MTG Wiki

Introduction of black sleeves

A sleeve is a plastic protective cover for cards, that prevents scuffing. They can be sold in clear versions or with or opaque backs, in a range of colors, and can even have artwork on their backs.[1] According to Wizards of the Coast, 90% of cards in constructed tournaments are sleeved.[2]

Opaque sleeves[ | ]

Opaque sleeves provide an advantage, they make older and newer card backs be indistinguishable and conceal minor damage of cards (which would otherwise be unplayable as they are considered to be marked). There are two conditions under which opaque sleeves must be used regardless of a card's condition:

Double-sleeving[ | ]

While single sleeving protects against general wear and tear, double sleeving makes your cards waterproof and nigh-indestructible. For this, two sleeves are used with the opening on opposite sides.[3][4][5] Double sleeving also protects cards from dirt specks, which can be a major problem if any happen to find their way inside of a single-sleeve. Double sleeving is also better for foils since it reduces the air flow around the card and helps prevent warping. Once you push the air out, shuffling is thought to be easier as well.

Rules[ | ]

Playing with sleeves with artwork is permitted in all DCI official events, including all Premier Events. The Magic Tournament Rules also have parts regulating the permitted specification of artwork sleeves in non-regular REL events (which should have solid borders and had low reflection rate), and also giving Head Judge rights to disallow any sleeves which they decide as unsuitable for the event (for example, sleeves with scratches that make it possible to tell individual cards apart).

During the Booster Draft portion of Professional REL events (Grand Prix main events, Pro Tours, and the World Championship), determined by the number (or lacking of) and opening frequency of double-faced cards of the set(s) used, Wizards of the Coast may announce the event is a pre-sleeved event (i.e. all cards will be pre-sleeved by staff before players "open the packs"); players may replace the provided sleeves with their own sleeves in matches once pool registration is finished in such events.[6]

From the Tournament Rules (May 13, 2024—Outlaws of Thunder Junction)

  • 3.11 Sleeves
    Players may use plastic card sleeves or other protective devices on cards. If a player chooses to use card sleeves, all sleeves must be identical and all cards in their deck must be placed in the sleeves in an identical manner. If the sleeves feature holograms or other similar markings, cards must be inserted into the sleeves so these markings appear only on the faces of the cards.

    During a match, a player may request that a judge inspect an opponent’s card sleeves. The judge may disallow the card sleeves if they believe they are marked, worn, or otherwise in a condition or of a design that interferes with shuffling or game play. In the interest of efficiency, the judge may choose to delay any change of sleeves until the end of the match.

    Competitive and Professional Rules Enforcement Level tournaments impose additional restrictions on sleeves.

    Highly reflective backs are not allowed. Sleeves with hologram patterns across some or all of the sleeve front or back are not allowed. Sleeves with artwork on their backs may be subjected to additional scrutiny, especially if there is no solid border around the edges.

    When using sleeves on double-faced cards, sleeves must be completely opaque.

    The Head Judge is the final authority on what sleeves are allowed.

Manufacturers[ | ]

Ultra Pro, the Japanese KMC, and Dragon Shield are the main sleeve producers. Ultra Pro also introduced sleeves for oversized cards.[7]

MTG Arena[ | ]

In MTG Arena, card sleeves are optional cosmetic treatments that change the way the back of a card looks. Once a card sleeve is acquired, you can apply it to as many decks as you like. They have no effect on game play.[8]

References[ | ]