If you collect cards or play trading card games, there are a few accessories you need to have on hand at all times. Some apply to both collectors and players, but others are more specific to one or the other. This blog post will look at both, and provide some recommendations for brands and types of accessories.
Let’s begin with one of the most important factors when handling cards: protection.
Accessories to Keep Your Cards Safe
When a card sells for thousands more than others, simply because it’s in pristine condition, you begin to understand the importance of protecting cards. Whether you’re a collector or a TCG player, there’s one thing in common.
You’re handling cards. Cards with corners that may easily bend, creases that easily form, edges that may dull, and surfaces that may become damaged.
For collectors, these factors can diminish the value of a card greatly. TCG players will want to watch for this too as even if they have no intention of selling, trading or collecting a card, it may become damaged to the point that it’d no longer be allowed in tournament play!
Now that you understand just how important it is to protect your cards, let’s talk about the accessories needed to protect them:
1. Card Sleeves
The term card sleeve used to refer to a few different things. It could have referenced:
- Thin, top loading plastic sleeves.
- Thick, clear boxes for individual cards.
- 9 pocket binder sheets.
However, none of these are what most modern collectors and players think of when referring to card sleeves. In fact, card sleeves have completely revolutionized in design and technology after the advent of the trading card game.
Unlike the cheap, plastic sleeves of yesteryear, these new card sleeves (also known as deck protectors) are durable and don’t break easily when handled. They also are constructed in a way that shuffling is easy (and in some cases even better than the plain cards themselves). This makes them perfect for both protecting cards and using them in tournaments.
2. Inner Sleeves
Inner sleeves are simply another type of card sleeves. They are made much smaller so that they fit the size of a card almost perfectly, and as the name suggest are used in conjunction with regular sleeves. This is known as double sleeving. Double sleeving provides the following benefits:
- Prevents dirt and grime from ruining the surface of the card
- Protects cards from small spills/moisture
- Creates an even better shuffling feel
- Prevents bending of cards
Double sleeving simply involves loading the card into the inner sleeve from below, then loading both the card and inner sleeve into a standard card sleeve from the top.
Card storage comes in two primary forms. Deck boxes and storage albums. Deck boxes cater to the needs of TCG players where protection during travel and while at tournaments is key. Albums on the other hand appeal to collectors who both wish for their cards to be displayed and stored safely.
3. Deck Boxes
Deck boxes are made specifically for TCG players as they provide great protection while transporting from tournament to tournament. Many also serve well as spare card storage as well.
The most common boxes are the paper boxes cards are shipped with, but these are quickly outgrown by most players. Paper deck boxes have a few major cons that result in most players looking for another solution. These include a lack of compatibility with sleeved cards, storage for only a standard deck, and a lack of durability.
After that, you’ve got plastic deck boxes which can usually accommodate sleeved cards, and are a little more durable. They still suffer from the lack of extra storage compartments, and don’t offer the best protection.
Lastly, we have custom made deck boxes, sometimes also referred to as deck lockers. Many store 2 decks or at least 1 deck with a few spare cards. They also usually feature compartments for dice, damage counters, and status tokens. More importantly, they provide the best protection for cards vs any other deck box.
4. Card Albums/Binders
The preferred card storage method for card collectors is to use albums or binders. These are perfect for card collectors because they provide great storage while also ensuring that your collection can be shown off when needed.
There are two approaches to this storage method: the album, and the binder. Binders are typically put together by a collector him/herself, with the binder and 9 pocket card sheets purchased separately. Albums on the other hand are usually purchased whole. Both offer similar protection, though some albums may have a more luxury feel with leather and other high quality materials.
This is specific to trading card game players. Whether you’re playing Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon TCG, or another card game, you’ll need status markers and damage counters. These come in all shapes and sizes including:
- Paper/cardboard markers (often found in starter decks and sets)
- Acrylic/plastic markers (which can be found in more premium decks and sets)
- Custom made markers and die (purchased separately)
The third option is what most players invest in if they’re going to be playing at local tournaments a lot. The materials used will be a higher quality which prevents damage during travel and play. They also often come with travel pouches, and a few other goodies that make them worth the buy.