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Gripmat review

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Quick Look: GripMats Break From Reality Games


Publisher: Break From Reality Games

Owner: Eric Salyers

Art Designer: Joel Hills

Mat Maker And Fulfillment: Devin Campbell
Artist Extraordinaire: Przemek Kozlowski
 
Find more info HERE.
 
From the Publisher:

There is a lot of thought in that GripMat

In 2013 my friends and I were running our first Kickstarter for a board game. It was a tile based space game (Disaster Looms!), and I was frustrated that the tiles would be askew so easily on tables, and even play mats. I tried felt, and other materials and just was not happy with what I found.

I decided to develop a double sided Grippy mat. Rubber on the bottom, and a printable grippy top. It took 2 years of development to make it happen. For our first generation mats we also ran a Kickstarter to help fund the production. Our goal was $5,000, we ended up with over $115k. Disaster struck when the US based printer abandoned the commitment to fulfill the orders, and subsequently killed the pathway I had developed to make my specialized mats. Unfortunately the unique surface could only be made by this printer. So… back to the drawing board.

Another 2 years of development led to another solution. This time I developed a path to print outside the US, and to apply the patented coating in the US. This worked great, until the coating production process proved more complex than expected in testing. This led to nearly an entire truckload of mats streaked and rendered less than perfect. This was yet another setback, and one that I would spend some time working to fix.

Three years later, 2020, I finally solved the issue. The newest mats are perfect, and finally delivering on the design I set out to achieve in 2013. I hope that you find enjoyment in using and looking at our mats. I have worked with over a dozen artists from around the globe to design the art, and to create mats that you, your friends, and family will enjoy.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided the GripMat. The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.

Review

I am usually not much of a superficial person, often preferring functionality and simplicity to bling or aesthetic upgrades. And 4x games are generally not an exception to this mantra for me.

In Twilight Imperium for example, I have no problem playing with the game as it came (albeit with some flight stands I purchased to help make moving large fleets easier). Even though there are a lot of tiles for the game, I have never bothered to order a playmat for it; the game works just fine without it.

However, in recent years I did acquire more than a mild annoyance when playing Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy. You may recall from my previous review that while I was enamored with the unique gameplay, I was irked by the non-traditional tile placement that could sometimes leave ugly, unsymmetrical gaps in the play area ; I will attach a photo without the mat for reference, but yeah…even thought Eclipse “works” just fine, it is hard to get things lined up sometimes since various player’s starting areas will not necessarily link up to each other to align perfectly with other hexes. 

 

 

Even two years ago, I attempted to remedy this, and came across a nifty hexed play mat on Etsy from GripMats that not only looked cosmetically great (if that were the only thing pertinent to me) , but also was offered in a “grippy” non-slip surface (as a paid optional upgrade over a “standard” mat without this feature).

Now all in all, this wasn’t too pricey at all, quite modest actually, but I had trouble affording it for a few reasons, mostly due to all sorts of games that I felt compelled to upgrade from version 1 to 1.5 of the rules in Kickstarters (and in all honesty, maybe from now on I should just wait a few years for Kickstarter reprints to correct and fix broken/untested rules from now on…). 

But the end result was that this GripMat product ended up staying in my shopping cart on Etsy for 2 years (and is still there!).

Now I am not sure how this came about exactly, but the head honcho here at Everything Board Games was able to hook up somehow with the maker of these GripMats, and was able to provide an opportunity for me to try one out, courtesy of Needless to say, I was quick to jump at the prospect!

Head honcho here at Everything Board Games, Lake Leafty, jumping in really quick to let you know how the aforementioned hook-up came to be: Will Patton the owner and operator of tables4games made a post about his AWESOME tables in our Everything Board Games Community of almost 12,000 board gamers (Join if you haven’t already!) That’s when I realized that I needed a tables4games table to play board games on. I reached out to Will. And they became our SUPER SPONSOR over here at Everything Board Games. Turns out that when you order your tables4games‘ table has accessories too, one of them being GRIPMATS. That’s how we were able to get Jazz the GripMat that sits in his Etsy shopping cart as you read this review. 

 

 

Now back to Jazz Paladin’s review:

And now that I physically have the mat here, I am actually upset that I didn’t place my order on Etsy a looooong time ago. 

As this mat is beautiful! 

It does indeed add a lot more dynamic immersion over my standard red felt table, much as I would have expected (though not necessarily been moved to pay for in and of itself). 

However, the one killer problem that I had with tile placement in Eclipse has been all-but-eliminated.

The grippy add-on feature really is amazing. Whenever a tile is placed upon it, it instantly grips (not the same as “sticking”, to clarify) to wherever it is dropped. It doesn’t slide around with any sort of subtle movement, as would happen without the mat; it takes physical lifting to reposition it.

The mat is also perfectly fit for the Eclipse game ; there is no size differential between the mat’s hexes and the tiles themselves, and the lines are clearly delineated for each of the game’s 3 zone,s making placement a snap!

 

 

As an added bonus, one great thing I have noticed about GripMats is that the company does a great job of keeping up with what the gaming community really needs. For example, for Eclipse, there is also a perhaps lesser-known errata that alters to game tile configuration to allow more balance in 5 player games. The result is a sort of “wormhole” system that connects the map tiles in the one adversely affected game area, and in this respect Gripmats went the extra mile and created a separate, special add-on grip mat just to remedy this issue when playing in 5 player mode. This is truly a class move, and really highlights their commitment to the gaming community.

 

As it currently stands, I am really looking at the other mats and products that they have to offer, and wondering just which one I will end up buying first. Twilight Imperium is most definitely on my list of most wanted, as are Terraforming Mars and Spirit Island. But I can tell you one thing, I am definitely kicking myself for not buying the Eclipse mat much sooner. 

If you are an Eclipse fan and do not have this mat already, do yourself a favor and take a look at it. And if you are fans of other sprawling games, also check out GripMats. They are much more than just aesthetic upgrades, they definitely do something for functionality as well, which is why I most highly recommend them.

 

 

A+

10/10

 

After reading Jazz’s review, if this sounds like a accessory for you at the time of this posting Gripmats are available for purchase on Etsy. Check them out and get yours HERE.

 

Plus, they also come as an accessory when you get your new table4games Board Game Table!

 

Did you get a gripmat on our review? Please comment below letting us know!
 

 

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Check out GripMats and Break From Reality Games on:

    

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz Paladin- Reviewer

 

Jazz Paladin is an eccentric at heart — When he is not learning to make exotic new foods at home, such as Queso Fresco cheese and Oaxacan molé, he is busy collecting vintage saxophones, harps, and other music-related paraphernalia. An avid music enthusiast, when he is not pining over the latest board games that are yet-to-be-released, his is probably hard at work making jazzy renditions of classic/retro video game music tunes as Jazz Paladin on Spotify and other digital music services.

CD’s are also available here!
See Jazz Paladin’s reviews HERE.

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