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This Zendikar MTG playmat has actual floating islands

Industrial designers Ben de la Roche and Euan Gray recreated the iconic floating skyclades of Magic the Gathering plane Zendikar for a commander playmat.

MTG playmat - Zendikar riverglid pathway art by Keiran Yanner, a hanglider follows a brilliant blue river between floating islands of stone

Industrial designers Ben de la Roche and Euan Gray of SilverScale Games have been sharing some crazy high-concept MTG playmats and Command zones on their YouTube channel. Their Zendikar playmat is particularly inspired, complete with the floating islands and eldritch hedrons we see each time the plane features in an MTG set.

The Zendikar playmat is made from cardboard, extruded polystyrene foam, and wire: you can check out the build in the video below. There’s a separate island to hold each part of an MTG board state, from lands to graveyard, plus a dedicated spot for an MTG Commander.

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According to de la Roche, there were plenty of challenges with the build, starting with the design phase. It was tough to prioritise “form vs function. The most functional playmat will always be an ordinary 2D playmat but we want to create something that brings a new element to the game and ignites the imagination. It’s about striking a balance between the two and that’s not always easy”.

He adds that “finding a way to make the floating islands convincing without them actually defying gravity” was also tough. But filming the video might have been the trickiest part: the duo are “Industrial Designers with experience as model makers in both the film and architecture industries”, but “we’re still new to making videos like this and we are still establishing the best way to film and present our builds”.

De la Roche is particularly proud of “the rock faces on the side of the floating islands… It looked convincing and was easy to do. The vines were also a great success in that they tied the whole build together both literally and visually”.

If you want to copy this or one of the other builds you’ll find on the SilverScale YouTube channel, de la Roche advises that “some of the complex Commander Zones have taken 50 hours+ where the Zendikar playmat was done over the space of 2 days (about 18 hours).

As for what MTG decks the pair take to the table on their custom playmats, de la Roche says: “Euan loves big stompy creatures in decks like his ‘Atla Palani, Nest Tender’ Deck. I’m all about janky decks that rarely win but always cause a bit of chaos like my budget ‘Jon Irenicus’ deck”.

For most of us, the animated battlefields on MTG Arena are the closest we’ll come to a playmat of this quality – make sure you check out our MTG Arena codes guide to pick up some free digital booster packs. If you want to get more into model crafting, check out our guide to painting miniatures.