Every Magic player knows that sleeves are essential. But they aren’t all created equal. Here at Bolt the Bird, we take the work out of testing sleeves so you don’t have to. Today, we’re looking at our top pick for the best MTG sleeves on the market. Our Dragon Shield Dual Matte review will give you everything you need to know about one of today’s most popular card sleeves.
Before diving in, you should know that we rank sleeves based on five metrics: durability, shuffle feel, visibility, style, and value. We then combine those rankings to create a final score out of five stars.
Ready to see if Dragon Shield Dual Matte sleeves are right for you? Read on!
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What are Dragon Shield Dual Matte Sleeves?
Dragon Shield’s regular matte sleeves have been a favorite of card players for years. In 2021, they announced a new line of sleeves, the Dual Matte.
Designed to solve a pain point of players, Dragon Shield’s Dual Matte sleeves are fully opaque. In other words, you can’t see the back of the card. With the rising number of dual-faced cards in MTG, this is an excellent new feature.
To achieve full opacity, they feature a black interior. This hides the card back while also framing black-bordered cards perfectly. It creates a borderless effect for regular cards, making the art pop inside the sleeve.
Outside of this, the Dual Matte sleeves have the same features and quality you’d expect from Dragon Shield. From a glossy front to a buttery smooth shuffle feel, these sleeves have it all.
While this review is focused on using Dual Mattes for Magic, it’s worth noting that they also fit cards from other TCGs, including Pokemon, Flesh & Blood, Digimon, and more.
Dragon Shield Dual Matte Colors
After launching with five bright colors, Dual Matte sleeves now come in several more. You can currently get them in the following (including the latest new colors):
1. Snow (White)
2. Orchid (Lavender)
3. Lightning (Bright Yellow)
4. Lagoon (Light Blue)
5. Eucalyptus (Light Green)
6. Crypt (Dark Gray)
8. Glacier (Vibrant Blue)
9. Ember (Dark Orange)
12. Wisdom (Deep Blue) — New!
13. Valor (Ivory) — New!
14. Might (Forest Green) — New!
15. Truth (Metallic Gold) — New!
16. Justice (Metallic Silver) — New!
For those counting, that’s a total of 16 colors at the time of this writing. If you want to check out the full lineup of Dragon Shield Dual Matte sleeves, you can find them here.
Dragon Shield Matte vs. Dual Matte
As mentioned, the primary difference between Dragon Shield’s new Dual Matte sleeves and the typical Matte sleeves is the opaque interior.
Non-dual Matte sleeves feature an interior the same color as the back. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, and the sleeves still look great.
However, during tournament play, it’s often possible to see the back of your cards through the sleeves. This is especially true for lighter-colored sleeves.
If you’re sleeving up for a tournament and want to ensure your deck isn’t going to cause an issue with the judge, Dual Mattes are the way to go.
Otherwise, everything you’ll find here is about the same. The Dual Matte and Matte both feature a textured back that makes shuffling super smooth. You won’t be throwing your cards all over the place or having them slip between your hands. They also both feature the typical Dragon Shield front, which lets you see your cards with crystal clarity. Glare can occasionally be an issue if you’re playing under bright overhead lighting. However, that’s more of a playspace issue as you can have glare with just about any sleeve.
Dragon Shield Classic vs. Dual Matte
There are two big differences between the Dragon Shield Classic and Dual Matte sleeves. The first is the interior. Like the regular Mattes, Classic sleeves feature an interior that matches the back of the sleeve.
However, they also feature a smooth texture on the back. This creates a much different shuffle feel than matte sleeves. Most players prefer the latter. Classic non-matte sleeves can have some issues with sticking together during shuffling. They also tend to be a bit slippery when stacking them in a deck. For instance, you might notice issues with brand-new Classic sleeves when piling up a 100-card Commander deck.
That being said, there are plenty of fans of the Classic non-matte sleeves. They still offer all the protection and durability you’d expect from a Dragon Shield Product.
Dragon Shield Dual Matte Sleeve Review
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of the new Dual Matte lineup, it’s time to get into the details. This is where we’ll discuss various aspects of the sleeve and how it performs. We’ll also give it a 1-5 rating in each category.
Let’s dive into our Dragon Shield Dual Matte sleeve review!
The company’s slogan isn’t “Tough as scales” for nothing. Unlike some of the cheaper options on the market, Dragon Shield sleeves are meant to last. Many players buy a box, sleeve up their deck, and don’t need to replace them for years.
Overall, the Dual Matte lineup is very durable and will last a long time. If you’re not too rough during shuffling, expect these sleeves to last for several years. They can get a bit dirty if you play a lot or don’t use a playmat. That isn’t necessarily a fault of the sleeves. However, their matte textured back does pick up more dirt than sleeves with a smooth back.
The one issue that players have pointed out here is an issue with splitting in some boxes of Dual Matte. It appears to be a manufacturing error as the reports of splitting aren’t consistent. Likewise, some players who bought two boxes at the same time noticed that one box had several sleeves split during play while the others were fine.
It does seem that the splitting issue tends to affect the original five colors (Snow, Lightning, Orchid, Eucalyptus, and Lagoon) more than the newer colors. This could indicate a design flaw that Dragon Shield fixed after rolling out the initial batch.
This is really only an issue for Commander players who need all of their sleeves. Those who enjoy 60-card formats will have plenty of spares should they have a few split.
Aside from rogue splitting issues, Dual Mattes are, as they say, “tough as scales.”
Score: 4 out of 5
Dragon Shield’s Dual Matte sleeves retail for $13.99 in the U.S. for older colors and $14.99 for the latest varieties. This is slightly higher than the regular Mattes, which retail for $12.49.
While the difference in quality is pretty negligible, you’re paying up for a newer product that offers additional features over the base model.
Given the durability these sleeves offer, it’s hard to pick on the value. Each sleeve comes out to a meager $0.14. Since you shouldn’t have to worry about buying more sleeves as replacements, these will likely save you money in the long run.
Just know that you are paying a premium price for a premium product. We say it’s worth the investment, though.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
Dragon Shield owns the game when it comes to shuffle feel. The matte backing on these sleeves makes the experience flawless.
Whether you’re a mash shuffler or a heathen riffler, you can’t argue that shuffling cards in these sleeves feel great. The textured back gives you plenty of control and allows the cards to slide past each other with ease.
You’ll never have to worry about cards getting stuck, slipping out of your hand, or otherwise causing havoc between rounds.
Score: 5 out of 5
Unlike some cheaper sleeves, these offer perfect clarity in their front face. In fact, they even make the art on your cards more vibrant.
Where the visibility really shines, though, is the black interior. This is the perfect backdrop for black-bordered Magic cards. It is the same shade as the border, letting the card fade seamlessly into the sleeve. This creates a borderless illusion and brings your card to life.
While you wouldn’t think this minor feature makes that much of a difference, the side-by-side of a card in a Dual Matte versus a regular sleeve is shocking (see below).
Score: 5 out of 5
We’ve pretty much touched on how Dual Mattes stand out from a style perspective. The black interior is a perfect addition to an already stylish sleeve.
Dragon Shield’s colors are also some of the most vibrant on the market. The color selection for Dual Mattes is fantastic. Each release brings several must-haves to the lineup. The various colors pop and don’t fade regardless of how much you’re playing. Better yet, the color never rubs off on your other cards or deck box.
Finally, the cardboard box these sleeves come in brings some style of its own. Each comes with stunning artwork and a story attached to it. You can use them to store your decks and rest assured that you aren’t compromising for a boring box.
Score: 5 out of 5
Should I Buy Dragon Shield Dual Matte Sleeves?
We think so! Dragon Shield’s Dual Matte sleeves are currently our top pick for the best MTG sleeve on the market. You can’t go wrong with their mix of quality, shuffle feel, and style.
Overall, we give the Dual Matte lineup a resounding 4.75 out of 5.
In case you still don’t have your mind made up, here is a quick pros and cons list summarizing everything you need to know about the Dragon Shield Dual Matte lineup.
- Black interior makes card art pop and is fully opaque
- Excellent shuffle feel
- High-quality sleeve that’s built to last
- Great lineup of colors to choose from
- Some players report issues with splitting in older colors
- More expensive than most other options
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