Monday, 31 July 2017

Review: Cigar Box Battle's Kickstarter Mat (Double-Sided Plush Mat)

One of the Kickstarter products that I have been excited about for a fair while is the Cigar Box Battle's Double-Sided Plush Mats. As many of my readers know, I have a couple of the original mats and love them! Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a pre-release Kickstarter Battle Mat from Cigar Box Battle. In this post, we review that product.

Review of Cigar Box Battle Mats Kickstarter Double-Sided Plush Mats
A review of Cigar Box Battle's double-sided plush gaming mats (On Kickstarter Now!). 

Above, we have the new double-sided plush mat (on the left) paired with the original 6' by 4' Plus gaming mat (on the right). It is very apparent that the plush mat is significantly thicker than the original battle mat.

Cigar Box Battle Mats size Comparion - origitnal to double-sided Plush (Kickstarter)
Another angle of the same two mats.

The mats themselves are gorgeous. Cigar Box Battle gave me a choice of two designs to make a single mat. I chose their Medieval City Mat and the Beachhead Mat (pictured below).

The Medieval City mat. 

The Beachhead mat.

The fact that they printed two mats on one gives the product extra versatility and value. I chose the mats above because I believe that they are versatile enough to use for multiple gaming rulesets and genres.

One of the first things that I wondered about these mats is whether the image would show through from one side to the other. I find that my original mats do a bit, but I don't see the same issue in the new Kickstarter mat.

Above is a fold over of the Frozen Ruins mat in the Original 6' by 4' Plus material (not plush). There is some of the image showing through the white backing. 

This is a closer look at the back of the Frozen Ruins mat. Parts of the image faintly show through the white side of the mat.

As an interesting side note, I use the reverse side of the Frozen Ruins mat as a photo backdrop for items that do not fit in my Lighting Box. You might recognize the pattern from some of my Showcase and Review articles. 

While the originals show some image through the backing, I did not notice any image showing through the double-sided plush mats during normal use. That said, when I held it up to my studio lights, I could see part of the image from the opposite side through the material. In my studio, I run three 100 Watt (equivalent) bulbs. Only when holding the material to the light did I see some of the image come through. On the table, there is no issue with the mat that I received.

Now, let's take a closer look at the Medieval City. To help us with this examination, I have two matchbox jeeps kitted out with some spare Bolt Action bits. They seem to fit the Bolt Action scale for vehicles.

Two American jeeps with Bolt Action figures and 50cals.

One of the neat things that the mats can do is leave track marks. Check this out...

The mat 

leaving tracks on a Cigar Box Plush Battle Mat
By pushing down on the model and "driving" it along the mat, the tires leave track marks in the grass. Feel free zoom in on the image above for a better look.

The next neat thing that you can do with the plush mat is create textures in the terrain.


I cleared the tread marks out of the mat.

Creating Rough Terrain on a Plush Cigar Box Battle Mat
I then "roughed up" the grassy terrain by rubbing my hand on the mat gently in one direction. 

The jeep is now off-roading in rough terrain (rather than just across smooth "cross-country" grass).

I then cleared out the rough terrain by rubbing the mat in the opposite direction. 

And placed the jeep on the cleared out mat. 

Being able to "rough up" terrain is a neat feature. It allows users to create textured grass areas, rough seas, and "rough terrain." I like it!

Just like I do with the original battle mats, I decided to check on how the new Kickstarter mats deal with hills.

Creating hills with Cigar Box Battle Mats (plush style)
The foam that I use under my gaming mats for hills. 

Creating hills with Cigar Box Battle Mats (plush style)
Like the other Cigar Box Battle Mats, the effect is fairly subtle from the top (but it is more distinguishable in person than in pictures).

Creating hills with Cigar Box Battle Mats (plush style)
But from a model's eye view, it makes captivating pictures. Love this effect!

Creating hills with Cigar Box Battle Mats (plush style)
A second look at the same hill. Looks fantastic on the tabletop.

This "Medieval City" Mat is great and I plan to use it in games like Bolt Action, Blood & Plunder, Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago, and whatever else comes my way (that fits the environment).

The other mat that I chose was the Beachhead mat. Let's look at some of the textures on this mat. It is beautiful.

Beachhead gaming mat
This is a very nice sea and shore. There is some great texturing here.

Beachhead gaming mat
After the shore is a bit of a cliff followed by green grass. The imagery is very nice.

Beachhead gaming mat and a Blood & Plunder ship
Check out the hull of my Blood & Plunder sloop on the mat. Just beautiful.

Beachhead gaming mat with Blood & Plunder
An absolutely stunning gaming surface.

This mat is gorgeous and I can't wait to get some games on it!!!

One thing that I would like to mention about the Beachhead Mat is the size of coastal waters. This is not so much a criticism, but rather information to let those thinking of buying this mat.

One of the games that I wanted to get this map for was Blood & Plunder. I planned to do amphibious battles on it, but found that the mat won't fit that purpose. It is not the fault of Cigar Box Battle as their imagery is not misleading. It is something I should have researched better by taking a closer look at my Blood & Plunder rulebook.

At some points, the Beachhead mat has exactly 12" of water from the edge to the shore. If you are planning to use this mat for Blood & Plunder amphibious battles, this mat will not do. It does not have enough water. You would be better off buying one of the Ocean mats instead and placing islands on that. Anther idea would be to get both this mat and a second mat (the matching Ocean mat #105), and connect the two on the table. I think tat would work perfectly for amphibious battles.

As it stands on its own, I think the Beachhead mat will make for a beautiful Blood & Plunder land battle with the ships "anchored" just off the shore for aesthetic purposes. Below are some quick pictures to show that there is no room for maneuvering a large 28mm ship.


At its smallest point, the water measures 12" from the edge of the mat to the shore. 

This is how a sloop looks sailing towards that point. There is no room for maneuvering a larger ship.

Again, the discussion above is not meant as a criticism of the mat, but rather to transfer some knowledge to readers in case they plan on buying this mat for the same purposes as me. Despite this mat not working for Blood & Plunder amphibious assaults, I currently intend to use it for Blood & Plunder, Bolt Action, and Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago. I also thinking that this mat would look beautiful with people playing Flames of War.

Overall, I think that these mats are fantastic. There isn't anything bad that I can say about the quality of the product. The mats themselves are a premium product and the double-sided mats are available only during this Kickstarter.

Price-wise, we are looking at roughly $100 American for a double sided mat. This means they are pricing the product at $50 per gaming surface. Looking at it that way, this is an extremely competitive deal. The company even gives price breaks to people that buy more than one mat. Domestic shipping isn't too bad, but for people like me outside of the United States, shipping can get expensive. I did notice that shipping doesn't increase too much when you add multiple mats. For those facing higher shipping rates, it might be a good idea to get together with some buddies and buy a few of the mats together to save money.

Before finishing the review, I would like to point out that the double-sided plush Kickstarter mats are thicker than the original mats. This shouldn't be a deterrent, but I did want to point this fact out.

The difference in size is about the difference between packing the mat with a rulebook and a couple of supporting books in the same bag versus using your bag for just the mat (and transporting your books another way). Below are some images of how I transport my mat.

Transporting a Plush Cigar Box Battle Mat
Here we have a Double-Sided Plush mat and an old laptop bag.

Transporting a Plush Cigar Box Battle Mat
The Mat fits in there very nicely. 

Transporting a Plush Cigar Box Battle Mat
Zip it up and you are ready to go.

If I tried, I am sure that I could still squish a rulebook or two in there with the plush mat.

These mats are really nice and offer several advantages over their competitors (such as being able to rough up and smooth out terrain features, being easy to transport and being double-sided). I have seen that other companies have been doing double-sided mats too, but I hear that the vinyl double-sided mats have one side that reacts differently to light. That one side can actually be glossy making photography on one side of the mat difficult. The Cigar Box Battle Mats do not have this issue. They photograph very nicely.

Be sure to check out the Cigar Box Battle Mat Kickstarter. These mats are awesome and I am so happy that Cigar Box Battle Mats sent me one to review.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

Discloser: Cigar Box Battle provided Must Contain Minis with an Advanced Copy of the Double-Sided Plush Gaming Mat for Review Purposes.




2 comments:

  1. Great review.

    All the extra stuff you can do with these, like texturize it, add height and depth, etc., is a real selling point over the mousepad like mats.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It certainly is. My Mats get a fair bit of use. :)

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