WARGAME WEDNESDAY: Steve Jackson’s Ogre

Wednesday , 15, November 2017 1 Comment

The fear and awe are immortal, written onto our souls with scarlet ink, of some Great Thing coming for us or what we guard, too big to handle and too strong to fight as it shakes the ground with its coming, and the only hope is that it passes by. Welcome to playing Steve Jackson’s Ogre,where the home team has a collection of scrappy infantrymen, tanks, artillery, and missiles against a juggernaut that does not care about any of them.

I recently purchased the Sixth edition, after reading about the new Ogre digitization that is coming to Steam on October 5th. The game is excellent, especially for introducing new players to the hobby. With only one unit to control on the attacker side of the scenario—the nigh-invincible, massively destructive AI battletank the game is named for—there are fewer but weighty decisions to be made, and the newbie can focus on learning instead of managing from the get-go. The teacher, unfortunately, must watch his men blasted, run over, ground under treads, shot with nuclear missiles, and otherwise slaughtered en masse.

Ogre is a very simple Wargame, but plays to its strength. The two forces play exactly like they’re supposed to, and feel good. Outcomes from the Combat Results Table are exciting because of the incremental damage to the Ogre building up, yet the mechanics are stable and the decisions remain very simple and clean to resolve.

With numerous different scenarios and the ability to provide a handicap by adding more of the almost-useless armor and infantry, or taking away a few, the game takes on a similar feel to poker as far as the setup, or for me personally as a Mechwarrior junkie, the feel of bidding clansmen vying for the maximum honor from a fight. It is extremely flexible, and the website has numerous new scenarios, unit combinations, and support for combining sets of Ogre for massive brawls. It would be difficult for the game to get old.

In my mind, the true genius of Ogre is its accessibility and how comfortable it is on a living room table. While the board is not small, within a few turns it is fundamentally half the size. It has decent value as a spectator game as well, with the impactful incremental dice and what I view as the most unique mechanic: The Ogre itself has weaponry, but it casually and gleefully runs over the other side’s troops. I haven’t seen opposing units occupying the same hex, but it works and is just as clean and clear as you’d expect from a rule-set that has been polished through six editions *cough* Warhammer *cough*

I was pleased with the purchase, and look forward to pulling it out more often. It is very, very nice to know I have a basic, introductory Wargame that can be pulled off the shelf and set up in minutes. The fluff of the game is very interesting as well, primarily the supposition that defensive technologies will outpace offensive ones in the future of war, and yet it does not get in the way.

In an age when it is common for a company to shove product after product out the door, always looking for a big hit release and often only begrudgingly supporting their dustier editions, to see a comparatively light product receive such polish and support and love from a company is refreshing. I certainly appreciated it, as a latecomer to the Ogre party.

What are some games that you’d like to see polished up a bit so they shine in future editions? What are some of your favorite fan-updates and community additions to Wargames?

– Paul A.

One Comment
  • David says:

    I will start with Warhammer, specifically Fantasy Battle, since you mentioned it. Games Workshop has dramatically improved their latest version of the new game, Age of Sigmar, with a reasonably fair re-balancing of points that they released this past August. The basic rules are still only four pages and solid, the complexity is knowing and applying all of the special rules of your models.

    I have also had the chance to play in some 9th Age tournaments, which is basically a fan update of GW’s older Warhammer FB 8th Edition, and that is a cleaned up game with some extra nifty options and a toned down magic phase, though still not well-balanced between units and armies. At least fan updates don’t need to prioritize selling new models over play.

    I haven’t had a chance to try Mantic’s Kings of War but it looks like a cleaned up version of 6th and 7th edition Warhammer FB.

    For Privateer Press and their games of Warmachine and Hordes, they have committed to constant testing and re-balancing of their models, which results in updates to the rules for batches of models every couple of months. I do appreciate this effort at polishing but some veterans of tournament play don’t like it as it makes it harder to achieve system mastery.

    I would love to see an updated and polished version of Dragon Pass, anyone else played that game? The marathon game would take about 15-20 hours to play.

  • Please give us your valuable comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *