Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Question: Are You a Sleever?

I've heard it defended as "protecting your investment." I've heard detractors say, "It's like your mom covering the couch in plastic: it's so uninviting and doesn't feel like home." So this Friday, we're here to settle the question once and for all: Are you a sleever? To what extent? Answer in the comments below!

@FarmerLenny answers:
It's probably leftover from my days of playing CCGswhen I spent lots of money on little pieces of cardboard whose only value was determined by the company publishing itand from my days of being the hall's unofficial activity director in my freshman dorm (when I spent my days playing video games and my nights wiping others' grease off my controllers), but I am a sleever. Not for all games, mind you. But if a game is exclusively or even primarily cards, I will probably sleeve it. I should qualify that. If a game is cheap ( < $20), I probably won't sleeve it. Bohnanza is a good example. If the game is expensive and primarily if not exclusively cards (like Dominion or 7 Wonders), I think it's worth it to sleeve the game. And seeing the wear on my sleeves (and considering the play my games see over lunch periods), I'm glad I made that decision. I think it's especially important to sleeve cards if the game is likely to have expansions, since uneven wear can become an issue. Board games that have cards but that are not primarily cards (like Ticket to Ride or even El Grande) I don't sleeve since the other bits are the bulk of the cost. Usually in these situations the manufacturer offers some kind of replacement deck for just the card portion. By the way, I am a cheapskate, so I use the penny sleeves. These are a good way to protect your investment without breaking the bank. Honestly, I prefer the tactile feel of cards without their plastic coatings, but I'd much rather protect the game.

@Futurewolfie answers: 
I'm not really a sleever, though it's more out of laziness and/or cheapness than anything else.  Dominion (and its expansions) is the only game I have sleeved... namely because it gets a lot of play, it consists entirely of cards, and there's a lot of reshuffling - after only a year, the cards are noticably wearing down, so I finally had to give in.  I also go for the 'penny' sleeves - it just doesn't make any sense to me to pay $40 to sleeve a game that i paid $30 for.  Okay maybe not every game has QUITE as many cards as Dominion, but still...

I would probably sleeve more games but it's very frustrating and annoying trying to find sleeves that fit for each game you have.  There are so many variations, and the size you need is always more expensive than the size that's 4mm shorter.  It is unfortunate that the cheap sleeves are so flimsy and also have a lot of variance in how snugly they fit.  In the end i would almost rather buy new copies of a game if the cards got too worn out, although i suppose that sleeves would be proof against the game going out of print...  Either way, it makes me greatly appreciate games that don't have cards at all (I'm looking at you guys, Smallworld and Ascending Empires, two of my favorites).


  1. I just started collecting The Lord of the Rings The Card Game because 1: I love me some Tolkien, as well as a lot of my friends who can school me about the books, and 2: I don't have the budget to pick up Magic (as super popular as it is becoming again up here in Seattle). So the Living Card Game model seems to do the best for me right now and I still get the kick of opening up a new pack, but without the blind draw.

    Since I'm a host to game nights, i felt it necessary to sleeve my cards for this particular game because they would be getting a lot of use.

    Bottom line: its preference and common sense. I'd sleeve favorite TCG or LCG decks, but I would not waste time with doing it for Dominion or Bang!. There's simply too many cards and storing them away again would be a pain.

  2. Yeah, if you're hosting a game night--particularly a game night with snacks (and really, what game night is complete without snacks?)--I think it's best to sleeve (unless you're a billionaire).

    I wouldn't do it for Bang!, but Dominion, despite the number of cards to sleeve, I think is worth it, especially considering how much it gets played. I just build the sleeves' cost into whether or not I can afford the next expansion and sleeve them while my wife is watching Parenthood. (Gives me something to do. :-) )

  3. Personally I don't like 'em. I don't like the texture, the way the light hits 'em, or the way it makes them impossible to shuffle. I've been collecting MTG for years. I keep my cards in sealed containers, but I almost never sleeve them. Typically the collectible card game crowd are wise enough to know that the twenty minutes or less it takes to crank out a game we should not be eating or drinking and I've found that most people are willing to accommodate that even if they are fairly new to the game.

  4. @DM_Cadrach: Abby prefers the sleeves because she finds cards easier to shuffle with them on. (This saved Dominion for her, I think, as there is lots of shuffling in that game.) That's a good point that when playing with other CCGers they know to hold off on the snacks. Of course, it's harder to convince others of these hard-nosed views.

  5. I talked about this on the Robot a while back. (

    But the short answer is I feel very little need to sleeve. While I sleeved my Magic cards way back when because I knew I'd eventually sell them back, most of my games I keep. And I prefer the tactile feel of the cards in most situations.

    And, if certain cards ever do get too scratched up, I can always sleeve them at that point.

  6. In general, I'm a sleever. I've sleeved Ascension (+2 expansions), Chrononauts, and most of the other games that hit our table with high frequency. I haven't really run into an issue with glare/shuffling but have noticed that the glossy finish on some sleeves makes it hard to stack larger piles of cards w/o them falling over or sliding on top of one another

    In any case, there is a little bit of hesitation, however, in sleeving a game that has SO MANY cards (e.g. Dominion, Sentinels of the Multiverse).

  7. I wasn't going to sleeve Dominion... but after a year of ownership I noticed the cards already starting to wear. unfortunately that does mean committing to sleeving every expansion, and no mixing with friends sets if they haven't sleeved...

  8. @G&G: doesn't Ascension have lots of cards, too? Particularly when you add the expansions. I guess not quite as many as Dominion.

    One issue that I didn't touch on is the issue of wearing sleeves evenly. But, really, I suppose it's the same issue with wearing CARDS evenly when playing a game. I've been experimenting with my Dominion cards, making sure to cycle through all the copper, silver, gold, etc. But really, this takes the OCD of sleeving to a whole new level...

  9. I'm relatively new in the 'collecting hobby games business.' So right now, I am budgeting any potential sleeve money to new games. :-p

    Having played Pokemon with a sleeved deck, I do know that I prefer the feel and experience without them! But to protect an investment down the road, who knows...

  10. @Jason: Welcome to the hobby! It can be depressing to shell out extra money on cases. That's why I typically stay to the cheapo cases. (I use the Mayday standard sleeves, even though the premium ones are awesome--I go for base-level protection.) Even then, though, if a game can go caseless (most games that use linen-finish cards are good without cases, especially if the cards have a good snap and spring), I try to avoid casing it.


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment to add your voice to the discussion