keskiviikko 7. kesäkuuta 2017

Smoothsleight Necropolis

Hi folks!

I just picked up my order from the local gamestore, a purchase I justified to myself by repeating "it doesn't need to be painted" in my head over and over again.

A Soulblight Necropolis battlemat!

I was very excited about all the Skirmish releases but the only one I allowed myself to fall for was this gorgeous battlemat. I already own three different ones (snow and grass on canvas, a ruined city on mousepad) but they're all from DeepCut Studios, so it makes this one unique in a way.

Although being a Games Workshop item, the pricing is pretty much on-par with the DeepCut mats. The sewn edges and incredible amount of detail in this battlemat give it a very high quality look and feel compared to my other mats, but I kind of dislike the fact that it came in a box. Wouldn't a tube have been a more eloquent approach, perhaps even saving the mat a few folds and such? Oh well, I guess boxes are easier to store and stack on shelves.

When I first opened the whole thing I went simply "wow!", and not just because of the strong rubber-fumes that exploded out of the box (they dissipated quickly) but for the overall look of the battlefield!

Even with no terrain on it the mat looks like it's ready for a scrap, without still overwhelming the viewer with too much stuff. In the following days I'll have it tested in the fires of battle, acting as a scene for some Skirmish test-runs to see how it performs in action.
What do I expect from the mat? Well, obviously I want it to enhance the overall feel of the game, perhaps making otherwise boring or blank terrain pieces look better and blending them into the landscape. I also want it to be freely modular, meaning that it offers more than a few ways to setup terrain in a sensible way (ruins, walls and forests not overlapping the printed objects too much) so it could be used in a variety of different battleplans and game sizes.

What I'm a bit afraid of is whether or not this mat makes my battle report pics look incoherent with all those tombs and cracks being always out there among the models themselves. We'll see!

The detail of the battlefield is magnificent. The texture of the mat itself doesn't push through so much that it would ruin the experience, for me at least. The different roads, cracks and tombyards are a nice layout for different battlefields, offering both open space and cramped confines depending on how much terrain the players dare to use. An ideal battlefield for a Skirmish game should offer a bit of both, I think, unless the specific scenario being played calls for a more special arrangement.

There was one thing that left a more bitter taste in my mouth, though...

This. No, it's not my camera that's out of focus. The middle of the battlemat actually looks like that in real life. I don't know if I just hit a bad batch or something, but the altar (or whatever) in the middle seems to be printed out of focus. With all the speech about quality and durability, this one had me blinking my eyes for quite a while before I accepted the truth.

All in all, if one 3" by 3" spot on the mat is a bit blurry and the fact the thing came folded in a box are the only problems I've found thus far, I can say I'm happy with my purchase. I'll still do some research about the blurriness and see if it's something I need to contact customer services about.

The material of the mat is one big, giant plus for the overall product. It folds and rolls smoothly, the rubber surface on the reverse side keeps it from sliding or slipping on the table and yet it's all thick enough to make that satisfyingly muffled sound every time you toss some dice on it!

It says on the side of the box that the mat can be carefully ironed straight, but when I tried it the whole process seemed to have little to none effect on the folds. I'm still unsure if my iron is just too old for the job or if the temperatures they suggest are too low, but I tried several times with different mat sections and iron trajectories. The folds set down a bit eventually, but I couldn't get them all out. Not yet at least.

The box itself is sturdy work, more so than I expected, to be honest. I can definitely see myself storing (and perhaps even transporting) some miniatures in this, but I think I'll keep the battlemat rolled up on a shelf when I'm not using it. Saves me the folds, I hope!

Overall I see the Soulblight Necropolis as a good purchase and I'll give it a solid Duardiness Rating* of 4/5. It's not the best battlemat I can imagine but it's also Realms away from being the worst! Top quality for a decent price that endures comparison to other manufacturers.

+ reasonably priced for what one gets
+ there's a definite feel of quality in the product (unless the blur is common!)
+ no sliding or slipping
+ durable as a duardin
+ less intruding to the eye than the previous Khorne-themed mat
+ usable in AoS outside the given Skirmish in Shadespire -setting
+ sure to enhance even the simplest terrain pieces piled on it
+ satisfying muffle on dice rolls

- a blurred spot in the middle(!)
- comes in a box and riddled with folds
- the mentioned folds won't set down under ironing (easily, at least)
- fits ill for stuff outside the Age of Sigmar setting
- some players may see the amount of tombs and cracks a little... dense

I hope this review helps some of you make up your minds about this specific Skirmish product. Until next time!

*Duardiness Rating measures the wealth and time put into something compared to its usability, sturdiness, quality and safety.

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