persist even though cloth rollers are no longer used. Standardization in manufacturing and cost-cutting has resulted in companies like USPCC stamping the embossed texture into the paper itself, thus eliminating the cost of replacing cloth rollers, which also had a greater potential for causing problems.

The presence and depth of embossing also has an impact on handling. An embossed card tends to have a little more "give" to it when you flex it than over an unembossed (smooth) card made of the same paper at the same thickness. This may be a result of the modern embossing process, which presses dimples into the surface of the paper, possibly weakening the structure of the paper a little bit

3. Finish: Magic, or Standard

Technically this is a coating rather than a finish.

USPCC's default coating on smaller orders of custom decks is the "Magic Finish", which was developed around 2011. It is slightly more slippery, and makes cards slide more easily. It's called different things depending on the brand of cards, e.g. what USPCC calls "Magic Finish", Ellusionist calls "Performance Coating", which was USPCC's code name for the coating when they first started experimenting with it. Ellusionist playing cards typically all have the Magic Finish. While this finish tends to be a preferred by magicians, others find it to be too slippery, and don't like the "chemical" smell of the cards when they first come out of the pack, which can linger for quite a while. The first deck to use Performance Coating was Ellusionist's Gold Arcane deck, the first deck to use the branded coating was the Bicycle Gargoyles deck, and the first known use on a smooth deck is believed to be CARC's Ivory version of the black/silver Bee Erdnase deck.

The slightly less slippery "Standard Finish" coating is only used on orders of 15,000+ and that have a web press appropriate design. On differently branded decks, the Standard Finish is sometimes called "Air-Cushion finish" (Bicycle decks), "Linoid finish" (Tally Ho decks), or "Cambric finish" (Bee decks), which in reality are all identical. These different finish names are legacies from the days when decks did have unique coatings/finishes, which were applied with fabric/cloth-rollers (much like a painter would make a textured wall surface with a cloth-covered paint roller). Nowadays the texture is no longer in the coating, but crushed into the paper with steel rollers to create an embossed effect, which is identical for all USPC decks that are Embossed rather than Smooth.

To complicate matters, the legal department of USPCC made a peculiar ruling at one stage to designate all decks branded as "Bicycle" with "Air-Cushion finish", regardless of the actual finish.

4. Cut: Traditional, or Modern

This affects the direction of the bevelled edge of the cards. A traditional cut is when the cards are cut face to back, while a modern cut is when the cards are cut back to face. Decks with a modern cut require a breaking-in period before they can do the kinds of shuffles that decks with a traditional cut can do straight out of the box. Generally speaking casinos order decks to be made with a traditional cut, but for most people this difference in cut won't make any difference, unless you are doing weave shuffles, faro shuffles or certain gambling sleights.

USPCC changed how they cut their cards in the 1980s, and since then the modern cut is their normal way of doing things, and they'll only produce decks with a traditional cut when specifically requested. The reason for this change is that a modern cut didn't require flipping the stock before feeding it into the die cutter; it was a simpler and more efficient process, thus making production less expensive by a few pennies per deck, which adds up in the long run.

5. Quality control: Q1 - Q4

USPCC also has different standards of quality control. Q1 is their highest standard, and where they check closely for the best results in areas like centering, print registration, cutting, colour, and flaws. Q4 is their lowest standard, and is considered "tolerable" - it basically means that more margin is given for error. Ellusionist VP Jason Brumbalow explained this in 2010 as follows: "USPC has a quality grade standard for each of their deck runs. This standard is a threshold benchmark for things like centering, registration, cutting, color, flaws, etc. The quality grade ranges from Q1 (best) to Q4 (tolerable). I’ve long listened to dozens of people talk about how Q1 doesn’t exist, Q1 is only reserved for Chuck Norris’ casino cards etc, etc. Spoiler Alert: (Straight from the upper deck of USPC) All Ellusionist decks are graded and printed at Q1. All of them. End of story."

Conclusion: In short, this means that the playing cards from Ellusionist are of the highest quality possible. In fact most decks produced by USPCC are of similar quality, and the differences between certain decks that some people insist on are largely just a matter of different branding, as well as normal variation to be expected in different batches of paper. Most custom decks feature an embossed texture with a Magic finish, with the only significant difference between them being the paper stock.

Other sources: To learn more about USPCC produced decks, I also recommend the following articles:
- Jason Brumalow's article "Everything you wanted to know about USPC & Ellusionist, but were afraid to ask" from 2010.
- David Kenney's video from 2014, which has some great info about the different variables that affect the quality of USPCC decks (although at the time USPCC didn't yet have the Thin Crush stock, and David also is of the (mistaken?) opinion that Standard Finish means there is no coating. See also his three related articles "How does this deck handle", "But what if it isn't a USPCC deck?" and "Other factors in card handling".

LPCC/EPCC Produced Decks

Stock/Texture: Diamond/Master, Classic, Elite/Damask, or other

Legends Playing Card Company (LPCC) and Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC) have a slightly different approach to all this. They use a single name that doesn't distinguish between their finish and their stock. So they both offer several different "finishes", which are really different combinations of paper stock and embossing. Their paper stock comes pre-embossed from overseas suppliers, and the main differences between their "finishes" has to do with the type of paper and embossing used. Their stocks not only vary in thickness and firmness, but are also embossed to varying depths, making each unique in terms of how they handle.

Note that the two companies use the same factory in Taiwan and often collaborate, but give their own labels to finishes that are actually identical (apart from a couple of exceptions). The three main finishes that LPCC/EPCC both offer are as follows:
1. Diamond/Master Finish: This is the thinnest and least-embossed paper stock, which makes it feel somewhat oily/plastic-like, but it is also the stiffest and longest lasting finish, being very hardy/durable, and the cards have a real spring to them. The embossing is similar to Bicycle's "Air Cushion Finish".
2. Classic Finish: This is a thicker paper stock, which has more of a matte look, feels softer and more papery, and is not as stiff as the Diamond finish. The embossing is also similar to Bicycle's "Air Cushion Finish". Of all the finishes, this has an overall feel that is arguably closest to a Bicycle type deck.
3. Elite/Damask Finish: This uses a similar paper stock to the Classic Finish, but uses a different and deeper embossing pattern on the cards, making them feel even softer yet. It's not as commonly used yet, but reviews I've seen about it have been positive. (For some discussion on the Damask finish, see this thread)

LPCC (only) also offers an Emerald Finish, which is made from thin paper stock with minimal embossing and with a slick coating, giving it a similar feel to the Diamond Finish but with a stiffness falling somewhere between that and the softer Classic Finish. Unlike the other three finishes, this is produced in a factory in China rather than Taiwan, and normally has standard Casino-cut edges rather than the superior Diamond Cut used for the other three finishes. Recently LPCC has said that this factory now has the ability to use their superior cutting process for the Emerald Finish as well.

EPCC (only) also offers several other finishes:
- Robusto Finish (code-named Iron Stock while in development), which is a stock that results in very thick cards, considerably more so even than the Bee Casino stock used by USPCC. It makes weave/faro shuffles difficult, and has a high degree of stiffness that takes some breaking in and can make springing difficult, but is extremely durable.
- JN Finish, which they describe as follows: "This represents our constant efforts to duplicate the venerable Jerry's Nugget Casino cards from the '70s. Probably we, nor maybe anyone else, can get closer. These are very similar to the Master Finish cards that are so popular but these are crushed .01mm thinner and you can feel it."
- Stud Finish, which they describe as follows: "Our new Stud Finish. Very soft and pliable. We think they are the softest high quality cards on the market today."
The JN Finish and Stud Finish are new finishes, produced in a Chinese factory. Early reports on decks produced with the JN Finish (e.g. Jackson Robinson's Legal Tender deck) have been mixed, with numerous instances of very poor quality decks. Forthcoming decks to be produced in this finish include Giovanni Meroni's SINS, which will give more information to work with.

Coating: Same for all

LPCC/EPCC uses the same coating for all their card stocks/finishes, which they are constantly experimenting with to improve. I don't have enough experience with it to comment on how it compares to the Magic Finish or Standard Finish by USPCC. But this is what LPCC has to say about it: "The feel of the coating depends on the paper stock that is coated, but we feel it has the perfect amount of drag, slip, as well as durability. In my opinion I feel the Magic and Standard finish are too slippery and degrade very quickly. Legends PCC cards have a very specific feel and drag that no other brand (other than our close partners at Expert PCC) possesses, and the wide range of paper choices from soft to stiff will allow nearly any customer to find that perfect feel that suites their use case, whether it be for magicians, poker players, or cardists." (source: email correspondence with LPCC).

Cut: Traditional

LPCC/EPCC decks are all given a "traditional cut" (face to back) rather than the "modern cut" (back to face) used by USPCC. Their cutting process involves a Diamond Cut technique that produces a much smoother cut than UPSCC, resulting in beautiful clean edges, which are clearly superior to those of a USPCC deck, and make maneuvers like a perfect faro far easier and smooth.

Printing: Sheet-fed

LPCC/EPCC only uses a sheet-fed press (which USPCC also uses for smaller print runs), while a web press is preferred by USPCC for the sake of efficiency and speed when doing higher-volume print runs of many thousands. This sheet-fed press gives greater precision in printing and cutting, and a consistently crisp and bold printing registration, and also enables the use of narrower borders than normal. This gives a greater range of options for designers, and also can produce a classier look.

Overall Comparison

Decks produced by LPCC/EPCC rival those of USPCC in quality, and in many respects (e.g. the cut of the cards) surpass it. While not everyone likes the thinner/stiffer cards of the Diamond/Master Finish, which have quite a different feel and handling from a standard Bicycle deck that most people are used to, the Classic finish and the Elite/Damask finish used by LPCC/EPCC are good alternatives to a USPCC produced deck. In terms of durability, there is a report from someone who placed a Legends card and a USPCC card under running tap water for 5 seconds, with no damage resulting to the Legends card, unlike the USPCC produced card. The card-stock of all the Legends cards is also brighter/whiter than USPCC's Bicycle stock, and thus has a cleaner look.

To learn more about LPCC/EPCC produced decks, I also recommend the following articles:
- "Legends Playing Card Company - Legendary playing cards" by EndersGame. This is a pictorial overview of LPCC and some of their decks.
- "More Legendary Playing Cards - Comparing all four finishes" by EndersGame. This is a follow-up article with detailed comparison between the four LPCC finishes.
- "What's In An Expert Card? Plenty!" by Don Boyer. This gives an extensive overview of the manufacture and quality of decks by Expert Playing Card Company. You can find it in the complimentary issue of CARD CULTURE which is available right here: CardCulture-Special-Issue-2015.pdf (p.14ff)

==========

Please provide any corrections or updates, and I will edit this post accordingly to ensure its accuracy, in the hope this material will be helpful to other people who may have similar questions.

NB: I've also cross-posted this article at Playing Card Forum here, to maximize the number of people who will see this and can contribute corrections.
Last edited by EndersGame on Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby EndersGame » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:32 pm  

I have updated the original article at the start of this thread, to reflect the fact that EPCC now offers a JN Finish and Stud Finish, produced in a Chinese factory.

I have recently had opportunity to have a closer look at decks produced with the Elite (=Damask) and Emerald Finishes from Legends Playing Card Company. As a result of this, I have posted a follow-up article with a detailed comparison between all four LPCC finishes, which you'll find here:

More Legendary Playing Cards - Comparing all four finishes

As part of this, there is a series of reviews of decks in all four finishes - see that article for links to that review series.
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby EndersGame » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:02 pm  

I have just posted a new series of four reviews on decks from Legends Playing Card Company. The more I use their decks and compare them with USPCC decks, the more I am becoming convinced that Legends PCC is superior in virtually every respect: tuck cases, durability, handling, print registration, cut, and more.

In addition, I have learned that the Emerald Finish from Legends is now going to be called the JN Finish, and matches the finish of that name used by Expert PCC. The JN Finish and Stud Finish are two relatively new finishes that Legends PCC and Expert PCC will be offering customers.

See the links below for a comprehensive coverage of more decks, and detailed conclusions about ways in which Legends decks are of a higher quality than USPCC decks.

Legends PCC: More Legendary Playing Cards - Something For Everyone

Part 1: Novelty - for the Collector (Glitch, Soundboards)
Part 2: Style - for the Connoisseur (Tough Luck, Teliad Alfrin)
Part 3: Secrets - for the Magician (Cadenza, Sharps)
Part 4: Accessories - for Everyone (Card Clip, Card Wallet)

Image
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby sinjin7 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:23 am  

EndersGame wrote:I have just posted a new series of four reviews on decks from Legends Playing Card Company. The more I use their decks and compare them with USPCC decks, the more I am becoming convinced that Legends PCC is superior in virtually every respect: tuck cases, durability, handling, print registration, cut, and more.

When this thread first appeared, I appreciated Enders attempt at expressing his opinion in an organized manner. But as I continued to read his posts in this developing thread, and others, it has become clear to me that he's transitioned from any attempt at being a neutral/unbiased reviewer into a blatant walking advertisement for LPCC/EPCC. There's not necessarily anything wrong with this, Ender's opinions are his own to have and he's free to speak as lovingly about LPCC as he wants. Where I take issue is with his presentation of opinions as fact, as well as his lack of any true critical analysis of the Taiwanese/Chinese printers utilized by Sullivan. I would like to offer some counter-points to balance out Ender's enthusiasm for LPCC.

I want to preface my remarks with the caveat that my findings are within the context of primarily Cardistry (since this site is, after all, still called UnitedCardists) and NOT collecting, since collectors really don't care first about quality and handling of the cards. I also feel that many people conflate the terms "finish" and paper "stock", which is understandable with how the manufacturing of playing cards have changed. Traditionally, the term "finish" was in reference to both the texturing of the surface of the card as well as the coating of varnish/plastic/urethane compounds since they were one and the same. You had a smooth paper stock that was coated with a textured (or calendered) plastic and varnish compound. In the modern manufacturing process, the texture is calendered directly onto the paper stock, so you now have a textured paper stock that is coated with a plastic and varnish compound. Technically speaking, there is no such thing as a stiff or soft finish, but rather a stiff or soft paper stock. For the purposes of my analysis, I will go with the traditional definition of "finish", which is comprised of both the textured pattern on the card surface as well as the plastic and varnish compound that coats the cards. Card "stock" is the two sheets of paper that sandwiches the (usually) black glue core. The Stock and Finish of a deck are the two most important elements affecting how a deck handles, so those are the two elements I will focus on in this comparison between USPCC and LPCC/EPCC.

STOCK

Durability: Ender has claimed LPCC stock to be more durable than USPCC, but this cannot be quantified for the following reason: Legends is a very young company, only founded about 5 years ago. ONLY FIVE YEARS. I have USPCC decks that are well over 12 times as old. I have USPCC decks that are older than Lawrence Sullivan himself. So to make any proclamations about the durability of a stock that is, at best, less than 6 years old is almost farcical. It is way too early to make any meaningful analysis of how "durable" a stock is when its only about 5 years old. You may be able to make some short term observations about how well the stock holds up after a night of poker, but that has more to do with how rough the cards are handled by the players and how clean/dirty their hands were and not a true test of long-term durability. Now I have a deck of Jerry's Nuggets made in the 1970s that I unsealed and opened up about 7 years ago. For a 40 year old deck, it was amazing how stiff the stock was with no warping whatsoever. I have a Shadow Masters deck I opened when they first were produced, about 9 years ago, that was used exclusively for cardistry practice. I still have and use that deck today, and while the corners are worn a bit due to me dropping the cards so often, the Ohio produced casino-grade Bee stock is as stiff and robust as ever. Since the USPCC moved to Kentucky in 2009, there was an initial downgrade in some of the stock, particularly Bicycle Rider Back stock, but their casino-grade Bee stock has always been consistently great and no one can question the durability of that stock. You can be certain that if you open up a vintage USPCC deck made half a century ago, or any custom playing card produced on casino-grade Bee stock 10 - 20 years in the future, that the deck will still be in great shape. Perhaps one day Legends proves to be as durable, but come back to me about that in 5 or 10 years from now.

Snap: Otherwise known as elastic deformation. I agree that the paper stock used by EPCC/LPCC is a high quality stock in terms of stiffness and how it snaps back to its original state once bent or flicked or sprung. I actually have EPCC/LPCC stock rated higher than Bicycle Rider Back or Aristocrat stock in terms of snap, but lower than casino-grade Bee stock - but that's only my opinion. I don't believe you can quantify superiority of stock in terms of stiffness and snap. One person will like EPCC stock, another will like USPCC because its a matter of personal preference and opinion, there's no right or wrong. Both EPCC and USPCC use high grade stock so let's leave it at that, don't try to say one is factually better than the other, people are smart enough to ascertain their own preferences. One area where I do find fault in EPCC/LPCC decks is warping from climactic conditions. All decks from all manufacturers will warp when exposed to varying degrees of humidity or aridity. The best a factory can do is to maintain itself in as neutral climactic conditions as possible. In my personal experience, I find that EPCC/LPCC decks warp more often and develop click bends more frequently than USPCC, especially EPCC/LPCC decks made in the past year (or 20% of LPCCs existence). My theory, and its just a theory, is that the Asian factories don't monitor their humidity levels well enough so their decks are produced in more humid environments. When they arrive at the United States, it's typically more arid (especially here in California) so the variance from the more humid environment at the Taiwanese/Chinese factory to the drier environment of the buyer here in the States cause the higher rate of warping or click-bends. Whether my theory is correct or not does not change the empirical fact that a higher percentage of EPCC/LPCC decks warp than the USPCC.

Edges: One of the most ridiculous marketing ploys from Lawrence Sullivan is his emphasis on how clean or smooth the edges are cut on LPCC/EPCC decks. The fact of the matter is that the edges of the Asian manufactured decks are indeed smoother. . .but so what? What cardist actually cares? It's not like USPCC decks have edges so rough they hurt peoples fingers or hands. Sullivan created a solution for a problem that never existed. Yes, the edges of LPCC decks are smoother than USPCC, but that has absolutely ZERO affect on how cards handle, faro, shuffle, spring, spread, or fan. Zero. It is simply a marketing hype with insignificant substantive relevance in terms of cardistry.

FINISH

This is where Ender loses a great deal of credibility for me. By his own words, this thread is a comparison and analysis of handling, and in many of his other threads and reviews he speaks of finish or handling of decks. Yet, he is not a cardist, so how can he so emphatically trumpet the alleged superiority of EPCC/LPCC in terms of finish? Despite Ender's presentations and conclusions of EPCC/LPCC's "superior" finish as fact (he even uses the term "Verdict" in many of his glowing LPCC reviews, and as an attorney, that is a specific legal term of great significance for me, for it is a judgement rendered after the weighing of facts) it is merely his opinion at the end of the day, and an opinion of a non-cardist at that. Here is a quote from Ender himself from his thread on his review of LPCC's 4 finishes back in June:

"I have close contact with a very passionate card flourisher and amateur magician, who has a lot of experience with cardistry, card manipulation, and sleight of hand, and I gave him a number of different Legends decks to experiment with, to help me come to a more informed and balanced perspective. What follows is largely based on his reflections and observations, which come only after he had spent a lot of time with some of the decks."

As a non-cardist, I at least give Ender a little credit for consulting with someone with more experience, but it was with only one other person, and Ender's perspective clearly wasn't more balanced. So his opinions on LPCC's superiority is based upon himself and one other cardist. Given Ender's unabashed love for LPCC and his man-crush with Lawrence Sullivan, I really can't give his opinion much weight. And he consulted with only one other cardist to reach his "verdicts". That's not good enough. Not nearly sufficient enough of a sample size to present a truly balanced perspective. Definitely not legendary indeed.

Here are actual facts: Cardists want cards that are slippery and evenly consistent. This is achieved in two ways, 1) the dimpling pattern, which reduces the coefficient of friction between the cards and allows glide against each other more freely, and 2) the mix of plastics and varnish in the coating of the paper stock. In general, it is better to have the slipperiest cards possible. Then you can use fanning powder to "tame" the slip to a more controllable level to suit your needs and skill level. It's better to have the most potential slip that can be controlled in order to perform the most variety of flourishes and fans as opposed to not having enough slip to do what you want. The fact of the matter is that a USPCC deck fresh out of the box is too slippery for a lot of cardists, but that can be remedied with proper breaking in and use, or with powder if necessary.

It is my opinion, and probably the opinion of the majority of cardists, that the USPCC makes more "slippery" decks than EPCC/LPCC. And not only that, but the slip is more even and consistent as well. A lot of LPCC decks don't fan evenly fresh out of the box and must require some breaking in to eliminate any clumping. EPCC/LPCC has made great strides with their finish in recent months, but they're still tinkering and tweaking their finishes to try to catch up with the USPCC.

Granted, the level of slip is also of personal preference, and there is a growing number of cardists who prefer the Asian manufactured decks. And different cardists have different styles: some prefer packet cut routines and don't need the slipperiest decks while others prefer fans and spreads in their routines and demand the highest quality of finish, which is almost always USPCC. Sound biased? Consider this: when producing their signature deck of playing cards, all of the most elite cardists turn to the USPCC. Dan and Dave Buck, the Virts, De'Vo, Jerry Cetowski, David Blaine, Richard Turner, they all use USPCC. Not LPCC. The vast majority of people who manipulate playing cards professionally, who must rely on the quality of their cards for a living and put food on their families' tables, they go with the USPCC. This is not to say no one uses LPCC/EPCC, but the numbers don't lie, the vast majority of the most elite cardists use USPCC decks. Ender just relied on the opinion of one lone cardist to form his conclusion that the EPCC/LPCC finish, whatever the latest flavor may be called, is superior to the USPCC.

Perhaps the most troubling issue with EPCC/LPCC (an issue that Ender has not mentioned anywhere in his love letters about the EPCC/LPCC), is that of the inconsistent quality control coming out of the Chinese factory. We have incontrovertible evidence from the Legal Tender Kickstarter campaign that shows how divergent the quality is from EPCC/LPCC's Chinese factory. I have seen some decent quality Legal Tender decks out there, but the 12 decks I received were of terrible quality finish-wise. My decks clumped like cheap dollar store novelty decks. I am not alone. Many other cardists who I respect have told me that their decks had a spotty finish and could not fan. In addition to that, I have seen numerous posts both here on UC and on Jackson's Legal Tender comment section on Kickstarter that detail the poor quality of the finish in varying degrees. We see this evidence from many people, not just one or a few. If a deck designer pays for Q1 quality from the USPCC, there is only one factory from which your decks will be produced and you know it's going to be high quality. You do not have that assurance when it comes to the Chinese EPCC/LPCC factory unfortunately. At least not today.

There is an area where EPCC/LPCC is quantifiably better than the USPCC, and that's print registration. While that's important, its not the most important thing for cardists when compared to stock and finish. At the end of the day, Lawrence Sullivan is a magician, that is what he knows best. The quality of finish from the Asian factories is just fine for what a magician needs, but it's only merely adequate for cardists. I know Ender has posted this comparison and his reviews on PlayingCardForum.com, and I'm sure he's gotten a better reception from those folk since its mostly collectors over there. Plus you have Don Boyer, who is a personal friend of Sullivan so you know he'll talk up LPCC. But here at UnitedCardists, I'd like to see a more objective view, especially when it comes to analytical comparisons and deck reviews.
User avatar
sinjin7
Member
Master
Master
 
Posts: 1147
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:17 pm
Location: California
Country: United States (us)
Has thanked: 451 times
Been thanked: 578 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby EndersGame » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:45 pm  

This is a great post sinjin7, and I absolutely and wholeheartedly welcome it!

While I have tried to be as objective and informative as possible in my articles, I absolutely agree that my perspective is going to be based primarily on my own experience and what I've learned from others - after all, that's all I can go by. - and that any convictions expressed are my own. Although as you mention, I did consult another experienced cardist/magician to get another opinion, and I have continued to consult regularly with this person, who has extensive experience with Legends decks, and has a similar perspective to my own.

While I'd like to think that I try to be as fair as possible (although I am known for being an enthusiastic person - which will also become evident in what I write!), obviously the conclusions in my reviews are going to be my own opinion based on my own experience, just like your conclusions are going to be your opinion based on your experience. As such, I welcome hearing viewpoints from others, especially when the reasons for one's opinion and perspective are explained, exactly as you have done. The more different opinions and contributions we have on this topic, the more helpful it will be to readers trying to get a handle on what people think, so they can come to objective conclusions themselves.

I may follow up later with some interaction on a few points, but for now let me express that I'm very grateful that you've shared your own opinion in such great detail, because this kind of contribution is is tremendously helpful to me and to everyone else. I'd love to see more people engage on this topic in a similar way as you have done, it is helpful and appreciated; it also helps me personally refine and shape my own perspective. So again, thank you for sharing your thoughts, and engaging on this topic in such a thoughtful and extensive way!
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby sinjin7 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:52 pm  

Enthusiasm is fine, but if you really want to be taken seriously (and I believe you do given the time, effort, and detail you put into your reveiws), you have to be more objective. If you're going to talk up the positives of EPCC/LPCC, you also have to address the known negatives as well. It was negligent of you to omit any mention of the quality control issues of the EPCC Chinese factory when discussing the handling of EPCC/LPCC decks in general, and of the Emerald Finish specifically. What about the slow turnaround time in getting EPCC/LPCC to produce your decks and the month-long boat ride just to deliver your completed decks for fulfillment? What about EPCC's complicity in labeling Jackson Robinson's Legal Tender tuck boxes as cards made in Taipei (Taiwan) when they knew full well that the cards were actually made in China and they let it slide? In the United States, we actually have laws preventing misrepresentation and fraud, whereas in China, well, not so much.

If you're going to compare the USPCC's finish to EPCC/LPCC in relation to how a deck handles, and you personally lack the technical proficiency, you must consult with others that do have the technical proficiency, and more than just one other person. And if you're going to post here at UC, you should consult with dedicated cardists, not necessarily magicians who occasionally utilize a few sleights and flourishes. You shouldn't just consult with only pro-EPCC/LPCC enthusiasts, either. If you truly want a balance opinion, then you have to talk to cardists who prefer the USPCC as well (and that shouldn't be difficult since its the majority of cardists) and see why they prefer Air-Cushion over whatever flavor of the month finish EPCC/LPCC is touting at the time.

If your goal isn't to be objective and you just want to be a homer for EPCC/LPCC, that's perfectly fine, its a free country here in the United States and you have the freedom to express yourself. But just be sure to make that very clear that your purpose is to be a shill for Sullivan and you're promoting only EPCC/LPCC. Don't try to cloth your presentation as facts resulting from an objective deliberation of all the factors, both good and bad, and render misleading "verdicts" of the "factual superiority" of Legends over USPCC. Don't label your threads as reviews, but rather as the advertisements they really are. However, if it truly is your desire to be a credible and trusted reviewer, then rid yourself of even the appearance of favoritism (which is tantamount to impropriety for a reviewer) and put in the work to get a fair, banlanced perspective of all sides, good and bad.

I used to do written deck reviews back in the day, but I've stopped since it seemed like video reviews are the wave of the present and future. I think its great that someone like you is willing to put in the time to do good old fashioned written reviews for the benefit of others. I think you have the attention to detail to be an effective reviewer, you just have to realize that no one trusts a shill. There's not one single playing card company that is perfect, no one puts out perfect products, so you have to be open minded when scrutinizing the companies you like and don't like. I hope you do strive to be impartial and balanced and continue with your work. If you're so starry-eyed for Legends that you can't find it within yourself to be objective, then at least get paid by Sullivan for your work.
User avatar
sinjin7
Member
Master
Master
 
Posts: 1147
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:17 pm
Location: California
Country: United States (us)
Has thanked: 451 times
Been thanked: 578 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby EndersGame » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:35 pm  

I'll just interact with a couple of points:

Durability

Just because Legends was only founded 5 years ago, doesn't mean we need to wait another 10-20 years to start having a conversation about durability. I think we all know that a cardist can give a deck a solid workout by a month or two of intense usage, and you can already come to some conclusions about durability at that point. If I use a USPCC-produced deck with black cards, it doesn't take long to see signs of chipping and whitened edges; whereas this doesn't happen nearly as quickly with a Diamond-finish Legends-produced deck with black cards. I see this as a real argument in favour of the durability of Legends cards, so I would stand behind what I wrote about that. But if others have different experiences with the durability of Legends decks and can substantiate it with evidence, I'd welcome hearing that. Nonetheless it will indeed be interesting to see how these decks hold up over the long term.

Chinese factory

I share the questions about decks produced in China. From what I've learned from my direct correspondence with LPCC/EPCC in answer to my own questions about this, currently all the Diamond/Master finish decks, Classic finish decks, and Elite/Damask finish decks are produced in the Taiwan factory. These are primarily also the main finishes we have seen in the custom playing card market from designers that print with LPCC/EPCC. These are primarily also the only decks I have been reviewing so far. I have made clear in my articles that my perspective is largely limited to these three finishes, which also happen to be the most commonly used ones up till now.

The JN Finish and Stud Finish produced in China instead of Taiwan are relatively new finishes that I haven't been able to comment on yet, and I think we are all waiting to see how these turn out, although the quality of Jackson Robinson's recent Legal Tender deck (JN Finish) has indeed been a documented disaster. I've also posted a couple of times in other threads (here and here) about the JN Finish produced in the Chinese factory. The name "JN Finish" will replace the name "Emerald Finish", and I have mentioned a few times (here and here) that unlike the other finishes, the Emerald Finish decks aren't produced in Taiwan but China. In my own experience, the Diamond/Master, Classic, and Elite/Damask finish decks produced in Taiwan seem to be consistently good. The jury is still out on the EPCC/LPCC decks produced in China, and I haven't personally seen any deck labelled as JN Finish or Stud Finish yet, and in reality very few have even appeared on the market yet for any of us to come to definitive conclusions about them.

As I wrote in my most recent article (here), "In recent times Legends has been experimenting with other finishes as well, such as their Emerald Finish (also known as the JN Finish, a reference to the legendary Jerry's Nuggets), which uses stock around 0.1mm thinner than the Diamond finish but with a similar texture, and is said to handle somewhat similarly to the legendary icon of playing cards. Hopefully in a follow-up article I can give more information based on further experience with the new JN Finish, and also with the new Stud Finish that Legends is currently experimenting with. But all their current finishes are excellent." So with all due respect, I think the criticism that I have completely omitted coverage and questions about the Chinese produced decks is overstated. If I do get opportunity to have first-hand experience with these two new finishes in the future, I look forward to updating this thread with further remarks about them. Meanwhile, by all means if others have personal experiences with these two new finishes beyond the Legal Tender deck that they can share here, please do so!

Cardistry vs collecting

By your own admission, your comments are from the perspective primarily of cardistry: "I want to preface my remarks with the caveat that my findings are within the context of primarily Cardistry (since this site is, after all, still called UnitedCardists) and NOT collecting, since collectors really don't care first about quality and handling of the cards." It is true that UnitedCardists originated as a forum for cardists (as I discovered when I asked about how it differs from PlayingCardForum.com in a thread here), but I don't think that accurately reflects its main character today. I find it interesting that the "Cardistry / XCM / Flourishing" subforum on the site is almost inactive (151 topics, last post more than a month ago) , whereas the "New & Custom Decks" is where all the activity is (2854 topics, last post less than an hour ago). This forum began before the custom playing card industry took off, and I think it is fair to say that its character has changed somewhat over time, and that today it is populated with many collectors who have little experience with cardistry. Nonetheless, I think it is excellent to hear a cardistry focused perspective like your own, because this can help giving the rest of us an informed perspective about handling.

Even though personally I think some of your criticisms are over-stated, I sincerely thank you for engaging on this subject, and I hope others will contribute to this discussion as well - the more voices that participate in this discussion and share their views and experiences with the quality and handling of decks from these different publishers, the more balanced the conclusions can become.
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby MagikFingerz » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:41 am  

Regardless of what the "main character" of this forum is, deck characteristics such as handling and durability should come from a cardistry focused perspective, simply because cardistry is the purest and most demanding form of deck use (in relation to said characteristics). At least as long as you as a reviewer do not cater specifically to e.g. magicians or some other group. If people were purely collectors, they would care much less about printers and finish than what is evident from posts on this forum.

Would you criticise ice skates from the perspective of someone who goes skating once a week during the winter, or an active figure skater?
User avatar
MagikFingerz
Border Patrol
Card Oracle
Card Oracle
 
Posts: 5892
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:32 pm
Location: Norway
Country: Norway (no)
Has thanked: 489 times
Been thanked: 492 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby Mike Ratledge » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:27 am  

Great read, and back & forth, Enders and Sinjin.

One thing that I don't see addressed is the constant loss of control even when decks are supposedly Q1 control - over registration and alignment drift by USPCC made decks, especially (only?) since the move to Erlanger. It's more evident from dscks made on the web press (roll fed) but also rears its head on the custom decks we are so fond of and familiar with that are exclusively sheet fed.

Let's consider David Blaine decks. Have you noticed that they are always shown being made by the sheet fed presses? Those are Q1+ obviously. Roll fed has more chance for alignment (left to right) as opposed to registration which is mostly from sheet fed presses.

Expert / Legends has no such issue.
>Mike<

"You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself"
Moderating in moderation...

Members are encouraged to
Show Us Your Cards!


Dondorf "Hundertjahrkarte" (1933)
restoration sets still available:
Late Backers Link
Decks produced & gilded by
Cartamundi, Restoration by Lotrek


UC members help maintain Portfolio52
THE Playing Card Database Online
Contact ecNate for details and access


UC2018 decks by Rick Davidson
"De Novo" - details coming soon!


>>> UC Deck Sales <<<



Insert disclaimer here...
All information posted as fact is accurate at the time of posting to the best of my knowledge.
User avatar
Mike Ratledge
Site Admin
Card Oracle
Card Oracle
 
Posts: 5111
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:25 pm
Location: Awendaw/McClellanville (Charleston county) S.C.
Country: Denmark (dk)
Has thanked: 1654 times
Been thanked: 480 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby sinjin7 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:40 pm  

DURABILITY

When you analyze durability, its important to view both shot term durability as well as long term durability. Also, we're talking about the durability of the paper stock, not the durability of ink on a black deck. In my experience (I have approximately 1200 sealed decks in my collection from all the major brands, and about 300 opened decks that have been used in varying degrees), the short term durability is the same for both USPCC decks and EPCC/LPCC decks because both stocks are very good. Long term durability is very important because you want to know that the stock will retain it's integrity, even after the passage of decades, and obviously we have no idea how EPCC/LPCC decks will hold up after that amount of time. My guess, and its only a guess, is that the long term durability should be very good, but I won't make that a statement of fact. The primary difference in stock quality that I see is the warping issue with recent EPCC/LPCC decks.

CHINESE FACTORY

As for the Chinese factory, you still should've mentioned the quality control issues. You cannot give an in depth review of a company or it's products by only mentioning the good aspects but ignoring the bad. That's not being objective. That's not being critical enough. As I said before, no company is perfect, and the quality control issues were widely known, as evidenced by the poor feedback from the Legal Tender deck. Even if you don't have much firs-hand experience with the Chinese finishes, It is widely known enough for you to have made at least more than a passing comment on it.

You may not have much familiarity with the newer JN and Stud finishes (the Stud Finish is fairly poor, by the way) you still spoke at length about the other finishes. My critique of you omitting coverage of the problems of the Chinese factory is not the only issue I had with your analysis on handling. You posted an analysis without sufficient data or experience. And I will reiterate one more time: you consulted with only one other person in your attempt to get a more balanced perspective (if a truly balanced perspective is what your're really even aiming for) in your analysis of finishes. As Tom mentioned in his post, cardists have standards for stock and finish that are far different, and in many respects far higher, than magicians or regular poker players. So if you want to analyze the quality of finishes, you must talk to people who insist upon the highest standards. You cannot only speak to pro-Legends people, you have to consult with pro-USPCC people as well for a truly balanced perspective.

CARDISTRY VS. COLLECTING

As you stated, this forum originated as a Cardistry forum. Despite the shift in character and focus to collecting, it doesn't negate the cardistry foundation of UnitedCardists. And while the majority of collectors may have little experience with cardistry, there are many that do. I would venture to guess that the majority of cardists are also collectors to varying degrees. But it doesn't matter what the composition is at UC in terms of cardists and collectors, you were the one to post an analysis of quality and handling. If you are catering only to collectors, then why even talk about handling at all? Why put any effort in dissecting the different finishes? I assure you, the pure collectors out there rarely even open their decks, and even if they do open their decks, they're not handling or playing with their precious cards in any extreme manipulative manner. Most pure collectors really have no interest or understanding about what finishes are put on cards because it isn't relevant to them. If you have ascertained that the cardistry portion of this forum is so negligible, why bother with an analysis of handling? Why are you even consulting with someone with more experience in cardistry? But if you are going to come on a site like UnitedCardists and discuss handling and finishes, then be prepared to do so within the context of the highest expectations and standards as required by cardistry.

The bottom line is that I am advising you to be more objective and critical, these are necessary elements to being a good reviewer. The way you gush about Legends without any hint of any negatives (remember, no company is perfect) renders your "reviews" down to advertisements. Nobody trusts a reviewer who isn't impartial and objective. If after all this you still refuse to remove your rose-tinted glasses when discussing Legends, or you are catering to collectors only, then I guess there's nothing more to be said.

@Mike - Its already been stipulated that EPCC/LPCC has better registration than USPCC, that's why you're not seeing it addressed in this thread. The USPCC prints more decks in one month than EPCC/LPCC have printed in 5 years. The vast majority of Q1 printed decks have perfect registration. It is the relatively rare poorly registered Q1 deck that give the USPCC a bad rep. When you print decks in the massive volumes that a big company like the USPCC does, there's bound to be a few issues. Now that EPCC/LPCC is starting to print in larger quantities, we are seeing that even they are releasing the occasional deck with faulty registration. It is just a function of numerical and statistical probability. Again, as I stated in my first post in this thread, I am talking from the perspective of cardistry, not collecting, so perfect registration isn't on the top of the list of priorities for cardists. In fact, even Q2 decks are within acceptable tolerances for cardistry purposes.
User avatar
sinjin7
Member
Master
Master
 
Posts: 1147
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:17 pm
Location: California
Country: United States (us)
Has thanked: 451 times
Been thanked: 578 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby Mike Ratledge » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:55 pm  

Csmt argue there, John! Those Legal Tender decks truly suck eggs, but so far it is the only example that used the JM Finish AFAIK. Apparently it is way outside of the norm, but who knows?
>Mike<

"You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself"
Moderating in moderation...

Members are encouraged to
Show Us Your Cards!


Dondorf "Hundertjahrkarte" (1933)
restoration sets still available:
Late Backers Link
Decks produced & gilded by
Cartamundi, Restoration by Lotrek


UC members help maintain Portfolio52
THE Playing Card Database Online
Contact ecNate for details and access


UC2018 decks by Rick Davidson
"De Novo" - details coming soon!


>>> UC Deck Sales <<<



Insert disclaimer here...
All information posted as fact is accurate at the time of posting to the best of my knowledge.
User avatar
Mike Ratledge
Site Admin
Card Oracle
Card Oracle
 
Posts: 5111
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:25 pm
Location: Awendaw/McClellanville (Charleston county) S.C.
Country: Denmark (dk)
Has thanked: 1654 times
Been thanked: 480 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby Bruno » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:49 pm  

For Bruno, this is reduced to the optioning of Enders Game and his uplifting reviewing of everything, his sunny Alpine pastures ....
Or swallowing the limiting myopia of sinjin7s verbal effluxion, his patrolling of the shrinking defensive perimeter of uspcc's Colditz Castle.
Whereby one allows you selection and positioning ....
The other wants you locked in his bunker.
I prefer reviews in sunlight and fresh air, meself.
And note the accusatory stance adopted where sinjin7 offensively and effortlessly converts >his own endless one-eyed shill-ing for uspcc< (!) onto Enders Games more elevated positioning. :lol:
How very suspiciously uncool.
But he does it well.
Playing card reviewing until now has been exclusive and proprietary, with >links<, >more links< and all that u-toob imposition and projectioning.
Enders Game delivers to UC a sincere, positive, >>inclusive and welcoming<< reveal of the possibilities, and who will refute the advantages so effectively displayed ?
I will also say this ....
Thank you, Enders Game !
Long may you so expertly, colorfully, consider, reason, reveal ....
Thank you .... :ugdance:
Last edited by Bruno on Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
O, I beg of you your comprehensions,
yet laugh at your contempts ....
my only competition is with myselves.

But Lèse-majesté, especially >Normans, natch.

Is jarnstill the Ars of the Hors Nebulous ?
Neigh .... the Effluxor of the Omniverse ??
User avatar
Bruno
Member
Ace
Ace
 
Posts: 804
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:54 pm
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 460 times
Been thanked: 174 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby EndersGame » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:58 pm  

Review apologia

I just want to comment briefly on the assertion that my reviews aren't objective or critical enough, and that I have posted analysis without sufficient data or experience. I'd like to think we can all agree that this is a hobbyist website, not a scientific journal, and that personal opinions and perspectives are welcome; inevitably they are always going to be subjective, whether mine or sinjin7's. I don't get paid anything for writing reviews, but just enjoy doing this as a hobby, because I love playing cards, I love writing, and I love sharing my enthusiasm to help others who enjoy playing cards as I do. As always, my opinions are my own and based on my own experience; although I am always eager to learn from the experiences of others, and am more than willing to refine my views wherever I'm shown to be incorrect or where there are additional things that need to be considered. I don't see a need to consult a dozen cardists before writing a review; if what I write proves untrue, I trust that those dozen cardists will all comment and point that out to me! [smile]

I don't think it is fruitful for me to debate whether or not I should or should not have done things differently. I will just say that I will continue to do the best job I can in writing reviews in the hope that they will help others, and that I welcome the personal opinions and perspectives of everyone, because I can learn from them. So I am grateful, sinjin7, for you sharing your thoughts and perspectives on stock, finish, and handling as a cardist, because that's helpful for all of us, myself included. Thanks also to the others who have commented in this thread about their views of quality and handling. The more different opinions and voices we get, the better informed we can all be. Nobody can be completely omniscient or objective, so having more people contribute their thoughts and experiences about quality and handling is only of benefit to all, as long as we are willing to listen to each other and learn from each other, and where necessary respect different viewpoints or tastes. I for one, pledge to consider carefully any opinions contrary to my own, and will try to learn from them.

So endeth my apologia on reviewing, and I won't engage further on that particular subject, but want to get back to the subject at hand. I'm especially interested in learning more about decks produced in China, because I suspect we all have questions about that.

Quality of the JN Finish & Stud Finish decks produced in China

sinjin7 has been helpful by flagging the questions about the quality of decks produced in China as something that needs further investigating and comment. Thanks for that, sinjin7. The JN Finish and Stud Finish are a relatively new phenomenon, and to my knowledge not many decks at all have been released with them yet, and that's why I personally haven't given it much coverage; I myself haven't even seen a deck with these finishes labelled on the box. But I'd like to be able to cover this going forward, and getting some good input here can help with that.

We know that the Legal Tender deck was produced with the JN Finish in a Chinese factory, and this was quite unsatisfactory, although other aspects in which Jackson Robinson disappointed his backers with this project only compounded this. To my knowledge, the JN Finish and Stud Finish are relatively new finishes that LPCC/EPCC has been experimenting with, and are produced in China rather than their usual Taiwan factory. I'd be interested in seeing a complete list of decks that have been published with these finishes so far, in the China factory, to help us come to a proper opinion about them.

JN Finish: Skull & Bones by EPCC (link), Legal Tender by Jackson Robinson (link)
Stud Finish: Skull & Bones by EPCC (link)

Are there more decks that can be added to this list, which have actually been published and are in the hands of cardists and collectors, and about which we actually have empirical data to work with? And besides the Legal Tender debacle, what facts have we learned so far about these two new finishes?
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby EndersGame » Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:06 pm  

EndersGame wrote:We know that the Legal Tender deck was produced with the JN Finish in a Chinese factory, and this was quite unsatisfactory, although other aspects in which Jackson Robinson disappointed his backers with this project only compounded this. To my knowledge, the JN Finish and Stud Finish are relatively new finishes that LPCC/EPCC has been experimenting with, and are produced in China rather than their usual Taiwan factory. I'd be interested in seeing a complete list of decks that have been published with these finishes so far, in the China factory, to help us come to a proper opinion about them.

JN Finish: Skull & Bones by EPCC (link), Legal Tender by Jackson Robinson (link)
Stud Finish: Skull & Bones by EPCC (link)

Are there more decks that can be added to this list, which have actually been published and are in the hands of cardists and collectors, and about which we actually have empirical data to work with? And besides the Legal Tender debacle, what facts have we learned so far about these two new finishes?

So at this stage nobody can add even a single example to this very short list? i.e. besides the limited number of sample editions of Skull & Bones that CARC put out to demonstrate these two new finishes, there is only one other deck (Legal Tender) anyone has actually seen firsthand that is labelled with these new finishes? If that's the case, then I'd like to reserve judgment on the new finishes printed in the China factory, and not make things sound worse than they are, especially given the very positive printing quality record LPCC/EPCC has had until now. Especially if it's true that the Emerald finish is going to be rebranded as JN Finish from now on - the LPCC decks I've seen with the Emerald finish so far have all been more than satisfactory, including those printed in China.

I realize that the Legal Tender experience has really soured things for some people, and that makes objectivity difficult. The failure of Jackson Robinson to live up to his word in numerous respects about that project accounts for much of the negativity as well, so I don't think it's fair to sully Legends' overall positive record with quality or overstate concerns just because of this one case. I'd like to see more reports about other decks in these new finishes first before coming to any conclusions, and one experience with a new finish doesn't render invalid the positive comments I've made about the other LPCC/EPCC Finishes (Diamond/Master, Classic, Elite/Damask) produced in Taiwan.
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby sinjin7 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:55 am  

Since there's only 3 decks released with the new Chinese finish so far, of course its a short list. I don't know about you, but I find it rather concerning that of the 3 decks that have come out, they all have issues so far. I found the JN finished S&B deck to be within the lower end of the merely adequate range of EPCC/LPCC decks, that is to say it has a somewhat plastic-y feel and won't fan very evenly until after a period of breaking in. Definitely a far cry from an Air Cushion deck. The Stud finished S&B deck is quite poor with significant clumping when fanned or spread. And of course the worst of the bunch is the Legal Tender decks. 3 out of the first 3 decks have finishes than are not good. This is not making things seem worse than they are, that's the reality of the situation. That's not to say the Chinese factory won't improve, as you're probably feverishly hoping the case will be, but it's NOT an auspicious start.

I didn't post in this thread to sully Legend's reputation or invalidate your positive comments about LPCC/EPCC finishes. I posted to offer a counter-point to your (imo) imbalanced analysis of handling between Legends and USPCC from a cardistry perspective, since that's the perspective that requires the most demanding standards when it comes to handling. However, it's become clear to me that you're going to defend Legends no matter what. To me it seems your aim is not to be an unbiased, objective reviewer of Legends products, but to be an ardent apologist. Hey, it it what it is, you really really really love Legends. I'll just have to keep that in mind and know to take any of your reviews of Legends with a grain of salt.

As to your point about Jackson's conduct souring us, he's not alone at being at fault, and here I am talking about the illegal issue of fraudulently mislabeling the tucks. While the ultimate responsibility lies with Jackson in being forthcoming about Chinese produced cards put in tucks that claim they're printed in Taiwan, EPCC and Bill Kalush are complicit in this deception as well. Kalush/EPCC knew better than anyone else that the cards were printed in China, and they knew the tucks erroneously stated the cards were printed in Taiwan, and they let it go anyway. Even if Jackson refuses to rectify the situation by posting an update to all his backers that the tucks are misleading, Kalush/EPCC should step in and do something to inform everyone of the mistake. And according to another deck designer, Sunish Chabba, he's claiming that he knows of at least one other deck designer who produced EPCC/LPCC decks made in China that claim to be printed in Taiwan instead, so its not just one isolated incident anymore. If the USPCC found out some deck designer was going to put in cards printed by the USPCC in China into tucks stating made in the USA, they would refuse to participate in such behavior. How do I know this? Because we have merchantability and warranty laws in the USA that make such behavior illegal. There are no such laws in China, and Kalush/EPCC is hiding behind that lack of legal accountability.
User avatar
sinjin7
Member
Master
Master
 
Posts: 1147
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:17 pm
Location: California
Country: United States (us)
Has thanked: 451 times
Been thanked: 578 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby PrincessTrouble » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:20 am  

I believe Gio's SINS were printed in EPCC's Chinese factory. Another data point to consider.

BTW, I've enjoyed reading both perspectives here. :)
User avatar
PrincessTrouble
Moderator
Master
Master
 
Posts: 1072
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:44 pm
Location: Texas
Country: United States (us)
Has thanked: 312 times
Been thanked: 299 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby Thirdway Industries » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:06 pm  

Yeah, SINS is made by Chinese EPCC Factory - SINS finish looks good to me, but consider I can't judge professionally, since I don't have any cardistry or magic skill. I also have Legal Tender and I think that SINS handle a bit differently (maybe because the Pantone vs CYMK printing?).
At least I can say that the printing and registration is awesome (and there, at least, I'm a professional :) ) - I just have saw 3 decks so far (one each), and I'm waiting more SINS that will arrive next friday.

Said this, I am very happy with Eva (USPCC) as well, especially because the incredible metallic inks - also registration of the few decks I've opened were very good. My experience with USPCC was absolutely perfect so far, and that's the reason I decided to print Lunatica with them.

Hope it helps!
Thirdway Industries shop > https://www.thirdwayindustries.com/.
User avatar
Thirdway Industries
✔ VERIFIED Designer
Veteran
Veteran
 
Posts: 648
Joined: Wed May 14, 2014 8:09 am
Location: Milan
Country: Italy (it)
Has thanked: 199 times
Been thanked: 283 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby EndersGame » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:00 pm  

If anyone is interested, I recently took a close look at some NPCC decks, to see how their quality and handling compares with USPCC and EPCC/LPCC decks. For the record, not only have I consulted my cardist friend for help with this (he gave a number of their decks a good workout), but I've been getting more and more into cardistry myself in recent months, so the considerations of card flourishers are becoming more important to me personally as well, and I'm becoming more competent in making my own judgements in this area - I can appreciate that this is an important factor for many readers who are cardists.

You'll find my conclusions about their quality/handling in my wrap-up article here (links to the rest of the series of reviews can be found at the end of that article):

Part 7: Noir Arts Wrap-up - Other Decks, and Final Conclusions about NPCC decks

I've detailed our experiences and observations at length in that article, but for the sake of this thread, here's an excerpt:

How do they compare? The big question for a lot of people will be how NPCC produced decks compare with the bigger and well-known names in the playing card industry, especially USPCC, LPCC/EPCC, and MPC. Are they a legitimate option to consider besides the usual contenders? Using the letter grades of common academic grading systems, I'd personally ranks USPCC and LPCC/EPCC as A-grade publishers, and MPC as a B-grade publisher. Not everyone would agree, but in my own opinion I think LPCC/EPCC ranks slightly ahead of USPCC both in terms of card quality and because of their level of innovation and the quality of their tuck boxes, so in the final analysis I'd consider LPCC/EPCC an A+ grade and USPCC an A grade. The fact that USPCC decks don't always have consistent registration (e.g. borders can sometimes be slightly wider/narrower on one side than on the opposite side) also accounts for making them my second choice. But on the whole, project creators who use either source are unlikely to be disappointed. MPC decks on the other hand don't handle quite as smoothly or evenly, and the general consensus of most creators/collectors is that they aren't quite as good, which is why I'd consider them a B-grade. I'd rate Noir Arts decks about the same as MPC - they just don't handle as consistently or sweetly as USPCC/LPCC decks. Like MPC decks, Noir Arts decks aren't a reliable choice for cardistry or card magic. For the average person, they'll be quite satisfactory, and they'll outperform the typical "cheap" deck, hence the B-grade rating, but it's not top of the line. However, Noir Arts produces absolutely stellar tuck boxes, and in my book that means they deserve a higher rating than MPC, so I'd upgrade my final rating for NPCC to a B+. So in order, in my final analysis I'd rank these publishers as follows: A-grade: LPCC/EPCC (A+) and USPCC (A); B-grade: NPCC (B+) and MPC (B).

Who are they for? If you're getting these decks mostly as a collector, and because you like the tuck box, then I don't think you'll be disappointed. For use in card games they also should be fine. They'll not make the grade for most magicians, since they don't handle as sweetly as a USPCC or LPCC/EPCC deck, and because you can't count on consistent fans/spreads with heavy use. Card flourishers will find NPCC decks inadequate, unless all you do are packet style cuts. In short, I don't think the Noir Arts name should automatically make people stay away, because it depends on what the intended purpose of a deck is. If it's an artistic deck for collectors, and the cards aren't likely to see much use, then I think Noir Arts would make a decent choice - their skills in making superlative tuck boxes especially recommends them. NPCC would not be my first choice for a deck designed firstly with card flourishing in mind, and even for card magic, but if it's a collector's type deck or even a creative or artistic deck designed to be used just for playing card games, their quality should be just fine. A fair assessment requires us to remember their roots, which is evident from their name: Noir Arts. They are good at doing what was originally the genesis of their company, namely art.

So in short: not good enough for cardistry or card magic, but their more recent decks are not as bad as some people have made out, and are fine for playing card games and for some collectors; plus they do make fantastic tuck boxes. See the original article for many more details and comments on the quality, handling, and durability of the NPCC cards.
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby EndersGame » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:37 pm  

Here's a helpful video that relates directly to the subject of this thread. Magician Chris Ramsay normally uses USPCC cards exclusively, and in this video he checks out three decks from EPCC to see what they are like:



The three decks he test drives are:
- Exquisite Bolder (Master Finish)
- Chosen (Stud Finish)
- Skull & Bones (JN Finish or Stud Finish)

He's not crazy about the Master Finish of the Exquisite bolder deck (too stiff), but really likes the Stud Finish of the Chosen deck. Unfortunately we don't get to find out whether the Skull & Bones deck he samples has the JN Finish or the Stud Finish. Furthermore, these have a eye-catching iridescent foil on the card-backs, and Chris is so caught up with telling us how ugly he thinks that looks, that he doesn't really comment on the handling of those cards.

I'm not surprised with his comments about the Master Finish deck, since it is noticeably stiffer than a USPCC deck. It's a pity that he didn't also have one of EPCC's Classic Finish decks to try out, since their finish/stock/handling is more similar to USPCC decks. I'd be curious to know what he thought about EPCC's Classic Finish and about their JN Finish if he gave those two a fair trial. He was very positive about the Stud Finish, however.

So it's only a limited sample of the range that EPCC/LPCC offers, and not a well-rounded comparison that takes into account all of EPCC's decks, so it wouldn't be fair to generalize too much from his comments. But it is interesting to hear what Chris has to say about the Master Finish and the Stud Finish and how they compare with USPCC decks. Those looking for another perspective on our thread's topic should enjoy Chris Ramsay's video, since he has a lot of experience with cardistry and card magic, and he is considered a respected voice in the industry.
Image
BoardGameGeek reviewer

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of magic tricks & videos <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.
User avatar
EndersGame
Member
Sentinel
Sentinel
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:26 am
Country: Australia (au)
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 60 times

Re: USPCC deck vs EPCC decks: analysis of quality and handli

Unread postby MagikFingerz » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:05 am  

Interesting video, and an apt summary/critique, Ender. Thanks for sharing :)
User avatar
MagikFingerz
Border Patrol
Card Oracle
Card Oracle
 
Posts: 5892
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:32 pm
Location: Norway
Country: Norway (no)
Has thanked: 489 times
Been thanked: 492 times

Next

Return to General Playing Cards Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest