I went down to see an old gaming buddy yesterday and we managed to play 5 Ogre scenarios in a single afternoon.
Lately, I’ve been playing 5 Heavy Tanks placed on the forward end of the map just out of missile range from the Ogre’s first move. If an opponent attempts to dive in straight through, then the combined firepower of the Heavies strips him down in time to really increase the survivability of the weaker GEVs and Missile Tanks. The forces can then knock him down to Move 2 just as he’s crossing the fold– and then the infantry can surround the Ogre and help deliver the coup de grace. The double whammy of an Heavy Tank blitz with an infantry swarm seems to be an unstoppably defence aganst an opponent that charges straight in.
I tried this approach against an Ogre Mark III a few weeks ago. All of my attacks missed completely for the first two rounds! My opponent disabled or killed the heavies and continued his charge. Instead of taking out the disabled heavies, he went after my GEVs and Missile tanks. In spite of my bad luck in my first two attacks, the surviving Heavies and swarming infantry helped to take the Ogre down a good many hexes away from the command post. Because of my bad luck, this was the first and only game in which the Ogre got to fire his Main Battery 4 or 5 times!!
Most Ogre players think of infantry as insignificant. They also think they are much tougher than a wing of Heavy Tanks. This just isn’t the case. You have to take out the Heavy Tanks for the same reason that the Defense always takes out the Ogre’s Main Battery on the first shot. You just can let yourself think you can slip on down the board in spite of them! And Ogres have to treat infantry as if they are real units. Anything that can take out your last secondary batteries and knock you down a Movement point has to be treated seriously!
The first game we played yesterday was a reiteration of the above lessons. The Ogre always moved straight in regardless of the cost, leaving Heavy Tanks behind and getting surrounded by infantry and got blown away disheartneningly fast. It didn’t help that my opponent was using some dodgy dice that made consistently bad rolls.
In our second game, I got a chance to play the Ogre. The last time I did this I got eaten alive. Knowing the Defense’s strategy is not enough– you’ve got to have a good plan for the Ogre, too! As I made my approach, I pointed out each possible hex that my Ogre might move to. Often times these were hexes that allowed the Ogre to “fork” two enemy units so that he could focus his fire on just two or three enemies. I would then choose the hex that allowed me to concentrate my firepower on a small number of units while minimizing the amount of return fire that I would take on the subsequent turn. This resulted in a “fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee” type of dance as I gradually moved down the board.
I consistently gave better than I got and took out the forces piecemeal. The dance was over when my opponent’s Missile Tanks got to the scene. Even though they are slow, they are hard to “sting.” And if you go in for the kill, the infantry will surely swarm you. This leads to some tougher choices, but if you’ve played well, you can endure the fire you take as you drive on to the CP and then attempt your escape. My Ogre pulled it off with only five or six tread units left while two Missile Tanks and a GEV harried his retreat.
In our third game, my opponent seemed to catch on to a better Ogre strategy. He dove down the board towards the pair of neighboring crater hexes. He rammed three of four Heavy Tanks and shot up the rest and then kept coming in. My forces could not position themselves well in the area surrounding the pair of craters, so he avoided some extra fire because of that. (Good tactic!) It was a bloody fight, but he died only three hexes away from the command post. My opponent didn’t think that taking six tread hits from raming early on was such a good idea after this.
My opponent then decided to try something new. He called up the web article on the four howitzer defense and set that up. He took four Heavy Tanks and let them hang out near the infantry and howitzers.
My Ogre charged in on the opposite side of the board from the command post. I got into position so that I could dive three hexes into the furthest Howitzer’s field of fire. I was able to attack infantry and tanks with all of my weapons and decimated them. I took light damage in return and took out two Howitzers on the following turn.
My opponent really wanted to master the Defense tactics with this, so we set it up again. This time he sent two Heavies, two GEV’s, and some infantry out to meet me. These forces attacked me outside of the Howitzer Umbrella, and I was able to outmaneuver them and eliminate them all.
At this point, my opponent was rather disgusted with the game. If he left the Heavies alive, he died quickly. If he rammed my Heavies to death, then he dies a few tantalyzing hexes away from the command post. If he held his defense back under the Howitzer defense, his forces were crushed by a fully operation Ogre… and if he sent his forces out, they were destroyed piecemeal! Argh!
My opponent found the whole idea of counting hexes to be rather distasteful, so he probably wasn’t going to compare his movement options very well. Still, it seems that coordinating a defense is much harder for new players to learn than maneuvering the Ogre. Ogre is a very chess like game in spite of its random elements, and it seems that calculating the costs of various exchanges is essential to top notch play. I felt bad at the end, though– my opponent really needed a “win” to perk up his interest in the game there and I felt a little bit cruel at that point….