Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Ogre Miniatures Rules


The Ogre Miniatures rule books stands as the central pillar for playing Ogre on wargame terrain.  It is both a testament to the popularity of the original game, and the levels that one can stretch a set of rules to convert them from being a hex map board game to one that can be played on a green tabletop.  I have a confession to make though, I have never played Ogre Miniatures on the wargame table.  Why, because I don't have a big enough table to play the game as written, and I also have certain reservations about the conversion.

The ground scale of Ogre Miniatures is two inches to 1500 metres, or approximately one mile if you prefer Imperial.  At that ratio the miniatures are at best tokens, and at worse things that are far too large, which get in the way of playing the game; in short gonks.  Also, because the original game is based on hexes that are units of area, the miniatures game conversion causes for me problems around measuring a straight line distance versus counting areas.  This is a problem one also encounters when playing BattleTech.  The two systems of counting distance are sufficiently different in their assumptions that for me they break the flow of the game.

If I lived in an ideal world where I had a house with a dedicated wargames room, and the financial resources to throw at my hobbies that meant I could do whatever I liked, then I would use Kallistra's Hexon range, which would meet my needs to have nice looking terrain, and no need to muck around with converting rules that changes the flavour of the game being played.  I also think that the Ogre miniatures line are the Redheaded stepchild of Steve Jackson Games.  I believe this because they don't fit within what SJG see as their core products, namely games using paper and card.  However, I also think that the miniatures played on the hex map boards are the epitome of the hybrid board wargame. 

So here's hoping that Ogre Miniatures go from strength-to-strength now that the Ogre Designer Edition has reinvigorated interest in the line.


  1. A thing I've often found strange is how reluctant miniatures gamers (and other modellers) are to mention plain old scale ratios. 25mm, HO, but hardly anyone will say 1/72 or (as in this case) "about 1/30000". To my mind that's what let GW get away with scale creep for all those years.

    I'd be interested to read more about this distance/area consideration. Is this a unit stacking issue, or are there other problems I haven't thought of yet? (Of course there are.)

    1. Stacking is always an issue when model size and ground scale are too dissimilar to each other, because stacking is not physically possible with models, and furthermore it breaks the verisimilitude of the game. However, the main issue is the different assumptions between a hex based game versus a tabletop game when it comes to providing clarity on what is in range, or not. Hex based war games win hands down here. A unit is either in range, or not, and one has the ability to count hexes with certainty. You the player knows everything you need to know.

      But when you have models on a table top one has to define the methodology of measurement, because are you going to define the range from center-to-center, or front of model to the front of the other model, because these thing cause uncertainty, and can lead to unpleasant disagreements between the players. The point being that three hexes define an area where a model must exist, whereas X inches is a distance that is a precise distance; in the former case three hexes represent approximately three miles, but the model in the hex (assuming hexes larger than the model) could be as little as two miles apart, or up to four miles apart, if one took into account the linear distance ie: measuring from hex center, front of hex to front of other hex, or from the rear of the hex tot he rear of the other hex, which is what one is faced with when not using hexes.

      I hope that clarifies the argument for you?

    2. So when you're translating, you need to decide whether a "one hex range" weapon should hit effectively at ten feet over the hex boundary or at just under two miles. Yeah, point taken, thanks. (And a BattleTech example to see if I've got it right: both a mêlée attack and a very small weapon will be most effective into an adjacent hex, but should they get the same "adjacent hex" range if you move onto a free map, or should mêlée need base-to-base contact while the weapon carries a bit further?)

      I admit I have trouble with miniatures rules that suggest anything other than a "centre point" approach to measurement, but that's because I'm used to scale skew (nobody* plays naval or space with figures anything other than vastly over-sized for the range scale, for obvious reasons) so I'm already assuming the mini is a visual proxy for "what's really happening".

      * all right, I'm sure there are some Coastal Forces nutters who do. :-)

    3. You got it. Mostly this problem is just brushed under the table, so to speak, but it really bugs me.

  2. I have a halfway decent collection of OGRE minis, but the first time I actually played the miniatures rules was last fall. Up to then, I'd use the minis on the Deluxe OGRE and Deluxe GEV maps from the early 2000s.

    I've thought about building a custom map for the game with larger (~2.5 inch) hexes to accommodate the size of the OGREs on the map.

    1. Sounds like we have a lot in common. Until a coupe of years ago I didn't use my Ogre miniatures to play Ogre per se, but with the new larger hex maps from ODE it has become an attractive proposition. I was thinking about three inch hexes, but Kallistra's Hexon range at four would be the super deluxe hex map solution for both BattleTech and Ogre IMO.