Every genre of the tabletop hobby has its own accessories. Wargaming has a huge amount and we've covered a few of those in our Start Collecting series. Roleplaying has a few accessories in character folios, custom and unique dice and bags for carrying your gear, but no gamer can pimp their gear quite like a CCG or TCG player (Collectible Card Game / Trading Card Game), and Ultimate Guard are here to help.
When I first started playing Magic the Gathering in 1994, I carried my cards held together with an elastic band and a single D20. These we all carried in one pocket when I deployed to my local game shop. Later as I started to get better cards, I would sleeve my cards to stop them getting damaged (but I still kept them together with an elastic band) and I would carry two decks, one for competitive single player games and another for multiplayer. I would then later upgrade to a folder with some sleeve wallets to carry my spares to trade, so that other players could look through my collection easily, and that was as far as I got. I was always chasing cards rather than accessories, and as I got into more and more CCGs in the huge industry boom, I would cycle the sleeves I had instead of buying more.
When I first started playing tabletop card games again last year for TechRaptor, having been involved in the online card game scene for a while, I was surprised by how much was available accessory-wise on the market and also how much players invested in their cards. Taking care of your collection was important to all players and when I first started playing the Legend of the Five Rings LCG, I didn't see a single elastic band keeping anyone's deck together. So I started buying card sleeves and deck boxes, started winning and earning acrylic tokens, and took much better care of my collection than I used to.
While I was at Toy Fair recently, I saw Ultimate Guard's new Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack, how everything it can carry is compartmentalized, and that made me look into their products a lot more seriously. I'd heard of Ultimate Guard before, of course I had, they're one of the big players on the card game accessories scene, but I had simply been buying accessories as I needed them. Here was a carry and protection system that all synced together and Ultimate Guard kindly agreed to share some of their magic with me.
This article is going to look at a few different product lines. It will start with a look at Ultimate Guard's brand new Katana Card Sleeves, then the different Ultimate Guard deck boxes and storage solutions that are on offer. We'll also check out an Ultimate Guard Play Mat and also some Mat Carrying cases and we'll end with putting it all in the Ammonite backpack.
Ultimate Guard Katana Sleeves[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="274373,274401"]
Ultimate Guard have recently released their brand new premium quality card sleeves, the Katana Sleeves. These sleeves are made in Japan to meet the highest standards of players and collectors. The Katana Sleeves do feel high quality, and they're a nice fit with the cards, leaving just enough room to double sleeve. We'll be able to comment further on this in our next article when we look into how the sleeves hold up to double sleeving.
The difference between double and single sleeving is as simple as one or two sleeves on the cards and the amount of protection you want to give them. Single sleeving is standard for tournaments and for protecting your cards from general wear and tear caused by shuffling and the random dirt and marks that cards can pick up. Doubling sleeving makes each card waterproof and markproof and is essential for high-value cards that find use in your decks, when you can be a single beverage spillage away from wiping out a collection.
Ultimate Guard offer a range of tight-fit sleeves, perfect for double sleeving and we'll comment fully on those in Part 2 of our showcase. As a single sleeve, the Katana sleeves give a slick shuffle and feel like they can take a suitable amount of wear and tear. I sleeved and re-sleeved around 1000 cards whilst preparing and producing this article. The most any individual sleeve would have been used multiple times sleeving and re-sleeving is 5 and cards were shuffled multiple times during testing. Not a single sleeve tore, split or marked during our initial testing.
Ultimate Guard Deck Boxes
Ultimate Guard have a great range of deck boxes available to suit any gamer's needs. The deck cases we're going to look at are:
- Boulder 100+ Case
- Sidewinder XenoSkin 100+ Case
- Flip'n'Tray XenoSkin 100+ Case
- Twin Flip'n'Tray XenoSkin 200+ Case
- Arkhive XenoSkin 400+ Case
- Superhive XenoSkin 550+ Case
Ultimate Guard Boulder Case[gallery columns="5" size="large" ids="274346,274347,274348,274344,274349"]
The Ultimate Guard Boulder Case is a very sturdy plastic case that along with holding 100 double sleeved or 120 single sleeved cards, also fits into the other card holders that Ultimate Guard have available, which we will show when we look at those products below.
It easily held two Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions decks, singled sleeved in Katana Sleeves and also three KeyForge decks, also single sleeved in Katana Sleeves. We've got the Amber Boulder Case 100+, which appears bright and really stands out. The Boulder Case feels incredibly solid and could take a lot of abuse.
Ultimate Guard Sidewinder Case[gallery columns="5" size="large" ids="274350,274351,274352,274354,274353"]
The Ultimate Guard Sidewinder Case is a strong deck case that folds out on three sides, allowing easy access to the cards. Magnets hold the lid closed well and the soft material inside offers great protection for the cards. The Sidewinder, like the Boulder Case also fits into other Ultimate Guard holders, which we will show when we look at those products below.
It easily held two Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions decks, singled sleeved in Katana Sleeves and also three KeyForge decks, also single sleeved in Katana Sleeves. We were sent the Blue Sidewinder Case 100+. It feels robust, but not as solid as the Boulder Case, but it does look and feel more professional. The anti-slip XenoSkin on the outside and the soft material on the inside makes the Sidewinder feel like a very premium product.
Ultimate Guard Flip'n'Tray Case[gallery columns="5" size="large" ids="274355,274356,274357,274358,274359"]
The Ultimate Guard Flip'N'Tray case is a single solution deck case that allows you to transport a couple of decks and also safely carry all the counters and tokens you need. It features the same great anti-slip XenoSkin as the Sidewinder and the same protective material on the inside. The cleverly designed doors allow you to access either the deck tray, or the token tray without having to open the other, and magnets keep the doors firmly closed when sealed.
As can be seen in the photos above, it can easily carry two Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions decks, plus we managed to fit eight paper tokens, 4 metal Founders tokens, our Founders badge and also our Destruction pin badge and still have space for more. If you are planning on mixing materials in the case and the case will be in a backpack, it will be worth throwing in some protective material to stop the heavier items knocking into the lighter ones. If the counter tray is full though, it will be well protected.
We were sent the Amber Flip'N'Tray Case 100+. The colour is bright and well noticeable and the case feels very professional. It's a great and adaptable case, not just for card game players, but also for roleplayers who have cards and accessories to carry.
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As mentioned above, the Boulder Case 100+ can fit inside the Flip'N'Tray 100+ for extra security. If the whole Boulder Case is used, it's a very snug fit inside the Flip'N'Tray and requires a little shuffling to remove if both are brand new. If one half of the Boulder tray is placed inside, it goes in and out very smoothly.
Ultimate Guard Twin Flip'n'Tray Case[gallery columns="4" size="large" ids="274360,274361,274362,274363"]
The Ultimate Guard Twin Flip'N'Tray Case is for the next stage up from the Flip'N'Tray. It has two deck boxes and a larger counter tray that the Flip'N'Tray. The counter tray is large enough that it can also take cards laying flat inside. As with the Flip'N'Tray, it features the same great anti-slip XenoSkin and soft material inside and all of the compartments can be accessed individually without having to open it all up.
We were able to fit six KeyForge decks single sleeved in Katana Sleeves into the two card trays, and all the card markers and counters from the KeyForge starter set into the tray. When full, it feels like a very sturdy brick.
We were sent the White Twin Flip'N'Tray that is very bright. It will be interesting to see how to stands up to marks over time against the darker coloured cases and how easy it is to clean. We'll comment further on that in the next article.
As with the Flip'N'Tray, the Boulder Case fits snugly into the Twin Flip'N'Tray, which can be used to carry two Boulder Cases, or two halves of one.
Ultimate Guard ArkHive and SuperHive[gallery size="large" ids="274364,274365,274366,274367,274368,274369"]
We're going to comment fully on the ArkHive and SuperHive in our next article, we just wanted to showcase them here to show what storage monsters they are. The Hives are for the serious card game players and allow you to transport a huge amount of decks and accessories. We're also going to test out the SuperHive for games that require mixed products, like Warhammer Underworlds and Star Wars Destiny to see how it holds up. Both Hives are compatible with other Ultimate Guard products to allow you to quickly pick up decks and carry them in a single box for protection.
[gallery size="large" ids="275257,275255,275256"]
Ultimate Guard Card Binders and Playmats
Ultimate Guard QuadRow Portfolio[gallery size="large" ids="274370,274371,274372"]
The Ultimate Guard QuadRow Portfolio allows the safe storage and display of 480 front facing cards. We put our entire current unsleeved collection of Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions in, the core set plus Onslaught, which contains 3 of nearly all the cards and had some pages to spare in the QuadRow. The cards slip in between a divide in the centre of two pockets, so even if your folders gets turned upside down, the cards are secure. Everything is kept snug, even with individual cards and the pockets are clear to see the cards well. We'll report back on how it holds sleeved and double sleeved cards in the follow up article.
The QuadRow Portfolio is covered with the same XenoSkin as the deck boxes we've been looking at, which has a great feel to it. It's almost certainly going to get bashed around in our bag as we transport our cards, so we'll report back on any marks and damage, or how it holds up.
Overall so far though, it is a great display folder for storing or moving a large collection of cards.
Ultimate Guard Play-Mat, MatPod and Flip'N'Tray Mat Case
Ultimate Guard produce a large range of Play-Mats, their standard is 61x35cm, but you can also get a 61x61cm, an 80x80cm and a special 90x90cm space edition. They come in a huge variety of colors, plus they also have licencing agreements for Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions, Lightseekers and Court of the Dead.
[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="274379,274380"]
We were sent a great Ultimate Guard Promo PlayMat (61x35cm). It features a blue gradient color-scheme with the Ultimate Guard logo in clear white in the centre. It feels very robust and the slip-proof mating on the back works well. We'll be putting it through its paces on the tabletop and will report back with any findings.
[gallery columns="4" size="large" ids="274381,274382,274383,274384"]
Ultimate Guard offer two solutions to protect your gaming mats. The first is the MatPod, a highly durable plastic tube, that keeps your gaming mats extremely well protected. The MatPod is very sturdy, so there's no danger of it getting crushed or damaged as you carry it around in another bag. We were sent the Green MatPod and our 61x35cm Play-Mat fits great inside. There's a button press catch lock lid that stops the mat from falling out.
[gallery columns="4" size="large" ids="274385,274386,274387,274388"]
The other option is the Flip'N'Tray Mat Case, which has the same great XenoSkin as Ultimate Guard's deck boxes, so your storage containers can all match when they sit together. It contains a draw inside to store your dice or counters alongside your gaming mat, allowing you to deploy with your deck boxes and single Mat Case for all your gaming needs. We were sent the Black Flip'N'Tray Mat Case and it looks like it can take a lot of wear without marks showing up too much.
Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack[gallery columns="4" size="large" ids="274375,274374,274376,274377"]
Ultimate Guard have designed and produced and incredible piece of kit with the Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack. Even without all the hidden pockets, zips and anti-shock-foam, it's a great backpack with some fantastic use of space compartments. Usually decks and deck boxes are left to float around the bottom of my bag, knocking into anything else in the bottom of it. Being able to secure them high in the backpack, not only means easy access to them and making them quick to find, but also frees up a lot of space in the bottom and means that not everything is weighted down in the bottom of the bag, putting pressure on the items on the bottom. Being able to secure 6 products in the set compartments and straps and either secure them further, or be able to mix and match larger items with the internal straps is great.
[gallery size="large" ids="275531,275532,275533"]
There's also a laptop and a separate notebook compartment, that means that if everything is secured inside, nothing should knock into either. The Ammonite also has four popper buttons that attach the back of the bag with the straps to the shell. When they're done up, the bag opens up to about 35 degrees to allow regular bag access. These poppers can be undone to open the bag to 90 degrees if standing, and 180 degrees if laying flat.
The Ammonite is incredibly comfortable to carry, even when full and the side and strap pockets are incredibly useful for loose change, travel cards or that emergency D20. We're going to be putting it through its paces over the next month, using it as our main backpack for everyday as well as carrying our gaming gear and we'll follow up with how it holds up.
CompetitionsTo celebrate the release of the new Katana Sleeves and Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack, we're going to be giving away several products over on our Twitter pages, starting this week with an Ultimate Guard Blue Mesh Cap. See the below Tweet for details.
As mentioned in this article, this is the first of two articles on these Ultimate Guard products. Our follow up article will report back on how well the products have stood up, as well as looking in more detail about sleeving and double sleeving cards with the Katana Sleeves. Which leads us onto our next competition.
To be in with a chance at winning a pack of the brand new Ultimate Guard Katana Sleeves as well as some Ultimate Guard promotional items, simply comment below and let us know of any more details you'd like on the products, a particular test you'd like us to run or features you'd like us to focus more on, or simply just let us know what you think of the products or which is your favourite. We'll pick a winner at random and you'll receive a pack of Katana Sleeves. This competition will close at 23:59 GMT on the 25 Feb 2019 and the winner will be contacted.
[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="274389,275534"]
These Ultimate Guard Products were provided by Ultimate Guard.
What do you think of the Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack and Katana Sleeves? Do you single sleeve, double sleeve or don't sleeve at all? What's is your Ultimate Guard Deck Box of choice for card protection? Let us now in the comments below and enter our competition.