|This is the Europe I mat. American forces are moving up from the fields and along the road at the top of the pic. There is a nice rise in elevation on the top left.|
One of the great advantages of using a Cigar Box mat is the fact you can smoothly represent elevations - depth on the battlefield. I have always felt that throwing down pre-made hills never looked right. For one thing they are usually too small to avoid standing out un-realistically. Lay-outs tend to look like flat surfaces with bumps randomly placed about as a result. Well, I am happy to report that using the Cigar Box mats has solved that problem for me. For one thing you can now stick hills (books, foam, or if your lucky, some Geo-Hex terrain boards) under the mat to allow for large (or small) height changes. These changes look much more natural and actually blend very well into the lay-out.
|Another look at the Europe I mat. German forces rush to the sector to slow the advance of the Americans.|
At first it took some getting use to, but the tables seemed much more brighter. My lay-outs tended to be very dark green with mostly dark browns scattered about for variety. However, the Europe mats by Cigar Box tend to be much brighter, using lighter tones and color on the mat. This is not a bad thing at all.
|First elements make contact! In the center is one of my own felt fields - dark brown - placed on the mat.|
Another thing we did in the battle is make use of some of my felt forest and field pieces. I placed these over top the mat to add variety to the lay-out. I can report that yes indeed, it is very easy to change up the pre-made lay-out on the mats by adding your own terrain pieces. Simply throw them on top of the mat to cover-up areas, or otherwise change it up.
|American M-10 tanks move up. Again, the dark brown field is my own terrain placed atop the mat. Blends in perfect!|
All in all it was a fantastic battle. I really enjoyed the lay-out. I bought both Cigar Box Europe I and II mats for even more variety. I can combine these together to add even more variety if I so choose - or simply use both at once to cover a huge battlefield.
|A look down a thin path-way.|
I should note one thing. Compared to the Desert mat, the Europe mats are slightly smaller along the long sides, perhaps only a 6" overlap on a 4' wide table. The Desert mat looks more like a full 12" overlap. However, this makes very little difference. I used some pretty good sized hills under the mat in this battle, there was still plenty of over-hang all around the 6' x 4' table we used. So it is possible to just go crazy with placing hills underneath the mat.
|A German recon element spot s the American advance. Note the natural elevation change here.|
I should be doing some full video reviews on these two mats shortly. So stay tuned for that.
Check out Cigar Box here.