My Friday post this week saw me frothing at the prospect of receiving my 'Classic' Guild Ball pitch, a printed neoprene mat. As expected Element Games games through and the parcel was waiting for me when I got home. I didn't manage to open it until last night and have a little while to give it the once over. Taking advantage of our still very empty kitchen extension I took some photos to accompany my thoughts.
The mat arrived folded up in an A3 box (as explained on the EG site). This is not a problem as the mat doesn't retain any folds. I has some weight to it and almost unrolls itself on the surface (in this case the wooden floor). It even has rounded corners – a small thing but excellent addition.
Just like the mats I have for Aetherium, it's like a giant rubber mouse mat and is, in my opinion, almost the perfect surface for gaming on (aside from a beautifully constructed terrain board of course). When it comes to playing Guild Ball it will be perfect, especially thanks to how mobile it is. Unlike Blood Bowl, where the temptation is to create a lavishly constructed stadium, this surface feels more suitable for GB and will protect the miniatures a lot more should they fall over or be laid on their side.
Just to back up the mobile aspect, it comes with a great carry case. Unlike a rigid tube, the case will allow you to fit the mat into any small space left in the car boot (trunk).
I was feeling a lot of love for this mat (too much if I'm honest) and then I spotted an issue. Don't worry, it's a "Mike" issue that 90% of people won't notice and most of the rest wouldn't consider a problem. However, being who I am and doing what I do for a job, I felt a little gutted at what I see as a flaw.
The pitch graphic itself, it turns out, is not an illustration as I had assumed (like my Woodland mat) but a photo montage of bits of grass and bits of someone's bare lawn. It's obviously been blended together in Photoshop but it's been done poorly where the transitions between image bits are blurred and scale is inconsistent. No attempt has been made (it seems) to go back in and work the images together more. It's more a patchwork quilt effect.
In addition, the pitch markings are floating on top of the grass photo detached entirely from the pitch below. They've been distressed so they look worn, but they don't sit amongst the blades of grass and don't look three dimensional or textured in any way – looks more like a floating mist effect. I've left the graphic above quite large so you can hopefully see what I mean.
Don't get me wrong, it's a quality product but the graphic looks rushed to me. Shame as it could have been perfection. Yet as I said, most people won't notice, I just have the curse of the trained eye for such things.
So I fully recommend you get one of these before you start playing! Excellent stuff!