ON THE TABLE: G.E.V. with Ogre Designer’s Edition

Wednesday , 11, October 2017 Leave a comment

Yes, Ogre: Designer’s Edition is too danged big. Lugging that giant overproduced kickstarter game is a major hassle. And I don’t use half the stuff in it. I use the classic counter set instead of the colorful new pieces. I don’t bother to get out the fancy 3D pieces. I don’t even use the new units from Shockwave– the Light GEV, the Superheavy Teank, the missile crawler, and the laser tower. And as much as I love the four supersized geomorphic map sections, I really only need one: the original map sheet from the classic late seventies MicroGame, G.E.V.

There is no other game that packs so much into so little.

  • Woods hexes slow down Light Tanks and Missile Tanks. Heavy Tanks blunder through them like the trees aren’t even there. And infantry…? The get double defense in there!
  • Rivers subtly impact the overall topology of the map, making it much harder for the speedy G.E.V.s to leverage their maneuver advantage.
  • Infantry are something you simply cannot afford to park your units near. In overrun attacks, they not only get double attack value. Their squads count as separate units making it possible for them to keep fighting after they take their first hit.
  • Combined with difficult terrain, an infantry screen, and a movement point the howitzer becomes an entirely different sort of threat!
  • Compared to Ogre, stacking and spillover fire rules add a whole new dimension to the gameplay, multiplying the number of movement options available.

It’s rich. And the scenarios? They’re some of the best ever put together in hobby gaming history. In “Breakthrough” a group of ten G.E.V.s must run the gauntlet provided by a small defense force and a set of challenging terrain obstacles. In “Raid”, it’s ten G.E.V.s attempting to cause as much property damage as possible as reinforcements gradually making sticking around a losing proposition.

They’re the sort of games you can play a dozen times just to get the hang of all of the nuances of the rules… and then you can play them a dozen more just to try out all of the strategies. Yeah, you could double the number of mapsheets and throw in twice as many counters with half again as many unit types. Me…? I just keep coming back to seeing what ten little G.E.V.s can do on this one iconic mapsheet.

It’s just so exhilarating. Everything feels exposed. Nothing can threaten anything else without risking total destruction. And every move carries with multiple risks and trade-offs. That group of G.E.V.s weilds so much firepower… and yet they can be whittled apart so quickly. And yet again… they concentrate on a weak point, break through the lines, and lay waste to the field.

It’s a masterpiece of game design. And yeah, there’s a lot else you could do to change things up or make a fancier game. But at some point, the law of diminishing returns sets in and you’re better off seeing yet again how many G.E.V.s you can move off the board or how many city hexes they can burn down.

For the amount of time and attention it takes to play it out, there really is very little in gaming past or present that can compare.

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