John H. Butterfield: The Compleat Designer
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Walk with me down memory lane. I'd only just discovered wargames through Air Force, a Craig Taylor design. Craig was an enormous influence in my life (see S. Craig Taylor, Jr.: A Celebration of his Life... and a Farewell.)

Not long after I started playing Air Force, I found another hugely influential game, Ambush!, and with it, another of my favorite designers, John H. Butterfield. I spent many a happy hour playing Ambush! and shed many a virtual tear for the cardboard friends I lost. And there's also a special reason why the game was so important to me. I was able to buy Ambush! with the money my sister gave me for my birthday, and I cherish both that memory and the game to this day.

So when John returned to the hobby with two hit solitaire designs, D-Day at Omaha Beach and RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940, I grabbed them both. I also grabbed the opportunity to interview him for C3i magazine.

What struck me was how gracious John was with his time and answers. He is modest, patient, creative, enormously interesting, detailed, respectful, and keenly aware of his role in the continuum of game design. In short, John is very much like how he has described his friend and mentor, Redmond Simonsen. And I think this is a compliment of the highest order for John.

This list contains information from C3i magazine issue 26.
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-424-c3i-magazine-issue-26.aspx


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1. Board Game: Air Empire [Average Rating:5.77 Unranked]
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John grew up playing board games because he was fascinated by the narratives they created. Air Empire and Dispatcher were several early Avalon Hill games he played.
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2. Board Game: Sniper! (first edition) [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:5509]
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In 1973, he played his first wargame, the recently released Sniper!, published by SPI.

Proof that our lives cross paths in many strange ways, both the destinies of SPI and John would become intertwined.
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3. Board Game: Battles for the Ardennes [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:3103]
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While attending Parson School of Design, John found work at SPI in the shipping department.

After graduating and pursuing other work, John decided to try SPI again in 1977. Redmond Simonsen invited John to the famous Friday night playtests.

Soon, John was helping with the development of Battles for the Ardennes with the "dream team" of Danny Parker, Joe Balkoski, and Eric Lee Smith.
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4. Board Game: Four Battles of Army Group South [Average Rating:6.89 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.89 Unranked]
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John's first design was Rostov, part of the Army Group South Quad. It was an impressive achievement for someone who was still just part of the SPI Militia. He soon came onboard as a developer.
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5. Board Game: StarGate [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:11647]
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John's burst of creativity in 1979 continued with his first sci-fi design, StarGate.

StarGate is unique because its backstory is derived from a book John co-authored.
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6. Board Game: Voyage of the B.S.M. Pandora [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:3996]
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In 1981, he designed Voyage of the BSM Pandora, his first solitaire title. It featured a paragraph-based system--the first of its kind. He would use this system again later in his career.
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7. Board Game: Battle Over Britain [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:5633]
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During SPI's final days, John worked hard on Battle Over Britain, his last SPI design. It would eventually be published by TSR under the SPI brand.
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8. Board Game: Ambush! [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:689]
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Following the SPI bankruptcy, John joined the many ex-SPI designers at the newly formed Victory Games. Victory's first releases showed the team's design creativity was still burning brightly.

John and Eric Lee Smith designed Ambush! for Victory Games. It won the Charles S. Roberts Award for Best 20th Century Game in 1983. Its success led to three expansions, a Pacific version, a tank battle version, and a two-player version.
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9. Board Game: Soldiers: Man-to-Man Combat in World War II [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:6185]
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John briefly left consim design, but returned with a couple of titles for West End Games. Following the publication of Soldiers in 1987, John moved on to other projects and work.
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10. Board Game: D-Day at Omaha Beach [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:475]
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After an absence of over 20 years, he returned to the consim hobby with D-Day at Omaha Beach and RAF: The Battle of Britain, both published in 2009.

He picked up an astonishing three CSR awards that year: Best World War II era Board Wargame (D-Day), the James F. Dunnigan Design Elegance Award, and the Clausewitz Hall of Fame Award.
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11. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2245]
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John is hard at work on many new designs for Decision Games, Compass Games, and GMT. Many of these are solitaire designs for the lone warriors among us. Here's a short list:

D-Day at Peleliu
D-Day at Tarawa
Enemy Action: Ardennes
Conflict of Heroes solitaire.
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12. Board Game Designer: John H. Butterfield
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John has many fond memories and deep respect for his friends and colleagues. But he reserves his highest praise for Redmond Simonsen.

I exchanged emails with Redmond many years ago, and he was kind and interested in my gaming-related questions. John helped paint a much fuller picture of Redmond for me, and he illustrated the impact Redmond left on the hobby, particularly on physical systems design.

Thank you, John, for the many hours of fun and gaming you've given us, and for the many memories you've shared so freely.
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