5 minute read
The Alcove range is Ultra Pro’s premium deck box offering, coming in at a significantly higher price than the Ultra Pro Satin Tower and the Ultra Pro Eclipse. Is this higher price justified, or is the Alcove simply not worth it? In this review we’ll mainly be focusing on the Ultra Pro Alcove Flip Deck Box with comparisons to other versions of the Alcove such as the Alcove Tower and Alcove Edge.
Table of Contents
Build Quality, Toughness, and Design
On initial inspection, the Ultra Pro Alcove Deck Box looks to be a well made and visually appealing product, coming in a variety of impressive designs with officially licensed Pokemon and Magic The Gathering branded versions available.
The box itself consists of an outer and inner layer, both made from thick cardboard with the inner layer wrapped in a smooth silky material and the outer layer ranging from the standard ‘leatherette’ material all the way through to a ‘cork’ or ‘cowhide’ finish.
The thing that remains constant between all versions is the beautiful stitching along the edges of the box. Whilst some deck boxes with stitching are not actually stitched through, we were glad to find that the Alcove uses a lockstitch method to hold the inner and outer layers together. This, coupled with a thin glue results in a very well made and thick, sturdy shell.
A closeup of the beautiful lockstitch stitching on the Alcove.
On the topic of sturdiness, we find that the box bends rather easily with the flip lid unravelled. Not at all surprising as it is made from cardboard after all! The good news is that once the flappy lid is closed, the Alcove is impressively hard to bend. Not quite the level of heavy duty protection offered by a hard plastic deck box such as the Ultra Pro Satin Tower but it would take some serious force to crush the Alcove and damage the cards inside.
Our biggest issue with the Alcove Deck Box is the clunky and cumbersome flip lid. When fully undone and laid flat on the table it measures a whopping 30 cm in length with no apparent utility to justify the space it takes up. With table space being of a premium in most local game stores, this is a factor that must be considered before buying an Ultra Pro Flip Box.
The problem is exacerbated in the Alcove Towers where there is an accessories compartment that can only be accessed by unravelling the lid entirely. This all but removes the option of keeping the box open during play unless you and your fellow players don’t mind the intrusion upon your gaming space. If the accessories compartment could be accessed from both ends of the deck box then simply lifting the lid on one side would allow easy removal of the tray. Alas, removing the tray from the box and then closing the flip lid is the best solution.
The awkward flip lid on all versions of the Alcove. It must be unravelled fully to access the dice tray on the Alcove Tower.
What’s more, the thumb notches are a nice touch in theory, but in practice it can be difficult to grip a 100 card, double-sleeved deck with just a thumb and index finger without risking the cards slipping out of your hand. The best way to remove the deck is to tilt the box and catch the cards safely into the palm of your hand, a task made more difficult by the 30cm of hanging lid.
All in all, the Ultra Pro Alcove Deck Box uses premium materials with a beautiful stitched finish, feels great to handle, but is let down by the counter intuitive flip lid. We give this a 7/10 for Build Quality, Toughness, and Design.
How many cards does the Alcove hold?
As with all of our Deck Box reviews, we measure the usable storage space of the Alcove and compare it to the thickness of 100 double-sleeved cards using all brands and combinations of inner and outer sleeve. The inside of the Alcove measures 74mm, slightly smaller than the Ultra Pro Satin Tower and Ultra Pro Eclipse PRO which both come in at 76mm.
If you want to see exactly which combinations of inner and outer sleeve will fit within this 74mm compartment then please refer to our in depth Deck Box Comparison Tool - there is simply too much information to include here!
The short version is the Alcove has ample room to fit 100 double sleeved cards of any inner and outer sleeve combination apart from Gamegenic’s Extra Thick Inners with the closable inners proving tight but manageable. The Ultra Pro Alcove ranks as the 7th most spacious amongst its deck box peers - well above average.
How secure is the Deck Box?
The Ultra Pro Alcove is held shut by multiple strong magnets. While the sound of the lid snapping shut is satisfying, the real test will be filling the box with 100 double-sleeved cards, turning it upside down and commencing the dreaded shake test.
We start slow, and the Alcove is able to withstand small but firm shakes. After a few shakes with more speed and range of motion, the magnets surrender the contents onto the table. Not the most secure deck box out there but also not the worst. We must note we are really trying to shake things loose in our shake test and feel confident the magnets in the Alcove are strong enough for any reasonable purpose. There is little to no chance of spillage if you flip the box upside down or if all you are doing is transporting the box in a backpack or bag.
We give this a fair 6/10 based on how it compares to other deck boxes.
Is there room for Accessories?
The only version of the Alcove with an Accessories tray is the Alcove Tower. The Alcove Flip, Edge, and Click do not support accessory storage. As with all 100+ Deck Boxes, it is possible to improvise space for accessories if you only need a 60 card deck.
An impressive choice of Magic The Gathering, Pokemon, and Dragon Ball Z branded Alcoves.
How much does the Ultra Pro Alcove Deck Box cost?
The unbranded Alcove Flips and Alcove Edges can usually be found for around £19 with the branded versions and Alcove Tower slightly higher. Ultra premium versions such as the Deluxe Alcove Edge can cost up to double that amount but are not widely available.
At these price points, we would consider the Alcove a premium deck box with other similarly priced options including Gamegenic’s Watchtower and Ultimate Guard’s Flip n Tray.
|Build Quality and Toughness||7/10|
|Storage||74mm - fits 100 double-sleeved cards of almost any variety.|
|Accessories||Tower ✔️, Flip ❌, Edge ❌, Click ❌|
|Price||£19+ for standard Flip, Edge, and Towers.|
The Ultra Pro Alcove Deck Box excels in some areas but is let down in others. If you are looking for a near impenetrable deck box with the most secure locking mechanism then there are better and cheaper alternatives such as the Ultra Pro Satin Tower or the Ultimate Guard Boulder ‘n’ Tray. If all you need is a box that fits 100 double-sleeved cards then, again, there are many cheaper alternatives.
Where the Alcove really comes into its own is with the plethora of beautiful designs on wonderfully textured materials that both look and feel premium. The branded versions are also a great option for fans looking for a Pokemon deck box or a Magic The Gathering deck box, certain to stand out on your gaming table. If you can look past the bothersome flip lid then the Ultra Pro Alcove may be a great choice for you.