Ultimate Guard has recently launched their X-wing friendly product range and of that their range of tailored folders are perhaps the most anticipated. X-wing fans have long known the pain of having to come up with strange and inconvenient means to store and transport their ‘mini-american’ sized upgrade cards due to no folders being available for cards that size. Those days are now over with Ultimate Guard’s ‘Mini American Flexxfolio‘ and ‘ Mini American ZipFolio‘ range.
Ultimate Guard clearly mean to cater to the specific market with the packaging for both mentioning X-wing by name. Inside, the two folders are seemingly the same with the sleeves indistinguishable. They both hold 20 double sided 9 pocket pages, holding a total of 360 of your X-wing upgrade cards. The pages are of good quality and are flexible enough to be able to insert and remove cards with ease. The pockets are designed to fit both sleeved and unsleeved upgrade cards comfortably without coming loose. I stored cards with both Ultimate Guard and Fantasy Flight Game’s Mini American sleeves and they both fit without fuss. The most ideal fit seem to be with Ultimate Guard’s new X-wing specific sleeves which will even allow you to double stack the cards when your X-wing addiction gets out of hand and your upgrade cards multiply. The material in the middle that splits the two sides of the page is also of quality and does not seem to easily scratch or fray like some of the cheaper folders in the market. I am also a fan of the side loading which makes the cards more secure and easier to load.
You… you’re sleeving damage cards. Why would you even…? Well at least they fit nicely.
The exterior cover of these folders is what really differentiates the FlexXfolio and ZipFolio from each other. The FlexXfolio cover is made of hard plastic cover and is secured with an elastic band secured to the back. Nothing really suggests that the FlexXfolio cover is not durable or of bad quality but it’s clearly not as good as the ZipFolio. While all of the cards remained inside during my tests, the elastic band of the FlexXfolio do not feel quite as secure as the ZipFolio’s zipped up cover. The ZipFolio’s cover is made out of Ultimate Guard’s trademarked XenoSkin material which feels nice and durable and wouldn’t look out of place protecting far more fragile and expensive items like a tablet. Overall Zipfolio just seems better, which would explain the higher price point with most online retailers having it at 5 to 10 USD above the FlexXfolio. The FlexXfolio seems perfectly adequate, especially at a cheaper price of 15 to 20 USD, and being half the thickness of the ZipFolio despite holding the same amount of cards, it certainly has its advantages. The Mystic Space Edition I received also has a pretty space pattern printed on the cover that makes it more fitting for X-wing, and could be a draw for some customers. However I am far too impressed with the ZipFolio! I would definitely have to recommend paying a more premium price for the superior quality product.
Ultimate guard has also released two different sleeves specifically aimed at X-wing upgrade cards. Normally, players are used to sleeving their upgrade cards in Mini American sized sleeves, which are 44x67mm in size. Ultimate Guard’s new X-wing ‘Premium Soft Sleeves‘ and ‘Supreme Sleeves‘ are 43x65mm in size for a more snug fit. The difference may not seems like much but I definitely prefer the fit of this new range.
Sleeved with Ultimate Guard X-wing Sleeves in the left and FFG Mini American Sleeves on the right.
The Premium Soft sleeves are… well, softer, and thinner. A stack of 50 actually comes to about a quarter of the height of a stack of 50 Supreme sleeves. This makes it a lot more ideal for sleeving your upgrade cards for storage in boxes or folders. The thinner sleeves are also ideal to use in conjunction with Ultimate Guard folders and pockets as it will allow you to stack multiple cards into the same pockets with ease. However, the feel of the sleeves is a bit too soft to me and I found it malleable enough that it caused difficulties in shuffling. The Supreme Sleeves range is a lot more firm and thick, and while it will take up more storage space, it handles and shuffles with ease.
The Premium Soft Sleeves on the left are too malleable for my taste in contrast to the Supreme Sleeves to the right.
Overall it will come down to personal taste on which one you will prefer, but I personally much prefer the hardy feel of the Supreme Sleeves. The Premium Sleeves are perfectly fine for your upgrade cards, especially if you are storing them in a folder sleeved. However, I would recommend that anything you need to shuffle (like your damage deck) be sleeved in the tougher Supreme Sleeves.
Next up in Ultimate Guard’s X-wing targeted range is their ‘Standard+Mini American Size Pages‘ designed to slide into binders. The range include a full-sized 32 pocket page and a mini 14 pocket page. Quality wise there is nothing to complain about. They are made from the same material as the pages in Ultimate Guard folios and therefore of the same great quality.
I do not know what would compel a person to organise their cards this way. Perhaps ‘space madness’ ?
However, the mixed layout of Standard and Mini American sizes in this product perplexes me. The 32 pocket pages have the ratio between Standard size and Mini American size pockets at 1:7 and the 14 pockets page one at 1:6. However, the distribution of X-wing cards aren’t uniform and depending on which ships are in your collection your ration of Standard sized pilot cards and Mini American sized upgrade cards maybe 1:3 or 1:25. So these sleeves are an organisational nightmare for anyone who is a little bit obsessive about having a neatly organised folder. Overall, I simply don’t see the need for this range at all. If you simply must keep both your pilot cards and upgrade cards in the same binder, Ultimate Guard already have a range of Standard size pages and a range of Mini American Pages you can store in the the same binder. I didn’t have access to these ranges but assuming that they are of the same quality as these pages I believe it would be a much better option then to be beholden to this arbitrary layout and ratio.
However, if you simply must organise your pilot and upgrade cards together in 1:7 or 1:6 ratio like some sort of unthinking brute beholden to an arcane and indecipherable logic, these pages are of the highest quality and are suitable for your needs… you monster.
The good news is that the X-wing range is what a lot of players have been waiting for for a long time. The bad news is that if you are hoping to purchase them locally, you are going to have to wait a little while longer. Let’s Play Games Distribution (Formerly Good Games Distribution), Ultimate Guard’s Australian distributor, informed us that the X-wing range is on its way and we should expect it around end of April to early May. So be sure to incessantly nag your local gaming store in about two months.
Overall, the quality of these new X-wing targeted product ranges go to prove that while Ultimate Guard may be a new comer in the board/card games accessories market (relatively speaking), they are definitely bringing their A game and giving the old guard a much needed shake up.
If you would like to see how other products by Ultimate Guard hold up, Harry has a comprehensive review of their standard lines here.
UPDATE: Everyone and their dogs has informed me that the layout of the insert pages is so you can organise your squads, with each pilot and their upgrades on the same page. As I am primarily a card player, I always kept my squads in a deck box, and didn’t think of that option at all. So it turned out I am the idiot with ‘space madness’! With this new knowledge in mind, considering I already love the quality, this is a brilliant product. Since they easily slip in and out of binders it’s a great way to organise your squads for league nights and tournaments. For me, I prefer the mini ones for a more convenient fit at the edge of the play mat, and because I would prefer to organise one pilot per sheet. So there you go, I am forced to eat my words and admit that, yes, this arrangement is a great idea.