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.