Lets talk about sleeves.
First, some background. I am a sleever, I sleeve all my games, if I can, and ideally I double sleeve. So, naturally, when I received my base game copy of Marvel Champions I broke out my stockpile of KMC Perfect Size and UltraPro Pro-Matte Clears, and started sleeving up the game. These are the same sleeves I had used for my entire (and almost completely up to date) Arkham Horror LCG collection, so they were the obvious choice. Especially as I had several hundred of each just waiting to be used.
However, I had been growing somewhat disappointed by this sleeve choice. Ever since UltraPro had switched to their new translucent hologram, their width consistency had taken a significant hit, and, even once that seemed to settle down a little, the average width seemed to now be just a hair to small for the Perfect Size sleeves to fit comfortably inside. It works, but tends to result in the inner sleeve getting wrinkled.
So, when I heard that Asmodee were discontinuing their FFG sleeve line, and creating a new line called GameGenics I thought this was perhaps an opportunity to revisit my sleeving options.
I had looked into a wide variety of sleeve makes and lines in the past and had always found anything other than my chosen Pro-Matte and Perfect Size sleeves would have one of four issues:
- High cost.
- Poor fit.
- Size inconsistency.
- Low quality.
Either they were too expensive, they didn’t fit well, sizing was inconsistent, or they felt too low quality for my liking. And, whilst cost, fit, size consistency, and quality are most important, four other factors also play into my sleeve purchasing decisions:
- Hand feel.
- Shuffle feel.
- Available colours.
I was, therefore, pleased when I saw that GameGenic’s Matte Prime sleeves starting to appear in UK online store listings at a price per sleeve only slightly above that of UltraPro Pro-Mattes, and significantly less than higher quality brands like Dragon Shield. So, I did a little digging and found their Inner sleeves were even more reasonably priced, at significantly less than what I have been paying for KMC Perfect Size, but also that GameGenic seemed to be a collaboration between Asmodee and the person behind the Ultimate Guard brand of sleeves, which I already knew to be of good quality.
Armed with that knowledge I decided to order up a pack of their Matte Prime Black sleeves (which I knew I could put to use on some board game sleeves, if I decided I didn’t want to go ahead with switching to them for my LCG sleeves), and a pack of their Inner sleeves, I later also picked up a couple of other colours to take a look at those.
What follows here are my findings, impressions, and conclusions from that investment.
Whilst cost is the most significant factor, for me, in my sleeve purchasing decisions, I will not cover costs here, because those vary greatly from country to country and store to store. But I will revisit the topic in my conclusions.
GameGenic Inners vs KMC Perfect Size.
For a long time KMC Perfect Size were my go to inner sleeve precisely because, for actually standard poker sized cards, their fit was, as the name implies, ‘perfect’.
However, GameGenic Inners have changed that!
GameGenic’s inner sleeves are imperceptibly narrower than KMC inners, but, unlike UltraPro’s, also narrower, Pro-Fit inner sleeves, still have a nice snug fit on standard poker sized cards.
This means that the GameGenics are a slightly better fit for FFG’s standard sized cards, which are actually a millimetre or two narrower than standard poker sized.
So, in this area, the GameGenics get the points.
I have sleeved, literally, thousands of cards using KMC PerfectSize sleeves, and I think I may have had fewer than half-a dozen off-size sleeves in that entire time.
GameGenics, so far, seem to have an equally high degree of size consistency. I have sleeved up perhaps 300 cards using them to date and every sleeve has seemed identically sized to every other.
Based on experience thus far, I cannot distinguish between one brand or the other, in regard to this factor of consideration.
Similarly, over literally thousands of sleeved cards, I have had, I think, one of KMC’s PerfectSize sleeves split on me. And again it is too early for me to judge the GameGenics in this aspect.
Something I have found to affect all sleeve makes is that a sleeve will occasionally have a little bit of grit embedded in it’s surface, and in this regard both KMC PerfectSize and GameGenic Inners are no different. So far the GameGenics seem to possibly be slightly more prone to this.
So, again, I cannot recommend one brand over the other here, due partly on limited experience with one of them.
Now, this is an area where the GameGenics shine. I had not noticed before, but KMC PerfectSize have a slight yellow tint, whereas the GameGenic Inners are a more neutral/blue colour.
This makes the GameGenics, to my eye, significantly clearer, and that give them the win here.
GameGenic Matte Primes vs UltraPro Pro-Matte.
Whereas the GameGenic Inners are slightly narrower than KMC Perfect Size, the GameGenic Matte Primes are slightly wider than UltraPro Pro-Matte.
This is barely apparent when comparing single sleeves, but within a sleeved up deck the difference is noticeable.
This difference is not enough to lead me to recommend one brand over the other.
For a long time UltraPro Pro-Mattes were incredibly consistent in size, but, as I mentioned in the introduction, since they switched to their new translucent hologram, their consistency has suffered, with even sleeves within individual packs varying by up to perhaps a millimetre.
Thus far GameGenic’s consistency, both within individual and across separate packs, has been perfect.
As with the inners it is too early to draw conclusions in this regard, on the GameGenic side, but given the recent poor consistency of UltraPros, GameGenic has to get this one.
Whilst their consistency has suffered of late, UltraPro’s sleeve quality has always been extremely high.
And thus far GameGenic’s seem equally high.
So, again, I cannot recommend one above the other based on this alone.
The transparent face of a GameGenic Matte Prime sleeve has incredible fine and silky matte finish, whereas the UltraPro’s are perceptibly less smooth.
This makes the transparent face clearer, and any glare significantly more diffuse, making them much much easier on the eye.
So, this again is where GameGenic get a clear win.
– Hand Feel.
Hand feel is an interesting and very subjective thing. With two factors affecting, for me, how a sleeve feels in the hand – the texture of the sleeve backs, and the sharpness of the edges and corners.
In terms of texture it is necessary to split UltraPro Pro-Mattes into two groups – their opaque backed and their clear backed sleeves.
The opaque backed sleeves have quite a smooth, but still distinctly textured, back, that feels nice enough in the hand. Their clear backed sleeves, however, are completely smooth and glossy.
GameGenics, on the other hand, have a slightly more textured feel to their backs. Unfortunately I have not been able to get hold of GameGenic’s fully transparent sleeves, so I cannot comment on those.
So, your mileage may vary here, but, for me, whilst there is little difference between the opaque sleeves, the GameGenics just win out.
– Shuffle Feel.
Before I talk about shuffle feel I should say that I shuffle sleeved cards using a mixture of, primarily, side-mash, and, secondarily, overhand shuffles.
So, with that context in mind, whilst I have always been happy with the shuffle feel of UltraPro’s sleeves, they are sometimes a little ‘grippy’, making shuffling not as easy as it could be.
GameGenic’s shuffle feel, however, is incredible. I don’t know if it is the texture of the backs, or the silky smooth fronts, but they slide past each other beautifully, whilst still remaining easy to control.
GameGenic get this one without a doubt.
– Available Colours.
UltraPro Pro-Mattes come in an incredible range of colours (around 20 variants, including clear, if I recall correctly), all which have a high degree of saturation, and are mostly of expected hues. There are some notable gaps in their offerings, though.
GameGenic’s current range of colours, however, is about half the size of UltraPro’s, and they all slightly off-hue, and slightly desaturated. When I was looking into GameGenic’s range I was particularly concerned by their ‘blue’ sleeves, which, in all the photos I’ve seen, have a very teal hue. In person they’re not as teal as I thought they would be, but do have an odd property of looking quite different in varying lighting conditions (a property that seems to extend across their colour range, but not to such a noticeable degree).
UltraPro win this one.
So, if you are a frequenter of certain Marvel Champions Discord servers, or a personal friend of mine, you may very likely already know what my conclusions here will be, having possibly seen the photo I recently posted in several places.
But, for those that have not seen that photo…
Choosing between sleeve brands has been surprisingly difficult, but lets look at each pairing individually.
- KMC PerfectSize vs GameGenic Inners: this, honestly, with the the fit, quality, and consistency being so similar, came down to just two factors – clarity and price. GameGenic’s are significantly cheaper, for me than KMC PerfectSize, so that, alongside the improved clarity, made the decision easy.
- UltraPro Pro-Matte vs GameGenic Matte Prime: had the recent consistency of Pro-Mattes not been so poor, this would have been a much harder decision. But GameGenic’s, thus far, either are level pegging with UltraPro’s or significantly better, in all factors except colour range.
So, overall, I highly recommend GameGenic’s both Inner and Matte Prime sleeves, and I would easily consider purchasing their other lines as well.
And, finally, here’s that photograph I posted elsewhere…