Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hotz Mats – Standard Felt River Systems Review and Comments on Service

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

Critical Mass Games 15mm scale ARC Fleet Infantry crossing a river section.

As a rule, I don't enjoy putting up negative posts on Over the Hill Gaming. Criticism is relatively easy. There are always ways to improve a product, a company, or a project. But doing just about anything is more challenging than it seems to be from the outside. Things like the quote above remind me of that simple fact.

Hotz Mats has drawn fire for slow service and a lack of response to emails. It has also been praised for quick turn around times. I have no interest in that debate. This post simply reflects my experience with this particular product and the process that I went through in acquiring it.

A curved section joining a bend in between two straight sections.

From Ordering to Delivery
  • Placed order on March 9, 2013.
  • Received email from Paypal confirming payment on March 10.
  • Received email from Eric Hotz confirming order on March 10. The email states: "Please allow at least 5 weeks for delivery, but you should have your purchase much sooner."
  • Sent email to Eric Hotz to check the status of my order on April 21. No reply received.
  • Sent email to Eric Hotz pointing out that it was 12 weeks since the order was placed on June 6. No reply received.
  • Sent email to Eric Hotz asking about the status of my order on July 16. No reply received.
  • Notice on the Hotz Arts website posted in the News section on August 31. Eric Hotz mentions getting caught up on the backlog and "a long series of family crises that started back in mid-2012" that delayed production.
  • Order delivered in early September 2013.

River junction section joining three straight river sections.

The Product

The Hotz Mats' 2 Inch Wide Standard Felt River Systems Set is made up of 15 sections. They range from 12 inch long straight river sections, small curved sections, and a small river junction section. The total length of all 15 sections is 9.5 feet. This is more than enough for most games. Wider River Systems Sets (3 and 4 inch) are shorter with fewer sections.

The quality of the 2 Inch Standard River Systems Set is acceptable, especially considering the low price ($14.00 USD, including shipping). The sections are made of fairly dense felt and seem durable enough for extended use. The effect of the sections at tabletop distances is convincing. Both 15mm and 28mm scale figures work well with the river sections.

Overall, the product is a good balance between appearance and cost.

Please note that the product is no longer linked from the main page of the Hotz Mats' site. However, the Felt River Systems product page is still accessible from this link.

A Cygnar Ironclad Heavy Warjack and Commander Coleman Stryker defend a small bridge.

Personal Opinion

I understand about personal issues and how they can drain the energy out of the rest of a person's life. Dealing with a crisis can make everything else seem meaningless. On the other hand, I can understand the frustration expressed by critics and their arguments about committing to doing a job after accepting a customer's money.

There is a lot of criticism and a lot of praise for Hotz Mats. Personally, I have a mixed opinion. I'm not happy with the delay and the lack of response to my emails, but I understand why. I did receive my order and the product does what I purchased it for.

Will I order from Hotz Mats again? I'm still thinking that over. There are a couple of items that I'm interested in and the prices are reasonable.

Am I looking at other options for mats and road sections? Sure, but I'm always on the look out for good deals on quality terrain.


  1. I can understand manufacturing / shipping delays. Bad things happen, family emergencies arise, materials fail to arrive on time. But ignoring or failing to reply to frustrated customers whose order is long past due isn't excusable. There's literally no reason, short of an apocalyptic hurricane or something, not to shoot off a quick apologetic email when somebody asks for the status of their ridiculously late order. That's horrible business practice and incredibly rude.

  2. I had good luck with Hotz mats, and I used your link to order a deluxe set. Thank you!