First and Only - The Asylum - Feb 11

First & Only, The Asylum Feb 28th 2011

First & Only are now the largest operator of airsoft sites in the UK, On Sunday 27th February 2011 we visited the 'Asylum', an urban site in Kidderminster near Worcester.

The Asylum boasts many buildings, several of which you can enter, there are gardens, woods and some large open areas with limited cover too. The site is easy to get to and has a large sign on the main road.

On entering the site there was an initial car park where we stopped and signed in before getting back in our vehicles and heading into the main carpark. This was well organised and included a 'sign in' for both members & non-members.

The safe zone was indoors, this was great as the weather was up and down. The toilets in the safe zone buildings were not functional, I was not aware of any toilets at the site although one of the team thinks they saw a portaloo. Although the safe zone was indoors there were no tables or chairs, I would recommend taking both as a group near us did do. Doing everything off the floor was a bit awkward and it seemed unusual for a site to not have any tables at least.

The brief given was the standard affair, it was said that ear protection was available because of pyro in the buildings although it was not encouraged, the suggestion being it would make you 'less manly' which I do not agree with. In the brief it was also stated that they did not allow green lasers, regardless of power which doesn't really make sense. We were told that half of the 10 or so marshals were first aid trained which is great to know. All the marshals wore high-vis vests, like the mall, the marshals were always present, in the action and the quality of marshalling on the whole was very high.

The day consisted of one rolling game throughout the day (based on the film, Black Hawk Down) with objectives added as the day continued. The objectives were interesting adding a lot of depth to the game. Each objective was worth varying amounts of points and even included a Land Rover that could be used as transport and rolling cover. The enemy had the ability to destroy our 'hummer support' with an 'RPG' (a paintball in this case) which was a nice touch. However, the pace of play throughout the day was hampered by single static spawns that I felt were unnecessarily far away and I think had an impact on players sportsmanship, especially as the day went on (I'll come to that later). The spawn points for the 2 teams were at opposite ends of the site, and were not symmetrical in any way. The US spawn point had 2 routes into the town that both required moving through the open before seeing any cover, where as the Somalian spawn had many more that led straight to cover, this wouldn't be a huge problem but was compounded by the fact that the Somalian's started the game, dug in the town and the US were always the attacking force.

Sportsmanship was not the best I have seen, several players I spoke to said they had had problems with 'non-hit takers'. As mentioned earlier, I think the long distances between getting into a fight and the spawns made people 'less sensitive' to enemy fire, especially for the US players.

First & Only offer a membership scheme, this game day was a 'free members day'. As the cost of a game is 30, and membership is 60 (including 5 off per game and entitlement to the 3 free games a year) the team thought it would be a good day to sign up. I had looked on the F&O website and could not find a number to talk to someone about membership before laying down the cash so I thought I'd speak to someone about it on the day. When we got to the site to sign in, I asked about membership, the marshal there told us to pay in normally, then talk to the boss at lunch time when we would be able to pay the extra 30 difference to get membership and have today as our first free game. However, when we talked to the boss at lunchtime he told us we would have to pay the full 60 and start our membership tomorrow despite what we had been told already. He also said if we had spoken to him on the Saturday we could have had today free but today was too late. To be honest I was not impressed with the business attitude and told him I was disappointed about the misinformation and lack of flexibility, but he would not budge. Unfortunately instead of 6 new members they had 6 players who had felt they had been left with a bad taste in their mouths.

All in all I think the site is very good, this is the first time we have visited it however, we all felt the site could have been used a lot better. Introducing things like rolling respawns, swapping respawns at lunch and medic rules could make for a much faster paced and encourage more honest play from both sides and allow people to experience more of the site.

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