40k Buying Guide: Gamemat vs. F.A.T Mats
40k Buying Guide is rated empty your pockets. These articles are meant to help you continue complaining about GW pricing schemes at the same time you are buying used models on Ebay
There’s a battle raging, a battle started by a product reshaping the way we decorate our toy battles. A little over two years ago, we were introduced to high quality digital gaming mats. Now it had been done before, but never on a mass scale like this. Kicking off the gaming mat trend was Frontline Gaming successful Kickstarter. Before F.A.T mats this niche was filled with bad options; like grassy mats, foam core mats, or expensive plastic/resin tablescapes. The digital mat brought about a reasonably priced product that enhanced the game playing experience.
Fast forward to 2015, and we see many companies jumping on this particular bandwagon. In America, Frontline Gaming/Table War F.A.T mat still dominate the market. In Europe, Gamemat entered the market doing phenomenally well, now they are coming stateside bringing competition to the market. So it was no surprise, Gamemat contacted me to do a review of their product, but as a customer of Frontline Gaming I felt this would be a great opportunity to do a review of both.
Gamemat sent me two mats for review and Frontline gave me one as well. I am using the mats as prize support for 40k tournaments at Endgame in Oakland California. For this review I am only going to focus on; design, price, and extras, the reason for this is both companies produce very similar products. They both have identical thickness and produced using the same mouse pad material. They both roll, feel, and perform the same under typical gaming activities.
So how do you decide which mat is right for you?
Well here is what stood out to me, but before we dive in lets look at some pictures I took for each product.
This is one of Frontline’s best selling mats and my favorite from the first wave of releases. I love the balanced use of color to create depth and interest throughout the design. While the over all look seems uniform each section has its own sets of details that really stand out. Things like tire skids, cracked concrete, to newspaper, and manhole covers. Then you have meta details like the center circle for placing objectives to the flares lining up for certain deployments.
Next we have…
I also really like this mat, it is a great contrast with the F.A.T mat. Instead of tons of color variation we get a pretty muted palette of browns and greys, but the colors we do have really pop and from a distance look especially fantastic. Up close the mat has certain photo-realistic qualities that look great, but don’t always mesh well with the more unique design elements.
Having looked at other mats from each company, the real differences comes down to specific aesthetic qualities. By in large F.A.T mats have a more gamey feel to them. The proportions of objects can be a little out of scale and the designs themselves are more playful and cartoon like. These are not bad traits, just understand many of the mats won’t be “realistic”. Gamemat on the other hand is all about trying to be realistic. The Fallout mat for instance has amazingly looking craters, looking like a digital imagine placed on a mouse pad. You can see this throughout many of Gamemat designs, like the Tales of Mars mat clearly demonstrates. As I to alluded earlier, some design elements that are less realistic can really stand out.
In general, Gamemat designs are simpler than F.A.T. mats, but in a good way. Many F.A.T mats can be a bit over-designed, with too many things going on, this is especially true with the newer ones. Technically they are great, but sometimes you just want a mat to be part of the battle not the main show. Gamemat mats really do a wonderful job taking elements that work, enlarge them, and place them in good proportion around the mat.
F.A.T and Gamemat have some issues with layering, but it is more noticeable with the Gamemat because they tend to use more realistic images for the basis of their mats. It means F.A.T mats will show more depth typically; since the designs are more consistent with issues harder to notice.
On to the extras! F.A.T mat and Gamemat both come with nice zipper mat bags, but a big difference is Gamemat can come in shipped with a sturdy reusable cardboard tub with plastic caps on each end, as the F.A.T comes in a basic cardboard taped box. F.A.T comes with cool luggage tags, with an imagine of the mat and spot to write your name and address. This is a great if you buy multiple F.A.T mats so you can easily find the one you want to use for your games. F.A.T mats have more game specific mats and variety, where Gamemat has more standard designs. F.A.T mats have their logo branded on each mat (which bothers a few people), where Gamemat doesn’t.
Now the important part, cost! Here are how things break down for the Americans.
A typical 4×6 F.A.T will cost ya $95.00 where a Gamemat will run you for the same size around $73.00, but things get interesting when you consider VAT taxes and shipping costs.
F.A.T mat shipping is usually around $17.00 bucks making your mat $112.00. Gamemat on the other hand is usually 25 euros to ship with no VAT tax which at the moment makes getting a Gamemat between $95-$100 bucks. Since Gamemat is based in Europe prices can fluctuate depending on the strength of the dollar which has been really strong of late. So, for the foreseeable future you will save a decent amount buying a Gamemat. Prices can also change a lot depending on how many mats you buy, keep that in mind when calculating prices.
Is one mat though better than another?
Like most things it comes down to personal preference. If you want a cheaper photo-realistic, but simple looking mat go with Gamemat. If you want a slightly more expensive highly detail, but stylized mat than a F.A.T mat is for you. Personally, if I had to choose I would probably go with a Gamemat because of price and preferring simple over busy, but if I needed a mat for a specific game or theme I would probably take F.A.T mat. REMINDER: Mind you both companies have so many mats to choose from you can find ones that don’t have the same general weakness and strengths I illustrated above.
For more information about these products follow the links below and also check out great video reviews of these products from Grot Orderly.