Sleeves – A Handy Guide

Morning runners! I got asked earlier this week if I would like a guest article about card sleeves, and how well the different brands handle varied card backs – an important topic, considering not only do NISEI cards have a different back to FFG, but so do each of the alt-arts produced by our amazing #artist-colony community. So naturally, I said yes I would love this! Two days later @percomis delivered me just what had been offered, and so here we are! Many thanks to him, and the helpful people in #future who helped out with images…

Over to you Percomis!

Hey everyone!

Since NISEI started making cards with a different back than the original FFG ones there was some buzz around card sleeves. I wrote into Stimslack’s #future channel that someone should probably write an article on this and people started sending me pictures of sleeves, so I’m now writing that article 🙂

The Issue

If you’re new to the game you might wonder why sleeves matter at all, why can’t you just use any brand and type? Quoting the NISEI Organized Play Policies (this had been the same during FFG days, by the way):

Decks must be legal for the event’s format and sleeved in opaque, standard-sized card sleeves of consistent size, color, texture, and condition.

The issue is that with some sleeves you can notice that they are although they meant to be opaque, they are actually somewhat see-through. This isn’t generally a problem when all of your card backs are the same, but there could be slight differences even with alt-art backs by FFG and now the NISEI card back is highlighting this issue even more.

The Solution

Worry not my fellow runners of the nets, there are indeed sleeves that are fully opaque and I will present some of those to you.

First up let’s start with one that is not to show the issue at hand.

Image provided by @paulyg

Both the NISEI logo and the FFG card back are clearly visible through these Dragon Shield Matte Blue sleeves. However if you don’t want to give up on Dragon Shield Matte sleeves, there are two things you can do:

You can use Dragon Shield Matte Black sleeves …

Image provided by @charlotte_k-l

… or use Dragon Shield Perfect Fit Smoke inner sleeves:

Image provided by @paulyg

Now I’m aware that these two options might not work for some people. Sticking to black sleeves only can lead to finding your corp cards in your runner deck (and vica versa) and some people might not be the fan of the thickness (thicc as the youngsters call it) of double sleeved cards. The solution then leads to other brands.

Ultimate Guard Katana sleeves seem fully opaque in all of their colour choices.

Image provided by @paulyg

Similarly Ultra PRO Eclipse sleeves with all their colours:

Image provided by @3N1GM4

I personally use KMC Hyper Matte sleeves and they seem to be fully opaque as well:

This one is from me.

And I’ve been told FFG art sleeves too:

Image provided by @charlotte_k-l

Closing Thoughts

There you have it gang, a wealth of options on all things sleeves. I only focused on the transparency of the sleeves, but if you’re wondering how they function and feel, I can recommend the extensive video library of Tolarian Community College and their sleeve reviews.

I know Dragon Shield sleeves have a large fanbase in the community and I also realize some or maybe even most of the listed solutions are on the higher end of the sleeve price spectrum. Opaqueness isn’t a new issue however and if you ever went to a tournament before, this is something you probably had to handle somehow. Besides, your cards love you (even when they give you agendas instead of ICE) and don’t they deserve some quality, opaque love in return?

Thank you for reading all this, I hope it was worth it and you learned something new about sleeves. I want to finish up with one of the best sleeve themed UFAQ entries of all time:

Q. Why is Dan D’Argenio depicted as wearing sleeves on Deuces Wild?

A. Cards must be sleeved to be legal for tournament play.


  • Serenity "SwearyPrincess" Westfield

    Serenity is the VP of Engagement for Null Signal Games, and wishes it was her full time job. Known by some as "Netrunner's Cool Goth Mom", she's a DJ in her spare-spare time and streams under the psuedonym SwearyPrincess!