Updated: Mar 6
ETO Rules in TITE2 to Get You Going!
TITE2 is our "internal working title" for an expansion kit bringing the first volume's release in Frank Chadwick's ETO: Thunder in the East up to the larger-scope required to best mate with the other volumes currently on the playtest table. For the background on this project, read this previous blog post.
For those new to Thunder in the East on Vassal, welcome to wargaming's equivalent of Disneyland. If you have visited before, there are some new rides and attractions. In either case, we aver that the Vassal playtest module for TITE2 is a work of art you get to touch, play with, and will love.
Streamlining is In The Cards
The Game Turn track now helps power the card engine. That is, just as relocated HQ markers and captured Key Cities have a "cool down" period before they begin functioning again, so too does each card with the "countdown" typically placing it a number of Seasons (e.g., "+1S" means place it one Season ) ahead on the Turn track. So, when in doubt, re-read the card slowly.
The new OOB cards substitute to much of the OOB mats (save for Theater-specific comings and goings). When they enter your Hand there is sometimes a small cost to unlock the larger benefits.
Some cards are placed on the map with a Countdown marker indicating they last multiple turns. In Vassal, just right-click on that cards Countdown marker symbol in its upper-left area to place it instantly. When that Countdown marker is removed, so is that card from the map.
Vassal Features that Delight
Here we will reference of the [tabs] in brackets and clicks that will speed you through play using the TITE2 Vassal module.
The [Units] and [Cards] tabs can give you duplicates or replace that wrongfully deleted unit.
At the end of the line of buttons is [Rail], place your units on the train and you can move the map to unload.
[Staging] provides most of the units you will need as you progress through the game. It is also a good warehouse for units removed from play.
About in the middle of the line is the [Sequence] button. Most players advance their arrow during their turn step-by-step through the Sequence of Play to make sure no advantage is lost such as, "Hey! I get a Guards promotion on the 1st of the Month!".
Right-clicking on a unit, HQ marker, or Supply City gives you its functionality options menu.
The weather markers that go on the Turn track can be right-clicked into cards to show on the map, which is darn handy.
Rules Off-the-Cliff Notes by Jay Johnson
First, exhale. You do not have to read all the ETO rules to start playing TITE2 if you have some experience with TITE. Most of the rules have not changed worth a mention. I will point out some of the larger changes, and you will need to read that entire rules section, but most of the changes are minor stuff that constitutes the bulk of this article. I have presented the relevant bits here to save you a lot of study time. Enjoy!
[126.0] CLIMATE AND WEATHER ** MUST READ Start to Finish **
New weather outcomes and 2d6 Weather table on the [Turn] track and [Rasptitsa] card deck in the Vassal module will require you to peruse their possibilities in the rules book. Rasputitsa and Frostbite are particularly noteworthy, with Winter Preparation cards that can be played to prevent the latter.
[141.1.5] BLOCKING LoCS (and [241.5.1] LAND HQ SUPPLY RADIUS):
Motorized units (only; i.e., those with white Movement Allowances) can ignore the EZOCs of enemy Leg units (only; i.e., those with black Movement Allowances) when tracing an OLoC if the ground conditions are clement (i.e., the weather is Fair, Cloudy, or Overcast, and Rasputitsa is not in effect, per 126.J). This weather exception is a notable addition.
[214.5] WHITE BOLT CORPS:
German Panzer Corps units made up of three Panzer Divisions (14-W-9- receive a special bonus: a white Bolt (hence the “W” in their data listing). At other times, Event cards might also bestow White bolts.
[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. While you may have two or more 14-W-9- Panzer Corps in the same attack as well as added card abilities, you can only receive a maximum of one White Bolt total from all such Panzer Bolts committed to that attack.
[214.5.3] FAIR WEATHER FRIENDS: You can only employ them in clement ground weather conditions: Fair, Cloudy, and Overcast (i.e., when there are no ground movement penalties such as Rasputitsa; 126.J). These are the same conditions as the Blocking LoC change, above, so you only need to remember the "one list."
[127.0] CARDS ** MUST READ Start to Finish **
New card system, return system and new cards.
And note 127.7.1 BLITZKRIEG-Sneak Attack:
It gifts Red bolts now (instead of White bolts)
Muted Reaction- USSR cannot benefit from their Faction’s Major Event cards until the second Month after being Sneak Attacked. See Example: Emergency Mobilization usually used in August'41.
[510.0] OVERVIEW OF OOB ALTERATIONS
You will want to see the visuals here. It shows the unit Border's Key for OOB Cards and Mat:
Solid, dashed, dotted and various colors: Arrive, Improve or Withdraw of the unit. You will quickly grasp this standard symbology once you see it.
[211.0] Minor Heavy (i.e., Small Heavy) Ground unit exerts a Zone of Control (“ZOC”)
[211.2.1] SMALL UNITS: Ignore Small units’ ZOCs during Retreats.
[211.2.2] ALL HEAVIES: Retreating Heavy units (only) may ignore the EZOCs of enemy Light units in the first hex of their Retreat (only). The second hex of Retreat, if it is in any EZOC, always causes a step loss.
[237.0] CLOSE SUPPORT EFFECTS ON COMBAT
A one-for-one correspondence between involved units and CS dice results makes this more straightforward (particularly when teaching new players):
To garner Full Effect, each Heavy (i.e., Armor) symbol requires one Advantaged player Heavy Ground unit participating in that Battle (regardless of its size or number of steps); otherwise, it is a Partial Effect.
To garner Full Effect, each Red bolt symbol requires one Advantaged player Red bolt symbol that endured to support that Battle (e.g., Red bolt Air units that Abort and are thus not contributing their CS dice, did not endure); otherwise, it is a Partial Effect.
To garner Full Effect, each Airplane silhouette requires one Advantaged player CAS Mission Air unit that endured to support that Battle; otherwise, it is a Partial Effect.
Afterward, for each Full Effect garnered, the Advantaged player must Damage (D) the Air unit OR, if already Damaged, it becomes Heavily Damaged (H) OR, if already Heavily Damaged it becomes Exhausted (X) per 330.3. Yes, planes will die. Have some FPs to get them back.
If there is a choice, you must inflict at least one adverse result (either, if more than one is inflicted) on a Vulnerable Air unit in preference to inflicting it any on a non-Vulnerable or Tough Air unit.
[238.0] GROUND COMBAT RESULTS when choosing your own step loss
LEADING STRONG: When selecting your own step loss from a Combat Result, 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.).
[250.0] THEATER RESERVE ** MUST READ Start to Finish **
This is a wonderful, clean new system that eliminates the need for Theater Reserve mats. It's short and simple. This system was previewed here, by the way.
[214.6] ARMY RESILIENCY:
During any Morale Adjustment Step, add 1/2 PP to that nation’s Capital’s RP pool for each Large (i.e., Army-size) unit face-up on the Morale Mat (see 561.1). Meaning it lost at least 2 steps coming onto the Morale mat. This intrinsic resiliency represents their core of collected stragglers after a calamitous combat loss per 238.2.
[323.0] VARIABLE HARDNESS:
Airfields Attacks and (Strategic) Bombing Air Mission targets now have Variable Hardness based on a number of FLAK markers defending their Theater.
[410.0] OVERVIEW OF NAVAL UNITS
Gone is the old TITE naval system. In is the full ETO naval system and units.
Scrap those Ships: The four new Large Soviet Naval units (built before the war and still on the turn track) may be Demobilized yielding 1 PP and 1 EP each. These are no longer "baked in" to the Soviets' starting RP pools.
Fueling the Fleet: The first Capital (i.e., Large size; e.g., BB, BC, CV, etc.) Naval unit a Faction puts to sea that Player Turn is free; each additional Capital Naval unit you put to sea you must immediately spend 1/2 FP from the RP pool where its Anchorage is located. Smaller ships have no required cost to sail.
Ordnance Limit: Shore Bombardment can contribute a maximum one Bolt when supporting a Coastal hex Battle.
Naval Units are much like Air Units. They can be ready to go to sea or depleted (flipped) or in need of repair (flipped and a repair marker). Anchorage capacity or Rush and return units to fighting trim. You will want to make a study of the Naval rules if you really intend to "go there" in TITE2.
[512.3] WHAT FREE STUFF IS GRANTED
As a "free stuff timing opportunity," you may Rush Recover (132.0) planes or ship but in doing so must paying its costs from any RP pool. So the opportunity is free, doing so isn't.
GERMAN KG FREE IMPROVEMENT
The Axis player may improve via Free Stuff German Corps Remnants (KG) in supplied City hexes in German Home Territory (531.0). This will keep your Rail Capacity busy shuttling these bargains to and from the distant front lines.
When its first conqueror’s Countdown marker is removed from that Personnel (Supply) City hex (so, when it becomes officially ruined and, even if recaptures, only produces its hindered value for the duration), the suffering nation (if still fighting) immediately gains 2 PPs (of refugees). Refugees never spawn from liberation, reconquests, etc.
[532.0] SPENDING YOUR RPS:
The maximum spending limit for each RP type during your OOB Phase is reduced from 10 to 8. In most cases, that won't matter at all, but for the Soviets during Barbarossa, this is an important change.
IDMs (Improved Positions) can no longer be produced with RPs. They are not on the build chart. And note that 533.4 clarifies their placement location possibilities.
[532.3.7] “HALF PRICE” EXPENDITURES:
Minor Mobile (white Movement Allowance) units also require a 1/2 FP expenditure to purchase from the Force Pool.
[327.2.2] ESTABLISHING AN AIR SUPPLY DROP:
You must immediately pay 1/2 OP (during your Special Movement Phase while positioning the Air Supply Mission) to take an Air Supply marker from the stock for your Air Transport unit to carry to its Mission hex. When a Transport Air unit carrying an Air Supply marker completes its Mission, place that marker in the target hex.
[532.3.4] SPECIALIST AIR UNITS:
All Air units require 2 Specialist PPs. To place an Air unit from your Force Pool into play is a three-step process which usually takes three months:
Spend 1 Specialist PP + 1 EP and place that newly purchased Air unit, Damaged, in its nation’s Home Territory DESTROYED box with that nation’s Training marker on it. While in Training (i.e., until the Step after it’s Training marker is removed, see below), it:
Spend 1 Specialist PP (on a later turn, when available) to remove its Training marker (which becomes eligible for reuse).
Spend the usual FP cost (during the Aircraft Maintenance Segment of a later turn, when available) to raise that Air unit from the DESTROYED box (per 342.1, #4).
REPAIR AND RECOVERY COSTS FOR AIR UNITS
Air units’ FP repair (of Destroyed) and Rush Recovery costs are 1/2 FP for Minor; 1 FP for Major Air units.
So, the good news is that your Small Air units are 1/2 FP cheaper to mend; the bad news is that it is 1/2 FP more expensive to purchase Small Motorized units from your Force Pool. Be mindful of this!
REPAIR RATE FOR AIR UNITS IN THE DESTROYED BOX
On the first Week of every Month, each nation can repair up to 10% of its Air units in their Faction’s DESTROYED box (typically, this means 1 per Month); nations whose air forces are not Hindered (342.3) can always repair up to 2 of their Destroyed Air units at this time.
In the TITE scheme of things, this means that typically, after the initial Soviet Air Force recovery, each month 2 German and only 1 Soviet Air unit can get back into play from the Destroyed box.
[583.1.D] MYSTERY MECH CORPS:
Dealing with these conversions with all of ETO in mind has resulted in the following:
The Soviet player may Reorganize any number of USSR Early Mech Corps units on the map regardless of their circumstances (unknown units stay unrevealed) during the Soviet Demobilization Step in the following manner:
Replace it on the map with an untried (?-4) Soviet Rifle Infantry Corps unit.
Remove that Early Mechanized Corps unit from play.
You may then select any two different options of the following:
Place an Improved Defense marker (if there is not already one in that hex).
Receive ½ EP if its hex can also trace a (non-Motorized) OLoC (141.1 and 141.1.5).
Receive ½ OP if its hex can also trace a (non-Motorized) OLoC (141.1 and 141.1.5).
See USSR Mobile Forces side B (shown here) for new units when the last Soviet Early Mech Corp is removed from play.
[251.0] PARTISAN Markers
You cannot place a Partisan Detachments on the map via Free Stuff (only, 512.0) if there are fewer than 10 of them in the pool. During your OOB Step, instead of placing a Detachment marker from the pool (perhaps because there are fewer than 10 there), you may “move” a Detachment already on the map.
Recruit: Draw up to two Detachment markers and place them normally, but also within Double Range (i.e., 6 hexes) of the attacked City hex.
Organize: If choosing to draw and place three detachments, the range is 9 hexes.
[251.1.2] PARTISAN UNIT PLACEMENT:
Place Partisan units (Division or Corps) on the map in empty hex that is either:
A Mountain hex (with no other restrictions), OR
A City, Forest, Hill, Sand, or Swamp hex that is also not adjacent to a Ground unit from another Faction.
They can be closer than  of another Partisan piece from their own Faction. They have no “territorial range;” they can be set up next to each other if you like.
If possible, each must be placed within six (6) hexes of another unit from its Faction (even another Partisan unit).
That's the synopsis to get you going. While not comprehensive in covering every detail, it is certainly less than full ETO rules book and should get you pushing virtual counters as soon as possible.
Playtesting and integration with the whole ETO system remains a major focus.
HANDICAPPING and PLAY BALANCE
Your gameplay will change as you gain experience. There is often a large difference of on-map performance between players of differing skill levels (given average luck).
If your Germans are having it too easy, change the numbers a bit by trying one or some of these:
Increase the per turn RP spending cap to 9 or even 10 PPs per turn.
Increase the reward on RESILIENCY to 1 PP.
Grant the Soviets the ability to spend 1/2 or 1 EP each turn to construct 2 or 4 IDMs (Improved Positions).
If it is your Soviets that are getting too many Vodka toasts:
Do not use Resiliency.
Decrease the per turn RP spending cap to 7 or even 6 PPs per turn.