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November 09, 2023 5 min read

Usually, a Magic player’s first playmat is a gift or something they win. Maybe picked up at a prize wall at an event, or you meet one of your favorite artists at a con and grab a signed one. But if you decide it’s time for a new look and feel, whether you use your mat at the kitchen table or roll it out at the Pro Tour, there’s a lot of choices!

Here’s my take on some of the coolest Magic playmats to consider if you’re looking to redecorate your gaming space.

#16. Smell

This one may be an honorable mention, but I felt like it was my duty to share.

Look, I’m all for clear communication, but sometimes situations are fraught, and needs must. This supremely passive-aggressive playmat by Beyond the Machina is a probably doomed way to share your preference for bathing among your gaming crew. I’m not sure the person it might be directed against will get the point. Unless you have this in your bag and only pull it out where you need to? Probably still best to just be adults and talk, but if adulting is super hard for you and you have a sensitive nose, here you go!

#15. Rookie Playmat

rookie playmat

I kind of hate this, actually. But I think having one of these to help new players learn how their board works is helpful! This is my favorite of all the new-player mats, even with that giant piece of branding in the middle

#14. Puggernaut

puggernaut playmat

I’m not so into these Star City Games Creature Collection mats anymore because they feel a bit distracting to play on, but the Puggernaut is another thing entirely. Super funny. If you want to be the table joker after watching a lot of Game Knights and Loading Ready Run, this might be your onramp!

#13. Dominaria Map

dominaria map playmat

Not a Magic card, this map, created by Jared Blando for Dominaria United, is a lovely print. It’s a bit busy for me to want to play on, but it needs to be to get everything on it! There’s also an Ixalan playmat if you’re in the mood to shift maps occasionally.

#12. Van Gogh’s Zombie

van gogh zombie playmat

This series of classic artworks on playmats is pretty cool. The frame and framebreak are a nice joke for TCGs and digital card games, although they don’t always fit the art perfectly. One that does is this sweet smoking skeleton that’s just kind of hanging out in undeath, not at all bossed around by this frame.

#11. Commander Masters Pop Collage

pop collage playmat

I know these profile designs from Commander Masters are kind of love ‘em or hate ‘em, but if you’re in the latter camp, maybe seeing them in this collage change your mind? Kitschy and cool.

#10. Some Night

some night playmat

This art by Anne-Kristal is sweet if you like abstract art. The abstraction is cool because it doesn’t distract from what’s going on around it. And this reminds me of the experimental films of Stan Brakhage, which I always liked (even if I’m in the definite minority there!)

#9. Theros Gods

theros gods playmat

I like the constellation artwork for the Theros gods, but I don’t like any Theros god enough to want a solo image of a flawed deity on my mat. This constellation of them by Jason Engle is just the thing. Plus, the balance feels good for using this as a playmat.

#8. Daze

daze playmat

Most Magic players are likely unfamiliar with Richard Wright’s Daze art for Amonkhet Invocations, which is a shame, because it is amazing. If you want your Commander game to be social, this is a nice icebreaker. It’s got the logos, so they’ll know its original Magic art, but you might get a question about what card it is. If you’re socially uncertain, this might be a nice conversation starter with exactly the kind of person you would want to talk to at a Magic event.

#7. Discover the Impossible

discover the impossible playmat

My favorite piece of art from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is this piece by Ryan Pancoast, and it may be one of the best pieces of original Magic art for a playmat. The bits you see as you cover the art with your cards remain both beautiful and non-distracting, and there’s such a clean line to the left of the boat to put your deck and graveyard. Form and function!

#6. Time Walk

time walk playmat

The Vintage Masters Time Walk art by Chris Rahn is just rad. There's a reason MTGNerdGirl uses an animated version of it for her streams.

#5. Galaxy Park

galaxy park halfling journey playmat

This original art playmat by Halfling Journey is a nice piece of art that would be a great tableau for your cards. It’s like trippy 1960s science fiction paperback covers meet Samurai Jack. It looks interesting while remaining chill.

#4. Scorched Ruins

scorched ruins playmat

John Avon, the monarch of Magic lands, has a series of signed playmats you might enjoy! For me, his best works are the full frame lands from the Un-sets, and he has some of those, cropped to playmat size on his website, but I don’t like them. I’m just reminded of what’s missing from the art. But I love the idea of a land playmat, and I love John Avon. My favorite turns out to be Scorched Ruins, because the playmat does the original art justice and it’s trippy and exceptional.

#3. Baleful Strix

baleful strix playmat

This art by Nils Hamm is always stunning, and being able to hang with it this large is quite the thing. Its eyes seems to follow you. Just in case, be sure you don’t cover your eyes. And if you do, don’t blink.

#2. Combined Hydro/Pyroblast

blasts playmat

Let’s go! This is Kaja Foglio done right! This uniquely created combination of the art for Foglio’s Hydoblast and Pyroblast cards from Ice Age. Give their elemental nature and definite mirroring of effect, this is the perfect mashup for the spellslinger in your life. If the spellslinger in your life annoys you with their decks, you can always pick one of these up for yourself!

#1. Black Lotus

black lotus playmat

Come on. It has to be, right? I’ll take either the original artwork by Christopher Rush, or the Vintage Masters art by Chris Rahn. I have to admit I kind of like the new art better, on that field of bleached bones, as forbidden as that is to say to my fellow Magic boomers. Either would be sick to sit down with at my LGS. And both playmats would heavily judge my janky Commander decks.

Wrapping up

Hopefully there’s something in this variety to tickle your fancy and that can be something more than something you put down to keep Cheeto dust off your cards. We’ve all invested a lot in cards to play the game, and it’s always nice to have the full play experience to enjoy the world’s best game.

Steve Vrooman

A writer for Draftsim and a casual MTG warrior since Ice Age, Steve would have liked to have seen at least one card with cumulative upkeep in Kaldheim. He likes to think he'd be in Lorehold, but it's probably Silverquill.

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