Sunday 10 December 2023

A Laminated Alternative

The first side - the mats are referred to as Able, Baker, Charlie and Dog

And the reverse. These mats came originally from that all round good chap the legendary Archduke Piccolo to whom I extend my grateful thanks (and apologies it has taken me so long to get around to laminating them!

I am not a fan of paper gaming mats or board game maps printed on thin card. I realise that the latter is usually designed to get the game underway ‘straight from the box’ and that the maps in a board game are an essential part of the game itself. In my experience neither option tends to last well with repeated folding and the inevitable wear along the folds being the main reasons. Years ago I had a set of gaming mats from Axis Allies: War at Sea and also the land based version laminated. This helps to preserve the playing area at the minor inconvenience of them being unable to be folded again. That is not a problem for me as I keep them on my gaming table under a piece similarly sized plywood. They are ‘shiny’ but I can live with that - along with having to secure multiple sheets when required using blue tack or similar - they can slid around if you are not careful so I usually deploy them on top of a cloth which stops any unwanted movement. As an alternative to using a printed gaming mat the biggest single advantage is of course cost. With this in mind I decided to revisit laminating as an option as I have various bits and pieces that could work using this method.

Earlier this week then,  I dropped off a further four Axis and Allies mats - these feature smaller hexes than my original versions - along with with four Axis and Allies: Angels 20 mats (actually two of these are from Bandits High) and a couple of quick reference sheets that are larger than A4. The Axis and Allies mats - these are from the collectible WW2 game - are double sided so there are eight battlefields with even more if they are combined. The hex size - 2” across the flat sides - would only take a single block from my block armies so I would probably opt to use the ‘2 hit and gone’ option from the Portable Wargame, failing that the counters from the travel version of the game Othello which would enable me to use ‘full strength point strength points’ (the usual 4, 3 or 2 standard). These maps are certainly very usable for small scale actions with perhaps half a dozen or so units a side. In fact a single mat would fit on a tray (just about with the ones we have at home - the lid of a 32 litre plastic storage box works just as well!) so a truly ‘trayble’ top wargame.

A nondescript piece of north European real estate - the hexes are 11cm across the flat sides

And an equally nondescript Pacific island

The aerial maps feature two sets each of two sheets. The first pair, from Angels 20, feature an aerial view of a fairly anonymous piece of real estate - representing ‘somewhere in Southern England’ - whilst those from Bandits High feature an island . This is intended for the Pacific but would be equally usable anywhere really.

The mats do slid around a little but as mentioned, placing them on a cloth tends to keep them in place. To join sections I would probably see some file strips or even, and I have done this before, small pieces of blue tack or similar.

I have some other mats and maps that will receive similar treatment in due course and as a cheaper alternative to buying a bespoke cloth I reckon they tick a number of boxes. It also means that the mats or maps will last longer at the minor inconvenience of not be able to be folded.


Ed said...

If the hexes are too small, you could enlarge them on a photocopier.

For the joining and slipping problems, a piece of blue painters tape works very well.

I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing,

Ed (Sadly not updated in years…)

David Crook said...

Hi Ed,

For the Axis and Allies maps - not the aerial ones - I have another set of the same with the hexes double the size. I believe these were an earlier version and I have used them extensively. I have a selection of tapes I can play around with when needed.

Thank you for liking the blog!

All the best,


Mark Cordone said...

I've used these as well, and lately I find myself drifting towards a preference for my own hand drawn battlefield maps. I think there's something to be said for traditional wargames terrain and battle mat style games.

David Crook said...

Hi Mark,

I remember as an impoverished schoolboy drawing maps for my early battles and with the quantity of artists materials in the house (my daughter graduated in art and psychology and is still hugely active on the art front) it would not be a push to do so once again. The chap at my laminating shop does all manner of printing as well so I reckon this is something to think about going forwards.

I have fought a number of actions using the larger version of these mats with my block armies and a smattering of 3D terrain and the whole thing really ‘pops’.

Something to reconsider for sure!

All the best,