Having recently reviewed Atomic Mass Games’ excellent Marvel: Crisis Protocol game, I was looking for a neoprene playmat to enhance my gaming experience. Even though preorders for official game mats have appeared online, Atomic Mass Games has yet to formally announce a release date for those mats. Being the impatient sort that I am, I decided to see if I could find a good substitute to tide me over.
Enter FLG Mats
Frontline Gaming is a San Diego-based gaming store that also manufactures high-quality gaming mats in multiple designs and sizes, ranging from a 24″x14″ mat for $15 all the way up to a massive 8’x4′ mat that will set you back $95. A 3’x3′ mat, which is the recommended size for Crisis Protocol, is $45. I was already familiar with the company from some of my wargamer friends, so I thought I’d see if they had any designs that worked well for Marvel: Crisis Protocol. Browsing their website, I liked the look of the City 1 mat and decided to take advantage of their Black Friday sale to order one. About two weeks later, my gaming mat arrived in a cardboard box. Loosely folded inside was my mat, sealed in plastic:
I generally prefer to see gaming mats rolled up in poster tubes for shipping, as wrinkles can get into the mats when they’re folded. However, these mats ship in large enough boxes that the folds in the mat are gentle, and they should relax out of the neoprene material over the coming weeks.
It’s also very understandable why Frontline Gaming doesn’t ship their mats in poster tubes: you’re not just getting a mat, but also a nylon bag for storing and transporting the mat.
The bag has a handy plastic tag to let you know what’s inside without having to open it up, in case you own multiple FLG mats.
But all of this is just a tease, isn’t it? Let’s get on to the main course.
The FLG City 1 Gaming Mat
As you can see, the mat is designed to show a somewhat damaged cityscape, as if fighting had been taking place there—perfect for a conflict between heroes and villains! Here are a couple of closeups to show off the detail of the print.
As you can see, the detail is crisp and high resolution. Here’s a look at the neoprene backing.
The neoprene is heavy enough to provide a mat that lays down well on the table without shifting, but won’t provide a lot of extra weight when you’re transporting it.
But one of the important factors for any gaming mat is how does it look with your game. I threw some of the Marvel: Crisis Protocol terrain and miniatures onto the mat to see how it fared.
Let me get the one big negative out of the way: there is a mildly unpleasant chemical smell on the mat when you first take it out of its plastic shipping bag. However, this smell will start to dissipate over the course of a day, so as long as you don’t plan on gaming in a small, enclosed space the moment you receive your mat, you should be fine.
While the look of the City 1 mat may be too “realistic” for some, I personally like the grittiness of the design. I’m looking forward to my next game of Crisis Protocol played on this mat. Even with unpainted miniatures—I’m going to paint them, I swear!—a nice gaming mat really enhances the experience of playing a tabletop skirmish or army-level game.
And this is a very nice mat. From the feel of the fabric top to the colorful design to the included carrying bag, this is a gaming product I’m happy to add to my tabletop collection. FLG gaming mats are available in a wide variety of sizes and patterns at Frontline Gaming’s website.
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