Board Wargames

Ogre Designer’s Edition — $923,680!

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11MAY12 : 1128hrs : The Ogre neutral steers on the command post. A $923,680 count registers. It detects 5,512 friendly infantry nearby. SMILE routine executed.

Ogre Designer's EditionSteve Jackson Games successfully completed its first Kickstarter project just before Noon PDT today. The Ogre Designer’s Edition closed with 5,512 supporters pledging $923,680 in funding. Ogre is officially the highest funded Board & Card Game project on Kickstarter easily beating out the previous, just recently crowned, champion Zombiecide. Ogre reached and exceeded 31 Stretch Goals that brought not just new goodies but early shipping, better packaging, a game assist app, promises of a computer game, restarting the miniatures line, and even doing a future Car Wars Kickstarter project. At times the Stretch Goals seemed crazy out of reach and at other times they were met almost as soon as they were posted. You can see the celebration in Update #36.

Ogre Blueprint ShirtThe final tally of gaming goodness is almost hard to quantify let alone comprehend. Besides the extra four patches, four shot glasses, two dice sets, two pins, military cap, eight t-shirts, polo shirt, three extra counter sheets, classic counter sheets, tote bag, wood cut Ogre, Tournament package, and Giant Battlefield set…whew!…that one could purchase the actual game contains:

Standard Edition Includes:
– The outer shipping carton – about 22″ x 18″ x 4″?
– The game box. Currently 21.5” by 17.625” by at least 3.5”.
– Vacuformed counter tray insert / “Ogre garage”

Ogre map (2 pieces )
GEV type maps G1, G2, S1, S2 (2 pieces each)

– Plastic storage trays to hold the maps in the box

Counter/overlay sheets:
All about 11 x 17, printed 4/4, diecut – right now I count 16 of them.
– Combine 2D units (2 identical sheets, about 65 units each, 1.5 mm)
– Paneuropean 2D units (2 identical sheets, about 70 units each, 1.5 mm)
– Basic map overlay sheet (3 identical sheets, 1.5 mm)
– Stretch overlay sheet (1.5 mm)
– Assorted Ogres and buildings (3 different sheets, 2 mm)
– Sponsored sheets for $3,000 supporters (5 different, some 1.5, some 2 mm; all use existing dies)
— (1, 2) “Mercenary” sheets – two, using Combine units
— (3) Maaaybe one w/ hidden buildings. Under discussion.
— (4) One with a whole troop of Ogres in a new color.

— (5) One, probably, with a new color of Paneuro units.

Booklets and other paper:
– Rulebook – 24 pages?
– Scenario book – 12 pp?
– Reference sheets with CRTs, unit lists, and so on (2 copies)
– Ogre Record Sheet masters (2 copies, black only)
– Blueprint poster
– “How to Build the Ogres” flyer

Two 19mm acrylic dice, one blue with Combine logo in white, one red with Paneuropean logo in white.

Kickstarter Copies Also Include:
– Kickstarter sticker on the box front
– Kickstarter Exclusive Counter Sheet (“Targets Go Boom”)
– Kickstarter Exclusive Counter/Overlay Sheet #2, still unnamed and under development
– Kickstarter Exclusive Counter/Overlay Sheet #3, still unnamed and under development
– Signed Certificate of Support

Also Included At KS $100 US Level
– Website and box-side listing as supporter
– Three PDFs and 30 Minutes of Music (actually, these kick in at $25)

Swag Added At $150 US Level
– A second copy of the “Targets Go Boom” sheet
– Humongous Canvas bag
– Pair of lapel pins
– Exclusive T-shirt

Support Outside The Box
– Record sheet app
– 12 scenarios, so far
– Constructable Ogre/building templates
– PDFs of classic counters
– PDF record sheets

[Above updated to include later items. See Update #16 for even more details. Also see the official list of extras. Many of these items will appear in Warehouse 23 for sale later…while supplies last.]

All in all an amazing adventure. Is it November yet?!

Also see Overheard at Steve Jackson Games Studios, Ogre – A look Back, Ogre Designer’s Edition.

Ogre — A Look Back

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With the Ogre Designer’s Edition now past $550,00 in funding on Kickstarter and seemingly going to include everything but the kitchen sink it might be worth taking a look back at Ogre‘s past for a bit of perspective.

Ogre Collection
Ogre and expansions circa 1984 and 2000.

The original 1977 Ogre release was in a plastic bag. Later this was updated to a ziplock bag and then to an 80’s Steve Jackson Games’ favorite, the plastic ‘Pocket Box’. In the photo, the Ogre and G.E.V. pocket boxes are circa 1984 and the ziplock bags are from the late 80’s and 2000 release. When looking at the new Ogre Designer’s Edition it is worth noting this is what Ogre has always been. Except for the miniatures, Ogre has always been a small, cheap release. It never had mounted maps or counters nor full color rules.

Perhaps the closest Ogre got to a deluxe treatment was…well…Ogre Deluxe published in 1987. It was just Ogre but it had a heavy cardstock map and standup counters that fit into plastic stands. This was the flashiest Ogre yet.

Ogre/G.E.V. 2000
Contents of the 2000 Ogre/G.E.V. re-release. Both games in one box.

In 2000 Steve Jackson Games re-released Ogre and its expansions. For the first time since 1982 Ogre and G.E.V. were combined into one box (literally a plastic VHS tape box). The components were basically the same as earlier releases. It contained the same counters and you had to cut the maps apart because they were printed on the same sheet. The rules were in one book and it had Ogre on one side and when flipped over it had G.E.V. on the other.

Now maybe one can understand why many older gamers want the classic counters in 1″ mounted format. For decades all we have had is cardstock, cut-apart-yourself, 5/8″ counters. The counter art was always great — in fact it is now classic — it was just the physical quality that was lacking. A sneeze or slight breeze from any open window could wreak havoc upon a game as counters scattered on the wind — Although admittedly a great lesson in G.E.V. physics!

Classic Ogre and Delux Ogre
Here we see the original Ogre box and map on top of the Deluxe Ogre map with 1.5″ hexes. At the upper right of the original Ogre map is a Deluxe Ogre MkIII miniature.

2000 also saw the release of Deluxe Ogre and Deluxe G.E.V. that combined the boardgame rules with the miniatures. None of the expansions or new maps were ever released in the Deluxe format. The Deluxe version delivered huge 1.5″ hex Ogre/G.E.V. maps and lead minis. Of course not all boardgamers appreciate minis and the lack of bases with stats made the game a tad fiddly. You needed an off-board sheet or cards for all your unit stats and some sort of marker for Disabled status. Veteran gamers were once again denied mounted counters.

These maps are essentially the same maps we will see in the Ogre Designer’s Edition but they will now be mounted. We will also get the new ~1.25″ mounted hex-shaped counters. Perhaps best of all, at long last, all of the counters will be available in the classic style in 1″ mounted format as an extra purchase!

Ogre Books
The Ogre Book 2ed and Ogre Scenario Book 1 from 2000 and 2001. Again, an Ogre MkIII miniature in the middle.

In 1982 Steve Jackson Games released the Ogre Book. It was one of the first of its kind. It was a book dedicated to Ogre and G.E.V. that covered the development of the game along with history, fiction, expansions, and strategy. Much of it came from articles previously published in The Space Gamer magazine but having it all combined in one spot was wonderful. It is probably worth mentioning that 1982 was long before the Internet and printed books and magazines were the only ways to get information on games. When Steve Jackson talks about getting letters from gamers he means actual handwritten, sent-with-a-stamp letters! In 2000 SJ Games released the Ogre Book Second Edition now updated with new info and a few new articles. In 2001 we got the Ogre Scenario Book 1 (so far no Book 2) that provided seven new scenarios.

So as you gaze upon the ~15lb wonder that is Ogre Designer’s Edition it is worth taking a moment to reflect on how far the game has come since its humble beginnings. Ogre is BACK baby!

Also see Ogre Designer’s Edition.

[Updated: 6MAY12 to include Ogre Deluxe. Thanks to McKinley Hamby for jarring the brain cells and BoardGameGeek for the only photos I could find.]

Battle of the Bulge — iPad Edition

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Bulge for iPad screenshot1The folks over at Shenandoah Studio have decided to use Kickstarter to launch their first iPad game. Battle of the Bulge: The Simulation  Game for the iPad is a light operational-level wargame about the Battle of the Bulge designed by John Butterfield. It appears that there will also be a printed version of the game as well and supporters at the $150+ level get both the iPad version and the printed boardgame.

Bulge for iPad screenshot2We’ve been watching Shenandoah Studio for awhile now and are happy they chose to use Kickstarter. Considering the success of Ogre Designer’s Edition on Kickstarter it should be easy for Battle of the Bulge to reach its $20,000 goal. In fact it is already past $5,000 on its first day. If design is any indication of the quality of the game Battle of the Bulge should be a real winner. With luck we will see more iPad titles from Shenandoah Studio in the future.

Update: As an added incentive Shenandoah Studio announced the next game in the Crisis in Command Series, El Alamein. All those pledging $20 or more will get both games. There does not seem to be a boardgame version of El Alamein.

As of this writing they are just a few dollars shy of their goal so the project is certainly a go.

Update: The game reached almost twice its goal and is now live in the App Store. It is a great game.

[Updated: 15DEC12]

Ogre Designer’s Edition

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Ogre Designer's EditionSteve Jackson Games has posted the Ogre Designer’s Edition (also known as ‘Ogre Deluxe’ or ‘Ogre 6th Edition’) as a Kickstarter project. In only its second day, it has passed the $100,000 funding mark. This already makes it one of the top board games on Kickstarter and it still has 28 more days to go.

Ogre has been on our Top Picks since the start and we have been reporting on the upcoming release for a few years now. It is the third or fourth wargame we ever bought and one we’ve probably played more than another other game. That is quite a mark. It is great to finally see this classic game get the treatment it deserves and heartening to see the obvious swell of community support.

Those who have never played Ogre (and its follow on titles G.E.V. and Shockwave) may wonder what all the hubbub is about. Ogre was originally published in 1977 as a ‘microgame’ or in other words as a small 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ ziplock bag game with cardstock counters you had to cut out. Like any great game it transcended its poor components with great gameplay. Various versions were released over the next few decades including the pocket box version, miniatures version, and deluxe version (not to be confused with the Designer’s Edition). There were also scenario and map expansion packs as well as an Ogre Book.

Ogre BookWhat has made Ogre such a classic game is certainly a combination of its great gameplay and its fictional setting. Ogre was certainly heavily influenced by Keith Laumer’s Bolo: Annals of the Dinochrome Brigade book that was published in 1976 as well as the Cold War itself. Similar to a Bolo, an Ogre is a massive cybernetic tank with advanced armor that runs on massive track groups and fires tactical nuclear shells. In the world of Ogre tactical battlefield separation is mandatory because of the nukes and lasers make aircraft useless (oddly missiles still have a function). Ground Effect Vehicles (G.E.V.’s) are the new cavalry. It is  future warfare that is not only plausible but, for the most part, not outdated by the 30+ years of technological and warfare advances since its introduction. Perhaps best of all, it is a future treadheads dream about: The tank ascendant once again.

The original Ogre game pits one player in control of a single unit, the Ogre, versus his opponent in charge of roughly a battalion of tanks, G.E.V.’s, artillery and troops on a nuke cratered battlefield. This odd matchup is certainly a large part of the appeal of the game. It was not only unique for the time (and somewhat even to this day) but also great for solitaire play as well as an easy way to introduce new gamers to the hobby. Watching a single unit charge forward to its ultimate goal of destroying the Command Post as a horde of smaller units try to stop it is simply fun, and challenging. The game is quick and multiple games can be played in a couple of hours allowing for gamers to try different strategies or for players to swap sides.

Of course players wanted more and G.E.V. brought a more conventional battlefield that featured all of the more traditional units pitted against each other on a non-nuke cratered battlefield. Shockwave introduced huge cruise missile launchers and other new units as well as a new map. And of course one could still throw an Ogre into the mix! All of this was with low production-value components, even for its day, but high art style. The units, especially the Ogre, had great designs and the map was colorful and holds up as great art to this day. But again, the simple idea of a G.E.V. able to skim over a water obstacle that stops a tank dead gives Ogre/G.E.V. that crunchy real-world feel that is often missing in historical games let alone sci-fi titles.

Best of all it all works! The game is balanced, challenging, replayable and, especially with the expansions, offers huge variety. It uses a points system that allows players to field custom forces and constantly challenges players to not only try different tactics but different force mixes. In many ways it what gamers always wished Warhammer 40,000 could be.

So now we are to see perhaps the ultimate version of Ogre released. Many will quibble with the choices Steve Jackson Games have made. We personally wish they went in a different design direction for the game and wish they perhaps offered a new modernized version of the rules along with the classic rules. But the fact is us old timers and a new generation of gamers will be able to enjoy Ogre once again. Tired eyes as well as tiny hands will have huge components to gaze upon and grasp. It is an occasion to be enjoyed for what it is, not for what it could have been — One also not to be missed.

Now we just need to get Steve Jackson to produce an iPad version!

Also see Ogre — A Look Back.

A Call to Arms: Starfleet — Available Soon

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ACTA Star FleetADB and Mongoose Publishing have partnered on a new sci-fi spaceship combat game, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet. The new game is based on the A Call to Arms rule system, of ACTA: Babylon 5 fame, and set in the Star Trek universe of the ADB license (essentially the original series). In addition to the new rule set, ADB’s Starline 2400 minis have all been redone in a new 2500 line and are now slightly larger (about 25%). [Note: The original resin releases were rather bad. ADB redid them in pewter and they quality is much better.]

We are still annoyed over the death of ACTA: Babylon 5 but ACTA: Star Fleet is probably worth a look at least. ADB has a good track record with partnerships and owns its Star Trek license. The miniatures are certainly a big question. Neither ADB nor Mongoose have been known for high quality minis but Mongoose has certainly gotten better recently. The initial previews have looked good and the one picture of the unfinished resin looks pretty good as well (but not as good as Spartan). But how this translates to production pieces remains to be seen. It appears that perhaps they have beefed up and slightly shortened the Federation nacelle towers and they are going to be in resin not metal.

This month is the release of Call to Arms: Star Fleet and the first of the 2500-series miniatures near the end of this month.

Starline 2500 and A Call to Arms: Star Fleet are approaching!
The joint venture between Mongoose Publishing and ADB, Inc. is moving along quite well. ACTASF should be available in stores before Christmas. This will be a beautiful hardbound rulebook with spectacular color photos of many ships.

The Starline 2500 ships are designed for use with SFB, FC, Starmada, and ACTASF, so the ship types that appear in the Squadron boxes won’t change from the 2400 line (and the price for 2500s will actually go down to $29.95). What will change is that the 2500-series ships will be cast in hard resin, not pewter, and they will be about 20% larger so that all the details that you asked us to add will be there!

Our European customers will have the option of ordering from Mongoose-UK so their shipping will be perhaps more “local.” Both ADB, Inc. and Mongoose-US will stock the minis as will many game stores, so you should have easy access to these new, highly detailed ships.

New 2500-series Border Boxes priced at $124.95 will contain 24 ships.
New 2500-Series Fleet Boxes will be priced at $99.95 and will contain 16 ships and a quick start rulebook.

The 2400-series border boxes will also be available (at least by mail order) in 2500-series for a somewhat higher price. The 2400s are pewter; the new 2500s will be resin.

Remember that all of the current Starline 2400 blister packs, squadron boxes, fleet boxes, and border boxes will remain on sale at their current prices indefinitely.

[Updated: 27SEP13]

Breakout: Normandy Deluxe Edition — First Look

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Breakout: Normandy L2 Design Group surprised a lot of folks by producing a new version of the classic Avalon Hill wargame Breakout: Normandy. Breakout: Normandy has been out of print for a few years now but is still a very popular game and still sees a regular tournament at WBC. Breakout: Normandy is a board wargame covering the first month of the Normandy campaign in WW2. It is an area movement game based on the system debuted in Storm Over Arnhem and recently seen in Monty’s Gamble.

The new L2 version of the game is known as Breakout: Normandy Deluxe Edition and was produced with the support of Don Greenwood the game’s original designer. Breakout: Normandy was one of those classic games that basically got everything right from the start. It was also originally produced with very nice components. So what does the new Deluxe Edition provide different from the original? Thankfully, besides simply getting the game back in print, not much. The map is 10% larger to accommodate the new 3/4″ counters and incorporates the first week of reinforcement displays. The map itself is the typical L2 heavy foldout stock. The counters are slightly larger but otherwise unchanged. The real change is in the rulebook. The rulebook is all new and is in full color and very attractive. The new rulebook incorporates all official errata to the original game and a few minor rules changes.

Breakout: Normandy ArtDon Greenwood describes the new rule changes in the excellent included designer’s notes. He has focused on the fact that after thousands of plays it became apparent that the Germans have a slight advantage in the game. He also does not like some of the tactics that have resulted. To address those he jettisoned the Victory Point for holding the Advantage. “To compensate the Allies for this loss as well as to address their earlier balance problems, Naval Bombardment Impulse join Air Bombardment Impulses in being ‘free’–which added a staggering 12 Impulses a game to the Allied ledger…. To complete the Allied Aid package, Weather Changes…were made less likely by eliminating their occurrence during air and naval bombardment. And lastly, players can no longer guard against weather changes by using the now non-existent End of Day dice roll modifiers.” That’s it.

If you are a Breakout: Normandy fan you will want this edition if only for the new rulebook. If you never played the game before and you have any interest in WW2 you should give the game a look. Highly recommended.

GenCon 2011 Punch List

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Gears of WarWell GenCon 2011 is over. We were not there but from all of the various coverage it looked like a good show and had record attendance. Below is a list of all the new goodies we are looking forward to based on the show announcements. Thanks to Russ at the D6 Generation podcast and the Beasts of War for their excellent show coverage.

  • Gears of War: The Board Game — We have always been huge Space Hulk fans and the new GoW game looks similar. Initial demo game reports are good and the components are certainly top notch. The D6 Generation have a full review of the game in Episode 86.
  • Dust Warfare — After watching AT-43 die we passed on Dust Tactics. But the game has been generally well received and the minis are well done. Dust Warfare is a full blown mini ruleset written by Andy Chambers. If nothing else it will be worth a look.
  • Android books — We did not care for FFG’s Android board game but did like the universe it was set in. Now FFG is bringing out two novels, Free Fall and  Golem, set in the world of Android.
  • Star Trek: Fleet Captains — We almost forgot about this one. WizKids debuted a new board game of exploration and starship combat using unpainted plastic miniatures. We saw some shots of it at the show but never heard any reports on play. It looks interesting. Again, Russ from the D6G snagged a copy — And even painted some ships — and Episode 88 has a nice review of the game (forward to 2hr29min). The rules are available for download.
  • Star Wars X-WingX-WingFFG got a Star Wars license and will be doing a bunch of products with it. One of the first is X-Wing a tactical space combat game. Many are calling it Wings of War in space but it is really no more similar to it than any other air-to-air combat game. It comes with pre-painted plastic minis (surely with tons of expansions due along soon thereafter) and focuses on fighter-to-fighter combat in the Star Wars universe. Demo game reports were favorable overall and there is certainly more depth to the game not really explored yet by quick demos. But it is meant to be a simple, fast game not any sort of ‘simulation.’ It should be good for some quick fun. We just hope they produce the B-Wing fighter!
  • Star Wars: The Card Game — Well the world probably needs another Star Wars card game as much as a Wookie needs a razor but we’ll give it a spin.
  • 15mm TerrainGale Force Nine announced a bunch of new 15mm terrain for Flames of War and the like. The new Desert Oasis is our favorite.

Oddly, even though Steve Jackson Games was at the show, we didn’t hear a peep about the new Ogre 6th edition. We hope this is not a bad sign. [Update: Steve posted an update on the Ogre site, “The status is: Still planned, still the super-fancy as per the prototypes you can see on that page. . . And definitely still not on track for 2011. I warned everyone in May that it might not happen in 2011, and now I can say it definitely won’t. I knew that at the end of June, before I took July off, and I should have shared.”]

[Updated: 10OCT11]