Playing-card review 6: Piatnik Tarocks

Piatnik makes some very beautiful 54-card Austrian-style Tarock packs with French suits . The first of my playing-card reviews covered one of them; here are the rest. Start with that review, because the packs are actually all exactly the same on the front. What differs is the back and the presentation.

Two of the packs have two-part boxes while the rest are in tuckboxes. The two-part boxes are very nice. The material is thick and the boxes are very sturdy. They are easy to open; too easy, actually, so when traveling, the box needs a rubber band or something to keep shut. The tuckboxes look less impressive, but are more functional.

Piatnik No. 1903 Luxus Tarock has a shiny golden box with blue decorations and text; whether it says “Luxus” or “Kitsch” is a question of taste, I suppose. The back of the cards repeats the same blue-and-gold theme. Piatnik No. 1905 Jagd Tarock is a pack for hunters, as the name says (“Jagd” means “Hunt”). The box is simple green with some ornaments and the back of the pack has a painting of a deer.

Piatnik No. 1906 Persisches Allerfeinstes has a Persian theme, all swishy ornaments typical to Arabic art. The name claims high quality (if I understand the “Allerfeinstes” correctly), but the cards are of the same quality as other Piatnik cards.

Piatnik No. 1909 Kaffeehaus stands out. The cards are very large. It doesn’t appear so in the thumbnails below, but you can compare the actual images. While the regular Tarock cards are large, 63 x 113 mm, Kaffeehaus cards are huge: 74 x 129 mm. Why is that so, I don’t know, but apparently some coffee house card players in Austria have preferred these larger cards. Piatnik also has Kaffeehaus Doppel-Deutsche cards. Other than the size, there’s just one difference: the frame around the face cards is slightly more decorative than the simple thin line in other Piatnik Tarock cards.

Piatnik No. 1934 Blitz, No. 1935 Ornament and No. 1936 Karo are all very basic packs in standard tuckboxes, with different backs. These are common back patterns, too, for Piatnik, particularly Karo and Blitz (Kaffeehaus is Karo with slightly different colours). The different Ornament packs (Schnapskarten, Preference) have different ornament patterns, but are otherwise similar to this Tarock pack.

So, all are very good choices if you’re looking for a Tarock pack. If you need really, really large cards, Kaffeehaus is the way to go, but all of these are large enough for people with weaker eyes. Luxus and Jagd have the boxes, which are nice unless you plan to carry your cards around with you. The rest is just a question of taste; I myself prefer Blitz and Karo.

Top row: 1903 Luxus, 1905 Jagd, 1906 Persisches Allerfeinstes, 1909 Kaffeehaus. Bottom row: 1934 Blitz, 1935 Ornament, 1936 Karo.

Piatnik 1903 Tarock back Piatnik 1905 Tarock back Piatnik 1906 Tarock back Piatnik 1909 Tarock back
Piatnik 1934 Tarock back Piatnik Nr. 1935 card back Piatnik 1936 Tarock back

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