Cigar Box Battles

If you don’t have the luxury of a permanent games table, it can be difficult to set up realistic terrain for your battles. It is too easy to get that ‘billiard table’ look, unless you fill the table with so much clutter that there’s no room left for your figures. Well, here’s an idea from Cigar Box Battles that is a great solution. The Battle Mats are sturdy fleece cloths, pre-printed with terrain. You can just put them on the table and you’re ready to go. The range so far features generic landscapes including European, with fields and some streams and woods, open grassland, wooded, desert, snowscape and mud/barren terrain. Most of the Mats are available with or without printed roads. It’s up to you. There is a choice of road widths to suit any scale from 6mm to 28mm. The Mats are big, measuring approximately 56 inches by 76 inches and they are somewhat geomorphic, so you can put two or more together to produce a massive gaming area. However, if you are short of space, CBB also produce smaller 36 inch square Mats. There is also a mat that is printed with extra terrain features that you can cut out and use as overlays.

The printed terrain is professionally illustrated and looks really impressive on it’s own. You can put the Battle Mat on the table and be ready to play and it looks just fine. However, where they really come into their own is when you use them as a base for your own scenery. You can put foam hills underneath the Mat; it’s thick enough to allow for a nice, smooth slope and the fleece surface holds figures quite well. With the addition of a few trees and fences, perhaps some walls and buildings, in a few minutes you can create something that looks stunning. And after you’ve finished playing, you can fold up the Battle Mat and put it away! The Battle Mats are very versatile. Our European Battle Mat has been hosting an American Civil War campaign, but it has also been used for Black Powder games and is being eyed up by the Lion rampant players. The Desert Mat has seen tank battles in the western desert, colonial skirmishes in Afghanistan and has been the basis for a Wild West town. There is something here for all tastes, really, the possibilities are unlimited. But it’s not only historical gamers who will want to use these Mats. They are great for role playing games and science fiction gaming and, if you don’t want your games completely land bound, CBB also produce a Seascape Mat and a Star Field Mat, which will really complement your X-Wing games.

As well as the generic terrain, CBB also produce Battle Mats based on actual battles. The first of these is the Battle of Nashville 1864 (not surprising as Cigar Box Battle hail from that part of the world). This is my favourite Mat. It features typical Midwest semi-wooded terrain and is just beautiful. But again, it’s very versatile and would look great for American War of Independence games or even stand in for the Ardennes in 1944. The second is for the Battle of San Juan Hill. I can see this one being used for Vietnam or WW2 Pacific games. And for the latest releases, CBB have teamed up with Osprey Publishing to produce Battle Mats for the Gettysburg scenarios in John Hill’s fine Across a Deadly Field. The area north of Gettysburg, which saw the fighting on the first day, is covered in two Mats to suit 10mm, 15mm or 20mm figures. For 6mm figures, the whole area is covered in a single, smaller scale Mat.

I think that Battle Mats are a great idea. They are high quality, look good, are endlessly versatile and very easy to use. They are ideal for club games, or for playing at home. The Mats we have used seem to be hard wearing, which is good as you will want to use them a lot. There are no problems with creasing and they are washable, so you won’t have to wince too much when someone spills their drink.

Review by Mike Bradford