08 December 2019

2D rivers and terrain from Playmats.eu review

Rivers is something that I never had in my terrain collection, and they are used plenty for games like SAGA and By Fire & Sword just to name a few. At the clubs where I used to play the default rivers were the prepainted "Battlefield in a box" rivers. I was never a fan due to them being unwieldy and weirdly shaped which oftentimes took up too much space on the table. They were very durable, but also oddly unnaturally colored and prone to "warping" so that you had to bend them into shape. For long that was still the best alternative to homemade rivers. But as I have no time or equipment to make my own, I tried to find an alternative that ticked some of my requirements: cheap, natural looking, lightweight/easy to store and customizable.

By accident, as I was browsing playmats for Dungeons & Dragons I saw that Playmats.eu also had a range of 2D terrain. Primarily two terrain types were of interest right away, hills and rivers. The theoretical reason behind getting 2D hills is pretty much "playability". I think I'm not alone in being frustrated as units of single based miniatures slide down slopes of 3D hills. I wanted to see how the 2D hills looked IRL, adding them to my cart alongside the rivers and some broken ground.

Let's start with a rundown of the material. The 2D terrain is made out of foam, similar to that on mousepads, and the top layer being vinyl with a print. The terrain is approximately 2mm thick, with a black edge. The print on the vinyl is high quality detail, though due to the material choice it can appear a bit glossy under strong light from certain angles. Not so much a problem as a bonus on the rivers that could emulate reflective water - but perhaps not as desirable on other terrain. I wonder if you could spray the print with a matt varnish though? A big bonus is that the material lends itself well to being cut by scissors or a sharp knife, so you could make smaller river pieces yourself.

The other bonus of the material is that it is very soft, tipping miniatures over will not damage the paintjob. The back of the terrain is made out of foam, and if placed in a gamemat it will effectively prevent the terrain from easily sliding around on the table.

The rivers can be purchased in packs, or by single pieces. I purchased single pieces, each piece being roughly 30cm/12" and at 6 euro a piece I think this is a great deal. Being able to purchase single pieces allowed me to buy exactly the type of river I wanted, without oddly shaped pieces that I was not interested in. The rivers are, from what I understand, made with By Fire & Sword in mind. That is a 15mm wargame, where the water should be about 10cm wide. That is also the case with these rivers. Though they work quite well with 15mm and 28mm miniatures and terrain alike. In 28mm this is more a stream, than a proper river though, but still looks the part.

When it comes to the hills and the broken ground, these are sold in packs of 3 terrain pieces. These are rather small for hill if you use them for 28mm, and I purchased them with 15mm in mind. However, the look of these do not clearly scream "HILL!" to me once placed on the table. The hills look more like rough terrain/broken ground. The broken ground terrain looks like, well, broken  ground so that's great. I will thus use both the "hills" and broken ground as rough terrain in my 15mm/28mm games. And while the 2D scatter terrain looks nice, even with some 3D terrain next to it, I would give the advice to not pack these terrain pieces too tightly with themselves or other 3D terrain as that can give a weird impression.

Spread them out a little, I think the way SAGA terrain is spread out with a minimum range between terrain pieces is ideal. They are ideal for a patch of rocky ground for instance.

I highly recommend the rivers, they are imo perfect. 

The other 2D terrain is a matter of taste I would say. You might want to start out with a small purchase and see if it fits your terrain collection and playstyle first.

You can check out the 3D rivers and other 2D terrain by following the link to Playmats.eu.


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