On the Table: Ogre Sixth Edition
November 25, 2013
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Our first 6e command post death!
Getting this thing is a huge deal. My kids aren’t really hobby gamers, but they recognized that this was a pretty special thing. They could not wait to open it up. I don’t normally care for punching out games– I usually just punch out the minimum I need to play– but my kids insisted on doing it for me to the point where I was sad that I wouldn’t get to do very much of it! Every night for a few days they spent half an hour assembling Ogres and punching out conventional units while I organized everything.
After a while, I got sick of messing with it because I began to wonder if we’d ever start playing the darn thing. Fortunately, I got in four games with my son this weekend. Here’s how it fell out in brief:
A Mark II calculates the optimum approach vector….
My son took a Mark III-B against a standard defense force of 12 armor units and twenty points of infantry. He rolled through them and killed the command post, but I managed to immobilize him on my subsequent move! A classic photo-finish….
- My son wanted to try the defense, so I took a lowly Mark II against a defense of four Superheavies, four Heavies, and 20 points of infantry. I wiped him out by flanking him, shooting the supers with many 1-2 shots, ramming the heavies every chance I got, and getting lucky breaks on the dice rolls.
- My son took to the Mark III-B again, killed the command post and got a few hexes back toward his end of the map….
- I tried to coach him on basic Ogre tactics a little more this time. He smashed the CP and got about a third of the way back with just two missile tanks harrying him.
As you can see, having a huge Ogre garage full of 3D units changes the game significantly. Balance is achieved, not by adding and subtracting defense units, but by dialing the Ogres up and down! Also, the design of the basic scenario has many degrees of success. You have very detailed feedback on how well a player is improving just by looking at how close they come to getting the Ogre off the board alive after a successful mission!
Game 4: My son is back in the III-B. He used his missiles to eliminate my four G.E.V.’s… then took a pounding from my heavies and lost his main batteries. What is his best move in this situation? What is a novice most likely to do instead?
The purity of the direct conflict of this game is refreshing. Table talk cannot break it and passive aggressive manipulations cannot dent it. You’re left to deal with stark differences in player skill in your own way. There is no layer of chaos and misdirection to shield egos like what you see in the Commands & Colors system. I can imagine the culture shock when random people open this thing up– you know, the ones that got this set just because of all the commotion. This game simply doesn’t follow typical “cult of the new” practices. It’s just an impeccably well designed game… and that’s it. If you don’t have an interest in honing your tactics and destroying your friends, then I’m just not sure what you’ll do with it…!
Here are a few quick reactions to this edition:
- I was wary of the overall look of the game– it struck me as being a tacky sort of approach to production values reminiscent of the gaudy look of 5th edition Car Wars. In reality… I have not been tempted get my deluxe classic counter set out of the swag box I ordered. When I look at the game, I am consumed by the tactical realities of the positions… and I’m just not bothered by the things that I thought would grate on me.
- I store the game upright against the wall right now. The design of the bottom tray uses the G.E.V. maps to keep everything snug in place. Some of the markers fall out– especially the rubble bits and the cruise missiles– but things mostly stay in place.
- The box… is huge and is not bearing up to aggressive use. This is a shame– everything inside is so well engineered to prevent fits of OCD mania but the box itself isn’t quite up to the task of holding everything in. (GMT Games’ ultra sturdy game boxes have spoiled me, though. Now those are some serious boxes!)
My son gets closer to a decisive victory with every game!
- This game is so ostentatious, so epic… people will demand to play it. I will always deem the black plastic box edition to be the definitive incarnation of the game… but really, no one would play it with me unless they were my gaming soul mate or something. My Ogre Miniatures set was a bear to lug around, and people still would hardly play that. But this edition will get people to sit down and try these classic microgames and actually invest some effort in them. For this, I am grateful… and proud to have my name on the side of the box.
- Actually having a counter for every conceivable unit in the game is a very big deal. I miss the design element of a very specific counter set to limit chintzy tactics… but having the full palette of units on hand… it’s amazing.
I am getting far more than my money’s worth out of this game. My only real problem is figuring out where to store it. I am looking forward to hundreds of plays with this set over the next few years. I am so happy to finally have this game!