Magic: The Gathering is a popular game which launched the collectable card game industry when it first appeared in the 1990s. Players collect cards in packs -- sold like baseball cards -- then create decks around particular combinations of cards that work well together. Many Magic players use protective card sleeves during games. Such sleeves keep the cards from becoming damaged during play, which actually helps discourage cheating by preventing worn cards from being noticed in the middle of a game.
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Ultra Pro became the first company to create plastic sheathes specifically for collectable card games. Its deck protectors are of polyurethane and sized to fit Magic cards perfectly. Ultra Pro features multiple brands of sleeves with images on the back. Many are specifically Magic-themed, ranging from traditional Magic: The Gathering card backs printed on the sleeves to "Mana colored" sleeves featuring particular symbols from the game itself. You can also buy sets with more generic fantasy images on the back, such as dragons and barbarian warriors. Ultra Pro card sleeves typically come in boxes, with 80 sleeves per box.
Dragon Shield sleeves are more expensive than Ultra Pro but feature a durable design and tend to hold up better than other card sleeves on the market. Unlike Ultra Pro, they don't feature any Magic-specific images on the back. Instead, they feature a variety of colours, from clear to gold to sunset pink.
Dragon Shield card sleeves come in sizes suitable for Magic: the Gathering cards, and sell in packs of 50 or 100 sleeves apiece.
MAX Protection Sleeves
MAX Protection sleeves run about the same price as Ultra Pro, with comparable quality and reliability. The company can't offer "official" Magic images the way Ultra Pro does, but it attempts to compensate with elaborate and well-drawn fantasy images on the back of its sleeves. It doesn't offer solid colours on the backs, but the variety of unique images makes decks which use them easier to identify than those with more generic sleeve backs. Most MAX Protection sleeves are sold in packs of 50.
Player's Choice sleeves stick to the basics, offering sleeves with a wide array of solid colours on their back. They are priced slightly higher than Ultra Pro's, with an attendant rise in sturdiness and durability. Their Magic-sized sleeves usually sell in packs of 60 sleeves apiece.
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