• Ogre

    I wanted to share some not so serious stuff with everyone.  I love games and this past weekend, I got to spend some time at the launch party for the (probably final) release of Ogre.

    Ogre was developed as a tactical combat game by Steve Jackson in 1977 or so.  The original game came in a ziplock bag and the gamer had to cut out his own counters.  It was purely black and white, there was exactly one map and two scenarios.  It cost under $3.  Since then there has been a computer game (Commodore 64 for the win) a few supplements (GEV and Shockwave) and a deluxe edition.

    Mid-summer of 2012, Steve Jackson decided to create the ultimate edition of the game.  Steve Jackson Games also created the gaming craze of Munchkin.  Which, if you like to play games and have a bunch of friends who don’t mind being stabbed in the back, is a great game.  Munchkin is so popular, that Steve Jackson Games had some extra cash and wanted to make Ogre… big.

    They decided to run a kickstarter campaign.  The goal was to get $20,000 in order to make a pretty cool game with 3-D units that players would punch out and assemble. They massively underestimated the response.  The final result was well over $900,000 dollars.  Considering that the full game could be had for $150, it was a huge response.  SJGames admits that they went a little crazy.  Every $50,000 was some kind of stretch goal.  Then they went really wild.  For $3,000 someone could create their own sheet of units (I think it was 500 or 5000 sheets) to do with as they please.  Two companies and three individuals did this.

    The stretch goals kept going and the game got bigger and bigger and bigger.  My set, which had everything, weighs in at bout 40 pounds.

    One of the later goals was a ‘launch party”.  People who came to the launch party would get their games first and have a chance to meet the SJGames crew, play the game, win some prizes, get some extra swag, and just have fun.  I went.  It was a ball.  I”d like to share some pictures with you.  If you are into games at all, this should impress the heck out of you.

    I was a bit early for the launch party and was third in line.  Through a couple of great coincidences, I was the first person to get the game.  I wandered over to a table, set everything down and just stared in awe at it for an hour.  I looked around and most of the people who were picking up the game were just looking it. We kind of looked at each other with a mixed expression of “how awesome is this” and “what do I do now”?

    Click to enlarge any picture.

    This is what I got.  It doesn’t look like much, but there are another 50 or so counter sheets on the back of that giant box.

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    This is what it looks like with all the counter sheets.  Keep in mind that some of those packages have 8-10 counter sheets in them.

     

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    One of the guys who traveled quite a way for the party didn’t want to open his up, so I cracked it open and we punched out enough stuff for the base game.  Basically, one player is the ogre (that giant 3-D cybertank on the left) and the other player is everything else trying to stop it.  The 3-D command post on the right is mine.  It’s not easy because ogres are very, very tough.

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    Still in the first game, my infantry company swarms the ogre.  Infantry are fragile, but the goal is to slow the ogre down… quickly.

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    I managed to stop the ogre (shot out all of it’s tracks) just in range of my howitzer.  It couldn’t move and I could just back everything else away from it and pound on it with artillery.  I won the first game of this new system ever… well not a SJGames employee.

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    We played again with a different set of maps.  The iPad has an app that keeps track of unit damage and stuff like that for us.

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    I’m about to pull off a brilliant tactical maneuver here.  I’m the ogres this time and two are much, much tougher to kill than one… especially when I have some maneuvering room.

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    One guy pulled out all the maps and had a huge war with about 4 players on each side.

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    This is the results of me and the cub punching out counters and assembling units for about three hours. Notice the stack of counter sheets that I haven’t put together in the back right?  Yeah, this game is just huge.  The designers put in places to hold units.  The black tray in the box holds counters and the clear tray on the left hold the 3-D units.  There are two of those trays and I still don’t have room for everything.

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    This shows some of the finished ogres, laser towers, and someone included a dragon in their sponsored sheet.  Almost all the counters behind the ogres are infantry of various stripes.

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    This shows some other types of ogres, some buildings, and the regular armor units… and the stack of unpunched counters.

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    There are three factions in the game.  The Paneuropeans, the North American Combine, and the Black Rose mercenaries.  Two of the sponsored sheets include two other factions… the Vatican Guard and the Nihon Army.  Just doing some simple calculations (not including the ogres), there’s roughly a three divisions worth of armor and a infantry division just on the table right now.

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    Anyone (and I’m dating myself here) who has played any of the old Avalon Hill wargames will realize just how epic this game is.

    I just wanted to add something else.  Stuff like this shows what small groups of totally unconnected people can do when they set their minds to something.  I know of no other ogre players, yet there are a few in my area, we’ve just never connected until last Saturday.

    But one person (OK,  game company) set out to accomplish something.  No, this isn’t  wholesale rebuilding of society from the ground up*, it’s a game.  But it shows how one small group can organize a much larger group and do some pretty amazing things.  It’s something to keep in mind.

     

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    * But if that’s what you want, then break it into small manageable pieces.  Something that idealists often have trouble with.

     

    Category: EntertainmentFictionLife

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    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat

    • Dave Weiblen

      If I could sell envy, I’d be a rich, rich man after reading this post.

    • I never would have guessed you were old enough to know about Commodore 64s. 😉

    • Richard_Wein

      This is a blast from the past for me, as I remember the original game from the 70s. I read the rules, but didn’t get around to playing it. I’m curious to know what makes this game special enough to get such attention. From the rules it didn’t seem that special.

      The first wargames I ever came across (apart from Risk) were Avalon Hill. A friend of mine saw them in Hamley’s toy shop in London, probably the first UK shop to sell them, about 1970. Yes, I’m that old too. He bought Midway and Blitzkrieg, and although we played them all wrong (he didn’t read the rules properly) I was hooked. I then bought U-boat (big mistake), followed by Panzerblitz. Ten years of playing wargames ensued.

      A few years back I got into PBEM, play-by-email, which was a big improvement on the play-by-snail-mail that I did a bit of in the 70s. It was great to play Blitzkrieg again after all these years. Ah, there’s nothing like nostalgia.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Blitzkreig! I think I still have the maps for that, though I’m missing some pieces. We had Panzer Blitz and Panzer Leader too.

        Ogre isn’t all that unique, except for the science fiction setting and the ogres themselves.

        • Richard_Wein

          Yes, it’s probably the coolness factor of the Ogres, plus I suppose the extreme asymmetricality of the two sides makes it interesting. Blitzkrieg is much too symmetrical.

        • Richard_Wein

          I’ve been introducing my young niece to strategy games. I think Carcassonne is the most strategic game we’ve played so far.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Carcassonne is a good game. I enjoy playing it and I hate scoring it. The Android app for it is good (not great, but certainly playable on a tablet).

    • David Vun Kannon

      Still waiting for my copy to arrive… What makes Ogre fun? Simple rules, asymmetry, blow everything up! Seems obvious…