It's all just a mystery!

It's that time of the year again. Pumpkin Spiced drinks have lost their allure, the weather's getting bitter cold, and then warm again, and then surprise it's winter in the morning. Oh, and Art of Play is releasing their Mystery Decks!

What is a "Mystery Deck"? Put simply, they take a deck from an assortment of decks, wrap it, and then you have no idea what you've received until you unwrap it! Pretty straightforward overall.

They, Art of Play, do say that they mix the selections and pull decks randomly. This has the upside of them not purposefully holding back the more rare decks for specific types of orders, but the downside of a higher chance of receiving a duplicate.

Last year was my first involvement with "Mystery Decks," so I only have that to compare it with. The wrapping paper this year was much more luxurious than last and really fit with the vibe of the company.

Two wrapped Mystery Decks from Art of Play
Wrapped Mystery Decks from @artofplay sitting on a The Expert Under the Card Table coaster.

Last year, I ordered a dozen decks and was very, very happy with them all. So this year, I ordered more...

There are 30 total decks in their assortment (see below). I know there's a chance of duplicates but to really push my luck, I went ahead and ordered 30 of them. With a $20-off coupon plus a 20%-off coupon plus free shipping, I feel like it didn't hurt too bad (that, and I saved up for this specific purpose).

Deck Assortment

Similar to other years, this year's Mystery Deck list features a random mix of different decks that range in quantity. "Quantity" is the word Art of Play used in describing the list -- I'm not sure if that refers to the price of the individual deck, or the actual number of decks that of that type that were included in the lot (i.e. 50% of the mystery decks are HMNIM, 25% are Bruce Lee, the rest make up the remaining 25%). No idea...

But yeah, this year in total there are 30 different decks:

Art of Play Brand Deck, Balance - Black Edition, Bruce Lee, Cabinetarium - Gilded Edition, Cabinetarium - Standard Edition, Cybernetic, Day of the Dead, Dinosaur, DKNG Blue Wheels, DKNG Red Wheels, Drifters - Gold Edition, Eastern Forest, Gaslamp - Black Box Edition, HMNIM Gold Edition, HMNIM Gray Edition, If an Octopus Could Palm, James Coffee - Orange Edition, Lady Moon, Lucky Draw, MAKERS PR - Gilded Edition, MAKERS PR - Standard Edition, Mindfulness, Misc Goods, Modern Times, NOC Mint, Odd Bods, Overlook, Patina Lepidopterist, Peau Doux - Turquoise Edition, Bloc - Plush Edition, Smokey Bear - Special Green Edition, Standards Blue, Standards Pink, Survival v1, Tempo, Thunderbird Room, Ultimate Deck
Art of Play's Mystery Deck List

The decks that appear in bold are listed as "Mystery Deck exclusives, out-of-print decks and/or early releases."

Also worth mentioning, that Art of Play Brand Deck comes in 6 different colors, per their post on IG:

One of several exclusive decks featured in this year's Mystery Deck collection - by @artofplay
Art of Play Brand Decks available as a Mystery Deck offering. Source: @artofplay

Hopes and Dreams

Okay, so we know what the possible decks are, so which ones do I hope for and which ones do I dream for?!

I already have 2 of the IAOCP decks, and the Overlook one. I wouldn't mind one of the Art of Play Brand decks, but I'm pretty sure they're going to be for sale soon. If they aren't, I'm sure they're going to become the next big hype deck on the secondary market!

If I could hope for any decks, they'd be the Cybernetic deck and the Gaslamp - Black Box Edition. Why? Well, I've never seen the Cybernetic one and haven't heard of anyone with it. And with the Gaslamp deck, the "red" standard one looks pretty neat so I'd really be interested in the black box.

If I could dream for a deck though, I have to say my head's spinning a bit for that NOC Mint offering. I've never heard of NOC Mint, and I love NOCs. I haven't seen a single picture of it yet, and I've gone through the Mystery Deck promo videos in slow-mo (but hey, I could've missed it of course). I've scoured Instagram and Reddit for deck opening pics and still haven't seen anyone pull one. Consider my interest and desire through-the-roof!

UPDATE (12/17): I reached out to Art of Play regarding the NOC Mint deck and they have confirmed that the NOC Mint deck is the green NOC Colorgrades, a deck that was designed exclusively for Art of Play and produced in collaboration with Alex Pandrea's NOC decks! Apparently, they are referred to as "Mint". Didn't know that!

The Opening

There they sat. 10 decks, just taunting me to be opened. Wait, what? 10 decks? But... I ordered 30?! Apparently Art of Play shipped all smaller orders first, so I had to wait almost a week for the second batch to arrive to open everything at once.

In a very unceremonious manner, the opening commenced. Some packages were ripped open, a couple I semi-tried to keep in-tact so I could film a B-Roll later or maybe do some good photos. Hint: if you see any photos from me with a deck wrapped in the mystery wrapping -- it was after I opened them.

One after another, wrappings came off. Most decks were new to me, only seen briefly on the Art of Play website which I purposefully tried to avoid (as best as possible) to keep a little mystery. There were, of course, duplicates. Like 4 copies of the Gray HMNIM deck... of which I recently picked up a full brick. Probably should have seen that one coming.

So what did I get?

Unwrapped Mystery Decks from Art of Play, lined up in a grid pattern
All of the Art of Play Mystery Decks I received, unwrapped.

The ones in bold are "Mystery Deck exclusives, out-of-print decks and/or early releases" according to Art of Play. Yay (^_^)

Oh, did I mention that most of them came with little stickers too:

A collection of stickers that came with the Art of Play Mystery Decks.
An assortment of stickers that came with the Art of Play Mystery Decks.

Thoughts and Takeaways

I'm pretty happy with the haul. I've mentioned to a few folks the decks I got and I've heard the phrase "it paid for itself" more than once. I'm not sure how I feel about that though. The phrase, "it pays for itself," only really applies if you're going to resell the decks - which I don't really have plans on doing. That, or if I saved enough by buying them on sale that I net-gained one or two for free... unfortunately, the rarer ones aren't actually for sale, so I don't think I can really quantify that.

Maybe I should sell some of the duplicates that I know I won't really use though. Or give them away. Or sell them... I mean, 16 HMNIM decks and now 13 James Coffee (Orange) decks makes me wonder what to do. Gimmicks and gaffs sound pretty fun too and is far more likely what I'll end up doing =]

Also, I'm not sure if the MAKERS PR I received is the Standard Edition or Gilded. I know I could just open it and find out, but it's more like Schrodinger's Cat right now by leaving it sealed. There's no indicator on the tuck one way or the other -- at least, none that I'm aware of. I reached out to Art of Play to see if there's a way to tell (like a different color seal, for instance) but they haven't gotten back to me yet. Maybe I'll open it this weekend to find out.

So was it worth ordering 30 decks? Or, more specifically, would I have ordered the individual decks I didn't already have a copy of? Maybe. I'm not sure. The Dinosaur deck, I probably wouldn't order one. I'm not a collector and it's too themed for my tastes. Standards and DKNG, they're great but if I have one color, don't I have them all? (sorry, please don't throw anything at me =P)

No regrets though! Next year I'll definitely participate again. The number of decks I decide to pick up might depend on the assortment next time though. You know, put a little thought into it.

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