There is an old joke that goes something like this: “How do you spot a Magic player? It’s easy, just follow the backpacks!” This may not ring true if your local game store is near a school or University, but if you are in a mall and you see a bunch of dudes walking around with backpacks, just follow them to the game store (or food court).
Every Magic: The Gathering player is faced with the same dilemmas at some point in there career: How do I carry all these decks around? What sleeves are the best? Do I really need a dice bag? What deck box is the best? I’m here to answer all those questions and to guide your purchases, that way each player retains the most value out of their product. If there is one thing Magic players love, it’s value!
Keep in mind, this is all my opinion. If you love certain sleeves or have personal preference towards product, then continue to use yours! This article is intended as a guide to help Magic players decide what products are the best and fit their needs!
You are going to have to carry around your decks somehow! This is easily accomplished by dumping all of that useless homework in your backpack out on your bed, stuffing various decks inside, and heading to the game store. That being said, what backpacks are the best? I’ll explore the various options available to each Magic player.
Ultra Pro Zippered Carrying Case- 1.5 Stars
I have never purchased one of these, since I am a “backpack guy.” Friends of mine have purchased this carrying case and were extremely disappointed. The case is made out of flimsy cardboard and it is easy to break. I would not purchase this product if you are carrying around 6 Foil modern decks. However, if you want to have a flimsy briefcase-type tote that can carry some commons and uncommons, I would invest.
Backpacks with pockets- personal preference! L.l Bean and Burton- 4.5-5 Stars
Backpacks meant for school, work, or just carrying around some miscellaneous gear while skating can be the ideal pack for Magic: The Gathering players. These packs have convenient “Laptop” cases that can separate your trade binder from your other decks and allow easy access when trading. Most of these backpacks have multiple pockets, allowing a player to carry around dice, tokens, extra playmats, and decks. I always recommend the most basic L.L. Bean backpack to newer players. It has a separate pocket for playmats, a divider for trade binders, and even a front zipper pocket to keep pens, tokens, and dice.
Shoulder Strap Messenger Bags- 4 Stars
These types of bags are efficient, but do not get the job done for me personally. I just have never liked the feeling of a messenger bag. But, if you like messenger bags, this is the perfect product for you. Most of the time messenger bags and totes do not have the variation of pockets that are present in backpacks, but they do have the benefit of a cross-body strap. If you are one that fears your collection being stolen, the strap is great at protecting your belongings. Thieves will basically have to take you with them if they try to swipe your bag. This also allows players to sit and battle with the bag still securely fastened around their bodies. If you aren’t a backpack type, this is the way to go.
Dragon Egg’s Magic: The Gathering Carrying Case- 4 Stars
This product lives up to its name. It is a little egg-like container that stores four decks, dice, notepads, and can even hold a playmat in the adjustable strap. The only problem I can see is that if your collection spans Standard, Modern, Legacy, Commander, Tiny Leaders, and Pauper, you will have to leave things at home. This is ideal for a trip to the local game store for a event like Friday Night Magic, but not ideal for a GP (that is, if you plan on playing side events). I would recommend this to players who tend to not carry around their whole collection of playable decks everywhere they go. Also, I feel like the playmat strap is not as ideal as a backpack pocket if protection is your concern.
Also, where are you going to put a trade binder in that little egg thing?
Lets move on to a topic that is very near and dear to my heart: my sleeves. In the past, I have bought almost every different sleeve available on the market; but now I currently only buy two types of sleeves. I love the variations available to Magic players, but I hate how some sleeves seem to be manufactured to just make money and not be functional. With that being said, here are my sleeve ratings.
KMC Hyper Matte- 5 Stars
This sleeve is just perfect. They rarely split until old age and have a perfect Matte back for shuffling. This sleeve is also ideal for double sleeving decks, but can hold single sleeved cards with relative ease. These sleeves are very hard to break apart and stay secure during shuffling and lots of use. They do tend to “gum up” after a while if they are exposed to dirt and general filth, but at that point you have gotten 6-8 months worth of use out of your sleeve. I cannot recommend these sleeves enough. They are perfect in every way. The only downside I could possibly see is the matte finish in comparison to a glossy finish, but that just comes down to personal preference.
KMC Super Series- 4.8 Stars
These sleeves are also fantastic, I just do not prefer the glossy finish. They show wear after time, but that does not change the fact that KMC sleeves are ideal for double sleeving and are the best sleeve on the market. Literally the only difference between the Super Series and the Hyper Mattes is the finish. Like I said before, it all comes down to your personal preference.
Dragon Shield- 4.5 Stars
Dragon Shield sleeves are glossy and come in various colors. They always come in packs of 100, making them ideal for sleeving EDH decks. The downsides are that these sleeves come with a built in dirt magnet. If you are not playing with a playmat, do not buy Dragon Shield sleeves. They “gum up” faster than any sleeve on the market. But, if you take proper care and precautions when it comes to playing with a playmat, you will get lots of value from your Dragon Shields, as much as years worth of play. These sleeves are also impossible to split, making them ideal for those of us who love to mash shuffle. I use these on my commander decks. They provide a great shuffle, and since I always use a mat when playing commander, they never get dirty. Great for double sleeving as well.
KMC and Dragon Shield are the premiere sleeve manufacturers on the market. The only downside to their company is that they do not make graphic sleeves- only colors. If you want your sleeves to be graphic, you have to go elsewhere.
Ultra Pro Graphic Sleeves- 1 Star
These sleeves are just terrible. They are nearly impossible to double sleeve and simply cannot retain value. After one event, the deck will start to have trouble shuffling (especially if you mash) and the designs will start to peel. If you like buying new sleeves for every tournament, then these are the sleeves for you. I, personally, hate them. The only reason I would ever buy these sleeves is if I wanted to draft with graphic sleeves. Since these sleeves cost just as much as KMCs and Dragon Shields, there is no justification for choosing them over the premiere sleeves on the market. Avoid these at all costs.
Ultra Pro Matte and Deck Protector- 1.5 Stars
Imagine if the graphic sleeves didn’t have graphics. These sleeves split just as easy and are terrible after you shuffle about 30 times. Again, the only way I would ever purchase these would be to draft. You simply do not retain value from these sleeves. Avoid these.
Legion Graphic Sleeves- 3.8 Stars
I am personally not a fan of Graphic Sleeves. However, Legion sleeves are the best on the market when it comes to graphics. These sleeves are very durable and do not split easily. However, they do experience the same type of wear over time that all graphic sleeves do. I would recommend these to players who want graphic sleeves.
There are many different brands of sleeves on the market. These are the ones that I see in my everyday life as the big players when it comes to sleeves.
KMC Perfect Fit- 5 Stars
These are the best sleeves when it comes to double sleeving. Bottom line. They hug your card securely and do not break easily. I double sleeve almost every deck that I own, and I have found that these sleeves are the premium when it comes to the inner sleeve. The only downside is that they will get dirty if you are playing without a play mat.
Ultra Pro Pro-Fit- 2 Stars
There is a noticeable difference in the quality of KMC Perfect Fits and literally anything else in the inner sleeve department. These sleeves are too big, and they often just fall out of the sleeve during shuffling. I would never buy these again. The double sleeves just simply do not allow you to double sleeve effectively.
There are a variety of ways to store those precious cards. Due to the sheer amount of deck boxes, I will only be touching on the four best deck boxes for your cards!
Ultra Pro Satin Tower- 4.8 Stars
The Satin Tower deck box has a built in container for your dice and has a nice box that will hold a double sleeved commander deck. These deck boxes come in a variety of colors and do an excellent job of holding your cards. The only downside is that the lids begin to become loose after VERY extended use. I bought this deck box about a year ago, and it just started to become a bit loose. I would heavily recommend this deck box.
Ultra Pro Mana Flip Deck Box- 4.5 Stars
This deck box just holds a deck, no dice. It is made out of a leathery material and holds your cards very securely (can hold a single sleeved commander deck). A downside of the Mana Flip deck box is that the clasp can become loose after extended use. This is not the deck box ideal for tossing your deck into a backpack and running out the door. However, if you like to just carry a deck box and a bag of dice to your LGS, this is the box for you. I use this one to hold my Affinity deck, so I trust it a bit.
Ultra Pro “Pro Dual” Deckbox- 5 Stars
This deck box is fantastic. It holds two decks, or better yet, one deck, dice, and tokens. This deck box is literally all you need if you do not use a pad and pen to keep track of life loss. They come in a variety of colors and are just a miracle of design. I cannot recommend this deck box enough. It is the best box on the market.
Dragon Shield Card Gaming Box- 4 Stars
This deck box is ideal for any commander player. You can put all your cards in this box and it holds the cards securely while displaying your commander. The only reason that this deck box is only four stars is because it only holds your deck. I like these boxes. They are cheap alternatives to the boxes I talked about before and are sturdy and secure. I would gladly put all my commander decks inside of Dragon Shield Card Gaming Boxes.
When it comes to play mats, there really are only two to three competitors on the market. I will be going over two different mats because they are the two mats that I personally own. Playmats tend to always have a form of quality. If you deviate from my recommendations, be sure to get a mat that is machine washable!
Inked Playmats- 5 Stars
This play mat was a gift for my birthday and did not disappoint. The mat is premium quality and is machine washable. The graphics are carefully inscribed onto the mat and checked over time and time again by Inked Playmats’ trained professionals. If you are looking for a great quality mat, look no further than Inked. The only downside is that these mats are expensive, but do not be fooled. You are paying for the quality of the mat.
Ultra Pro Playmat- 3.5 Stars
These mats are thin and do not allow the customization that Inked Playmats provide. However, these mats are a cheap option for any Magic Player and serve the purpose that they were made for. The mats feature art from MTG cards and can showcase how you may have participated in a GP or won a Gameday Event. I have had no problems washing these playmats, so the standard of quality in regards to cleanliness is met. They are just not made out of material like Inked Playmats. I would recommend these mats to casual MTG players all across the board that simply do not want to break the bank when buying a playmat.
I have touched on four MTG accessories that most players will buy throughout their career. When I say “touched on,” I mean it. The variety of accessories available to the average MTG player is astronomical. Do not let me deter you from trying new things! If you know of a product that is just amazing that I did not cover in this article, please feel free to leave a comment and let every reader know! And remember, you can’t play magic at Walmart. Be sure to buy these products at your local game store.
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