Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Chessex Battlemats & Megamats

I try to post reviews of gaming materials I like and use. Here is another one, prompted by a question on an post earlier this year.

For more reviews, see my consolidated reviews page.




Battlemats & Megamats
Price varies
Manufactured by Chessex

Over fifteen years back, I got tired of using printed out white mat sheets for our hex-based GURPS tactical combat resolution. So I purchased a number of Chessex Battlemats and a Megamat. If I recall correctly, I got them as factory seconds, not spiffy new ones. We've used these mats ever since.

The mats feature either 1" hexes or squares, or, for the reversible ones, 1" hexes backed by 1" squares. They're markable with water-soluble pens. They are very durable - they'll stand up to a lot of wear, and as long as you roll them properly, they unroll and flatten out easily.

The maps also have a clear edge - you can't easily lay two end to end to make a larger map. However, if you play most dungeon-distance battles out with miniatures the maps will have you covered.

One downside to the mats is that the water-soluble ink doesn't come off too easily. Once it's been on for a while (a few hours, certainly), it can be difficult to get off completely. You'll end up needing to swipe the map with a rag and cleaning liquid a few times to get it really ink-free. Generally I've abandoned marking them and go with placing terrain and markers on them.

You can see these in action in most of my game session pictures.

Overall: These are amongs the best gaming purchases I ever made. We use out mats so routinely that we keep one on the table at all times. We use the big one for big battles. My only complaint is the difficulty of really getting all of the wet-erase marker off. Highly recommended.

14 comments:

  1. I have a couple of those battlemats as well but I purchased a roll of acetate to lay over it and draw on that.

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    1. Dude: that is a great idea and I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never thought of that (outside of a recesses gaming table, that is).

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    2. I wonder if you could get clear acetate with an adhesive backing and just glue it together?

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    3. I like the acetate idea. I'm not so excited about experimenting with my Chessex mats with adhesive-backed permanent bonding and hoping it works out, though.

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  2. I can vouch for the staining part; an overnight stay with the exact pens they recommend left marks on mine I actually never quite could get off. Red is the worst offender. Otherwise, they are good stuff and I would like to get a few more (including their 6' huge" one).

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    1. If the ink came off easily, these would be perfect. As it stands, they are still very good, but the concern over markings is why I stick with counters and terrain markers.

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    2. Same. Also the hexes are too small for most 28mm figs to sit on typical bases without overlap. Minor quibble but it bugs me!

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    3. I base my minis for this specifically. That's why almost everything I use is on GW 25mm round bases, upside down, with the mini's original base cut to let it sit inside of it.

      Even so, close combat when there is a mob of people near each other is a pain.

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    4. Indeed; a US penny works very well, and pennies are usually used to base 15mm minis - a bit out of scale but probably would work for representation. That said, I've looked at just moving to paper minis, due to a lack of painting time.

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  3. I still use ink on mine. Yes, red will stain if you don't wipe it off, but if you wipe it off after each session, it's not a problem.

    I mostly use the BattleMap size with the big hexes. It's not as many hexes as I'd like, which means erasing and redrawing rooms whenever the party moves very far, but it fits on the table and the miniatures fit in the hexes.

    I also have a MegaMat with big hexes, which would be perfect if I had a bigger table. (Or if we played on the floor, like we did when we were kids.)

    I also have a BattleMap with small hexes, which is great for outdoor encounters that start at longer range, but not so great for fitting normal-sized miniatures in the hexes. Haven't used it yet in my current DF game, but it's in reserve in case we do a long-range battle.

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  4. Cant get them cheaply in Australia.

    Another thing to pick up on an eventual return to the USA

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    1. hmm Amazon has the megamat. Is it too big for me? maybe

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  5. I also own one of these. Can agree that if left to long wet-erase marks will linger. I personally haven't used mine in ages due to a lack of interest from IRL players to run games using a battlemat, but I have it stowed under a mattress in case I do need it.

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  6. I am lucky that I do not have much need for traveling with my mat ... so my solution was to buy very cheap hex paper and then put it on an old window I got from Habitat for Humanity for $4. Now I have glass hex grid which can have both permanent and dry erase on it ("permanent" markers are easily washed off glass).

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