I will start this by giving a fair warning: if you consider yourself to be a hardcore fan of certain cards you may not want to read further. I've really slowed down my card intake recently. Call it personal preference, I think the playing card industry is slowing down. The big names (theory11, ellusionist, fontaines, NOCs) have found their group of dedicated consumers and seem to have slowed down in terms of innovation. I'll walk through these one by one, but I want to address a standard that bothers me across the board. All playing cards from all companies are becoming much more expensive. While the humble Bicycle deck has always hovered at the $4 mark, most custom decks have shot up from $7 per deck to $10-15 per deck. This is the major reason for this argument. First off, I'll cover the Fontaines as they are a big favorite amongst a cardists. These cards are produced in small batches, designed with solid colors, and feature two "f"s on the design. This deck retails at $15 (for the sold out pink one). The biggest issue with this deck is that it is too simple. No custom faces, the same back design, but still retains a massive hype for each launch. It seems odd (and kind of too easy) that Zach can just use paint bucket to create a new deck. It may have taken a while the first time he created the design, but now he could technically crank out a new color (a new deck) in less than a minute. You can call me out on this, but I think it's laziness. There's no experimentation and risk when a new Fontaine deck is released. The same can be said for the NOC deck, however I do applaud the use of a marking mechanism on the back. It's simple, but it has been shown to be useful in other card related art, like that done by Card Stories on Instagram. The same thing can be seen in Ellusionist's work (although they don't do this to all their decks) the Madison line, Artifice, Ltds, etc. are all copy paste versions of their previous work. There is a little more work that goes into some of these (there's differences between the art on the White Artifice deck and a green one for example). So overall it is a bit lazy, but there are some custom pips, and minor work in between decks that make up for it. You can rag on me for this, but I hold theory11 decks to a higher standard as they usually are (in my opinion) better than most other decks. We can expect a fancy tuckcase and back design to be standard with all t11 decks, however I do want to see more done with the fronts. Having nicer deck boxes and backs leads me to want equally nice fronts. The Contraband is a perfect deck both front, back, and box as it is a fully custom deck and therefore is worth the ever increasing $10 price tag. However, decks like the Citizen deck feel incomplete (to me) as the fronts aren't very different from the classic Bicycle design. I've inquired about why theory11 didn't use custom faces and the answer is that it was done by restraint, they didn't want it to be too ornate. If so, why doesn't theory11 own it, that is, why doesn't theory11 show us the faces before we buy. It seems "shady" that a design feature like this isn't advertised (the only advertised feature is the ace of spades which has a custom pip). I'll also cover the Virtuoso team and Encarded below as a contrast to my point. The Virtuoso deck seemed to be going the way of the Fontaines: color change on the backs with a cult following to eagerly consume it. However, the Virts deck is different in that it used custom faces that were modern recreations of the classic tired courts and pip layouts. The back introduced thinner borders over time and the colors were well done (I liked the fact that it was more than one solid color). This year the new SS 16 deck features a borderless design with a stripe on the faces. It looks different, better, and still awesome as ever. Encarded is by far my favorite deck designer. Unlike all the other companies, there is no quota to his work. The decks he creates are very limited, but the design is always different, and always nice to look at. Not all design are everyone's cup of tea, but I do respect that Paul takes a risk that people will not receive his work as well as the last one. Every aspect of the deck has been carefully planned out and appears so, which is something I believe is worth purchasing. Anyway, I wanted to know what you all think about this? Have I simply turned into an uptight/over-demanding card connoisseur? Or does my argument raise valid points? Let me know below.