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ETO Project Update: March, 2019

ETO Project Update: March, 2019

Posted by Alan Emrich on Mar 15th 2019

ETO Project Update: March, 2019

As the Winter Season winds down and players prepare for the Spring Seasonal Start Phase when more turns per Month are in store on the old game calendar/turn track, we want to present you with an update on the state of the Frank Chadwick’s ETO project.

Thunder in the East

It seems that all the Kickstarter backers and later purchasers of Thunder in the East have received their games and are busy fighting WWII’s campaigns in Russia. We are very pleased to hear such enthusiasm for this game and how much fun you are having playing it. We were going for “good times just like old times” and it seems that we really hit that target with this first volume of the series!

However, with so many more eyes on TITE and the hard paces its many players are putting it through, we are grateful to everyone for the wonderful questions that have extended the game’s errata. You can find the latest version here along with a section for upcoming ETO series rules that you can easily retrofit into your TITE game and some playtest rules that we are currently developing. Again, the myriad thoughtful comments from TITE enthusiasts are helping drive development of the entire ETO series forward, and so we are eager to share our work-in-progress with you.

Our Vassal guy, Ken Keller, has released the new 1.1 version of the Thunder in the East vassal kit which is available here. We refer you to the kit's HELP file for all of the changes and improvements and hope to see you playing online games on Vassal.

The Middle Sea

The Middle Sea prototype copyThe second volume of the ETO series covers the Mediterranean Theater and is dubbed The Middle Sea. All totaled (maps, counters, cards, rules, scenarios, etc.) this game is the largest in the series (weighing in at about 50% more content than Thunder in the East). While its development is daunting, there are a lot more ETO enthusiasts now (like you!) who we hope will pitch in and help us bring it along.

One of the most frequently asked questions about it is if it will have “mini games” for, say, just the War in the Desert so you can play with only those maps and counters. The answer is “No.” Chances are you already have plenty of War in the Desert games with a map of Libya and Egypt and all of their inherent tables for the comings and goings for Axis supplies (usually randomized) and Allied ground forces (usually hardwired to a fixed schedule). When you play The Middle Sea all of these things that take place “off the map” in some smaller stand-alone game are on the map in TMS and it will be up to you to decide when to fight the Ethiopian Campaign, send reinforcements to Greece or Crete, whether to actually invade Malta, and how to run the Axis convoys through (or oppose them). When playing The Middle Sea you manage the entire scope of operations in the Mediterranean Theater and make decisions at that level.

This project is currently in alpha (in-house) testing but we are preparing to release a public beta version Vassal circa the end of March 2019 (which will include the majority of its 14 scenarios). Ken has completed the Vassal kit (and we are currently using it internally). The reorganized rules are being edited now (to include their many cross-references which is no small task) and, when completed, we will have a draft version sufficient to get players going and testing out all the interesting new systems in The Middle Sea (in particular, the full ETO Naval System).

Predicting the Future

So, when will The Middle Sea be ready? It is too early to tell. We plan to release this game right, not right now, so we still need to see how it all shakes out in Vassal testing and at ConsimWorld Expo this summer (where the team gathers to play with wargamers from around the world for a solid week). After we assess the state of the project post-ConsimWorld Expo we will be better able to predict its Kickstarter launch date. The end of this year is our hope (but that might be pushing things); perhaps Q1 or Q2 of next year is more realistic. We will see.…

When we launch the Kickstarter for The Middle Sea we also plan to offer a Thunder in the East upgrade kit as an add-on (placeholder art shown here; all currently in playtesting). This was born around the idea of playing a combined game with TMS and so we needed to create the Baltic and Black Sea Naval units and order of battle to integrate things. This will also be our chance to correct a few counters, add (and fix) a few cards, etc. It all needs testing, of course, and Ken will create a Vassal kit soon for us to start doing so. While not settled at this time exactly what will be in it, we are planning only an upgrade kit not a reprinting of original components.


We are also taking more notes for the third volume in the series, Decision in the West. This project will be smaller than Thunder in the East and we are preparing to hit the ground running on it while TMS is at the printer.

Other blips on the ETO radar include getting a Battle for Moscow II game in print for beginners to wargaming and the ETO series. We are also looking at other “Battle for ______” game titles to release as smaller games sliced from the larger series’ maps and orders of battle, but there is only limited time to focus on those while TMS remains our primary focus for this series right now.