Running an Airsoft site can’t be easy… For one thing you have to deal with Airsofters… It sounds harsh but the vast majority of Airsofters are a massive pain in the arse. Turning up late, not listening, not following rules due to the aforementioned “not listening” and in general being a needy bunch of…. well, you get the point.
So my spiritual home in Airsoft is Spartan Airsoft, recommended by a good friend a number of years ago I’ve been playing there on and off for 5 years now. Admittedly with rather a large break over the last couple of years but recently I’ve been making regular trips to make up for lost time.
The guys there have been looking for a CQB site for quite some time, Not an easy task… You either go the Strikeforce CQB route and start with an empty warehouse/factory and build the necessary obstacles to create a challenging environment or you wait until a suitable venue pops up with an open minded landlord and the necessary cover and obstacles built in.
So a month or so ago, Spartan Airsoft Gained access to Wiltshire College‘s older buildings which have been left empty and subject to the creative nature nature of the local yoots… It’s fitting that the college was known for the creative arts, I give you Exhibit A: A giant veiny cock and balls being gobbled up by a 3 year olds drawing of a chicken. With evidence of the artistic talent of the local population on display here it’s easy to see how a complete redevelopment of the college was an absolute must…
So does experience of running a fantastic woodland site translate over to a CQB site? Well not always… However the guys who run Spartan Airsoft have the previous experience of running and competing in the Tournament Paintball arena, This combined with their genuine enthusiasm for the game has made them a reputable site with an extremely loyal customer base.
According to a couple of the senior marshalling team, The first game at the site wasn’t without issues… The staircases being an area that bogged down the gameplay, proving difficult to traverse safely for the players. On their second game in the site they had already made a few changes that improved the experience for all involved.
Firstly by placing solid cover at key places on the stairwells they prevented them becoming such a chokepoint… On one of their attack/defend game modes they removed the stairwells from the game completely, With the game effectively rebooting from the top of one staircase and starting for round two at the bottom… A controversial decision when you first look at it but one that made perfect sense given the situation and the environment.
The second potential issue that could have resigned this site to the list of “Has potential but ultimately a shithole” sites is that when you create a CQB venue, Speedsofters inevitably turn up. This however was pre-emptively managed with the expectations of gameplay and making sure that whilst the speedsofters were welcome, they were under no illusion that power playing to the detriment of the games overall enjoyment for others wouldn’t be tolerated.
So, onto the game itself… I set off at about 06:30 from home, fuelled with coffee and excited about a game in the dry and a chance to break out the Gas Blowback arsenal, Alongside the finest plaid and jeans combo seen outside of a Garand Thumb video…
Arriving at about 08:00 I set up shop in the safe zone, there’s plenty of room for the max count of 60 players (Book early to avoid disappointment as demand always exceeds capacity and if you’ve not pre-booked you’ll be turned away at the door) although depending on how late you get there you might end up with your gear on the floor if the benches are taken.
Spartan operate a small shop onsite, with the essentials (the exceptional Airsoft Surgeon Gas and BBs are what they choose to sell or this site) along with cans, chocolate and TLSFX Mk3 thunderflashes… The concern being that an excess of pyro could lead to complaints from the surrounding area.
After a typically well rehearsed safety brief we were split into 4 temporary teams… one to attack and three defending different areas of the college. Once you were hit you then became part of the attacking force… Much alike the common virus games but with a little structure. I always get impatient and started to seek out the other team, a shot from a nervous team mate gave me the chance to join the attackers and a little hunger for payback for a welt on my arse.
Within 10 minutes the whole building was cleared, quite some feat and in part due to the rapid pace that some of the players set.
After a quick break, magazines replenished and given our brief… We started out playing an attack and defend game as the defenders, the goal being to clear from the second floor library (pictured below) down to the canteen on the ground floor, the staircases as mentioned were temporarily considered not in play, after a spirited defence of the top floor, the other (Red) team quickly seized the initiative and sped through the second and first floors in a matter of minutes.
When it came to our (Yellow Team) turn to attack, we very quickly managed to clear the top floor, One more than one occasion the guys milling around in the passageways and doorways actually prevented the more experienced players from pushing as hard and fast as they wanted to… A choice phrase that was uttered by a couple of seasoned CQB players was “Lead, Follow or get the fuck out of the way”.
After this game we all took the chance to reload our mags and grab a bite to eat… with no cooking facilities for Spartan to whip up their usually welcome burgers and bacon rolls I walked to the Sainsbury’s 5 minutes down the road for a meal deal and a little more cardio (although given the amount of exercise CQB can give you it’s not really needed).
After lunch, a pretty basic “Control” type game dominated the next couple of hours… The aim being to flip a giant lever to your teams colour by the end of the game. The amount of time you’ve held it is irrelevant, all that counts is that when the clock is out you still hold the lever. after a concerted effort and quite frankly some of the most intense room clearing I’ve ever seen we gained control of the lever… For the majority of the game we managed to hold off the opposing team, however a failure to seize the initiate and push through combined with a tenacious attack by the reds resulted in a last minute switch and a win for the reds.
We swapped ends and after a hasty team talk we divided into two forces… one to launch the expected attack via the top floor library and another flanking attack through the first floor. Unfortunately the trend of getting smashed by the reds appeared to continue… we became bogged down and lost our momentum early on, There wasn’t really anything that could have been done, We were simply outplayed.
The next game was an objective retrieval game, 21 repurposed paintball pots were to be found and returned to your spawn. A challenging game and one that forced a full exploration of the site, somehow the yellow team won this game by a fair margin… It seemed that like a randy dog, The opposing team had fucked us for so long they’d finally gone to sleep.
The final team game was simple enough, a timed assault on the canteen and kitchen. We managed to clear the whole area in under 7 minutes, Bu this time I’d swapped to the MP7 to try and regain some of the momentum we were lacking… It proved handy on the assault with several kills being chalked up with the fit for purpose SMG.
On the defence we barely held on for 4 minutes, The reds took a fair few hits courtesy of the MP7 which never fails to perform well above expectations… But after a half dozen kills I was picked off by a flash of light wielding twin gold accented hi-cappas and a gaudy pair of knee high socks and a knobbish looking bobble hat… The only saving grace being that the hi-cappas appeared to be of the Japanese varietals.
In the final game we returned to the virus type game that’s commonly used to round off a days CQB over a lot of the sites I’ve played at, I volunteered to be the first infected alongside a dye i4 wearing maniac who happened to be one of the fastest players I’ve ever had the pleasure of using for a meat shield.
Together we pushed a lot harder than we ever should have been able to, and running (literally) past a group of yellows we quickly dispatched a half dozen without even missing a beat, we then pushed back down a stairwell and due to a fair amount of confusion with how far we were meant to be pushing we halted and held off the opposition until our former targets joined up with us to seek any uninfected players out and convert them via the medium of pain. Considering he size of the site it was cleared in a very quick time… leaving me only to shove all my gear back into the bag it came from and to make the near 2 hour trip back home.
So, I’m conscious that it appears that the day was one sided… It never felt that way and if I’m honest I’ve always preferred being in a weaker team as it gives you my respect opportunity to shine. I’m not the worlds most aggressive player but I do believe in seizing the initiative and not giving your opponent a chance to dictate the fight… there were a number of times I was able to do this and a few of the more experienced players also managed the same… One memorable moment was taking the library hallway alone and against 7 players who all fell to uncommonly accurate double taps from the MWS and M45A1, In itself validating the Gas platform against all comers in the right environment.
It also gave me a chance to play in a new and fresh environment, something that makes your brain work harder and pushes you to run faster, shoot straighter and take often painful risks to move forward against a hail of plastic… All great fun if you enjoy being shot at, And at our heart it’s being shot at that makes Airsoft such fun…The shooting back is the cherry on the cake.
I’ll also admit to having a massive amount of respect for the speedsofters we had on site, There wasn’t any evidence of power playing and the hit taking was universally good. Add that the the fact that they just wanted to have fun and you’ve got the one thing that makes Airsoft great… The right attitude.
In fact the only negative attitude I came across all day was from a relatively new player… “I hate those fucking speedsofters” and “I hope I get to shoot out a GoPro” being two of his most ridiculous quips, but coming from a guy who brought an M16 SAMR to a CQB venue it smacks of misplaced anger… The speedsofters played well, They took the fight to us, they also took their hits and in the end they took home the pride in a game well played. If your reading this SAMR man, do some soul searching tonight… Airsoft isn’t about ruining other people’s game, It’s about raising yours.
The site itself won’t be around for ever… An estimate is that Spartan will be able to run games until the end of the year there and shortly after it’ll be levelled to make way for houses or a retail park or some other bollocks… I’d thoroughly recommend making the trip there, It’s well run with the Spartan guys managing to jump from woodland into the CQB market, bringing their common sense approach and adapting the rules to suit the environment. The player caps are at 60, I played with 43 others on the site and I’d have to agree that 60 is the absolute most I’d want to see playing on the site, any more and it’d become choked up. The lack of a medic rule is a departure from Spartans woodland site but it doesn’t work well in CQB… A run back to regen being a much better option.
The price is higher than I’d usually pay at £30 but I can appreciate that running costs for an urban site are often higher and with the limited numbers it has to make the business money. With certain woodland sites (Cough… Skirmish Exeter, Cough!) charging £27 or a walk on its not above the acceptable level of cost given the arena you get to play in… over 100 rooms over 3 floors… multiple stairwells and a varied collection of rooms, corridors and classrooms make this a Rainbow 6: Siege players wet dream.
In an ideal world I’d like to see a 12 vs 12 game played here complete with NPCs such as hostages and VIPs… but in truth it’s not easy to organise and would certainly mean paying a higher price for entry if you should be lucky enough to get a space. If you are interested in playing, see the below for more information:
Facebook: Spartan Airsoft CQB