Sunday, October 18, 2009


As opposed to my last game collection entry, this one is not preceded by many months. The reason is that the game randomly selected from my collection this time around is one of my all-time favorites, Ogre. I actually own to editions of this game: the third edition that came in the black clamshell plastic box and that I picked up in the late '80s, as well as the Ogre/G.E.V. combo game that I won at a game demonstration back in 2000 or 2001. I also own two copies of the follow-on game, G.E.V., as well as the Ogre Book, the Shockwave expansion pack, the map pack, etc., etc. While I used to play this game quite a bit, it had been years since I had last played it, probably not since 2001 or 2002.

Ogre is a pretty fast game. The basic scenario gives one player a group of tanks, artillery, and power-armored infantry, while the other player gets only one unit. But, oh, what a unit, as they get the ogre. An ogre in this game is not a mythological beast, but rather a giant, cybernetic tank, bristling with guns and missiles, and bearing armor at least a meter thick upon every point. The defending player throws all of his forces at the ogre, while the ogre players blows up the other guy's units. This is one of those games where each side plays very differently. Infantry and tanks are pretty fragile, and can be disabled or destroyed pretty easily. The ogre, however, must be slowly worn down. Each time you fire at it, you can either target one of its guns or missiles, or shoot at its treads. To destroy it, you have to eliminate ALL weapons, and ALL of its treads. As you destroy its weapons, it has fewer to shoot at you, and as you destroy its treads it moves slower. Both are beneficial to the defending player, but you have to decide if you want to eliminate guns but still let it move at full speed, or if you want to get it so it can't move but leave its guns intact (which means they are shooting you to pieces while you try to destroy the treads).

While relatively simple (only a few pages of rules), there are some interesting tactical decisions that each player has to make. If defending, what units do I want to defend with? Will I go with lots of lightly-armored but fast ground-effect vehicles? Or heavy tanks, which have good armor but need to get close to the ogre to attack? Or maybe missile tanks which have weak armor but a long-range attack? Or, perhaps, I want lots of howitzers, which have long range, powerful attacks, but can't move and die pretty much instantly if shot at? When playing the ogre, do you just charge right in to the thick of the defenders to destroy the enemy command post ASAP, or do you hang back and try to pick off defending forces in pockets? Do you hang on to your missiles (running the risk of them being destroyed), or do you fire them off early? With all of the different decisions, this game stands up well to multiple playings, especially when you mix it with the G.E.V. game (which focuses more on the traditional armor and infantry, and has a different playing map). Definitely a good time, especially if you ever liked Keith Laumer's Bolo stories or just games that provide different play experiences for each side.

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