Author's note: Garage Soccer approached me about reviewing the CC2 bases and offered me a significant discount on the purchase price if I would be willing to write a review. I accepted, as I was curious about the product, and with the proviso that I could disclose the discount. Garage Soccer agreed and promised to post the review, favorable or not.
I have been playing Subbuteo for just over a year. My first games were played with original Subbuteo HW and LW teams. Soon after, I moved to Zeugo profibases and tried some Corda bases. For the last eight months, I’ve been using Little Plastic Men (LPM) bases, particularly the CLR Dynamics with various weights and inserts to affect performance.
What I’ve learned is that you can play with nearly any base, you just need to put in the practice to become comfortable with them. However, better bases will help you turn the techniques you learn into better performances on the pitch. Initially, I played a very direct game, primarily because I was using heavier bases, with taller profiles and cheaper plastic. I learned how to cut the ball at ridiculous angles, but I also found it rather difficult to chip reliably. Ball control was difficult. I found an errant flick could send the ball in unexpected directions or much too far to maintain possession. When I started using CLR Dynamics, their lower profile caused me to frequently undercut the ball’s curve, missing it completely! I had to learn to adjust my angles and be much more precise to successfully cut the ball. However, I could chip the ball more consistently, and I found through experimentation and practice that I could reliably control the ball. I could play better, but I had to adjust to the new bases.
The Astrobase CC2
I knew CC2’s were a popular base at high levels of play, but not much else. My initial reaction was to the price tag. Astrobase bases cost a lot more than your standard beginner base. I presume much of that extra cost is because are milled from a solid piece of plastic instead of being cast. This means each individual base should be consistent and there are no mold markings to interfere with play. They are made from PVC, which I understand means they offer more “control” of how the ball reacts on impact, but are slower across the pitch than Plexiglass bases. Garage Soccer sent me a set of black CC2 Dynamic bases. What team could I build on black bases? Wolverhampton are back in the Premier League, and have a sharp kit!
What you see is what you get with the CC2s. They don’t include weights, discs, or figures. So you will need to purchase these separately, or use an old Subbuteo team as donors. Astrobase also sells discs specifically for the bases.
For my initial try of the CC2’s, I checked the Astrobase website, and it recommended playing without discs or weights. To do so the pegs will have to be removed from the figure. I didn’t have spare figures to cut the pegs off of I just used some Subbuteo discs and LW figures from a spare team. The discs fit well, if just a little high in the base due to the washer locking ring on the underside. Other discs do not have this ring and I would presume sit flush or just below the lip of the base. I didn’t have any washers that fit in the CC2’s so I didn’t add any. In my first practices and a few matches, the bases felt very light, and I felt I was not playing to my ability. Perhaps a little more weight was in order.
After scouring various hardware stores I was only able to find a very small washer to fit in the impression in the base. It is the diameter of the small base of a Subbuteo figure, between the figure and the peg. This washer was so light (.22g), I wasn’t sure it would make much difference. It turns out the washers weighed less than the plastic Subbuteo discs (.39g). I also purchased some 2k4 figures and once they arrived I cut off pegs and glued them and the weights into the base. I should note, in this configuration the base plus figure height is only about 26.3 mm, which is below the minimum required height for FISTF. I don’t play in FISTF competitions, but if you do, you’ll want to use a disc or taller figure.
I wasn’t expecting much improvement, but I was committed to trying a “disc-less” base and I was surprised by the changes. While washers were lighter than the discs, they were also located lower in the base. Perhaps the lower center of gravity responsible, but they immediately felt better in play. Better, but I still was not as comfortable with them as the CLRs. Occasionally, on longer flicks, the figure and base would tumble. I wasn’t sure if it was the base, the lower figure setup, or my technique.
At this point, I considered putting them away and going back to my CLRs. I wasn’t happy with my performances, I was pinging the woodwork but not scoring goals, the bases felt “off.” Then I remembered I experienced similar issues when I first tried the CLRs and it took a few weeks of use to grow accustomed to them. So I decided to use them for a couple more matches and with each game, the bases felt better. They still felt “light” and that I need to use a little bit more flicking power for medium to long flicks. But I was adjusting and finding that the bases touched up nicely at the end of those longer flicks without losing control of the ball or sending it a long way away from the figure. Short control was just as good.
In the few weeks following, I used the improved touch to my advantage, I was able to control the ball for long possessions and score multiple goals, shooting with both cuts and chipping. I had re-learned what I had learned. You can adjust to any base, it just takes some time and practice. I had to adjust to the lighter weight, I had to adjust to the taller base, I had to adjust to a different bevel angle. All these differences were minute - the difference in base height was half a millimeter. That doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a big difference on where and how the base contacts the ball. I could cut at steeper angles and rarely undercut the ball entirely. And the base weight? Once glued, weighted, painted and stickered the CC2 total weight was *exactly* the same as a CLR with polysorb inserts. Despite having the exact same weight, the CC2s feel, and play differently than the CLRs. The CLRs feel more stable and a bit faster (plexi), but the CC2s touch up to the ball a bit better, and I feel more comfortable flicking into tight ball situations with them. Both shoot very well.
An excellent base will help improve your game, but there is nothing wrong with looking good while doing it!
Clearly, the CC2s are a much better base than a standard Subbuteo or Zeugo base and would undoubtedly help beginners improve, if you are willing to commit the investment and look for the additional parts needed. Otherwise, I would suggest Little Plastic Men bases for someone looking to step up. They can be had as complete, u-paint teams and at a price that you can experiment with weights, inserts or base types.
For an intermediate player, who has tried a few different bases or is thinking about getting serious about competitive play, then the Astrobase CC2’s are a great option. This type of player would have a better idea of the type of setup they prefer and the CC2s could be built to suit their particular needs. Do you like a lighter setup, go disc-less with maybe a small weight. Do you like a heavier setup? Add a disc, and perhaps a larger washer.
Do the CC2s make me a better player? It’s hard to say for sure after only a few weeks of use. I admit to being a bit skeptical initially that their performance would match their price. But this is a game of millimeters and degrees, especially at the upper skill levels, and I came to appreciate what the CC2s offer. I will continue to practice with the CC2 Wolves and they will be my team of choice for our upcoming Fall league. Time will tell if they become Tucson Subbuteo League Champions or are relegated.
As Subbuteo continues to grow in the States, more players will be looking to improve their game and use the same equipment as the top players in the world. It’s great that Garage Soccer is making these bases easily available to those in the US.