CCG Tournament Medal: Late in 1995 Star Wars was just getting geared up again after a relatively quiet decade following the release of the final film in the trilogy. George Lucas was looking at a rerelease of the entire trilogy in theatres as a lead in to a new trilogy which will take place 40 years before the events in Star Wars.

Kenner had just started producing a new series of action figures and other companies were also testing the waters with Star Wars Merchandise.

The Premiere Edition of Star Wars the Collectible Card game from Decipher came on the scene like a wild wookie. The reception from the fans was immediate and overwhelmingly favorable. Decipher had managed to come up with a game that would in time challenge Magic the Gathering for card game supremacy, and win.

The cards themselves are very collectible. Cards have always been cool to collect but this set had a bonus. Not only could you collect your favorite Star Wars characters on cards, but you could use these cards to play a very interesting game of battle strategy. Star Destroyers battle Corellian Corvettes over the planet Tatooine while Luke faces off with Darth Vader In Mos Eisly cantina. Each new expansion raises the stakes as new weapons and warriors add to the possibilities.

The cards themselves are very collectible, loaded with interesting lore on obscure cantina aliens that might have been onscreeen scant moments. Main characters such as Vader, Obi Wan Kenobi etc.. are all rare cards and can be quite difficult to obtain in packs. As such secondary market prices on most of the main characters in Limited edition sell for 20-50 apiece. Decipher also continues to release the Premiere set in a white bordered unlimited edition and single prices are about half of those in the Black Border limited edition. All the cards have the same text and pictures so most players prefer to use the White border in their decks if possible since they will be subjected to serious wear and tear from shuffling. Many also use deck protectors, individual sleeves that protect the cards from damage.

Three additional sets, called expansions, have been released since then adding to the arsenal of weapons and warriors at the disposal of the player. A New Hope was the first expansion and it completed the lineup of cards from the first movie and included characters missing from the premiere like R2 D2 and Chewbacca much to the relief of the players who were dying to put Han and Chewie on the Falcon! Other bonuses include the Death Star and Wedge Antilles. Many players were miffed when Decipher chose to use the "fake" Wedge from the Yavin briefing for the picture. Later "updates" of the character will feature the Wedge we all know and love.

The Hoth expansion was the first expansion devoted to characters, ships and situations from the Empire Strikes Back with emphasis on the epic battle of Hoth. An error card was accidentally collated into a very small number of packs at the new US production facility. These cards have regular Light and Dark side backs but the face of the card is completely black. These cards are blank slots on the Uncommon sheet that were not to be collated into packs, but a handful made it into the regular run causing mass confusion in the collecting community. Rumors flew about a "Super Secret" interrupt that was not on the card list. Decipher had a little fun with the situation on April Fool's day 1997 when they posted on their website that the card WAS a secret special insert called "The Void"

The truth of the matter is that these cards are useless in the game but incredibly rare for collectors. Sources at Decipher state that there are only only a few hundred of the light side "Void" cards and substantially less of the dark side equivalent. No secondary value has been "booked" for this card yet as it is so rare that few poeple even know it exists. This will likely change as word spreads about the "Void" hoax.

Decipher started its tournament program in 1996. In a market dominated by Magic the Gathering, Decipher managed to get a fun program in place in the span of a few months. Tournament Directors in cities around the globe were soon running tournaments, ranking players worldwide in a swiss scoring system much like chess. Decipher also furnished prizes for sanctioned events and this is where the real goodies are to be had. All sanctioned events have as a first prize one of several Decipher exclusive T-shirts. The shirts feature an enlarged image of one of the "main" cards and you could win Obi Wan Kenobi or Darth Vader at any given tournament. Decipher also held various contests throughout the year and these contests had special shirts too. The Milleneum falcon and the C3PO shirts were only available in these special contests and are extremely scarce. Tournament Directors also got their own special shirts as a thank you for running tournaments featuring Grand Moff Tarkin on the front. All of these cards feature the SWCCG Logo on the sleeve and "Never Underestimate the Power of the Force!" on the back. A must have for any hardcore player.

The creme de la creme of Decipher apparel have to be the Rebel Squadron shirts. These go to the higher echelon of tournament directors, about 90 people worldwide. Each black golf shirt is embroidered with the TD's squadron (Gold or Red) and their individual Squadron number making each one unique. The Squadron members also recieved sturdy black backpacks embroidered with their squadron.

The tournament season reached it's pinnacle when Decipher held the first World's Championship in Vail Colorado. Decipher flew in players all expenses paid from all over the world who had won theirregional championships to compete for the ultimate prize, a trip to Tunisia to visit the locations from Tattooine! Regional champions recieved HUGE glass trophys with smaller trophys going to runners up. At the Championships 12 finalists who competed on the final day also recieved special trophys, all properly emblazoned with the rebel logo of course! The world Champion got a huge silver platter.

At the end of the 1996 tournament season, Decipher sent out Tour of Duty patches to the Squadron members to add to their shirts as well as a super cool pewter medal featuring the rebel logo. In addition Squadron Members all recieve two boxes of each expansion upon release, free of charge!

The tournament program has been a huge success. As the frenzy for all things Star Wars reached a fever pitch with the release of the Special Editions and scores of new players are getting in on the fun and goodies.

Description: Gregg Keefer
Photo: Gregg Keefer
From the collection of Gregg Keefer