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skarra333

Site Review - Frontier Airsoft - Summer 2016 + **Updated July 2017**

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I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but am only now getting around to it. The following review is based on numerous games at the site, the most recent I attended being mid-July 2016.

 

Frontier Airsoft – Penkridge, Staffordshire (ST19 5RE)

 

Site Description and location

 

Frontier is a woodland site located near Lower Drayton Farm, Penkridge, Staffordshire, just off the A449. It’s conveniently just a 3 minute drive to Junction 13 of the M6 making it quite accessible by car for players who live along the Midlands M6 corridor. There is also a train station in Penkridge, maybe a 20-30 minute walk from the site.

 

This is (or was?) also a Paintball site, but I think that the Airsoft Manager/team pull in enough players/revenue to the venue that they have clearly been allowed to make it their own. More on that later.

 

Site Facilities

 

After a short drive up a farm track, the site has car parking right next to the safe zone. I’ve no idea how many vehicles it will accommodate, but on busier game days the place is chocked full and they squeeze cars together a little bit too close if you ask me. A great day skirmish could quickly become bitter if you return to a massive dent and scratch in your door that’ll costs £140 to fix because there wasn’t enough space left between vehicles.

The safe zone has a mixture of covered bench/tables for gear, fixed plank seating, school style plastic chairs, half a dozen old sofas, and a couple of picnic tables in the courtyard. These fill up quickly on a game day, and busier days will no doubt see people operating out of their car or just sat/standing in the open.

There is an on-site shop selling a variety of airsoft consumables - bb’s in a selection of weights, pyros etc. They also distribute their rental packages from here, and there is usually an on-site gun tech. I’ve seen him on numerous occasions squirreling away to get peoples weapons back up and running on the day, but for a fee, he can also take weapons away for repairs, upgrades etc.

You’ll also get a lunch included in the price. It’ll generally be a ham or cheese bun, a chocolate bar (premium stuff like Wispa, Mars), a packet of crisps and a drink (diet coke is usually available for those watching their waistline).

There is also an on-site porta-loo, but as with most sites - I'd only perch for a two-zee if necessary. Though there are often 4+ women on-site, so maybe they don't find it too bad?

 

Prices

 

Walk-on: £25

Rental: £40. With this, you get 3000 BBs (worth £9.00) and use of a hire gun and facemask for the day.

 

Game Zones (as at July 2016)

 

The CQB – This is akin to a Paintball speedball zone with cotton reels, pallets, tyre walls and derelict caravans occupying a strip on the edge of the site.

The Village – Pallets, cotton reels and tyres give you a handful of structures for cover, a mini-fort type thing and the odd netting wall.

The Bowl – sort of in the middle of the site sits the bowl, a slightly lower area with landrovers, man-made structures, large sewage pipes and other constructs.

The jungle – the area of stinging nettles at the back of the bowl.

The path – surrounding the bowl is a path a top the bank. These are often focal points of activity as they allow flanking of the bowl, and might lead to spawn points etc.

Attached is a map of the site.

Unfortunately, this review is already out of date. From July 2016, the site got access to a small golf course on an a joining piece of land. I’ve only played 1 game with it in use, and they are still working out how to make use of the extra space/asset. Once things are firmer and I get a better idea of how it will feature, I will try to update the review accordingly.

Unlike other Paintball sites – most of the obstacles and movable cover seem slightly more geared to Airsoft. They accommodate our slightly different style of play from paintball and in places, this really helps.

One thing that I do wish was different though is the prevalence of stinging nettles. Hardcore Rambo's might not care (and may scoff at me), but I fu***ng hate putting my hand to point at something to recoil at clipping a stinger, and the site has lots of them over most of it. I believe they strimmer sometimes but none the less, I wish it was different.

 

Safety

 

Safety is a priority for the place. No weapons are to be loaded in the safe zone, including holstered pistols. Players are required to demonstrate that mags are out to Marshall's as they return to the safezone between games. They also have a Marshall who’ll go round a couple of times to ensure people are operating safely. Unlike other places I’ve seen, Frontier are also not afraid to give a very public shouting down of experienced regular players who forget to make weapons safe. I’d rather get yelled at and publicly shamed, than be the cause of some poor kid losing an eye.

They also have first aiders on site as expected, and procedures for emergencies like player injuries, procedures which seemingly work just as they need to.

My only suggestion for improvement - issue instructions to players as they arrive not to load weapons. First time players do some dam silly stuff, especially before the 1st safety brief. Even with the roving Marshall they have in the morning, there is still a window for idiocy and carelessness to do it's damage. But I've yet to attend any site that does it better.

 

Gaming and Marshaling

 

Games vary greatly between days, and this is one of the unique selling points of Frontier. Unlike standard capture the flag, TDM, diffuse the bomb, rescue the pilot or whatever, Frontier often give the day a 'different' character and character based objectives. One week you’ll be finding and depositing body parts to shut-down the ghostly pirate, another you’ll be playing a form of rugby with a giant spiders ‘eggs’, another you'll be working to push your Cartels drug empire. I’ve attached a few pictures too. All credit to Frontier and their photographers to the images.

 

The effort, time but also resource that Frontier put into such things are really praise worthy I think. These are not done as special one off events, they are standard bread and butter skirmish days through out the year, and at no extra fee. They also run an Apocalypse event once a year where they kick it all up a gear – again, at no extra cost. I’ve not been to that many other sites in fairness, but I have seen a few. They vary of course, but some I know just have the same tired, superficial approach to games that frankly shows you the extra bang for your buck you get somewhere like Frontier.

They put effort in, and it shows. And the site itself is rather petit compared to most, but the fresh new games and types of play they implement mean that it doesn’t matter, you can have more fun and variety here than a site 5 times the size, so credit to them for that.

 

Marshalling is generally good. They have a good number present and most are decent and respectful enough. Only 1 loves the sound of his own voice a little too much, but he’s not that bad. I have also seen no bias from them – no matter how regular a player is at the site, how tight he is with the management, he is treated the same as others. This is something not present everywhere.

 

Where non hit taking is reported, they’ll assign people to sit on contentious areas. Some parts of the site will have no Marshall at times though, especially when the full-site is in use, and especially when something clearly exciting is happening in some parts. A couple of marshalls I’ve seen drift off to see what’s happening. This is a small issue though, and is rare.

They are also very strict on players not trying to police themselves. Players are not to yell ‘Take your hits’ to another player, they are to let the staff handle it - and this is well enforced, which is most welcome!

 

I do think that they need more comms equipment for them at times – more complex games can falter a little when the staff don’t implement things as necessary.

However, on the flip side, games are often very close by the end of the day. More than a few times, I’ve been part of a draw, and often it comes down to the last game to determine which side wins. I think this is in part testament to the staff monitoring the situation, and putting things in place so that it isn’t a 1-sided affair, which benefits everybody with richer gameplay.

 

Briefings at the start of the day could be a little clearer. The head guy does the talk. He needs to take a bit of Brian Blessed approach to it to ensure people at the back can here. (If anybody from there is reading) I also think it would help to have some sort of elevation for the map/briefing people. Not only do those at the back struggle to hear, they can’t see as artifacts are demonstrated, the map pointed at etc.

I should stress through, the head guy, Bill - he might be quiet at the briefing, but he's still the gold standard of what a site manager should be as far as I'm concerned and as I say, the effort and resource he (and his crew) invests in games is something to be really highlighted.

 

Summary

 

This site is great. There are a couple of things that I wish were different. Generally the atmosphere is good, very few people take things too seriously (meaning fewer Walts having tantrums), hit taking is good, marshalling is good, safety is good, the site is good, and crucially, the team running it really do go the extra mile. Overall, I have a lot of fun here, and I highly recommend it.

 

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Hey,

 

I am new to this site and when I saw a review of frontier airsoft - I had to chip in and say a few mentions myself. Unlike most of the players who use the site, I am somewhat different. I try and use it as much as I could but I do travel from portsmouth so its a 3 and a bit hour trek to get to the place.

 

What skarra333 said about the site, Its pretty much how it is.

 

I was fortunate to go to the apocalypse which is a once a year special and what a great day that was. The story line was epic, Mind you each time I go to the site there is always a well thought out story line with different monsters etc. They will go the extra mile for props, makeup, constumes etc. It brings more of an atmosphere to the game were playing on the day.

 

The new part of the site which is north of the site contains a walkway about 5-10 meters wide and 50-75 meters long ( This is only a rough guestimate ) It contains hay bails so it can be used for a CQB area. Now heading north again is a mixed terrain site, It is complete with a bowl, Hedges, Forrest, long grass etc for all types of combat action. The main thing is that there is always room for new ideas and I remember being told after apocalypse that if we have any suggestions then to mention them.

 

I and a few others I know do travel up from portsmouth to penkridge and we find it such an enjoyable day when we are there, We do think its worth the trip and a couple of the marshals are quite shocked to hear where we have come from.

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Just to update this review a year on, and the site is going from strength to strength, and the quality has remained of a level the site organisers should be proud of.

 

This weekend I was at their annual Apocalypse themed game, and the energy and resources that go into it are just fantastic, especially given they charge the same as a normal skirmish day (£25).

The price alone remains sector leading (in the region) as far as I am concerned, with most in the area charging £30. At Frontier, you get a cheaper day, a much better player to Marshall ratio, and generally a lot more thought and effort goes into designing unique and novel games (which is crucial to keeping the site fresh).

 

They have done a lot to update the site over the last year, including tidying up the safe zone a bit, building new structures on the field and opened the car park up a bit to accommodate vehicles more easily (this is a MAJOR improvement in my eyes - and I hope they keep it this way).

As mentioned in my earlier review, the Airsoft side of the site is clearly the dominant one and that shows now even more than before, so if it is still used for Paintballing, you can barely tell. It is clearly configured with Airsoft at the core so the distance and placement of barricades, cover etc suit our style of play far better than most duel use venues, which really helps the quality of play. Regardless of your style of play, in close duel wielding pistols, standard AEG, Sniper, Support etc - there is something for you.

 

The day itself was a continuous game all day, including over lunch, with various ways of scoring points. The main one was to collect gas from 3 points on the map using some toys they provide and returning it to the town banker. Other side quests and missions were available throughout the day and could still attract big points. Other options to score included novel things like rewards for art work, finding 'loot' scattered about the site and haggling for a good price at the town junker, specific sub missions such as intel gathering, search and recover, standard attack/defend type mini-games on the sites neighboring disused golf course (which Frontier legally use), through to a single combat pit complete with LARP weapons. This meant there was a lot of great choice as to how to spend the day, and how you could contribute to your team.

The Frontier site is significantly modified for the day, for example with the safezone in-play and turned into a Township. This consists of far more than just them popping a laminated bit of A4 above a bench saying 'Saloon' - they really made an effort - including constructing the prison (which actually had a hidden key on a skeleton needed as part of a quest). And the staff all got into it with extremely impressive costuming, very much looking the apocalypse part. And I'm not just talking about a ripped shirt - once pictures are available I'll pop some in, but most are something any cosplayer at Comic-Con could be proud of. To me, that speaks to the commitment they all have to the event and the experience.

 

Hit taking is generally good at Frontier anyway, but on this day I think it was excellent. I can't recall seeing a single issue, nor did I hear anybody else grumble about it.

 

Frontier and Bill (the site owner) could easily charge a lot more for this annual event and people would still pay it. Other sites certainly would. But he doesn't... That he and his team go to the lengths they do for no extra money says a lot to me about their approach to the sport, and their players, and I think they should be commended accordingly.

 

In short, I would highly recommend this site to any players new to the sport, or seasoned players looking for high quality. I've been going there on and off 4 years now and I have no plans to stop. 

 

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