Ultimate Guard is a company that has for the last few years made protective products for all sorts of systems; from X-Wing to Magic: The Gathering, board games to Yu-Gi-Oh! While their products have been available in many other parts of the world for some time, they have only just recently entered into the Australian market care of Let’s Play Distribution (Previously known as Good Games Distribution). Many of you may have seen their product range on the shelf at your local gaming store the last week or so and wondered as to the quality. Well, we’re proud to present to you the definitive Australian review of Ultimate Guard products.
As a Magic: The Gathering enthusiast I was stoked when they sent Australian Tabletop Gaming Network an absolute tonne of products for us to review. I received binders, deckboxes, sleeves and a playmat to check out, while fellow contributor Lin took a look at the X-Wing related products and sleeves for board games here.
Everything comes in fours!
The first thing I found when I opened up the ‘Zip Folios‘ was that these really are binders designed with Magic: The Gathering players in mind. Everything is in multiples of fours, whether its four, or eight or even sixteen slots to a page. This is an absolute godsend when it comes to organizing and displaying, either for your own collection or for trading. The sleeves in the 8-Pocket Zip Folio are orientated sideways as well, which is a marked changed from other binders on the market. While the construction of the binder’s outer case is excellent, with a very sturdy feel to it and a great texture, I worry that the sleeves themselves may split with excessive use. But seeing as the ‘Quadrow Folio‘ has 640 individual slots, losing one or two will not be a problem. As always though look after your gear and it will look after you.
Loading from the center is an interesting choice, changing the orientation of the binder.
Deckboxes. Deckboxes everywhere!
If Ultimate Guard could only make one product, and it was their ‘Monolith Deckbox‘, they would still be a successful company because it is by far the best I have used in the last four years as a competitive Magic player. It has an incredibly sturdy feel, holds over a hundred double sleeved cards securely as well as having a dice tray! The fact that these cases are entirely modular means that any lid or dice tray will fit onto any other box, so you can customise your colours and combinations as much as you want. As well as the Monolith case, I also got my hands on the ‘Xenoskin Flip’n’Tray‘ deckboxes. Again, we see the extremely high quality of these deckboxes, with multiple magnets holding the moving parts securely closed, as well as a tough outer case and a soft finish interior on your actual cards. While I personally believe that the less moving parts the better, the Flip’n’Trays are a very strong choice for someone who needs a lot of storage. EDH, anyone?
The best deckbox I have used in four years.
Sideloading inners make sleeving up a 75 a lot easier.
Ultimate Guard have released a whole bunch of sleeves to cover all bases, from ‘Standard Size’ for trading card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, to the smaller Japanese sized games such as Yu-Gi-Oh! Not to mention all the weird and wonderful shaped sleeves for a multitude of board games. Unfortunately, this was the first time I was disappointed by an Ultimate Guard product. Their ‘Supreme Sleeves Matte‘ feel to be of a lesser quality than their other products. They have an opaque front panel and after only three rounds of games started to kink at the corners. Now normally, I’d say get matte sleeves, they feel much nicer in your hands, shuffle better and slip less. But for Ultimate Guard, I would definitely suggest selecting from their standard ‘Supreme Sleeves‘ range, they have a much clearer front panel and feel much more sturdy around your cards. Their ‘Precise Fit Side Loading Sleeves‘ are the (as far as I know) only sideloading inner sleeve on the market, meaning that if you’ve ever had to deal with cards riding up as you put them in to your outer sleeves, that is a thing of the past.
Matte on the left with that opaque front panel, standard on the right with a much clearer finish.
Everyone knows that your Playmat is how you display how great you are at Magic. Whether its your Game Day Champion mat, or a signed GP mat, or even some weird anime girls, your playmat is a statement as soon as you sit down at the table. The Ultimate Guard playmat I received is well put together, with all the features we’ve come to expect from our mats, including a rubber finish on the bottom and a soft fabric surface. If we can see some interesting artwork come out on those mats, we will have a winner. (Editor – They do! We just didn’t receive one for review, take a look at their ‘Lands Edition’ here.)
Now that I’ve had the chance to the new Ultimate Guard products, I am very excited with what they are releasing. Their hard products – the deckboxes and binders – in particular are some of the best I’ve seen. While their sleeves are a little hit-or-miss, particularly the matte finish. Their inner sleeves, with their unique sideloading feature are great value.
Thanks for reading,