I can't remember how long I've had my old 6' x 4' Games Workshop mat. Fifteen or twenty years maybe. Digging it out recently for a WW2 game I realised how tired it was looking - not to mention that its plain green colour was looking a little boring alongside the funky mats you can get these days.
The power of the internet soon led me to Geek Villain, who had plenty of good reviews online, were a UK-based family-run business, and had an excellent and established range. Their website works well and it's easy to choose the mat you want.
A slight downside is that the choice between their cloth and fleece mats is already made for customers - the cloth mats are currently unavailable! I understand they are a bit cheaper (£45 against £60), but I wanted the fleece mats anyway so this wasn't a problem. For the record, Mack at Geek Villain summed up the difference in an email:
"Fleece is more textured and drapes over an object a lot easier to create undulated terrain. Fleece does not crease as much as cloth.
Cloth mats are lighter and more flat, they will crease a lot easier than fleece.
Both are washable and both can be ironed."
Anyway, the £60 includes postage, and the mat arrived in 4-5 days (I wasn't counting). I chose the 'Autumn' finish - there's plenty of choice, and I was personally tempted by three or four different finishes before settling on this one:
|One excellent feature is that the mats come 2"-3" oversize in both length and width.
Neatly hemmed, with a small and discrete logo (bottom left).
|The mat in use for a 28mm SYW game.
You can see how well the mats fit over hill shapes laid underneath.
|Looking just as good with 15mm WW2 figures and models.
Just to clarify a few features - the 'fleece' is a smooth material with no flock or pile of any kind. The pattern is photographically printed. The mat is neatly hemmed all round and feels like a quality product that will last a long time - probably a very long time! It can be washed and ironed. There were a few packing creases, but the photos you see were taken using the mat just as it came out of the packet.
The reverse side is a pure white colour - which I reckon will do nicely for the occasional 'snow terrain' game with the addition of a little green and brown flock scattered around.
Plastic and MDF bases slide along nicely, cardboard ones are a bit more 'sticky'. Using 20mm high hill shapes underneath the mat worked a treat - I couldn't have been more pleased.
Perhaps the only slight issue is that 6' x 4' is the only size available - gamers only needing a smaller size can't save money by buying a smaller mat; and if you have a big table you'll have to put up with a join between two mats. But frankly I'm struggling to find any downsides in this excellent product range. Customer service was friendly and efficient.
Highly recommended. Standby for a report on the SYW game shown above.
'Til next time.