I guess it has been an awfully long time since I wrote my last review, but I guess it is time for another one. This time it is a gamemat from gamemat.eu or namely their 6´x4´G-Mat: Quarantine Zone.
Those who know me, will know that gamemats of any kind are something new for me. In the past I have not been too fond of them. I always liked the ability to have rivers, trenchers, hill and so on in 3D on my table. Also, my table is obscenely large (3,5m x 2m maximum) and I never found any mat that could cover this. So I always went with my own modular game boards. So far so good.
But last year in the run up to our Battle for Berlin game I came to a point where this did not make sense. What if you do not need such a large table (as you will with most SciFi and Fantasy games, where a 4´x4´ table is the norm)? What if that table does not even require any rivers, trenches and the like (like urban terrain or many deserts)? Does this warrant the use of game boards that are larger & heavier and therefore more complicated to store and transport? What if, even if you wanted to say yes, you do not have the space to do so?
So I personally came to the decision to look at gamemats after all. The cobblestone mat we used for the Battle of Berlin vindicated that idea. It looked good, was easy to transport to the show in Antwerp and only took minimum space to store (which was a huge plus, taking into account, that the buildings were taking up a lot of said space). So I began to look at other options. With us playing a lot of Warzone lately (which also recommends a table size of 4´x4´or 4´x6´for larger games) and me wanting to play in some more futuristic urban settings, this was the natural choice as well. Looking around the mats from gamemat.eu looked quite pleasing to me and that was what I chose.
Now this mat is made from neoprene with a cloth covering (to those non divers out there… this is often referred to as “mouse mat material”). The neoprene is about 2mm thick. If used for a wetsuit this would only be fine for warm waters, but I felt for a gamemat this was more than enough. It is so soft, that the dice settle fast after rolling (even with a D20), but hard enough that you will not get dice that are cogged. The big plus is that the neoprene will cover minor bumps in your table, giving you a flat surface. It also means that the mat is non slip, so it will not easily shift or wrinkle during a game.
The cloth itself is printed with the design, in this case a somewhat damaged and dirty futuristic urban environment. Looking up close at the cloth the paint is soaked into the fibers, which should mean that is will be robust and should last a long time, if not forever (well not in a sense of “some alien archaeologists will be able to dig this up in a couple millennia and instantly play on it”, but you know what I mean). I cloth as a matt to slight satin gloss finish, which looks good when playing on it and does not look shiny on some photos. If you look very closely, you will be able to see the structure of the cloth, but during normal gameplay or on photos you will not notice it. The bond between the neoprene and the cloth seems to be very good. Better than most mousemats I have seen and about en par with good expensive wetsuits. So that should last you a good while, too.
The corners of the mat are rounded. At fist this might seem strange, after all we play on a square playing field, but then again… when did you ever place a mini right in a corner? But I feel this is an added benefit. With a rounded corner the wear on the corners during play, storage and transport will be less, so combined with the good bond between the neoprene and cloth, this should enhance the lifespan of the mat as well.What I really liked about the mat is the design itself. For one it could fit both ultra modern, as well as SciFi settings. Some elements look futuristic, others present day. In the end this means it is a bit futuristic, but not so much, that it look out of place in a modern city. At the same time it is not so present day that it would not fit a city of the future. This is a very fine balance, that I think they met well. Also, if you look that the two photos above and the one below, many of the details are sublime. It does not matter if you place a building over them. It will not scream in your face “but there are markings for cars on the floor, your building looks out of place”, but still when you place a car there, it will fit the table. With many mats I have seen, the designs are pretty straight in your face and if people place a building over them it will look wrong. So I feel this mat gives you a lot of flexibility placing your models. There might be one slight exception here and that is the streets itself. Any mat that has a street design printed on, will inevitably force you to place your buildings where there are no streets. On this mat, the streets all run parallel to the edges. So if the game you play is very strict about having fire lanes that run diagonally to the edges, this might not be the mat for you (although they did release a 4´x4´ version of this mat last week that has the streets run diagonally). But to be fair…it is hard to do diagonal streets on a rectangular mat, without creating open areas in the wrong spot and without knowing the size of people’s buildings. And the streets leading onto the table from the long edges do not line up, so there is no fire lane from one long edge to the other. In this context there is another thing that I liked (and that I think might have been impossible with diagonal streets). The city blocks are actually well sized. They are big enough to allow for buildings with a large footprint without making them look squeezed in (sorry no photos of that, since I am still awaiting my SciFi buildings and only tested it with some historic buildings that would have looked ridiculous, but there should be some of that in coming weeks!). But they will also accommodate small buildings without making them look lost. Some of the areas are also large enough to allow for multiple buildings, allowing you to create small alleys off the main roads or small plazas besides the buildings.
So here are some photos of some of the details I really liked on the mat:So final verdict on this one?
Well I really like it. The design is good and it should come in handy for anything from modern to SciFi. The quality of the mat itself is really good and should last me a long time.
Official retail for this mat is 69,00 Euro / 52,00 GB£ (or 62,00 US$ without VAT) and I personally feel this is worth every cent.
P.S.: I will be posting some pictures of a few terrain items I painted recently later this week and since I took those pictures on the mat as well, you can see a few more pictures in the next post once it is up.
February 8, 2016 at 20:56
Nice detailed overview and good pics, thanks. I have one of the Microarts Studios Infinity ones and that is nice too. Recently backed a Kickstarter from a company called Kraken for some mats. Will have to see how they measure up.
February 9, 2016 at 10:23
Thank you Pete!
I saw the Microarts one IRL last year and liked it, too. In the end I made the decision against it based on the fact, that it looked a little too SciFi for my taste and that I wanted one that was rectangular.
February 9, 2016 at 10:27
Oh, I forgot about the Kraken KS… saw that too and thought it was an interesting concept to actually build the table and take photos of that. But my huge problem with those was, that the designs had some very strong 3D elements. For a gaming mat I rather like it to only have low terrain features (to the level that would not hinder movement or give cover if they were modeled in 3D).
February 9, 2016 at 04:45
The mat certainly looks very well made and the printed images look perfect for the scenario. A great start for an excellent gaming scenario – just need to pop on a few 3D pieces like that building. The price is very good for the quality too.
February 9, 2016 at 10:25
Yes, I am very happy with it and the value for money, too.
And was a bit ashamed, that I had so few buildings to show with it. But the buildings from my Forward Base Kickstarter should be here by the end of the month and then I can start adding to it.
von Peter himself
February 10, 2016 at 03:03
A nice mat for your needs Burkhard.
But is it coincidence? The other day I was looking at gaming mats as my old Geo hex flocked mats are starting to get worn. I see that Monday Knight Productions do a flocked mats that look just like my poor old abused mats.
I also discover Deep Cut Studios whose cloth mats were of interest. Cloth mats because I would like to be able to but hills etc under the mat if the mood takes me. In the end I want very plain generic matts that have very little detail on them because you never know how I will set up a game & terrain on it and ideally it should suffice for different scales. Once I have generic matts perhaps it will be time to look for more specific ones. perhaps something like the cobblestone one as per your Berlin game.
von Peter himself
February 10, 2016 at 17:41
Hi vP., it must be a coincidence! But maybe a positive one for you (although I think these guys do not have mats with a hex grid).
It is funny you mention the cobblestone mat for Berlin and Depp Cut, since that one is theirs. I like that one a lot, too. Pint is about as good and the quality is great as well. In that case I went with the cloth mat. But the cloth map was a bit pro and con there. Pro because it is machine washable and since it will see more frequent use at conventions (where I would not deem it impossible that someone might spill some fizzy drink or beer on it) I wanted something that was easier to clean. But as you say, it will follow the contours of what is below. On my table at home, which is extremely flat) this is no problem. At the show, where a number of tables were pushed together, this was not so easy and we had to place some card under the legs of some of the tables. But then again… this should serve your needs!