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18 Beautiful and Unusual Playing Cards

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amazon

Cards are a fun way to pass the time, and there are so many decks available—featuring everything from lumberjacks to characters from Ghostbusters—that you'll never think about getting a boring set from a drug store ever again. Here are some cards so beautiful, you might not even want to use them.

1. RAINBOW CARDS; $13

These colorful cards come from the Brooklyn-based design duo Fredericks & Mae. When spread out, the cards create a vibrant rainbow. They come in a foil-stamped box and are accompanied by a booklet with some game recommendations.

Find it: Amazon

2. PEAKS; $15

Peak Playing Cards each come with an illustration of one of Colorado's 53 14ers (mountains that are at least 14,000 feet above sea level). Each card features a different mountain along with its name and elevation. You can decide between Day and Night decks that show different illustrations on the back. All the backs are the same so no one can figure out what cards you’re holding.

Find it: Art of Play

3. GLITCH; $15

These seemingly defective cards are created by San Francisco-based designer Soleil Zumbrunn. The result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, you can now purchase a deck for yourself online.

Find it: Amazon

4. BROSMIND; $4

Barcelona-based design studio Brosmind created 54 delightful illustrations for this whimsical pack of cards. Each illustration is better than the last, with images like spades riding dogs and doughnuts running around.

Find it: Amazon

5. GHOSTBUSTERS; $10

These officially licensed cards by Albino Dragon have completely original illustrations. Each card has a different character from the classic ‘80s comedy, including Slimer, Peter Venkman, and Winston Zeddemore.

Find it: Amazon

6. AND 7. CATS AND DOGS; $8 AND $4

Remember lenticular pictures? Now you can get them in playing card form. On one set, there are 52 different felines—and two dog jokers. If you’re more of a dog person, they have some of those too. Just try not to get too distracted moving the cards back and forth.

Find it: Cats, Dogs

8. SOLITAIRE; $14

Enjoy this throwback deck, which features the original artwork for the Windows 3.0 Solitaire game. Designer Susan Kare even designed joker cards just for the deck. The retro cards are the perfect thing to play with in your family’s computer room.

Find it: Amazon

9. MINIMALIST; $10

Designer Joe Doucet aimed to make these cards are simple as possible. Instead of illustrations of the suits, Doucet marked each card with the number and a small icon for the suit. The backs feature a single slash. The cards come in either black or white.

Find it: Areaware, Amazon

10. CMYK; $13

The cards do away with suits in favor of the colors in the CMYK model: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The cards in each color suit are different opacities, which creates a gradient when they're laid out.

Find it: Hundred Million

11. TIM BURTON; $5

This spooky deck of cards comes from the creative mind of Tim Burton. The face cards come with illustrations of characters from Burton’s book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories.

Find it: Amazon

12. BACON; $8

Breakfast time is now card playing time. These bacon-themed cards are the perfect thing for the hungry poker players in your life. The face cards feature some royal piggies while the number cards are shown as strips of bacon.

Find it: Amazon

13. FIREFLY; $9

Fans that are still a little sore about the untimely end of Firefly might take some comfort in these officially licensed cards. Artist Ben Mund created illustrations of objects and characters from the show for the cards, which come pre-weathered.

Find it: Amazon

14. ANIMAL KINGDOM; $10

This deck is called "Animal Kingdom" for a reason—the face cards sport some pretty regal looking animals. These cards are also conservation-minded: They're printed on paper from sustainable forests, and for each deck purchased, a dollar will be given to the World Wildlife Fund.

Find it: Amazon

15. PIXELS; $10

These unusual cards are illustrated with pixels that are separated by a transparent grid. You can see through your cards, but your opponents can't see what you’re holding.

Find it: Amazon

16. JANE AUSTEN; $13

Relive all your favorite Austen novels with these playing cards, which feature quotes from the book as well as characters illustrated by Hugh Thomson and Chris Hammond.

Find it: Amazon

17. MADE BY CHILDREN; $12

These adorable playing cards were illustrated by children in Korea. Now you can play with smiling hearts, dinosaurs, and squishy looking spades. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds benefit children in developing countries.

Find it: Art of Play

18. LUMBERJACK; $12

Instead of crowns, deck your face cards in plaid. These lumberjack-inspired playing cards are sure to be a hit with your woodsier friends. Made by Bicycle, the fun cards feature trees, saws, and other lumberjack fixings.

Find it: Art of Play

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Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest
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Learn All About Fonts by Playing With These Poker Cards
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Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest

Want to learn about fonts? Try playing poker with the Font Deck, a pack of cards designed to help users learn the finer points of typography and font design.

The deck is the work of Canadian designer Ben Barrett-Forrest, who runs a graphic design studio based out of Ontario and the Yukon. In 2014, Barrett-Forrest designed the precursor to the Font Deck, a product called the Design Deck that aimed to teach users about the ins and outs of graphic design. Some of the Design Deck cards feature typography lessons, but the Font Deck—available for $17 a deck on Barrett-Forrest’s website or on Kickstarter—gives the topic a deeper dive.

A male hand holds fanned-out cards next to a Font Deck box and a stack of playing cards.
Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest

The deck includes topics like letter anatomy, old style typefaces, the difference between a font and a typeface, and profiles of specific typefaces, like Helvetica. The cards themselves are printed by the same company that makes popular playing cards like Bicycle and Bee, so they’re gambling ready, if you feel like betting your fortune on that slab serif card.

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Dungeons & Dragons Gets a Digital Makeover
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Since the 1970s, players have been constructing elaborate campaigns in Dungeons & Dragons using nothing but paper, pencils, rule books, and 20-sided dice. That simple formula has made D&D the quintessential role-playing game, but the game's publisher thinks it can be improved with a few 21st-century updates. As The Verge reports, Wizards of the Coast is launching a digital toolset meant to enhance the gaming experience.

The tool, called D&D Beyond, isn’t meant to be a replacement for face-to-face gameplay. Rather, it’s designed to save players time and energy that could be better spent developing characters or battling orcs. The resource includes a fifth-edition rule book users can search by keyword. At the start of a new campaign, they can build monsters and characters within the program. And players don’t need to worry about forgetting to bring their notes to a quest—D&D Beyond keeps track of information like items and spells in one convenient location.

"D&D Beyond speaks to the way gamers are able to blend digital tools with the fun of storytelling around the table with your friends,” Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, said in a statement when the concept was first announced. "These tools represent a way forward for D&D.”

This isn’t the first attempt to bring D&D into the digital age; videogames inspired by the fictional world have been produced since the 1980s. Unlike those titles, though, D&D Beyond will still highlight the imagination-fueled role-playing aspect of the game when it launches August 15.

[h/t The Verge]

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