Protect Your Cards With Ultimate Guard

Reading Time: 7 minutes
Ultimate Guard: Little boxes filled with card

Since it’s arrival in October, Games Worksop’s Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire has become something of an obsession for me. Not since my teenage years have I played something so relentlessly as this card/miniatures game of tactical supremacy. I love it.

But with 6 warbands already available and two more to come, with 437 cards promised for this “season,” and the teaser of another possible 557 cards in the future, I’ve had to think about where on earth I’m going to store all my cards.

Players of Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering will not be new to this issue, but for me, this is the first collectible type game I’ve been properly involved in. I started with something cheap and cheerful—the lowly deck box. I bought myself an Ultimate Guard deck box, and lo, I was pleased.

But as more cards came out, I found myself wanting to try varying deck combinations, the deck box (or deck boxes, as they had become by then) weren’t cutting it. I contacted Ultimate Guard here in Europe, and they sent me some products to try out and see what the best fit for Shadespire might be.

Currently, Ultimate Guard doesn’t make any Warhammer Underworlds-specific products, but if the game continues to grow at its current rate that may well change. There are a few bespoke options for carrying cards and tokens around (such as this one), but so far, the big players like Ultimate Guard have yet to step up to the plate. I’ve been looking at UG’s range for general CCGs. Based on what I’ve seen, a WU specific range of products would be huge boxes of awesome.

The Basics

Deck boxes:

The Ultimate Guard deck box, the “Deck Case” I’ve been using, is a good size, made of tough plastic, and comes with a plastic divider. You can carry two standard Warhammer Underworld match decks in one. They’re a good, cheap way to carry your cards. Deck boxes come as an 80+ or 100+ card version, though that is for double sleeved cards. The boxes will hold considerably more single or unsleeved cards. The 80+ card box retails at around $2. The 100+, $3. They both come in a variety of colors.

Sleeves:

This is my first introduction to the world of card sleeves. Before Shadespire they seemed like an unnecessary add-on sale. Why should I spend money on something to hold my product when I could use it to buy more product? But as I prepared for the Grand Clash, I realized I was going to need something to give my cards uniformity. I wanted nobody complaining that a rough edge of one of my cards was giving me a tactical advantage.

Games Workshop makes its own sleeves, and they’re very nice. The problem is, being GW, they’re quite expensive. They also have a faction specific design on them, which would mean you’d keep having to swap your universal cards around if you changed which warband you play. Not only that, there are only enough sleeves for 20 power cards and I use 22.

All of this meant I was looking for something else. I tried two types of Ultimate Guard sleeve, one with opaque backs and some completely clear ones. As sleeves, the opaque ones are probably better. They opaque side is slightly textured for better shuffling, and, if you do have any aberrations on the card backs, they’d be obscured.

Ultimate Guard Sleeves
Ultimate Guard sleeves. From left to right: black sleeve, reverse side, front side of black sleeve, sleeve box, clear sleeve.

For consistency, though, I went with the clear sleeves. This is because the warband fighter cards in Shadespire are double-sided. You need to be able to see both faces. I wanted to just use one product across the whole game, so I went for clear. (Note: On reflection, this was the wrong decision. I should have gone clear for the fighter cards and opaque for the deck cards. Why? Because, on balance, I think it would have looked better, and as stated above, any inconsistencies in the card backs would have been obscured.)

I tried out the Supreme UX Sleeves, and the clear ones are a little slippy. The sleeved cards are harder to shuffle than unsleeved, but it’s livable with. I bought some cheaper generic sleeves and shuffling with those was like I’d soaped the cards first. The Ultimate Guard sleeves are also nice and easy to slide cards into. There’s a couple of millimeters extra clearance and the cards fit well, without the fear that you’re going to bend them as you slide the cards in. Similarly, if you decide you want to de-sleeve a card you can do so without worrying you’ll tear the card taking it out. The Ultimate Guard sleeves were so good I bought enough to replace the cheaper ones I had already purchased. (Additional note: Make sure you by the Standard size sleeves. After a mix up on my FLGS website, I accidentally ordered the Japanese size.) Supreme UX sleeves cost $6 for 80 and, again, come in a variety of colors.

Boxing Clever

Beyond deck boxes, Ultimate Guard provides a number of options. Some are more useful than others for Warhammer Underworlds players than others, but all are of excellent quality.

Flip’n’Tray. Big and small. Holds cards and dice/tokens.

For traveling to tournaments or even just game night, there is the “Flip ‘n’ Tray.” This can hold up to 80 cards, which is enough space to take two Warhammer Underworlds decks (usually around 32 to 36 cards each). There is even a little flip tray, (as mentioned in the name) that you can carry your dice and or tokens in. The compartments have pull open tabs, that seal nice and tight, held in place with some strong magnets. Nothing is going to fall out of your Flip ‘n’ Tray.

All of these Ultimate Guard products are coated in what the company calls its “Xenoskin.” Xenoskin is tactile in the extreme and non-slip, making all the Ultimate Guard boxes a pleasure to use. The Xenoskin products exude quality. The Flip ‘n’ Tray 80+, which is probably the best bet for a single Warhammer Underworlds deck, is priced at $25.

Ultimate Guard Arkhive
The ArkHive. Best named product ever? Will hold an Ultimate Guard deck box or loose cards.

If you’re not bothered about transporting your dice too, there’s always the brilliantly named the “ArkHive”. This is a long rectangular prism that you can stuff full of cards. It will take 400+ double sleeved cards, and 500+ single sleeved cards, so should be able to hold all of the first wave of Warhammer Underworlds cards in most circumstances. (There will be 437 in the first set, so if you double sleeve your cards the Arkhive might not fit them all.) If you’re a gaming Philistine like me, you’ll fit in a whopping 800+ cards! Plenty of room to keep you going for quite some time, and probably means you can use it for you cards, dice, and tokens.

If you do like a standard deck box, the ArkHive has been designed to take 5 Ultimate Guard deck cases too, making it easier to transport multiple sets of ordered cards. The ArkHive 400+ costs $35 and is available in an array of colors.

If you want to step up to an even greater level, you could look at the SuperHive. This box should cover most of your Warhammer Underworlds needs, at least for the next few months.

The SuperHive can take up to 1100+ unsleeved cards. 650+ single sleeved. It can even hold two Flip ‘n’ Tray boxes, if you’ve gone down that route, or 5 of the standard 80 card deck cases. There is also a space for a gaming mat. Ultimate Guard does make neoprene gaming mats, and they’re nice, especially if you can find one with a decent picture on it, but these are more useful for standard CCG players. You could use one to lay your cards out on, placing it up against the WU board, but considering the tight space the game is sometimes played in, you may find a mat just gets in the way.

Ultimate Guard Super Hive.
It’s a box! it’s a case! It’s SuperHive!

At the moment, unless you have a 3rd party neoprene Shadepsire board, you’re probably not going to have much use for the game mat space, unless you get some packing materials and add your warband miniatures. The SuperHive retails at $59 and is available in 4 colors, including a very fetching purple.

Your Very Own Fiend Folio

Possibly the most useful item that Ultimate Guard currently makes for Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire is its “QuadRow Zipfolio,” a 40-page zippable folder. Each page has 12 pockets to hold cards, meaning it will hold 480 cards altogether, plenty enough to hold of the Shadespire deck cards and the extra fighter cards. (Note: Ultimate Guard describes this as having 20 pages X 24 pockets, which confused me a little.) With a rumored 557 cards coming in the next wave, we might need something a little bigger in the future, but for now, this is perfect.

Ultimate Guard. Quadrow
The Quadrow Zipfolio. For holding all your babies. Perfect for deck-building and keeping your cards in order.

The Quadrow Zipfolio is an excellent product. It has a Xenoskin outer, which is both tactile and hardwearing. The cards slip into the pockets very easily, whether sleeved or unsleeved. Providing you don’t mind the effort of sorting your cards into numerical order, the Quadrow folder is a particularly great way to store them. You have each warband concentrated together and can see a good number of cards together at once, making it great when you’re building a deck. If you’re the sort of person who likes to play a different warband each match, or you run a Shadespire YouTube channel, that means variety is king, this folio is the ideal choice. The Quadrow Zipfolio retails at $40 and comes in 7 possible colors.

Why go for Ultimate Guard?

Ultimate Guard’s tagline is “for gamers, from gamers” and this shows in their products. Everything I’ve looked at is of the highest quality. The difficult bit is working out exactly what you need.

This, of course, depends on your needs (and which game you play). For Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire, I’d say the most useful product is the Quadrow Zipfolio. It will hold all the cards. For traveling to games, a simple deck box may be your best bet, but for a little more style check out the small Flip’n’Tray.

Looking further ahead, there are lots more cards coming (557), so perhaps a Superhive is worth an investment. It will, if you don’t use the mat space, also give you a place to store at least one warband.

Disclaimer: I was sent these Ultimate Guard products in order to write this review. 

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