I’d hate your dirty hands as well but obviously anyone reading this is too refined to have filthy mitts. I like boardgames. I can’t really afford to buy them these days but due to the fact I don’t get them to the table as often as I’d like I have a backlog that makes that a non-issue (and even though the industry is doing well new ones I’m interested in don’t really come out that fast). But there is a hidden price to boardgames. To quote the cinematic masterpiece that was Highlander III, “No Glove, No Love”. Not to overstate it but the vast majority of modern boardgames use cards. Cards which the filthies that play them pick up with the muck laden meat hooks they call hands. Which means that at the very least before playing a game, if not at the same moment as I buy it, I find myself required to buy card sleeves to protect these cards. I’d love to play these games enough for wear and tear to be a real issue or play games with more miniatures (but then you have to pain them and apply a protective coat to keep the paint safe, varnish – natures card sleeves).
Now there is a fair bit of price variance to be had when it comes to card sleeves, from the legendary “penny sleeves” (about 40 microns thick and slippy as fuck) all the way up to perfect fit matter pro sleeves. The high-end ones make sense, if you’re making a living off playing something like Magic then you want to keep your cards in pristine condition and can afford to buy premium (~100 microns thick, matte or crystal finish, textured back, etc.) sleeves in bulk whenever you need them. But for CCG’s you only really need enough sleeves for one or two decks and you can keep most of your collection in binders. Not so for boardgames which range from 200-600 cards per box, all of which might see play and therefore all of which need sleeving. Boardgames also have the honour of having various standard card sizes, which means you have to go trawling for reviews for card sleeves from various manufacturers to see which fit properly (as not all boardgame manufacturers nor card sleeve manufacturers are created equal). Living in Ireland makes it bad enough as you are forced to buy online, the current terrible state of the Euro makes it even worse.
I’ve used http://www.sleevedominion.com/ before, the US dollar price was attractive and free international shipping makes them more or less unbeatable for Irish customers. Unfortunately it feels like they’ve been sold out of everything other than Dominion sleeves for what feels like forever. So that leaves trawling eBay and UK stores for the best deal you can get and hopefully knowing someone up North you can get stuff shipped to. The punitive Euro:Sterling exchange rate at the moment makes that less than attractive. Thin disposable plastic gloves are dirt cheap for a few hundred, but I imagine people would probably object if I made them wear them to play. Selfish bastards.
So as it is most of my boardgames are actually unsleeved, while it makes sense to buy sleeves in bulk to save on shipping, every time I come to the checkout all I can think is “I could buy another game for that price” (or course I then couldn’t play that game as I’d have no sleeves for it). People need to start releasing games with plastic or die cut metal cards.
Edit: As a post-dawn pre-bed addendum, heres a good example of the plight of the European boardgamer. Stumbled across a Kickstarter for Millenium Blades “The CCG Simulator Board Game”, it looks great both in terms of physical production and the game itself looks fun (and I’ve been a fan of Lvl99’s other stuff). However the price of shipping is basically equal to the cost of the pledge itself, to the point where the Kickstarter itself recommends people outside the US dont back it but acquire it locally. The woes of international shipping.