Updated: Feb 14, 2020
Behind the Cardboard Curtain
Hail and well met, grognards! The Frank Chadwick’s ETO project continues with this pause to update its myriad enthusiasts. In this column, we will take a look at the higher-level goings-on with the Design team and the Development teams. In future columns, we will show you how specific components and rules in this series are evolving.
The Men Behind the Curtain
When Victory Point Games, the original publisher of this series, was acquired by Tabletop Tycoon, it became apparent that the new owner was not on a trajectory to develop and support a “monster” wargame series, and so the rights were kindly reverted back to the designer, Frank Chadwick, who selected a new publisher/home for this series at GMT Games.
Frank remains the series designer, chief researcher, and guiding philosophical spirit helping keep developer decisions on the rails to achieve his vision for this project.
Assisting Frank directly as both researcher and sounding board is developer Lance McMillan and graphic design, rules guy, and project sparkplug, Alan Emrich. Frank, Lance, and Alan are the guys who brought you VPG’s Campaigns in Russia series, the antecedent of ETO, so the Design Team “band” is still very much together.
Leading the Development teams are its “Vassal Guy,” Ken Keller, whose playtest modules for Thunder in the East and The Middle Sea have been nothing short of stellar, and Gerald “Jay” Johnson, who is coordinating the public playtesting and is the players’ point-of-contact for rules questions and suggestions. Concerning this latter duty,
Alan is particularly grateful that Jay is now handling those constant attention-seeking requests as Alan is trying to focus on “forward” assignments building out the larger ETO series while Jay handles all of the “sideways” (systems review) and “backwards” (corrections and errata) work for materials already out in players’ hands. Thus, we have Alan out “tilling the fields” while Jay is in “minding the store.”
On the ETO project’s Watchword forums (https://www.watchword.biz/eto-support) there is a growing community of communicative players and playtesters where the discussions are promptly addressed by key testers and developers. We pay special attention to these forums, so please join us there!
The Grand Plan
The most significant takeaway from the team’s playtesting of The Middle Sea at ConsimWorld Expo 2019 (besides rebasing the project to GMT) was the realization that, after mating The Middle Sea with Thunder in the East, we have truly given birth to not just a monster game, but a monster series and we had better start thinking more in terms of the entire ETO series than just the individual games in it.
So, instead of the usual cauterizing a game for publication (i.e., wrapping up all its files and sending it off to the art department for layout), we have taken a step back and began a very hard look at every facet of these games (and the unique new rules, counters, and cards each adds) and carefully considering their exact place in “the ETO scheme of things.”