If you had asked me 10 years ago what the best MTG sleeves were, my answer would have been completely different. Although I have tried and tested many sleeves during my years of playing card games, for the longest time I have been using KMC Hyper Matte sleeves exclusive. Until Now…
Let’s talk about why “Dragon Shield Matte Art sleeves” are the best sleeves you can buy for Magic The Gathering right now.
What I love
|+ High Durability|
|+ Easy Double-sleeving|
|+ Full Opacity|
|+ Smooth Shuffle|
|+ Non-slip Matte Back|
What I Dislike
|– Limited Art Available|
|– Only 100 Sleeves|
Dragon Shield Matte Art sleeves are highly durable and have a smooth shuffling experience.
They are one of the only sleeves on the market the offer card collectors the ability to have gorgeous artwork options on their sleeves while still not having to give up the matte back texture.
They are easy to double-sleeve and the back of the sleeves are fully opaque, making them ideal for tournament play.
WHO SHOULD BUY?
Magic The Gathering players who are looking to protect and play with some of their more valuable cards should consider these sleeves. The high durability and nice thickness of these sleeves will keep your cards protected, and make it unlikely that they will split during your games. These sleeves will meet the needs of Magic The Gathering players that play Standard, Modern, or any other 60 deck formats.
If you were once a veratrin KMC sleeve user, like myself, and have gotten fed up with the drop in sleeve quality from the company, then these are not only a great alternative, but if I am being honest, they are a strict upgrade.
My only reservation is for players that mostly play Commander. Although these sleeves are tough, and I can’t really imagine them breaking during normal play, since they one broken sleeve will require you to buy a second pack.
If that worries you, you may want to look for slightly lower quality sleeves that come in larger quantities. With that said, for the quality you are getting from the Dragon Shield Matte Art sleeves, I genuinely feel the price is great value for what you are getting.
I have no issues, whatsoever, just recommending to Commander players that are concerned about the number of sleeves, to just save themselves the hassle and buy 2 packs – at that point, it’s likely the sleeves will outlast your Commander deck!
Dragon Shield Art Matte: Opacity
Although there will be some variation depending on the color and the artwork you choose to get on your sleeves, from what I have seen from my own sleeves and talking to Magic players, the Dragon Shield Art Mattes are practically full opaque.
For some of you who may be new to Magic The Gathering competitive play, you may be wondering why the opacity of the sleeves even matters?
Going all the back to 2011, with the release of the “Innistrad” set and the introduction of double-faced cards into Magic, the opacity of the sleeves you are using became much more important.
It was important that players didn’t get an unfair advantage while playing with double-faced cards by being able to identify what cards might be on top of their deck, or in their opponent’s hands, my seeing the card art appear through nonopaque sleeves.
Since double-faced cards don’t have a traditional card back art, they can be very easy to spot if the opacity of your sleeves is too low.
Players were given the option to either use a “checklist card” card or make sure their entire deck was sleeved in opaque sleeves -failure to do so can result in someone thinking you’re
I’m happy to say, that you don’t need to worry about any of that if you are using the Dragon Shield art matte shields.
Unless you intentionally shine a powerfully light sources through onside of the sleeves, you won’t be able to tell which cards is which by looking at the back of the sleeves.
This was not the case with all of the “Dragon Shield Matte” sleeves, where some colors were light enough that you could see the back of some cards.
This is just one of the many reasons and improvements that the “Art Matte” Dragon Shields have put into place that finally made me switch from KMC sleeves.
Even with some of the more limited edition card art on Dragon Shield art mattes, you won’t have a problem.
Dragon Shield Art Matte: Durability
I’m not ashamed to admit that I avoided sleeves with any kind of artwork for years – And for good reasons.
I was tried of spending money on packs of sleeves that had cool artwork on them, only to have them start to full apart on me within the month. During my time at university, I only got to play paper Magic twice a week and even with that little play time, I still had sleeves with artwork on them falling apart!
However, I’ll give credit where credit is due – Dragon Shield out did themselves here.
They went back to the drawing board and created art sleeves in a way that no other company was doing at the time, especially not to this quality.
If you didn’t know, before the release of the Dragon Shield Art Mattes sleeves, art sleeves would normally be made using different layers of material which were in some way glued together. This allowed companies to add an “art layer” to their existing sleeves, but the end results were flawed.
Since these sleeves were made up of multiple layers and glued together, the different layers would ALWAYS come apart after enough shuffling and usage – I have never had a pack last more than 3 months.
Not with the Dragon Shield art matte though.
The reason why this doesn’t happen with these sleeves is because they’re made differently, they don’t use multiples layers and glue them together. Instead, the artwork is printed directly onto the sleeves and then sealed to the actual sleeve material.
Dragon Shield was so proud of what they had accomplished with their sleeves that they put together a YouTube video explaining the difference between inferior art sleeves and their new line of art matte sleeves.
Apparently, they weren’t the only ones impressed by what they had done as the video received over 1 Million views on YouTube. You can check out the video for yourself below.
Even with all this excitement and talk about their new art sleeves, at the time, I wasn’t interested.
I had just been burned by too many cool-looking art sleeves before, that I had a strict “no art” sleeve policy. However, my once indestructible KMC sleeves kept breaking on me.
A review for another day perhaps, but it has been said that KMC changed the way they manufactured their sleeves – and the lower quality certainly showed.
I’m happy to announce as of writing this post, that I still have almost a complete set of sleeves from the 3 different sets of Dragon Shield sleeves that I own for the last 2 years – I did have one sleeve rip due to getting caught on the edge of a deck box, but that was mine and the deck box’s fault, not the sleeves.
Having sleeves that you can rely on during an official game of Magic is one less thing for you to worry about, and I won’t be going back to KMC for their Hyper Matte line.
Dragon Shield Art Matte: Texture & Shuffle
The shuffle feel for these sleeves are great and I have no real complaints.
The shuffle feel isn’t as smooth as some of the “Glossy” alternatives on the market, but these sleeves are matte after all, and that is to be expecet.
That doesn’t mean they’re bad by any stretch of the imagination, far from it. I loved the KMC sleeves for the shuffle feel and you could often find me sitting at my computer shuffling some draft commons in-between my work breaks.
Yes – I have a dedicated “Keep my hands busy” shuffle deck next to my computer, don’t judge me.
The Dragon Shield sleeves haven’t left me disappointed. I’m personally not a fan of glossy sleeves as I find them to slippery, especially when it comes to using them for commander decks.
With Commander decks, glossy sleeves have a hard time staying in place and cause my deck to fall over whenever I try to draw a card.
After a while, glossy sleeves will start to behave themselves, but I think that is due to dirt building up on the sleeves, which creates friction and adds grip, making them less slippery. If that is the case, I would rather just go with matte sleeves, and so far, I’m sticking with Dragon Shield.
If you want to get an idea of what all Dragon Shield matte versions are like to shuffle, you can check out the short video below.
Although I am sad to see the decline in my own beloved KMC Hyper Matte sleeves, I would be lying if I said I missed them – I have simply moved on.
The Dragon Shield Art Matte does everything I need my Magic sleeves to do and I’m constantly trying to keep an eye out on all of the new designs they are keep coming out with – they seem to be ramping up their range. More quality choices for you and me!
As I have mentioned, I had an aversion to buying art sleeves as I believed them to be a waste of money. Spending money on something that was only going to last a few months, just wasn’t worth it for me.
Ideally, if I want a new set of sleeves, it should be because I want a new design, not because the ones I currently have are unusable.
The art matte sleeves are 100% my pick for Magic The Gathering players looking for great, reliable sleeves for their decks, especially with their improvement over the regular matte sleeves to the opacity – no need to second guess yourself when head down Friday Night Game.
I would be surprised if your local game store doesn’t already stock these sleeves as they have become so popular recently, but in case you want a specific design, particular the limited edition artworks, you can check out the links below to see what options are available to you if you are interested in picking up some highly recommended sleeve for your Magic cards.
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Are you looking for the best MTG sleeves for shuffling?
There are so many choices out there, it can be easy to get a little lost. We’ll help you find the best options for your Magic: the Gathering deck in this list.
We’ll be covering:
- What makes a good card sleeve
- Our picks for the best shuffling sleeves
- The pros and cons to each of the sleeves on the list
Let’s jump right in.
What do you need in a card sleeve?
Not all card sleeves are created equally.
Because your Magic cards are an investment, you’re going to want to ensure they have the best protection. Unfortunately, shuffling your cards can damage them pretty quickly.
A quality sleeve will safeguard your cards from this wear and tear. So what should you look for in one?
Some of the things that make a sleeve a cut above the rest when it comes to shuffling are:
- Non-slip texture
No one likes buying sleeves, only to have them tear after a couple games.
You want your sleeves to last time after time, especially if you’ve paid for customized ones or high-end ones.
Tougher sleeves will stand up to repeated shuffling, which is vital in a deck that uses popular strategies like tutoring. Additionally, sturdy sleeves won’t bend at the corners or split at the sides, exposing your cards to harm.
Of course, you’ll need to be able to get a good grip on your sleeves when you shuffle them.
There’s nothing quite as annoying as when you’re shuffling cards and they go flying onto the floor. Fortunately, many sleeves make up for this with non-slip material that makes it easy to hold your cards while shuffling them.
Last but certainly not least, there’s the cost.
Many people put a lot of money into their decks. It’s true you want to protect them from harm, but generally no one wants to buy sleeves that are overpriced.
It’s important, then, that the sleeves you get are affordable. This is especially the case when you’re using a casual deck, or you like to change your sleeves often.
Best MTG Sleeves for Shuffling
Do any research on sleeves, and you’ll find the name Dragon Shield at the top of anyone’s list. The reason for that is that they make legendarily durable sleeves – and these ones are a testament to that reputation.
- Box can be used to store around 75 cards
- The lid of the box comes with a label if you use it for a deck
- You’ll get a couple extra sleeves in case one of them tears
- Easy to grip for shuffling
- More expensive
- Sleeves are a little tighter, so it may be difficult to double sleeve
One of the most famous names in MTG sleeves is Ultra Pro. These ones are especially great for beginners or bulk purchases, because on top of resisting bent corners, they’re incredibly affordable.
- Inexpensive, so you can buy them in bulk
- Corners don’t bend easily
- High clarity to see the cards inside
- Non-slip so you won’t drop them while shuffling
- Slightly tighter fit, so you may not be able to double sleeve
- Material is thinner, so sides might split over time
What makes these TitanShield sleeves so unique is their dual texture. This provides an easy surface for your fingers to grip onto, so your cards won’t scatter whenever you need to shuffle your deck.
- Dual anti-slip texture makes handling your cards a breeze
- Non-reflective material, so it’s easy to read the text on each card
- Thick material to protect cards from scratches or spills
- Color options are more limited than with other brands
It’s no surprise that Ultra Pro would appear on this list again. These Pro-Matte sleeves are amazingly smooth for effortless shuffling, and built with an extra-opaque material to better conceal the backs of cards.
- Material on the reverse side completely conceals the backs of cards
- Matte material on the front reduces glare so you can comfortably read text
- Can split over time with frequent shuffling
- Glare-reducing front can limit the shininess of your foils
If you asked us for our personal suggestion from this list, we’d go with the Dragon Shield Matte Black Sleeves.
It’s true that they’re a little bit more expensive than the other ones, but they are well worth the price. They’re incredibly sturdy, and they’re easy to hold onto while you’re shuffling.
Furthermore, they’re available in a wide variety of colors if Matte Black isn’t to your liking. You can even get sleeves with gorgeous dragon artwork on the back that will undoubtedly impress your friends.
Last updated on September 13, 2021
If you’ve ever ventured into the world of paper Magic, you’ve probably bought some card sleeves before. And if you’ve bought a couple different brands or types of sleeves, then you’ve definitely noticed that there can be a pretty big difference in quality. If you’ve never bought card sleeves before or have only ever bought the same ones, well, now you know.
Regardless of your relationship with card sleeves for paper Magic, it’s important to know that there are so many options available for you to choose from. A handful of brands are well-known among paper Magic-ers, whether for good or for ill.
If you’re trying to figure out what sleeve is best for you—or you’re now questioning every card sleeve purchase you’ve ever made—then I’ve got your back. Whether you’re looking to display your collection, protect your cards while you play, need a gift for a fellow Magic player, or just want some good, high-quality aesthetic sleeves, I’ll cover everything you need to know and give you the scoop on what to get and what to avoid. So, let’s get this started, shall we?
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner | Illustration by Greg Opalinski
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what brand and sleeve you should buy, let’s go over the “dos and don’ts” of buying card sleeves for MTG. Or, at the very least, the stuff you should keep in mind when you’re trying to figure out what sleeve to get.
First, I’ll say that if you’re looking to truly protect your cards while playing, you should also look into getting a playmat. While sleeves are certainly meant to protect your cards, using a playmat to keep them from picking up a bunch of gunk from your play surface never hurts. They’ve also got some pretty awesome art if aesthetic is important to you.
Glint-Sleeve Artisan | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast
No matter what you’re looking to do with your card sleeves, you’re going to want to look at their characteristics to figure out if what you’re looking at is worth the price tag. Here’s a quick breakdown of some examples and what you need to look out for with each:
At least it does for MTG card sleeves. Even if you’re not looking to maintain the value of your cards per se, I doubt you’re eager to have a bunch of warped, curled, or bent cards. Does the sleeve fit a bit too tight and warp your cards in any way? Is the sleeve a bit too loose and so the cards constantly fall out at the slightest provocation (and maybe get bent somehow on the way)? Or is the sleeve a perfect fit, no wiggle room without squeezing too much?
I talked about this in my MTG card size article, but here’s a quick recap if you just want the quick-and-dirty:
- If you’re looking for a basic sleeve to protect your cards while playing, you need a “standard size” sleeve (usually around 66x91mm)
- If you’re looking for sleeves to store cards in a binder, you’re looking at “perfect fit” sleeves (usually sized as 64x89mm)
- If you’re looking to double-sleeve your cards for extra protection, you’ll need perfect fit and standard fit sleeves, one in the other
- Pokémon cards are the same size as MTG cards, so you can get Pokémon sleeves for your Magic collection if you want
- Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are smaller than MTG cards and use “mini” or “small” sleeves and can’t be swapped out (unless you want to warp your cards)
How Hard Is It
Next up is the sleeve’s durability. How much punishment can it take before it starts to crack or peal? Obviously, you don’t want a sleeve that’s going to look like you’ve had it in the attic for the past 10 years after just a couple of months or, god forbid, a couple of weeks.
Reviews can usually give you this info, as sleeves with awful durability will probably get absolutely blasted. Nobody wants to spend money on a product that’s supposed to protect your cards when it can’t even protect itself.
This goes for both sides of the sleeve. How opaque is it?
If we’re talking about the back, it should be completely opaque. No light, sound, or smell should get through the back! This is mostly to avoid the look of impropriety, as being able to see the back of the card means there’s the possibility of marking (i.e., putting “marks” on certain cards so you can tell when they pop up in your deck without drawing/scrying them). You typically can’t even participate in tournaments if your sleeves are see-through, even if there’s no other evidence of marking in your deck. Wear and tear can be considered marking as well.
On the flip side, you want the front to be completely see-through. Everything but dust and time should get through the front. Can you imagine trying to play Magic when you have to squint just to read your cards? Sounds like a bad time to me.
Peer Through Depths | Illustration by Anthony S. Waters
The Sleeve’s Coat
Last but not least—if you play in tournaments, at least—is the finish on the sleeves. Even if you don’t do tournaments and just play casually or in events/FNM at your LGS, this bit still kinda applies.
Matte, hyper matte, glossy, there are a few options. Depending on the quality of the sleeve and what finish they’ve got, you’ll have an easier or harder time shuffling. Some get sticky after a while, and there’s also the potential for bending corners if the shuffling is a bit stuck. This can lead to accidentally marking your sleeves, warping your cards, and just generally making your cards and deck frustrating to handle.
Matte and hyper matte do better in this regard, as glossy sleeves tend to stick together when shuffling much more. Even if they’re great out of the pack, glossy usually get sticky much faster. There are some brands that have mattes/hyper mattes that don’t stand up to the test, but you should probably stay away from those brands in general.
Shinechaser | Illustration by Evan Shipard
Things that Should Make You Run
Whether you’re buying sleeves in-person at a store or online, there are some telltale signs to look out for to avoid getting cheaply-made sleeves. Bad reviews are obviously what you wanna look out for when shopping online. Sleeves with lots of complaints about splitting or bending are a bad sign.
Also keep a lookout if the fit seems to be off. Some perfect fit sleeves actually tend to run a bit small so they’ll hug your cards a little too closely and warp them over time. If you’re looking at standard fit, they might run small and ruin your double-sleeving intention by being closer to a perfect fit and now you’ve gone and wasted your money. Not as bad an outcome, but still not good.
Skewer the Critics | Illustration by Heonhwa Choe
The Results Are In
Now we get to the part where I tell you what to buy. And there’s no math this time! Hallelujah.
Before we dive in, though, full disclosure: I have not personally used all of these sleeves. I’ve ordered quite a few of them, but with everything that’s going on at the moment a lot of them have gotten delayed, if they’ve even shipped yet. I’ll keep an eye on them and update if I get a chance to try any of them out that I haven’t yet.
Competitive Play Sleeves
Even though Dragon Shield mattes are my overall recommendation, they may not be the best option for competitive play as they can be a little bit see-through. If you’re gun-ho on this brand, though, some of their perfect fit smoke sleeves can do wonders in preventing any see-through cheating scandals.
It’s up to you if you wanna double-sleeve but be wary if you do; the Dragon Shield mattes can be a bit difficult to double-sleeve with. I’d suggest either sticking to the perfect fit or double-sleeving with another brand.
On a Budget?
If you can’t afford to spend exorbitant amounts of money on card sleeves but still want to properly protect your cards while playing or just showing them off, then the BCW matte sleeves are your answer. They’re about half the price of most other sleeves and aren’t the worst you could get. They might not be the best for competitive events but they hold their own for kitchen-table Magic and the like.
Double Up (Inner Sleeves)
When it comes to double-sleeving, the inner sleeve’s best bet is KMC’s Perfect Size. Not only are they pretty cheap, but they’re also of pretty good quality and are good at the thing that matters most: protecting your cards with a perfectly-snug hug.
We’re going back to Dragon Shield mattes on this one. Part of why they’re my overall recommendation is because they’re pretty versatile in terms of what they’re good for, one of those being Commander decks.
When it comes to Commander, you’re obviously going to be dealing with a bigger deck since the minimum is 100 cards instead of 60 as it is with Standard. So, you want a good sleeve that has all the other perks while also being as thin as possible. It might not seem like a fraction of a millimeter makes any difference, but it can really stack up. You need to have enough room in your deck box, after all.
In a Rush? Get This
Dragon Shield sleeves are the most highly recommended and seemingly the most widely-used (don’t quote me on that, the internet may lie), and the matte finish is the clear winner.
Overall, the reviews for Dragon Shield matte sleeves say that they don’t cloud or tear, work OK for double-sleeving (but aren’t the best in that department), shuffle really well, and generally have a good feel to them. They are a bit more expensive, though, so may not be the best option if you’re on a tight budget.
Of course, not everyone agrees on all of these points, but you can say that for any product. These are the most widely-shared sentiment and experience with the Dragon Shields, so I’d say they’re probably a good bet. Make sure to get thematte sleeves, though. I already mentioned why glossy is usually a no-go, but in case you forgot: they get sticky.
Cut for Cube
When we’re talking a really large amount of cards like in Cube, the best sleeves to go for are KMC’s hyper matte sleeves. They’re pretty cheap in bulk much like their Perfect Size counterparts, and don’t suffer in quality because of it. They’re pretty durable and fit very well especially if you’re double-sleeving.
If you’re looking for pretty sleeves to fit your aesthetic, I’ve actually got a few suggestions for you depending on what you’re looking for.
Looking for official MTG art on your sleeves? Get you some Ultra Pro art sleeves. They’re not too expensive, are pretty good quality, and there are a bunch of official art options for you to choose from. They don’t have unlimited options and you might not be able to find what you’re looking for if it’s a specific card image, but there’s lots of different art to choose from.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for aesthetically-pleasing sleeves that use non-MTG art, Legion art sleeves will be your friend. They’ve got a ton of really cute, funny, or just plain pretty art to choose from and won’t break your wallet either.
Finally, if your goal is to collect sleeves themselves, then you’re looking at getting limited edition sleeves. These can sometimes get pretty pricey and there isn’t necessarily one brand or place to look. Most brands will occasionally put out limited edition art sleeves, and what you decide to get should depend both on what art you want to add to your collection and which brands you’re OK with paying for.
Our final stop, custom sleeves, can get a bit tricky. Printing sleeves isn’t easy or cheap, and so there aren’t many places that do it. The few that do are usually pretty expensive and the quality may not be up-to-par in order to keep their production costs down.
That being said, I’m not just going to leave you high-and-dry like that. While they’re definitely expensive, YourPlaymat offers custom sleeves and they’ve got some pretty good reviews. There are also tons of pictures that look pretty epic.
If you do end up getting a custom sleeve, though, you may want to double-sleeve them. The problem that you’ll usually run into with custom sleeves is that the art is printed on top of the back of the card and can peel off. YourPlaymat does mention in the custom sleeve’s description that the art on their custom sleeves is non-peeling, so they may be creating higher quality sleeves than you can usually expect from custom ones.
Slip That Sleeve Off
And that’s all I’ve got for ya! Hopefully this guide ends up being useful to you in picking out the best fit for your MTG cards and collection. What’s your experience with some of the recommended sleeves I mentioned? Does my summary make sense, or did you have a different experience? Let me know if the comments down there!
As usual, I’m gonna take a sec to thank you for your support. I know I probably sound like broken record, but it’s only because it’s true. Your support, no matter what form it takes—be it reading, commenting, or sharing our blog posts, using our draft simulator, Arena Tutor, or supporting us through Patreon—is always super appreciated.
With everything going on in the world at the moment, I hope you’re all safe and that it stays that way. Take care of yourselves and your communities, and I wish you well!
Pledge of Unity | Illustration by Chris Rallis
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Specifications for a great Customized Sleeve:
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The new Dragon Shield Sleeve Crafter personalizes your game in a whole new way! The sleeve crafter is easy to use, and provides you with a lot of customization options, even in its current beta state. Being able to upload your own design to be put onto your "sleeves is amazing! Next to that, additional customization options such as changing the frame, or adding additonal text, really makes you able to create your own unique set of sleeves. Oh! and the quality is still the same top quality you are used to from Dragon Shield. I hope you will be as happy using this as I am!
Bird Keeper Toby GiveAway
The Sleeve Crafter is really easy to use, and it's very exciting, seeing your creations come to life. I want to use these sleeves at all future tournaments and events!
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