A review of The Runic Odyssey by Hievaya and Tarot cards printed by WJPC

I've recently been checking out different printers/manufacturers, and that brought me to a company that has been making an increasing contribution to the playing card and tarot card industry in recent years, namely Shenzhen Wangjing Printing Company (WJPC).

WJPC's roots lie in printing traditional playing cards, but they also cater for the production of a range of other closely related printed products and accessories. These include tarot and oracle cards, educational flash cards, and playing cards for board games and card games. In addition, they also produce a wide range of custom boxes for decks of cards and games, and print instructional booklets to accompany custom decks and games.

But it's especially with some of their tarot and oracle decks that WJPC has the opportunity to showcase some of their best work and highest technological achievements. Tarot decks and oracle decks typically don't have the exacting requirements of playing cards that are used intensively for cardistry or card magic. As a result, it is possible to focus more on extra features and luxury touches, without needing to worry that these won't be able to withstand the intense workout that a cardist or magician typically puts a worker deck through.

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Standard tarot cards are 70mm x 120mm (2.75" x 4.75") in size, which is longer and narrower than poker-sized playing cards, but this different sized canvas presents tarot artists with different opportunities in design. Around a dozen different card stocks can be used, ranging from 270gsm to 400gsm, as well as PVC plastic. But it's especially the printing and finishing options that really give opportunity to add luxury and bling. These include holographic printing, various levels of gloss, gold or silver gilded edging, gold foil stamping, and more. And to complete the presentation, customers can select from various packaging options produced in-house by WJPC.

The number of different options can be somewhat dizzying, but the results speak for themselves. The cards I sampled included The Runic Odyssey (New Edition) by Hievaya, which is a stunning oracle deck, with relatively thick stock with a smooth feel (described by the creator as "velvet lamination"), and a matte black look. Both sides of the cards use lavish gold foil for the letters and artwork, and it looks absolutely exquisite. The edges of the cards are finished with matte teal. Someone needs to get the artist who produced this to make a custom deck of poker-sized playing cards with a similar look and feel! This particular project comes with other extras like a 262 page guidebook, a hinged neck box, a faux suede pouch, and a certificate of authenticity, all of which were produced by WJPC as well.

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Hievaya's Runic Odyssey (Original Edition) is also rather lovely, and features a similar style and design on beige cards. While it doesn't have quite the same impact as the gold on black, the gold foil still is a visual delight. It looks particularly amazing on the cards which depict the different lunar phases, because this gives the gold foil an opportunity to shine – literally . The edges of this deck are gilded with gold, and because of the extra thickness of the cards, the gilding can be more easily admired when examining an individual card than a single card from a poker-sized deck, and I suspect it will be longer lasting too. And it's not just the ordinary smooth gold foil most of us are familiar with from a gilded deck, but has a sprinkled effect which looks even more impressive.

Several sample cards from other tarot decks also impressed me with their luxury looks. Because these kinds of decks can employ thicker cards, adding touches like gold foil on the front and backs is very effective, especially when these technical possibilities are taken advantage of by a skilled and creative designer. Some of the cards used holographic foils, and when applied the faces of the cards and to the edges, the results looked genuinely amazing. I would love to see more decks that utilize these kinds of options, and perhaps there are designers of custom poker-sized decks that can even learn a thing or two from the amazing cards that some tarot designers are putting out nowadays. There's no doubt in my mind that these are high end playing cards that are visually stunning.

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As mentioned already, WJPC caters to a much wider market than merely tarot cards, and the clients they print for produce poker decks, flash cards, card games, and more. All of these markets have different requirements, in terms of card size and the type of card-stock. Even things like durability and handling can become more or less important depending on how the cards will be used. So the options for stock and finish will depend on what kind of deck you're producing. The Runic Odyssey decks got things right, with thicker card stock and smooth finish. While these choices wouldn't be suitable for a deck of playing cards, they are perfect for a tarot deck.

I corresponded with WJPC to ask about their minimum order quantity (MOQ), and was told that while 200 decks is officially the smallest batch that they typically print, it is recommended to order at least 500 decks. In reality the total cost for 500 decks isn't much more than it is for 200 decks, since a significant amount of the cost is a result of set-up costs and processing, rather than materials. But I'm told that their sales team will typically work with customers to try to find the most competitive option.

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Overall, I've been quite impressed with the tarot cards produced by WJPC, especially Hievaya's Runic Odyssey decks, which are absolutely gorgeous. From playing card creators I have heard that WJPC had some teething issues with some of the initial crowdfunding projects they were involved with (e.g. the Cyberpunk deck and Elephant deck from Elephant Playing Cards), but this was mainly pre-2018, when results were inconsistent. The reports I've seen from creators and collectors in recent years have all been more positive. Judging by my own experience with some of their decks, they seem to be stepping up their game, and have figured out what kind of quality and standards people in the playing card and tarot industry expect.

WJPC especially shines is in areas where touches of luxury or detail are needed, such as UV inks, metallic foils, and holographic foils. Designers of custom tarot cards have shown real creativity in this area, because many tarot decks are created with the goal of achieving a supreme look of luxury and beauty. If the tarot cards I've seen are any indication, WJPC has what it takes to get this done, and the results can be quite spectacular, especially when in the hands of a skilled and creative designer like Hievaya.

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Kerrie Mercel

Currently Kerrie Mercel, inspirational speaker, author & facilitator for the health and wellness industry. Kerrie enjoys working with professional business women helping them to find the power to live life on their terms.

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