We live in a golden age of tabletop terrain. When I first started, it was books under blankets and up-turned yoghurt pots for buildings. These days, one can hardly turn around for tripping over another company making spectacular terrain, be it in MDF, resin, 3d printing or plastic.
You can see my review of Gamemat’s MDF hivecity terrain on YouTube, which is an impressive piece of good value, but…
Well, I’ve had it for several weeks and, although I’ve started painting it, it’s still not fully ready for the tabletop. I mean, if only there was a way I could just lift a set of terrain out of its box and pop it down on the table, all ready to go…
Oh, wait! There is!
Because as well as their MDF terrain, Gamemat also offers a range of resin, painted terrain that needs no assembly or preparation and is ready to go, straight out of the box!
Which sounds great until you see the price point, with sets ranging from £90 to £145. At that price, you do have to ask yourself: is this worth it?
So is it?
We’ll get to that. Let’s talk detail.
Gamemat.eu offers twelve sets of pre-painted terrain from rocky outcrops to farm buildings and city walls, to blasted industrial zones. They also have a selection of more “one off” pieces, like landing platforms, temples and… is that a scifi steam engine? Yes. Yes, it is.
The set they sent us to review was the Fallout Zone set, retailing at £119. It looks pretty in the pictures, so let’s see what actually turned up.
As you can see, Gamemat takes their packaging seriously. They provide this stuff with a custom polystyrene case. I was initially pretty stoked by this because I thought it would make it really easy to store it safely on a shelf when not in use but… the type of polystyrene they used is, frankly, pretty evil. It is fragile (you can see at the bottom right of the picture where it came apart in my hands just getting it out of the box and that was only the first chunk I accidentally ended up with. It also drops little polystyrene beads everywhere! I had to vacuum three times in the process of unpacking. It’s also spectacularly non environmentally-friendly.
They also individually wrapped each piece in its own plastic bag. Again: super-not-environmentally-friendly, but points for taking every reasonable step to ensure this reached me in tip-top condition. If you love playing games, take a a look at these boards games apk you can download on your phone.
The kit itself consists of three small ruins, two medium ruins, one large ruin, a processing plant and sixsets of obstacles (sandbags and oil drums).
The Processing Plant
This is clearly the centrepiece of the set. With two “levels” on which miniatures can be placed and a single pipe running through it, it would serve equally well in a battle-level game or a skirmish one that calls for more detail. The smaller pipes are supposed to have sewage or toxic chemicals running out of them and the green is pretty potent! If you wanted to create house rules for game effects from being in proximity, this would be a great narrative piece.
The Small Ruins
You get three of these pieces – all identical. They work well as standalone pieces or you can put two opposite each other to suggest a single building blown apart by a strike. Each has doors and windows in one side so they offer transit and cover. For games where LOS blocking is important, they have no holes in the opposite ends.
The Medium Ruins
The pipe details clearly link these building thematically with both the smaller ones and the processing plant. Like the smaller buildings, these can work together but, as well as using them in a pair, they could each be one corner of a larger building so work as a three, as well. They can also go together with the large ruin.
The Large Ruin
You will notice that this one seems to be a different colour to the others. We’ll touch upon that in due course. Suffice to say that, other than being another storey taller, this piece is essentially identical to the medium ruins but, being taller, it has been given an exterior walkway. It looks a bit precarious to me!
As a sniper nest, this is the obvious choice. It has windows and holes in the walls but, oddly, no doorway. Nevertheless, it would work well with the three medium ruins to represent a single, large, ruined building, or stand on its own.
These are all the same: about four inches long and consisting of sandbags and oil barrels with a couple of girders and boxes. They make decent representations of cover or barricades, although they only obscure about a third of the average 28mm miniature. They aren’t all that tall!
These are seriously sturdy pieces of work. They are heavy and feel strong and resilient. I haven’t tried dropping one, but it would go in one of two ways: either nothing would happen or it would break into two or three pieces. Even in the case of the latter happening, I think they would glue back together pretty seamlessly.
This is not display-level painting. It is “good enough for the tabletop” painting. Basically, I would guess that they have been sprayed black, drybrushed metal and then painted again – by hand, I’m sure – over the metal.
And the reason I can make this guess is that my large ruin came having only having had its metal drybrush. Now, I raised this with the guys at Gamemat and they were super apologetic and offered a replacement, and I am certain that an customer would get the same response (by the way, shipping was lightning quick – it took three days to reach me from the Czech Republic, where they are based). However, I declined the offer because I had already re-painted the terrain myself.
And that’s an important takeaway: you can re-paint this stuff if you want it to be a different colour, or add details or make it fit your existing collection better. You don’t have to. It’s already painted and good to go. But you can.
£119 is a chunk of change and, to an extent, it would make me think twice about this as a purchase. A set isn’t quite enough to be a whole table’s worth, even on a 4’x4′ table as shown here, so you’re either going to want two sets or you’re going to need your own terrain collection to augment.
I also own a big pile of Gamemat’s MDF terrain as previously mentioned. And although I assembled that in a couple of hours, I’ve only got paint on half of it so far and even that is still awaiting the airbrush. In other words, it’s not had so much as a second of actual play time since I finished building it.
This stuff, on the other hand, has been my go-to terrain since I got it. It’s been on the table half a dozen times, albeit augmented with other pieces from my collection. So, when you think about it, the return on your investment from a purchase of a pre-painted set in terms of play time versus sitting-around-waiting-for-Robey-to-paint-it time is impressive.
Even re-painting the large ruin took barely an hour, even including time waiting for the paint to dry. And it’s now indistinguishable from the rest of the set. The fact that Gamemat’s approach to the painting is functional (but effective) actively helps in that respect.
If you have £90-£145 available to spend on terrain and you want a good-looking, robust and flexible set that lets you get maximum dice time and minimum waiting, then you should look no further.
Whilst I would like Gamemat to take a more sustainable approach to their packaging, I totally understand why you would want to give this set a bespoke packing solution and respect their commitment to delivering quality to their customers.
The detail on the buildings is sufficient without being excessive, as is the paint work. And you can always add your own paint and, indeed, details if you want more.
Yes, there are cheaper solutions. But they all come at a cost of time and effort that Gamemat is here to spare you. So for the cash-rich, time-poor wargamer, this is the product for you.