Hey guys! Welcome back to the blog! 

I know, I know - it’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog - on my return from Poland in October I decided to take a couple of weeks off blogging to readjust and refocus. I’m now back and ready to hit the ground running. As many of you know, England is now back in lockdown but I did manage to get one last cheeky game in before! On Wednesday 4th November I returned to a site that I haven’t played since their opening day in 2017 - the Department CQB

The Department CQB is a 13,000 sq ft CQB site attached to Extreme Airsoft, an airsoft retailer in Croft, Leicestershire (you can read my full review here). The Department CQB is a large warehouse that has plywood corridors, rooms and structures built to give players a fast-paced, hard-hitting CQB experience. There are light and dark areas giving varied gameplay. From my home in Derbyshire, it takes around 40-45 minutes to get to the Department via the M1. The only problem I had the first couple of times I visited is that postcode on the website takes you to the Quarry just before the site, but if you carry on past the Quarry and take the turning for Thurlaston and Croft this road will take you to Winston Ave. and the site is at the end of Winston Ave. There is a car park on-site and a car park just opposite the site (that has a little more room, but it does close at 9pm). 

On arrival, because of COVID19 measures only one player is allowed in the reception area where you are asked to wash/sanitise your hands, sign an insurance waiver, pay your game fee (and rental package if you have one) and collect your coloured armband. Once you have your armband you can go through to the safe-zone. At the moment the safe-zone is split into two - red and blue, and players are asked to stay within their designated safe-zone, this is to minimise contact between players. The red safe-zone is indoors and the blue safe-zone is outside under the shelter. I was in the indoor safe-zone - it’s pretty spacious and has perspex screens between the tables. In regards to the facilities onsite the site has a vending machine with a selection of snacks and cold drinks in the safe-zone (atm due to COVID the hot drinks facilities aren’t in use), a new kitchen has just been fitted for when they reopen after lockdown to provide hot food options for players (this I highly rate - any of you that have played airsoft with me will know that I am always thinking about lunch!). there are female and male toilets that are kept clean and tidy and the site has disabled access (as well as the game zone being over one level really helps disabled/less mobile players).

When we got into the game-zone we were given a quick safety brief which included the new COVID19 rules. The site rules are very much similar to other CQB sites in the UK - it’s single shot, has an FPS limit of 350, allows both strikeable pyro such as the Enola Gaye MK5s and BFGs - thunder snaps (but they have to be in a device), .209, 8mm and 9mm. They also allow smoke grenades but it is limited to one smoke per game. The rest of the rules are pretty standard. 

The games played on the night were a mix of team deathmatches and objective games. To start the evening off and get everyone warmed up we played a team deathmatch, followed by Dodgeball and a domination game with an explosive prop. The only game I wasn’t particularly keen on was ‘Dodgeball’ which is an elimination-style game where when you get shot you need to stand still where you are until a member of your team medics you back in by touching your foot with their foot for a 5-second count. If you get hit early on in the game you can be stood around for a while. Whilst the game itself I think flowed well, when I stood still waiting for a medic, the blue team were running past dead players and shooting them again every time they passed - which is pretty frustrating, it definitely would’ve been appreciated if they checked their targets before engaging dead players (this, of course, isn’t the staff's fault). My favourite game overall was the good ol’ fashioned deathmatch because we got to use and explore the whole site and got a lot of kills - the site layout is easy to learn quickly and flows well, it’s easy to get around if you’re an aggressive player but you also don’t need to be a door kicker to have a good time. The staff were helpful on the night and explained the rules quickly and clearly. I had a slight fogging issue with my glasses and the Marshalls helped get me to the safe-zone so I could get them off, reapply my anti-fog and get back in the game. 

The Department runs games on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 6pm – 9pm, two game sessions on Saturday between 10am – 1pm and 2.30pm – 5.30pm and also on Sundays 10am – 2pm and this is one of the aspects of the site that makes it so successful - there is a game session for everyone (especially helpful if you work weekends!). The prices are also pretty reasonable at £20 for a 3hr session and £23 for a Sunday 3.5hr session. Members do get discounts and there are unlimited memberships available too. 

If you’re new to the sport, The Department has a selection of rental M4s and pistols at a reasonable price, they also offer Quake 8 rentals (the new impact grenade from Tectonic Innovations - read my review here) which is great if you’ve never used a BFG before and want to see what they would add to your gameplay experience or if you’re on the fence about buying one it gives you the chance to try one before you buy. It’s also worth mentioning if you’re a female you can grab a free rental vest for your games if you choose to. Prices for rentals start at £10. 

Overall, I had a great time at The Department CQB and can’t wait to return after lockdown 2.0 is over!

Post sponsored by The Department CQB

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