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Dom Mooney's Website... Cybergoths no more.

Unleash the OGRE!

OGRE was my first true science-fiction wargaming love. It shares its birth year - 1977 - with Traveller, the granddaddy of science fiction roleplaying. I'm not certain if it was my first wargaming love, but it may have been. I certainly purchased it around the same time that I was reading Charles Grant's seminal 'Battle: Practical Wargaming' from the local library in the sleepy commuter village of Holmes Chapel in Cheshire. I can remember going into the local toyshop - back in the days when the village still had one - and seeing a small selection of Metagaming's pocket wargames and Basic Dungeons & Dragons (the blue book box before the red box). I was so excited.

I can remember buying OGRE - it was a toss up between that and a game called
Chitin, but the tanks won - and starting to save to buy D&D. I'd been tempted towards that as well by the book 'What is Dungeons & Dragons?', a Puffin book written by some public school types that hooked me into the whole idea of roleplaying. I was gutted when it was bought by someone else (unbeknownst to me, my parents for my Christmas present).

One of the other reasons I think I bought it was the fantastic Winchell Chung picture on the front which promised one hell of a fight.

Anyway, OGRE. The principle is simple. A huge, nuclear shell lobbying cybernetic AI tank attacts a Command Post guarded by a mix of hovercraft (GEVs), missile tanks, heavy tanks and infantry. Either the OGRE will die, or the CP will. The game is simple, the sole rules reference being needed is a combat results table combined with the ability to work out odds. I played this game again and again, both solo and with others. Although its very simple, there is enough randomness and strategy variations to make you want to keep coming back for more everytime you play it.

When the game was rereleased around 2000, I bought back in and purchased pretty much everything, except for the second scenario book that I just found out was printed in 2005. The whole game, counters, rules and dice with all the expansions fits nicely into a VCR case. Perfect to take away when travelling. Unfortunately, the arrival of the two boys has meant that it's been neglected for the last 5 years.

I was very excited when Steve Jackson, the author, announced that he was going to be bringing OGRE back in a huge new 6th Edition 'OGRE Designer's Edition'. It's always had a special place in his heart as it was the first game that he designed. When I say huge, the game has a monster box with an estimated weight of around 15 pounds (7 kg) due to the component quality and numbers. Have a look at the box in the video! I was then instantly disappointed when I found that the Kickstarter campaign was going to be US-only, unless some practicable way could be found to ship the package at a reasonable cost. This has since been fixed, but as you can probably guess, shipping that kind of weight air freight isn't cheap. It's around $90 to the UK!

The Kickstarter campaign (a win-win way for the publisher to gauge support) has taken on an OGRE-like approach, massively exceeding the $20,000 initial target and crushing all the stretch goals in sight. What's a stretch goal, you ask? This is when the publisher (or Kickstarter campaign creator) pledges to do extra things in the event that funding reaches certain levels. For example, additional components, better quality product and so on. As I type this, the campaign has broken through $570,000 with 5 days to go.

Isn't it amazing that a 35 year old board game can attract such support? There's a lot of love, excitement and nostalgia driving this.

Zombicide, another boardgame but a new one, has - in its last 12 hours - just broken the $720,00 barrier having trailed behind OGRE until the end of the week. It's great to see boardgames prospering in our digital media world, powered by a digital campaign system and the buzz on the internet.

Now I just need to find some time to play this kind of thing. Or wait another couple of years for Nathan to be old enough!


PS There are missing posts from April, including a rant. They’ll appear in due course.