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Subject: Board game cards: Sleeving vs Laminating? rss

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Ghorron
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Hello all,

since my collection of games is growing and my latest aquisitions are very card heavy (e.g. Legendary Encounters: Alien - 600 cards!) I want to protect them.
Most of my cards from MTG and such are sleeved, some even double sleeved, my first thought was buying a bunch of Ultra Pro New Standard Clear packs.

Then a friend of mine suggested to laminated at least the board game cards, so I looked up and found a few threads hereregarding laminating, machines and cold vs hot laminating and such.

Is it worth investing in a decent laminating machine? I am probably going to treat a bunch of games, easily 2k+ cards in total so I am comparing price, ease-of-use, longevity.
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Cool User
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Just off the top of my head, the reason I've never considered laminating cards is that lamination requires some plastic to extend beyond the edge of the card. I doubt I would be able to trim that edge so they would be uniform enough not to bug the crap out of me and/or become an unintentional way of distinguishing/marking the cards.

In fact, the one PNP game whose cards I tried to laminate turned into a terrible mess (even though I'm sure others could have done it better).
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Luke Phillips
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cool username wrote:
In fact, the one PNP game whose cards I tried to laminate turned into a terrible mess .


Same here

I would recommend against lamination for all the reasons mentioned, plus lamination is a irreversible process :o.

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Jake Staines
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cool username wrote:
Just off the top of my head, the reason I've never considered laminating cards is that lamination requires some plastic to extend beyond the edge of the card.


To be precise not all forms of lamination require this, but if they don't, then they're not going to protect the cards from spills because the liquids can get at the edges (where they're most likely to do damage!) still.

Whatever option you go for you're going to have to carefully trim the laminate to the edge of the card/a uniform size around the card, and that's going to be error-prone and incredibly time-consuming. You will find it very hard to make each card exactly identical both in terms of the size of the overall laminated card and also the margins around the original card that the laminate extends.

Another couple of issues not mentioned:
- Most forms of laminate I can think of will make the cards thicker than cards with sleeves, which will make them take more storage space and make stacks of cards taller and so on. This is already a problem with sleeving, just more of a problem with lamination.
- One of my biggest complaints with sleeving is that it makes the cards more slippery, and thus tall stacks of cards are prone to just slide off of each other and fall over unprovoked. You can mitigate this with sleeves by buying the kind which has a coloured, textured back; you can't mitigate it with laminate.




I'd agree with these guys - I'd never even consider laminating the cards from a commercially-produced board game to protect them. Sleeves are the way to go - more reliable, reversible, faster, and if you value your time by any metric at all cheaper as well.

I've seen some people suggest that they laminate print-and-play cards to give them spring and stiffness, and I can understand that better - but even then I'd still use sleeves by preference. Or just make better cards. ;-)
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Naomi Ooooooooo

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sleeves... or be careful (edit... playing the game... not careful laminating because bad)

laminating is forever and can forever ruin your cards
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ace hawkster
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This whole thread sent a shiver up my spine , I nearly couldn't click on it at all, my two pennies worth don't even think about doing it. As in my experience one in ten laminations goes wrong, creases doesn't heat plastic correctly, and then you've got the issue of cutting all the cards exactly the same (nightmare),just sleeve them please.
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Candace Mercer
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acehawkster1973 wrote:
This whole thread sent a shiver up my spine , I nearly couldn't click on it at all, my two pennies worth don't even think about doing it. As in my experience one in ten laminations goes wrong, creases doesn't heat plastic correctly, and then you've got the issue of cutting all the cards exactly the same (nightmare),just sleeve them please.


Me too. You mess up a lamination than the card is ruined. And you know it will happen even if you are super careful. So then what do you do? It seems counterproductive to your goals of preservation.

That and the resale value. I think it would kill any value.

I am not big on sleeves on the whole. I mean I get it, but I like to touch the cards not plastic. I think this will be a forever divide in the community and that is ok. I have gotten a couple games in trade that have been sleeved and I leave them.

Print and play - those I do sleeve with colored backs, mostly so cards are uniform, to avoid being able to tell which card is up.
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Luke Phillips
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This is turning into an intervention
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Pasi Ojala
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In addition to the above issues with trimming and getting the lamination right without air bubbles and discoloration, if the laminate is scratched, you just lost your card. If a sleeve is scratched, you replace the sleeve.

Also, with a bit of play the sleeves quickly stop to be that slippery. A) they mold themselves to the cards, and the air in them escapes, B) they lose their static electricity charge, C) they collect some grease and other stuff, D) they get microscratches from shuffling.
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Hedyn Brand
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Sleeves for all the cards.

Laminating character sheets and player boards is fine though. All those things which aren't shuffled or pulled randomly out of a bag. But some games have token upgrades in sturdier materials, which could worth investigating over laminating every little chit.
 
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Derek H
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gnurf wrote:
But some games have token upgrades in sturdier materials, which could worth investigating over laminating every little chit.
'
I thought only wargamers laminated their chits - for the rest of us there are neat wooden or plastic components!
 
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Kiai Weidemann
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cool username wrote:
Just off the top of my head, the reason I've never considered laminating cards is that lamination requires some plastic to extend beyond the edge of the card. I doubt I would be able to trim that edge so they would be uniform enough not to bug the crap out of me and/or become an unintentional way of distinguishing/marking the cards.

In fact, the one PNP game whose cards I tried to laminate turned into a terrible mess (even though I'm sure others could have done it better).


I am on the sleeve side as well, but you can purchase laminating pouches that are exactly the size for your cards. With these you do not need to cut them later and they are all the exact same size.

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Ghorron
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lukerazor wrote:
This is turning into an intervention


Hehe, actually no need for an intervention

I had the same basic doubts about laminating, but wanted to see what the community says about it. It is actually worse than I imagined, about permanently damaging cards if things go wrong.

Thank you all for the input, sleeves are ordered
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Hedyn Brand
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gamesbook wrote:

I thought only wargamers laminated their chits - for the rest of us there are neat wooden or plastic components!

Sometimes there aren't (yet)
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Jacob Schoberg
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I have a laminator and find uses for it all the time (player aids, character sheets, etc.), but I would never laminate a card. Just sleeve them, way easier.

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Candace Mercer
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I would never laminate an official game part, again due to resale value and I guess OCD.

I can see laminating aids that I print from the geek. Usually though I will just print them on cards stock or nice photo paper if the aid is super nice. That seems to be adequate for my needs.

My other "trick" I have is printing a copy of the rules or copying the rule book, that keeps the original book in its original condition or as close to it as possible. Also I can make notes on the copy, rearrange pages to make it easier for use during play etc. Then there are also two copies so two rules lawyers can be searching at the same time.

Sort of related, one thing I have found handy as of late is a magnet board that is about 12x12 inches. I have it at the head of my game table for displaying rules, player aids etc so the whole table can see them. Also smaller footprint that if the aid was flat.
 
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Brian Herr
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I guess I'm lucky. I work in a lab in the printing field, so I have access to commercial grade laminating materials and equipment, including die punches - so no more uneven cards.

That said, I would prefer to coat the cards with a UV-curable coating - which is also available to me whistle at work. That will protect the edges as well as the surfaces, and as long as I'm not incredibly sloppy about it, not alter the dimensions of the cards to any appreciable degree. Plus, now I have my choice of finishes and slipperiness.
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Hedyn Brand
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I was laminating dividers today, and had to get a fresh supply of laminating pockets. I noticed that even the smallest sizes for use in laminators, at least at Staples and the other major suppliers here, are quite a bit thicker than typical card sleeves.

Sleeves are measured in total thickness, while laminator pockets saying "125 microns" are actually 2x125 microns. So even if you were able to get perfect cuts around the cards (1-2mm clearance to actually protect them) you're still dealing with protection that is 2.5 times as thick as the premium sleeves gamers use. Once you bend thick laminated sheets a little they tend to keep the new shape too.

The barracks deck for A:LE would be a tower of hard-to-shuffle blocks of plastic, even if laminated with professional equipment.

(The thinnest products they offered were not in stock, but were a more reasonable 2x75µm. Still 50% more than premium sleeves, and far more rigid.)
 
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Freelance Police
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I don't even bother sleeving *most* games, aside from Magic, deckbuilders (frequent shuffling), or cards with secret information (eg. Citadels).

Found some discussion on laminating boardgame components, particularly PnP and certain games with poorer quality cardstock: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&e...

One reddit poster noted that laminated cards and boards have more glare?
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John Middleton
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I think you will find that as your collection grows larger, most games get less and less playtime.

Sleeving is a waste of time and money.

For the cost of sleeving Legendary in any sort of quality sleeves, you could buy a spare copy.


A few rare games might warrant sleeving, but honestly, if you aren't planning on selling it, it won't matter, unless you chew on cards and spill lots.


The key thing that causes card wear is holding them in your hand through the whole game like poker cards and riffle shuffling.

Always table shuffle and hold the cards when you are playing them.
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Christopher Dong
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DegenerateElite wrote:

For the cost of sleeving Legendary in any sort of quality sleeves, you could buy a spare copy.


+1

I am a novitiate in the House of Sleeves, but to be honest my faith in the religion of sleeving cards has faltered. (The classic clash between the ideals of religion and the facts of science.) While I love how sleeves protect the cards from mishaps and keep them pristine, when I do the math for high card count games the cost of high quality sleeves can be almost as much or even more than the cost of the game itself. In addition, one has to take into consideration ‘time is money’ and double that if you practice the religion properly and double sleeve the cards. What better or more valuable things could you be doing with your time instead of sleeving your cards? Granted, this value proposition can be discounted if you find the card sleeving process therapeutic.

I have become highly selective in what games I sleeve, and if I have card wear concerns I will probably buy a second copy of the game as ‘replacement parts’ instead of sleeving them unless the numbers indicate otherwise. And to be honest I like the feel of naked cards a lot more than card sleeves, even high quality ones. This also eliminates the question of “How am I supposed to fit all these sleeved cards into the game box/insert?”
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Kiai Weidemann
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chrisemsd wrote:
DegenerateElite wrote:

For the cost of sleeving Legendary in any sort of quality sleeves, you could buy a spare copy.


+1

I am a novitiate in the House of Sleeves, but to be honest my faith in the religion of sleeving cards has faltered. (The classic clash between the ideals of religion and the facts of science.) While I love how sleeves protect the cards from mishaps and keep them pristine, when I do the math for high card count games the cost of high quality sleeves can be almost as much or even more than the cost of the game itself. In addition, one has to take into consideration ‘time is money’ and double that if you practice the religion properly and double sleeve the cards. What better or more valuable things could you be doing with your time instead of sleeving your cards? Granted, this value proposition can be discounted if you find the card sleeving process therapeutic.

I have become highly selective in what games I sleeve, and if I have card wear concerns I will probably buy a second copy of the game as ‘replacement parts’ instead of sleeving them unless the numbers indicate otherwise. And to be honest I like the feel of naked cards a lot more than card sleeves, even high quality ones. This also eliminates the question of “How am I supposed to fit all these sleeved cards into the game box/insert?”


I no longer sleeve very often either except for PNP games. It is mostly about the feel of the cards. I like to feel them. This conversation now reminds about my grandmother. When I was a kid she would place see through plastic covers on all her furniture. It kept them in pristine condition for the day she wanted to sell them, but we had to sit on really uncomfortable plastic for years.

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John Middleton
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So very true.

Sleeved cards detract substantially from the tactile experience of a game. That particular experience is one of the major reasons for playing manual games in the first place.


What's funny is that at my local game store, I see many people using the fact that some cards are sleeved as an excuse to be less careful with food and drinks and they also hold onto the cards more. It's this holding that causes real wear and possible bending.

The store copy of Dominion is sleeved and looks like crap.
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A professional told me never to laminate cards, because when they get damaged, the printed face of the card is what actually comes off, making it even worse than naked damaged cards. You can just tear it down. And it WILL get damaged around the corner fast and enough for that.

When a sleeve is damaged, change the sleeve. When a laminated card is damaged, change the game. It works for toy libraries because they cannot afford card sleeves, but I wouldn't try it for personal collections.
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John Breckenridge
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I laminated the major improvements and action cards in my copy of Agricola, because spilled water had warped the cards and laminating both flattened them out and protected against future spills.
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