Tuesday, July 06, 2021

My Latest Oz Acquisitions

I have been reading and/or acquiring a lot of new (and old) Oz things lately, so now that I have a little free time, I figured I may as well start talking about them. Most of them are books, so I'll give short reviews and/or reactions, but I thought I'd start with all the playing cards. Yes, you heard me, playing cards. For some reason, three new sets of Oz playing cards are out this year, and I have two of them. (The third one is part of a subscription service, and decided the cost to both become a member and then buy the cards was just too steep.) So, let's jump in:

  • The Shadow of Oz Tarot Deck. Okay, not playing cards, but a reissue of a set Illusive Comics and Games did many years ago. This is a huge improvement! Bigger, stiffer cards, a beautiful new silver-accented back, and a very nice box to keep them all in. And all the cards are represented by Oz characters. Nice!
  • Adventures in Oz Collector's Poker Deck. Double Critical put these out before their current Kickstarter project, the Adventures in Oz 5e roleplaying campaign books (yes, I backed it), and these are gorgeous! A lovely metallic green design on the back, the Jokers are flying monkeys, and the face cards are all familiar Oz characters. The Kings are Dorothy and her friends, the Queens are the witches, and the Jacks are supporting characters. Naturally, one of those is Jack Pumpkinhead! But I think these guys made two mistakes. As cool as the monkeys are, wouldn't Mr. Joker the china clown be more appropriate? However, he's not a well-known and recognizable character, so I can see why they wouldn't use him. But there's no excuse for not having the Tin Woodman be the King of Hearts! But for some reason, he's the King of Diamonds, and the Scarecrow is the King of Hearts. Oh, well. (If I were to actually use these for a game of some sort, I would have house rules that the Kings of Hearts and Diamonds swap.)
  • Fig 23's Animated Flip Deck. Another successful Kickstarter campaign, with a very similar model to the Double Critical deck. These guys, however, use W. W. Denslow's original art from The Wonderful Wiard of Oz. Again, one of the Jokers is the Flying Monkeys, the Jacks are supporting characters, the Queens are the Witches (but the Wicked Witch of the East is replaced by, appropriately, the Queen of the Field Mice), and the Kings are Dorothy and her friends. And they got it wrong again! Here, the Tin Woodman is the King of Clubs, and the Lion is King of Hearts! Again, were I to play with this deck, house rule of swapped Kings! This deck has a bonus in that, if you line them up in the right order and rifle through them, you get a little animation of the house flying through the cyclone.
The famed Oz illustrator and researcher, Dick Martin, was also a playing card aficionado and collector. Somehow, I suspect he'd approve of this trend. But he might also design his own deck with the Tin Woodman representing the proper suit.

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