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Subject: Comprehensive Sleeving Guide rss

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Alex Sundown
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/edited September 09, 2017:
Updated slightly to include a couple of minor changes stemming from my own personal experience.



Since the question of how many cards to sleeve for guaranteeing the longevity of Gloomhaven comes up fairly regularly, and while it's always a heated discussion concerning legacy games, I tried my best to cover every aspect to help people who already did, or — after reading this guide — decide to do so.


Comprehensive Sleeving Guide


The final card count for Gloomhaven is 727 Standard Cards (2.5" x 3.5") and 975 Mini European Cards (44mm x 68mm).


727 Standard Cards:
505 Character Ability Cards
150 Event Cards (69 Road & 81 City)
40 Random Dungeon Cards (20 Room & 20 Monster)
24 Personal Quest Cards
4 Player Reference Cards
4 Secret Special Cards


If you don't want to sleeve all the cards, the order of priority could be:


Character ability cards (max. 505 — suggested: ~100, up from 50)
Since the hand size differs from character to character and ranges from 8-12 among the 6 starting character classes, you’ll want to get around 10 sleeves per player. I haven’t looked at the sealed classes and to keep this spoiler free, we’ll just look at the starting character classes:

Spellweaver: 8 cards
Scoundrel: 9 cards
Brute: 10 cards
Mindthief: 10 cards
Cragheart: 11 cards
Tinkerer: 12 cards

Depending on the number of players and their chosen starting character class, you can easily calculate the actual number of sleeves you’ll need. Keep in mind though, that besides the listed starting hand size of level 1 cards, every character will have access to three level X cards and two additional cards per level gained. But one’s hand size will always be limited to the number written on their character board.

And now that I've had my own experience playing Gloomhaven, I would also recommend to get an additional pack of standard card sleeves, because while it's true that each character's hand size is limited to a number between 8 and 12, after you've reached level 9 and gained access to the 3 level X and 8 other cards ranging from level 2 to 9, the ability cards that make up your available card pool have been doubled. Sleeving all of your available cards is certainly not necessary but could be considered a "quality of life" improvement.


Player Reference Cards (max. 4 — suggested: 4)

The 4 player reference cards function as player aids providing brief information about the icons used throughout the game. Since these 4 cards will be referenced quite a bit especially during the early game, it won’t hurt to sleeve them, too.


Event Cards (69 Road and 81 City) (max. 150 — suggested: ~100)

When the game box is opened and the campaign begins, a shuffled city event deck and road event deck should both be created using city and road events 01 through 30. Over the course of the campaign players will be directed to add or remove certain events from these decks. Both event decks should be shuffled when a card is added to them, which does happen with increasing frequency and especially after retiring and starting new characters. If you decide to sleeve these cards you should keep in mind, that you won’t have to sleeve all of them at once. Additionally, the box insert doesn’t even include enough space to store these cards being sleeved. So again, you could get a pack of 50 sleeves for each of these event decks and sleeve the individual cards once they are added to their respective deck.


Random Dungeon Cards (20 Room and 20 Monster) (max. 40 — suggested: none or all 40)
Instead of playing through a scenario from the Scenario Book, players always have the option to play through a random dungeon instead. These random dungeons always consist of three rooms being set up by using a room card and a monster card, each drawn randomly from the tops of their shuffled decks. If you’re not into random dungeons, you won’t need these cards at all. Otherwise you’ll need to shuffle these cards quite a bit. The box insert does have a designated slot to store these cards sleeved, but at first glance, depending on the thickness of your sleeves of course, it may seem like not enough.


Personal Quest Cards (max. 24 — suggested: none)

When a character is created, he or she is dealt two random personal quest cards and chooses one to keep, returning the other to the personal quest deck. A character’s personal quest is their primary reason for participating in a party. These cards are only shuffled when a newly created character is dealt his or her Personal Quest Card and function as a reminder for each player’s personal goal during the game, which could just be noted on the appropriate character pad. The box insert doesn’t include enough space to store these cards being sleeved as well.


Secret Special Cards (max. 4 — suggested: 4)
Obviously I don’t know what these cards are for, but it’s probably save to say, that if you’re going to consider sleeving at least some of your Gloomhaven cards, chances are, that you’ll have some card sleeves left over.



In conclusion: For the average player who doesn’t want to sleeve every single card but doesn’t want to play the game completely without sleeves either, 200 (up from 150) Standard Card Sleeves should be more than enough. Make that 250 if you plan to play the random dungeon game variant.




975 Mini European Cards
457 Attack Modifier Cards
232 Monster Ability Cards
228 Standard Item Cards
25 Random Item Cards
24 Battle Goal Cards
9 Random Scenario Cards


If you don't want to sleeve all the cards, you might be more inclined to sleeve, in order of importance:


Attack Modifier Cards (max. 457 — suggested: 150)

Any time an attack ability is performed, a separate attack modifier card is drawn for each individual target of the attack. Players draw from the personal attack modifier deck for their chosen character and monsters draw from a collective monster deck. These cards are shuffled constantly because at the end of the round in which a "Null" or "2x" card is drawn, players will shuffle all the played modifier cards back into that particular draw deck. This shuffling also happens if a modifier card must be drawn and there are none left in the draw pile.

Since card sleeves more often than not come in quantities of 50, and you’ll definitely need more than 100 (4 player decks + 1 monster deck of 20 cards, plus any scenario effects, curses and blesses), you’ll definitely be looking at 3 packs of 50 card sleeves each. These will be more than enough, though. Isaac Childres himself mentioned to use 145 card sleeves to generously sleeve all the modifier cards needed for any given scenario. Keep in mind that there’s no space at all to store these cards inside the box insert because the intention is to keep your deck inside your character’s tuck box. And all character specific attack modifier cards are already there.


Monster Ability Cards (max. 232 — suggested: 232)
These will be shuffled quite often but you’ll only need the cards specific to the monsters currently present inside any given scenario. Each round, after players have selected their own ability cards, one card is drawn for each monster type currently on the board from their respective decks of monster ability cards. These cards determine which abilities each monster of that type — both normal and elite — will perform during the round on its turn.

There are 34 standard monsters each with their own ability card deck of 8 cards. It doesn’t add up quite nicely (232 / 34 = 6.8), because some monster types share the same, more generic ability deck. For instance, Bandit Guards, City Guards, and Inox Guards all use the same "Guard" deck, but it's sufficient to say, that you won’t need all of them at once. Mostly there are around 3-6 different monster types per scenario. That means a pack of 50 card sleeves should get you covered, but this time in particular, the box insert was made to accommodate all of these cards being sleeved at once. If you want to cut your expanses and only sleeve the monsters currently needed you’ll have increased setup time for each scenario but it would be possible, I guess. Additionally, I don’t know how often the monster types change from scenario to scenario but keep in mind that constantly sleeving and unsleeving cards could also increase wear and tear. Otherwise you’ll just have to bite the bullet and sleeve every one of those 232 cards.


Battle Goal Cards (max. 24 — suggested: 24)
These cards do get shuffled at the beginning of every scenario. Each character then receives two battle goal cards in secret and chooses one to keep, discarding the other. Additionally, no matter if they were completed or not, all battle goals are returned to the battle goal deck at the end of the scenario. If you feel the need to sleeve these cards, you’ll definitely end up sleeving all 24 of them.


Standard Item Cards (max. 228 — suggested: 40)
These cards won’t get shuffled at all and again, there’s no space in the box insert to store these cards being sleeved. You’ll be looking at 10 active item cards per player at the most, and if you don’t trust your players you can provide 40 card sleeves, so that each player can sleeve his or her item cards he or she brings into battle. Just sleeve an item card once acquired by a player.


Random Item Cards (max. 25 — suggested: none)
These are shuffled once at the beginning of the game and then, whenever a "Random Item Design" is listed as the reward when looting a treasure tile, the looting player should draw a card from the random item design deck. You won’t have to sleeve these cards, too, especially if you follow my advice above and keep 40 card sleeves for the active item cards around the table.


Random Scenario Cards (max. 9 — suggested: none)
Whenever a "Random Side Scenario" is listed as the reward when looting a treasure tile, the looting player should draw a card from the random side scenario deck. The drawn scenario is then immediately unlocked and its corresponding sticker is placed on the campaign map. The drawn scenario card is then removed from the game. These 9 cards probably have the lowest priority, but chances are, that you’ll have some card sleeves left over.



In conclusion: For the average player who doesn’t want to sleeve every single card but also wants to guarantee the longevity of his or her game, you’ll be looking at Mini European Card Sleeves for:

150 Attack Modifier Cards
232 Monster Ability Cards
24 Battle Goal Cards
40 Item Cards

Which results in 446 Mini European Card Sleeves, or 9 packs of 50 card sleeves.



WOW! This got way longer than imagined when I started this a couple of days ago. But I hope that at least some of you find the information listed helpful. Best regards!
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Jim Parkin
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There is no way in Hades I'm sleeving this whole game. Goodness gracious! Just so many cards!

Cue my avatar.
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Ben Tate
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This, this is why I subscribe to games on BGG. You sir are a gentleman, a scholar and an acrobat. Thank you!
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Marty McFly
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I'm not a sleever myself, but the work you put into the sleeving guide is appreciated anyway.

Welcome to BGG!
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Isaac Childres
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First of all, Alex, thanks for doing this. I couldn't have written it up any better.

Just a couple notes to help clarify things:

Eyegleam wrote:
According to the designer Isaac Childres in his recent unboxing video of Gloomhaven: "The cards don’t really get shuffled. They get shuffled like once and then that’s it." But the rule book states, that when a card is added to an event deck, the event deck should then be shuffled, which would probably be more then once with 39 additional road 51 additional city event cards left.

Yeah, I misspoke in the video. Sorry about that. I guess I was more thinking that the decks would be shuffled infrequently, but over the course of an entire campaign, it still adds up. On average, I'd say you'll be adding a new card to each deck and shuffling every two or three scenarios, so there is justification to sleeve the cards, but you will have problems with the insert if you do.

Eyegleam wrote:
There are 34 standard monsters each with their own ability card deck of 8 (?) cards. It doesn’t add up quite nicely (232 / 34 = 6.8), because sometimes, multiple monster types use the same, more generic ability deck. For instance, Bandit Guards, City Guards, and Inox Guards all use the same "Guard" deck. And there are still 13 bosses left, but sufficient to say, you won’t need all of them at once.

There are 29 separate decks, including a single deck that governs all bosses. I would definitely recommend sleeving all or none here. Since each scenario has a different set of monsters, you would constantly be sleeving and unsleeving if you only had enough sleeves for five decks, and that would quickly become very bothersome.
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Alex P
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Excellent work. It's nice to have it all in one place.
 
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Luke Jacobs
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Thanks so much for putting this together.

I was estimating around $200 to sleeve the entire thing, which is way too much for me(I don't like the way cheap sleeves feel, hence the cost.), so I was planning to figure something like this out.

You've saved me a ton of time. GG for you!
 
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Josh B
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If sleeved, will the cards fit back in the box?
 
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Norman L.
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GlobeTrotting wrote:
If sleeved, will the cards fit back in the box?

if you sleeved all of the cards? no, they will not fit back into the insert.
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Christian Kløve
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GlobeTrotting wrote:
If sleeved, will the cards fit back in the box?


If sleeved, the cards might not even fit back into your house. Lotta cards, just sayin'.
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Greg
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You're going to need a bigger box table gaming room house.
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Josh B
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Thanks all, time to get to work making a custom insert!
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Josh McDowell
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GlobeTrotting wrote:
If sleeved, will the cards fit back in the box?


There is room in the insert to sleeve the most used cards, but cards that aren't shuffled often or at all have no room to sleeve them.
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Bryan Ruhe
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What cards will fit back into the insert when sleeved?

ANSWER:

- Dungeon Randomization Deck [40 Standard Cards]
- Attack Modifier Cards (player cards go in character boxes) [457 Mini Euro Cards, 150 sleeves suggested]
- Battle Goals [24 Mini Euro Cards]
- Monster Ability Cards [232 Mini Euro Cards]

Isaac said there should be room to sleeve the Monster Ability Cards, but looking at the video I question that...

So
406 Mini European Card sleeves
40 Standard Card sleeves
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A K Vikhagen
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In the unboxing video he shows the insert and talks about the thinking around sleeving and which cards etc:

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Antonio Caciolli
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if we would like to pack the monster stats and action cards as Isaac suggested, I wonder if is there the risk to damage the monsters cards below the weight of the tiles and other stuff weight

In addition, I would like to see how to pack everything after removing every monsters, token, tiles from the 18 punchboards
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Alex Sundown
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Antonio8080 wrote:
if we would like to pack the monster stats and action cards as Isaac suggested, I wonder if is there the risk to damage the monsters cards below the weight of the tiles and other stuff weight

I obviously can't answer this for sure, but if you watch the unboxing video above closely at the 9:00 minutes mark, you can see how the monster stat cards are marginally smaller than the character tuck boxes. So my guess would be, that by putting the game board in the box first, before all the punch board stuff, that the board would (hopefully exclusively) lay on the character tuck boxes and won't tip over to the side of the cards after putting all the punch board stuff on top of it. If you lay down the bigger punch board tiles like the 30 rooms for example on the side of the character tuck boxes this should work while the box is stationary at least.


Antonio8080 wrote:
In addition, I would like to see how to pack everything after removing every monsters, token, tiles from the 18 punchboards

That would probably be completely up to you. There's a lot of space but to avoid too much chaos, you could store the smaller overlay tiles and the different monster standees in different plastic bags, big envelops or something similar.
 
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Mike McCarthy
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It is a Legacy game. Play once and you are done. Probably won't sleeve because of this. Besides, are cards torn up in legacy games? Much tougher with a sleeve
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Bryan Ruhe
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edparkmike1 wrote:
It is a Legacy game. Play once and you are done. Probably won't sleeve because of this. Besides, are cards torn up in legacy games? Much tougher with a sleeve


Except that cards don't get torn up in this one, and there's a deck of Random Dungeon cards that are, in part, included to add one-off replayability to the game. Hardly a one-and-done box of goodies.
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Jason Winterfeld
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Thank you for this.

I for one plan on sleeving the cards I am using....

Reason why would be when we have to place a sticker on the card I can put a note in the sleeve instead of using the sticker. That way two groups can play at one time and not ruin the whole thing.

Also you can reset the game so much easier this way... if anyone planned on doing that.
 
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Alex P
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You can do what you like, but FYI enhancements to ability cards are supposed to be permanent. They are meant to apply to all uses of the card, even by different characters. You can think of them as new teaching techniques.
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Todd T
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Thanks to this thread, I ordered a bunch of sleeves for the attack modifier decks and player action cards. This is the first game I bought sleeves for, but it's also my first $100 board game, so I thought the cost justified it.

The ones I ordered were from Miniature Market. I almost wish I had ones with clear backs on them so you could see the existing backs. In hindsight I wish I had ordered that. Has anyone seen sleeves with clear backs on them? Most have some sort of backing.
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Morthai Saichor
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look into arcane tinman boardgamesleeves
 
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Alex Sundown
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The card sleeves made by Fantasy Flight Games for example are completely clear and free of any branding, too.
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Jo Bartok
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FFG sleeves aint as good as Ultra Pro Deck Protectors but they serve the job just fine. SwanPanasia also do the job for a lower price and are of similar quality compared to FFG.

You can get Swan Pan here: http://www.smiling-monster.com/
And I have been a happy customer of those guys a few times.
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