Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review - Frontline Gaming's Gaming Mats

I've been meaning to post this review for some time but hadn't previously got around to it.

Earlier this year Frontline Gaming ran a Kickstarter for a series of new gaming mats. These were to be made of rubberised mouse mat material - about 3mm wide - with photographic image on one side.

What really impressed me about this Kickstarter was how tightly run it was. These guys had a product that they wanted to bring to market and a process by which they could do it. As is always the case with Kickstarters, "the internet" always knows better. So these guys had to put up with a series of unhelpful shit on various forums - wrong themes, can't put your logo on it etc - but largely stuck to their guns. They did listen around road layout on urban theme and brought an additional product on board.

And guess what? They funded their Kickstarter and delivered a new product on time. Not too many can say that.

I was going to participate in the Kickstarter but in the end choose not too as I wanted to see the finished product and the time to retail was very short. I also knew they were taking some samples to Adepticon and I could see them there. When I did I was very happy with the product so with some money left over after NZTC I purchased two for future Fields of Blood events.

So here's some pictures of the two "themes" I bought - Blast Zone which is planetary surface/chaos wastes and Ice World which is frozen tundra.

Here's a shot of the full 6' x 4' Blast Zone Mat.

And the same of the Ice World map.

This is a closer shot of the Ice World mat. As you can see the photographic image is really nice and sharp. There is good variation across the surface.

And here is the Blast Zone showing the rubberised back.

This close up gives a better idea of the backing material. It is herring bone weave and very sturdy.

So you can be sure it is not going to rip in a hurry.

The big question is how do they play?

Well I keep mine rolled in the protective bag that comes with them. When I get them out they are heavy enough that they lie flat on the table with no curling. The weight here is important. Each weighs over 3 kgs so they are sturdy, unlikely to rip or warp.

Being made of mouse material - rubberised - there was some concern that dice would bounce too much. Certainly I saw no evidence of that. In this regard they are far far better than the Zuzzy rubberised mats and I don't think much different from the GW grass gaming mat.

I used them at the recent Horned Rat VII and they drew universal praise as a playing surface. You can build your terrain to match them - I had built snow hills as you remember - and this allowed a Kislev table.

They are not cheap. A 6' x 4' mat costs roughly $100 NZ. The killer is postage. As I said they weigh 3kgs each. Postage from Frontline was around USD66 a mat to this side of the world. However by using Youshop you can engineer a better deal. Two mats cost $107 NSD to send and Frontline only charged me USD 12 to send the two mats to my US address.

In the end the cost worked out at around $158 per mat. No, it's not cheap but it really is a superior product that I have no doubt will last an enorous amout of time and bring your games to life.

The other thing worth pointing out was the Customer Service. The guy I dealt with - Frankie Giampapa - was top notch. The service I received was some of the best I've received in the wargaming industry.


  1. I've got two of the mats and have bought them to a coupl eof tourney's... hot dang they are sweet. I have the desert and cityscape mats. the cityscape has measurements for all the possible deployments, which is great and the desert one is gorgeous.

    as a side note, frontline are getting a distribution centre in Aussie which will greatly lower the shipping costs.

  2. Those mats look great. even better in real life.

    While an Australian distributor might lower the final postage costs to NZ they will more than offset that with an increased initial cost. the distributor needs to pay for shipping from US to Australia, then make a profit and then sell it to you and then you pay shipping. I think closer to $200 for an Australian product.