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Subject: The Clear Area is shrinking? rss

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John Labelle
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With all the talk about the release of the Designer Edition Ogre, I had to take out my old copy and rediscover the fun of this game. I own three editions:

The early $2.95 2nd edition Microgame copy.

The 1987 Deluxe mounted board and full color stand up counter edition (the one I use to play, but with mounted pieces on wood blocks).

And the 1990 "Flimsy Box" Ogre/GEV edition.

I read the posted rulebook of the new designer edition online and it reminded me of a question that use to come up.

Did the "Clear Area" have its size modified over the years? And if so, why?

The reason that I ask is because my Microgame copy describes the clear area as "the bottom 7 rows of hexes."

The 1987 Deluxe edition shows a shaded illustration in the rule book that also shows the bottom 7 rows as the clear area.
This brings the border of the clear area UP TO the furthest South LINE of rubble that runs east west.

Now the 1990 Ogre/GEV edition identifies the Clear area with hex coordinates. The coordinates were a different number system then my earlier Microgame edition (The Designer edition did not have numbered hexes). The Ogre/GEV rulebook describes the clear area as "the hexes with numbers ending in 17 through 22."
Hexes ending in 17 are the bottom 6 rows, not 7. Bringing the border of the clear area further South by one hex for half the borderline hexes.

The new Designer edition rule book calls the "Clear area the "South area" and states:
"No defender may set up in the South area (that is, in any hex whose number ends in 17 or higher)."
Now this new edition also uses a different coordinate system even from my 1990 edition (from looking at photos of the new board). The Clear/South area is further reduced a bit more because the pattern of the border 17 number hexes has the furthest north 17 hex moved over one column. This makes the 17 hex border further South for one half of the hex columns than the 1990 Ogre/GEV edition.

For players setting up on the border to get in close to the Ogre early in the game, these start hexes are very important. One hex can mean one turn of attacking sooner and one turn can mean victory in the endgame.

The line on which a player could set up has apparently crept southerly over the years giving an ever growing advantage to the defender.

Does anyone know why this was done? Does anyone have an opinion as to which Clear area borderline plays better?

I have mostly used the older bottom 7 rows Clear area in the games I've played. Maybe once or twice I've "jumped over the rubble" to set up. But it always felt funny doing so.

Thanks!
 
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David Rock

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I noticed the same thing about the clear space, but I don't think it has a huge impact on overall gameplay. If anything, it actually helps the game be a little more interesting by starting the fighting as soon as possible.

It still comes down to who shoots first, which is never determined by the clear space. It's determined by who manages to maneuver in a way to get maximum value (ie, most damage with least loss).

For example, when playing the defense, I typically bring the units to just within range of missiles, but not the main gun. Then do a rush with as much as I can to try and do as much damage as possible before all those units get destroyed. An extra bit of clear space doesn't really change that tactic.

Quote:
The line on which a player could set up has apparently crept southerly over the years giving an ever growing advantage to the defender.

I don't think this is the case, either. If anything, the advantage is to the Ogre because it has a shorter field and can use terrain as a screen sooner.

The only advantage the shorter field gives the defense is the slower units (read INF) that are behind the line can move up a little faster, but that doesn't really help because they can't move fast enough to get around everything else that's in the way. The change in the positioning for the clear line doesn't really matter, either. If you bring everything up as far as possible, it will be in missile range on turn 1 and stuff will get blasted without ever getting a shot off, so you just wouldn't do it (which is part of the reason why it feels "funny").

So, overall I don't think it changes gameplay at all (I still see a balanced game when demoing) and makes it a little more interesting by getting right to the point and cuts out the couple turns of "wasted" movement by each side.
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Andrew Walters
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I've been meaning to compare those maps, you just nudged me into getting it done.

The TL;DR answer is, Second Edition is an improvement on the First Edition. Everything after is based on the Second Edition, including the Pocket Edition. Play First Edition as a taste of history, but generally play the later versions. Use the specific rules that came with each map.

The longer answer is this: First Edition Ogre was a huge success, and got so much play the first year that a couple of kinks were discovered. Steve talks about this in The Ogre Book. The biggest issue was that after balancing he armor units against each other so they were all comparable the rules were written so that you chose 35 attack strength points, not 12 armor units. That meant that GEVs were twice as cost effective as HVYs! Also, GEVs moved 4-4 instead of the later 4-3 and HVYs moved only 2!

All this was changed in the Second Edition, which is the one I started with, and this has remained the same over the years.

The map also changed between First Edition and Second Edition, but I've never read any commentary on this. The configuration of craters and the distances from the edges have not changed since. I'm holding here 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, and Pocket Edition. First edition has a few extra hexes at the top and several extra hexes at the bottom. With slower HVYs and faster GEVs this makes sense - the defense needs a little more time to shoot up the Ogre.

The good news is that Pocket Edition is what you want it to be: It has the exact look of First Edition, but the rules, the stats on the counters, and the map configuration of Second Edition, which give a better game. So Pocket Edition is physically nice, aesthetically accurate, and playable.

First Edition gives a fine game, after all it launched the whole phenomenon, but Second Edition is better and everything since Second Edition uses the same stats, rules and map configuration. The grid numbering and art changes, as does the exact wording of where the defense can put those forward most units.

If you look at your Designer's Edition map you'll see four grey triangles on the edge of the board - this indicates the three setup zones. The 1990 edition is one of the two editions I don't have (the other being the Hobby Japan edition), but it seems you're describing a difference in the wording of the set up rules that makes things just a tad tougher on the defender in 1990 over 2013. The 2000 rules also say "set up in the obstructed area" and "obstructed is rows 01-16" but I don't have that map handy.

Overall, the game has received a lot of play over the years and a lot of discussion online - not just here but also on the SJ Games forums and various Ogre mailing lists. The changes have basically synthesized all of that and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say any older version of any rule rule is better, so I'd go with the most recent rules.

The most important thing is to agree with your opponent when you sit down which rules you're using. Any of them will give you a good game. Getting a shot at the Ogre one turn earlier is important, but not as important as target selection and force preservation, to say nothing of die rolls.

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David Rock

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Yeah, Andrew's assessment is very good. Basically, don't get hung up on the map size; there were a LOT of other factors that changed that had a much bigger impact than the size of the clear space.
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John Labelle
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Thanks Andrew for your reply!

So I guess it was decided to give the defender a start line a whole row closer to the Ogre in the most recent editions.

This is more than a little change. Instead of starting behind rubble and having to spend movement points to go around it, units can now start with the rubble behind them and bring more units into a first turn battle than they were able to before.

The question is not whether it's a good idea to fight a first turn rush in battle, but rather why did the design team alter the game's set up line so it is easier to do so?

With all the obvious painstaking detail that went into this game, I can't believe it was a decision taken lightly. I'm just curious what the reasons were to change a fundamental rule like where pieces can set up.
 
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Andrew Walters
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I'm sure it was a balance issue. You are right in saying it's not a small issue: Ogre is a game of decreasing range to the CP and decreasing tread units, which will hit zero first? I'm certain this question wasn't decided by art, but by balance.

As to rushing the Ogre or collecting your forces first, well, that's the game, right? I like to get a HVY or a pair of GEVs up there quick to take out the main battery, but I saw a lot of HWZ-centric play over the weekend...
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Martin Gallo
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I think this was addressed in the DE by increasing the size of the hexes to compensate for the reduced entry area.

fnord.
 
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John Labelle
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andreww wrote:

As to rushing the Ogre or collecting your forces first, well, that's the game, right?

Amen, brother. It is at that.

andreww wrote:

I like to get a HVY or a pair of GEVs up there quick to take out the main battery, but I saw a lot of HWZ-centric play over the weekend...


I try to do the same. A wounded Ogre early on can really rattle your opponent. Takes away that attitude we all get (and enjoy) when we command the beast.

Thanks again!
 
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David Rock

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Momoshiro wrote:
andreww wrote:

As to rushing the Ogre or collecting your forces first, well, that's the game, right?

Amen, brother. It is at that.

andreww wrote:

I like to get a HVY or a pair of GEVs up there quick to take out the main battery, but I saw a lot of HWZ-centric play over the weekend...


I try to do the same. A wounded Ogre early on can really rattle your opponent. Takes away that attitude we all get (and enjoy) when we command the beast.

yeah, I'm in the same boat as you guys. Being able to reduce the strike range from 3 hexes to 2 early on (excluding missiles, of course) really matters.
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