Thursday, July 26, 2012

Banners on the Cheap

Last month I was approached by a company called Banners on the Cheap. Seems they wanted to get the word out about their products to a new audience; gamers. They offered to give me a banner of my choice in return for a review (with the understanding that it will be an honest review), so here 'tis.

Originally, they offered to do a map of some sort for me. Several other bloggers have taken them up on that offer, and their results look pretty good, but I decided to do something a little bit different; I went for a battlemat.

In my own case, since I'm working on painting up a mess of late Medieval/Renaissance ships (1/2400 scale from Figurehead, but more about them in another post), I thought having a nice blue hex field to sail them on would be just the thing to test out the services offered.

Turns out that the hardest part of the whole process was setting up my .pdf file of the hexes, but that's only because of my own incompetence in the area of graphics. I went for 4' by 6', which is the size of the wargaming tables at Dexcon and Dreamation, and conveniently was within the budget the kind folks at Banners on the Cheap allowed me.

I've got to say, I'm very pleased with the results. The material itself isn't quite as nice as that offered by Chessex, but it does seem very sturdy and likely to stand up to hundreds of games. Where the Chessex mats are soft and sort of "floppy", the Banners on the Cheap mat is a little more crinkly, but not so much that it looks like it will crease (the slight bubbles you might see in the first image are just due to my not taking the time to smooth the thing out after I unrolled it onto the floor). The image itself was fairly crisp, certainly good enough for my purposes, and there was very little bleed. The process of uploading the image and choosing the size, etc. was incredibly simple and took all of about 5 minutes to accomplish.

But I've got to say the coolest thing about Banners on the Cheap (and their affiliates Signs on the Cheap and Magnets on the Cheap) is both the price and the ability to customize the final product. My 4'x6' battlemat, with shipping included, would have cost me under $40. Compare that to Chessex, whose "megamat" is half the size and comes in the colors they offer and nothing more. Their "mondomat" is slightly larger, but comes in at three times the price, and is still not customizable.

Imagine being able to whip up a customized hex map for a miniatures game, with all the terrain and everything already printed on the map itself. Considering the cost of terrain, $40 sounds like a steal, especially if you're going to be playing the same game more than once! (Ogre comes to mind as a prime candidate, as does Battletech, Malifaux, or Heroclix.)The same can be said for dungeon battlemats; you can literally put anything you want on the thing and have it printed out in whatever size you want.

If you're looking for a place to do some custom battlemats as I did, or large wilderness, campaign, or even dungeon maps as others have, I heartily endorse Banners/Signs on the Cheap. I will be using them again.

Banners

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I actually found this a while ago, but I heard the original song on the radio yesterday, and all I could think of was this version...