Where to buy it: Ellusionist.com
What it is: Seriously black playing cards.
Rating: Five goth pasteboards
Details: Ellusionist has made quite a name for itself in the area of creating cool playing cards. Their previous decks (Dark Kitten, Goblin, Yo Ho, Unicycle Master, and Oldie Moldie) have proven to be quite popular, but their newest addition to the custom card collection may be the most unique ever.
Every card in the Shadow Masters Deck is not just black, but very, very black. So black that if you put one on a table, it looks like a hole has been torn into the very soul of the empty heart of a disdainful universe. So black that they quickly become too hot to touch in even dim sunlight, and actually suck the heat out of the surrounding air. So black that a spectator's name written with a black Sharpie shows up like it was written in florescent paint. So black that even the word "black" is not black enough to do them justice. Seriously, these things are black.
And black is all over these cards. They're black pasteboard, printed on both sides with black ink. Even with a trained eye it can take hours of examination to tell one card from another. The black box is so black inside that it's hard to tell whether it's open or closed.
For a magician, the very blackness of these cards has a number of advantages. A card can be reversed in the deck, and there is little chance of a spectator noticing because the card backs and fronts are so similar. The extra time needed for a spectator to identify what card they selected means more "distraction" time for the magician to make secret preparations (tattooing the name of the selected card on a forearm or charging the compressed air cartridge in a rising-card deck, for example). And when performing on the street, the cards can become hot enough to fry an egg on for a quick lunch.
The Shadow Masters deck includes a custom made joker on which is depicted a scary, scary skeleton guy, possibly making it inappropriate for small children, the faint of heart, and skeletonaphobes. The deck also includes a special card that is black on three sides, instead of the regular two, which a magician can make look like a normal card with careful handling, and which can be used as an aid in various effects.
Although there are many advantages, there are a few disadvantages to this deck. For example, the cards are not particularly effective for stage use, and it's really hard to do an effective color change with all-black cards.