Cards for initiative is often one of those "oddities" or in some people's words "gimmicks", of Savage Worlds that take some getting used to for new players. I for one have grown to love using playing cards and I would like to go over the key points of why I do.
Handing out a card to each player who in turn acts in order based on value is one of the most honest straight forward methods of initiative I've ever used. Its can't be manipulated or min-maxed. It never gets more complicated. And its a great visual reminder of who goes when. And it can crit! Drawing a joker gives you an effect akin to "critical rolling" on initiative. Everyone has an equal chance in every initiative to shine and an equal chance to be awesome....what is not to like?
The Savage worlds system for initiative can still be "gamed". There are ways to better your draw with edges that for example allow a player to draw two cards and pick one. These Edges don't add complication or manipulate the system in a way that guarantees their superiority over others. It just makes them better at what they have chosen to be good at.
The one criticism I do see time and again is that initiative is not tied to Agility or pace. That faster characters should have an advantage. My reply is that those (as mentioned above) who choose to take edges to act quicker can do so. That is who there character is, it should be part of the character beyond just attribute or skill.
Also I would argue that basing Initiative off Agility or fighting skill is double dipping. You get all the benefits of that attribute or skill plus a bonus to initiative. Its a short road that leads to min-maxing and dump stats. Rather than building a character from the concept up.
Also no other attribute/skill really makes much sense in Savage Worlds to limit or boost your "attack speed". Agility? Agility is eye to hand coordination and nimbleness. I'm sure in some small way it is a bit of quickness. But to say every person who is nimble or good coordination is quick in a fight is kind of a stretch. And to me its a hard argument to say its the ruling factor anyway. What about Pace? Pace is speed alright, but it's rather walking speed. Speed can be effected by a lot of factors. Most of all size effects speed. I'm not willing to belive walking speed should effect how quick you are in acting in combat.
After really thinking about it I do belive effects that manipulate initiative are best as edges. Detached from raw abilities and skills. Rather its attached to your character concept....which I think is just fine.