Board game playmats. Do you love them, or hate them? I think I might be addicted to playmats. I don’t have a ton of them, but the playmats I do have are loved. Unfortunately there are downsides to owning them. Playmats can be pricey and difficult to store, so are they really worth purchasing?
Why have a playmat for your game?
Playmats offer several practical advantages. Have you ever tried to pick a card off of a hard surface? A spongy playmat eliminates this problem. Ever have a card scuffed or damaged on the rough surface of your table? Playmats offer a soft and safe place to lay your cards to reduce wear.
Aside from the practical reasons, playmats can also make your games more thematic and easier to play. They can also really bring together a game that has a lot of loose pieces strewn everywhere.
Different types of board game playmats and why you’d want them
I’m calling the playmats that have text to guide your gameplay “informational” playmats. This type of playmat may also have a legend that identifies the symbology in the game. You’ll probably also notice partitioned areas on the playmat where your various components should be placed.
These “informational” board game playmats are my very favorite. More often than not, these playmats can make a game easier to teach and reduce rule book consultation times. They’ll also keep your game organized.
Fantastic Factories and Welcome To both have fantastic informational playmats. Both of these are lovely, and contribute to a better gaming experience!
This type of playmat adds extra beauty to your board game. I’m thinking of our playmat for Atlantis Rising. It sits under the puzzle pieces that makeup the island board and creates a blue ocean around it. The game looks amazing with the playmat. There are a few marked spots for components, but this mat is all about aesthetics!
Playmats that look like the game board
Sometimes you’ll see playmats for sale that look exactly like the board that comes in the box. These are my least favorite. They really add little to the game, other than making it easier to pick up the cards. For me, having to store an extra playmat isn’t worth that bonus.
The only exception to this might be a game with a whole lot of cards on display. Off the top of my head, something like Equinox comes to mind. Actually this game doesn’t even come with a board, so I would definitely buy the playmat for this game!
This type of playmat is not game specific. You can buy them to cover your tabletop to make all of your games easier to play. We just got a Big Viking Mat for our table and we’ve really enjoyed having it so far. We choose to get one that’s solid color, but you can purchase these mats in lots of fun patterns. The only thing to consider is that your pieces may get “lost” on a playmat with a busy pattern!
We can’t talk about board game playmats without mentioning the related storage problems. Do you roll them, or lay them flat? Do you put them in tubes, or drape them over dowels or hangers?
I’ve rolled most of our playmats and strategically wedged them between odd-fitting games to keep them in place. It’s really an eyesore so I just invested in some playmat tubes as an alternative. So far it seems like a good option, but you need to be able to roll the mats pretty tight to fit them into the tubes.
The absolute best scenario is when your playmats are shipped in a decorative (and sturdy) container that can double as storage. Then you have a place to keep your playmat neat without having to spend anymore money on storage! Both our playmats for Atlantis Rising and Tiny Epic Pirates were shipped in excellent, sturdy containers. Only Tiny Epic Pirates had a decorative box though. The rest we weren’t so lucky with.
On a final note, storing the giant tabletop playmats is particularly difficult. I’ve yet to find a creative solution for that one.
So what do you think? Do you like board game playmats? Which is your favorite, and how do you store them?