By Johnny E. Worthen - images & text © 2001
Deluxe OGRE is the newest incarnation of this venerable game.
OGRE first came to life in 1976 as a pocket war game sold in a little plastic envelope that used quarter inch square chits for playing pieces. It cost about $8.00. The game was simple and elegant and became a standard of tabletop warfare for decades. The game has gone through several upgrades including expansion sets and a miniature line in the 1980's. Interest in the game waned as finicky gamers moved on and other, flashier games came out. But now Steve Jackson games has reissued OGRE as Deluxe OGRE, done away with cardboard chits and made it a miniature game.
Ogre is a well thought out, thoroughly play-tested, fast game which is easy to learn and fun to play. I always thought the worst part of the game was the little cardboard chits and tiny map. With Deluxe OGRE, both of these problems have been corrected - mostly.
What You Get
Deluxe OGRE ships with the standard 12 page rule book (practically unchanged in 20+ years), a big 35 by 22 inch hexagonal grid map, 3 VHS video boxes with foam inserts, 3 VHS case label sheets, and 60 pewter pieces which, when assembled, will produce 29 individual models: 10 infantry stands with 21 figures, 4 heavy tanks, 4 missile tanks, 6 Ground Effect Vehicles (G.E.V.'s), a command post, a howitzer and one Mark III OGRE. These are enough pieces to play the standard OGRE scenario. All this comes in a colorful cardboard sleeve.
I was pleased and surprised to see that Steve Jackson Games had tried to address one of the biggest problems facing miniature model gamers: storing and transporting figures. 3 VHS video boxes with cut away foam liners are included with the set for this purpose. However, I was dismayed to learn from the instruction book that the OGRE model itself will not fit in these cases. It suggests that you attach the OGRE's guns and tower with rubber cement so it can be broken down for transport.
Steve Jackson sells games, not models. The instructions are slight. There are basic written guidelines on cutting apart the infantry pieces and mounting them on bases as well as how to use the labels with the VHS boxes. Luckily the pieces aren't complicated and there's a very useful picture on the back of the sleeve which should correct any misgivings of what turret goes on what vehicle.
Strangely, with all the bits and pieces included in the game, Steve Jackson Games decided that a standard 10 cent dice was too extravagant an addition. You'll need to find your own in order to play.
By modern standards, the castings of the pewter pieces is inconsistent. I think they were using some old molds along with a couple of new ones. I never bought any of the original miniatures, so I don't know which ones are old, but I'd guess the Command Post is one of them, since it has lots of flash along the mold line. Most of the casting lines and flash can be quickly cleaned up with a file and hobby knife, the detail on missile tank batteries looks to be a lost cause. Removing the casting line there will be a little tricky if I want to keep the detail.
Scale and SizeThe models are of standard size for tabletop wargaming; each being about an inch long. The models seem to be in scale with each other, though the infantry is questionable. The pieces all fit well on the map, but the scale isn't right. Each hex on the map is supposed to represent 1,500 meters. It would be awkward to have the tanks and miniatures be of this scale since some, like the infantry, would be too small to even see.
Like the chits, the models are only representations of the armor units. Since no two units should ever occupy the same hex there isn't a problem - except for the OGRE.
The OGRE model occupies 2 hexes demonstrating how out of proportion the figures are to the map. The main body takes up a whole hex grid and the caboose takes another. This problem is discussed in the rule book which states that for play purposes, the OGRE is said to occupy only the front hexagon. From previous experience, I know that this may become a problem during play.
Some Assembly Required
The heavy tanks need only their turrets glued on (or not, as the rule book suggests). The missile tanks just need their batteries attached. This is standard for the industry, but the GEV's require a bit more work. Each has a sprue of three tiny parts which need to be fitted onto the bug shaped vehicle: a tiny turret and 2 fins - for the 1960 cadillac look.
The OGRE model has a total of 12 pieces: A main body, a caboose, 4 treads, 4 secondary battery canons, 1 primary battery canon and a tall mast on top. These shouldn't pose any problem to assemble, but with 11 pieces it is the most complicated miniature model figure I have ever seen.
I've never understood the train like OGRE model. The caboose houses only the missile launchers. I don't see why they couldn't be on the main body, but I didn't design the game. I suspect I'll scratch build the missiles onto the main body, call it an OGRE Mark III and a half and have a model which takes up only a single hex square on the map to aid game play.
The vehicles themselves will attract the gamer more than the modeler. The OGRE is the only truly unusual design, though the insect-like GEV is cool. The heavy tanks, missile tanks, howitzer, command post and infantry are pretty standard modern-looking configurations and don't venture too far into science fiction designs.
If you're looking only for models to make, OGRE won't thrill you. Though $50 is a good price for 38 pewter figures you'd probably be happier if you pick fewer and more unique designs. Warehouse 23 is making the OGRE line and you can buy individual models through them. You can pick up a Mark V OGRE from there and go to town.
If however, you're looking for a fun easy to learn and teach game which plays in under an hour and offers you a chance to model a bit, I would wholly recommend OGRE. It's a great war game to cut your teeth on. If you've been thinking of turning your modelling skills toward miniature wargaming start here.
Relevant Web Sites
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This page copyright © 2001 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 6 March 2001.