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Subject: Possible variant? rss

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castiglione
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One problem that pops up in OGRE is that the strategy of the OGRE and (to a lesser extent) that of the defending player is so transparent. This is because the OGRE's goal is to destroy the CP. The defending player's goal is to thwart the OGRE. So the path the OGRE takes towards the CP is fairly obvious. After a few plays, the management of the OGRE's weapons also becomes obvious. Thus, there is little room for maneuver or for variation of play and success/failure for either side pretty much comes to depend on die rolls.

In order to "see" this problem, imagine a game based on the RAF's defense of England during the Battle of Britain...now imagine that in this game, the target of the Luftwaffe raid is known a priori...and the exact location of the Luftwaffe raid is also known...you also have X number of squadrons at your disposal that you can throw at the raid...seen from this perspective, there isn't much of a "game" here after one figures out that the Luftwaffe raid should move in a straight line to the target and that the squadrons should just swarm the raid and it pretty much boils down to optimizing (in game terms), factors such as how the raid chooses to deal with the squadrons (have the escorts commit to shooting down the Hurricanes or Spitfires) and the composition of one's squadrons (how many Hurricanes and Spitfires).

So I started thinking of ways to "fix" this.

In essence, OGRE is a "raid" game. One player is attempting to destroy the CP (the target of the raid). The other player is attempting to protect the CP. Thus, a variant begins to take shape.

The OGRE player has an OGRE and three dummy counters. He may deploy them as he wishes. The defending player has a CP and three dummy counters. He deploys those as he wishes. Also, his units are deployed face down.

The OGRE players counters (his OGRE and the three dummies) are only "flipped" once they make "contact" (move within firing range) of one of the defending player's units. Conversely, the CP counters (the one true CP and three dummies) are only flipped once the OGRE moves within firing range of one of them. The defending player's units are only revealed once he moves and/or attacks with them.

Now, the path of the OGRE is not so obvious. The OGRE player can attempt to trigger a response from the defending player by probing his face down units with his dummy counters. Depending on how the defending player has deployed his units and his dummy CP's, it may now make sense for the OGRE to take a circuitous route rather than the straight on juggernaut-like charge of old. Conversely, the defending player must reconnoitre the OGRE player's dummy counters to find out which one is the true OGRE and the other one the "false sighting". He's also stuck as to how to distribute his forces to deal with each "sighting" as dispersing his units allows him to identify the exact location of the OGRE fairly quickly but also may mean that his forces may be too dispersed to effectively concentrate their attacks on the OGRE.

A bigger map is probably needed for this variant (perhaps two standard maps mated side by side?) to allow the OGRE and the dummy counters room to maneuver.
 
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Nathan Baumbach
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That's a good ECM/ECCM type of simulation for the OGRE.

Scenario changes and the addition of the GEV elements to the game (such as the OGRE must destroy a train before it leaves the station and the map) and such also contribute to alternate strategies with the OGRE and the small partisan forces.

Also, a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, they made The Ogre Book (http://www.sjgames.com/ogre/products/ogrebook/) with tons of info, stats and scenarios for use in Ogre. It's out of print now - I had to scrounge for a copy. If you can find it, it's a great read and a good way to suppliment your OGRE/GEV games.

 
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castiglione
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Yeah, I always thought GEV was a better game than regular stock OGRE because of the variations in forces and the fact that both sides had multiple units.

When you boil down a scenario to one guy having one unit and having one target and EVERYONE knowing where that target is and EVERYONE knowing where that one unit is, it sort of becomes uninteresting, game-wise...I think the main reason why OGRE has endured despite this is that it makes for a good "story" or "role-playing" experience. However, once you strip away the theme and just look at the game play of the stock OGRE game, it's somewhat lacking.

However, I still liked the original theme so I was thinking of ways to make it more interesting and avoid the "perfect strategy" syndrome; IMHO, a "perfect strategy" is the kiss of death for any game.

As for ECM, after I posted this, I was thinking that the three dummy counters for the OGRE counter could actually be "recon-drones/decoys" (sort of like what the air-force is using now in Afghanistan and Iraq) that are unarmed and easily destroyed AND can be mistaken for the OGRE on "radar" (or its equivalent) but still capable of snooping out how the defending player has laid out his units.
 
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Gary Pressler
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You could do half of this with the Shockwave expansion. That set included counters for various buildings. The backs of them just said "building", but the attacking player would not know which was which until within range.

As for the other half, decoys for an Ogre seem a bit out of theme. I imagine the dust and debris churned up by a distant Ogre would be hard to confuse with a drone. The only way I would enjoy this thematically was if there were drone conn towers. (Kind of like a kid swimming with a fake shark's fin on his back.) Three conn towers are observed peering out of the water. Only one will emerge to reveal an Ogre attached. Or even allow the Ogre player to use a certain number of points which may be spent for one big Ogre and two worthless drones or a couple smaller variant Ogres (Mk I or II).
 
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castiglione
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Well, thematically, you could argue that there's a lot of radiation flying around in the area which would gum up visual sightings (have to do that using video cameras whose images may be full of static and not directly with ones own eyes since you don't want to fry your eyeballs).
 
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Ken H.
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I like the variant -- one of the things that attracted me to the Ogre / Gev system is that it is so flexible and open-ended. Sign of a good game (to me at least) is that it causes you to think of variants and expansions when you play it.

That said, I don't think the Ogre player's strategy is quite as simple as you make it sound. While it's relatively simpler than the defending player's choices, the Ogre player still has a few important choices to make. Depending on the defense setup, you might want to attack towards a particular howitzer or two before you head for the CP. Also, you might try to make use of the Ogre's speed and maneuverability (over the rubble lines) to spread out the defense a little. I remember the old Ogre computer game -- the Ogre would even back up occasionally to pick off stragglers.

The variant is good though -- I'd like to see a session report if you try it. Other variants I remember: 2 smaller Ogres instead of 1 big one, or Ogre + a smallish force of armor units vs. a big defending force. Both seem to address your concern with overly simplistic strategy.
 
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Fraser
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castiglione wrote:
This is because the OGRE's goal is to destroy the CP. The defending player's goal is to thwart the OGRE. So the path the OGRE takes towards the CP is fairly obvious. After a few plays, the management of the OGRE's weapons also becomes obvious. Thus, there is little room for maneuver or for variation of play and success/failure for either side pretty much comes to depend on die rolls.


Given that the defending player's mix of units is variable I do not agree with this base assumption.

For example the plan for an Ogre is quite different when up against:
d10-1 A howitzer heavy force
d10-2 An infantry heavy force
d10-3 A GEV heavy force
d10-4 A no howitzer force

The mix of units in the defending force means that the Ogre's moves and shots will vary depending on the opposition.
 
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castiglione
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Assuming that the player controlling the CP's protectors has more than two neurons to rub together, he's going to group his howitzers around his CP so that their interlocking fields of fire will chew the OGRE to bits. So the OGRE's best strategy is going to be to go straight for the CP and kill the howitzers along the way. But his primary objective is to kill the CP. Killing howitzers and running over terrified infantry and turning them into strawberry jam, while fun, are merely distractions.

Assuming the CP's protectors chooses a very mobile defense and uses a GEV heavy force, the OGRE's best course of action is still to go directly after the CP; if he chooses to chase after the GEV's after they scatter, he's basically "getting played" as his chasing the GEV's willy-nilly is going to result in his getting distracted from his goal which is to KILL THE CP. His best course of action is to move STRAIGHT for the CP since this will: a) move him closer to his final objective, b) move him toward GEV's which have scattered towards the CP (allowing him to kill them if he's in a sadistic mood) and c) move him away from the GEV's that have scattered away from the CP and allowing him to evade them.

Every other type of defense in between is going to have the same optimal course of action - go STRAIGHT for the CP. If you want to kill the CP's protectors, you don't need to go after them - they'll come to you as you charge RIGHT FOR THE CP. They can't stop you if they refuse to engage you.
 
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castiglione
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Boy, my face is RED. I realized there is a serious problem with my proposed variant.

Basically, the CP player can group his CP and dummies closely together and thus revert to the multiple howitzer defense.

Here is my "fix". Have up to five target hexes in which there are CP's - they can not be grouped close together (I have yet to define "close").

The OGRE player randomly chooses ONE of those CP's as his target (he can write it down prior to the start of play). THAT CP is his target. For whatever reason, his side (Combine, Paneuropean, etc.) wants that CP dead.

 
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Kevin Whitmore
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Ogre was released almost 30 years ago, and yet it is still in print and being played. Obviously you are entitled to your opinion, and I'm thrilled to see more scenarios being developed for Ogre; but I side with Fraser - I find the game is not stereotypical. Consider also the game offers various scenarios: Mark III, Mark V, 2 Mark IIIs on attack, a Mark V vs. a Mark III + conventional forces.

Plenty to explore. I think I got my $2.95's worth.

BTW, I'll second the plug for the Ogre Book. Good stuff. I especially enjoyed the convoy over the mountain pass scenario.
 
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Jim U
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Kevin_Whitmore wrote:
Ogre was released almost 30 years ago, and yet it is still in print and being played.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Ogre's been out of print for years and years.

I think the last new Ogre release was over three three years ago. Unless, of course, you count the 2005 Ogre Christmas Ornament, which isn't nearly as much fun as you would think it would be.


I keep kidding myself thinking that Unpublished Prototype is going to be released any day now.

...sob...
 
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Nathan Baumbach
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Completely out of print? I got a copy of Ogre from Warehouse 23 over at SJG's like a year ago. Mind you, it was the OGRE/GEV combo set with counters and maps for both games.

I mean, Ogre/GEV goes in and out of print depending on SJG's fickle production cycle.

I haven't even looked at the GURPS book or the minis.

 
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castiglione
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OGRE's enduring legacy probably has more to do with its cool theme more than actual game play.

Look at B-17. Yeah, it's out of print but it has an almost cult-like following...yet, it's a "game on rails" with no meaningful decisions to be made during the course of play. The reason for its enduring legacy is its cool theme.
 
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Kevin Whitmore
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I guess Ogre/GEV is currently out of print. But according to Funagain, it is "currently being reprinted". I'd guess they wouldn't be accepting backorders if it were not going to be reprinted.

I like Ogre quite a lot. I know GEV has more "meaningful decisions", but for me, the clean rules of one unit per hex, and minimal terrain effects made Ogre instantly accessible. Ogre's theme is powerful, and I agree it is this theme that's kept the game going for years. GEV is a good game, but it goes a long ways towards achieveing a "sameness" with other modern warfare hex & counter games. Its the Ogre that defines this game universe.

 
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Jim U
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Kevin_Whitmore wrote:
I like Ogre quite a lot. I know GEV has more "meaningful decisions", but for me, the clean rules of one unit per hex, and minimal terrain effects made Ogre instantly accessible. Ogre's theme is powerful, and I agree it is this theme that's kept the game going for years.

You make excellent points. The stacking and spillover fire rules never sat entirely well with me. There's a lot more odds-calculation and dice rolling for a single attack. Ogre seems much more elegant in this regard. The Ogre rules play more like a miniatures battle than GEV does; There's no stacking miniatures. Players having to track disruptions due to terrain is another complication introduced in GEV.
 
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Ken H.
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castiglione wrote:
Assuming that the player controlling the CP's protectors has more than two neurons to rub together, he's going to group his howitzers around his CP so that their interlocking fields of fire will chew the OGRE to bits.


That's not how I do it, and I'm pretty sure I have at least 3 neurons. laugh

You set up the howitzers away from the CP, but still within range. You deliberately put them as far OFF the straight path as you can. That way, the Ogre player has to decide: do I go straight for the CP and take continuous howitzer fire, or do I veer off to knock out the howitzer at the expense of needing an extra turn or two to reach the CP.


Quote:
Assuming the CP's protectors chooses a very mobile defense and uses a GEV heavy force, the OGRE's best course of action is still to go directly after the CP; if he chooses to chase after the GEV's after they scatter, he's basically "getting played" as his chasing the GEV's willy-nilly is going to result in his getting distracted from his goal which is to KILL THE CP. His best course of action is to move STRAIGHT for the CP since this will: a) move him closer to his final objective, b) move him toward GEV's which have scattered towards the CP (allowing him to kill them if he's in a sadistic mood) and c) move him away from the GEV's that have scattered away from the CP and allowing him to evade them.


If the Ogre is able to back up to a hex where it cannot be shot on the next turn, it is definitely to its advantage to do so if it can take out a unit in the process. Yes, it's further from the ultimate goal, but there is now one less defender and no additional damage inflicted to the Ogre.

Quote:
Every other type of defense in between is going to have the same optimal course of action - go STRAIGHT for the CP. If you want to kill the CP's protectors, you don't need to go after them - they'll come to you as you charge RIGHT FOR THE CP. They can't stop you if they refuse to engage you.


If they ALL engage you at once, you lose. I remember one game where I overestimated just how tough that Mark V is -- I figured I would just head straight into my opponent's highest concentration of units, and open fire. As you might imagine, it didn't end well.

You need to do a little "fancy footwork" with some left and right moves in order to spread them out a little. Then find the weak spot and plunge in. If you always head straight for the CP, the defender will just put EVERYTHING right in your path.

I really don't think this game would have the reputation it has if the Ogre player had no decisions whatsoever.
 
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Fraser
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I'm with Ken.
 
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same here

people have a tendency to forget that the Ogre isn't just a slow trundling juggernought, its as fast as any other unit save the GEV, and anything that fires on the ogre will be vulnerable to ogre counterattack. the primary principle of the ogre is not "move forward", its "divide and conquer"

The ogre mk 3 can kill/disable about 4 armor points and 4 infantry squads on a given round. Would it make more sense for it to engage the entire enemy force of 12 armor all at once, or flank the enemy and take on first one halve of the enemy force, then the other half. The Ogre has more than enough movement to pull this off.

In short, the ogre wants to continually be in a position where it can take out the majority of forces that would be able to attack it in a given turn, thus minimizing the total damage capacity for enemy forces. If it succeeds at this, it will be able to not only kill the enemy command center, but possible escape as well or even take out the entire enemy army.

the total average firepower for the forces facing a mk 3 is about 56
a mk 3 has 24 attack from its guns, two 6 att missiles, and about 8 effective att with its treads (heh heh). Disables having no effect aren't going to make up that point difference.

divide and conquer for the win
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