Dausos the Full House of Gods (The Pantheon of Baltic Gods) — Tautvydas Kaltenis

Every card in this deck is gorgeous.

But, before I get into that, I’m going to share my greatest annoyance: the backs of these decks are exactly the same, but the courts are different. While this is designed to make playing games that require two decks more entertaining, it means that I can completely lose what deity should go with which deck. That’s off my chest, but now I want to learn Canasta, and I can reference the tucks to figure out which god goes where.

I’m a sucker for new-to-me pantheons, and I know nothing nada zippo about the Baltic gods. So when I saw this campaign, and the concepts behind it, I jumped in. The original campaign raised just enough to cross the $12,000 goal: $12,668 from 248 backers. I was apparently the only one to select the standard edition brick (which I always find amusing), and someone bought the whole shebang “Grand Miscellany” for $1,000, which is my favorite pledge level of any Kickstarter ever.

Like I said: every card in these decks is gorgeous. The colors pop off the standard mode background, with beautiful reds, greens and golds. The art, which I’m guessing a mix of hand and digital drawn, includes lots of fun details that are easy to overlook but are worth your time.

Let’s take these eight Kings as an example. Yes, eight. There’s a hammer, a key, and ax, a snake, a trident and more. Some hair looks like wheat, some like flowing waterfalls, and some like a shrubbery (yes, don’t get me started). The detail in each of these drawings is fantastic and beautiful and, best of all, curiosity inspiring.

The Queens, Jacks, Aces and Jokers are just as awesome. The Queen of Spades delivers some delightful surprises, depending on how you look at her, and the Jack of Hearts holding a double sided ax with just his thumb and forefinger is a fun surprise. And these are just on the dark deck BTW. There’s another dozen cards, all distinctly different, in the light deck. And while all the jokers are great, my eyes keep landing on Aitvaras, and because of the way this deck is assembled, I want to know more.

This is a tremendous artistic effort encapsulated into two decks of playing cards. Honestly, it’s why I’m collecting playing cards in the first place.

The pips are also fully custom. I like the split in half look, and the card numbers are all fun, unique and easy to read. If I had one piece of feedback, it would be that the clubs and diamonds are a little to close together. But whatever: these are also original and interesting, well — um — suited to the task.

You can buy a pair of these for $30 + $6 shipping over at Tautvydas Kaltenis’ website, Aeondrome.com (as of this writing). My fully loaded cost per deck, which also included two coins (that are great, BTW — I need to write up the various coins that have come in), was $10.53, so it’s possible my eBay listings will make a slight profit.

This begs a question: is this really worth less than Crops No More? Is it worth more than 5th Kingdom? What brings value to a custom deck of playing cards, anyway? More on that later this month!

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