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Subject: A Review of “Thunder in the East” rss

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DAVID BROWN
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Thunder in the East is a landmark achievement in game design. It covers the war between Germany and Russia of 1941-45, with six scenarios and a campaign game that can begin at various times. With several turns per month, there is time for maneuver, envelopment, counterattack and logistical planning with a richness that is not possible with fewer turns. The scenarios span two or three months. I have not yet played the campaign game beyond a year, but I must not delay encouraging others to try this game.

Many wargamers do not wish to spend countless hours on “monster games”, and balk at learning games with tomes for rulebooks. If this is a monster, it’s fairly tame. The rules to TITE are clear. So many rules can be ignored if not playing the campaign game(s), and are color-coded. I have spent hundreds of hours on it already, and can strongly endorse TITE on the strength of the Barbarossa scenario alone, which I always extend through Jan. of ‘42, and use the Typhoon scen. victory conditions.

I prefer to think about tactics and strategy, with plenty of interesting and viable alternatives. I do not want luck to dominate a game through a few critical die rolls. Arithmetic calculations are boring when complex. Some chrome is nice, but too much is not fun. Stacks should not get too large. I like beauty. I want important information to be easy to observe on the counters, map and charts. I enjoy recognizing the history in the simulation. On all these points, TITE succeeds brilliantly.

The differences between unit types - armor, motorized inf., infantry, cavalry, etc., - are nicely handled. There is a movement phase both before and after combat. Before combat, infantry have only half of their movement allowance, and none if in an enemy zone-of-control (EZOC), while mechanized units have their full allowance. All units move normally after the combat phase. (Historically, regular infantry needed more time to prepare an assault and to disengage the enemy, as most of you know). The armored ZOC’s are more effective with respect to impeding supply and retreat. Mechanized supply lines can be twice as long, and ignore non-mech. EZOC’s.

The air system is unusual. Air units are kept on a display, where there are different levels of readiness, and are placed on the map when flying missions. The air combat is simple and exciting, and I like the silhouettes of the prominent models. It did not appeal to me until I started playing the game.

The ground combat has the right amount of unpredictability, interesting choices and excitement. The attacker predesignates all attacks, marks the odds, sends air units on missions (often close-air-support). The defender then may fly interceptions and perhaps defensive close-air-support, followed possibly by offensive interception. Then comes an exciting and sometimes anxious moment as both players imagine the possibilities… Several results require the defender to retreat, some which the defender has the privilege of conducting, while others the attacker performs. Some results involve the losing of a step that the owning player decides, while others yield step losses that are selected by the enemy. An “attacker pressed” result allows the attacker to force a retreat if he pays with a step loss. A “defender pressed” result gives the defender the choice of retreating or paying a step to hold his ground. At lower odds, a “defender retreat” is often optimal for the attacker, while at high odds a stack can be eliminated, or even better, a “breakthrough” is possible. Attacking is encouraged by the CRT: the worst result for the attacker requires a step loss of his choice. (I want to say “his/her” but women don’t want to play!) The incentive to attack is realistic and a lot of fun!

The logistical rules are outstanding. Ground units can be in one of three states each turn: supplied, out-of-supply (OOS) or isolated. You don’t want to be isolated, but OOS is merely inconvenient – attack factors are halved, yet defense and movement are unimpaired. Ending your turn within range of an HQ is necessary for being supplied for the next turn. In 1941, there are three German headquarter (HQ) markers. At least two are required to cover your front, but this front needs to move eastward, and when HQ’s are relocated (they do not move, per se) they lose their benefits for three turns. The decision of where and when each goes is critical. Most HQ’s have other functions, including an odds shift to all attacks within range. The Germans often need to press forward beyond any HQ range, usually attacking OOS, or else the Russians can entrench and solidify their front – constant infiltration, which is essential to German success, then would be less frequent and less successful. Air supply is possible for up to two hexes for the Germans in 1941, which is permitted by a most important optional rule. The optional rules can be ignored, except for this one. I do use all the optional rules because they are good, yet they are not essential.

There are two reasons why this game may not be for you. If you are new to wargames, you should start with smaller, shorter (in playing time) games with less rules. If you lack the space for 50 inches by 44, and either cannot or will not use the excellent vassal module to play this on your computer, pass on this.

This game is good for face-to-face play because it flows well, once players have some experience. It is well-suited to solitaire (most of my gaming in 45 years has been solitaire, so I know). I really like using the module with e-mails, since I enjoy thinking slowly and deeply about my moves, and interaction is only necessary twice per player turn. Movement trails can show you where units began moves, and a few notes or markers can indicate resource-point expenditures.

There are numerous other features that I could praise, but there is a lot that you can read about this game elsewhere.
I wish to express my gratitude for a design that amazes and delights me. Thank you Frank, Lance, Alan and ETO team! I am excited about the other games of this wonderful system that will be available in the coming years.
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Gerald Johnson
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Good Game, Good Review!
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Alek P.
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Lovely write-up.

Darn women who don’t wanna play wargames
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john douglass

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Dave, good job!!
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DAVID BROWN
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I guess I fixed the flaws you tactfully identified. Thanks also for teaching me how to submit. Everybody should have a "John Douglass" for a friend.

BGG readers please forgive me if the above comment does not belong here, and let me know. At this point, I know I am nobody special in the gaming community. Any of you can submit a review. We are fortunate to have BGG!
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Russ Williams
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Glad to read positive things about the game. It sounds cool. I was tempted by it, but did not acquire it in the end (partly because the full map is too big for my table, heh). Maybe one day.


PS: At the risk of opening a can of worms... There certainly are women wargamers (and here at BGG I often see male wargamers mention wives, girlfriends, daughters with whom they play wargames, e.g. Chick Lewis and Donna playing Combat Commander hundreds of times, to name only one example of many I've seen.)

But I can understand why women wargamers often remain less visible and don't participate in wargame forums very much; it could be a bit discouraging and frustrating and unwelcoming to read (male) wargamers over and over write that women don't play wargames, write comments addressed specifically to "gentlemen", and that kind of thing. :/
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DAVID BROWN
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Thank you Russ. I will start writing "his/her" (God, I hope I remember). Most of my favorite people have been women, for some reason, and I would be a complete mess without them.
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Larry Doherty
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I enjoyed the write up Dave, thanks.
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Karen Hughes
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Dave Brown wrote:

I want to say “his/her” but women don’t want to play!

Well, this woman is looking forward to playing TITE as soon as I can make the space for it!

Great review - I really appreciate you including the gameplay hints.
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Mike Anthony
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# of Plays is totally out-of-date. Does anyone actually keep it up-to-date?
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Excellent write up. I've been trying to decide which optional rules to use or not for my first stab at Barbarossa. I will probably go with your suggestion of using Air Supply Missions. Possibly also Theater Reserves.
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YM C
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I only got some experience in TOAW PC games. So yeah, I'm new to board wargames
Still crawling on rulebook. Forgive me...
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Michael Monaghan
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Nice write up. I've been looking at this one too, but the rules, charts, cards, turn sequence, etc. seem daunting. I think I'm gonna wait until there are more user recommendations.
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mtm256 wrote:
Nice write up. I've been looking at this one too, but the rules, charts, cards, turn sequence, etc. seem daunting. I think I'm gonna wait until there are more user recommendations.
A sensible course of action but if there's one thing I've learned since returning to wargaming a few years ago, it's that the line between early adopter and waiting-for-the-next-printing-which-may-never-come can be annoyingly thin.
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Terry Lewis
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"But first, the children ought to be fed." -- Virginia Held (1980) from "Property, Profits, and Economic Justice"
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David, a well written review with but one gaffe and one puzzlement.

The gaffe [edited 1/25/19]: the remark about women not playing such simulations shake. I know that a number of women play historical conflict simulations ["war games"] -- look for their BGG posts, reviews, AARs, and file submissions!

The puzzelment: Why should one have to use a computer to enjoy a board game!? yuk In my 50+ years in the hobby I have never needed a computer [except for PBEM] to enjoy a simulation, many of them larger and more complex than TitE!

But back to the rest of your review -- I have been following TiTE for sometime since WWII East Front has long been one of my favorite military genres for study and collecting/playing historical conflict simulations. Until now TitE has been a "maybe" for adding to my collection of WWII East Front games, if I could justify adding another one. Your review has nudged me into the "probably" category.

Thanks David, for the fine review [minus the gaffe and the push for the necessity of a computer]!
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Derek H
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TCLCATSPAW8MCHS wrote:
The puzzelment: Why should one have to use a computer to enjoy a board game!? yuk In my 50+ years in the hobby I have never needed a computer [except for PBEM] to enjoy a simulation, many of them larger and more complex than TitE!
You've never come across VASSAL?! A boon to Previously Lonely Wargamers everywhere (aka "Don't knock what you vave not tried").
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Derek H
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Imaginary Star wrote:
Lovely write-up.
Darn women who don’t wanna play wargames
Is that why you have not rated it yet?
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DAVID BROWN
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Terry,

Please forgive me for being ignorant/naive and unaware of how my "his/her" comment could disturb anyone, especially women. I was confused, but after thinking and talking to people it seems that a woman could feel ignored or discounted ("what about me?!"). Is this your concern? It seems stupid of me not to consider that if just one woman might be into this type of game, I should have said "his or her". Honestly, I can be so STUPID at times! The fact that I respect women and men equally in my mind and heart does not excuse inappropriate behavior. Thank you for calling me out on this.

As for playing online, it saves set-up time, allows records of moves or games that interest us, saves space, can have helpful graphics to name some reasons. I own the beautiful hard copy but don't know if I can play it due to being visually impaired. I love games like No Retreat 1 and 4, which are smaller and attractive, and rolling dice and moving actual pieces. So many happy off-line memories!

I have not been online long, so I have not had the pleasure of seeing the threads that would have indicated the welcome presence of women. I am just getting started.

I humbly apologize to any of you who were or are offended by any of my remarks that make you feel excluded or disrespected. I welcome your remarks and want to learn,I really do!
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Terry Lewis
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Dave Brown wrote:
Terry,

Please forgive me for . . .

As for playing online, it saves set-up time, allows records of moves or games that interest us, saves space, can have helpful graphics to name some reasons. I own the beautiful hard copy but don't know if I can play it due to being visually impaired. I love games like No Retreat 1 and 4, which are smaller and attractive, and rolling dice and moving actual pieces. So many happy off-line memories!

I have not been online long, so I have not had the pleasure of seeing the threads that would have indicated the welcome presence of women. I am just getting started.

I humbly apologize to any of you who were or are offended by any of my remarks that make you feel excluded or disrespected. I welcome your remarks and want to learn.
Excellent clarifications!

Dave, I did not think your "gaffe" was intentionally negative in any way. I thought it was probably unintentional, as is a phrase in the Jacob Bronowski quote in the Prologue of my BGG Profile page [which I address in that context]. But I did think the "gaffe" was important enough to mention so there would be no misunderstandings -- such a response on my part is ingrained from 3.5 decades of teaching courses involving social issues and ethics. Four gamers commented above on this "gaffe" -- two women and two men in total (I think) ! Just recognizing that women are gamers too is all that is needed, in my opinion.

I am pleased to hear your discussion of how helpful computer simulations can be for you -- it would definitely be difficult to play board games without it in your situation. It is good that you have found this tool to enhance your enjoyment of this [in my opinion] very rewarding hobby.

The hobby of collecting and playing historical conflict simulations ["war games"] and BGG is richer for having you as a participant -- more power to you!! I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!!!

Cheers!

terry
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Terry Lewis
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"But first, the children ought to be fed." -- Virginia Held (1980) from "Property, Profits, and Economic Justice"
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gamesbook wrote:
TCLCATSPAW8MCHS wrote:
The puzzelment: Why should one have to use a computer to enjoy a board game!? yuk In my 50+ years in the hobby I have never needed a computer [except for PBEM] to enjoy a simulation, many of them larger and more complex than TitE!
You've never come across VASSAL?! A boon to Previously Lonely Wargamers everywhere (aka "Don't knock what you vave not tried").
Derek, I know about Vassal and other computer programs for board games. I spent way too much time with computers in my two professional careers for several decades. So now in retirement from the work-world I just want to push the cardboard around!!! I guess I'm just an old fashioned Grognard!!

I'm basically a solo gamer these days [by choice], but not lonely at all. In fact, we are still so busy on our small farm, and with sport and cultural events at the university that I really don't have as much time for cardboard pushing as I would like!!!
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DAVID BROWN
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Terry,

I just read your the bio in your user profile. I am so glad you are a
member of BGG. Thank you again for enlightening me. Best wishes!
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Derek H
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TCLCATSPAW8MCHS wrote:
gamesbook wrote:
TCLCATSPAW8MCHS wrote:
The puzzelment: Why should one have to use a computer to enjoy a board game!? yuk In my 50+ years in the hobby I have never needed a computer [except for PBEM] to enjoy a simulation, many of them larger and more complex than TitE!
You've never come across VASSAL?! A boon to Previously Lonely Wargamers everywhere (aka "Don't knock what you have not tried").
Derek, I know about Vassal and other computer programs for board games. I spent way too much time with computers in my two professional careers for several decades. So now in retirement from the work-world I just want to push the cardboard around!!! I guess I'm just an old fashioned Grognard!!
Terry, apologies. I also spent too much time in front of a screen so I know what you mean. I guess solo-gaming is the way to go if there are no other, live opponents nearby?
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Terry Lewis
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gamesbook wrote:
TCLCATSPAW8MCHS wrote:
gamesbook wrote:
TCLCATSPAW8MCHS wrote:
The puzzelment: Why should one have to use a computer to enjoy a board game!? yuk In my 50+ years in the hobby I have never needed a computer [except for PBEM] to enjoy a simulation, many of them larger and more complex than TitE!
You've never come across VASSAL?! A boon to Previously Lonely Wargamers everywhere (aka "Don't knock what you have not tried").
Derek, I know about Vassal and other computer programs for board games. I spent way too much time with computers in my two professional careers for several decades. So now in retirement from the work-world I just want to push the cardboard around!!! I guess I'm just an old fashioned Grognard!!
Terry, apologies. I also spent too much time in front of a screen so I know what you mean. I guess solo-gaming is the way to go if there are no other, live opponents nearby?
There is an active gaming group nearby -- I have interacted with them via email on an going basis over the past two years, and even know some of the gamers personally. They often meet in nearby communities where I had been a planner, and another nearby community where I had lived and taught at a university, and another nearby community where I taught at a college which became a university. One of the gamers has even offered to come and play FTF here at our small farm in the foothills of the Cascade Moutains, but I am in the midst of remodeling my game room and building new game tables with vaults and removable tops -- which means its a mess and I can barely get in myself to do some solo gaming! And our crazy busy schedule has had conflicts with the group's gaming weekends.

Did some PBEM gaming a year or so ago -- mixed results -- opponents dropped out and I finished solo. For example, see my pics and posts on Reinforce the Right! [1996; Decision Games (I); S&T #180; Joseph Miranda].

So exclusively solo it is for now!
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Karen Hughes
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It is interesting to see the discussion of VASSAL. I'm with Terry in that (while generally a bit of a geek) I find it much more satisfying to be sitting at the table moving counters.

But I can understand the attraction of VASSAL especially in quick setup and ease of playing a monster game. And space can always be an issue in the small house we tend to have in the UK!
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james vaughan
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Please don't start writing his/her. It unnecessarily slows down reading comprehension. Many have communicated that it acts as a "speed bump" when reading. The following is a quote from page 64 of the title "Fumble Rules", A Lightheated Guide To Grammer And Good Usage. It states that "The male pronoun embraces the female" is a nonsexist standard that should be followed by all humankind.
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Derek H
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scurvybuffdog wrote:
Please don't start writing his/her. It unnecessarily slows down reading comprehension. Many have communicated that it acts as a "speed bump" when reading. The following is a quote from page 64 of the title "Fumble Rules", A Lightheated Guide To Grammer And Good Usage. It states that "The male pronoun embraces the female" is a nonsexist standard that should be followed by all humankind.
And many people disagree that is the case. I think people should be free to use the style they think best (and be aware that at least one other person will be offended by the style they have chosen).
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