Tabletop Game / OGRE

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It was very close now. Had the command post had windows, the men inside could have seen the explosions. The Ogre was moving very slowly now, but two guns still spoke. It no longer dodged; it was a juggernaut, coming straight for its target...

First released in 1977, OGRE is a hex-map tactical wargame designed by the legendary Steve Jackson. The premise is simple: a single Supertank (the titular Ogre) versus weaker but more numerous Sci-fi Army. If the cybertank destroys the Command Post, it wins. If the cybertank is destroyed, the defending army is victorious.

While this sounds like a unfair match, consider the Ogre is more than up to the challenge. Think later model Bolos without the self-awareness, and you pretty much get the idea of powerful it is.

Over time, the game developed its own universe and spin offs such as G.E.V. (focusing on conventional units instead of the Ogre), its own GURPS supplement, a miniature game, and even some computer adaptations. Made a return in 2013 with the Designer's Edition, funded using Kickstarter and generating way more than the original goal. Oddly enough, the base 6th edition was not released until 2016.


OGRE provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All There in the Manual: The game manual provides the backstory, and the designer's website has background material on the games' universe.
  • Anti-Air: The back story mentions that thanks to improvements in lasers and jamming technology, satellites and ballistic missiles have been greatly reduced in effectiveness.
  • Cannon Fodder: Light Tanks - a Fragile Speedster tread vehicle - and the Light GEV. At first both were so weak and slower than a GEV, they were not even used in OGRE. Then G.E.V. came out, and the Light Tank and its GEV analog was given a half an armor point. This allowed two light units for the cost of one. While not very powerful, they're plentiful.
  • Car Fu: Tanks can ram into other vehicles, causing damage. Of course, the Ogre takes tread damage, and any tank unit doing this to the cybertank is destroyed.
  • Church Militant: The background material mentions that the Vatican has three divisions under their command, having some of the best Paneuropean troops.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Infantry, with a range of one. Yes, the troopers have to get that close to a death machine armed with multiple nuclear weapons.
  • Color-Coded Armies: Red for the Combine, Blue for Paneuropean forces.
    • The Barbarians at the Gate Sponsored Counter Sheet has Purple and Gold for the Vatican Guard, and Pink for the Anarchist Relief Front.
    • The Nihon Empire: North American Divisions sheet has White (on red backgrounds) for the titular Empire.
    • Black for the Rogue AI in for the OGRE: Nightfall campaign.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Could result in this if the defending army doesn't use the right tactics to stop the Ogre.
    • Although it goes the other way if the defending army deploys exactly the right units in the right places, at least in the original game.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Regular tanks and infantry may not be very powerful by themselves, but enough attacks from them could stop even a cybertank.
  • The Empire: The Combine - expansionistic, strong, and authoritarian. It so focused on creating a unified, singular order, English is not only the official language, but the only language taught outside of spy schools.
    • The expanded universe also has the Nihon Empire, which Japan controls much of the Pacific save Australia.
  • Expanded States of America: One of the main factions, the North American Combined States. The "Combine" includes the modern U.S., plus Canada, Mexico, and Central America. And it seeks to expand its control over to South America.
  • Expansion Pack:
    • Shockwave which added new types of units and a map compatible with G.E.V..
    • Sponsored Counter Sheets for the 6th Edition. One of the incentives for the Kickstarter campaign was sponsors to create their own pieces for the game. Some of which have a back story or campaign. The sheets introduce custom colors for some factions, new terrain and objectives, and others introduce new unique units (such as a UFO and even a Kaiju).
  • The Federation: Paneurope, who value their diversity. Alas, the diversity also causes tension because of past history between countries or nationalism.
  • Follow the Leader In-Universe: After the Combine develops the titular supertank, the Paneuropeans develop their own versions once they take over the United Kingdom (a Combine ally).
  • Fragile Speedster: While being able to move twice, GEVs have less defense and not much range or firepower.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Missile Tanks, able to do considerable damage from a distance, but has a defense of 2.
    • Howitzers as well - powerful with a long range, but very low armor.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: The Combine's Ninja Ogre. Though huge, the thing has so many electronic countermeasures to make it very difficult to hit.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: GEVs are best used for these, being able to movie twice each turn.
  • Hopeless War: The Last War. For the Combine and the Paneuros, it results in both powers collapsing. However, some nations such as South Africa seem to survive.
  • Invisible Wall: The original map has these for the top and sides. The manual explains that beyond the map is impassable terrain that either side can not cross. Beyond the bottom of the map is a river, which only the attacking force can use to escape.
  • Instant-Win Condition:
    • Generally downplayed - destroying the Command Post does result in a Ogre victory, but to be a full success it has to either survive by leaving the map or wipe out the rest of the defenders.
    • Later editions have a victory point system. Defenders not only must stop the Ogre, but for good victory they need enough units to survive.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Most units are armed with railguns... firing nuclear shells. In the backstory, its mentioned that Lasers simply were too large for the battlefield, but was perfect for protecting rear areas.
  • Licensed Game: An Apple II version made by Origin Systems was released in 1986. Alas, it has been long out of print.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Heavy Tanks, which are the Main Battle Tanks in this setting. It has better defense than any other tank, faster and more powerful than a Missile Tank, and has more range and firepower than a GEV. Plus, if an Ogre rams it, it takes two tread damage instead of one.
  • Long-Range Fighter: Howitzers, having the longest range and most powerful attacks. However, the vanilla version has little defense and can not move.
  • Nuclear Nullifier: Laser cannons are used to take down strategic missles and bombers, which renders strategic nukes obsolete. Tactical nukes on the other hand are still used, and for good reason...
  • Nuclear Option: Railgun-fired tactical nuclear shells are the most common weapons used in the setting. However, this due to the fact that Bi-phase Carbide armor is very effective - requiring a ton of TNT to breach.
  • Powered Armor: Infantry squads in the game are equipped with these. Faster, stronger, nuclear-armed, CBRN protected… but are still relatively weak against other tank units.
  • Private Military Contractors: The Black Rose, a mercenary company introduced in the Designer's Edition. They even have their own colored counters (green on white).
  • Pyrrhic Victory: One of the ending results in the standard scenario - The Ogre destroys the Command Post, but only gets a "marginal victory" if it is destroyed trying to leave the map.
  • Quality Vs Quantity: The standard scenario, pitting the highly advanced cybertank against weaker but more numerous conventional forces.
  • Solo Tabletop Game: Solo rules are mentioned in the Pocket Edition rules: aim the supertank straight at the Command Post. All the player need to do is decide what to attack and roll the dice. Articles in supplements and on the official site suggests using cards or dice to help variate the Ogre's actions.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Army: Either side typically uses the forces commonly used in the trope. There are also variant units available in other editions or expansions.
  • Straight for the Commander: The main target of the Ogre is a flimsy, zero-defense Command Post.
  • Take Cover: Averted in the first game - there is no terrain that provides cover. Considering that the game largely consists of flat land and craters, it's understandable. The sequel game G.E.V. does provide more terrain types and has rules for cover.
  • Tank Goodness: In addition to the titular cybertank, the game includes Heavy Tanks, Missile Tanks, and Hover Tanks (here called Ground Effect Vehicles - GEVs).
  • United Europe: The other major faction, the Paneuropean Federation. It spans continental Europe and Russia.
  • Unobtainium: Bi-phase Carbide. A few centimeters of the stuff can deal with almost everything but a direct nuclear hit.
  • Updated Re-release: OGRE Pocket Edition. Released in 2014, the game is designed much like the 1977 first edition. It's pocket sized, stored in a "sandwich bag", uses the first edition's typography and illustrations, and has cardboard counters. The price is even the same (about $3), which is pretty good deal considering today's tabletop games today are over $20. The only major change is the rules, which is a version of the 6th Edition's.

The OGREs themselves use the following tropes:

  • Anti-Infantry: Their Antipersonnel weapons. Though numerous, the weapons are short ranged, weak, and can only work on Infantry and unarmored units.
  • Bigger Is Better: These things are huge, able to have multiple batteries and carry missiles to boot. Of course, it does make it a huge target.
  • The Dreaded: Not only feared by its foes, but by humans on its side.
  • Expy: Of Keith Laumer's Bolos, though Ogres lack their humanity.
  • The Juggernaut: It will not stop until either the mission is done or is neutralized in the process.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: So terrifying are these war machines, they were not referred to as "she". Typically they were called "It" by foes. Of course, the Ogre isn't even remotely human to start with.
  • Meaningful Name: To quote Steve Jackson:
    "Why name it Ogre? It seemed appropriate. Ogres – the "real" ones – were big, violent, and gruesome – and some of them were pretty smart. When someone whispers, "Here comes the Ogre," you can feel the hair rising on the back of your neck."
  • Mighty Glacier: If the treads are damaged enough, its movement could be reduced to this.
  • One Tank Army: Can fight off entire armies by themselves
  • Sub System Damage: Unlike other units, the cybertanks' multiple weapons and treads can be individually targeted.
  • Tiered by Name: The higher the model number, the more powerful it is.


The Ogre rolled on...

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