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Subject: Playtesters first look at TITE rss

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Paul Lucuski
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Trenton
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Note: This introductory review is using play testing components and rules. These may change in the final product.

A MONSTER THAT IS NOT A MONSTER

This is how I would identify Thunder in the East after play testing it for 3 games. I will explain my comment at the end of the review.

Components: A 50x48" map, 14 player aids, including both Axis and Soviet player maps, Axis and Soviet reserves mats, 2 each of double sided terrain effects, air and ground combat results, and turn sequence/morale effects. There are 7 cards summarizing weather effects and 17 event cards. Also there is a mat for holding enemy losses to aid in figuring the morale losses. 3 Sheets of the usual Victory Point Games laser cut counters in various sizes and shapes are included. There is a 69 page rule book and a 20 page scenario book.

Sequence of play: There are 3 different sequences-Season, monthly, and weekly.

The season sequence is used between the 4 seasons in the game. Factions can gain morale, pick new event cards, adjust factories, and gain resource points.

Resource points are the economic currency of the game. Personnel points are received by controlling certain cities are are used for building leg units, among other uses. Equipment points come from factory cities and can be used to build heavy ( think armor) units, while Fuel points come from controlling oil fields and are needed to repair air units. There are other uses for these points that are listed on the summary chart. The Axis player usually receives a set number of these points unless Soviet resources are captured while the Soviet player loses these resources when certain cities are lost.

Monthly sequence: Morale can be affected if resources have been bombed. Repair of resources happens. Any reinforcements or withdraws occur. Each side can select 1 of their event cards to play any time during the month.

Weekly turns: Axis goes first, then the Soviet player.
1. Logistics: Opponent's supply state is determined
2. Air unit are repaired and recovered
3. Determine headquarters mode. Balance HQ gives a longer supply radius while Attack gives a increase in attack odds at a smaller supply radius and a cost in resource points.
4. Special movement phase. Heavy units can move their full movement points while foot units that do not start in a zone of control can move 1/2 of their movement points.
5. Combat: All combat must be declared at this point. Both aides then can add air to aid in the attack or attempt to disrupt the other sides air missions.
6. Regular movement. All units can move but must stop when entering a new ZOC.
7. Repeat process for the Soviet player.

Scenarios: There are 4 included at present: Barbarossa, Campaign, Operation Uranus, and Operation Citadel. We are only play testing Barbarossa at present so that is the only one that I can comment on.

Barbarossa starts June, week IV and ends September week IV for a total of 13 turns. Set up is fairly easy. Even though the starting forces are divided into groups, i.e. Army Group North, they do not have a specified area in which they must be located. In a question to the developer I understand that all hexes next to the starting line must contain a unit or its ZOC. Making it easier even though the units have designations on them all units of a certain type are identical so one does not have to sort through the counters for a specific unit.

How to win: The Axis player can win in 1 of 3 different ways. He can capture Moscow, reduce Soviet Morale, or capture cities. So far I have not come close to doing either of the 1st 2 but have captured enough cities to get a slight victory.

A MONSTER THAT IS NOT A MONSTER

This is not a difficult game to either learn or play. The physical size is large and may be a deterrent for some but is it not a game with little used esoteric rules used once in the game. Even though the rule book is large many pages are partially empty, the print is large, and both sides of each page are blank leaving space for examples of play. The turns flow smoothly and after reading the rules twice I can play the game just using the player air card.

Another reason that I do not feel that it is a monster is that there are not a large number of units. Even though is certain cases up to 3 units can be stacked together in reality most times there is just 1 unit in a hex. Because movement comes after combat there is not the trying to get perfect odds found in some other games. Except for heavy units the player is locked into place before combat. So the player spends his time working on strategy and not factor counting.

A third reason is the lack of special rules. This is taken care of by the event cards which can be played once a month. An example of an event card would be a Soviet card that would enable the player to do one of the following: Add 12 improved defense markers or ignore retreats, or reduce morale loss or upgrade a unit to guard status or add partisans to the map.

Aim of the game: In emails from the developed (Lance McMillan) he stated that logistics should drive the game. I feel that the game achieved this goal. It requires resource points for almost everything that you want to do and of course there is not enough, especially for the Axis to accomplish everything. Should I build or repair ground or air units, build headquarters, put headquarters in attack mode, build fortifications, increase air defense, etc? Also the Axis can easily out run their supply so that the headquarters have to be removed from the map to relocate 3 turns later. When to do this is a important decision for the Axis player.

Is this game for me? I have played many World War II games starting with Third Reich and going through World in Flames and Unconditional Surrender, among others. This system just seems to flow smoothly and leaves me with the feeling that I am determining strategy and not fighting the system. At its core it is really a simple system to understand even though there are a number of different concepts. The only thing that I feel may hinder someone from playing the game is the size of the map plus assorted charts and the time involved. Playing solo right now it is taking me about 25 minutes per turn. If you are interested in the Eastern front in a highly playable, visually appealing system I highly recommend Thunder in the East.

Note: there is much more to this game and I am sure that I left out many things but hopefully this brief review will give you an idea about this game.





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Alan Emrich
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We have the rest of the scenarios in for playtesting now. Here is what you will receive with THUNDER IN THE EAST:

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. OPERATION BARBAROSSA SCENARIO 3
2. OPERATION TYPHOON SCENARIO 8
3. OPERATION BLUE SCENARIO 14
4. OPERATION URANUS SCENARIO 19
5. OPERATION CITADEL SCENARIO 24
6. OPERATION BAGRATION SCENARIO 29
*. BATTLE FOR GERMANY SETUP 34

When all of FRANK CHADWICK'S ETO is published (THE MIDDLE SEA, OVERRUNNING THE WEST, and FIRE IN THE NORTH), each of these scenario start times will link with the other games so that you can set up all of Europe on those turns and start playing from that point.

Alan Emrich
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Erik Stonemark
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Sounds like a awesome system, I like the look of the map, any timeline on release dates? Just curious.

Thanks,
Erik
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Alan Emrich
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Quote:
I like the look of the map


And that's just the "designer graphics" version of the map!

Quote:
any timeline on release dates? Just curious.


We're hoping to launch the Kickstarter next year after ConsimWorld Expo, where we plan to shoot plenty of video of the game (and alpha test the second game in the series, THE MIDDLE SEA).

Alan Emrich
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