You know, I’d rather be playing Car Wars until 3 in the morning with 5 long time gaming buddies… but I’m telling you those days are gone. The buddies are gone. The spare time is gone. The gigantic table at my mom’s house is gone. Shoot, even my mom’s house is gone.
But we’re not complaining. One of those gaming buddies (that actually went so far as to leave the friggin’ country!) kindly bequeathed me his set of Ogre Miniatures. The eighties are long gone, but there’s still fun to be had. I just wish he’d painted his infantry and finished his G.E.V.’s before he left….
Anyways, I’ve been steadily weeding my way through Ogre Opponents for the past few years in the hopes of it being a sort of gateway to bigger and better things for somebody. One player turned out to be more of a miniatures painter and less interested in actually playing games. One, as I mentioned already, left the country. Some have been highly casual acquaintances that I just don’t see so often. In all cases, I’ve failed to teach them the tactics of the winning play. One guy who happened to be a hardened wargamer actually read my blog after I introduced the game to him and promptly destroyed me in our next game session, but I didn’t teach him: he figured it out himself!
So I’ve got a new mark. It’s this guy I play chess with. He’s waaaay better than me. I’m just a brute that opens up his pieces, takes initiative, throws everything but the kitchen sink, and then trades down in material once I get ahead. Without chessclocks ticking he can completely defuse any attack I make with subtle positioning and he can cause my setup to fall apart with the slightest pressure. He can use a pair of bishops like they’re some sort of precision laser cutting tool….
So we played chess the other day and then I drug out the Ogre minis. Probably the coolest thing about Ogre is that there’s only three things you need to teach someone to play the game. You teach movement in about 15 seconds…. You can teach ’em how to shoot in about 3 minutes…. Then you teach ’em how to ram. That’s it. There’s a couple of thing’s he’ll need to know about infantry half way through the first game, but it’s really just those three things to get started.
I took 3 Heavy Tanks, 3 Missile Tanks, 3 G.E.V.’s, a Howitzer, and 4 3-point infantry counters. I use miniatures for everything else, but I don’t feel like messing with the unpainted infantry I’ve got. As a seasoned player I look at that line up and think, the Howitzer will get one shot off and it will more than likely miss. That means I’m effectively down 3 armor units. I’m also short 8 points of infantry. This game is so balanced… I’m sure I’ll get mauled.
I never tell new players that I’m handicapping them. Most people would be insulted to know that. But the above force is still too strong for most new players. I pretty well crushed the guy in our first game– however the Howitzer did make its shot before getting missiled to death. The game was so short and fast playing, he immediately asked for a rematch. (That’s the the second coolest thang about the game, right there.)
In our second game, he betrayed a sudden prejudice against Missile Tanks and G.E.V.’s. (There’s something that’s just downright irritating about being pinged to death by two of the stupid units eight hexes away from the command post!) Then he had to plough straight towards the howitzer at low speed. After missing the first shot and skipping one opportunity to fire, that crazy howitzer hit the Ogre’s treads three times in a row!! Meanwhile, my opponent would double up his remaining secondary batteries on several 2-to-1 attacks… and roll ones and twos repeatedly. His luck was so bad, and my luck was so good… I wonder if he’ll want to stick to chess in the future….
The novice Ogre player dives right into the middle of the defenses forces… and he fails to recognize the race against time nature of the end game. He fights from a position where he takes worse than he gives… and he fails to consider flanking attacks or hit-and-skirt maneuvers. <Sigh>
In the future I’ll stick with the same defensive lineup I mentioned above until he can crush it. I figure that, at this point, letting him play defense would be a good way to frustrate him– some new players can watch an expert Ogre jockey crush them and still not grok the tactics. To lose as defense at this point… and then lose as the Ogre twice more in a row will most assuredly kill the game for him.
But I do think that the next player I introduce the game to will face only 2 Heavy Tanks, 2 Missile Tanks, 2 G.E.V.’s, a Howitzer, and 4 3-point infantry counters. Each time he wins I’ll add one armor unit and two points of infantry. I hate that I maybe picked too strong of a force for this guy…. But he was pretty wreckless in that second game… and I was terribly lucky. Maybe he can beat me next time….