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ETO's Economic Model

ETO's Economic Model

Posted by Frank Chadwick on Jan 1st 2019

ETO’s Economic Model

Reaching for Resource Points

By Frank Chadwick

The ETO Production system is based on the expenditure of Resource Points (RPs). Although they are spent down turn-by-turn (up to a limit of 10% of that RP's reserve or 2, whichever is greater), they are produced (and added to their RP pool) seasonally.

There are three types of RPs in ETO, as listed here:

  • Manpower: Personnel points (PPs) produced by urban population centers
  • Equipment: Equipment points (EPs) produced by industrial centers
  • Fuel: Fuel points (FPs) produced at Oil resource areas

These are described in greater detail below:


Manpower (PPs)

German Personnel Points (PPs)

Every year, a nation generates new manpower equal to about 2% of its total population. It cannot continue to generate that sort of surplus forever (in part, because it is always losing some manpower through natural attrition), but in wartime combat attrition dwarfs natural attrition. In addition, the game does not go on forever, so we don’t have to make a model that works beyond the time span of the game.

  • Each population center (a uniformed person icon on the map) represents an aggregate national population of 10 million.
  • Each 10 million population produces up to 200,000 men of military age per year.
  • Each PP represents 25,000 inductees.
  • Therefore, each population center in the game generates 2 PPs per season while at war; peacetime production is half that.
  • Each Medium (Corps) size Infantry type unit typically costs 2 PPs to build from scratch to full strength, or 1 PP to build at reduced strength or to replace from reduced strength to full strength.
  • Italy is a special case. Its four population centers produce only 1 PP per season while at war and ½ during peacetime. This is because Italy had a very poorly mechanized (i.e., labor-intensive) economy plus it has large numbers of personnel tied down in paramilitary units (i.e., the Fascist Militia and the Frontier Guards) and these produced very little combat power.


Equipment (EPs)

Axis Equipment Points (EPs)

There are a lot of ways of measuring industrial output. We chose production of steel because most military production is very steel-dependent.

  • Each industrial production center (factory symbol on the map) represents an annual output of 2 million tons of steel.
  • Approximately half of all steel produced by all the nations in the war went to civilian infrastructure needs (many of those constitute infrastructure investments necessary for successful military operations and production, like construction and maintenance of railroads, civilian cargo vehicles, riverine transportation of resources, coastal shipping, machine tools for factories making armaments, etc.).
  • The remaining output of each production center amounts to 250,000 tons of steel per season for military use.
  • Each EP represents 250,000 tons of steel.
  • Therefore, each industrial center in the game generates 1 EP per season while at war; peacetime or other disruptions and distractions generate only half that.
  • Each Medium (Corps) size Heavy type unit typically costs 2 EPs (and 1 FP!) to build from scratch to full strength, or 1 EP (and 1 FP) to build at reduced strength, or just 1 EP to replace from reduced strength to full strength.


Oil (FPs)

Soviet Fuel Points (FPs)

Although there are many components of essential fuels in a national economy, the military economy runs on oil: bunker oil for Naval units, gasoline for Motorized units, and aviation fuel for Air units. The aviation industry is less reliant on steel and more reliant on lighter metals, and so we decoupled aircraft production (in the form of aircraft replacements represented by raising an Air unit from the DESTROYED box to the FLOWN box) from steel (EPs) and tied it to fuel (FPs) since an abundance of fuel is generally associated with a robust aircraft industry. This works very nicely in ETO and kept us from requiring a separate "light industry" resource/production value to fiddle with.

  • Each Oil resource area (oil well symbol on the map) represents an annual output of 5 million tons of oil, which is 1,250,000 tons per season.
  • Each FP represents 200,000 tons of oil (or its refined equivalent).
  • Therefore, each Oil resource area produces 6 FPs per season. Once captured, this is permanently reduced by half to only 3 FPs per season for its owner.
  • Fuel Points serve a myriad of functions keeping the mechanized elements of the armed forces (i.e., tanks, planes, and ships) going. See the Build Cost chart below:



About the world’s oil: At the height of the war (1942-44), oil resource areas looked like this:

  • Axis = 2: 1 in Germany (producing synthetics from their coal gasification program) + 1 in Romania
  • Soviet = 3.5: 2 in the Caucasus + 1 Damaged in the Caucasus at half production after the Axis captured it in 1942; 1 in Kuybyshev (not shown on the map) is consumed each quarter by the civilian economy. Most of the Soviet Union's oil comes from a number of wells around the city of Baku, which is just off the east edge of the map in the Caucasus region. To avoid the need for a map extension or a messy rule addition, we shifted its production to Maikop, Grozny, and Tbilisi, none of which would have qualified as an oil producing hex on their own, but together show the value of the Caucasus region to the Soviet military economy.
  • Western Allied = 38 (yes, 38!!): 2 from Iraq + 1 from Iran + 3 from the USA (and that is it for ETO!); 1 in Dutch East Indies + 1 in India + 2 from the USA are fighting the Japanese; 28 from the USA are consumed each quarter by the American civilian economy!

Fuel Production during WWII



What You Learn by Observing the Soviet Economy in TitE

Axis Offensive Points (OPs)

The Soviet production system is a nice window showing how production will work for all of the Nations in the ETO campaign game. In Thunder in the East we simplify the Axis economy by giving them a fixed number of various Resource Points (RPs) each Season (those not used on the other fronts). With the Soviets, however, you get to see the system that actually generates the RPs and what they represent.

As mentioned elsewhere in this guide, we deliberately divided production between three key resources: population, heavy industry, and fuel. The different quantities of resources available dictated the types of armies raised and created asymmetrical forces. Lots of population means lots of infantry. Lots of heavy industry means plenty of armor, naval units, and ammunition (a.k.a. Offensive PointsOPs – provided there is fuel to go with it). Lots of fuel means a more numerous and active Air Force, more potential for motorization, and possibly better logistical support (more Headquarter markers and OPs).



Replacements: Economics Made Easy

Battle for Moscow cover

One goal we set out to achieve was incorporating strategic production into a fairly conventional wargame replacement system (sticking with our Battle for Moscow roots). We wanted there to be a variety of resources but didn't want to have to grapple with producing steel and pumping oil every turn, so we made economic management a Seasonal endeavor. The question became how to keep a player from dumping the entirety of a Season’s production into play on the first turn of that Season without creating a burdensome system for spreading it out throughout those turns. We adopted the “10% method,” with a minimum and maximum value allowed every turn, and that has proven to work pretty well.

Ultimately, the only long-duration manufacturing to deal with in ETO are naval vessels, which take a year or more to build (but that is not a factor in Thunder in the East). The replacement system is also the new unit production system. We don’t care how units got into the Force Pool (e.g., as reinforcements or casualties); it is how many RPs you have available this turn to get them out of the Force Pool and into play that matters.



Putting Disband Back Together

Soviet Early Mechanized Corps

Another critical economic factor in the game is the ability to disband units to recover their manpower and, in some cases, their equipment (but never their fuel). Disbanding at least some of those pre-war Soviet air units, which the initial Luftwaffe Airfields Attack Missions probably moved to the “shot down” box, is a good way to put a few more Rifle Armies in the field. Disbanding the Early Soviet Mechanized Corps in a timely manner gets their troops back and also some of their tanks, maybe to help build up your Shock Armies. One reason the Soviets start with a big chunk of EPs is that those represent scrapping a number of Soviet Battleships and Battle Cruisers under construction since the start of the war in Europe. (In ETO, if the Germans put off invading Russia long enough, those ships will actually appear on the map as finished naval units.)



The Contributions of Lend-Lease

Allied Lend-Lease to Soviet Union

Finally, let me add a word about Lend-Lease. The flow of equipment through Allied Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union during the war amounted to about 16 million ton of goods of all types, including over 400,000 motor vehicles and over 17,000 war planes. The most visible effect of Lend-Lease deliveries was that it enabled the widespread motorization of the Red Army. A subsidiary benefit was the availability of a number of useful aircraft designs not otherwise available to the Soviets (and at a time when they most needed them). The eventual sustained Allied delivery rate of 4 Lend-Lease Points (LLPs) per quarter to the Soviet Union represents the equivalent of roughly one third of Nazi Germany's quarterly military industrial output.


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