Miracle One by Christian Grace
Listen, I have a problem. I should probably see someone about it, but there is such a large community of like-minded people it almost makes it feel… dare I say… normal. My problem is…
I’m obsessed with ACAANs.
There! I said it! Phew. Thank you all for letting me get that off my chest; I feel much better now. I think that actually fixed me. Yea, you know what!? I don’t know if I’ll ever talk about an ACAAN ever again! I’m free of my bondage! Yaaahoooooo!!!
Hang on; I just received an email from Vanishing Inc. Wait, there’s a new ACAAN? No, Madison! Don’t go down this route! Stay strong!
Maybe I’ll just go on Instagram instead so that I don’t have to–wait–of Vanishing Inc’s last seven posts on Instagram, six have been about an ACAAN!? What is this “Miracle One”? It has ‘miracle’ in the title–it must be good. No! Resist the temptation!
I bet it’s not even that good. You know what? I’ll just watch the demo…
Okay, I have no idea how that was done. I bet he did something tricky. I’ll watch the full performance…
Nope, still no clue. I need this. No, Madison! You don’t need this! It’s just another ACAAN!
But maybe this is the solution for me. No! You’re addicted! Addicted! Add! To! Cart! What!? I didn’t even MEAN to purchase it! What is wrong with me!?!?!?!?
Well, it looks like I have a new ACAAN to talk to you all about.
This is Miracle One by Christian Grace. You may know Christian from his Magic Monthly subscription, Inevitable Choice, Icarus, Switch One, Level One, or Pluck. Christian has been on fire lately, and with good reason. His products are reliable, practical, and dependable.
Miracle One is his take on the classic ACAAN (Any Card At Any Number) plot. For purists out there, this isn’t the purest version of ACAAN. Technically the card is a selected card, not ANY card. And technically, their number selection is restricted, not ANY number. So this is more like SCARN (Selected Card At Restricted Number.)
I’ve never got too caught up with particulars of the demands for an ACAAN. To me the most important aspect is: is it clean? What I mean by that is does the ACAAN involve any weird sleight of hand, need a switch, require cover, or are there any moments that require intense focus. If the ACAAN has one (or more) of those aspects, then to me, it’s not a very good ACAAN. I’m also not a believer that an ACAAN has to be examinable. To me, that purely depends on context. If you’re performing for friends in casual situations, then yes, examinability is probably a factor. If you’re performing it in a parlor show, who cares if it’s examinable as long as it appears clean.
Miracle One falls into the category of being non-examinable. It also falls into the category of ACAANs that require two decks of cards. This version feels more like an open prediction type effect and less like an ACAAN just because of the way it’s built up.
I’m sure you’ve seen the demo, but essentially, a card is selected from a red deck and placed aside. A number is then named. The number is dealt to in a blue deck, and the card at their number matches the card they chose from the red deck.
My aim is to always be honest and helpful with my reviews so that you know what you’re getting when you make a purchase. With this, you are getting a few ways to force a card, and a solid way to have that force card appear at their number. Let’s deal with each of these separately.
Christian teaches a few different ways to force the card. The first version can be done from any normal deck of cards. It is Christian’s take on the Hofzinser Cull Force. He calls his version “Hofzinser Hand Out.” This is a very nice take on the Hofzinser force as it nicely hides the weakest point of the cull force. It’s very easy to do, and it is guaranteed to work every time. It’s a versatile force that you can apply to many other card routines.
The next force taught is what Christian calls “Cross Cut Considerations.” This is his take on the classic cross cut force, but his additions really add a lot to the force and make it feel much more impossible. In his version, the spectator is allowed to shuffle the deck before cutting the cards. It’s virtually self-working and it will even fool your magician friends. Again, this force can be used for many things outside of this one routine. This uses a normal deck, but you will have to put some “work” into a few of the cards.
The last force taught requires some extra cards in the deck and relies on probability as well as some “work” which highly increase the likelihood that a spectator will cut directly to your force card. This force can be used for other things, but this force really requires you to use this deck for the sole purpose of forcing this card. If you wanted to use this deck for other things, you would need to do some hunting and remove some cards before you could really use this deck for other routines.
At the end of the day, you can use any force you want to force the selection for Miracle One. Thankfully, the three options Christian provides are really strong and very fooling. Recognize that these can be used in other contexts as well. None of them may become your “go to” force, but if you need a force that appears extra clean, any of these will do.
This is the meat and potatoes of the project. Any time you purchase an ACAAN, what you’re really paying for is their method for getting a card at a particular number. Christian’s take isn’t some totally new original method. There have been many similar methods used for ACAANs in the past. What Christian has added to it is his polarity principle which allows you to spread the cards already counted to prove there’s only one of their chosen card in the deck (spoiler alert, that’s not true.) This deck is set up in a particular order and gimmicked in a particular way that allows you to cleanly get their card to their named number. The deck is not examinable, and it cannot be used for other tricks. This is truly a one-trick pony.
The biggest thing to note with this portion of the trick is that the spectator can only name a number from 1-29. Thats just barely over half of the options. To me, this is the biggest weakness in the effect. Thankfully, Christian has two clever ploys to deal with this, and both are highly effective and will probably go by completely unnoticed. If I were going to perform this, I would probably move ten cards to the top of the deck to change the number options from 1-29 to something more like 11-39 That is the same amount of numbers to choose from, but it feels more likely that their selection would naturally fall in that range. This is a very simple change to make if you prefer it.
One other thing is that sometimes you deal the cards faceup. But what is strange to me is that the way it’s set up, you don’t ever HAVE to deal faceup. You can always arrive at the number named from the top of the deck if you just keep using the logic of PT, R1, R2 (those that own it will know what I mean.) It seems like an unnecessary addition to me and it makes the memorization more difficult. And in fact, if you just stick with the pattern, that will add other 3 numbers to the pool of numbers than can be selected taking it from 1-29 to 1-32.
That brings up another point. There is some memorization required. They provide a crib, but if you want to perform it as cleanly as it should be, you should really memorize the necessary information. If you negate dealing from the bottom, then the memorization process actually becomes much easier. You just have to remember the location of the hit cards (which is simple if you know your times tables) and adjust accordingly. This takes away the memorization aspect and instead allows you to work logically to know how to get the selection where it needs to be.
I don’t say all of these to critize the product. I’m sure there is good reason Christian has decided to make the choices he has made about the set up. I just think there are easier ways in terms of memory, and perhaps it’s good for you, as a buyer, to know that you can actually take some leeway and change a few things if you don’t lille the particular choices Christian has made.
When you put the force and the counting deck together, you arrive at an ACAAN. Here’s the thing, for the amount you pay, what you’re really paying for are the three forces and the ability to spread the cards and show that there are no duplicates. This is the biggest thing Christian has added to the plot. Everything else is pretty standard for ACAANs. So if you’re expecting some revolutionary method, you may be disappointed. However, if you already use similar methods but would like the ability to spread the counted cards to prove there are no duplicates, then this one degree change may be just what you need to take your ACAAN from good to great.
This won’t be replacing my current methods, but if you like what you see in the demo, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed–as long as you’re good with the trade off of having one (or two) decks of cards that can only be used for this one routine.
As for me, my go-to ACAAN of late has been Drew Backenstoss’s ACAAN from Architect of the Mind titled, “Seven Year Ordeal.” For me, that ACAAN has everything that I’m looking for in an ACAAN. It’s clean, it’s simple, it uses a normal deck, and it has a very clear mind reading angle to it. My other most-used method is the Crusade by Atlas Brookings and Andrew Brown. If you can get your hands on Architect of the Mind it is well worth it. If not, spend $9 on the Crusade and you’ll have an ACAAN you can use for life with any deck, any time.