Wednesday, November 20, 2013

OGRE Designer's Edition - Big

So, the Designer Edition of OGRE - from being backed on Kickstarter by me and hundreds of other gamers, to a tune of almost $1million - has finally shipped and reached the new owners. I received mine last week, just before going to a conference.  I finished opening it this week (and fawning on it, and constructing the hundreds of 3d models that come in it).  Lovely, and huge.  Over 30 years old, and still a wonderful game.

This is a big fricking deal (to come close to misquoting Vice President Biden).  The box and the contents therein weigh 28 pounds.  There is, as one of the main components, the large two piece OGRE map, reminiscent of the full color treatment of the original game, as was done by SJG once they got the title on Steve's departure from Metagaming.  Here is an image of the second Metagaming printing (an image of what the first printing appears lower down in this article), which was black and white (the second printing is the edition I originally owned), and that is followed by the first SJG (color) version.

B and W Version from Metagaming's Second Edition

Color Version from SJG's First (black plastic box) version

The game then, as it is now, is the tale of an OGRE - a large unmanned cybernetic tank, reminiscent of Keith Laumer's BOLO creations - that is driving towards a CP (Command Post), and the defenders must try to stop it.  The hitch?  The OGRE is indestructible - it can only have various components shot off of it (like guns, missile launchers, and tread units).  A very, very compelling game, and always well balanced almost every time.  Ignore those who whimper about the four howitzer defense - it is manageable by an experienced cyber-commander.  If you haven't heard of the four howitzer defense, you have to read this article - it isn't a sure fire way to keep that monstrosity from overrunning the CP, but it does help.

Okay, so what about that first printing of the black and white map?  The very first printing of OGRE, back in 1977 (same year Star Wars came out, same year Traveller came out - a pretty good year for Science Fiction, I think) had a rather plain (even plainer than the one above with the black and white craters) map, and simple counters.  The counters were printed on a single piece of card stock, and you had to cut them out.  Glorious (I loved it then, and I still love it).  The original looked like this (except this version has actual die cut counters) -

Reprinting of the Original Edition - out in 2013
Yep, the original map had solid black hexes for craters, and the ridge lines looked like thick black lines.  But it STILL worked.

As mentioned, the Designer Edition comes with a version that looks a lot like the color version above, but it is extremely large.  Extremely.  The original map was 8.5" by 14" (or close to that).  The new map is 

The sister game to OGRE (which is also well represented in the new Designer Edition) was GEV (which stands for Ground Effect Vehicle - the name given to the fast and nimble hover tanks of the OGRE universe - somewhat reminiscent of the blower tanks of Hammer's Slammers universe of David Drake, but maybe not as tough).  GEV had a much more interesting full color map (with forests, roads, cities, swamp, rivers, streams, train tracks, and even ocean), and had scenarios for armies from the OGRE universe (2085AD) fighting with each other, sometimes without an OGRE making an appearance.  Also included in the Designer Edition are terrain overlays, so that you can modify any of the maps included - by adding or extending or reducing elements such as cities, forests, water, roads, bridges or railroads.  Almost anything is possible with what comes in the kit.  And if that ain't enough, there are planned expansion terrain elements coming out (which I plan to get).

The map for GEV is included in the new designer's edition.  Along with a handful of other expansion maps to go along with it.
Color version of GEV map, from SJG - the original Metagaming version was white, with colored ink used for terrain.
In my own personal gaming history, I owned GEV before I owned OGRE.  And I loved it.  The four basic scenarios that came in the game were awesome, and I still love them (breakthrough, ceasefire collapse, raid, and so forth).  What an absolute great game.  And the map (above) and a handful of other GEV compatible maps (geomorphic, so they can be combined with any edge of the above map, to create larger battlefields) are in the designer edition.  Along with plenty (PLENTY) of units from GEV.

So what about units?  The Designer Edition comes with many, many units.  More OGREs than I have ever thought of using in a scenario.  These included 3d model versions of everything from MK IIs up through MK VIs - and variants along the way.  The variants are the MkIIIb, the Fencer (and Fencer-B), the Doppelsoldner, the Vulcan, and others.  In both Paneuropean and Combine version.  And the Paneuropean MKIIIs and MKVs have their alternate names on the bottom (Legionnaire and Huscarl).  Also, OGREs in the colors of other factions - generic grey/white, green (Kickstarter only?), etc.

Units from the Designer Edition - MkV OGRE on the left, MkIII OGRE on the right, and ground units in between.  3d model of a Laser Tower (to protect against cruise missiles, natch)
The smaller units (conventional units) are available for both main armies (North American Combine, and Paneuropean Alliance), as well as other armies.  Including the Black Rose Mercenaries, and others.  Lots of troops.

In fact, with all the maps provided, and all the figures provided, you could play several games simultaneously.  Provided you have room for the massive maps.  Makes it a great game for club night, or a convention - as one game can keep 6 or 8 gamers going for a while, easily.  And the battles (if kept reasonable) fight quick enough that round robin swapping of opponents could make for a very satisfying evening. To make all this possible, the Designer Edition came with a handy-dandy bag, to make carrying this behemoth (OGRE) of a game, possible.

Picture of the game, in the bag, from BGG, with the owner's punched out countersheets up top.  This game is almost 7" thick, and over two feet across...

I plan to take this baby to a game night in Columbus sometime soon, at the new location of Moxie Games.  I will report back on progress, with pictures, when I do.

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