So Steve Dela’s Night Flight Deck landed through my letterbox this week.  “Do we really need another marked deck?” I hear you cry?  If you’d asked me before I might have been unsure, but these Night Flights have gone some way to stealing my heart.  Let me tell you more.

Who’s Steve Dela?

If you’re not familiar with Steve’s work, where have you been?  He’s a busy and award-winning close-up magician.  He’s responsible for the fabulous Will To Read (which remains my absolute favourite take on this type of Free Will effect), the awesome All About Eve book test and an At the Table lecture which I still haven’t got round to watching!

What makes Night Flight Deck special?

The most obvious difference from every other marked deck I have seen before is that the Night Flight Deck is 100% plastic.  I still remember the first plastic deck I saw (it was the Karnival Death Heads, in case you’re wondering, back in 2011).  It was a bit of a shock to the system of someone so used to cardboard based playing cards.  But I was (then) pleasantly surprised and still am.

In the context of mentalism – and that is the primary focus for this release – the ability to do all your fancy card moves is less important.  In fact I find the handling of these cards pretty solid – they riffle beautifully, though don’t fan (for me) quite as well – but I don’t think the material will cause handling issues for anyone.  On the contrary, the big selling point is that they should last much better than normal cards.  Too early for me to tell with this deck, but I see no reason to disbelieve the marketing on this one.

The Marked Difference

So what about the markings?  I have to say they are brilliant.  They really are hidden in plain sight.  They will fly past a layperson – but once you know what you’re looking for they jump out at you.  I have tried them in various lighting conditions and have found them simply the easiest deck to read I’ve ever tried.  For ease of reading they’ve even, for me, knocked the DMC Elites off their top spot (though the Elites still have a smarter tuck case!).

To make the point, this picture shows the same card from 3 well known marked decks.  Even on this reduced quality JPG I think it is clear which is easiest to read.

steve dela - night flight deck - review - compared to two other leading marked decks

Not only are the main marks incredibly easy to see, there are several other marks which mean you can tell at a glance what colour a card is (even if you can’t see the name marking) and there’s a one way feature – which is an often overlooked subtle method for aiding some miracles.  So there’s a lot going for these.  The overall effect is close enough to a Bicycle-style deck that no one will bat an eyelid.  (Though they will eyeball some bats – did you see what I did there?!)

The tuck case looks innocuous – which is a bonus – especially in mentalism work.  And has a classic mentalism reveal on the top.  I found it slightly difficult to open – but that’s probably just me. 

Other Bonus Features

The whole thing came nicely packaged in a plastic storage case – to keep it doubly safe.  There are also some extra cards.  The deck comes with two double backers – one red/blue and the other blue/blue.  This latter has apparently caused some controversy – since the two blues are slightly different colours.  Steve tells me this is deliberate – so you can use it as a key card in a spread.  Sounds like a good idea to me. 

steve dela - night flight deck - review - unboxed

In fact, that takes me to my only two small niggles with the deck.  I actually prefer the ‘odd’ colour blue of the double backer to the ‘normal’ back colour which is a shade lighter. I suspect that is simply a familiarity thing – since the darker blue is closer to the standard Bicycle blue.  This really is a personal preference thing – and I suspect that the more I use them the less it will bother me.  And as I reflect on it the lighter colour probably makes it slightly easier to read in low lighting.

I’d also really have liked to get two jokers in the deck – since I do a mix of magic and mentalism and a pair of jokers is very useful for any number of tricks.  But as I said these are both minor niggles. 

The bottom line is that the Night Flight Deck is a superb marked deck.  I will be using this whenever I do marked deck magic and I think it has the potential to become the new standard.  Great job.  I’m very grateful to Steve for sending me a review copy.  And you can pick up your own deck here for £34.95 (at the time of writing).

Steve Dela – Night Flight Deck – review
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