Ogre microgame cover (Second edition, 1977)
Ogre is a board wargame first released in 1977 as the first Metagaming Concepts Microgame, designed by Steve Jackson. It is an asymmetrical forces game, set in the late 21st century. One player has a single giant robot tank (called an "Ogre") pitted against a second player's headquarters, defended by a mixture of conventional tanks, infantry, and artillery. The concept was strongly influenced by Keith Laumer's novel Bolo (1976), and Colin Kapp's short story "Gottlos" (1969). The Ogre itself is named after the large and strong mythological beast ogre.
Since its initial release in 1977 Ogre has been reprinted many times, most recently in 2014. After Jackson founded his own company, Steve Jackson Games, Ogre, its sequel G.E.V., and further expansions were published in the Pocket Box format. On March 8, 2008, Steve Jackson Games announced the planned production of Ogre 6th Edition. In 2012, a new version of Ogre successfully completed funding on Kickstarter.com, for release in November 2012. After multiple delays, the elaborate 29 pound Designer's edition was shipped to all Kickstarter backers in November 2013.
|“||Gameplay summons to mind a futuristic nightmare of desperation and exhilaration, where rumbling machines unleash barrage after barrage of titanic weaponry and the inexorable advance of a soulless giant can only be stopped by zinging swarms of self-sacrificing martyrs.||”|
|— Erick Wujcik |
Ogre uses a hex map depicting barren terrain with only ridgelines and large, radioactive craters as obstacles. The defender sets up his forces in the more congested part of the map and the Ogre enters the opposite side at the beginning of the game. The basic version of the game has the attacker using a single Ogre heavy tank (referred to as a "Mark III Ogre"), while the advanced scenario gives the attacker the larger, more powerful "Mark V Ogre" tank versus an increased number of defenders. The defender is allocated a certain number of infantry and 'armor units', but gets to decide the exact composition of his own armored forces.
The different types of units encourage a combined-arms approach with each type being better than the others in different aspects. Heavy tanks have high attack and defense with moderate speed and low range. Missile tanks have moderate attack and defense with moderate range and low speed. G.E.V.s ("ground effect vehicles"—roughly, heavily armored hovercraft) have very high speed (moving twice per turn), low attack, low range, and moderate defense. Howitzers have very high attack and range but are easily destroyed (once an attacker has managed to get close enough), immobile, and expensive. However, according to the game's designer, this balanced mix of units was not quite right in the first edition; the second edition sped up heavy tanks, slowed down G.E.V.s, and changed the defender's purchasing from "attack factors" to "armor units" (everything is considered equivalent, except howitzers, which are worth two of anything else).
Martin Easterbrook began his 1977 review of Ogre (first edition) by saying "Be warned: this game could become a craze" adding that "the idea of the microgames themselves is remarkable enough in itself". He rated the game 8 out of 10 but criticized the game's title and "flimsy equipment, weak infantry".
Reviewing the first Steve Jackson Games editions of Ogre (after the designer had moved away from Metagaming), Tony Watson called Ogre "a legend in the ranks of SF gamedom, and deservedly so... as well as being a lot of fun to play, it's an interesting extrapolation on high-tech armoured warfare". It was noted that the rules had remained essentially the same in the new edition, and the most significant changes being to the physical design—with larger (still black and white) counters, and full colour maps by Denis Loubet. Watson also welcomed the retention of the original artwork alongside new pieces—"no one draws a GEV or Ogre like Mr. Chung".
Reviewing the combined edition of 1991, Allen Varney stated: "[Ogre and G.E.V. :] two simulation board games of armored combat on a future battlefield are among the best the field has ever seen: fast, elegant, and endlessly replayable". Whilst praising the production values of the 2-color playing pieces Varney found the box somewhat 'flimsy'.
In his 2007 essay, game designer Erick Wujcik said "I think [Ogre's] success really boils down to four essentials: Ogre is fast, ... asymmetrical, ... open-ended, ... [and] is a teaching tool. Ogre had restructured my mind pretty completely ... but it wasn't until 2002 ... that I realized how effective Ogre is at getting across so many important component mechanisms of play and design."
John ONeill from Black Gate commented: "Ogre was a wonderful game — brilliantly simple in design, easy to set up, and lightning fast to play." He added: "In concept it was delightfully simple… the year was some time in the later 21st century. Advances in AI (following the creation of the first true mechanical intelligences in 2010) had revolutionized tank mechanized warfare. Human-driven tanks had been replaced with robot cybertanks, massive war machines that couldn't be destroyed with conventional weaponry — they could only be slowed, and sometimes stopped, by destroying their weapons and means of locomotion."
The first and second editions of Ogre were released in 1977. The first edition featured artwork by Winchell Chung, while the second had a much larger print run and rulebook artwork by Clark Bradly rather than Chung. The third edition, released in 1982, introduced double-sided counters.
An edition called OGRE: Deluxe Edition was released in 1987. The rulebook cover artwork was the Denis Loubet illustration that was also used for the Ogre computer game (see Spinoffs below). The board was sturdier than the previous edition's paper map, and the counters were provided with stand-up plastic bases. G.M. magazine's 1989 review of OGRE: Deluxe Edition highlighted the game's ease of introduction and short playing time, but pointed out that most gamers either like the game or loathe it.
In 1990, Ogre was combined with another game called G.E.V. (an Ogre sequel) in a Ogre/G.E.V. box. The Ogre rules were designated as 4th edition and the G.E.V. rules were designated as 3rd edition. Ogre/G.E.V. was released into a single 5 3/8" x 8 1/2" box, and the rules were combined into a single 4" x 7" booklet. The rules were printed so that the booklet was flipped over to see the other rules. Counters were in green and white (2-sided), and maps were the same as the 3rd edition maps for both Ogre and G.E.V., but printed in the same sheet. In 2000, Ogre/G.E.V. was released again and designated as 5th edition, with new cover art by Phillip Reed, sold in a VHS box, but rules still in a 4" x 7", 44-page booklet and counters in black, red and white (2-sided).
A "new" Deluxe Ogre (2000) was a re-issued version of the original Ogre, packaged with miniatures rather than counters, and the original "crater" map printed on a larger scale. Deluxe Ogre won the Wargamer Award for Excellence in 2001.
In 2011 Steve Jackson announced a sixth edition, The Ogre Designer's Edition, combining Ogre and G.E.V. with larger full color flat counters for most units and constructible cardboard figures for the Ogres.
Steve Jackson Games released a reprinted version of the original 1977 game in 2014. It was sold at the game's original price of $2.95.
In May 2012, a new designers edition of Ogre was funded on Kickstarter.com. The original goal was $20,000 and the final funding was a total of $923,680. As the funding grew, more and more options and upgrades were added, with the final game weighing over 25 pounds (11 kg). It began shipping to its Kickstarter supporters in October 2013, and is expected to arrive at retail stores on December 6, 2013.
Other games based on Ogre include:
- Shockwave, an expansion that introduced new unit types including cruise missiles and a map that could be used with the G.E.V. map.
- Ogre Miniatures, an adaptation of the game to miniature wargaming, using 1:285 scale miniatures. This adaptation won the 1992 Origins Award for Best Miniatures Rules. In addition to miniatures from Steve Jackson Games, a set of Ogre miniatures was also developed by Ral Partha which won the 1992 Origins Award for Best Vehicular Miniatures Series. The first set of Ogre miniatures, produced by Martian Metals under license of Metagaming Concepts in 1979, won the H.G. Wells Award for Best Vehicular Model Series of 1979.
- Diceland: Ogre, a paper dice game by Cheapass Games.
- Computer adaptations, including the 1986 Ogre release by Origin Systems, Inc. for Apple II, Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, and Macintosh.
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