Tag Archives: SJG

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?

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!

DETAILS HERE: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/847271320/ogre-miniatures-set-1


The Hong Kong Rules (Illuminati)

There was a time when I considered ILLUMINATI, by Steve Jackson Games, my favorite game ever.    There was something about that uncomplicated little card game about secret societies that really tickled me back then– not the least of it being the tongue in cheek humor with which it was presented.  That was so in 1998, but not so in 2014.  I don’t think the game has aged very well.  It takes forever to play with six players and is a little vague in spots, which leads to vigorous interpretation of the rules on occasion.   Back in 1998 I put a variant we used to play with called “THE HONG KONG RULES” on Tripod.  I am steadily trying to shut down these cringe-worthy old websites and pulling off any material that might be useful before I do.

Here, therefore, are the Hong Kong Rules.


A New Zealander expatriate living in Hong Kong (whose name, alas, I have long since forgotten) once mentioned to me that he liked to play the suggested “Illuminati cards face down” variant mentioned in the Illuminati Deluxe game in the “Advanced Play” section, only he liked to add in a 5MB reward for guessing the hidden Illuminati correctly. I’ve called this style of play THE HONG KONG RULES ever since. The Hidden rules and reward stuff evolved from his suggestion; the betting procedure grew out of extensive play of THE HONG KONG RULES. I haven’t tried this with INDO. I suppose it might work, give it a try.



A Rules variant optimized for 3 or more players.

1) All Illuminati (pink faced) cards are dealt face Down. All Group (white faced) cards are played as in the Basic game.  The basic victory conditions for controlling groups (see the rules summary) are halved for speed of play.  Free Actions are limited to two (2) per turn.

2) Courtesy rules are enforced: i.e., a player may not attack another player until that player controls 3 groups or 3 game turns have passed.

3) Players may guess the identity of another player’s Illuminati under the following conditions:

3A)- The guess counts as a Free Action.

3B)- The guess must be made after regular actions (i.e., attacks, etc.) are made.

3C)- The guess must be announced loudly, clearly, and dramatically (Suggested Format: standing and saying “YOU, sir, are the… BAVARIAN ILLUMINATI!!)

3D)- The player being “accused” thusly must respond truthfully, loudly, clearly, and dramatically.

3E)- Courtesy rules extend to guessing (not until after turn 3).

4) If a player guesses an Illuminati identify correctly, he is given a reward. 5MB for 3 or less players, 3MB for 4 or more players. OR 1 privileged attack for the next turn only.

5) Betting is possible in Hong Kong Rules. The following rules cover the concept of betting.

5A)- A Bet is defined as a contract between two players, wagering a sum of MB in their possession, that an event will take place. In game turns, a bet is a Free Action. All funds expended or wagered for a bet MUST come from the Illuminati’s treasury (the Megabucks on the pink card), not from groups the Illuminati controls.

5B)- The condition of the bet must be game-related; i.e., a bet that states: “I wager Larry the Gun-toting Psycho will lose his next attempt at Attacking to Control” is acceptable, a bet that states: “I bet Elmo picks his nose and eats it next turn…” is not.

5C)- Bets can be Instant or Deadlined

5C1)- Instant bets are announced, out loud, at any point during a player’s turn. The conditions of the bet must be accepted by the player the wager is being made with by stating, out loud, either “Accepted” or “Rejected”. If not the Free Action is wasted. The minimumwager for an Instant bet is one half of the Illuminati’s personal treasury.

5C2)- Deadlined bets are written down on a piece of scrap paper, which is folded over so that there is an outside that the other players can see, and an inside that only the two participants in the bet can see. Square post-it notes are excellent for this purpose. On the inside of the bet, the player initiating the wager writes down the Condition of the bet (defined as “what he is betting on”– often the secret identity of a hidden Illuminati in this variant, but not always) and the Amount of the wager. On the outside, the player initiating the wager writes Initiator (the player initiating the bets’ real name) –> (an arrow to) Recipient (the player the Initiator is betting with), and a Deadline. The Deadline is the number of turns the Initiator is betting the Recipient for the Condition to come to pass. The maximum number of turns for a Deadlined bet condition is three (3).

5B2.1)- If a Condition of a deadlined bet comes to pass (either positive or negative) before the agreed upon deadline is expired, the loser of the wager immediately places the agreed upon sum upon the Illuminati card of the other player. If he does not have the amount agreed upon, he can wait the number of turns in the Deadline to pay off his debt. If he loses the bet’s Condition and still does not have the money to pay up, he is a Welcher, and the winner of the event is The Aggrieved Party.

5C)- Welchers are individuals who cannot pay off their bets, for whatever reason. If a players welches, the player who won the bet must remove a group from the player’s power structure. The group must be taken from the farthest position out from the parent Illuminati. Exception: The Aggrieved Party may not remove the last card from a Welcher’s power structure. Instead, He may garnish the next turn’s income from the Welcher’s Illuminati. After the debt is paid, the Welcher loses his “Welcher status.”

Steve Jackson Games Illuminati Webpage (contains Variants, Errata, Design article, new groups and a bunch of other Illuminati related stuff)

Copyright 1998 Walter O’Hara

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?)