MollaSpace Black Cards

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” –Ian Malcolm, “Jurassic Park”

Art for the sake of art has already been covered, but that’s no reason why we can’t cover it again. There’s a certain thing that TV Tropes categorizes as “Awesome But Impractical” – stuff like using frozen carrots as weapons, or the ability to summon a horde of gnomes but only once every five years, or a 24 karat gold plated KitchenAid mixer. I feel like I can safely file this deck of all-black playing cards, designed by the mad scientists at MollaSpace, under that same category.

The Black Deck of Cards – or BLACKCARDS as the box seems to indicate – is, true to both its names, a deck of cards that is 100% black. Black backgrounds and black print. It’s the sort of deck which goes perfectly with a certain Rolling Stones song, in the respect of seeing a red suit and wanting it painted black. But this deck goes far beyond that. Far, far beyond. Farther than any deck really should.

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The BLACKCARDS Joker, almost impossible to read under normal indoor lighting, is only made visible by using the flash on my phone camera.

How does one even play with a deck of cards that is all black, though? Would that even be readable? Well, slightly, yes, it is readable, in the right light – the trick to the BLACKCARDS is that the printing is glossy, over a background of matte. The cards are all plastic, so it is textures (and lack thereof) that help the ranks, suits, and pips stand out from the rest of the card. The big problem: this is almost invisible under most forms of indoor lighting. One must either use very strong direct lighting (such as an LED desk lamp) or play at a very deliberate angle to the sun – which may very well make the cards difficult to handle in the hotter months.

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You almost can’t tell from this photo but I’ve got a game of Canfield in progress here. You can only barely read the 6 of Spades in the waste pile. Other cards, well, there’s no contrast knob on the human eye.

So, really, this deck isn’t really playable. Is it meant to be, though? Well, almost…this quote from MollaSpace’s website (where the deck is sadly sold out, as of this writing) says a lot about why they designed it this way:

“Based simply off the concept of Cool, our Black Deck of Cards is stylish and unique. Futuristic designs for the classic face cards are printed with a glossy super black ink on a semi-gloss black card to feature a fantastic illusion of shadows. At the right angles of light, the cards can hide in the black shadows then glide out of the darkness to reveal your winning hand. Keep the cheaters from stealing a glance with this fantastic deck and make your next poker night, pitch black.” MollaSpace, “Black Deck of Cards”

So while impractical at best for most forms of solitaire, the BLACKCARDS are probably at their best in a competitive game that uses fanned cards. They suggest poker. I suggest something where the real identity of the card has a lot more at stake if misread – something like, say, I Doubt It.

MollaSpace’s website claims these cards will be coming back in stock in March of 2017. If you’re impatient, you might be able to find a deck secondhand via Amazon (I did), but be wary of scalpers; I’ve seen them listed for as much as $500, but they’re only supposed to be $10. Is ten bucks what you’re willing to pay for a deck of cards that requires that old cliché poker-room hanging lamp to be able to read? I suppose that very much depends on what sort of card-playing friends you have. If you, like I, have none, then perhaps your ten bucks are better spent on something that you can actually read at a quick glance regardless of your lighting setup. I, however, bought these cards not for friends or for solitaire, but because I obviously have an addiction problem I am an adult and make my own decisions it was just cool.

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