Yes, I have inevitably succumbed to the allure of the Fantasy Flight Star Wars X-Wing game, after trying it out in the ‘Bigtop’ at PAX Melbourne earlier this year. As we’ve been playing a fair amount of it both with my wargaming friends and my young boys at home, I was looking for a star field mat as the wooden kitchen table we usually play on ruins the immersion somewhat.
There are plenty of commercial star field gaming mats on the market that all looked very nice, but also all looked pretty pricey, particularly once you factor in shipping all the way down to New Zealand – money that I’d frankly rather spend on board games, or more spacecraft for X-Wing. Fortunately my wife is a mad quilter and cross stitcher and was able to source me a meter square of flat black ‘cotton drill’ for the grand total of $12nzd.
I whipped it out to the garage, found a pot of white water-based enamel house paint and an old brush and literally spent two minutes carefully loading up the brush lightly and flicking it across the flat cloth from random angles and directions. I hung the resulting cloth up in the garage to dry overnight and the next day we tried a few games of X-Wing on it, and I was very pleased with the result.
At ‘tabletop gaming distance’ it looks enough like a star field to please the eye (see the photo), but is visually simple enough that it doesn’t get in the way of game play, and for the grand total of $12nz plus some house paint is a very economical solution. The water borne enamel is also very robust once dried and heck, if the paint wears off I’ll just flip the cloth over and create a new star field on the other side.