KEM Playing Cards: A Closer Look

KEM is the king of cards for a good reason. They are well-made, insanely durable, and last forever. They are also incredibly expensive. The two-pack sets come in a plastic tray with a lid, and retails for about $30 per set. If you shop around, you can find them for less, but it’s still the most expensive card you can buy.

What makes them cost so much? I put the question to a representative of the company, and here’s what he said: “KEM is made from cellulose acetate, which is a specific blend of paper and plastic giving it the feel of paper cards but the durability of plastic The material which gives KEM its premium performance and durability is more expensive than paper or plastic alone. The material is also much harder to print and run through the manufacturing process. It takes over 2 weeks to complete a deck of KEM cards from start to finish.”

The result is a card that lasts forever. I’ve heard of people playing on a single deck of KEM for 25 years. No paper card would hold up that long, and no plastic card would feel as good.

How do they measure up to the Bicycle Premiums? I’d say the Bicycle is very, very good for a synthetic card, but KEM just feel a bit more natural. They’re light, have a good texture, and shuffle better than anything I’ve ever used.

Yes, they’re very expensive, but as I said about Bicycle Premiums, if you use them for heavy play, in public areas where there might be wet spots, or with kids, they might be cheaper in the long run. Put it this way: a single deck of KEM costs as much as five decks Bicycles, but they’ll last far longer.

Click to embiggen.

PUZZLE: Big Cross-Out Swindle

Here’s an easier one. Martin Gardner made this for GAMES a long time ago.

Cross out nine letters in such a way that the remaining letters make a single word. 

A reader later wrote in with an alternate answer, which was also correct, and unforeseen by Gardner or the editors. Each answer requires a different kind of logic: one requires more lateral thinking, while the other is more language based.

Puzzle Answer: Got a Problem?

I did not expect this one to be a poser. Here’s the original problem:

Make an equation with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, +, =, with no more or less than 2 digits in each part of the equation, and each digit only used once. (eg: [2 digits] + [2 digits] = [2 digits])

One possible answer is 43 + 12 = 65. (If you’re not getting the character formatting the equation is 4-cubed + 1-squared = 65)

I know there are some others that work as well.

App O’ The Mornin: Froggy Launcher Review

Of making many vertical jumping games, there is no end. Froggy Launcher is the latest to take bits of Bird Strike and Doodle Jump and make them again, only with a different character.

I’m already on the record expressing my approval of adding frogs to pretty much anything, including soup. (Unless, of course, that anything is a compulsion loop game, in which case people are just manipulating your froggy love and should be punished accordingly.)

Froggy Launcher is a perfectly decent riff on the vertical jumper, with a nicely animated ragdoll frog collecting coins, gems, and boosters as he tries to reach ever-higher. He is initially launched by a simple pullback input (just like Bird Strike), and after that you just keep the jump going by tapping him. Tilt controls shift him right or left, with the graphics wrapping around. (In other words, if he exits screen right, he’ll re-enter screen left.)

Along the way, he picks up different objects to help him, such as a laser that keeps him from falling off the screen, a rocket booster, balloons for floating, and soforth. It’s all familiar, but it works well enough.

Froggy Launcher also has a feature called “pimp my frog.”

(Let me just pause for a moment and beg everyone to please stop saying this. I know “pimping [some object]” is now part of the vernacular for customizing things, but it still has its origin in a fairly nasty profession based on the criminal exploitation of women. Every time someone says this, Henry Fowler weeps with the angels.)

Anyway, “pimp my frog” allows you to buy accessories for your frog, ranging from new outfits to gear that actually helps with the game.

Now, pay close attention. Froggy Launch is free, but it includes both in-games ads and in-app purchases. All the really cool froggy gear costs a lot of gems; more than a normal person could ever earn in the course of playing the game. You can, however, buy 255 gems for the low low price of $4. I really don’t want a hat for my frog so much that I’d ever do this, but obviously someone does or the business model would fail. And internet-based business models never fail, right?