Gamemat.eu Gaming Mat Review
Gamemat.eu is a company based in Czech Republic, and deals in one product only: gaming mats for wargames. I got one of their designs with a polite request for a review.
Looks mighty fine, ain’t it? This is the Wastelands design, Gamemats.eu – being a consummate gaming mats producer – does offer a number of different designs. But I’ll cover that later.
Note: you will surely notice there’s a difference in colours between the photos I’ve taken. It is a matter of the light used. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but I’m not a professional photographer…
Let’s start with technical details:
The mat is 121,5×123,5cm (which makes it 3’11,8” x 4’0,6” in feet & inches) , and 2,25mm thick.
At this size it weighs 2,0 kg.
Gamemats.eu sells this for 44,- EUR, plus shipping.
As you can see, the mat is not a perfect 4×4’ square. Still, this difference is in my opinion not big enough to affect a game. I mean – moving the central line of the terrain less than 1cm in any direction – I guess I move it that much when trying to set it up witm a tape measure.
It came rolled in a tall, thin cardboard box, and when unrolled, the edges tended to rise up slightly. Gamemats.eu warned me that this will happen, but I was also told that after a few minutes it will become flat – which it did, so no problem here.
I guess I have the same issues with all the rolled mats – 120cm long tube is simply unwieldy in transport. That’s an inherent attribute of this kind of terrain, and one has to bear with it.
The non-slip backing seems perfect – there is no chance for the mat to slide on the table, yet it doesn’t stick to it: if you partially raise it and then pull, it will slide. You can lay it on your gaming surface the way you want it to be.
The corners are slightly rounded, starting about ½” from where the tip should be. Again, not an issue in normal game, and I guess such rounded corners are way more durable. If you want a 4×6” mat, Gamemat.eu makes these too, and in quite a few variants. So, if you like to play Infinity on a big table, they will have something for you in stock.
Feb. 2016 update – these were dimensions of the mat I was testing in 2014. Gamemats.eu was pleased to inform me that they have revised their mats, and thus they are exactly 4’x4′ in size, plus the corenrs are sharp.
I’ve been promised another mat for testing, so expect a new review with a different pattern.
Right, enough on the technicalities.
How does it look and feel from a gaming point of view?
It is excellent. The barren, desolate, dry-and-rocky surface depicted on the Wastelands map looks exactly like it should. Should I start a Haqqislam Khanate army, that’s the background I’d be going with!
It doesn’t have any major features marked on it. Sure, there are areas of bigger rocks and smaller stones, and cracked earth, as you can see on the photos, but nothing that would cry to you “no, you should / should not be placing a terrain piece here!” No suggestions to follow here – it is all yours to decide where you want your stuff.
Someone would surely ask for a comparison against MAS wargaming mat I reviewed a few weeks earlier.
- From a technical quality point of view, both of these mats are on par – similar or identical technology, similar quality, and should be just as durable.
- Graphic quality. Let’s face it – MAS mat was designed specifically for Infinity, and by Topo Solitario himself. It is an Infinity eye candy. Gamemat.eu one is a generic 4×4’ wargaming mat. It is a great piece of work.
- Price-wise, Gamemat.eu mat is slightly cheaper. But it does not make a real difference, especially once you throw in the shipping to wherever you live.
- There is a number of designs available (and 2 sizes – 4×4’ and 4×6’) which is definitely an argument in favour of Gamemat.eu.
The other mats I kept talking about.
Gamemat.eu offers their 4×4’ mats in 4 vastly different styles:
- Wastelands, which is the one I got for a review.
- Meadows, being a pretty conventional grassland surface (that being said, there are enough planets in Human Sphere to surely have some large areas covered with grass on most of them!)
- TriCity, the urban one. Since most of the Infinity games tend to be played in urban terrain, you could call it a default Infinity mat.
- Arctic, a really cool (if generic) winter terrain. Hey, snow is snow, no matter what lies under it 🙂
(note – pictures were kindly provided by Gamemat.eu, save for the Wasteland one which I made myself)
Additionally, there are 5 styles of 4×6’ mats:
- Meadows of War, being a bigger and more varied equivalent of 4×4’ Meadows.
- Battleground, apparently in-between of Meadows and Wasteland.
- Mayhem Square, which to me seems to be addressed rather to the WH40K players. But could do for a generic urban ground if you don’t mind the symbol in the center.
- Hell on Earth, which seems to be a volcanic ground.
- Snowstorm, a more futuristic take on the Arctic theme.
Would I recommend it personally?
Assuming you are interested in a 4×4 gaming mat – hell yes. I’ve just had a couple of games on the MAS one, and I must say, having a gaming mat indeed adds to the experience (and the table looks way more awesome, which helps you attract new folks!).
There are 4 designs in the 4×4’ size available form Gamemat.eu, so you can choose one that scratches your exact itch, if you are into thematic tables (I’m playing with the idea of winter board in my head right now – Gamemat.eu has on exactly appropriate design in their offer!).
All of them keep to the idea of not suggesting you the locations for your terrain, and I like this fact very much.
These mats aren’t cheap, but again – this is a quality product. I’ve seen some mats printed on a PVC / canvas (the stuff used for advertisment banners) around, and belive me – it doesn’t come even close. Completely different league…
The Destructive Testing, or abuse & misuse:
I made all that to the MAS mat, so let’s call it a standard testing prcedure for gaming mats from there on, and carry it out on the Gamemats.eu product as well.
A word of explanation – this is not intended to simulate wear & tear from prolonged use. I can’t run such a test. It isn’t material strength testing either – ripping the mat or cutting it – for I see such tests pointless. Like testing a mini for how many hammer strikes it will endure. I assume we’re all reasonable folks, and we use our gaming mats for gaming, not for cutting. However, there are some mishaps that can happen due to simple bad luck or human error. So far, I came up with three:
- prolonged bending (in storage) that could result in wrinkling.
- staining (and then scrubbing when trying to clean the stain), usually with sticky liquid (soda) or oily food. May result in permanent stains or damaged surface.
- high temperature, a result of food or beverage container being accidentally placed on the mat. Primary risk is separating the layers of the mat due to high temperature.
- Folding. I caught two corners of the map with laundry clippers and left it away for 48 hours, one clipped together with print to the inside, the other – to the outside. The result:
As you can see, it didn’t wrinkle or gain a permanent bend line. Sure it didn’t lay absolutely flat once the clips were removed, but close enough, and I expect it will relax and lay flat after a few minutes.
Yup it did. It is a pass.
- Cleaning a spill. What if you accidentally spilled your cola, (or a different kind of drink that dries up sticky) on the mat, and then tried to clean it up?
I didn’t had any soda, and ran out of beer too this time, but the old faithful soy sauce was in plentiful supply. I mean, apparently all my defeats at the hands of Yu jing were caused by an inside agent, weren’t they? 😉
The intention was to let it dry completely (as it would be far too easy to clean it off immediately), and then try to remove it with a sponge and an off-the-mill dishwashing liquid / general detergent. The soy sauce did however soak into the material pretty quickly – just a few minutes, and the whole stuff was gone. I left it to dry off overnight.
Well, the stain was, as you can see, pretty ugly.
However, a sponge, a bit of dishwashing liquid and some scrubbing removed it all right. Once the water dried off (I used a hairdryer to speed it up), I wasn’t able to observe any permanent staining.
Which, in all respect, is a pass.
- High temperature. AS in the previous review, I used a mug of hot tea. I’m pleased to inform you that there is no damage to the mat.
Definitely a pass in my book.
Some more close-up photos of the mat: