Arcane code cracked: Hidden contest earns $10,000 cash prize for college student

April 1st, 2010 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General, Products

The code of the Arcane deck has been cracked, and a Perkasie, Penn. college student won $10,000 for his efforts.

Justin Erickson last week wrote the phrase, “Rector per vis ultum maioribus quam fortuna” (translation: Guided by a force much greater than luck”) on a postcard and mailed it to Ellusionist. Why did he do that? Because that’s what it says to do on the back of each Arcane playing card — once the code behind the glyphs is cracked.

Erickson, a psychology major at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, said the money would go toward more magic and his future family.

“I’ve always wanted to own everything from the site, and now I have my chance,” Erickson said. “This will also help get me through college pretty easily. I still can’t believe that I was the first to figure it out.”

The literal translation of the glyphs is: “This is a hidden contest. Write Jason’s favorite motto in Latin on a postcard and mail it to us. If you’re the first, you win $10,000. Vires intus!”

“We thought that the mystery would go on for years,” said Jason Brumbalow, vice president of “But we’re still thrilled that the code was cracked, even though it was out there for only five months. It was hard for us to keep quiet about it, so it’s good that the secret is finally out.”

Erickson, 20, said he suspected there was some kind of code behind the glyphs, but was unable to figure it out. The glyphs that looked like the letter E and smilie faces teased him, he said.

But a university trip to Japan proved to be quite fortunate: He came across some Japanese manga editions of Pokemon, unreleased in the United States, and discovered a secret code that looked remarkably similar to the Arcane deck.

“I freaked out when I noticed it,” Erickson said. “I noticed that there were a whole bunch of different glyphs in Pikachu’s speech bubbles, then it occured to me that that wasn’t right, because all he says is ‘Pika Pika’ over and over again.”

That discovery led him to hunt down the issue where the code was explained. Which issue is it? Erickson isn’t telling — and neither is Brumbalow.

“There’s some other messages hidden in those glyphs,” Brumbalow said. “We want people to still have the thrill of discovering those messages for themselves.”

Congratulations, Justin!


  1. Ellusionist on:

    The code behind the Arcane cards has been cracked, and it earned a $10,000 prize for a Pennsylvania magician:

  2. RT @ellusionist: Arcane code cracked: Hidden contest earns $10,000 cash prize for college student

  3. Balkoth Golgothan on:

    RT @Ellusionist: The code behind the Arcane cards has been cracked, and it earned a $10,000 prize for a Pennsylvania magician:

  4. Justin Erickson on:

    RT @ellusionist: Arcane code cracked: Hidden contest earns $10,000 cash prize for college student

  5. MagicPassion on:

    Arcane code cracked: Hidden contest earns $10,000 cash prize for college student:
    The code of the Arcane deck has…

  6. RT @ellusionist Code behind Arcane cards – cracked! $10,000 prize 4 winner: [Damn! I was sending my post card 2morrow!]

  7. $10,000 prize from Ellusionist?! I'm ridiculously jealous.
    Read here
    Or straight from the source

  8. Ellusionist on:

    @iTricks Heads up: We announced a $10,000 contest winner on the blog.

  9. APRIL FOOLS!!!!!!!!!
    haha, nice one E.

  10. When I saw this I was like no wayy! I was too shocked about the writing being a hidden message. I wish that there really was a hidden contest.
    This seems so real but the cash prize is not. Has to be April Fools!
    Good one!

  11. Kaushal Kathwadia on:

    April Fool! 😉

  12. CarlosMiguel Rodriguez on:

    I don’t know…
    The glyphs are different depending the cards and card box…
    Could be hidden messages, who knows.
    Now excuse me while I look the internet and Pokemon manga for clues to decipher these hieroglyphs.

    Oh and April Fools to all!
    (like saying Merry Christmas, Happy San Valentine, Happy Easter, etc.)

  13. Opinion: Magicians fail on April Fool’s Day | Online Magic News – Ellusionist Street Magic Blog on:

    […] about all the great April Fool’s Day pranks done by magicians, and at the end, make our own April Fool’s Day offering […]

  14. wait? i am confused? is this real or fake?

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