How to Play the Ogre Board Game
Steve Jackson's Ogre Game Instructions, Rules, and Strategy
Imagine yourself standing on the pock-marked terrain of a devastated battlefield in the late 21st century. Behind you are a small army of hovercraft, artillery, missile tanks, and infantry, with each man determined to give his life in order to protect the all-important command post. Then the ground begins to rumble, and in the distance appears the one thing that can make even the most hardened soldier doubt his resolve…the awesome killing machine known as the Mark III Ogre.
If the above caused your geek-o-meter to flip into the red, it’s time for you to learn how to play Ogre. This fast-paced game of futuristic combat is sold by Steve Jackson Games (the people behind Car Wars) and has been delighting players since it was first introduced in 1977. A number of spin-offs and variants have been released since that time, including computer and miniature games.
I first played Ogre in the 1980s, and since then I’ve enjoyed countless games of this sci-fi classic. While I love to take on the role of the Ogre and grind the opposition into dust, I also enjoy the tactical challenge of playing the smaller, yet more plentiful, opposing forces. Either way, it’s a fun opportunity that I rarely pass up.
In this article, you’ll learn the basics of how to play Ogre. And thanks to personal experience and a wealth of information on the Internet, I have also provided some Ogre strategy suitable for players of all skill levels.
In addition to the Ogre instructions that come with each product, you’ll also get a large map filled with craters and debris, plus numerous counters to represent the Ogre, defending forces, the command post, and other factors.
The objective of the defending forces is to destroy the Ogre while defending their command post. The Ogre’s goal is to smash through the ranks of the defenders and blast the command post into oblivion.
The design of the game has changed over the years, and several revisions to the rules have been made. Here’s a brief look at some of the Ogre products on the market and their differences.
Ogre (1977) - The original version of the game. Both the first and second editions of the game were released in this year, with a number of revisions being made to the latter.
Ogre (1982) - The third edition of the game. Double-sided counters are included.
Ogre: Deluxe Edition (1987) - Counters now have stand-up plastic bases.
Ogre Miniatures (1992) - A version of Ogre for fans of miniature wargaming.
Deluxe Ogre (2000) - Includes a larger map and miniatures instead of counters.
G.E.V. (2000) - A sequel that adds extra troops, enhanced rules, more detailed map, and focuses on the hovercraft known as the G.E.V.
According to the Ogre rules, players should first decide who controls the Ogre tank and who controls the opposing forces. Once this has been accomplished, the defending player chooses the location for his command post and selects his troops. The game allows for great flexibility in this area, so defending armies will seldom look the same. The following defending forces are available:
Heavy Tanks - While they have a limited range and medium speed, heavy tanks have high attack and defense ratings.
Infantry - Low rankings, but they are cheaper to deploy than other units.
Missile Tanks - They have a low speed rating, but all others categories fall into the medium range.
G.E.V.s - Low range and speed, but high mobility (two moves per turn).
Howitzers - They cannot move, but they provide devastating attack power.
Once the defender has placed their forces, the Ogre player will choose where on the opposite end of the board to enter. As the battle rages, the Ogre will lose mobility points and various weapon systems as it takes damage, while defending forces caught in the wake of the Ogre will be annihilated.
Learning proper Ogre strategy will help you succeed regardless of which side you choose to play. The following section offers a number of tips for Ogre, and players are encouraged to experiment and find what works best for them.
The Ogre - The player controlling the Ogre tank has the advantage in firepower and the ability to take damage. They also get to choose where they enter the game board. This last advantage should not be underestimated.
The Opposition - Defending forces have a numerical advantage and a wide array of attacks to call upon. The mobility of the GEV hovercraft are also superior to the Mark III Ogre tank.
Now that you have a basic idea of the strengths of both sides, let’s take a look at some specific Ogre strategy:
The Ogre’s Entry Point - The player controlling the Ogre gets to choose where he enters the board (although he’s still limited to the end opposite the other player). In most cases, entering in the center will be fine, although I suggest coming in from a far corner if your opponent has chosen to set him command post up in a corner and ring it with defenders. This will ensure that you’ll take as long as possible to reach the defenders, and your opponent might lose his nerve and rush out to attack you.
Move to the Side - If your Ogre is facing a well-armed contingent of enemy vehicles, a smart tactic is to move to their side and kill as many enemies as possible. Given the Ogre’s firepower, this shouldn’t be a problem. It will also prevent counterattacks and keep your juggernaut from taking damage. Charging right into the middle of an opponent is a good way to get whittled down and defeated.
Bob and Weave - Given its ability to take punishment, many players are tempted to have their Ogre move in a straight line and attempt to barrel through the defenders. While this may sound cool, it’s not the best tactic. Instead, try weaving from side to side as you advance across the board. This can play havoc with the strategy of your opponent and make it more difficult for him to set traps. You also have the option of backing up, waiting for defenders to pursue, and then driving past and leaving them in the dust.
The Importance of Terrain - While the Ogre can move across rubble and craters, the vehicles of the defender cannot. If you’re being pursued by enemy troops, just maneuver next to such obstacles in order to force your opponents to veer off. Some players will also move along the edge of the map to keep from being surrounded, but keep in mind that this will make your movements more predictable to the opposing forces.
Whittle Them Down - The defenders will often seek to overwhelm the Ogre with numbers and an accumulation of firepower. Whenever possible, isolate enemy units and destroy them utterly before moving on to the next batch. The worst Ogre strategy is to allow yourself to be surrounded on all sides.
Use Your Missiles - The Ogre’s missiles pack a real wallop, so there’s no point in holding them in reserve. Blast low-defense units to assure yourself of a kill, and finish off any disabled units in your path by running over them or with withering machine-gun fire. The more units you kill, the less resistance you’ll encounter later in the game.
Don’t Go Head-On - If you’re controlling the defending forces, try to come at the Ogre from the sides instead of forcing a head-on showdown. Of course, you will need to keep something in front of them to keep the Ogre from rolling right up on your command post, but artillery cannons are an excellent way to accomplish this. Remember, your goal is to whittle down the Ogre until its weapons and mobility leave it vulnerable to being finished off.
If you’re a fan of sci-fi movies or wargames, there’s a good chance that you’ve already learned how to play Ogre. But if you haven‘t, you are missing out on a prime opportunity for table-top action and excitement. One of the most influential games of its kind, Ogre has been thrilling players for over 30 years with a mixture of strategy and relentless firepower.
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