Gloomhaven: The Pros and Cons of Sleeving

Sleeving in Gloomhaven is a big job but it can definitely be worth it. The game comes with a lot of cards so I wrote this guide to help you determine which cards you should sleeve. Is it all of the cards, some of the cards, none of the cards? This all depends on what kind of board gamer you are and I will help you find a solution that works best for you! Once you’ve read the article, there will be a comprehensive table at the end with links to buying the correct sleeves that will make it really easy for you!

Gloomhaven: Should I sleeve? Yes, you should sleeve some of your Gloomhaven cards. Certain cards get used more than others and to increase the longevity of your game you will need to sleeve them.

There are a couple of options here, and some cards get used substantially more than others, so lets talk about a partial sleeve, and how much that cost and then if you want to sleeve every single card and how much fully sleeveing Gloomhaven will cost you. But first let’s give the non-sleevers the confidence to stick to their convictions. If you are here just to figure out how you want to sleeve skip the next section and go right to the sleeving.

Also Gloomhaven is a game with a lot of secrets so you may have to sleeve in stages or there you could be opening yourself up to spoilers. Read on to find out how that works.

To Sleeve or Not to Sleeve?

So you hate sleeving cards? before I get into the method and priority of sleeving your Gloomhaven cards I want to address you non-sleevers. You do not have to sleeve your Gloomhaven game!

It is ok if you hate sleeving. I secretly hate it too. Okay maybe hate is the wrong word but I tend to be a bit impatient and I have a busy life so sleeving sometimes feels like a chore, even though there are a ton of benefits.

If you do decide to not sleeve Gloomhaven it’s okay, the cards will not disintegrate. The cards are of reasonable quality and they will last you. Before you decide not to sleeve though, there are a few items you need to think about.

The first is that your friends need to keep the chips, burritos, twinkies, donuts and other assorted items away from the table as they will get the cards dirty and cause damage. If you are dead set on allowing snacks because, let’s face it, snacks are awesome while board gaming, then make sure you have a bunch of those little disposable wet wipes. Also you may want to just call quick snack breaks so that gameplay and eating are a bit more segmented

Another major concern is that modifier decks are going to show wear and this can give some observant players future knowledge. Not a huge deal, but it could cause some gameplay issues, especially with your one friend who you adore but who is known to be an angler and a lovable cheater.

Sleeving the smaller european cards like the attack modifier decks and monster ability cards really helps with shuffling and handling them!

And finally if you are only going to play this game through once, or you might only get it to the table 10-20 times then it is not the end of the world if you don’t sleeve.

Now that we have addressed the non-sleevers and given them the confidence to play Gloomhaven raw, without hiding in shame, let’s talk about sleeving. Also if you are interested in when to retire in Gloomhaven, this article should help!

For those of you that just want to know how many sleeves to buy here are my recommendations in a handy little table! Click on the links below the table to get the exact ones I have!

Card TypePartial SleeveFull game sleeve
Standard Size Sleeve300-350726
Mini European Sleeve424975
Total Approximate Cost$39$65

Standard size sleeves for a full game sleeve

Mini European sleeves for a full game sleeve

Standard size sleeves for a partial sleeve

Mini European sleeves for a partial sleeve

Partial Sleeving – Lower Cost and Time

Gloomhaven is a game of mysteries, surprises and unlockable content. So based upon that the below recommendations are going to be for when you first start. I would really recommend not sleeving spoiler content until you have unlocked it. Especially do not open the secret envelopes!

Starting Characters (50-100) standard sleeves

I recommend that you sleeve every class that is being played, and then sleeve the others as they are used, the same as below in the unlockable classes. It’s best if you sleeve all of the cards, although you could get away with just sleeving an amount of cards equal to the class hand size and then switching them as you level up or want to change your level 1/X cards.

Especially early on, you will be trying out a lot of card combinations and it is going to be a nightmare to pull them in and out every time you want to try a new card or combination of cards. Go with 50 sleeves for 4 classes and you only sleeve their hand size, go for 100 sleeves if you want to sleeve their level 1/X cards and each level choice from 2-9 (21 average cards per class).

Pro Tip : Sleeving only the cards you have chosen from level 2-9 will make it really easy to keep them separated from the cards you did not choose!

Spoiler Characters (100) standard sleeves

You don’t know when you are going to be unlocking these and it might be many months into the game before you even get to unlock some of them. I would recommend sleeving these on an unlock basis to make sure that you don’t spoil any surprises and also it could save you some of the initial investment if money is at all an issue. The 100 recommendation is just to ensure you have some as you begin unlocking new classes. This should get you about 5 unlocked class worth at an average of 21 cards to sleeve per class based on my above recommendation.

Road and City Events (150) standard sleeves

Whenever you retire a character and unlock a new character you add 1 city and road event from the retired character and the new character – total of 2 city and 2 road for both the retirement and the unlock. There are also other ways to add or remove cards and each time you will need to shuffle the decks.

Player Reference Cards/Secret Envelopes (8) standard sleeves

These will be used a fair bit, especially in the beginning and there aren’t many of them so go ahead and sleeve. Go ahead and take 8 from anywhere you have extras. Do not sleeve the secrets until you have opened them through gameplay!

Attack Modifier Decks (150) mini european sleeves

The attack modifier decks are subjected to the highest amount of wear in the entire game. You and the monsters will be pulling 1 or more cards for every attack. Depending on classes and some other spoiler things they will be reshuffled multiple times per scenario. You have to reshuffle when you pull a 2x or miss, when you receive a curse or bless and the beginning of each scenario. This adds up fast and so you need to sleeve them.

The monster deck especially gets a ridiculous amount of wear as all monsters share the same deck.

The other cards that will be mixed in to the attack modifier deck will need to be sleeved as well so they don’t stand out. These are included in the 150 recommendation.

  • -1 modifier (from armor and other sources)
  • Bless
  • Curse
  • Character perk modifiers(only sleeve these as you take perks and add or change your deck. This makes it super easy to tell which cards belong to your current active modifier deck and which do not)

Battle goals (24) mini european sleeves

battle goals get shuffled before every scenario so you should definitely sleeve all of them as they will take a lot of wear.

Monster Ability Cards (250) mini european sleeves

Each monster type has a set of cards(lies, there are a few that share the same cards) that determine what actions they will take in any given combat round. These are going to get quite a bit of use. Certain monster abilities have a little reshuffle deck symbol on them and so each time these come up you will have to reshuffle. Sleeving these cards just makes shuffling and handling them so much nice as well.

Sleeving In Stages to Reduce Spoilers

Whether you want to sleeve some of Gloomhaven or all of it I recommend sleeving as you unlock things so that you make sure you don’t spoil it.

It goes without saying but if you feel the need to sleeve ahead of time make sure you have the decks face down so you can only see the back of the cards!

Full Game Sleeve – Max Time & Cost

Above at the top I have a table that shows you the total cost of sleeving every single card in Gloomhaven. Here is a breakdown of those cards for clarity in case you want to do your own custom sleeve

Card typeStandard Size SleeveMini European Sleeve

Starting Classes
Unlockable Classes330
Road and City Events150
Personal Quest Cards24
Spoiler Envelopes4
Random Dungeon Cards40
Player Reference Cards4
Attack Modifier Decks457
Battle Goals24
Monster Ability Cards232
Item Cards253
Random Scenario Cards9

Organization and Storage Space

Sleeving will alter how much room you have to store the game back in its original box so make sure you have a plan for storage. Even with a partial sleeve the box is not going to be sufficient. Check out my recommended products page for some storage recommendations!

Hopefully this has helped you to decide whether or not you want to sleeve Gloomhaven and what method is best for you! Check out some of my other articles on Gloomhaven.

Kingdom Death Monster VS Gloomhaven

How to Play Gloomhaven with 5 players

Jaws of the Lion or Gloomhaven? Which is Better?

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