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. Last month we showcased a few of their products, mainly the brand new Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack and their brand new Katana card sleeves, along with several of their different deck case options, card, and mat storage and binders.
In this article, we're going to look at Ultimate Guard's Katana Sleeves again but with a focus on their different double sleeving options, as well as a more in-depth look at the ArkHive, SuperHive, and Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack.
To see an overview of the other Ultimate Guard products used in this article, including the deck boxes, check out Part 1 of our Showcase.
Ultimate Guard Katana Sleeves and Double Sleeve Options
In the first part of our article, we looked at Ultimate Guard's brand new Katana sleeves and discussed single and double sleeving for card protection. In this article, we're going to look at three different inner sleeve options from Ultimate Guard and how they work with the Katana sleeves.
In this article we're going to look at Ultimate Guard's Precise-Fit Resealable Sleeve, Bordifies Precise-Fit Inner Sleeves and the Precise-Fit Side-Loading Inner Sleeves. We'll discuss the sleeves and run them through a couple of extreme tests to see what protection they offer.
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Ultimate Guard's Precise-Fit Resealable Sleeves feature an extra lip of sleeve with a sticky edge that can be folded over the card once inside, sealing it in place.
In order to ensure a flat card, the air does have to be smoothed out of the pocket before sealing, which can be time consuming for a large amount of cards. These inner sleeves feel perfect for cards that are going to remain in the inner sleeves, and just re-housed in the second sleeve between transitions from folder to deck. This will allow you to keep them protected and still able to change the colour or standard of the second sleeve, which can sometimes be tournament dependent.
Once inside the sealed sleeve, it does feel very well protected as no side is open to the elements.
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The Ultimate Guard Bordifies Inner Sleeves feature a black border around the edge of the sleeve. This can be used to cover card damage around the edge of the cards if used on the front facing of the card, or to also cover the white border of Magic the Gathering cards to make them look like the more renowned black bordered cards.
The sleeves are precise fit, which means that the card fits extremely well inside and therefore works very well for double-sleeving. It can be tight to remove the cards again and care has to be taken not to damage the card by bending or splitting the inner sleeve.
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Ultimate Guard's Precise-Fit Side-Loading Inner Sleeves are very easy to insert and remove the cards from and still feel tight and secure when fitted. These feel perfect for cards that are going to be in and out of the inner sleeve regularly.
We decided to put the sleeves through some extreme tests. We conducted an immersion test in water and a cutting test with a blade. We sleeved all the inner sleeves in different colored Katana Sleeves for identification purposes. The Resealable Sleeve is in the Orange Katana Sleeve, the Bordifies Sleeve is in the White Katana Sleeve and the Side-Loading Sleeve is in the Blue Katana Sleeve.
As a note, these tests are meant to be extreme, your cards should never come across this level of abuse in their daily lives. We used a sharp Gerber Crucial blade for the cut tests. Care should be taken when using knives and they should always be used responsibly.
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All 3 cards were immersed in fully water and held there for a few seconds, before being allowed to rise to the top of the bowl.
All of the cards remained 100% dry during the tests. The Side-Loading and Resealable sleeves both had some water on the outside of the inner sleeves. This could be due to the fit of the sleeves, especially the slightly thicker resealable sleeves, letting some water into the outer sleeve. The Bordifies sleeve had a good seal, possibly due to the black border sticking to the outer sleeve.
All 3 sleeves offered great protection for your cards. If they can take immersion, then they can certainly take the random splash and spill damage that may occur on the tabletop, or if the bag the cards are being transported in gets wet.
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For the cut test, we ran the blade of the knife across an unsleeved Magic the Gathering card, before running it across the sleeved card. This test wasn't to suggest that the sleeves might be blade proof, but to show the difference between damage to sleeved and unsleeved cards.
In each of the photos above, you can see the damage to the unsleeved cards on the left, and the sleeved cards on the right.
It's not obvious in the photos, but on the unsleeved cards, the cut is a defined groove and you can catch your nail on in, where as the sleeved cards only have surface damage or mild scoring.
The Resealable sleeves protected the card the best out of the three, but all three offered great protection. The blade itself passed through both sleeves, taking the worst of the damage away from the cards.
If the sleeves can protect against a blade cut, then they offer great protection against the general wear and tear they should have during play.
All of the inner sleeves we've looked at shuffle well and don't feel too thick on the cards. In terms of ease of use, we prefer the Side-Loading inner sleeves, which are fast to get on and off and feel good against the cards. The Resealable Sleeves offer the best protection as the cards are locked in place and the Bordifies offer a great internal seal against the outer sleeves.
Ultimate Guard ArkHive[gallery columns="4" size="large" ids="287742,287743,287744,287745"]
The ArkHive is a very versatile card storage solution. As shown in our first article, cards can be stored loose sleeved and unsleeved. But for maximum protection, a range of Deck Cases can also fit neatly inside. The Boulder Cases 80+ and 100+ fit perfectly in the ArkHive. An 80+ Flip'N'Tray can also fit inside, leaving a slight gap a the top, but as the fit is snug, it won't move during transport.
The outer skin of the ArkHive is very durable and has taken a fair bit of wear over the last 2 months of testing. The Ultimate Guard internal and external material that it uses across the SideWinder range we looked at last time offer great protection and feel like a premium product.
This is a very specific piece of gear though, for storage of a large amount of cards and/or boxes allowing you to keep several decks for several games together, or entire collections.
Our preferred method of use is decks inside either of the Boulder Cases, stored inside the ArkHive. We've been storing all of the decks in use for the current CCG's we're playing, allowing us easy access to our 'ready' decks.
Ultimate Guard SuperHive[gallery columns="4" size="large" ids="287741,287740,287739,287738,287737,287736,287735,287734"]
As can be seen in the gallery above, the SuperHive is extremely versatile in terms of what it can carry. Different combinations of deck boxes can be carried in the main tray, and the top tray can house 2 rolled-up playmats, as well as loose sleeved and unsleeved cards, and also Boulder 80+ deck boxes. There is a small draw tray to house tokens and dice, to keep them from rolling around and possibly damaging anything you have in the SuperHive.
As with the ArkHive, the outside and inside offer great protection from external influences and for the cards inside. It feels like a premium product.
With some work, other products can also be stored inside. We used it to carry miniatures protected by bubble wrap and tissue, and also Star Wars Destiny dice. It proved to be a great carry case for Warhammer Underworlds cards, dice and miniatures, with us only having to carry the playboards separately.
The SuperHive is a fantastic product for either general storage, or transport of cards and hobby products.
Ultimate Guard Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack[gallery columns="5" size="large" ids="287746,287747,287748,287749,287750"]
For details of the Ammonite Anti-Theft Backpack, check out the first part of our showcase.
We've been using the Ammonite Backpack not only to transport our cards and hobby products, but also as our main backpack for the last 2 months. We don't have any criticisms of it, but there are a couple of points to note.
The Ammonite has the rigidity to protect anything being carried inside, but that does mean that it won't be as pliable as some bags. If it doesn't fit inside the structure of the Ammonite, it won't fit and whatever's inside will bend to the shape of the bag. This is purely because of the exceptional protection the bag offers and means that some care and thought has to be taken over what's packed inside. If using the Ultimate Guard products that the Ammonite is designed to work with, as in our photo's above, then the bag is extremely easy to pack and use.
We did notice that if the lower part of the bag is empty, the upper pockets can sag. We never found any damage to the pockets or stitching, but they could wear over time if left filled and unsupported. This means that the bag should be filled from the bottom up. When smaller deck boxes are placed in the top pockets, as can be seen in the first photo above, there is some space above them which can be used to store items. When the back of the backpack is sealed with the Velcro and clips, it does stop anything not secure inside the bag from falling down the sides or rolling around too much.
To access the inside of the bag, because of the rigid structure and the protection offered by the bag, the zips do need to be opened fully in order to get to items inside. This means that opening the zips a little at the top, doesn't offer enough space to get your hands inside and an item out. This is purely part of the protection of the bag and will stop anyone opening your bag a little and removing a deck box from inside easily.
Our Ammonite has been used every day for the last two months, and shows no wear on the external or internal parts. The elastic inside appears particularly robust to having deck boxes inserted and removed. The secure nature of the bag does mean that as an every day carry, it can be frustrating to get items in and out quickly. As a travel bag though, we love it. As a gaming bag, and particularly for transporting valuable cards and collections to tournaments or stores, it is fantastic.
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.