Ed Morris, Cigar box Battles, Mike Hobbs
You may have noticed last week that my Meeples Boss Mr Shuck (all praise him) posted a review of some Cigar Box mats he was sent, well 2 of those mats were destined for my grubby little hands and I’m now able to give my opinion of them.
Cigar Box were very generous and asked me to choose 2 mats from their catalogue to have a look at and I spent a while looking through them all before deciding on the 2 I wanted. Normally when it comes to gaming mats I tend to go for generic ones that just show basic ground cover, but I decided to do something different here and I went for 2 mats that would normally never buy.
The mats in question are
Both of these mats have roads, fields, trees etc printed on them and I was interested to see how these would work for games.
Ok first things first let look at the how these mats are made. The first thing you’ll notice is how heavy the mats are, the designs are printed onto fleece cloth and then this is lined by a second layer of fleece. This makes the cloths thick and allows them to settle over stuff placed underneath them (hills etc) really well, plus it means they don’t clump up during games. Also the mats are larger than 6×4 which again allows for things to be placed underneath.
From a quality perspective I really like these mats they are strong, hard-wearing and just lie flat when placed on a table, there are no crease marks on these mats I can tell you.
Now let’s look at the mats in a bit more detail, as I said before I decided to go for mats that I wouldn’t normally buy and what I mean by that is I’m a bit of old school gamer and like my tables to be built up by using a basic mat and using 3D terrain on top of that to build up the battlefield.
Having mats where the battlefield is printed on I believed would mean I’m fighting over the same layout all the same and this would make my games very samey
There is an argument for this and its one I fully understand but I can see where the market for these kind of mats is, as some people may not have a huge supply of terrain to place on top of mats, so having a printed battlefield is one option. Also and let’s be honest here it’s not like these are the only mats Cigar Box do, they do lots and lots of standard mats, these predesigned ones are just one option that gamers can go for.
Last week I travelled to Lard Island to see Rich Clarke to take some pictures of my models for the war of 1812 book I’ve written, and we used the Europe mat in some of the pictures. After lying out the mat we added some terrain from my collection and I was amazed how good the table looked. Having the fields and roads on the mat really broke up the battlefield, unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures at lard Island but here are a few I’ve been sent by Ed Morris to show you the effect using his 15mm scale Europe mat
And here’s some I’ve taken myself using my terrain
The Waterloo mat was one I was really intrigued about as it was designed for Sam Mustafa’s Blucher game. The mat is 56” x 76” in size and has a ground scale of 1 inch = 100 yds, and so is perfect for the cards Sam provides for Blucher, this means you could play a completely 2d game.
Here’s a picture from Cigar Box showing Blucher cards on one of there 15mm mats
and some using the Waterloo mat and my Blucher cards
Included on the mat are the built up areas of the battlefield with their names next to each one and this is a brave design decision as it almost turns a gaming mat into a map. This will polarize people’s opinion but once I again I get it, as the mat is designed for a 2d game having a map style design turns the game from a wargame into something subtly different, I really could imagine a bunch of officers standing around this mat moving units around a’la Kriegsspiel.
In fact, I really want to dust off my copy of Kriegsspiel (available from Too Fat Lardies) and actually play the game using the Blucher cards and this mat.
Here’s a video Cigar Box did of the Waterloo mat which shows the mat in all its glory.
All in all, I like these mats and I can see how they can enhance a game, the quality of Cigar Box mats is fantastic and they are well worth the money, so why not check them out