From time to time, readers of Ertai’s Lament have asked us to post some pictures of our precon collection. Knee-deep in spring cleaning today, it seemed the perfect time. For the curious, here is our collection and how it’s stored. We like to think of it as a library of precons. Here’s a brief tour.
Each deck is sleeved in the UltraPro 5-mana sleeves and stored in the corresponding UltraPro deck box for each particular set. Here you see a Rise of the Eldrazi deck. Additionally, a laminated card is inserted into each box denoting the deck’s name, colours, and a verbatim transcript of the blurb found on the back of the box. For sets where no such deck box was released, we use a flat black UltraPro box instead.
Back in August, Ertai’s Lament broke an exclusive that Ultra Pro was releasing a line of deck obxes in conjunction with Magic’s Archenemy, designed to hold two decks and the over-size Scheme cards that came with the set. Ultra Pro had a similar release for last year’s Planechase, and we were excited to have a better way to organise these decks. We’ve been big fans of what Ultra Pro has done with the Duel Decks containers in the past, and of their sleeves in general, so we had high hopes that these would be a great addition to the precon library.
Unfortunately, they proved to be quite the disappointment. It seems that perhaps to cut down on production costs, rather than create a new box model to accomodate the needs of the decks, they instead used their standard size box and ‘make it work’ through jamming a removable folded plastic fitting from inside of it.
It’s hard to imagine that a company would issue a product that actually dissuades you from using their other products, but perhaps the most disappointing aspect of these boxes is that they will only fit the Archenemy decks if you don’t have them sleeved. If you’re as meticulous about the condition of your decks as we are and sleeve everything, you’ll have to be content with buying four of these boxes- two for the decks, and two for the Schemes. Unsurprisingly, any two top-loading Ultra Pro deck boxes will fit snugly inside the Archenemy box (as they do with the Duel Decks deck boxes).
Through our dealings with Ultra Pro customer service, we’ve been won over and continue to be huge fans of their products. But unless you’re willing to plunk down for four of these boxes, or settle for storing your decks unsleeved, you may want to give them a miss.
Hits: Very attractive presentation
Misses: This product needs a complete redesign. This product should be able to store two 60-card decks in sleeves as well as their respective sleeved Schemes. The flimsy insert design is an unusual misstep for Ultra Pro, trying to jockey off of an existing mold to avoid the expense of creating a proper one
FINAL GRADE: 2.5/5.0
UPDATE: We also ordered some Planechase deck boxes, and upon their arrival found them to contain 60 regular sleeves and 10 larger, Plane-sized ones. This indicated a flaw in our understanding of the product- they’re not designed to hold two decks, merely one each. Thus, 60 sleeved cards will fit in a box, but you have to break them into two piles.
Just to be fair, we took a 60-card sleeved deck and sleeved oversize companion cards, and put them in one of the boxes. Here’s what we found:
> The “folded insert” option is inelegant, and holds the 60 cards of the deck quite sloppily
> The room for the oversize cards is also over-spacous, so they will rattle around quite a bit in the back
This supports our initial observation that Ultra Pro seemed to take an existing box mold (for their Duel Decks products), and jury-rigged it to “feature” the Archenemy/Planechase decks. Out conclusion (and grade) stands- unless you’re an absolute purist for storage, or a collector at heart, you’ll have better options than these. Heretofore we’ve stored our oversize cards in an empty Intro Pack box, which workes perfectly well. In some ways, better actually…
Still, it would not have been fair to let our misconception stand. One deck box, one deck. We do love that Ultra Pro is trying, but there is room for improvement. The single biggest change we’d recommend? Lose that dreadful folded insert, and make them like they were designed to hold the cards.
As always, your mileage may vary…
Are you a fan of the Ultra Pro licensed Deck Boxes, such as those released for the Duel Decks and Planechase?
Quick, go do a Google search for Archenemy + “Ultra Pro,” and you’ll find… a thread on the Mothership. Another on MTG Salvation. Some ads for oversize sleeves. An article on Ertai’s Lament (surprised us, too). And plenty of crickets chirping.
So far, word on the street’s been mum about any special release for Archenemy, but you heard it here first: an Archenemy deck box release has been officially confirmed today by Ultra Pro to Ertai’s Lament due for release this Autumn.
No word yet on a final release date or what they will look like, but we’ll be at the front of the line when they’re out (at risk of sounding like a shill, Ultra Pro is the ‘official’ Ertai’s Lament deck archival supplier of choice).