I designed my own battle mat

ZoneMap battle mats

gaming tools scifi

A battle mat is useful in both wargames and roleplaying games, and there are lots of different options for what to use. Like many players, I use a mix of them, including Paizo's dry-erase grid boards and flipmaps, BattleTech map packs, and boards that come packaged with games like Zombicide and Battle for Balin's Tomb. Recently, though, I found myself wanting a good general-purpose hex map that I could use for any game and any scenario. In the end, I designed my own battle mat and had it printed on neoprene by RedBubble, and I've been happily using it for a few months. I call it ZoneMat™ and because I've been enjoying it so much, I've made the RedBubble product page available to the public so anybody can purchase it. Here's what I (humbly) like about ZoneMat.


You can play a wargame on a bare tabletop. I've done it, it's fine. A battlemat, however, is like having a football field instead of just a, um, field. You don't have to remember the boundaries of the battlefield is when you have a battlemat. If a miniature steps off the battlemat, then it's fallen off the face of the planet. The battlefield is exactly the size of the battlemat. It's easy to see, easy to remember, and refreshingly clear.


ZoneMat™ uses 1-inch hexes, rendered black against a neutral grey background, making it easy to quickly measure movement. You and your opponent can agree to play without tape measures, or you can just use the hex grid for quick estimates as you strategize.

If you're playing an RPG, you might be used to squares instead of hexes. I find it easy to convert to hexes, though, especially if you just use the hexes as guides rather than actual spaces. Just count the number of hexes you want a miniature to move, and then place your miniature. Your miniature deosn't actually have to be within a hex for a move to be valid, as long as you've measured the distance by counting hex columns or rows. Don't overthink it. As long as everyone is counting on the same grid (and they are, because everyone's using the same battlemat), it works.


There are three bold hexes on the ZoneMat™. One is in the centre of the battlemat, so you'll never measure from edge to edge again. The other two are on either end of the battle mat, helping you choose places on the map that are a reasonable distance from the centre point, or within a deployment zone.

Each bold hex is surrounded by two circles to help you see when a miniature is in close proximity of the hex.

You can use these bold hexes for objectives or portals or goals, or you can just use them as visual aids to help you judge distance.


As its name implies, ZoneMat™ features several different zones marked on it. As with everything else on the battlemat, the zones are visually neutral, so you can either use them in your game or ignore them.

Deployment zones

Deployment zones are indicated by white dotted lines.

There's a vertical zone marked by a line on either end of ZoneMat™. You can use this zone for deploying armies in a head-to-head battle. If your battle scenario calls for a different deployment arrangement, though, there are other potential deployment regions in all four corners of ZoneMat™.

Ingress points

There are grey triangular zones along the long edges of ZoneMat™ for you to use as ingress zones in scenarios (such as urban settings, the hallways of a space ship or station, and so on) requiring multiple entries.


Each side of the board has a different coloured stripe (orange and blue) down the center. You can use this as a subtle reminder of which side is the attacker and which is the defender, in a scenario that distinguishes between the two.


I use ZoneMat™ for basically any game because it's a flat gray (#555753 to be precise). Whether my armies are boarding an abandoned space ship, rushing across a rocky battlefield, scouring city streets, a neutral colour sort of works for anything.

There's a valid counter argument that a flat neutral background actually works for nothing. It doesn't look like the floor of a forest or the side of a mountain or outer space or the white marble halls of an elven palace. But the lack of visual data can actually be a benefit of neutrality. I love the look of my BattleTech battle mats, but I have to admit that sometimes the picture-perfect visuals of the ground can take attention away from the miniatures. An immersive game is great, until you start forgetting to move miniatures because you're passively interpreting them as trees or rocks against the lush vegetation of the forest moon battlemat.

Get yours today

If you like the idea of ZoneMat™, then buy your own from Printify and put it on your gaming table. If you get one, let me know what you think of it, and feel free to suggest improvements.

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