One of the biggest changes in this Edition’s competitive play rules from Games Workshop, the Leviathan Tournament Companion, is that for the first time GW are recommending the adoption of the terrain layouts from their own events more widely. A major characteristic of these is that they use very sharply defined area terrain pieces, which at their own events are denoted by perspex rectangles with terrain on top of them. Terrain like this is abstract, but provides a very consistent competitive play experience, and more and more TOs are either adopting the GW layouts, or designing their own around similar principles.
There are a couple of challenges you run into with this. Firstly, not everyone (and I’m in this group) loves how tables with perspex look. The payoff in gameplay terms is valuable, but I don’t think it looks fantastic, sometimes find my brain slides off it, and I don’t love how it tends to provoke “this is what competitive players actually believe” style posting from the usual suspects online. I actively do want tournament tables to also look good, so anything that helps with this is valuable. Secondly, buying cut perspex is the kind of thing that can be pretty cost efficient at scale, say if you’re a multi-million pound international business outfitting 200 tables, but can be much pricier if you’re going for smaller volumes.
To the rescue on both these fronts comes a new product from Bandua Wargaming, which they’ve sent us a review copy of that we’ll be looking at today.
You can see the product on their website here. We were provided with the Imperial set.
Disclaimer: Bandua are supporting us with terrain and sponsorship for the Goonhammer Open UK (for which tickets are still available, see here).
Rather than perspex areas, Bandua have designed sets of mats of the appropriate size, with five different printed design sets matching each of the five different WTC terrain tables they produce. Two of the sets (Imperium and Chaos) are generically “40K” enough that they’d go with pretty much any terrain set you wanted to use with them (with the choice between them largely coming down to whether you want a pleasant or sinister vibe), while the other three (Tau, Necron and AdMech inspired) would definitely work best with more tailored sets of terrain.
The mats themselves are lightweight but have a decent grip on the back, making them pretty stable on the tabletop once placed. That’s another definite advantage over the perspex option, which is fairly notorious for sliding around – because these are both thinner and grippier, you’ll have less problems with them getting moved once they’re down. It also matters a bit less if your terrain slightly protrudes over the edge of them, or you have a slightly uneven surface beneath your main mat, as there’s less clearance from the base layer, and the mats will conform to slight unevenness in a way that solid perspex obviously won’t. Models are also a fair bit more stable compared to perspex, generally just excellent all-round from a playability point of view.
The weight is also great for storage – I’ve been just throwing these back into the box with my standard home setup without really thinking about it, and I suspect you could store most of what you need for an event in a single box, and not have to worry about the weight or scratching.
As you might be able to tell, I’m a big fan of this product and much like with the Bandua terrain itself we have immediately ordered enough to use for all the tables we’re putting Bandua terrain on at the next Goonhammer Open. The only mild criticism I have is that I think the dark areas of the design print could do with being slightly higher contrast to add a bit more pop. This is nowhere near a dealbreaker, just something I hope gets incorporated into later versions.
Using the Mats
Bringing it all together, I laid out our day two map for the GHO UK using these and the Bandua terrain.
Finally, of course, some action shots – myself and Lowest of Men got together in the Competitive Innovations bunker and pitted our Necron and Genestealer Cult armies against one another across an earlier version of the above layout.
The ruin areas cost €34.94 per set, and from a bit of straw polling among some TOs, that’s broadly in-line with the lower end of what you’ll get on perspex areas if you find a good supplier and/or buy in bulk. If you’re a small TO or buying just a single set for home use, that means there’s a pretty strong chance this will be a better value option than going for perspex in addition to the benefits outlined above.
They’re great. We’re migrating as many tables as we can to these at the upcoming GHO UK, and as long as the feedback on those layouts is good (we’re very happy with them, our favourite we’ve put together so far) we’ll fully switch to these next year. Also, given that these areas are GW-recommended, you can’t go too far wrong with them as if you can’t come up with a layout of your own, you can just use theirs. This is one of my favourite game aids we’ve seen pushed out recently, and a good enough product that it’s convinced us to switch to GW-style areas for some of our maps where previously we were against investing in perspex.
Once again, this product can be purchased here, and thanks to Bandua for sending us a set.