Mat and Matous
From the humble green cloth of yesteryear, gaming mats have since become a popular way of adding an extra level of visual interest to wargames. One supplier of these fine gaming accessories is Gamemat.eu, run by Matous Hlousek (far left). We chat with him to find out a bit more about how the company came about.
Could you introduce yourself? How did you first get involved with the world of
Hi, my name is Matous, I am 36, I live in Prague, Czech Republic, have two kids and run and own Gamemat.eu together with my wife Aneta. I’d eyed Warhammer since I was 13 but actually made my first purchase when I was 30! I bought myself the Dark Vengeance Warhammer 40,000 starter box and that started it all for me.
After the first few games I started to wonder what surface could be used for a playing field apart from sheets of wood sprayed green or grass-carpets. Six months later I had the first three pieces of 6’ x 4’ battle mat artwork done, and right after that the first wholesale production of 300 mats being produced. I enjoyed making Gamemat in the evening whilst working at my full time job (I worked as equity trader for a total of 10 years) and was quite happy with the couple of mats I sold each month as I really enjoyed being part of the wargaming community. A bit later we added our own scenery range of pre-painted resin terrain sets. In 2015 I quit my job and made Gamemat.eu our full-time project for me and my wife.
What are some of your personal favourite wargames?
I mainly play Warhammer 40,000 because it's challenging, Necromunda because it's great to dive into the narrative and conversions it offers and Warcry because it’s fast paced and has really good, straightforward rules. I also play a bit of Star Wars Legion. And I enjoy reading the Black Library fiction as well.
Are you primarily a painter, a gamer or a modeller?
I enjoy a bit of everything. As a painter I’m only able to achieve tabletop standard level, but I really like the craft aspect of the hobby when it comes to converting miniatures and then relaxing at the painting stage. For playing I like to attend one or two international tournaments a year (eg. The London Grand Tournament or the Dutch Grand Tournament in Amsterdam this year) and I run our own international wargaming event called Prague Open. Last year there were 220 attendees competing across Warhammer 40,000, Age of Sigmar and Blood Bowl. There’s more info at https://www.facebook.com/PragueOpenWargaming/ and we’re welcoming everybody for the 2020 event that will take place in Prague, 22nd-23rd February.
What’s been the biggest challenge of running a wargaming business?
It is still a niche market, so you need to be able to offer your product globally in order to achieve a certain level of sales. You also have to have a product that stands out from the others on the market. I think we achieved both things, as not many companies offer pre-painted resin terrain, such a large variety of gaming mats and a worldwide shipping option like we do.
You also have to be a part of the community and be following the new releases of games and rules. We really enjoy supporting all kinds of events worldwide like tournaments and shows, as well as battle report channels, podcasters and gaming clubs in any country. We’re very open to any suggestions for cooperation from Youtube channels and gaming groups.
Gamemat has some exciting news; it’s recently opened up a shop! Could you tell
us a bit about this?
We were lucky that online sales from Gamemat were on a rising trend over the last few years and that there was also a really great-looking place rent in Prague. So we just took the leap and rented it straight away this June. True, we had no long-term plan for it by that time, but we just saw that it was available and took the risk. The place is called Rubikon (https://www.facebook.com/rubikondeskovky/) and it stocks Games Workshop products. We have gaming tables for up to 20 players using 6’ x 4’ tables or many more if they’re playing smaller format games.
Rubikon; Gamemat.eu's new store