Friday, 22 September 2017

SJG Ogre Miniatures Wargame


This piece is going to be a criticism of the Ogre Miniatures wargaming rules by Steve Jackson Games.  If you've followed my blog for any length of time it should be obvious that I have played a fair few game of Ogre/GEV, and have a sizeable collection of the miniatures.

The picture above is proof of that.

Let me start by stating the obvious, the board-game is a classic.  Now that has been said let me explain what makes the rules for playing using the miniatures less than a fully satisfying miniatures playing experience.

It's quite simple really, the photo above is almost the perfect illustration of the problem–range to move ratio.  It doesn't matter what ground-scale conversion one uses: one inch to the hex, two inches, three or even four the problem remains, and the larger you go just makes other things more difficult too, like the size of the table need to play on.

In Ogre, units move one to four or more hexes per turn.  The range of the weapons is one to three hexes, with specials like howitzers being an exception, and cruise missiles of course, which in my experience are scenario specific.  Also, in Ogre terrain blocks, as in costs movement points to cross, but line-of-sight is is irrelevant to targeting an opponent, as it is abstracted as a defence bonus.

So what's the problem?

When the distance you can move a unit is as great or greater than the range you can shoot, what you have is a high level (more abstract) game, and miniature wargaming tends towards a lower level (less abstract) game.  The move to range ratio is a big issue here, because it just doesn't give the feel of a miniatures game.

As a player of miniature wargames I want tactical problems arising from terrain blocking line-of-sight and manoeuvre, which is why I use my miniatures as tokens on a hex map board.


  1. I seem to recall somewhere in the miniature rulebook or the splash materials back in the day, OGRE was described as the abstract representation of the holographic battlefield as seen in the command post. The hexes represent a kilometer and the units are an icon that is out of scale with the battle map. I had a similar problem with the representation until I was shown the description materials. It also led to us using the monopoly buildings and skyscrapers with the 6mm figures since it no longer felt out of scale.

    That said, we used to play Dirtside with the OGRE figures to get a different tactical feel. I have also played a version of OGRE in 15mm with the Hammer's Slammers rules.

    1. Yep, and they are doing a second edition now, and I imagine they want it to be successful enough to encourage people to buy more miniatures. Buying miniatures for a game where they're an abstract representation of a holographic display, seems to me, to be the very opposite of what makes people buy miniatures in the first place.

      I could be wrong though.

  2. This is one of the same problems Battletech has: moving in and out of range is a fair chunk of what the game is designed to be about. (Thus the massive difference in making GEVs move 4+2 rather than the original 4+3.)

    Someone designed a game that replaced Battletech with a more tactical, terrain-focused game, which could handle giant robot tanks too. What was it called again? (Yeah, I know, I was one of the few people who liked it.)

    1. Oh yeah, OHMU Warmachine. My great white elephant or should that be whale? It tasks me...

  3. Have you experimented with a 1 inch per hex scale for movement, and 10 inches per hex for fire? I have not tried it, but I have the same problem with the rules myself.

    I actually wanted to ask a question regarding your 1982/1983 era Mk V in the photo since I have never seen one in person. I saw a photo of one in its original package that looked like the missile trailer part of the chassis is made in two halves (side to side). Can you confirm if that is correct? If so, this is the only series that was a 3-piece chassis. I am putting together a summary of the changes per series to help folks identify models they find. Any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. I haven't. It would be an interesting experiment. I think its inevitable that the time each turn represents would get smaller, but this has big implications to the outcome of combat, because more kills would occur over the game-scale-time. I therefore think that a miniatures game needs to be its own thing.

      I haven't seen an old Ogre where the rear was split in half. They did make a version where one had to assemble the missile launchers as separate castings.

      I assume you've asked over on the SJG forum? Sorry I can't be of further assistance.

    2. I agree that the miniatures game needs to be its own thing, and that this 'sliding scale' idea wouldn't have the same game dynamic. Possibly longer range shots could have a weaker effect. I'm interested in experimenting with it just for fun.

      Thanks for the info. I know the 1981 MM series has loose missiles and started the two piece chassis. The package I saw was a 1982 SJG or Gremadier 1983 series package. It may have just been an optical illusion.

      I haven't ask at SJG yet. I'm currently on a limited access computer and since they are categorized as games, it will not open here. I'll have to check there later.

    3. I'll be interested in knowing anything you find out. Stuff like this is interesting.

  4. Will do.

    Might I have permission to use some of your photos on the Lost Minis Wiki (with a link back)? I would like to show this series Mk V and some of your Traveller figures.

    1. As long as you credit and leave a link here, then yes.


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