The other OGRE

This announcement isn’t about D&D, but it is about as old-school as you can get.

OGRE Collector's Edition

It's bigger than you, smarter than you, and has more tactical nuclear warheads than you.

OGRE, Steve Jackson’s classic game of cybertanks slugging it out during WWIII, is finally being reprinted after… oh, years and years. It’s a brilliant little boardgame that deserves every bit of praise it’s ever received. SJG is running a Kickstarter project to gauge interest in the upcoming print run, and incidentally offering various goodies exclusive to Kickstarter participants, such as OGRE T-shirts, lapel pins and other funky stuff. (The new edition will also include the companion game G.E.V. — which is like OGRE only without the cybertanks — and elements of the Shockwave expansion set.)

My memories of OGRE/G.E.V. are like those of basic D&D, in that I mostly played solitaire. (So sad!) It’s a mark of the game’s quality that even solo play was more entertaining than many board games were with a full complement of players. I hope I can scrape up enough cash to cover the reprint’s steep $100 cost, because it’s a damn fine game that I want on my gaming shelf for purposes of actual play.

9 Responses to “The other OGRE”

  1. 1 joebloch
    April 12, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Eric, if you’re going to be at Dexcon this summer, I’m running a couple games of Ogre Miniatures there.

  2. April 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I have no experience with OGRE, but I have always been interested. I’m seriously considering dropping the $100 on this Kickstarter. Any more convincing you’d like to do, Eric? I hate to be all “Sell me”, but I’d love to hear more about what made the game so awesome for you.

  3. April 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Like all the best boardgames, OGRE is complex without being complicated, and has lots of replay value. Part of this comes from the game’s fundamental asymmetry — the two sides available to the players are very, very different.

    One player purchases and lays out a small army of infantry units, various tanks (light, missile and heavy), hovercraft (aka ground effect vehicles, or GEVs) and howitzers, all of which are arranged to protect a military command post. The other player has just one unit: the OGRE.

    The OGRE has what’s basically a character sheet, listing all of its various components: treads, antipersonnel guns, light and heavy gun batteries, and missiles. These are targeted individually by the defender’s units. Conversely, the defender has no bookkeeping to worry about; if a unit gets hit, it’s destroyed. Unit stats are simple: attack, defense and movement. Attacks are rolled on a d6 on a chart comparing various attack and defense values, providing a measure of randomness.

    In practice, the game provides lots of tactical options for both attacker and defender, starting with the defender’s choice and placement of units — the latter opening up all sorts of distinctive strategies, such as buying mostly howitzers with interlocking fields of fire, or swarms of GEVs for speed and mobility — and proceeding with a cat-and-mouse game in which the defenders choose whether to focus on eliminating treads (which slows the OGRE down), guns or both, while the OGRE is constantly confronted with the choice of whether to take detours to eliminate defending units or push ahead directly for the command post. Victory conditions range from decisive to pyrrhic, based on whether a victorious OGRE escapes the board intact or on the troop strength remaining to a victorious defender.

    Additional replayability is granted by variant OGRE types. Still more comes from incorporating GEV, a compatible game with troops on both sides, more varied terrain and a variety of new victory conditions. (The one in which a player must defend a train, making sure that it’s not destroyed and the tracks aren’t cut, is particularly interesting.)

    I hope that helps!

  4. April 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Glad to help!

    I should add that even though I haven’t looked at the OGRE rules for over 20 years, I was able to write all that up from memory. That speaks well for the strength and clarity of the game’s design.

  5. 6 joebloch
    April 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Just to emphasize what Eric said, the game has relatively simple rules, but a broad range of tactics can emerge from them. That, to me, is the hallmark of a very well-designed game.

  6. April 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Well put!

    As to DexCon, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it this year, but if I do I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for your OGRE games.

  7. April 13, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Man, $100 is out of my budget for things like this, but I have been keenly interested in OGRE for some time now. Glad to see it is getting reprinted; maybe if it does well the price will come down a little.

    Eric, how long does a typical game take to play out?

  8. April 13, 2012 at 4:08 am

    According to the OGRE boardgamegeek page, average game length is 45 minutes.

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Past Adventures of the Mule

April 2012

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