Special thanks to Gray Matter Gaming for providing mats and objectives for review.
Outside of dice, I struggle to think of a wargaming accessory I value more than a good mat. In addition to making the play space look great, the (typically) neoprene surface actually makes a marked improvement in play. In this review I take a look at two Gray Matter Gaming mats and their new sets of double-side Neoprene Objectives.
The Ashen Wastelands mat comes in the now-standard 60″ x 44″ gaming sized used by GW and retail for $73 USD. My old mat, a 6′ x 4′ TableWar mat, was purchased when I only had interested in 40k and has things like roads and flares that look out of place when playing AoS. That’s a big part of why I opted for Ashen Wastelands as it’s universal and covers any game.
Another big reason to go with this particular mat is the new Age of Sigmar objectives. Neoprene objectives are becoming more and more common and it isn’t hard to understand why. Cut to the exact diameter necessary for objective control, they completely remove any ambiguity in whether a model is contesting or not. They also streamline play, minimizing measuring over and over especially if you’re trying to simply toe-in to control.
Unfortunately, most neoprene markers clash with your mats as they’re designed to be generic or branded. Not these.
A full set of neoprene objective markers comes with 8 ($57 USD), and they’re designed to blend right into a couple of the mats Gray Matter offers. All markers are also double-sided. The Ashen Wasteland markers have an icy blue crackle of energy on the backside while the objective itself is a glowing rune style. As you might guess, the inner glowing circle is exactly 3″ meaning that once again the objectives pull double duty.
Having double sided objectives is nice. Not only is there variety, it means that you can highlight key objectives indicated by the scenario or even flip them over mid-game to indicate that an objective has been burned, activated, looted, or anything else the rules or narrative demand.
Overall, the objectives are awesome and in the event I ever order another mat for visual variety I would absolutely pick one with matching objectives. They blend in just enough to keep visual cohesiveness while making it easy to know exactly what you control. They even roll right up with the mat for storage.
Despite my loathing for Star Wars’ eternal obsession with Tattoine, I can’t deny that sandy planets are an iconic part of the aesthetic. The Desert Paths mat is perfect for setting games of Shatterpoint on Tattoine, Jakku, or any other planet full of coarse, hot, get-everywhere sand.
Both mats (indeed, all Gray Matter Gaming Mats) and objectives, are 2 mm thick which is the industry standard. The picture below shows my Ashen Wastes objective next to my old TableWar mat.
All mats also come with a dense cardboard tube to help with storage. These are like a wrapping paper tube only much thicker. My 5 year old used mine as a sword and it survived being used to give my 8 year old a rather solid whack across the head when I wasn’t looking.
I’m a big fan of this addition, as the weight of a full sized mat can cause the mat to deform in storage creating wrinkles. If you store your mats vertically on the ground, they can also crease. The tube prevents that.
Finally, all mats come in a zip bag with handles and an ID tag making it easy to carry to and from events and game stores.
Overall, it feels like Gray Matter Gaming has raised the bar on mat accessories. They are the cleanest and highest resolution prints I’ve seen and little touches like the cardboard tube show a high attention to detail. It’s a little thing, but it will prevent the wrinkles and ripples my older mats have. The opportunity to add objective markers is the icing on the cake. I’m happy to recommend these to anyone!