In collaboration with M. Stutzman, artist for David Blaine’s wonderful playing cards and posters, the Conjuring Arts bring you the offical Ask Alexander deck. Featuring numerous diabolical properties and an elegant, cunning design, this is a deck that you will be proud to have with you in magical endeavors, as well as an excellent addition to your card collection.
The Ask Alexander deck is printed on the finest casino paper and to the highest standards available at the United States Playing Card Company. The cards are cut in the same fashion as all Conjuring Arts decks to facilitate smooth handling and effortless faro shuffles.
This deck gives me a feeling of a decks from 10-20 years ago. The numbers at the corner of each cards are not equally inked. Some are a bit thicker than the others. The face of the cards seem like a vintage bee's deck. There are 2 identical bee jokers, and 2 ad cards that is a picture of the Alexander head in question mark shape. The face of the ad cards are identical but the back of one card is inverted in colors (except the Alexander' head part). The box is simply but neat.
On the hint that it might be try, I ordered the deck just to see and was shocked! Yes, the deck has a one way design. No, it has nothing to do with the back design. it is so subtle that I had to put my glasses on to see it. Out of every deck that I own (and I own quite a few), this deck is the most interesting to mess around with and just admire the genesis of it.
Everything else about the deck is the high quality of Conjuring Arts, but the secret of the deck puts it over the top. This deck and only this deck forever!
That being said, I pulled a fresh deck of these out of my pocket in front of a crowd that included magicians, peeled the cello, cracked it open, handed out the Jokers and "Ask Alexander" cards. While shuffling the deck, I told a condensed story about "The Man Who Knows" and then went straight into a Max Maven effect called The Hawk. It absolutely floored the lay people, but even more so, the magicians.
So that's why I say "don't be fooled" by the one way design. Stutzman, the artist who illustrated these cards, is far more clever than that and I'll leave it to you to take a closer look when you open the box and examine the design and layout. Used properly, you can even fool people "in the know" with this one-way design, which even allows you to be in Si Stebbins in seconds. Plus, you can tell crazy stories about Alexander all day.
I've been having a great time with this excellent deck.
Conjuring Arts and Research Center (CARC) decks are generally well-made. This one doesn't have a more traditional-looking Bee back, but make no mistake; these are Bee playing cards. As such, they're about the same quality as Bees you'd buy at the corner store (meaning they're really, really good). The name is interesting, too - it comes from the online magic research resource available to CARC members.
What I liked: old-school card faces with big pips and little corner indices. Good stock, good finish, good handling. D&D don't state whether they have the Cambric or Ivory finish, but odds are that they have the more widely-seen Cambric finish. Cambrics are textured like most Bees you've seen, Ivories are smooth, more like a deck of Aladdins or Aviators. I like both, but Cambric may have better handling in terms of card slip. It has a bold and attractive one-color design, well-made by the man who brought you the David Blaine decks: Split Spades, Split Spades Lions and White Lions. I can see flourishers appreciating this deck perhaps more so than magicians because of the overall stand-out style.
What I didn't like: it's a boldly obvious one-way design, a feature some don't like - for me an unsubtle one-way deck brings to mind bridge decks with sailboats, flowers and cute pets, not cards for serious players. Some spectators seeing this deck will question whether it's a "real" deck or a magic specialty deck because of the deck's overall design. There are so many CARC decks out there now, it's hard to keep track - magicians and flourishers may not care, but collectors could turn a lot of hairs gray trying to keep track, especially when they usually (as far as I know) come in both Cambric and Ivory finishes. The "gotta get 'em all" feeling a collector can have has to be weighed against the "my funds are so limited" reality. After a while, you have to wonder whether the similarities in CARC deck designs are worth giving in to the collector's impulse - though the unique back does make this stand out more than the countless Erdnase decks.
So, going on the "Netflix" scale, I have to give this deck a 3 (liked it). It's not my favorite or first-choice deck, but I did like it, it's a solid deck and it has some admirable qualities.
It is awesome that this deck addresses Alexander - The man who knows. He was truly a great magician.
I strongly recommend this deck.