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Subject: Ogre! Ogre! OOOOGGGGGRRREEEE!!!! rss

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Jim Stoker
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I am not going to make any effort to write an unbiased review of Ogre. It (along with "Raid on Iran", to date myself) was the first game I ever bought. I could afford to buy a game! I was pumped. When my friends and I broke it open and started playing, we had no idea how lucky we were. We loved it, sure, but not just because it was our first wargame, or because it was simple:it is a great game. I lost my copy years ago, and have often flirted with the idea of ebaying another one, even placing a few bids. I never won, though, and never really expected to. However great the game, I couldn’t see spending the going rate for it on something I didn’t have any opponents for.

Now, two things have happened. First, there is constant rumor that Steve Jackson Games in going to release the sixth edition of Ogre. Not a little pocket game this time, sorry 12 year olds, but happily not a money-sucking miniature-painting game, either. A board game. Second, a friend unexpectedly sent me an email saying he had the chance to buy an old copy, would I be willing to play it with him? Hell, yes! So what follows is the review of my first Ogre session in 25 years, give or take. To get to the point:if I could give it an 11, I would.

In case there is anyone out there who doesn’t know, Ogre is a simple wargame. One side plays one unit, the Ogre, a super-tank. It has components which attack and are attacked separately: heavy cannons, light cannons, missiles, treads (which determine its speed). The other player has a more traditional army: heavy tanks, howitzers, infantry, etc. Each piece (or Ogre weapon) has an attack strength, defense strength, range, and movement speed (for the army pieces). Movement is done on a simple and small hex map, with terrain limited to craters (no one can cross), rubble (infantry and Ogres can cross), and clear. The combat system involves throwing one six-sided die. Scenarios are of the "Ogre must kill command post, other side must stop Ogre" variety. Games are maybe 30 to 60 minutes.

The rules can be picked up in five minutes, ten if you are drinking. One side (newbie if there is one) takes the Ogre, the other side decides what combination of armor it wants (each counts as one armor point except howitzers, which count as two, depending on the size Ogre you are facing you have a limit), places the command post, sets up his pieces, and the game begins. One side moves, fires, the other side moves, fires, and so on.

Why do I love this game? In an old career, I was a business consultant. Our mantra was 80-20:given the tight deadlines we operated under, our goal was to find a way that we could do 80% of the work in 20% of the time. Never get bogged down on things that, while possibly beneficial, do not have huge value, as you clients are paying too much for your time. To me, Ogre is the perfect 80-20, or more likely 90-10 wargame. You get 90 percent of all the things you get from wargaming with 10 percent of the effort. For example, consider the armor selection. You have the slow, tough guy (heavy tanks), the fast, light-hitting guy (G.E.V.’s), the ranged-but-fragile guy (howitzers), and fodder (infantry). They even have missile tanks, for variety. What else do you really need? How many wargames have offered the same basic selection of troop types with 10 to 50 times the rules? Yes, it is simple, but the heart of the matter is there. And, to me, particularly as my life gets more demanding, simple is more than just a good, it is something of a necessity. I don’t have the time I once had to pour through endless rulebooks to memorize tiny details that are critical in gameplay. I want to focus on strategy, not detail. Ogre lets me do that.

Of course, as Ogre’s popularity increased, sequels were release, the most prominent being G.E.V., which is basically Ogre without Ogres (or at least without a focus on them). This had more terrain rules, and more complex combat rules (ah, for a sequel that eliminates rules!). My friend considers it superior to Ogre; not surprisingly, I do not. It is a terrific game as well, though, and probably necessary for people who were looking for something to do after their hundredth Ogre game. I hope I get there at some point, but for now, pass me the Mark III and look out.

On the off chance that anyone from Steve Jackson Games sees this, two things:

1) Thanks! Great game.
2) Please bring it back! It has such a niche in the wargaming world, there is nothing quite like it. Don’t delay!

Ogre! Ogre! OOOOGGGRREEEEEE!!!!!
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Christopher Brandon
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Could not agree more. Hands down OGRE (and GEV) remain my most played war games. I have a garage stacked with games and yet OGRE/GEV remains my go to whenever I want to war game. Simple to teach, simple to understand and simple to play. Yet for all of that simplicity, the core tactics and strategy are always a challenge. I have purchased other company's war games just so I could loot the maps to expand the battlefields we war on.

I have a 8.5 x 11 x 3 plastic lock box that contains this much joy:
ogre/gev rules
8d6
ogre map
gev map
shock wave maps
4 additional war game maps (island, arctic, jungle, ww2 europe)
white/ black ogre/ gev counter set
russian counter set
US counter set
royal army counter set
Scandinavia counter set
alien bug counter set

I've got a fevah, and the only cure is more OGRE! C'mon Mr Jackson make it happen captain, put some more OGRE/ GEV goodness out there!
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j b Goodwin

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I agree with both of you. One of my first wargames, still one of my favorites of all time, and one I will be willing to buy time and again. What a story! What a game!
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Bern Harkins
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Yesss....

Still one of my favorites! Really demonstrates that design decisions matter. This one hit a real sweet spot in the possible-games phase space... playable, replayable, short and sweeeet.
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Nate Merchant
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Hmmm. I have a VHS case of Ogre/GEV that I've put up for trade because I don't want to take the time to carefully cut each and every counter out of its sprue. You guys would, I'm sure, say I'm crazy. Yes?
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Jim Stoker
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Don't do it! Give it a chance. A wonderful game.

edit: and, sadly, I don't have anything you want! But seriously, play the game.
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Todd Pytel
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Natus wrote:
Hmmm. I have a VHS case of Ogre/GEV that I've put up for trade because I don't want to take the time to carefully cut each and every counter out of its sprue. You guys would, I'm sure, say I'm crazy. Yes?

Comments like this make me want to wallop Steve Jackson over the head, yelling "If you build it, they will come!" I know he wants to get it published, I get that... but jeez, this game would sell like hotcakes if you could 1) buy it, and 2) get better than dollar-store components. It's got to be possible to get this game back on the shelves.

Nate - I don't think you're crazy, exactly. Who wants to deal with flimsy chits that blow away when you sneeze? Short of custom-making your own counter set, there's no version of this game available that provides what BGG'ers want - a simple, durable, reasonably-priced game. The minis version is over-the-top, the "Deluxe" cardboard version is dated and ugly, and the original versions are dime-store cheap. And all of that is truly unfortunate, because OGRE is easily one of the best hex-and-counter games ever made. It's the first game I would reach for if I wanted to introduce someone to hex-and-counter wargames despite the non-historical theme. And for veteran wargamers, it still provides a surprising amount of depth in a very small, fast-playing package.

Build it, Steve!!! They will come!!!
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Nate Merchant
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OK, you guys win. I'll find some way to slice the counters cleanly.That's all that's stopping me, but it's a BIG roadblock. X-acto + steel edge + mat, here I come...
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Chuck Turnitsa
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Newport News
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If Wargaming is a Disease, then Ogre is the Cure!

OGRE
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Davido
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Even if there aren't any line of sight restrictions, the terrain mods did a great job of simulating the classic feature of the 900 pound gorilla of the era-Panzerblitz/Panzerleader's "panzerbush syndrome". Seriously, a great game that I played nearly every other lunch period (along w/ Steve Jackson's other opus-lite classics Melee/Wizard) for a couple of years in High School.
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Michael Ptak
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Ever since seeing Ogre mentioned in the Complete Book of Wargames at my local library I wanted to have a copy. The more I learned about it, the more desirable it seemed. Here appeared a game that was simple to teach beginners, desirable to get them to play (you take the super tank, I'll be the hordes of weaklings), and best of all a way to play the old hex-and-counter wargames without making people flee (Federation and Empire didn't go down so well).

But it's out of print. I got some of the miniatures since I liked the armor, and I etched out a small force... but where were the rules? The miniatures rules weren't satisfactory, since I wanted to count hexes instead of inches and I wanted it in a simple format (Boards are easier on newcomers than miniatures play... how many carry rulers around?).

Once upon a time the game was called 'almost disposable' and now it's impossible to find.

I really hope the new edition of Ogre comes out, and in such a way that I can throw a copy in my truck/pocket/laptop bag and pull it out when someone wants to play a quick game.
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Dave Nadig
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Heroscape tiles make a perfect ogre board for the minis. Just sayin'.
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Jay Duval
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Ok guys begin drooling now, I have a complete copy of the original boardgame version of Ogre. I have the complete miniatures set with all addon and the tiny miniature version of ogre/GEV where ogre was printed on half the book you flip it over and read GEV on the backside.

My all time favorite is the boardgame, cardboard stand ups with plastic slide in bases and all the ogre weapons and armor marked on the top of the board. Still one of my favorite games of all times.

I recently introduced my non-wargaming game group to Ogre and they love it. Another game to consider if you like Ogre is Tactics II, easy rules complex game chit and board game. Red team against blue team no factions no historical references, not even weapon comparisons. Straight up strategy game where if you play your odds right you'll do well.

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The Real Stabliser
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Well, if all the previous printings of ogre have taught us anything, its that we each need to buy more than 1 copy, and make sure we dont use 1 of them or loose either.

Perhaps a magnetic travel edition would be good, I bet that would make production expensive though.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a new ogre era.
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Russ Williams
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stabliser123 wrote:
Perhaps a magnetic travel edition would be good

Attractive idea!
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Kurt La Botz
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I have Orge, Shockwave, GEV, and the Reinforcement Pack. We setup the map board from Crescendo of Doom, GI anvil of Victory,Squad Leader and Cross of Iron on my pool table 8X51/2 feet. Infantry could fire at half of the board distance, building were used as cover for infantry but if the Orge's fired on a cove hex and hit it the counter in the hex took a hit. Infantry set up in a building at the start of the game was market on a sheet of paper for FOG. We did do some playing around with some of the rules had a lot of fun and some deep deep rules discussions.
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Jim Stoker
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BubbaK wrote:
I have Orge, Shockwave, GEV, and the Reinforcement Pack. We setup the map board from Crescendo of Doom, GI anvil of Victory,Squad Leader and Cross of Iron on my pool table 8X51/2 feet. Infantry could fire at half of the board distance, building were used as cover for infantry but if the Orge's fired on a cove hex and hit it the counter in the hex took a hit. Infantry set up in a building at the start of the game was market on a sheet of paper for FOG. We did do some playing around with some of the rules had a lot of fun and some deep deep rules discussions.


Awesome! DIY wargaming!
 
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Eric Smith
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Google folks, you can buy the new miniatures book for like $10 at http://www.sjgames.com/ogre/miniatures/

It contains all rules from all previous products, new units, explanations, etc. It is written for miniatures, so simply half all movement/ranges and its totally hex based.

Bad Syntax
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castiglione
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I think the problem with SJG republishing the game is the following:

1) OGRE is really simple.
2) However, for SJG to realize a profit, they probably need to charge X, which is dependent on how many units they print out which is dependent on what they foresee demand for OGRE being.
3) Since OGRE is really simple, when people buy OGRE, they'll immediately look at the components as an indicator as to whether they got their money's worth since there won't be a 50 page rulebook that they can read and re-read.
4) Publishing the game with great components will necessitate an increase in price and what you end up with is a vicious cycle which ends in a decision that publishing the game is just too risky given the costs involved.

Sadly, I think OGRE "worked" in its hey-dey BECAUSE it was simple and it couple printed out very cheaply with cheap components. However, times are different now.
 
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Paul Chapman
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castiglione wrote:
4) Publishing the game with great components will necessitate an increase in price and what you end up with is a vicious cycle which ends in a decision that publishing the game is just too risky given the costs involved.


You've hit the nail on the head. The problem isn't insurmountable, but it is one that requires careful consideration and a great deal of research.

But if the demand for the end result is high enough -- and it is -- we'll take the time to find that sweet spot between price and components.
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Jim Stoker
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Well, full circle--just got my tracking notice for the designer's edition. Can't wait! Thanks, Steve and company, for bringing it back and even more for bringing it out in the first place. It's a rare thing that can make me happy at thirty year intervals.

OOOOGGGGGRRRRREEEE!
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Freddy Dekker
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Recently I was checking out the usuall online game shops.
It's not that I need more games, enough unplayeds as it is, but buying games is somewhat edictive for me and from time to time you get that graving for opening boxes, smelling the cardboard and enjoying all the stuff in the box.

So I figured I'd need a SF game and than, in one of my local shops there is this game called ogre.
Convinced this is some kind of dungeon and dragons type fantasy game, afterall an ogre is one them lord of the ring type uglies isn't it.

But I decided to check it out, and now I'm considering splashing down the money for the big box.
Not becasuse I now know the game, still haven't got a clue asto if it will be fun.
But because of all the enthousiastic responses which made me feel that if I didn't take a gamble and buy this, I would miss out on something great.

Now... what is this markIII everybody is on about?
 
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Freddy Dekker
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stabliser123 wrote:
Well, if all the previous printings of ogre have taught us anything, its that we each need to buy more than 1 copy, and make sure we dont use 1 of them or loose either.

Perhaps a magnetic travel edition would be good, I bet that would make production expensive though.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a new ogre era.


your are not the first to mention a need to buy more than one copy.
is this an insiders joke I do not get or is there really a reason why you should have to buy two?
 
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Brian Rayburn
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The Mark III is the 'smaller' of the two types of Ogres that were included in the original game, the other being the beefier Mark V. The Designer's Edition has every type of Ogre, from the original Mark I up to the massive Mark VI. Some are made for slugging matches, some are raider units.

The 'need 2' is mostly a joke. There are so many counters in the box that having more than one copy is mostly about having back-ups in case of accidents. I can't imagine someone ever needing *more* units than what is in the box!

-Brian
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Bern Harkins
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Ogre is a very simple game. Really, it's just a hex map and a Combat Results Table grafted onto pushing models around a sandbox, making "Pow! Pow! Fit-EWWWW!" sounds. (And "Rumble-rumble-rumble", since they ARE Giant Tanks.)

This is probably related to why it flows so well and is so extremely entertaining. The term "play" doesn't really apply to some modern games. You play at Ogre. And grin. And laugh. (Or curse.)

It's sister game, GEV, is included with the Designer's Edition. It is slightly more complex, adding terrain, overrun and more complex scenario design, resulting in one of the world's simplest war games. There is enough depth to support tactical decision making, but not enough to require a book length rules set. (GEV stands for Ground Effect Vehicle, btw, and thus provides even MORE opportunities for self generated sound effects.)

So if you are expecting a brilliant revelation in game design, walk on by. This is a thirty five year old design whose most notable features are simple rules and smooth game play, although with an interesting and deep seated theme.

If, however, you like fun... Ogre will deliver. Simply. Elegantly. Repeatedly. The drama of the asymmetrical force design (usually one giant robotic tank versus a boardful of conventional units and infantry, collectively referred to as "the popcorn") just never gets old. I will never turn down a game of Ogre.

So yeah, I plunked down my money for a bunch of maps and counters and cardboard models, knowing just what I was getting... and I am very happy.

Fit-EWWW! Fit-EWWW! Fit-EWWW!!!
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