No, you certainly are not alone in your appreciation for the finer aspects of design. The Steampunk deck wasn't really my cup of tea, but hey. To each is own. I'm sure someone liked it. I feel like Theory 11 tries to emulate the "Classy, luxury" feel and Ellusionist tries to emphasize the magical elements in all of their products. Theory 11 probably appeals to most flourishers due to some of the reasons that ChristopherT mentioned before me. But each site has their own small collection of jewels that make them each stand out. Ellusionist, for me at least, completely kickstarted this whole custom deck arms-race. They have the Ghost decks, the Black Tiger decks, Arcane decks, Shadow masters, Masters decks, I liked all of those.
But in recent times, it appears to me that Ellusionist is taking efforts to try and emulate some of the elements Theory 11 uses with their products. The minimalist designs (LTD), the infinitely less "magical" feel (Executive, Fathom??)
and consider that you haven't seen a "gaff" deck from Ellusionist in years. That used to be a big thing for them, but they seem to have completely moved their focus away from another element of magic.
I'm also not fond of this rather glamorized focus on gambling (Artifice, Madison's...everything). However, the Artifice decks are awesome. I love the clean cut look of the bordered blue and green decks, the Madison decks have settled nicely with the community as well.
Like any business, Theory 11 has its flops and it has its triumphs. Flops, I wasn't a fan of the Steampunks, the Archangels, the Charity Waters and the Animal Kingdoms. However, the Monarchs, the Sentinels, the Centurions and the Guardians are great decks.
So to each his own, I prefer Theory 11 largely because of the community, the customer service, the Wire and the cardistry. I can acknowledge why one would be attracted to Ellusionist, but Theory 11 feels a bit more personal.
In my opinion: Theory11 has better original decks. But Ellusionist has better magic effects
Such as? I have looked at a lot of the effects on Ellusionist and really didn't care for any of them. They really spend a lot of time on the trailers and from what I have seen from other places are really underwhelming.
INVISIBLE , PURE SMOKE, KUKARATE COIN,KING RISING LEVITATION,LIQUID METAL, SMILEY, JUMPINK, SHIFT etc.I disagree, I feel like Theory 11 certainly holds its own with magic tricks. What specific examples do you have?
No, you certainly are not alone in your appreciation for the finer aspects of design. The Steampunk deck wasn't really my cup of tea, but hey. To each is own. I'm sure someone liked it.
Don't even get me started on the steampunk deck. Massive fail in my opinion and I have voiced that before. Got me so riled up I stopped looking at T11 for a while. To be honest, I like a lot of the designs they come out with here, but they just don't resonate with me. They look cool but feel like they have less depth. That's me, though. Just like someone might not be able to get into traditional Irish music but really gets into Norwegian death metal. When I first started working with the Artifice V1s they just felt right in my hands. Same with Dealers. Nothing from Theory11 has done that for me.
A true steampunk deck would, in my mind, use swords instead of spades. The backs would have a complex, Baroque filigree instead of gears. Clockpunk is a subgenre of steampunk in which clockwork mechanics replace steam power, but it has resulted in the unfortunate misconception that anything with visible sprockets is steampunk. The face cards should probably reflect Victorian fashions (I'd look to the dandies like Beau Brummel and a young Benjamin Disraeli for inspiration), and for the ace of spades... I'm thinking something like a heraldic crest. To put the "steam" into the whole steampunk motif, I would place the joker onto a steam-powered bicycle based on turn-of-the-century concept art for such proposed inventions and give him a sort of Oscar Wilde look with a few whimsical accessories.