Category Archives: OGRE

1D4Con AAR and OGRE 6!

First of all, I wish to apologize for the delay, usually I write these things the day I get home.  It’s been a busy week at work.  Long story short, I went to the 1d4con event in Martinsburg, WV last weekend, Saturday and Sunday, is is an AAR of sorts, with some observations and impressions at the end, plus some coverage of a game of OGRE version 6 I played.  If you’ve been reading on along faithfully, you know OGRE and I are old, old friends, so I wasn’t going to devote a lot of space to a game I was already quite familiar with.  At least that was the plan, we’ll see!

1D4Con is an event I’ve meant to attend for years now.  I think there’s been 4 or 5 of them, starting in Winchester and moving farther out to Martinsburg a few years ago.  This is a smaller venue than HMGS conventions and definitely a modest site compared to them– just 2 major ballrooms and a few conference rooms.  The very capable staff did a great job maximizing the space they had, though, and they were both courteous and innovative.  I pre-registered for this convention about two weeks out and pre-registered for events.  1D4con is apparently part of a group or chain of conventions that share the same registration system which is a bonus.  By this, I mean there appear to be other 1d4cons in other states.  The venue, being on the smaller side, was actually filled up for hotel rooms when I called almost 3 weeks out, which was sobering.  However, I did get a room in the Quality Inn next door, no muss, no fuss and half the Holiday Inn rate.  Not bad.  Decent hotel, too.

For someone schooled in the HMGS convention model, which featuring huge staffs and big infrastructure investments, the simple approach the 1D4Con people took to event scheduling was kind of refreshing.  Events went up on the wall, on the hour, by the hour, but they were mostly in standard time slots.  Get this, no tickets!  Just a sign on the wall with the players who signed up for what and blanks for any open slots.

This is a wall sheet. They are put out by standard time slot in the events area (a ablwall). When it’s time to run the game, the GM retrieves this to do a roll call.

On the tables were table toppers that featured inserts to show you what would be running on that table for that day.  Ingenious and elegant.

A great system for smaller conventions, but I’m not sure it would scale upwards.

1D4Con is primarily a RPG game convention. That means, lots and lots of games that look like this:

Doesn’t this look familiar?

Enter a caption

The problem with roleplaying games is that a bunch of people staring at a DM screen isn’t the most colorful subject for photography, no matter how fun the game is. There were a few miniatures games, for certain… but they were teeny things that I don’t regularly play:

Bolt Action games were being hosted by YOUR HOBBY PLACE.

CAR WARS CLASSIC on Saturday. Nice layout!

Some samurai skirmish game

The convention was set up to raise money for a couple of local charities, via Extra Life and a few other local funds. I was impressed– even Bake Sales raised money. I loved that!

Display for Extra Life Charity

Your Hobby Place also ran paint and take, just like the Hobby University does in HMGS conventions

I didn’t’ come up to 1D4Con to play just miniature skirmish games, so the focus on RPGs is just fine by me. I’ll play just about anything once… except, maybe, LARPing (which was present btw).  I meant to get into something conventional, like D&D Fifth Edition or Pathfinder, but instead ended up playing Cthulhu Wars (which is a miniatures heavy boardgame), OGRE version six (more on that below) and The Quiet Year, (which is kind of sort of a RPG, I guess). I wanted to play Call of Cthulhu (RPG) but didn’t really have a handy time slot for it. In general, I really liked the convention– I wish they had more vendors, but it was okay that they didn’t. I did end up buying some Reaper Bones figures from one and the new version of Zendo from the other, so I feel like I gave them some business.

Saturday night I played OGRE version six. Now if you know aught of my tastes, constant reader, you know I know this game already, and have played this since I was an actual teenager– so I won’t be breaking this out into a separate post. What was a treat was playing in the super duper expanded size deluxe counter style that is a product of that line after it got kickstarted some years ago. This isn’t the coffee table sized version that came out in 2011, but a more compact version that just has some similar components but not all. It also isn’t OGRE Miniatures, although we did end up playing with those later instead of counters. I played two games.. one a one-on-one with a very good OGRE player, another with a multiple player four on four game. I really enjoyed both games.

The OGRE III comes on board.. the human line is pretty thin, but it’s mobile. I send two GEVs to harass it from a distance.

Panoramic view of the entire fight


I got crushed (eventually) in the first game with the traditional OGRE map, and the second game was kind of a draw. I love seeing the miniatures get out.

So that was my 1D4Con. I really enjoyed it. I discovered Martinsburg really isn’t that far. It’s only an hour and a half’s drive from my place, and it’s a beautiful drive. I’d go again, and run miniatures games for this gig (which it sorely needs). Maybe I’ll bring War Rocket and Frostgrave next year.

If you want to see the slideshow of all the pictures I took, and there are a ton of them, click this link.

Here’s a little audio narration.

And finally, in the words of a gentle cosplayer..

What the HELL you lookin’ at, suckah?


Kickstarter OGRE miniatures set one arriving

I’m happy to report that the Kickstarter package I backed, OGRE MINIATURES SET ONE, has arrived at the Casa, and it is everything I expected and more.

I backed this Kickstarter out of a desire to see Ogre miniatures back in production, even if for a limited amount of time.  I personally like this version of Steve Jackson’s OGRE far more in miniature form than in board game form.  OGRE Miniatures, the base game associated with the old metal miniatures, is without a doubt a workmanlike approach to the subject of a giant Cybertank being harassed by many flea-like smaller attackers. The OM rules reflect the board game OGRE origins very well, and are certainly easy, but not that sophisticated, either. I have used (older, metal) Ogre Miniatures with GZG’s Dirtside in the past and it works just fine. The important thing is to have the miniatures! That’s why I’ve purchased two sets with the recent SJG kickstarter– one with Blue Ogres and red small units and one colored in reverse.

The basic boxed set comes with 40 minis.. no, that’s not a typo or exaggeration.

The miniatures are plastic, the hard kind that uses Testor’s glue to assemble.  You’ll need an exacto to trim the smaller bits off the sprue and you’ll probably want to soak the finished models in soapy water to remove any trace mold release from the finished model before painting.  I think plastic is a good thing; the original, long out of print metal miniatures were not exactly cheap even in 1992.  With this kickstarter you get a ton of models, in just about the same scale, with just about the same amount of detail as the metal models.  It’s a win-win.

Large Red Ogre, a Mark III and a Mark V come in the box

For some reason Steve Jackson Games seems to think the color of the plastic is important. Thus it Kickstarted a basic red OGRE with blue small units set or the reverse, blue OGRE with red units. The red Ogre is shown above (unassembled). As I purchased two sets, I added the second set in reverse colors, e.g., blue ogre, red small boys.

Large BLUE Ogre, also a Mark III and a Mark V.

and here is the reverse….

GEVs, Heavy Tanks, Infantry, Missile Tanks, etc.  One in blue and one in red.

And here are the small boys, e.g., a sprue of GEV vehicles and a sprue of heavy tanks. (above)

Plastic Color really isn’t that important to me; my thought was I was going to field a force of Paneuropeans (which this set is) in yellow and one in red, much like the old Ogre Miniature rulebook depicted them. I know I did a BackerKit purchase of at least one more set (in green). I will probably paint them the Vatican colors.

Yes, OGRE miniatures set 2 did Kickstart recently and I took them up on their offer, but only one set (so far). I may expand this, as it is mostly Commune units and elements that got introduced in OGRE Shockwave. It’s a great time to get these kind of miniatures. I have always liked the OGRE visual design and it’s nice to have an option that isn’t too burdensome financially.

New OGRE Video Game Trailer for Steam Release

Oh yes, it will be mine.

OGRE Miniatures, Wave 2 spotted

As you may or may NOT know, I’ve been an enthusiastic backer of the OGRE miniatures project by Steve Jackson Games in the last year. The Kickstarter project funded almost immediately and when they made Backerkit offers, I increased the number of miniatures and bought two more basic sets above and beyond the two sets I started with (one all red, the other all blue, the backerkits green).

A bit of background. OGRE Miniatures have been around for a while in different forms. If I’m remembering things rightly, the defunct MARTIAN METALS may have made some original OGRE Miniatures. I remember seeing a few blisters here and there in shops, and adds for more, but these may have vanished from mortal ken now– even the lost miniatures wiki doesn’t have pictures of them. Well, if you’re an old guy like me you know Martian Metals went defunct long ago and that was a sadness– I liked their attitude, their sculpting was at least, ahem, enthusiastic, and they were very tied in with microgame publishers like Metagaming, which was unique. Sigh. All gone now!

OGRE miniatures didn’t come around for a second chance until the actual OGRE Miniatures game and accompanying (metal) miniatures in 1992. This was the old OGRE scenario without the hex map, and along with the rules, SJG themselves licensed out the production of many packs of OGRE miniatures, both Paneuropean and Combine, over the next ten years. You can still find these here and there on the Internet. They started at 19.95 new but now are going for a princely sum. SJG muddied the waters a little by releasing DELUXE OGRE and DELUXE GEV, sometime in the late 90s, which were essentially magnum sized versions of the old microgames, done with the same metal miniatures from OGRE Miniatures. I own the DELUXE OGRE set myself, but actually (ahem) never painted it. Now I wish I had!

Demand is a fickle mistress and all good miniatures lines have their day in the sun, then they kind of fade away. So it was for OGRE miniatures. SJG ceased production of the line back in the oughts, and that, we thought, was that. Until the Kickstarter for giant-ass OGRE showed up, that is. Suddenly, Steve Jackson Games was flooded with cash as hundreds of people pledged to pay 100 dollars for what was once a 2.95 microgame! Tier after tier after tier was reached and just what the heck extra could you give these people? Who KNEW there this many OGRE fans left alive? So Steve started looking back at this ancient chestnut (designed in 1977) and started coming up with ideas about how to ride that OGRE wave again. OGRE miniatures was obvious (along with a modernization of the ancient PC game, see last week’s post), but who wants to have a warehouse full of metal? SJG had tried that in the past. It didn’t work out. Instead, why not try plastics? Thus the OGRE Miniatures Set 1 kickstarter (mentioned above) was born, funded and over-funded. Interest with modern customers seems as intense now as it was back in the 90s. There is one problem, though. Set One is comprised of only all the units from the original OGRE game– Infantry, GEVs, Missile Tanks, Howitzers, Heavy Tanks and an OGRE MK III. There were several new units introduced in GEV, and further expansions in SHOCKWAVE. So there’s plenty of demand to fuel this train yet.

Today, the Kickstarter update posted a series of tantalizing pictures that indicate that work on SET 2 is already commenced and the first rough prototypes have been produced (in many colors, don’t pay attention to that quite yet).

Wide shot. As you can see, there’s a GEV PC, what looks to be an OGRE III, a light tank, a SuperHeavy tank, a light GEV and a mobile howitzer pictured here.

I’m not sure what will be included in Wave 2 yet, but it looks like it will emulate the units in GEV, on a guess. That works for me. GEV increases the tactical choices in OGRE exponentially, and gives us new terrain to play in.

GEV PC empty…

GEV PC with INF stands in it.

Light GEV. A bargain, you could get two for the price of one and it moves like a GEV.

Fencer variant OGRE; one main gun turret option.

Fencer, Second variant main gun turret.

Superheavy Tank. If memory serves this is a SHOCKWAVE unit, so perhaps there will be a mix of unit releases going forward?

Mobile Howitzer. I remember them looking a little different…

Light tank, introduced in the GEV game. This looks pretty close to the original sculpt.

So that is what has been released in today’s press release.  Keep in mind this is an early look and not remotely production model quality– production figures won’t be released in pastel and neon colored plastics, either.  There are some odd compromises here and there– I don’t care for the infantry figures quite yet, the light GEV has very little detail, and the Mobile Howitzer just looks, i don’t know, odd.  With that said, I’m encouraged because they’re putting out a FENCER for sure, and maybe even another variant OGRE other than the III and V.  Who knows?

The OGRE Video/PC game: not a rumor any more

Remember when the Kickstarter for OGRE Deluxe came out and Steve Jackson Games suddenly had a couple of millions of bucks in pledges over what he required and was thinking fast about what to do with all that boodle?  He gave away the original version of OGRE (the 2.95 pocket game), he promised he’d re-do CAR WARS, he promised he would reinvigorate the OGRE Miniatures line (and he’s coming through on that), and one of the niftier ideas being kicked around was “Hey, if there’s enough interest, we’ll get that OGRE video game done again”.  That .. what?

If you’re blessed with an imperfect memory and enough years, you might remember the old, very old, personal computer game of the basic OGRE III/V scenario.  This was an authorized SJG product produced under license by Origin Systems.  I remember this: I owned a copy.  Back in 1986.  I think it came out for Atari, Commodore 64 and IBM PC.  I have to say, you may be wincing at the graphics but it delivered surprisingly decent game play back in the day:

I think there was an illegal shareware version on early Macintosh computers but SJG lowered the boom on that one.

Not sure of the sales figures here but I’m guessing they were modest. The program never had an GEV material and it was never revisited in all those long years since. Until recently. According to hints here and there and some outright enthusiastic statements on the OGRE boards at SJG, a revisit of the OGRE PC/Video game is most definitely in the works. The production company is AUROCH DIGITAL and they just recently released some very early production visuals.

As SJG is quick to point out, don’t think this is even close to final, so there’s no telling what the final renders will actually look like, but I’m finding this encouraging. The original youtube put out earlier in the year pointed at an OGRE-only scenario:

The stills tell a different story– clearly, GEV and SHOCKWAVE units will be included in the mix. I’m very glad of that– I do like the basic OGRE game and played the living hell out of it in college, but it gets kind of predictable once you perfect what you call the perfect OGRE strategy. I find GEV much more challenging.

I’m not sure of deadlines or what not, but if this gets to kickstarter level, I’m sure the old fanboy in me will probably respond.

What the heck, who am I kidding, they can just shut up and take my money, I know my limitations.

Ogre Miniatures Set 1 Kickstarter

Color me on board!  At long last, Steve Jackson Games is backing a project that brings back the long out of print OGRE MINIATURES LINE (out of print, incredibly expensive in after market) back as plastic miniatures.  The miniatures are designed based on the originals, match the originals in scale and look, and have been cleaned up and retooled for plastic molding process.  The only models currently in kickstarter are the basic OGRE set– it appears that you will be able to recreate the original OGRE scenario (with an Ogre III and an Ogre V to use).  The models are cast in a solid color, blue for the little guys and red for the OGRES.

As you can see they are doing a great job with the sculpts. The molds apparently have been purchased and the deal with China has been made.

You can even buy a reverse set in the primary plastic colors, courtesy of another funding resource


Reverse colored

I’m pretty excited about this one– and I backed it! I may add on a reverse set, as well. The mere fact that SJG is calling this SET ONE means they will likely expand the rest of the OGRE universe.. exciting times!



Ogre Pocket Edition– the 1977 game at a 1977 price!

Back in the day, we played the living hell out of OGRE, the first great microgame from Metagaming (then Steve Jackson Games).   If you’re familiar with OGRE, you already know the scenario– giant cybernetic tank “Goliath” against a small horde of ground unit “Davids”.    As I’ve reported on here (and has been mentioned elsewhere repeatedly), SJG accomplished its famous Kickstarter campaign to produce a giant 100 dollar deluxe version of OGRE.   It’s a beauty, no doubt about it.. but I started my long experience with OGRE playing the old microgame, so I didn’t buy one.  Not sure if I’ll regret that, either…

The POCKET edition.. the old microgame in everything but name!

Anyway, Steve Jackson is now servicing the other end of the market bell curve, e.g., cheapskates like me.  The “Pocket Edition” of OGRE, meaning, the paper version, with counters and map and all, is now available through WAREHOUSE 23 (or at local stores) for.. guess what?  2.95.  That’s 2.95, the SAME PRICE IT SOLD FOR IN 1977.

SJG Product description:

Now Ogre Pocket Edition takes the game back to its roots. A small rulebook, 140 counters, and the same bare-bones map Steve drew himself for the very first printing. And the price is the same as it was in 1977: $2.95. ($2.95 in 1977 dollars translates to be over $10 today when adjusted for inflation; this is Steve’s way of saying ‘thank you’ for your support for Ogre over the last three decades.)

Despite its “pocket” size, Ogre Pocket Edition will have more than enough counters to play all five of the “Ogre vs. Command Post” scenarios. It includes two different conventional forces (a Black force and a White force), with a whopping eight White Howitzers! That’s a whole lot of gameplay for $2.95.

For once, Marketing hyperbole is accurate.  That IS a whole lot of gameplay for 2.95.  Me? I own about 3 versions of OGRE, all of them over 15 years old at least.  But if you’ve never played it and want to introduce them to a great game that could easily tuck into a paperback book as a bookmark, this is the game to purchase.  Link below.

Warehouse 23 – Ogre Pocket Edition.

OGRE SIX and transferring publishing risk onto consumers: the other side of Kickstarter

I recently backed my first two projects in Kickstarter, both of which made their modest funding goals with ease. One was a return of a RPG from my younger days in a new media format of tablet and PC computing, another was a tablet based wargame by a very well known designer. As you might have picked up on if you’ve read this blog at all, I’m bullish on the idea of supporting wargames on the IoS platform.. or really any tablet. I donated ten bucks for both, I believe, and for that, I’ll be getting a copy of the games when they are available for the Ipad. You’ll note that ten bucks is a price point I would deem “pretty high” for getting an Ipad game. It is, by the standards of the marketplace. The highest price I’ve paid for an Ipad game was, I think 6.99 at first (since risen to 9.99).

Screen slice from upcoming Bulge game of interest

One could make a case that I’m paying for the opportunity of getting games produced that otherwise would never see the light of day. In essence, I’ve assumed a large portion of the producer’s financial risk by donating my funds instead of the producer’s. In the old days, producers took all the risks– in the case of games, the creator would approach them with a design, they would make a judgement call that it is or isn’t marketable, and they would decide whether to produce product. Traditionally, the publisher rolled the dice, funded the project himself and dealt with the myriad problems of distribution, inventory and sales himself. If a product tanked, he took a bath. If a product took off, he immediately started working on how to maximize his success. From start to finish, the producer was the entity involved in the management of risk.  In an nutshell, that’s free market capitalism for you.

Things started to change (as far as game publishing goes) with the advent of the P500 system, started by GMT games back in the 1990s, when they were facing extinction from taking too much risk, and were drowning in excess inventory from unsold games that got produced as a result of guessing wrong.  Sigh, how well I remember the great old GMT fire sales of those days!  Suddenly, consumers had a direct say in what they would or would not support financially– you could sign up to pay for product x, y and z but not a, b and c… and if enough people voted for x, y and z and provided a credit card number, x, y and z (or some variation of x, y, z, a, b and c) would get made. You’d buy what you want, productions runs are lower, costs are contained somewhat, no giant inventories languishing in warehouses, costing the producer money.  P500 works, more or less, as a gauge of what the customers in a niche group willing to pay for wargames will fund for publication. It is a flat fee arrangement, e.g., “this game is described thusly and will cost fifty bucks. Interested? We’ll charge you fifty bucks when it’s ready and ship it to you”.. there, I’ve just encapsulated the GMT method in one sentence. P500 has proven to be a good model, and many publishers of games have adopted it;  it’s solid, and it is directly related to crowd-sourced funding.

Crowd-sourced funding are projects that get made with small donations, usually handled with paypal and credit cards, as a financial guarantor that a project will proceed after a certain threshold is met. This is the genesis of the Kickstarter idea.  The basic threshold level is (reputedly) the amount of money to make the thing itself; to get it done. That would mean a copy of the thing, itself, one would think, but nooo…. There are levels of donations, and sometimes, you are encouraged to donate even if you’re not going to get the thing. You know, the publication being funded? Often, you can just donate because an idea is cool and you want someone to get ahead in this world, or maybe, be listed as a “friend” of the project… Wow, a block game of the War of the Triple Alliance? I’ll never play it, but dang it, here’s a buck! I’ll never understand the motivation behind that kind of donation– this is capitalism, folks, not charity. Don’t think that your donation means much more to a publisher than “a bundle of free money”.  I respect people who are willing to donate a minimal amount of money just to be listed as a “friend” somewhere, I really do, but that and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee at McDonald’s.. oh, that’s right, you won’t have your dollar, you just gave it to Kickstarter.

Kickstarter has proven to be a very decent entre into publishing for extremely small companies with great designs but no avenues for publishing them.  2010’s Alien Frontiers was the great Kickstarter success story, bringing a fantastic worker placement game with a hip retro look and feel to the market, and it was snapped up so fast it has gone through a major reprint already (or was it two reprints?).   There have been many boardgame proposals in the Kickstarter process since then, but none of them have repeated the success of Alien Frontiers.  Still, it was an example that opened the floodgates for many people with big ideas and very little money to push their pet projects.  Some are good, some are bad, and some just downright silly, but wow, I’d like to see it in print…  Around 2011, we started to see a new trend with the Kickstarter approach.  Now, larger, more established companies like Lock and Load Games and Collins Epic Wargames (and others) were transfering financial risk to Kickstarter and moving away from the P500 idea.  For a niche hobby like boardgames, and especially for the narrower niche of board wargaming, this has proved to be a pretty good idea, by and large.  Small projects get funded, at at least the minimal level needed to get product out on the street.


C’mon Distributors! Won’t you bite on my coffee table game?

About a year ago, Steve Jackson Games put out a feeler to distributors about their giant megalith sized version of OGRE that they had in the planning stages. The initial wording of the press announcement was definitely worded as a message from Steve Jackson to the principle hobby distributors (left). It’s going to be large, he said. It will be expensive. I’m not going to print many of them. Are you interested? And not much of this project was heard from for about a year, until recently. So I guess the distributors weren’t much interested in a boardgame that came in a box the size of a small coffee table, being essentially a reprint of a 2.95 ziploc from 1978 with giant cardboard constructable pieces. Don’t get me wrong. Then, as now, I’m very impressed with the graphic redesign of OGRE VERSION SIX. It’s huge, it’s impressive, it shows a real artistic touch. And it’s a hundred dollars. I’ve already made the decision about this. I won’t be pre-ordering it, because, frankly, it’s not at all different mechanically from that 6 dollar purchase of OGRE and GEV ziplocs I made all those years ago– it’s not going to play one whit differently. If I’m not going to get giant plastic OGRES, what the hell do I want to spend a hundred bucks on? A game that won’t fit anywhere on my bookshelf? No thanks. I’d love to see this one played, though. Wow, it’s just beautiful eye candy. As I said then, and results have verified (as we are about to discuss) the idea that there are plenty of people who will buy this thing, just not me. Really, this post isn’t about what I will or won’t buy, anyway. It’s about Kickstarter, and risk avoidance.

In the interregnum between last year’s announcement and now, Steve Jackson must have decided that he wouldn’t wait on hobby distributors (such as there are, any more) to make up his mind for him. He took his case for a giant sized OGRE SIX directly to the people, and made a Kickstarter pitch. And did it pay off for him in spades!  The initial funding level to make the thing happen was respectable. Steve Jackson Games announced that it would be accepting Kickstarter donations on 11 April. The initial funding level, you know, to actually make the big thing become physical reality? That happened in a few hours. Literally. So, suddenly Steve Jackson now has a very finite idea that a sizable chunk of the public wants a coffee table sized game of OGRE, are willing to pony up 100 bucks for it, and are generally wanting more, more, MORE! That’s where things get a little hinky. What do you do when you so clearly exceed your modest first day’s funding level? You kick yourself for not asking for more!

Now if you don’t know how donation tiers work on Kickstarter, but it’s not hard to figure out. You pay a certain something, you get a certain something. Here’s the kicker, though– with a game that is $100, you have all these tiers under a hundred bucks that entitle to you to, well, no game at all but an assortment of sincere thank you’s that will be posted on websites, lapel pins, PDFs of the OGRE BOOK and OGRE MINIATURES (these already exist btw), t-shirts and other paraphernalia. All the way up to a donation of 75 dollars. Now why would anyone donate 75 dollars for a stinkin’ t-shirt and not donate 100 dollars and get the game? And yet, people have! You can even donate a dollar and get your name listed on a website. Those are the “kickbacks”. The other issue you need to look at are “funding levels”. This is what happens when the funds come in– what the publisher will do with them. For the most part, these are modest, as in my two examples above. However, when your project faces runaway enthusiasm.. suddenly you have tons of donations, far exceeding the initial (modest) goals… and that is exactly what happened with OGRE SIX, or OGRE DESIGNER’S EDITION, as it is now called. Suddenly, this thing wasn’t looking like a limited print run.

What exactly do you do when you wanted a measly 20K and you get above 600K? You start making decisions about your company’s future, because suddenly, you’re going to be due a giant wad of cash in tiny paypal increments, and there’s no plan on what to spend it on. For Steve Jackson Games, part of that extra cash would be spent on making an already high quality production even higher quality (and, by the by, MUCH heavier). Additional counter sheets were discussed. Adding cool new units were also discussed. After a point however, the infusion starts to bleed over into other projects:

$550,000 – GOAL ACHIEVED! – We will start interviewing for a full-time Ogre line editor in the Austin office, because it looks like this game is back for the long haul.

$575,000 – GOAL ACHIEVED! – We will put Ogre Miniatures, 2nd Edition on the schedule for late 2013, as both hardcopy and PDF. It will incorporate the material in the “update” PDF now available, as well as whatever gets developed as we work on Ogre over the next year. There will be new photos and new graphics. Good thing we will have a Line Editor!

They are even discussing an OGRE computer game, something SJG has resisted for years.  I’d buy that, for IoS at least.

Later, on the same page:

$700,000 – Drive Offensively! We will launch a Kickstarter project for Car Wars! We *think* this will turn out to be a refinement of Car Wars Compendium 2.5, but you’ll tell us. Our supporters at the [new] $23 level and higher will be invited to join an exclusive Car Wars forum, where we’ll build the new edition from the ground up – issues like “which classic cover do we use?,” “10 phase, 5 phase, or 3 phase movement?,” and “do we include boats?” Once the project launches, surveys will be open to the public, but only supporters of the current project will get in on the preliminary planning. And we’ll take everything we have learned from our Ogre Kickstarter project to make the Car Wars project even better.

So, pretty much, the risk of creating a resurgence of the Car Wars line is now in the hands of kickstarter donations– and it won’t happen unless the Ogre project goes over 700K, which it just might do. Notice a trend? SJG is hiring a new employee, because of Kickstarter donations. Essentially the risk and gamble isn’t Steve Jackson’s any more, it’s ours. As in the consumers. Is this a good or bad trend? It certainly is democratic– and in the case of OGRE, probably justified. Maybe Steve Jackson didn’t know how much we oldsters (and some youngsters too) love that dusty old design of his. I’m sure he knew his target audience had some disposable income, but would they spend it on a 100 dollar OGRE? Turns out we would, who knew? Now, for the million dollar question: how many will be printed? After the initial rush and chest thumping and fist stabbing are done, will people play this thing? And I mean constantly, because I might feel inclined to do that with a 100 dollar wargame. My guess is, no. I think nostalgia is driving the demand for this thing and within the year we’re going to have a lot of aggravated people trying to find space for their OGRE coffee tables somewhere in their house. We’ll see. I can only hope it will spark a resurgence in OGRE/GEV, as well as popularizing wargames.

If the aforementioned blather sounds critical, I really am not. I doubt you will find many more enthusiastic OGRE players than your humble correspondent.  I want Steve Jackson to succeed, at the end of the day.  It’s a brave new world of fundraising Steve Jackson Games has entered into here, and I sincerely wish him well.


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LEGO(tm) OGRE and GEV units

A recent pingback on this blog led me to a page where the author was heavily invested in the concept of building OGRE (the Steve Jackson boardgame) and GEV (the sequel to same) out of somewhat common LEGO blocks. I must have blogged about this at some point in the distant past when someone posted their work on boardgamegeek, or I wouldn’t have a hit on it.  It turns out Dan Efran is doing some lovely work designing and building smaller scale OGRE and GEV vehicles using common Lego bricks.  See:

OGRE III, copyright Dan Efran

And very innovative small fry units, to boot:

Light Tank, Heavy Tank, Superheavy Tank. Copyright Dan Efran

Howitzer. copyright Dan Efran

Mobile Howitzer copyright Efran

GEVs copyright Efran

All very clever, but I’m not AS crazy about the GEV vehicles.  They don’t evoke the visuals of the earlier game nearly as well as the other units do.

Infantry units are simplicty in themselves:

Infantry: 3, 2, and 1 squad tokens. Copyright Efran

For more visual reference, visit Mr. Efran’s page.  He has made a version of everything in the OGRE/GEV/SHOCKWAVE line.  Most of which look like what they are supposed to look like.

I’d like to create an OGRE/GEV game using some of this stuff.  It would be a fun Kid’s Gaming Camp game this year.  I know Gar’s Lego collection probably has all of this stuff several times over but I really don’t want to put in the effort to sort it out.  If there’s a place out there that sells individual LEGO items from a catalog, drop me a line.

LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group of companies (creators of LEGO building toys). OGRE® and G.E.V. are trademarks of Steve Jackson Games, Inc. (publishers of the OGRE series of games).  This web page is not in any way affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by either entity.

The New OGRE from SJG

The sixth edition of Steve Jackson’s breakthrough micro-game OGRE will be released shortly, and two things are clear already:

  1. It won’t be micro sized
  2. It won’t be micro priced

For those of you hiding under a rock, OGRE was a mini game originally published by a small Texas game company, Metagaming Concepts, back in 1977.  It was part of a series of small scale “pocket” or Microgames that were cheaply made and sold at an incredibly reasonable price– 2.95 in the case of OGRE, about the same as a paperback book at the time.  Way back in 2005, I wrote a series on Metagaming games which you can see a link to in the top menu under “microgames.”  This is the link to the posting about OGRE.   Additional information can be found on the OGRE wikipedia page.

OGRE cover

OGRE 6 Cover: to give you a sense of scale, One LETTER on the box of this game is as big as the original SJG flat box version.

If you want to do the research, there’s been plenty of versions of OGRE that have come out since then.  My particular favorite was the version that was first published by Steve Jackson after he managed to wrestle the rights to his design away from a seemingly vengeful Howard Thompson as a going away present when he left Metagaming to start his own company, Steve Jackson Games.

OGRE Flatbox

OGRE Flatbox Ed., SJG

Later combined "VHS box" version, SJG

That version of OGRE came in a nice, flat paperback sized plastic box that was durable and attractive (I still have one).  The follow up to OGRE, GEV (which focuses on the OTHER stuff on an OGRE battlefield, the smaller units) also was published in a flat black box.  The price was slightly higher but still in the paperback book range, and the maps were color and the artwork generally more spiffy (featuring the work of Dennis Loubet, who would illustrate most OGRE projects in the ensuing decades).   These were the OGRE/GEV games of my youth and college years; I literally played them into extinction at least twice.   Fueled almost entirely by nostalgia, I have purchased at least one later edition of OGRE and GEV, this one in a box somewhat similar to the original SJG black plastic one, but more like the size of a plastic tape VHS box with the spindles removed (in fact, that is what they were).

No longer was OGRE the cost of a paperback, but it was still very affordable and now incorporated an expansion called SHOCKWAVE which adds much to the game (new units, new defensive installations, new rules).

The current (sixth) edition of OGRE about to hit this Spring will abandon much of the elements that made the first (several) editions so charming and elegant. To quote Steve Jackson, in a public letter to distributors posted on PYRAMID on March 12:

“Later this year, we’ll release Ogre 6th Edition. It will be a very, very deluxe boardgame, with all the rules and units from Ogre, G.E.V., and Shockwave, as well as things that have only appeared in magazines and miniature releases.

Why? Because I want to. Ogre was my first design, and the boardgame version hasn’t been available for years. And people keep asking me for it. So some of our Munchkin money is going back to support the people who bought my very first game, by bringing them an edition with the best possible components.

It won’t be “Euro” style. No meeples, no plastic. This will be the kind of hex wargame that we dreamed about 30 years ago, back when our heroes were SPI and Avalon Hill. HUGE double-sided map boards. HUGE full-color counters with HUGE type. A HUGE box to hold them in. And giant constructible Ogres!

So why am I writing this letter? Not to say “Hey, distributors, we’ll do this if you like the idea.” I’m going to release this game, no matter what. If we don’t get enough distributor interest, we’ll release it for direct sales only, with (probably) a lower print run, and (certainly) a lower price, since we won’t have to build in the distributor and retailer margin.

Here’s why you may not want this game: It’s going to retail for $100, and it isn’t full of plastic toys. It’s a classic hex wargame, and those aren’t in fashion. Here’s why I hope you DO want it:

  • It’s a humongous, heavy box that will have a huge shelf presence. How big is it? Over twice the size of Munchkin Quest. It takes three copies of the original edition of Ogre to cover up the word “OGRE” on this box.
  • It’s got three huge mapboards with 1.5” hexes, and big full-color counters. The Ogre and building counters are 3-D constructible miniatures!
  • I don’t expect to keep this in print. Realistically, I expect to print it once and let people spend the next 30 years fighting over the remaining copies. The people who get it are going to show it off at parties and conventions.
  • It’s a pretty good game, if I say so myself. A lot of people remember it. (More than 25 years after its original release, Ogre won a spot in Hobby Games: The 100 Best.) Some of them would love to drop $100 for a beautiful version of the game they played 20 or 30 years ago, whether it was in high school, or in Germany or Kuwait or some classified spot in the middle of the Pacific.”

What to make of this?  It would seem to me that SJG is betting heavily on the nostalgia factor that plays in to a lot of their older games– some of which haven’t’ been released in years and are still quite popular, like OGRE.   Steve Jackson is wisely putting it all into one box with big, expensive production values.  He’s rather straightforward about the demand and reasons for publishing it– it will be a limited run, it will be a collector’s item, and (practically), it just might infuse the coffers of SJG with lots of cash.  Somehow, I tend to agree with Jackson’s first statement– it’s his first wargame and he wants to see  the ultimate version of the game created.  SJG isn’t in business to make a loss, but the Munchkin cardgame series appear to be a cash cow they are continuing to milk for the foreseeable future, and if SJG wanted to take the safe and predictable course, they could continue publishing Munchkin supplements until the end of days, and rake in the dollars.  So it isn’t solely a profit motive that brings us this new version of OGRE.

New Counter mix

New Counter Mix and "contructable" ogres and laser towers in OGRE 6.

Frankly, when I got a look at the components and box design, my eyes popped open.  Sixth edition is a huge departure from previous editions, which have essentially reprinted the old 1977 “Strip-Style” counters, only with better production values.  OGRE Six will feature “constructibles”, e.g., Standup 3D OGRES and Laser Towers made out of durable chipboard, and thick chipboard counters cut to fit snugly into a hex.  Frankly, this is fantastic component design– I’m awestruck.  A terrific job and deserving of its impending “collectibility”.

However, I can’t shake that nagging sense that SJG is NOT going back to its roots with this release.. Instead, I feel like Jackson is trying to go head to head with Fantasy Flight Games with a component design that is exponentially better than many of his game products.   At a Fantasy Flight Games price, too.

Will people buy this thing, even without snazzy plastic pieces, which seem like such an anathema to the Steve Jackson Games company?   Of course they will.  There are plenty of oldsters like me that would get in line to get a copy.  But will retailers be especially thrilled with it?  That I doubt.  “Large shelf presence” generally equates to “Great, another pain in the butt to shelve”.  I suspect we’ll see one or two hit hobby stores in my area (near Washington DC), they’ll be quickly snatched up by people with disposable income to spare, and then we’ll never see it again.

With all that said, I’m not sure I’ll buy it.  Honestly, the game doesn’t play one whit different than the old ziploc does.  My old OGRE/GEV/SHOCKWAVE edition I bought as a combo way back in the early 2000s will play just as well as this game.  So it comes down to– will I pay 100 bones to play a game with great components that I already have in a more portable format (and by the way, can play on Cyberboard too)?  I just might give this a pass– but don’t be discouraged, Steve, we all know this OGRE Six will sell out in six months.   Good luck!

(PS: Wouldn’t OGRE make a smashing Ipad game, sir?)

Ogre Miniatures at Cold Wars 2010

Event: T-393 – Steve Jackson’s Ogre
Thurs. 5:00 PM, 3 hrs, 4 players
GM: John Rentovich with Tim Kaufman
SciFi 1/285 micro, Rules: Steve Jackson’s Ogre

Ogre and its sequel, G.E.V., are tactical ground combat games set in the late 21st century. In 2085 A.D., armored warfare is faster and deadlier than ever. Hovercraft, tanks and infantry slug it out with tactical nukes. But the most feared weapon of all needs no human guidance. It’s the giant cybernetic tank called the Ogre.

OGRE MINIATURES!!! Talk about a trip down memory lane! I met my buddy Bill Alderman walking into the Distelfink ballroom and he sat in on this game with me. Bill took the left wing of the Vatican Guard (Mark 1 and 2 OGRES, smaller units), I took the Lutheran Armored Brigade right wing (Mk III OGRE “Martin Luther”, small units). It was marginal victory for the Vatican. We took out the Doppelsoldner and killed the Holy Father, which you don’t see every day of the week.  In turn, the Ogre Mark V that was our left flank was savaged by the Dopplesoldner (their right flank), being down to some treads at the end of the game.  My Mark III was in sad shape but could still fight, and I still had a small force of heavies and a few surviving GEVs at my disposal.


The Right Flank of the Vatican battle. My Mark III and supporting units.

Bill moved out smartly, doing all the right things, dispersing his troops to avoid being targets and moving forward.  I responded with a blocking force of GEVs doing the standard “Dash in/Dash out” attack favored by the GEVs.  I did some damage but got smoked by superheavy tanks.  The rest of my force, I moved to the left to take on the Doppelsoldner with the Mark V on my flank, using the III and the Heavy force.  Bill wasn’t prepared for me to dash out of his way like that.

The Five crashed into the Doppelsoldner and nearly ruined it, as the heavies took on the Doppel’s main guns and secondaries.  The Five moved on after smashing up in the city and ended up pushing into the Vatican rear flank.  I brought up the Three to the flank of the Doppel who was tangling with a company of my heavies.   It had lost so many treads it was almost a pillbox at this point, and the heavies got the last treads as the Three moved out of the city to take on the Superheavies and missile tanks, which were the only heavy armor Bill had left other than the old Ogre I and II.


Direct Link to slideshow (facebook users)

We called it for time, and graciously gave the other side the marginal victory because, technically, they had more units in play. This game was a blast to play and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t played OGRE miniatures in years. Thank you, GM John Rentovich, for putting this one on.


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Ogre Miniatures on SJG

Follow-up: OGRE Miniatures with Legos are very cool.

While reading up on “new” OGRE on Boardgamegeek for the previous post, I found a little snippet from Dave J McWeasely (aka “Mr. Weasley” on BGG).  He had made a whole series of little OGRE miniatures using common LEGO bricks. 


All the small fry from OGRE/GEV

Needless to say, I was impressed.. the little tanks and missile launchers are just.. so darned cute, it’s hard to resist the notion of making a LEGO OGRE game myself.   I noticed Mr. McWeasley didn’t make the main attractions, the OGREs themselves, but this was easily fixed by investigating with Google.  Mr. Daniel Efran has his own page on the subject, LEGO OGRE, where he makes giant cybertanks in Lego.  He tried to make small boys as well.  I have to admit I prefer Mr. McWeasley’s smaller units and obviouly Mr. Efran’s monster OGRES  kick major butt.

Two OGRE MK IIIs face off

Two OGRE MK IIIs face off

I’ve prepped a visual survey of what can be found in both places.  Visual credit is for David McWeasley for all small units except for the Command Post.  Daniel Efran made all the OGREs and the Command Post.

What a charming use for all those LEGO bricks.  Having a LEGO geek in the family, perhaps I can direct him to make these for me.


“Lego Miniatures” Forum post by “Mister Weasley” on Boardgamegeek

New Ogres on the Horizon?

OGRE and GEV are two old famous games that originated in the distant past (see their references on the Metagaming Index tab, above).  Essentially the first game (OGRE) is about a giant cybernetic tank that is pitted against a team of “Davids”.. smaller ground attack units, tanks and infantry and such.  GEV was the sequel, which pitted the small guys against other small guys.   I owned the first versions published by Steve Jackson Games when he left Metagaming to found his own company (SJG).  I played both games many, many times and probably have them downstairs somewhere in the basement in their original keen plastic pocket boxes.  OGRE/GEV have been released many times since– Deluxe OGRE (with the standup cardboard pieces), OGRE and GEV Deluxe (with metal miniatures), another version of the old hex and paper version, along with SHOCKWAVE (additional units), New Battlemaps, GURPS OGRE, and a few other products in the “OGREverse”.  The game is simple in itself– though I find the CRT mechanics a bit dated by the standards of today.

Today, SJG’s website “leaked” an interesting photo.  (see below).  OGRE 6.0, eh?

OGRE 6.0

OGRE 6.0 stuff in development at STEVE JACKSON GAMES, Austin, Tx.

We’ll see.  OGRE/GEV is a fun little system, but I don’t know what more you could do to it that hasn’t been done already.  We’ve already had OGRE Miniatures, and DELUXE OGRE/GEV, and the ‘big treatment”.   The only thing I think I could come up with would be to monkey with the hidebound CRT mechanics, and maybe make the game more open-ended.  And plastic miniatures– give it the Fantasy Flight Games treatment, including bound boards.  I’d pay for a game like that, I think.  Reprinting a glitzy version of the same game I bought as a student in 1982, though?  Nope, no thanks.  You can have that.

Treasure Trove of Old Miniatures..

I stumbled upon Mr. John Lerchey’s Miniatures Gallery the other day, while I was doing a search for the old RIVETS miniatures by Martian Metals, a defunct company.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mr. Lerchey not only had a few, he has ALL OF THEM. A couple times over. Lucky dog.

he also has most of the older, Martian Metals versions of the old Ogre Miniatures that were manufactured long before the notion of “Ogre Miniatures” (the game) or Deluxe OGRE and GEV.

Needless to say, he has a lot of these, as well. Sniff. At least they are easier to get these days.

Mr. Lerchey’s page was a nostalgic delight! I owned a few of these back in the day (more of them now, at least the OGRE minis). It’s rare to see all of this stuff in one place.

He rounds the page off with a nice workbench section that outlines conversions of 6mm miniatures for OGRE play (a subject near and dear to my heart) as well as tiny terrain techniques. A tip of the hat to Mr. Lerchey for a nice collection and a very entertaining webpage.

A nice find!

bullet rocket

OGRELuna Counters… and Others!

Six years ago, I wrote a fairly silly variant to the popular low-complexity SF armor game from Steve Jackson Games, OGRE. My variant postulated combat in the OGREverse taking place on the Lunar colonies, and the huge logistical and technological limitations the Lunar environment would place on warfare. Like many things I’ve done over the years, it’s free, and available for the taking for anyone, here:

The game introduces some new units and changes the stats on some old ones. At the time, there was a young man named “Cisco” who had started his OWN OGRE page, which featured his own custom made counters. I was tickled pink when he drew an entire sheet of OGRELuna counters. Unfortunately, I just linked to HIS page, I didn’t copy them to my OGRELuna page. When the Cisco page went offline two years ago, I thought that Ogre Luna counters were just a pleasant memory. When I mentioned that to a colleague, he suggested the Web-Archive. D’OH! It was so obvious! In any event, I have recovered (and copied) every one of Cisco sheets but one, the back of the black and white infantry sheet. Try to make adjustments.

Have fun. I’ve added the links to the counter files to the variant page. They can be used for the Martian Variant, too.

Ogre on Mars: