Many people consider playmats absolutely essential for playing Magic. They protect your cards from wear and make gameplay smoother and more comfortable. When you have to play on plastic tables at events, they don’t allow your cards to slide around like they normally would, and keep them clean. Plus, they allow you to express your individuality with any number of art styles.
Unlike many other TCG products, playmats have few competitive options. In this article we’ll talk about the four best playmat brands.
#4 – Great Value, Few Options: Ultimate Guard
The Ultimate Guard playmats are one of the cheaper options, but only in terms of price. They feature very thick playmats, keeping your cards safer and allowing for a more comfortable feel. It does make it harder to store, but the natural rubber they are made of means they’re more durable.
Besides, they have the added bonus of being more eco-friendly than the other neoprene options. However, you don’t have the option for stitched borders, meaning you can expect fraying around the edges over time.
The main reason Ultimate Guard ranks so low on the list is their minuscule selection of styles. They offer:
While the lands look gorgeous, the other options aren’t particularly interesting. So your choices are quite limited with Ultimate Guard. Although, if you do like one of their styles you won’t regret your purchase.
#3 – Highest Quality, Highest Price: Inked Gaming
Inked Gaming has the best quality of all the playmats in this article, and perhaps on the market.
They are thick enough to be very durable, but thin enough to store easily and be comfortable to play on. They have one of the smoothest surfaces you’ll find on a playmat, and the stitched borders they offer never snag on your cards like some do.
The mats are also the only ones I found that are explicitly machine washable. They also offer custom options such as play zone shadows (for your command zone, graveyard, and so on) and colored backs. Finally, Inked Gaming Playmats have one of the largest collections of fantastic art, and they also allow for custom art.
So why aren’t the Inked Gaming playmats listed as #1? They may be the best quality, but their price reflects that fact. The playmats are quite expensive to begin with, and the additional options such as stitched borders, play zones, and colored backs all come at quite the premium.
Meaning, if you want a playmat with all the frills, you’re paying twice as much as you could be. If price is no object, then Inked Gaming is where you’ll want to spend your money. Otherwise, keep reading.
#2 – Great Art, Fewer Options: Gamer Mats
Gamer Mats are another high-quality option. Theirs are thinner than most playmats, which does cause some wear over time, but they offer a stitched border option (for an extra cost) that eliminate that problem.
Their borders aren’t as good as Inked Gaming’s, but cards will rarely catch on them. They also offer their playmats in the greatest variety of sizes, and have great art – their Jason Engle series is fantastic. While the art quality is high, if you’re looking for options, you’ll find their library somewhat limited. You can order custom art, however.
At a low base price, Gamer Mats are the more budget option if you’re looking for custom mats.
#1 – Best Selection, Best Price: Ultra Pro
UltraPro’s playmats are of higher-average quality. They don’t compete with Inked Gaming or Ultimate Guard, but they are by no means bad. Especially without a stitched border option you’ll see some wear over time, but they’re durable, and I’ve never had an issue with them.
The biggest draw to the Ultra Pro mats, and why they rank so high on the list, is their art. Because they have the exclusive licence to official MTG art, they have hundreds of different styles to choose from, often including your commander. This also allows you to match your deck box and sleeves to your mat, as Ultra Pro makes those products as well, using the same art.
They do offer playzone versions from their commander sets, however the zones aren’t useful outside of commander, and aren’t really worth it unless you plan on using the life counter zones (which, I’ve found, most people don’t).
Ultra Pro mats vary in price, with the more sought-after arts being harder to come by. For the most part, however, you’ll be paying less than any of the options above. This makes them the most budget option, though you won’t feel like you’re getting a cheap product.
While there isn’t a lot of variety in terms of good playmats, there are enough options to figure out exactly what you want. I hope this article has helped to point you in the right direction, whether you’re looking for art options, high-quality material, customization, or budget.
If you’re looking for more product reviews, you might like some of the following articles:
Until next time, have fun and may your new playmat serve you for a very long time.