The question we often hear is “How can I protect my brand new boardgame ?” or “why is it useful to protect your game cards ?”. With this guide we’ll try to explain you how to protect your boardgames cards and other game components.
Why protect your cards ?
There are plenty of reasons why you would like to use sleeves to protect your cards. Hereby the major points:
- You just bought your new boardgame and are ready to share & play it with people you may (or may not) know that well.
- You don’t like the touch/feeling of the boardgame cards.
- You have a game where cards are thrown on the table or discarded on the ground (like Mito for example).
- You want to avoid liquid being spilled over your cards (an accident can happen).
- You want the cards to glide smoothly in your deck (note: that would require special quality sleeves).
Who is producting sleeves ?
You can find a range of “unknown” producers over the web but to keep this article general, hereby the references you can find “over the counter” everywhere in specialized boardgames stores:
Where can I buy sleeves ?
You’ll find an online order form/shop on the websites above, but it can become expensive if you need to ship your sleeves. The easiest way to get sleeves is either in a specialized boardgames or toys store, in exhibitions or on ebay directly. You will indeed find some discounted sleeves packs on ebay from time to time.
Personally, I try to buy them when I travel in the states because you will find both Fantasy Flight Games or Ultimate Guard more easily, while Mayday Games and Ultra Pro are generally available in Europe.
How do I choose my sleeves ?
It will be difficult to tell you what’s the best brand of sleeves. There are raging debates on what’s good or bad to buy on forums. Here’s my personal experience (which is not an opinion, more a neutral observation) :
Overall, if you have the choice between a “standard” version and a “premium” version of sleeves, go for the best. Yes it is a bit more expensive (admittedly the double sometimes) but for games you do play often it’s certainly worth it especially since the thicker versions will be easier to manipulate (because they are not sticky). For games that you put on the table 1x time per year or less … standard version or even NO sleeves is good enough !
If you own American games like me, I noticed that the Ultra Pro have some “special fit” versions that comes very handy. They have a 1 or 2 millimeter tighter format that will enure your card is not floating around in your sleeves. Again more expensive, but certainly good quality.
What I have the most, simply because that’s what I find, would be the Mayday Sleeves. Very popular across Europe, it’s quite easy to find them and not overly expensive. I never saw Swan PanAsia for example. You do find also the Danish brand Arcane Tinmen, but as I had some bad experience with 3 packages, I avoid those when possible.
If the game has multiple versions with different card numbers or sizes, this can become tricky. Best case scenario, the dimensions of your cards is mentioned either on the box or in the manual. Often, it is not mentioned anywhere ! That’s where some published sleeves lists become very handy.
First off a useful post on Boardgamegeek can help you picking the right size of cards. Additionally, the “bible” to get both the number of cards by games + the dimensions would be the public sleeves list that Mayday Games is updating regularly.
I’m missing other game components (like pawns), what should I do ?
Sheep Games in Belgium has some game components that might do the trick.
Spelspul in The Netherlands is specialised in individual pieces.
Knight Games might have the missing piece that you’re looking for especially for American or old games.
The Game Crafter is both a place where you will find individual pieces as well as options to manufacture your own game.
MeepleSource might have the meeple that you’re missing along with wooden tokens, polymer clay pieces and more.