The ABCs of Gaming: O is for…

According to our ABCs of Gaming poll, O is for Other.  I don’t know if that’s the result of people making a joke, or a comment on the relative dearth of O games.  Nevertheless, in the absence of a clear consensus among the other nominees, we’re going to focus this post on second place.  O is for…

6th Edition – image by BGG user W Eric Martin
Original Cover – image by BGG user The Maverick

Ogre was originally published in 1977 by Metagaming Concepts.  It was designed by Steve Jackson, who later went on to form his own publishing company (the creatively named Steve Jackson Games, also known as the Munchkin guys).  The sixth edition recently got Kickstarted, finishing its campaign on May 11 with a whopping $923,680 (a board gaming record).  This definitely speaks to the game’s longevity, and gives more weight to its inclusion in this series Ogre is a sci-fi wargame (second one in a row for this poll) for 2-3 players aged 10 and up, and takes about 45 minutes to play.  It has absolutely nothing to do with ogres – Ogre is the name of the giant cybernetic tank being used in a futuristic war.  While Other garnered 23.9% of the vote, Ogre came in second with 13.6%.

When first released, Ogre was what is known as a microgame.  In fact, it was one of the first of these games in extremely small packages.  It had a folding paper map and cardboard counters you had to cut out yourself.  The designation of microgame no longer applies, however, as the sixth edition box in prototype form weighs around 14 pounds.  There’s an Ogre map, as well as four G.E.V. maps  (G.E.V. was a sequel to Ogre).  You also get a bunch of counter sheets (the last update I read reported that there are 16 in all).  This will give you your Combine units, your Paneuropean units, map overlays, Ogres, and buildings.  You also get the rules, scenarios, reference sheets, record sheets, a blueprint poster, and a “How to build the Ogre” flyer (Ogres and buildings come with some assembly required).  Plus, Kickstarter supporters get a bunch of extras that I’m not going into right now.

At the start of the game, you’ll pick which scenario you want to use.  I’ll be looking at the basic scenario.  One player is the defense, and will take infantry and armor units.  You choose infantry by looking at the attack strength, and can only take up to 20 points of attack strength.  You get 12 armor units in all, but each howitzer counts as two.  You’ll place up to 20 points of attack strength in the north, and all remaining units in the central area.  You’ll place the command center anywhere on the map (though you should place as far north as possible).  The other player is the attacker and gets one unit – an Ogre Mark III, which enters the game anywhere along the southern edge of the board.  In the advanced scenario, the defender gets 30 points of infantry, 20 armor units, and places all but 40 points behind the line; the attacker only gets an Ogre Mark V.

Ogre is turn based, and the Ogre player moves first.  On your turn, you recover, move, then fire.  For recovery, any disabled units from before the previous turn recover automatically.  For movement, any or all units may move up to their full movement points.  If you enter an enemy occupied hex, you’ll roll to see if any units that entered a swamp or forest become disabled, then you’ll resolve the ram/overrun attack.  After movement, all non-disabled units can fire based on their range.  You attack by comparing attack strengths, then roll a die, comparing the results to a chart that shows ratios.  Units are destroyed if hit.  When attacking the Ogre, you’ll be taking out weapons or tread units (it’s a massive tank, you can’t just blow it up).

You keep taking turns until one of the following conditions has been met:

  • All defending units have been destroyed.  Complete victory for the Ogre.
  • The command post has been destroyed and the Ogre has escaped off the bottom of the map.  Victory for the Ogre.
  • The command post has been destroyed, and the Ogre was destroyed making its escape.  Marginal victory for the Ogre.
  • The command post survives, but the Ogre escapes.  Marginal victory for the defense.
  • The command post survives, and the Ogre is destroyed.  Victory for the defense.
  • The command post survives, the Ogre is destroyed, and the defense has at least 30 attack points remaining.  Complete victory for the defense.

You may notice that this post is a little less in depth than I tend to get, especially in this series.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  First and foremost, I had never heard of Ogre before putting together the poll, and was really surprised that it won.  Had I done the poll after (or even part way through) the Kickstarter campaign, I would have been much less surprised.  Everything I know about the game now comes from the prototype 6th edition rulebook and a couple of videos.  And that’s another reason I’m not really going into detail – the rulebook is a monster.  It’s laid out like a wargame rulebook with cross references and numbered sections…I’m not a wargamer, and it therefore doesn’t flow very well for my board game sensibilities.  Plus, it’s still in prototype form, so it may be cleaner in its final version.

But the game – well, it seems fairly straightforward.  If you’re the defense, kill the Ogre.  If you’re the Ogre, smash the defense.  It’s not the type of game I’m used to seeing from Steve Jackson, publisher of the Munchkin games (which he credits for making enough money to allow them to produce his game for ONLY $100 per copy).  I didn’t vote for Ogre in the poll, but after seeing its success on Kickstarter, I think it definitely has its place in gaming history.  I would like to try it at some point, if only to become a more well rounded game geek.

The rest of the field:

  • As previously mentioned, Other came in first with 23.9% of the vote.  Nominees included Objective Moscow: The Death of Soviet Communism, Octilles, Okko: Era of the Asagiri, Oodles, Opera, Orient Express, and Othello.  Of those, I’ve only played Othello, which is a pretty good abstract (also known as Reversi).
  • On the Underground came in third with 10.3% of the vote.  This 2006 route building game was the highest ranked O game at #386 at BGG (it’s now #438).  The poll was made before the release of Ora et Labora, which may have given Ogre a run for its money.  I’ve never played.
  • Odin’s Ravens came in fourth with 10% of the vote, and is the only listed O game I’ve played.  It’s a two-player race game where players are guiding ravens across various terrains.  I thought it was pretty fun…maybe not enough to be “essential.”
  • Oregon came in fifth with 9.4% of the vote.  It’s about colonizing the old West.  I haven’t played, but it is up at, so I’ll have to give it a try sometime.
  • Olympos came in sixth with 7.8% of the vote.  This 2011 game was designed by Philippe Keyaerts, and was one of a wave of Olympian games released recently.  It’s one I haven’t played, but would like to.
  • Onirim came in seventh with 7% of the vote.  It’s a 2010 solitaire/two-player co-op with an interesting theme – walking through dreams to find the doors out of a mysterious labyrinth.  I’d like to see it sometime.
  • Oltre Mare came in eighth with 5.7% of the vote.  This is one of Tom Vasel’s favorites – trading in the Mediterranean all the way.
  • O Zoo le Mio came in ninth with 4.7% of the vote.  This 2002 game about constructing a zoo has a pretty good following ten years after its publication.  I’ve never played.
  • Olympus came in tenth with 4.1% of the vote.  I covered this 2010 game on the blog, and it seems to be much less popular than Olympos.  I’d still like to play sometime.
  • Oasis came in eleventh with 3.6% of the vote.  It’s a 2004 game from the team of Alan R. Moon and Aaron Weissblum about a Mongolian family trying to become the most powerful.  That’s the extent of my knowledge about it.

Done with the Os.  Next time, P!  And I promise it won’t be another sci-fi wargame.  Thanks for reading.


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