This game is best described as a futuristic look at armored warfare, with many different types of armored vehicles, including the Ogre itself, an AI driven behemoth anywhere between a few to a dozen meters in length. The game is tactical in nature, with pieces representing a single vehicle or up to three squads of battle suit infantry. Given the number of armored strategy games out there, what makes this one worth your time, you ask?
- Compelling setting. The game takes place in the far future, pitting the Pan-European Alliance against the forces of the Combine. Armored battle suit infantry, tanks of different flavors (light, heavy and super-heavy), ground effect vehicles (GEVs), artillery and the massive Ogres slug it out on battlefields created with a set of beautifully rendered geomorphic map boards. The Ogres themselves are the centerpieces, bristling with railguns and tactical nuclear missiles that can often decide a battle all on their own.
- Components. There are two different versions of the game – small (the pocket version) and extra-large (the Designer Edition). The small version fits easily into a handbag or large pocket, but has all the components necessary to enjoy a game. The individual pieces could be more colorful, but the maps make up for this, being both functional and attractive. What the large version loses in portability it makes up for in presentation and production values. The maps are still beautiful, only much larger, while the tanks, infantry and other pieces are sturdy, functional and pleasing to the eye. The real masterpieces are the Ogres themselves, rendered colorfully in 3D cardboard pieces (some assembly required).
Update: There is now a mid-sized game with the big components, but less of them and fewer map boards. My advice is to shell out the extra cash for the extra-large version – there’s just not enough game in the mid-sized box to justify the expense.
- Playability. This is one of the game’s strongest points. The entire ruleset can be read in an hour, and you can teach someone the essentials in about 15 minutes. Gameplay is fast and straightforward – a small scenario can be finished in 30 minutes while the largest scenarios might take 2 or 3 hours. The rules are very intuitive so one can focus on enjoying the game instead of having to stop and look something up every five minutes.
- Goofy, over-the-top fun. It’s difficult not to cackle maniacally as you use a ludicrously well-armed land leviathan to stream roll infantry and other lesser vehicles. Meanwhile, tactical nuclear weapons fly to and fro in what is probably board gaming’s most lethal battlefield. The only game that comes close in its sheer, overblown combat zaniness might be Warhammer 40K.
Cons. Simplicity, one of the game’s selling points, is a two-edged sword. While lending itself to accessibility, tactics in the game are unsophisticated, mostly involving mobilizing enough firepower to take out the units you’ve chosen to target that turn. Thankfully, the game’s simple ruleset allows for easy modification in form of scenario special rules that can add a few levels of complexity in order to simulate a particular event or circumstance.
While well-designed, Ogre is definitely for a niche audience and won’t appeal to everyone. The people it will appeal to – war gamers who don’t take themselves too seriously – will probably like it right away.
So which version should you buy? If you don’t have the time or inclination for modding the game, go for the pocket version for quick pick up games. If you’re into the idea of adding or changing rules here or there, or just want to experience the wonderful production values on a large scale, go for the Designer’s Edition. It’s expensive, but well worth the money for the beautiful game you’ll receive and the hours of enjoyment it will provide.