Ambush Adventures are a well-established name on the Airsoft Scene in the UK, running a number of sites across the South and South East of the Country. As well as running regular walk-on days at their own sites, they also host special MilSim events at other venues, such as Op Typhoon at Longmoor, which we covered in an earlier edition of Airsoft Action. Over the last few months, Ambush have been developing a new site, “The Depot” in Aldershot. Based on a now-disused MoD facility, it’s been getting some pretty positive feedback on Facebook and forums, so when Ambush invited us down to take a look, we grabbed our kitbag and jumped in the car!
Right from the outset, The Depot is an impressive site. On the outskirts of Aldershot, it’s very easy to find and just a short hop off the motorway. Satnav gets you pretty much bang on target, and closer in there’s helpful signage into the sight. One thing to note – Ambush operate this site on a fairly firm pre-booking system, helping to manage numbers and also help sign-in run smoothly. And it worked – we were ticked off the list quickly and directed towards a parking spot.
So here’s a thing: Our first impression was that we were parked nice and close to the site, tucked in amongst a group of smaller buildings. However, these buildings turned out to be a full-on Safe Zone complex. No scrabbling around for a half-inch of table space here! There were three rooms offering space for people to sort their kit, a dedicated ops room, kitchen area, toilets, admin space for the Ambush Staff and a fully-stocked shop (operated by Just Cause Airsoft). If Carlsberg made safe zones, they’d probably have made the safe zone at the Depot.
Ditching our kit, we checked in with Charlie, who runs Ambush Airsoft. He gave us the lowdown on the site; we’d be playing across a number of large buildings, linked by a network of paths. The buildings themselves vary in scale, generally covering several floors, and made up of a huge variety rooms, corridors, halls and bridges. The various structures are set out around a large central area, in a vaguely regular pattern. However, there’s plenty of variation in the layout, and large open areas of grass, vegetation and roadways, so it doesn‘t feel samey.
Charlie also talked us through an important part of Ambush’s approach; they place a premium of the whole experience on a day – even though we visited on a normal skirmish day, Charlie and his team structure it with some of the elements you might expect to find in a Milsim event. First and foremost, the safety and game briefs are delivered in a dedicated, atmospheric safe room; under red lights and with background music. Charlie and the rest of his team deliver a cracking outline of the site and the day, with a really detailed outline of the site. Key safety and gameplay points – such as rules of engagement on staircases – are illustrated with images so there’s no room for misunderstanding. Similarly, Ambush don’t just tell you the FPS limits for the site (350), they explain the reasons behind them. All in all, the briefing is really clear and rigorous, but the way it’s delivered means players soak it up – there’s none of the toe-tapping and woolgathering that sometimes creeps in during a long briefing!
The day’s play is built around longer, objective based games which are a bit more complex than the usual capture-flag, dominate-area scenarios you’d find at a casual skirmish. There are also some restrictions on the ammo and bang counts. For instance, a standard rifleman loadout is limited to 600 rounds in midcaps, and limited bangs as well. However, there are reasonable exceptions to the rule – if a player is toting a RIF where mids and lows are difficult to come by, players are more than welcome to talk to the Ambush staff and agree that they can use a highcap. Similarly, we’ll be on full auto throughout the day, notwithstanding the CQB nature of much of the site, though players are given a clear steer on keeping their triggers under control! It’s nice to see this kind of reasonable flexibility built in by an event organiser, backed up by firm marshalling.
So with minimal fuss, we headed into the first game. This was a warm-up affair to get the blood pumping and give new players a feel for the site. The majority of players were sent into one of the buildings, with weapons restricted to semi auto. The rest of us waited in a holding area, with selectors to auto. The objective was fairly simple – those on the outside had to wade in and knock out the defenders, who would then spawn back in on the attacking side.
The first thing we noticed as we burst through the entry point, was that the buildings are not just empty, regular, shells. Quote the opposite; there’s a tonne of variety in shape and size, loads of furniture, dark corners, lightwells, staircases – and all of that translates to cover in abundance. The net effect was that despite a notional advantage in rate of fire, we got knocked out almost immediately by snipers lurking in corners. Thankfully, the spawn point wasn’t far away, so we cycled back in and had another crack. This time we realised that a bit of stealth and teamwork was the order of the day and tagged along with a group of attacking players.
That got us through the first door and into the ground floor of the building. Boxing around some corners and ducking behind a desk, we got our first view of one of the bigger rooms in the building – easy 80 feet square, but by no means empty. It was immediately clear that Ambush have put a lot of thought and work into developing the site to provide brilliant gameplay; in this case, they’d essentially built a bunker and trench complex into the space. That’s not an overstatement – within seconds we were cowering behind a barricade, keeping our heads down from snipers in the far corner and trading rounds with other defenders in bunkers. This was a proper, intense firefight from multiple angles and interlocking fields of fire. Gradually, through, teamwork levered us forwards and we were able to clear this space, up stairwells, down corridors and eventually cleared the building.
First impression? Awesome!
Thankfully, there was a short break after that game – and we certainly needed to catch our breath! Grabbing a cup of tea, we had a mooch around the shop and a chatter to some of the other players. Many were new to the site, but it’s clear that it’s gathering a bit of a following – but all had glowing things to say about the first game. The shop and other facilities, too, were getting great feedback; really well organised, great stock and friendly people.
After just the right length of break, it was back into the action with two longer games over the rest of the day. Both of these games had some rules in common; players were split into the customary two teams, each of which had a single spawn point on opposite corners of the site. At each of these was a clock, divided into team-coloured five-minute sections. Players could only come back into play when the minute hand was pointing at the right colour! Also, a Medic rule was in place, with players allocated one ten-count revive; when hit the first time, players could either bleed out and head back to the respawn clock, or scream, whimper and groan for one of their teammates to fight their way over and count them back in; the second kill, though, took them straight back to regen.
The first game of the day was a search and capture affair; with each allocated three high-vis vests. These were parcelled out to volunteers, who found themselves walking, fighting objectives (although they did have infinite medic-lives in compensation). Both teams had to fight their way out into the site, hunt down the opposing force’s vests, capture them by overrunning them and any potential medics, and return the vest to their own spawn. This game played out over the rest of the morning, in one session.
The second game of the day was a search/clear scenario played in two halves; a number of objectives were hidden in a sequence of buildings, with the attacking force having to fight into each building in turn to find the objective, which would then move the battle to the next site –securing all four objectives would mean victory for the attackers.
Both games played brilliantly and gave us a real feel for the sight which, in summary, it’s absolutely freakin AMAZING. This isn‘t a site which is pure CQB – there’s plenty of open space to manoeuvre through. Neither, though, does it lack the intensity of a tight-in, fully-indoor combat; there’s a plenty of corridor and rooms to clear. Actually, the overall feel for the site is more FIBUA than anything.
The two games bring out the real diversity of the site. In the first outing, we really got to grips with the opportunities for movement, stealth and ambush; the group I accompanied swept through buildings, avoiding contact where necessary and unleashing vengeance where available. On the second game, full-on force was the order of the day, slugging through corners, barricades across bridges and breaching doors. On both, we employed a full range of skirmish skills to take advantage of angles, doorways, cover, assaulting across open ground, high-level sniping, proper utilisation of riot shields – I can honestly say every style of play I’ve ever found on a site was deployed at one time or another! And we can’t not mention that it even did wonders for our basic maths – the blue team learnt the difference between three objectives and four the hard way, when they had to reverse direction and re-search a building after forgetting to pick up an objective!
And – and this is really important – every single player I spoke to on the day gave a glowing review. Even though the heavens opened and buckets of rain came battering down throughout what was a generally gloomy and overcast day, people were beaming. The only slight niggle I came across was that one spawn is surrounded by gravel, so it’s difficult to leave quietly – but that was it!
So, let’s round up by saying that, in our humble opinion, the Depot is simply fantastic!
Get your kit sorted, get a space booked and get down there. It’s a cracking site and deserves a place on your must-play list!
Tel: 01252 315225