Culminus Playing Cards caught our eyes due to the main theme of Angels and Demons. If you had been following our blog posts for the past 3 months, you would have read about our article on Dante Alighieri’s Inferno playing cards and how much we wanted one of the editions in that release to feature characters of good (or angels). However, it was about Dante’s journey through hell so not showing any “good” characters makes plenty of sense.
With Nicolai Aarøe’s Culminus, we rejoiced when there are two editions in this project, Infernum and Infiniti which represents evil and good respectively. Upon further probing into Nicolai’s previous projects , we found out that Culminus is the third volume in his series of light versus dark or good versus evil series of high quality playing cards. The first project in this trilogy is Indictus (unspeakable) which is inspired by the tragedy of “Macbeth, the Tudors and the history of human ethics“. The royal court portraits shows characters inspired by the aforementioned fiction and real royal family.
It is followed by Dominus which begins to show the duality of human nature in depth. It has two editions; Divinus representing justice and Obscura representing underworld. The duality is displayed by having the same character appearing on both editions but in different versions. Take a look below, the left shows the king portraits of Divinus while the right shows the same kings in Obscura.
Move forward to today, Culminus complete the trilogy illustrating human kind’s protectors and corrupters. The angel and devil talking on your shoulders each trying to influence you to do good or commit evil. At least that is how we see it.
Below are the card faces of Infiniti which houses the guardians of light and justice. Guardian angels as so many would like to term it.
As you can see, the illustrations are sketches of celestial demigods in majestic and regal presentation. You will also notice the inscription on the sides of the cards, “A passage for the crippled, and a light for the blind.“
We will not ignore the design of the card back for Infiniti. The card back design incorporates images of angel wings and some elements that gives a feeling of reliability and assurance. One look and you will know this is a deck of cards for goodness.
Let’s turn over to the dark side and look at Infernum. The face cards of the royal court portraits are devils and demons. The art style reminds us of a computer game called Diablo.
If you had noticed, the design of the Aces for Diamond and Club for both editions are essentially the same with the exception being the background colour. One more difference will be the line of text inscribed on both sides of the card, “Hell itself can not be conquered“.
As for the card back design, it comprises of goat skull with horn which is the usual symbol for satanism and occult related stuff.
The last card we want to show… Jokers! You didn’t think we will leave that out will you? Jokers have always been the main show of a playing card deck. Although not usually used in games, the designs are often the most grand. Take a look for yourselves.
Let’s talk about the tuck box. You can see very well for yourselves that gold ink will be used and embossed artwork on the exterior.
The interior isn’t plain, it has a design as well printed using the same gold ink. Just to list down a few notable featured of this deck:
- Limited Ed. (1.900 of each edition)
- EXTERIOR + INTERIOR gold foil on tucks
- Embossed tuck boxes w. numbered seals
- Metallic ink with gold pigment on card back
- 54 poker sized cards (52+2 jokers)
- Printed by NPCC with new, improved finish
We took a pause when we saw NPCC. We’ve not heard of this playing card company before and did a quick search. For those wondering what is NPCC, it’s Noir Arts Playing Cards Company. Never heard before? Neither have us. It seems to be a small company that specialises in printing playing cards launched in Kickstarter.
After admiring the cards, let’s move on with the add-ons which blew our minds. There are two coin designs. TWO different coin designs in a project. That isn’t something that most playing card creators do in recent project. Except for the HANA playing cards. Take a look at the coins below, Infernum on the left and Infiniti on the right.
As if that isn’t enough, there is a special reward for backers who chose 6 or 12 decks. Yes, special brick boxes will be given to backers for free but you still have to pay shipping fee. There’s also pouches but we don’t want to talk about it because they are not cards.
To end this article, we would like to share something in our heads. We think that the depiction of the great divide of good and evil as concepts have been overplayed till death through many different forms of media. Good and evil is always very clearly defined and there is no way of mistaking one from the other.
In real life and inside each and every one of us, good and evil lives inside us. Some times due to our commitment to life and our environment, good and evil are not plainly laid out for us to decide. Doing a bad deed to achieve a greater good or do a good deed but it turns out detrimental to other people affected by it. Good and evil does not have any meaning because meaning is defined by people.
So remember everyone, although it is cool to have righteous and evil clearly illustrated in front of us, the true righteous and evil lies within us and it is us who choose which side will triumph within ourselves.