For those of you that love to play Scythe but that standard cardboard central board isn’t enough Stonemaier Games has you covered, with the official Scythe Neoprene Playmat. Released back in 2018, via a partnership with Inked Gaming, the playmat features the same board artwork and layout as the original central board. However, is this a worthy upgrade for your collection? Let’s find out!
For those whom have not played Scythe check out our review of the base game here!
Straight away the quality of the neoprene playmat is obvious. The cloth material used is both smooth and soft, whilst not compressing under the weight of any of the components. To stop the mat from shifting around during play the underside of the mat has a rubber layer. This makes it almost stick to the table surface, thankfully without a sticky feel. Another great touch is the double stitching around the edges. This means there is little concern when it comes to the low possibility of the edges starting to fray, enabling the playmat to be enjoyed for many years and games to come.
One noticeable thing about the playmat is that the colours of the design are more vivid than those on the original board. Deeper blues, richer greens and popping purples make the map of 1920s Eastern Europa more glorious than ever before. The playmat is slightly larger in size than the original central board. Measuring 36” by 28”, the playmat is sort of in between the original and extension board in size. The design is unchanged, so the playmat sees all aspects effectively stretched to the new size. This does unfortunately mean that some of the details of the board are lost. The sharpness, that sees little details such as Santa on the original board, is lost to a bit of fuzziness, however the likes of the mountain flags and villages are still very much visible.
An oddity caused by the simple scaling up of the board graphic is that the zones for the cards don’t match the card sizes. This isn’t as much of an issue as the other direction would have been, of cards not fitting anymore, and is only truly noticeable for the combat and objective cards. This almost non-issue is massively outweighed by the ability to fit more inside each hexagon. While it only happens once or twice a game that a hexagon on the board gets so full of mechs, workers and resources it overflows, the slight increase goes some way to making that more manageable.
Coming in a tube the playmat is a slightly unusual thing to store. Some go to “drastic” lengths such as hanging them up, as playmats don’t exactly fit on most gaming shelves, certainly not a Kallax. Thankfully, rolling the playmat back up and fitting it back into the tube isn’t a difficult task. There is plenty of room in the tube, meaning you won’t have to forcefully roll the playmat to squeeze it in, and then it can sit just next to or on top of a gaming shelf. For those with multiple playmats this could become problematic space wise though.
Normally, a playmat of this kind is useful when needing to pick up individual cards, though there isn’t an occasion in Scythe when this occurs. Nevertheless, there is something special about playing with the playmat. The additional size of the hexagons makes play not have odd hiccups when pieces overflow into neighbouring hexs. The colours make the whole game even more eye catching, something that is no mean feat. By no means is the neoprene playmat a necessary purchase. Still, for anyone with a large enough table and the want to upgrade their Scythe experience to that next level, the playmat is a stunning addition for your game collection! I can certainly see myself using it more than the modular board, which was released last year.
(Editor’s Note: The Scythe Neoprene Playmat was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The playmat is currently available from local board game stores, some of which are reopening! Find your local store here.)