A Review of GEM Playmats for Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and other Tabletop Games

A Review of GEM Playmats for Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and other Tabletop Games


When it comes to gaming mats for Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon, and many other games, often times, the significant difference is really just the quality of printing in regards to the art on the surface of the mat itself. This is because play mats are almost entirely following the same formula: that of a rubber, neoprene base covered with a printed cloth top. Most play mats are made this way because it is a successful formula. It is cheap, colorful, allows for a smooth top, and a secure grip on the bottom. And, of course, is typically machine washable. But in today’s video, I will review two styles of the fabric-based Gem playmats, compare them to similar styled mats, and see if this different mat makes for markedly improved surface, or a sub-par playing base. Let’s take a look! Gem playmats offer several varieties of fabric and designs. Displayed here is a bold blue-on-blue mat whose style is called “Kraken”. The kraken fabric is a woven back, which is the more commonly released fabric of Gem Playmats. This fabric is durable, and the playmat handmade. Sized for two players, or of course foldable for just one, the surface feel is extra smooth and does not catch card corners. Even with the old version of Dragon Shield mattes, which have those particularly pointy tips, the sleeves glide and slide right off the mat. This is great, but the downside here in terms of gliding and sliding is that the mat itself glides and slides very easily. This might be a personal preference, in regards to use, but I do want to be clear; this does not and will not grip your surface in the same way as a rubber backed mat. Depending upon your personal preference and your play space, this is either not going to bother you at all or maybe bother you quite a lot, so, be advised. Now, astute viewers will immediately be comparing these mats to the famous Khalsa Brain SpellGround Mats. In fact, when I received my first samples of the Gem mats, I mistook them for a new line of the Khalsa Brain SpellGrounds. Which, considering the solid ‘A’ I gave the Khalsa Brain’s is not inherently a bad thing. Khalsa Brain mats are less expensive and more easy to order than the Gem mats. Whose price is a little higher at $49.99 each. But do keep in mind that this is a handmade item that is going to long outlast rubber based mats. And it is two player in size. The overall grade in this style is an ‘A-“. Now the mats are washable if needed, but the company recommends spot cleaning them with a mild soap and cold water, and urges customers to never machine dry these mats. That’s a big difference from neoprene as well. Gem also offers a “premium styled” playmat, featured here called the Senjo. With silver on burgundy the Senjo has what is described as a more premium matted back for a thicker and softer feel. But, I actually feel the exact opposite. I do not like this tufted cloth back side, as over time I can see immediately that this is going to become worn down and pulled away. Some strands even come off in my hands. And how ever minimally, this leaves me with a lack of confidence about long term durability. But I’m not so sure that this thicker mat is a good direction, as it makes for a very padded feel when playing. And cards don’t slide and glide with the other version, in fact I’d say that the play surface here is not ideal. I’ve obviously experienced a lot worse, but I really don’t like this particular style. But of course, there is a lot of personal preference there and there may be many Magic: the Gathering players who are looking for that overly padded feel, who perhaps do not want a slippery surface for their cards, and so I want to communicate what this is like when using it so that you can make a choice that’s best for you. I don’t think its a great aspect, but it might be what you’re looking for. As before, these mats are topped with a durable fabric and are handmade. I’m afraid that the Serjo style is not my style of choice, but I do acknowledge this is still a quality item and will be very good for many players, so I’ll give it a solid ‘B’. Ordering Gem mats is done through their Facebook page, which I have listed in this videos’ description. Along, of course, with the Khalsa Brain games links for ordering “SpellGrounds”. Remember, for reviews of Ultra Pro playmats, Ultimate Guard, BCW, Max Protection, Khalsa Brains, Inked Gaming, and many many more, check out my previous playmat review videos. I hope very much this video has been of some help to you. You can help me out by remembering to like, share, subscribe, or just by leaving a comment. And don’t forget, this channel only exists thanks to 1% of its viewers who are able to offer their support over at Patreon. So if you are one of those viewers that helps this channel keep going and growing strong, I thank you. And this program was made possible thanks to a sponsorship from Card Kingdom, As well as the Patreon support of viewers, such as you. So thank you.