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ETO Series Update (2-17-20): TITE2

Seeing is Believing

Ave, grognards! Per our last update, it is now time to share an initial, closer look at Frank Chadwick’s ETO as this project grows in scope from mere monster-size game volumes to a complete mega-monster game series. As with most good stories, we will begin at the beginning, Vol. I: Thunder in the East.

First, a little background: Most people involved with a new game’s release are very anxious when newly minted copies make contact with the customers. The initial feedback, forum postings, and videos shape the all-important first impression onlookers interested in that game will find. This is even more so when the stakes (and the game’s price) are high (as they inevitably are in a new monster-size wargame series). You know it is a nervous time when publishers chew their fingernails down to the knuckle.

The ETO team absolutely believed in Thunder in the East, but would it find its audience?

Much to our relief, the answer was a resounding “yes.” TITE’s impressive ratings on Boardgame Geek and brisk Facebook forum activity are testaments that you are really with us. Consequently, we have sharpened our focus (as told in our previous update, here) and are making sure we paint everything more precisely and further out to the corners of the canvas with each brushstroke. As we explore more deeply into the working features beyond the Russian Front, the greater ETO series is evolving and solidifying. Not surprisingly, some of these changes have rippled back onto Thunder in the East and have us looking at a new project dubbed “TITE2,” which is not so much a second edition of the original, but an update kit to ensure its smooth integration into the larger ETO series universe as this becomes more clear to us. When ready, this will be published separately and offered to TITE owners in a manner that publisher GMT will determine as its exact component list crystalizes.

Not surprisingly, some of these changes have rippled back onto Thunder in the East and have us looking at a new project dubbed “TITE2...

Highlights from TITE2

There are several matters, large and small, that have washed like waves between TITE and ETO as the series has evolved. Allow us to start by listing what we think are the most significant adjustments:

  • Improved Defense markers (IDMs) are no longer purchasable. You receive them principally from Free Stuff and occasionally from cards (where a few more have been added).

  • Air unit repair from the Destroyed box, and Upgrades from the Force Pool, now occur on the 1st Week of each Month only (excluding a few card exceptions, of course).

  • The ETO Axis and Soviet Naval units are presented and the full ETO Naval system is applicable.

Also, of notable significance are:

  • The new weather types and tables including everyone’s favorite for Russia: that’s right, Rasputitsa! There is generally more “go” in TITE2 on the ground, and especially in the air, from the weather. The whole Summer of Barbarossa, the Soviets will be able to Rush Recover their Air units, for example.

  • Variable target Hardness for Airfields Attacks and Strategic Bombing based on the number of Flak markers that Faction has in-Theater.

  • The inclusion of different German Panzer Corps unit organizations and Slovakian minor allies.

  • The reduction of Soviet Airborne Corps to 1-2-4s with a {1} reverse side value and the addition of three useful Soviet Partisan Detachments early in the war.

Finally, other interesting things in TITE2 include:

  • The evolved Dogfight table which includes a new potential “aerial exchange” result: Press.

  • The new card “cool down” system using the Turn Track to show which Season a played card returns to its Faction’s deck.

  • New OOB cards to speed setup time and remove some of the “table footprint” from the OOB mats and include occasional player choices for exploring alternate paths.

  • Some new, and many further-developed, Event cards which better storyboard the war in the east.

Playing is Believing Even More

The proof for every game is in the playing and, while in development, the playtesting.

TITE2 is currently in playtesting and the Dev(elopment) Team would very much appreciate your help. Although physical kits are not being manufactured, the complete playtest kit is available for free, right now, on Vassal, as are the latest ETO rules-in-progress via the official ETO website at Watchword: Official Site; scroll to Vassal TIT2 Playtest section.

We hope that you will download these and share your feedback with us; it is our playtesters’ and proofreaders’ thoughtful comments that have been the wind beneath our wings. Your questions and comments allow us to test our assumptions and add clarity and cross-references to points of common confusion. Our playtest and proofreading volunteers are unsurpassed and many of the great things to come in the Frank Chadwick’s ETO series will owe their origin to you (and we will owe you many thanks).

Our playtest and proofreading volunteers are unsurpassed...

For those of you who instinctively shy away from a computer-assisted board wargame experience such as Vassal, we understand. When we began down the road to make this incredible wargame series, no one on the Design Team (Frank Chadwick, Lance McMillan, or Alan Emrich) were Vassal users. However, our “Vassal guy,” Ken Keller, brought us into the fold by creating a version of TITE so enhanced by his additional programming efforts that it has become a true wonder to play. We have discovered, as you will should you wish to join us on Vassal, a whole new world of fellow TITE players who enjoy this mini-monster wargame online (playing at their convenience and still having table space available!). If you decide to give ETO a try on Vassal, just reach out to our Dev Team on the forums and we will do our part to help get you going!

Of course, the current ETO rules, when you see them, are not yet in “layout” format (that doesn’t happen until just before they are ready to go to press), and appear daunting at first glance. Fortunately, Developer Jay Johnson and the TITE2 Playtest Team have put together this "jumpstart" article for you to move quickly from TITE to the TITE2 Vassal playtest kit. For the rest of you merely curious about what is in store, this article is well worth a look.

Of course, a complete contextual understanding will require some "wargame rules study" to discover its new features and improvements, large and small. The ETO rules book also points to features not found in TITE such as the Naval and Politics systems. We hope that you will join us, as it is our growing family of playtesters’ and proofreaders’ feedback that is helping fine-tune, clarify, and cross-reference the current ETO rules set. We have learned long ago that none of us is as smart as all of us when it comes to perfecting the details of a great game.

In our next update, we will take a similar look into ETO Vol. II: The Middle Sea and how you can see it and playtest it for yourself.

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David Brown
David Brown
Feb 15, 2020

Ken Keller has been so good with the Modules, and this is a beautiful game in so many ways. The change to OOB cards is convenient for the hard copy. I find it is more difficult to get the "big picture" of reinforcements throughout the war with these OOB cards (present in 0.5.5), but one can get something close to this by studying the Faction displays on the 0.4 Module (there have been a few changes, but not many since), or create one's own notes. Some changes are for integration of TITE into the multi-volume series that is being developed; some are based on the discovery of flawed elements; while others are just nifty improvements. This is more complex than TITE,…

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