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Subject: [Roger's Reviews] Ogre Designer's Edition: Big Beautiful Behemoth rss

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Ogre
A game for 2 players designed by Steve Jackson


"I have wanted for years to do a BIG version of Ogre, it was something I needed to get out of my system."
― Steve Jackson, interview with The Big Board, 19 October 2013


"There's enough in that box you can split it with your next door neighbour, never speak to him again, and you'll both have enough to play."
- ibid.


Introduction
I still remember being invited to join the gaming club at my school. We met every day at lunch in the basement and we had a nice big room all to ourselves. We were all there because we loved games. Collectively we had all grown up with games, mostly chess, card games, Risk, Monopoly, and the usual titles.

My father was in the military and the turnover at the base school was high, so we had a constant flow of people coming and going. One of the new kids arrived and has this little game in his backpack. He asked if anyone was interested in trying it out. We looked at the small map and thin cardboard sheet with tiny counters that we had to cut apart with scissors. It was my first encounter with hex and counter wargames.

It was Ogre.

Ogre came from MetaGaming, and it was the first in what they coined microgames, a term that soon became the name for a whole category of small inexpensive games. You can check out the very interesting history and evolution of these kinds of games at the online Classic Microgames Museum.

Those original games were meant to be inexpensive to buy and easy to play. At one point I even owned all 22 of the original MetaGaming microgames (and the MicroQuests, and the MicroHistory series).

Ogre was a revelation to us pre-teen lads and the gaming club soon became a feeding frenzy of game buying and trying out all kinds of other games. Melee and Wizard were mainstays that led us into all manner of RPGs, this new to us hex and counter thing led those of us with bigger allowances to pick up some Avalon Hill and SPI titles, but there was simply no getting around the bang for the buck that those microgames provided.

Ogre fired up our youthful imaginations. Who didn't love the idea of a giant cybernetic tank inexorably across the map towards that nice command post?

MetaGaming released a sequel to Ogre called G.E.V., which introduced not only new units, but also a map with more interesting terrain and new Ogres and some scenarios where both sides could have Ogres and combined forces.

The new Ogre Designer Edition (ODE) contains both the original game and what came with G.E.V. and much much much more.

Components
Here is everything you need to know about Ogre Designer Edition - the game weighs 28lbs. 12.72kg for us metric types.

Oh wait, you wanted more information? Here's a photo from SJGames' Daniel Jew showing what's in the Kickstarter package.



The box is enormous. I honestly don't know where I'm going to put it. I don't care. Space will be found.

To give you some sense of perspective, as someone who backed at the $150+ level, I got an early copy of Ogre Pocket Edition, which is the same size as the original game. You could fit over 1000 of that original game into the ODE box.



Component quality is absolutely top notch. There are eight GEV maps in the box. I don't have the table space to hold them all, but I can't think of a scenario I won't be able to play. The Ogre map itself is a gorgeous thick behemoth that fills my dining table with gaming goodness.

And the inserts! They are hands down The Best Inserts I've ever seen in any game. There are two garages with labels in the bottoms to show you where everything can go. The maps protect and contain all the units and pieces that go into the bottom of the box. There was a lot of very clever engineering design that went into this.

Photos do not do it justice. Seek out one of the many unboxing videos to get a better look at them. It's absolutely outstanding.

What about the rest? There's one copy of the rule book, a scenario book, and two laminated sheets with templates of the Ogres. There's also a free app (iOS, Android) for the purpose.

The Kickstarter edition of the game comes with a simply astounding 38 sheets of counters. 40 if you pledged at the $150+ level, which got you two sheets of Things Go Boom. In all there are over 1000 counters to represent the broad array of units, terrain overlays, buildings, Ogres, and other markers.

Image by Stephan Beal

The original project that was supposed to be big at 14lbs became a 28lb behemoth, and for the price I don't even think I could buy 28lbs of miniatures for any gaming system, let alone such a kick ass storage system.

Rules & Game Play
So after all that reminiscing about how I got hooked on wargames and all the comments about the components and how long it took to get the final product to the table top, what about the game itself? What the gosh darned heck is Ogre about?

Ogre designer edition is set in the no longer that distant future of 2085 when wars will be fought with infantry, tanks, howitzers, and giant behemoths of glittering treads and weapons called Ogres. They are huge and tough and the basic game has a basic map with craters and ridge lines with a command post, some vehicles, and infantry on the one end, and a single Ogre on the other.

When I was a kid playing this, we used to keep track of the Ogre stats on scrap bits of paper. I think I still have some of them in the box I repurposed for holding my Ogre/GEV/Shockwave parts.

The basic Ogre game is played on a barren wasteland with one person usually having a solitary Ogre and the other having a mix of armour and infantry and a command post to protect. The Ogre player's mission is to destroy the command post and escape back the way they came. The other player's mission is to stop the Ogre from doing that. No matter what, the casualties will be high.

The system is quite simple, but nevertheless highly engaging. It's a classic "I go you go" system where I move all my units (or my ONE unit, mwahahaha!) and fire, and then the other player does the same.

The combat is very simple odds ratio calculations from 1-2 odds all the way to 4-1 odds, and when you're up, you do the odds, roll a d6, and apply the results.

Ogres are largely impervious to the predations of common units, and the best way to stop them is to literally stop them by destroying all their treads to immobilize them. However, attacking treads only gives you 1-1 odds and getting in range of the Ogre means you're in range of its awesome array of weaponry.

My daughter's Ogre MkIII inexorably heads towards my command post, making hamburger of my units along the way. iPad is running the Ogre app to track the MkIII damage.

G.E.V. introduced a variety of new units, some geomorphic maps, and terrain. It also moved the game from a mostly single purpose capture the flag style game to a dynamic tactical combat with lots of options, including scenarios that had Ogres on both sides of the fight.

A classic scenario from G.E.V. is the breakthrough. This lovely image courtesy of Rusty shows a later edition of G.E.V. overlaid on the current ODE maps.



Throughout the Kickstarter campaign, SJGames released more options for the game including a complete set of classic counters to replicate the original. I bought a set out of nostalgia which I suspect I may never actually use myself since I actually like the 3D pieces and the oddly shaped units work much more nicely than I expected.

Counter comparison, 80s-era pocketbox vs. Designer's Edition. (Counter on the right is from a Conflict of Heroes game.) Image used with kind permission of Rusty.

Even with the additional rules for terrain, slightly more complex rules for overruns and spillover fire, the game system is accessible for all ages. You have Ogres. You have targets. They go boom. The Ogre crushes everything in its path. What's not to love?

The G.E.V. additions were the ones that really catapulted Ogre into the versatile classic it's become. The new units, especially the G.E.V.s made the non-Ogre player suddenly much more competitive.

That and a basic core rules system that can be used within 15 minutes of opening the box and punching out the basic units needed for the standard opening Ogre scenario that gamers of all ages can understand, and it's absolutely no wonder that even more than thirty years after its first appearance ODE can rouse such passion amongst the fan base and pick up new fans as well.

Conclusions
When I first played Ogre oh those many years ago, even though it was on a small paper map with those little paper counters we snipped out ourselves, I always imagined it in my head as a really massive game.

Now I have the massive game, and another generation to play it with. The look on my daughter's face nicely captures the glee that my inner self was feeling when I got this copy home.

That megawatt smile nicely captures my inner glee at this edition

Nostalgia is a powerful thing, but Ogre is rightfully a classic in the annals of wargame history. This edition will never be repeated, and certainly never at this price. If you have the chance to pick up one of the retail copies, don't hesitate.

I thought I was prepared for just how big this game was. I was wrong.

I wish I'd bought two.

Thank you Steve Jackson. From the bottom of my heart.


Thank you for reading this latest installment of Roger's Reviews. I've been an avid board gamer all my life and a wargamer for over thirty years. I have a strong preference for well designed games that allow players to focus on trying to make good decisions.

Among my favorites I include Twilight Struggle, the Combat Commander Series, the Musket & Pike Battle Series, Julius Caesar, Maria, EastFront, Here I Stand, Napoleon's Triumph and Unhappy King Charles!

You can subscribe to my reviews at this geeklist: [Roger's Reviews] The Complete Collection and I also encourage you to purchase this very stylish microbadge: mb
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Dan
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Another great review. Thanks, Roger!
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Chris B
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Thanks Roger, great review. I never played Ogre when I was a kid, I feel like I really missed something special. Not sure this edition, even if I could find a copy is in my budget.
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gonecase gonecase
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Great review! Your love for the game and the hobby just shines through.

Don't think I'll have space for this edition... hopefully they come up with something more compact or an iOS version.
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Pete Belli
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Another fine review.

Quote:
Nostalgia is a powerful thing...


Nostalgia provides the spark for most of my wargame purchases.

For publishers who can capitalize on vintage material from the 1970s and 1980s, nostalgia might be the key to business success in the 21st century.

Baby Boomers have disposable income... and memories of those carefree board game sessions in their youth.

Of course, a new generation of players can enjoy these publications which are "new" to them.

Everybody benefits.
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Philip Reed
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pete belli wrote:
For publishers who can capitalize on vintage material from the 1970s and 1980s, nostalgia might be the key to business success in the 21st century.


This is exactly why Wizards is releasing those AD&D/D&D reprints.
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Wendell
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That's just a tad bigger than the Ogre I remember playing as a teen!

Does it come with its own closet?
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Nostalgia is a powerful motivator. I remember the micro version well. I was introduced to it in college and I felt the same as you did, it was this massive epic game compressed into a tiny package.

Now I wish I'd backed this, thanks alot!
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I broke down and pre-ordered a copy through my preferred online retailer. Thanks Roger, I hope you're happy. At least my copy of Axis and Allies Anniversary Edition won't be so lonely anymore, what with another giant box on the shelf to keep it company.

I'm going to need a bigger shelf...
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Greg S
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This MIGHT just be this year's Christmas present to myself!

Thanks for the review!
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Darin Sunley
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pete belli wrote:
Another fine review.

Quote:
Nostalgia is a powerful thing...


For publishers who can capitalize on vintage material from the 1970s and 1980s, nostalgia might be the key to business success in the 21st century.


In the larger cultural context, this is why "Transformers Prime", "GI Joe Retaliation", and "My Little Pony Friendship is Magic" exist. Hasbro's entire business model these days is nostalgia. Sell your updated old brands to nostalgic Gen Y'ers and through them, to their kids.

Also "Lego Star Wars".
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Samuel Mitschke
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"And the inserts! They are hands down The Best Inserts I've ever seen in any game. There are two garages with labels in the bottoms to show you where everything can go. The maps protect and contain all the units and pieces that go into the bottom of the box. There was a lot of very clever engineering design that went into this."

I can't explain how happy this makes me.

I spent a very long time designing/redesigning/correcting/screaming at those trays until I felt they were right (even delaying the game a bit in the process), so I'm utterly thrilled that you're pleased with them!

Thank YOU for the comments!
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Todd Brown
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Thanks for the review. I missed on the Kick Starter campaign but did get a pre-order for a regular Desiner Edition and I can't wait!

I've already ordered some of the counter sheets form the $4500 backers (as if the Designer Edition wasn't enough).

I also ordered a couple of Keith Laumer's Bolo books to get me in the mood.

I have loved Ogre from it's first incarnation and can't wait for this beauty.
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Scott Ellis
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Samracadabra wrote:
I spent a very long time designing/redesigning/correcting/screaming at those trays until I felt they were right (even delaying the game a bit in the process), so I'm utterly thrilled that you're pleased with them!


+10,000 on the trays, they're amazingly wonderful.

Although I see that the claims that the sponsor sheets will all fit too only applies to the 3D units, as I can't imagine how to get another 2 sheets even of flat units into the bottom, let alone 6+
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Samuel Mitschke
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They do fit in the open cavities in the top trays if you don't mind it being a little less neatly organized.

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UniqueRabbit wrote:
I broke down and pre-ordered a copy through my preferred online retailer. Thanks Roger, I hope you're happy. At least my copy of Axis and Allies Anniversary Edition won't be so lonely anymore, what with another giant box on the shelf to keep it company.

I'm going to need a bigger shelf...


I didn't go quite as far as you...I didn't pre-order, but did set up an email alert with my fave online retailer. I'll decide when I get the email if I pull the trigger or not.
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Freddy Dekker
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Before this week I'd never ever heard of Ogre.

{oh here come the angry villagers with pitchforks etc.}

No seriously, before today I even thought it was some kind of fantasy role play kind of game, an ogre is some kind of troll right?

Saw the game, designers edition, advertised on my local game store site and looked it up on the geek.
Wasn't impressed, didn't like the components at all, is that all you get for that money.

Just discoverd that what I actually saw were pictures of the old game.

Now a few unboxing videos later I'm getting carefully interested.
That is one impressive box.
Not sure yet about the 3d tanks or what ever they are, but than I do not know this game and am now trying to find out more about game play.

Unfortunatly the videos mostly show chaps drooling over the big box and I'm not getting any the wiser, allthough I do get the impression this is a one time opportunity and I may regret not going for.

Shoud it be not my thing, someone is bound to want to take it of my hands for sure.. I reckon.

So from what I gather this is some kind of SF game? and that just when I was looking for a space game.

And this ogre? it is some kind of tank?
who is fighting who exactly.

I'd like to find out more about game play, can anyone direct to what I need to know?

Thanks.
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It's a tactical wargame set in a future where there are two main factions and the primary weapon of mass destruction is a cybernetic giant tank called an Ogre.

The game is not based on any specific popular setting (e.g. Star Fleet Battles is set in the Star Trek universe), so there is a lot of latitude to make up the story and there are snippets of stories as flavour text in the rules.

The system, as mentioned, is a simple IGO-UGO hex and counter wargame. I move and shoot, then you move and shoot.

What makes the game cool and a lot of fun is that one Ogre is the equivalent of a lot of conventional units. In the basic scenario, one MkIII Ogre is sent to destroy a command post and return off the map against 20 infantry and 12 armoured units. And will usually win.

Of course, there is a requirement for some suspension of disbelief. If you're the kind of person who has to have a factual basis for why that tank has a combat factor of x when historically it was less effective than this other armoured fighting vehicle that has the same rating, then it's not for you. meeple

But if you like making things go BOOM, then this game is a plate of awesome with sauce.
 
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So one side has the unbeatable tank and the other side has all the pigeons?
 
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sagitar wrote:
So one side has the unbeatable tank and the other side has all the pigeons?

In the basic scenario, yes. That was the original Ogre game, which was and is still a ton of fun. But the big box also includes the later expansions which broaden the scope to include conventional forces on each side.
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So does this mean it is a balanced game, do both sides have ogres and if so, what happens if two opposing ogres meat.

I'm warming up for this slowly.

But I bet this will an easy purchase decission for those familiar with the game.
 
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There are multiple scenarios and you can certainly play ogre vs ogre. This was one of my first forays into war games and it is great for that. I kickstarted the ODE because it is such a simple and fun system. Bottom line though- it is a traditional hex and counter war game. If you don't like those you may not like this.
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The base game is one Ogre vs many units, and is quite balanced. Most games can be nail biters as you slowly destroy the Ogre, but it..just..won't..die! Then your command post gets crushed and you lose.

It evolves into GEV (Ground Effect Vehicle), which brings in for terrain, and many more scenarios. Ogres on one side, Ogres on both sides, and lots more units all around.

With the units, scenarios, and multitude of units in the box, this game has amazing flexibility.

What I really like is that is scales up quite nicely. You can play a simple Mark 3 Ogre vs x units, and change up to a Mark V vs 2x units, or even 3-4 Ogres vs 10x units. And it remains very simple and fun.
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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sagitar wrote:
So one side has the unbeatable tank and the other side has all the pigeons?

There are multiple scenarios and you can also build your own. Many have a mix of Ogres and units for both sides.
 
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boisse wrote:
UniqueRabbit wrote:
I broke down and pre-ordered a copy through my preferred online retailer. Thanks Roger, I hope you're happy. At least my copy of Axis and Allies Anniversary Edition won't be so lonely anymore, what with another giant box on the shelf to keep it company.

I'm going to need a bigger shelf...


I didn't go quite as far as you...I didn't pre-order, but did set up an email alert with my fave online retailer. I'll decide when I get the email if I pull the trigger or not.


UPDATE: I'm weak, I pre-ordered from Starlit Citadel tonight... Hopefully I get it before Xmas.
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