With The Flight Leader, Red 32
   Here's a special series of interviews with various guests of the website.  Stay tuned for interviews with players, designers and volunteers of both Star Wars and Young Jedi CCG.
Special Decipher Interview Series:
> Kevin Reitzel, Bravo Leader

Special Squadron Member Interview Series:
> Chris Hines, Gold 8

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Special Decipher Interview
Kevin Reitzel, Bravo Leader

     I remember Kevin when I first started playing the game.  He was a hot shot player from Santa Barbara at the time. The first time I met him was in one of the very first sanctioned tournaments for Star Wars CCG.  What I remeber most about him was the amount of Darth vader's he happened to have.  There he played, three Vader's in his hand, one on the table and who knows how many more in his deck!  I was amazed, since I had lucked into my first Vader earlier in the month and was all proud of myself for just that one.
     I've attended several tournaments where he was the player to beat!  No one could stop him.  Within a few months he became the top ranked player in the world.  He held this enviable position for the longest stretch by anyone playing the game.
     Later that year, he won a shot at the most coveted title, Star Wars CCG World Champion.  He placed fourth in that tournament.
     For the next few years, he's been a major force in the Santa Barbara area.  Finally, his contributions to the game were rewarded with the position of Star Wars CCG Road Warrior with Decipher.  Now he could spread his knowledge all around the world.  This position later became leader of Bravo Squadron, a group of Star Wars CCG volunteers that make up roughly a quarter of our ranks.
     I managed to pin him down long enough to answer a few questions for you.  Here's what he had to say!

> Red 32: Tell us about yourself?  When did you start playing Star Wars CCG?

Kevin: I have always been a Star Wars fan. I played it as soon as it came out. I remember when I could drain in space with light sabers, and Elis Helrot & Nabrun Leids to each and every sight during your control phase and drain with the same character.

> Red 32:  What's you best Star Wars CCG Memory?

Kevin:  The 96 road trip that Kyle and I took, where we both won back to back regionals that took us to the world finals in Vail Colorado. I had won the Las Vegas on Saturday, and Kyle won Sacramento on Sunday. That was a great trip.

> Red 32: I remember this!
> What did you like best about this road trip?

Kevin: The first stop we made was the Las Vegas regional on the Saturday. There was about 16 to 18 people that showed up for this regional and about 10 to 12 were all from our area of southern California. We all knew each other and had played a lot against one another. At this time, most of the top players in
the world were from California.
     After I won the tournament, myself, Kyle (Decipher's Rogue Leader) and our other road trip partner, Cat, had to drive straight to Sacramento, CA for the next day's regional there.
     Since I won the Las Vegas regional I didn't have to play so I did most of the driving. Uuughhhhh, that is a long drive. We left Vegas about 10:30 at night and got into Sacramento about 4:30 in the morning. We parked in front of the
store where the regional was going to be held and slept in Kyle's car. We woke up about 8:30 am. Kyle's decks did not do well at all in Vegas so we spent the next 2 hours in the back of the car remaking his decks.
     Kyle and Cat played in the Sac regional all day while I slept in the car. After every game they came out to the car and woke me up to tell me what happened. Well, Kyle ended up winning The Sacramento regional. Winning
these back to back regionals sent us to the 1st Star Wars world championships in Vail CO. I'm sure you remember that Mike!

> Red 32: About the '96 World Championships.  This was an event you and I got to share.  What was exciting for me about this event was the fact that it was the very first one and I wanted to get to it so badly.
>Tell us some of the cool memories that you have of that event?

Kevin:  That whole weekend was a blast.
     I remember that Tom Lischke was ranked #1 in the world up until 2 weeks before the 96 worlds. That's when I slid into the top spot. So I had some pressure on me when I showed up. One funny thing happened when they paired us up for the 1st day. The computer  that was supposed to match us all up randomly didn't. Instead it matched up us according to ranking. So it matched Tom and I up 1st because we were ranked #1 and #2. We thought it was a coincidence, but found out it was a computer glitch. I was able to beat Tom and after getting to know him found out what a cool guy he was.
     A lot of players were really nervous about playing in the 1st worlds. I had a different mind frame. I felt lucky just to be there and wanted to have fun. I think I did as well as I did because I wasn't nervous and just played and had fun. I didn't make hardly any mistakes. I ended up taking 4th place over all. I missed the top two playoff by 4 cards.
     One thing I remember that was funny was finalists James Floyd from the San Diego area not making the 2nd day finals and instead of playing the sealed deck tournament that everyone else was he decided to go snowmobiling. Well the funning thing was that he lost control of it and wrapped his snowmobile around a snow bank. He was unhurt and was able to tell the funny tale.
     The best thing about the 96 world finals was that it was the 1st and I got to be  part of it. And it was great to meet all of the players you heard about or only talked to via e-mail.

> Red 32:  What was your worst Star Wars CCG Memory?

Kevin:  Being ranked #1 in the world and then losing to a brand new player and dropping 30 to 50 points out of 1st place. That was the last time I played a dark deck without any ships. He got Kessel and a Y-Wing on his first turn, Arrrrggghhh!

> Red 32:  Your Weirdest?

Kevin:  Having my friend Ryan Morris playing a dark side Sabbacc deck against me. He steals my Falcon. Ends up piloting it with his Vader and Tarkin. Then he rubs salt in the wound by having his dark side Lando pilot it. Thank God it
wasn't in a tournament.

> Red 32:  What your favorite Deck Strategy?

Kevin:  Light Side: Mains & Toys revolution choke decks. I abused this deck in the early days. I still find it fun to play with the many variations of it out there.
     Dark Side: Mains & Toys ground pounder decks. I also like Big Blue Space decks.
     In general I like old school decks with new twists.

> Red 32:  Classic Old Skool.
> Why do you prefer these deck styles as opposed to "Objective" strategies?

Kevin:  It depends on the objective cards. I have always like battle decks as opposed to force drain & non battle decks. That's why I was never a fan of operatives or training decks. I never had the patience for training decks.
     Old school were mostly battle decks, and I never got tired of those. I do like those objectives that encourage battle like Hunt down, Court and Profit. Old school decks were fun too because they always seemed like that way Star Wars should be played. Operatives never seemed like Star Wars to me. I feel that many of the new objectives had brought back that good old Star Wars feeling.

> Red 32:  What's your take on some of the more popular strategies today?
> Hidden Base?

Kevin:  These decks are OK in my mind. They were to powerful before the errata. I liked space decks, but Light Side never stood a chance until HB gave them a kick start.

> Hunt?

Kevin:  This was and still is my favorite Objective. I always felt it was the best themed deck and the most true to the Star Wars legacy.

> Profit?

Kevin:  This deck never really made my favorites list. I like the direction and theme to it. However, the may not drain on Tattooine on the 1st side doesn't sit well with me.

> Court?

Kevin:  Love this objective! My of my favorite decks is the alien and bounty hunter decks, and this Objective brings it all together. This is one of my favorite decks.

> ROps?

Kevin:  This is a fun deck. What really make this deck is flipping the Objective and being able to pull out any card.

> Red 32:  What card(s) are a "staple" in you deck?  Cards that you somehow always play with?

Elis Helrot/Nabrun Lieds
Reactor Terminal/Traffic Control
Red Leader/ Gold Leader (in their ships)
Bad Feeling/Goo Nee Tay
Harc Seff
Admiral Ozzel
Lightsaber Proficiency
Presence Of The Force

> Red 32:  What's you favorite card?

Kevin:  Besides the obvious mains, Elis Helrot/Nabrun Lieds and Outter Rim Scouts

> Red 32:  Favorite expansion?

Kevin:  Special Edition. Jabbas Palace come in a close second.

> Red 32:  What did you like about Special Edition?

Kevin:  Most of the new Objectives. I loved the new Vader and Obi. I also felt that there were a lot of great new Interrupts, Effects and Locations that really made this set.

> Red 32:  What's your most hated card?  Is there a card you wish they never made?

Kevin:  Numbers cards. Can't stand those strategies.

> Red 32:  Hated expansion?  Which expansion could have better been left on the drawing boards?

Kevin:  Dagobah, cause of those numbers cards.

> Red 32:  What do you like best about Star Wars CCG?

Kevin:  I have always loved the game play. Its so unique. Its also great to be able to play your own SW stories through you games. Its the most fun game I have ever played.

> Red 32:  What brought you into the game?

Kevin:  Being the biggest Star Wars fan and collector.
     And good friends that helped me learn how to play and kept the tournament scene in our area strong.

> Red 32:  How has it been working for Decipher?  Describe a normal work day for you?

Kevin:  In office: Mostly desk work. Were kept pretty busy here with a lot of organizational tasks at hand. A lot of e-mail and phone correspondence with volunteers and retailers and convention contacts.
     Some goofing around to, but not too much, heh, heh.
     On the road: Meeting up with volunteers and retailers and the many players out there. Doing demos and tournaments at retail locations.
     The best part about being on the road is defiantly meeting the volunteers. They are always kind and make me feel welcome.

> Red 32:  You're on the road a lot!  What experience (good and bad) have you gotten from the road?

Kevin:  The good is defiantly meeting the volunteers and setting up new contacts at retailers.
     The bad is the delayed and missed plane flights. Getting sick on the road is not fun. I once lost my voice when I had to do the first YJ demo road trip we scheduled last year.
     Loosing luggage and missing demo material isn't fun either.

> Red 32:  Keeping Star Wars CCG alive after Death Star II is going to be a real challenge.
>Without divulging too much, what steps are being taken to ensure the longeity of the game after this final expansion?

Kevin:  Well, I have always been a fan of the Star Wars expanded universe (i.e. Novels, games, etc.). We have the license for these products. And we are looking at expanding the game and using characters from these products.
There will be some exciting SWCCG products after Death Star 2. Being a fan myself I'm really excited about it.

> Red 32:  What the most challenging part of this job for you?

Kevin:  Keeping up with the many tasks that we have on our tables. It keep us very
busy but is very exciting and challenging.

> Red 32:  Obviously, the absence of a new CRD is paramont on many players' minds. And, the fact you have a lot on your plates is the primary culprit for it's tardiness...
> Can you shed some light on the challenges that would go into making a document like that?

Kevin:  Juz, would be the best person to ask. He has poured his heart and soul into the CRD. The CRD is always a work in progress, its never done. I see that wording and phrasing is very key and time consuming.
     The new CRD will also be easier to read and have a different layout. These types of changes are also time consuming. Another thing to keep in mind is that we have Death Star 2 coming out and a lot of revisions had to be made to the current CRD to accommodate Death Star 2 when it comes out.

> Red 32:  What advice would you give to new players out there?

Kevin:  Be patient and keep playing. Being a Star Wars fan is very helpful. I found that keeping up to date with the expanded universe really makes playing Star Wars even more fun.
     Also remember to keep the game fun for yourself. Don't feel bad about any lost games. I have learned the most when I loose a game.
     Also, its OK to borrow deck ideas from other, but remember to be creative and make fun and interesting ones for yourselves.

> Red 32:  Since you've been playing since the game first came out and still find lots of enjoyment out of it.
> Do you have any parting shots for the players that have been around awhile?

Kevin:  It kind of feels like a club when you share memories with players that have been around since the beginning like myself. We remember the old school decks and how the rules were interpreted then. Those stories are always the
     I thank the players that are still around from day one. We have been through allot. When Death Star 2 comes out, that will be the 9th expansion! That's allot when you think about it.
     The other thing I think about is that there are some players into it just for the glory and doing what they can at
all costs to win. When I meet and talk to most "old school" players we are still in it for the fun of it. When it comes down to it and what is most important is that we are all Star Wars fans and that's what its all about.

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Special Squadron Member Interview
Chris Hines, Gold 8

     I first met Chris when I was vacationing in Las Vegas a couple of years ago.  I decided to make an appearance at a tournament that he had shown up for.  We ended up playing each other in the first game.  I was playing my vaunted TIE flight deck while he hit me from the blind side with a Rescue The Princess deck with Yavin 4 Troopers!  It's was fun and a real good chance to meet a great guy.
     I met him again later at the Grand Slam.  He drove all the way to Mountain View to play in both the Young Jedi and Star Wars Events.  What was remarkable about him was how he'd help my girl friend (who was still trying to learn how to play) play the game.  He did this at the expense of his own game.  That showed a lot of character!
     I met up with him again at the Death Star II Pre-Release event in Mountain View.  Once again, he drove cross country to be there (something a lot of the Southern California Folks couldn't do!).  And, once again, he showed a lot of character and poise as he played in his games with newer players.
     Last week, I decided to do an interview series on the Squadron Members while I waited for some questionares to come back from Decipher.  Do an interview with him was a rather obvious choice!  Here's what he had to say:

> Red 32:  As Gold 8, you've been a Squadron Member longer than I have!  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Chris:  I am 34 years old, have a absolutely gorgeous wife named Cheri, whom I love dearly, a dog named Duffy and a cat named Mooky.  I love animals and games.
     Well, let's see.  I grew up in Tatooine (Las Vegas, Nevada).  I move to California to go to school and ended up there for 10 years.  I graduated in 1989 form Cal poly Pomona with a degree in Social Science.  I Had my own business but soon went to work for Southwest Airlines!!  I have been working for them for nine years now.  I lived in Tucson for 1.5 years and ended up back in Vegas.
     I love Tatooine, the desert and the people.  I love to hike, swim, travel and most of all play Wars.  I started out gaming when I was twelve.  My best friend asked me to come over and play a game he had just learned cal Dungeons and Dragons.  I fell in love with the game and we played the whole summer.  I think I killed 20 Magic users before I settled on a Cleric.  Anyway, I have been playing games ever since.
     I started playing Magic when it came out and competed professionally for a little while.  When Wars came out I jumped in and started playing.  I held a qualifier here in Vegas the first year Decipher had a Worlds.  I love to play new and interesting games.
     I will stop here, but needless to say I like to try anything "once."

> Red 32:  Obviously, you've been playing a long time...What brought you into the game?  What kept you in?

Chris:  Dungeons and Dragons, see above.  I keep playing because I love the game and the Star Wars Universe.  I was always a huge fan of Luke Skywalker.  Leia was my dream girl and X-wings are the coolest ship ever made.

> Red 32:  Describe your greatest Star Wars CCG Moment?

Chris:  Oh boy, I don't know.  I could say, the day I win Worlds..  Actually it was at the Mega -Tournament two where we captured the TEAM title with only three players!!

> Red 32:  Your Worst?

Chris:  Playing against Jeremy Lamere in SLC at the regional and I got the runs and a fever from something bad I ate.  I made soooo many mistakes.

> Red 32:  Your weirdest?

Chris:  Wow, what kind of question is that??  Okay, I think it was when I was playing Mike Girard and every time I thought of the card I absolutely needed, it showed up.  I crushed Mike and he wasn't too happy about it.

> Red 32:  As one of the old guard Squadron Members, what do you like best about being a Squadron Member?

Chris:  I think I like talking with Kendrick, Kyle, and Kevin about upcoming events.  I also like being able to help out at the Cons, it's a blast.

> Red 32:  What don't you like about it?  If you could make it better, what would you change?

Chris:  I think it is a lot of fun.  I don't like reading all of the email from members that ask questions that are easily
answered by reading the CRD.  Make new squadron members take a qualification test.

> Red 32:  What's it like being a Squadron Member from the Tatooine Region?  What's Tatooine like?

Chris:  Tatooine is a neat region, we have several of the top players in the world here.  Me, Tim Guzman and Pat Hines,
built of the player base here in Las Vegas and they are very competitive.  Mike in Arizona and Thad in Colorado are great Squadron members who really support the game.

> Red 32:  You've played a lot in California (Grand Slam and the DS2 pre-release), what are the differences between Alderaan and Tatooine?

Chris:  Alderaan players seem a bit more vicious.  A game in Tatooine is competitive, but we joke a lot.  Don't get me wrong, we get upset when we lose too, we just know that there is always another chance to win.  Worlds isn't everything.

> Red 32:  What's your favorite deck strategy?  What decks do you like to play the most?

Chris:  Should I reveal this?  I am going out on the qualifier circuit?  I like fighting.  Battles are great.  Even in Trek I would rather fight than attempt missions.  Fighting is strategic and I love strategy.  I like Big Blue, Mains and Toys, and Off-the-wall decks (like me Rendezvous Point, Haven, Numbers...).

> Red 32:  What strategies would you like to see more in tournament play?

Chris:  Battling.  I think the DSII Tournaments will promote this and bring the flavor of the movies back into the game.

> Red 32:  If you could make one change to Star Wars CCG?  What would it be and why?

Chris:  I would get rid of inserts.  I think they are a neat idea, but they have been a source of frustration for new players and veteran players alike.

> Red 32:  What advice do you have for any new players out there?

Chris:  Practice..  Practice..  Practice..  and always remember, you won't win every game.  Have fun every once in awhile and make a fun deck.

> Red 32:  Do you have any parting shots for the older players that have been around awhile?

Chris:  Yeah, I'm gonna kick your @$& (Editor:  Synonymous with butt...) this summer.  If you plan on going to Origins, ComicCon, or GenCon, I'll be there to take you down!!  Tatooine will rise from the sand this year.
     Remember the Jawas!!!!

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