To Sleeve Or Not To Sleeve: That Is the Question! 

By Marc 

I think it’s important that we use our new blog to present fair, balanced, and uncontroversial opinions and perspectives.  

And what better way than to weigh in on a topic that troubles gamers across the experience and age spectrum: whether to sleeve your boardgame’s cards… or not! For those of you unfamiliar, many games, from originators like Dominion and Magic the Gathering to more modern games like The Quest for El Dorado or Wingspan, include a shocking number of cards. These can number into the hundreds (and occasionally into the thousands)! Some of these games see a lot of wear and tear! An average game of Clank! will have players shuffling their own personal deck of cards a dozen times a game, and if you play even a few times a week, well, it’s a lot of chances to scrape, bend, or nick a card. So how to avoid this potential damage? How to extend the life and durability of your games? Obviously, sleeves! 

 Card sleeves come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, from the common “Standard” size (typical of poker decks, as well as many collectible card games like the aforementioned Magic the Gathering), to the confusingly-titled “American Standard” (which isn’t actually that standard for American-style games) and “European Standard” (ditto for Euro-style games), “Mini-Square,” “Tarot,” “French Tarot”… some games even have sleeves designed for their specific game (“Dixit Sized” sleeves were originally designed for the game Dixit, for example). And that’s not getting into the differences between “Classic” sleeves (glossy, a little less expensive, but harder to shuffle) and “Matte” sleeves (reduces glare, slightly textured, but more expensive). Phew! How to handle all the options!? 

The short answer is… I don’t! I just don’t sleeve any game unless it is required as a core mechanic and the game comes with its own sleeves. For example, the sublime Descent Legends of the Dark requires that weapons and skills are put in sleeves so that they are functionally modular double-sided cards, but games like Canvas and Paperback Adventures also come with sleeves as a necessary part of play. But other than those, I just don’t bother! At the core of this decision for me is economics: sleeving a full set of Gloomhaven, for example, costs (at time of publishing this post) over $150 to sleeve all the cards! Which, admittedly, is overkill, but even going with only the “recommended” number of sleeves costs almost $80!  Now, the counter argument is that for a game like, say, 7 Wonders, buying the required number of sleeves will only set you back about $10 and could save you from a carelessly spilled drink or greasy fingers (gasp!). And, especially for collectible or high-value games where the cards might fluctuate in price depending on their quality (the new Disney Lorcana, for example), or for games with active tournament scenes (like Star Wars Unlimited), sleeving stops being a question of “if” and is just a question of “how fancy.” I don’t play those particular kinds of games (no judgments for people who love ‘em! They’re just not my jam), but even I would recommend sleeving them! So if you’ve decided you don’t need sleeves, that’s cool! 

Ian’s Counterpoint: Hello there! I’m on the other side of the coin when it comes to sleeving games. I put a lot of research into the purchase of a boardgame. When I decide to add one to the collection, I know it will live on the shelf for years to come. After playing boardgames for a few decades, you get an appreciation for how hard games can get to replace if components are damaged; and sleeving cards is one of the best ways to ensure a game is immune to the most common accidents. It’s a few extra dollars for a nicer feel, more comfortable shuffle, and increased durability on your favourite game! Either way, if you decide you do want to spend that little bit extra to give your board and card games a bit more protection, how do you pick the right sleeves? The easiest way: come into your friendly local J&J Cards & Collectibles and ask one of the staff! We’ll be happy to help you get the correct number and size of sleeve for your games!

We’re also in the process of adding Sleeving information to our website if you shop online, which considering the enormous number of games we sell, might take a little bit… but we’ll get there! If you have any questions, post ‘em here, or send us a message through Facebook, Instagram, or email! 

We’ll be back in a week or two, talking about some other element of the hobby… and hey, if you have any requests for things for us to cover, just let me know! Until next time, happy gaming!

Add Comment