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ETO Series: 2020 March Update

In this update, we must preface with a few important things:

Our focus currently remains on “the larger picture” of combined ETO volume games and making sure that, when you connect them, they do so as seamlessly as possible. This has been much on the design team’s minds of late.

Because it is already published, Thunder in the East has been our petri dish for playtesting and strengthening these multi-volume game sinews. Per publisher GMT’s instructions, we are preparing an “update kit” for your TITE game. This project is known, internally, as TITE2it is not a second edition but more an improved ETO-izing of the current game.


If you would like join the TITE2 playtest, it is available as a Vassal kit, with rules and scenarios located here (scroll down to the TITE2 Vassal kits; you can't miss it).


You will see screen shots from that Vassal playtest kit throughout this article.

TITE2 Changes on the Ground: New

As you explore the Vassal playtest kit for TITE2, you will see some new Ground units. These include:

  • 1x German Panzer Division added to the Change Box.

  • 1x German Fully Motorized Division added to the Change Box.

  • 3x German Semi-motorized Divisions. This is to break down one 7-4 German Semi-Motorized Corps unit, if built.

  • 1x 2-4 German Air Landing Division. It sets up in Romania for Barbarossa and serves with Army Group South until roughly the fall of Sevastopol.

  • 1x 2-4 Hungarian Mountain Division. This unit is available from the war's outset.

  • 1x Romanian 4-[5] SM Cavalry Corps. This is a new selection choice on their Army Expansion card (pictured here). You see, they now only start with just 1 Armored Division and, as a selection on that card, can opt for the rest of their Mechanized Corps equipment. This new Semi-Motorized Cavalry Corps unit, however, makes an interesting alternative.

  • The Slovakians are an Axis Small nation which, like the others, joins the war on the second turn of Barbarossa. Unlike the others, because they were created as Axis Puppets by fiat, they have unlimited Morale Points. They are a pretty weak group of units (suitable for rear-area anti-partisan garrisons) but Slovakia does chip in ½ Slovakian PP per Season for the war effort!

  • The Ukraine and Baltic States Independent Nation (Event) and Mobilization/OOB (setup) cards are also included. These are primarily for playtesting and will probably not be added until the series is complete. However, this is a great opportunity to get some feedback on it!

  • USSR Mystery Mech “Alt Corps” (when all the Soviet “Mystery Mech” units are disbanded, there are 6 Small Heavy Corps units added to the Soviet Force pool representing their quasi-organized remnants. These are very much in playtesting. We felt the Soviets holding on too long to their Mystery Mech units and, along with the Disbanding benefits, knew there would be some armored odds and ends they could still use – which is what these counters represent. Perhaps there are too many or they are too strong, but we are playtesting their brief but important time on the board right now.

  • 2x USSR Marine Divisions because, hey, with the full ETO Naval rules, these units make a lot of sense.

  • Partisan Divisions for Romania and Poland. When playing the late war, the threat of these units is very important for the Soviets as the Axis will need to keep stronger garrisons in their rear.

TITE2 Changes on the Ground: Different

  • German Panzer Corps variety. See the next section of this article.

  • Soviet Airborne Corps 1-2-4/{1}. The old 2-4s proved overpowered and so we reigned them in a bit giving them 1 Strength when attacking/airdropping. That has been working very satisfactorily as they retain their 2 Defense Strength when “thrown into the line” as a Small Infantry unit.

German Panzer Corps

Not all German Panzer Corps are created equal and Axis players are having a lot more fun now that they are unequal. After studying OOBs for these units in the West and South theaters, they did not neatly conform to the 12-9-[6] Corps structure of constituent Divisions. So now players can mix-and-match these components to create three different kinds of German Panzer Corps units:

  • 10-[6] PzCorps: 1x Panzer Division + 2 Motorized/Panzergrenadier Divisions

  • 12-9-[6] Pz Corps: 2x Panzer Divisions + 1 Motorized/Panzergrenadier Division

  • 14-W-9-[6] Pz Corps: 3x Panzer Divisions (note the addition of a white bolt on this unit for its increased offensive capability)

A Panzer Army unit still consists of 2x Panzer Corps: the traditional 2x 12-9-[6]s, OR 1x each of the other two varieties. Often players will form a Panzer Army just to break it down into the other types of Panzer Corps!

The “lightning bolt” Panzer Corps have their own rules which also apply to units that are gifted with bolts via card play (e.g., New Model Tanks):

[214.5] White Bolt Corps: German Panzer Corps units made up of three Panzer Divisions (14-W-9-[6]) receive a special bonus: a White bolt (hence the “W” in their data listing). At other times, Event cards might also bestow White bolts to some units. They must all adhere to these rules:

[214.5.1] For Attack Only: You can only use their White bolts when attacking, not defending (they would have Red bolts if usable on defense).

[214.5.2] Maxi-Tanks: You can use only one such “Panzer bolt” per Battle. E.g., although you may have two or more 14-W-9-[6] Panzer Corps in the same attack, you can only receive a maximum of one White bolt, total, from all such enhanced units committed to that attack.

[214.5.3] Fair Weather Friends: These White bolts are usable only in clement ground weather conditions: Fair, Cloudy, and Overcast (i.e., when there are no ground movement penalties such as Rasputitsa; 126.J).

TITE2 Changes on the Ground: Combat Results

In Ground Combat, there are two subtle but important changes worth noting:

  • First: Retreating Heavy units (only) may ignore the EZOCs of enemy Light units in the first hex of their Retreat (only). The important distinction here is that this benefit only applies to the first hex of a Retreat and not the second hex! What that means is that even a Panzer Corps must show a little restraint when venturing deep into enemy territory if they can must a reasonable counterattack against it. They can still prowl through the front lines, but “going deep” with a single Heavy unit (as opposed to a multi-unit support thrust) will likely come with a real price in casualties.

  • Second: When selecting your own casualty from the Combat Results Table’s attrition result, you must “Lead Strong.” That is, you must always prefer:

> A participating friendly 1st Line (i.e., non-Garrison or 2nd Line) Ground unit…

> That does not have a stripe (located behind its strength and movement values).

This applies only to Combat Results Table specific single step losses and not losses suffered for other reasons (e.g., a Retreat through an EZOC per 238.3.3, isolation attrition, etc.). The implication here is that players cannot “weasel” their economy trying to cheapen the value of their attrition losses. The boys leading the fight will be the ones leading the casualty list…

In our next update, we will take another look at the evolutionary “ETO-izing” of Thunder in the East by focusing on another core aspect of the game.

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I would just like to make a comment/request in relation to the white bolt armour. This is in the context that one of the things I like about ETO is the use of historical unit designations as far as possible.

Another feature I like about ETO is that it is generous in its counter mix for example in showing the evolution of air and armour. In previous decades I doubt publishing economics allowed so much redundancy as when a unit might have different versions and or be in the game for a short while and unemployed thereafter.. ETO has an opportunity to manage this through publication of separate modules and this should help in providing the aforesaid generosity but this…


Alan Emrich
Alan Emrich
Mar 09, 2020

Tom, the kit is in playtesting. There is always another vassal module in the works. :D


Tom Kassel
Tom Kassel
Mar 09, 2020

Alan, Many of the changes mentioned have been in the vassal mod 5.5 for weeks, while a few small ones are not present. Is there another vassal update in the works?

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