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ETO Playtesters Note: Theater Reserves

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

De-cluttering the ETO “footprint”


By the ETO Development Team

ETO designer Frank Chadwick has some new ideas...

Uncle Frank (Chadwick) wants you!


In a house cleaning / simplification effort that also address some corrections that your wonderful player feedback has brought to our attention. Now tested, we would like you to continue to vet the following for public playtesting of the next edition of the ETO rules.


Change the entirety of the Theater Reserves rule (and remove the Theater Reserve mats). Reduce everything about Theater Reserves to just the following (numbered per the ETO rules book):


[250.0] Theater Reserves


Headquarters markers are the gateway for Ground units to enter and leave the abstract Theater Reserve. The timely arrival of reserve units can impact events on the ground!


[250.1] Getting In:

Your Non-Garrison Ground units that begin their Special or Reserve Movement Step stacked with a friendly supplied Strategic HQ marker can conduct Reserve Movement that Phase.

Units that begin their move stacked with Strategic HQs are automatically "in the Theater Reserve."

[250.1.1] HQ Eligibility: Only Strategic HQ markers are conduits for Reserve Movement. Reminder: a Stressed Strategic HQ is, at that time, an Operational HQ and not eligible to conduct Reserve Movement (241.1).

  • That Strategic HQ marker must be supplied and functioning (124.2).

  • That Strategic HQ marker’s Mode matters (see 250.2.2 and 250.2.3, below) .


[250.1.2] Ground Unit Eligibility: The friendly Ground unit stacked with that HQ marker:

  • Must be Mobile (i.e., have the ability to spend Movement Points). It cannot be immobile (e.g., Isolated, 240.4.3; Interdicted, 323.1.5, or a Garrison unit).

  • It can be Out of Supply (240.5.2).


[250.2] Getting Out

Conduct Reserve Movement that Phase with Eligible Ground units (250.1.2) by moving them:

  • From their starting OR another Eligible Strategic HQ marker (250.1.1) that is…

  • Within its Reserve Range (250.2.1) and…

  • To which it can trace a Rail LoC (141.1.1).

It then conducts its eligible movement for that Phase from its selected Strategic HQ marker’s location. Thus, if it relocates to another HQ marker, it moves it as if it started in the other HQ marker’s hex. Just pick up a Reserve unit from its current HQ’s location, relocate it to (i.e., place it at) its new HQ’s location, and start moving it from there. Stacking won't apply until the end of that Movement Phase (as usual; see 212.3).

[250.2.1] Reserve Range: The distance that you can redeploy eligible Reserve Ground units is anywhere in its Theater (or Region when in one, 125.3) if it does not cross a Theater/Region Boundary line OR within an 18-hex radius of the HQ it is redeploying from if it does.


[250.2.2] Special Movement Phase: During your Special Movement Phase, your Reserve Redeployments must be to a Strategic HQ in Attack Mode (241.3.2). There is no limit to the number of redeploying reserve units that an HQ marker can receive during the Special Movement Phase.


[250.2.3] Regular Movement Phase: During your Regular Movement Phase, an unlimited number of Reserve Redeployments can be made to a Strategic HQ in Attack Mode (241.3.2). Only one can be received by a Strategic HQ in Balanced Mode (241.3.1).


Ground units performing Reserve Redeployment during their Regular Movement Phase receives a 50% (round up) Movement Point bonus. This applies even if their Reserve Redeployment is to remain at the Strategic HQ marker they begin the Reserve Movement Phase; they can simply move off it with a 50% (round up) Movement Point bonus

What This Means for Reserves

  • There is no one turn delay in their availability readiness.

  • There are no longer “defensive” reserves; you can only commit them on your turn, but in either of your Movement Phases and from any eligible HQ.

  • Those committed during your Regular Movement Phase receive a movement bonus.


The Magic of Misdirection


We have been testing this system for a while and have noticed some very positive things about it. First, by not taking Reserve units off the map, players tended to for them (as units or stacks on their eligible HQ markers). Second, they were employed more historically for counterattacks, breakthrough follow-on forces, and shoring up the line in anticipation of enemy activity. Finally, the Sequence of Play and player aids became less and this is a great example of game designer where "less is more."


Please post your thoughts in the comments section below. Thank you!!



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