S. Craig Taylor, Jr.: A Celebration of his Life... and a Farewell
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I was deeply saddened to hear that Craig Taylor passed away. I tried to confirm the news independently in the hopes that it was simply a rumor. Unfortunately, I now know it is true.

I discovered wargaming through a Craig Taylor design, and after that my life took a different course. Since then, I've been an avid wargamer, and I've always been interested in Craig's work.

Therefore, when I had a chance to interview Craig for a series on influential designers, I jumped at it. I've been interviewing Craig over the past year. He was kind enough to share his valuable experiences of his time in the wargaming world. This list contains information I learned directly from him as well as from past interviews and designer notes.

It's no exaggeration to say Craig's work has had a huge influence on me. I hope this list helps people map his career and understand the impact he's had on wargame design.

On a personal level, even though we never met in person, I will miss him. Thank you, Craig.

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1. Board Game: Tactics II [Average Rating:5.35 Overall Rank:17332]
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Samuel Craig Taylor, Jr., was born in 1946. He started dabbling in miniatures wargaming at an early age.

The first commercial wargame he played was Tactics II in 1958. When he was in junior high, Craig and his best friend played several of the hobby's early wargames. These experiences sparked his interest in history and led him to become a game designer.
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2. Board Game: Bismarck [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:5113]
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Craig first got involved in the gaming industry at the age of 15. In 1961, he helped playtest Avalon Hill's Bismarck. Years later, he would join Avalon Hill as a designer.
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3. Board Game: Wooden Ships & Iron Men [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:1208]
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In 1973, Craig was approached by Stephen Peek, president of Battleline Publications. Steve was looking for another design to follow his own Seven Days Battle.

Craig's first published wargame was Wooden Ships & Iron Men (1974) based on a set of miniatures rules he had created. As Craig said, the game "took off" and "really put Battleline on the map."
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4. Board Game: Air Force [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:3501]
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Another of his designs at Battleline was Air Force (1976). Craig said he first began to fool around with the idea of tactical air games when he was around 16, and the Air Force game was based on the miniatures rules he had created. In fact, Steve had originally said no to Craig's proposal to publish Air Force, and at that time, Craig concurred. Good thing they changed their minds. Craig estimated that 30,000 copies of Air Force were sold.

Later, Avalon Hill had Air Force redone and republished with additional rules and development by Kevin Zucker. Despite the use of colorful aircraft data cards, a mounted mapboard, and increased marketing reach through The General magazine, the AH redesigns did not sell as well as the Battleline Air Force and Dauntless versions.

Incidentally, Craig was also an "air force" brat who traveled around the world.

Air Force was also my first wargame. I've logged over 100 games, and I still play it today.
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5. Board Game: Flat Top [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:1730]
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When the aspiring designer realized how much work was involved in actually designing a game and delivered nothing more than just partial research work, it fell to Craig to design Flat Top (1977). He put in long, hard hours to get it ready for Origins III. As Craig said, he was young and didn't need much sleep.

During production, everything that could go wrong went wrong--including an unfortunate motorcycle accident. In the end, Steve and Craig were able to drive to Origins with 144 copies. And Craig slept all the way.

Flat Top was later acquired and re-released by Avalon Hill, with additional development by Alan Moon. Craig later used the system for CV (Yaquinto, 1979). A very light system was adapted for Guadalcanal (Avalon Hill, 1992.)

I've read many opinions that Flat Top, especially with an umpire, provides an intense gaming experience. I hope to try it someday.
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6. Board Game: Fury in the West [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:6579]
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Craig designed dozens of games. But he was also a skilled and disciplined developer. Fury in the West (1977) was his first development.

He would later develop games such as Panzer/88/Armor, Empires in Arms, Flight Leader, and Tac Air (winner of the Charles S. Roberts award for Best Post-World War II Board Game, 1989).
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7. Board Game: Star Fighter [Average Rating:5.17 Unranked]
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Craig's first sci-fi design was Starfighter (1978). Strangely, it is listed as an uncredited design. Craig noted he developed two other Gametime Games titles: Sopwith and Quest.

I never got the chance to ask Craig how he got involved working with Gametime Games, which would have been during or toward the end of his time at Battleline. Does anybody know?
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8. Board Game: Panzer (first edition) [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:5460]
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After Battleline was acquired by Avalon Hill, Craig and Steve joined Yaquinto Publications, which was backed by a printing house owned by Robert Yaquinto. The duo started their second burst of creativity.

Yaquinto published Panzer (1979), based on James Day's miniatures rules. It was the first game to have vehicle data cards.

The cover for Panzer was created by Rodger MacGowan. Jim, Rodger and Craig would cross paths throughout their careers.

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9. Board Game: Swashbuckler [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:4310]
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Yaquinto also launched an album games line. The games were packaged like a record album, with the cover also functioning as a mapboard.

The top seller was Swashbuckler (1980) at around 30,000 copies.
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10. Board Game: Wings [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:5817]
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The Air Force system reached its design peak with Wings (1981). Wings had a finely tuned Air Force engine, and with its adjusted scale managed to minimize the guesswork inherent in a plotted movement system.

Wings won the Charles S. Roberts award for Best Twentieth Century Game that year.

Unfortunately, the Wings expansion promised in 1982/1983 adding 50 new aircraft models and a strategic game never materialized due to the downturn in the market.
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11. Board Game: Firepower [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:5122]
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The wargaming market shrank dramatically in 1983. Robert Yaquinto wanted Craig and Steve to work as an ad agency, with game design as an occasional project.

Craig then decided to call Avalon Hill, and he joined the company in 1984. His first published design at Avalon Hill was Firepower, based on Close Assault published at Yaquinto.
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12. Board Game: Platoon [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:9573]
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Under growing pressure from management to complete work, Craig pulled a few all-nighters to get Platoon done (1986). It was based on a simplified Firepower engine.

Craig's work took just five weeks from initial evaluation meeting to turning it over to the art department.
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13. Board Game: Mustangs Expansion Module [Average Rating:6.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.72 Unranked]
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The Mustangs expansion was Craig's last published project at AH. He left in August 1994.

After AH, he worked in the computer gaming industry until 2007. His resume included work with MicroProse, Overtime Games, Imagic Games, SouthPeak Games, Talonsoft Games, and Breakaway games. Sadly, his experiences in the industry were largely negative.

I wrote an article on Mustangs published in The General. It was an honor for me to be published in The General and to write about a game designed by Craig.
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14. Board Game: Sergeants! On the Eastern Front [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:11087]
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Craig began his association with Lost Battalion Games around 2002 and 2003. This was his first design for LBG (2004).
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15. Board Game: Sergeants Repple-Depple 1 [Average Rating:6.93 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.93 Unranked]
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This was his last design for LBG (2010). His position at LBG was later bought out by Jim Day.
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16. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:2487]
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Craig sounds like the kind of guy who's happiest when he is busy. He was working on a new sailing ship design using some of the mechanics from Mustangs. He was also working on more materials for Napoleon's Battles.

He had many other ideas that he was working on. I hope one day his closest friends are able to finish and publish some of his work.
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17. Board Game Designer: S. Craig Taylor
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Craig's life and work will be remembered by his family and friends. As a tribute, I'd like to retain an archive for those of us who never got to know him personally.

Fire&Movement Interview: S. Craig Taylor
http://www.c3iopscenter.com/documents/F&M%20Interview%20Crai...

Staff Briefing: An interview with S. Craig Taylor
http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.ee6bae6/12738!enclosu...
http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.ee6bae6/12738!enclosu...
http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.ee6bae6/12738!enclosu...

C3i Interview: James M. Day (contains information about Craig)
http://www.c3iopscenter.com/documents/InterviewJimDayC3i.pdf

In Memoriam: S. Craig Taylor
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/821907/in-memoriam

In Memory: S. Craig Taylor, My Top 10 tribute
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/143763/in-memory-s-cra...

S. Craig Taylor has passed away
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/819251/s-craig-taylor-ha...
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