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Ogre is a turn-based game of strategy which has been around in tabletop form for 40 years. It was first released in 1977 and has been u...

Ogre Ogre

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Auroch Digital

Ogre is a turn-based game of strategy which has been around in tabletop form for 40 years. It was first released in 1977 and has been updated with numerous editions since then. I've only been a boardgame fan for a couple of years now, so I didn't know much about Ogre going in to this review. I did take the time to check out the various tabletop versions, so that I would have an understanding of where this game was coming from.  From what I've gathered, this is a very faithful rendition of the classic Ogre boardgame, which is great for fans. At the same time, Ogre suffers a bit from the double edged sword which is strict boardgame-to-PC adaptations. However, any game which remains popular over the span of four decades has certainly got something going for it, regardless of how you are playing it.

Ogre succeeds unequivocally in one aspect, which is the presentation of playing a boardgame in a digital medium. The visuals are simple and clean, while giving the distinct feeling that you are looking at a hex-map covered in models, all set up nicely on a table. The game runs buttery smooth, which isn't surprising given the level of detail, but does make the presentation all the better. You want to feel like you are looking over a boardgame table, and smooth camera movement is key to that. While the units only have limited animations, they are adequate for the job, accompanied by equally simple explosions and other effects. The sound effects were rather less impressive, with most being extremely repetitive. On the other hand, I found the music to be surprisingly good for this kind of game. It's not Command & Conquer, but there are some decent techno/rock type of tracks to give the game some ambiance while you play.

Ogre, according to the lore, depicts a futuristic world where humanity does battle with each other using tactical nukes as the standard weaponry. This is because armor has advanced so rapidly that nothing else can make a dent. Even the armored soldiers are closer to nuke launching tanks than infantry, Starship Troopers style (the book, not movie). Deciding that wasn't enough death and destruction, the humans of this world invented the Ogre, an armored machine bristling with enough weapons to destroy a city or three, and piloted by an AI. As you might guess, the story of the game involves that AI going all Skynet and attempting to wipe out humans for good.

While the game features a variety of armored units for the human forces, like light/heavy/super heavy tanks, long range artillery, fast GEV's, and infantry, the Ogres completely dominate the battlefield and shape the gameplay. An Ogre can only be disabled by knocking out their dozens of tracks and each individual weapon, rather than being destroyed outright. The Ogre comes in a series of models, from I to VI, with the relatively small Model I Ogres requiring a dozen units or so to defeat, and the big bad versions able to take on entire armies alone. This creates a stark strategic difference between the Ogre and everything else on the battlefield: most of the other units can only fire once per turn, but their sheer numbers give them flexibility of movement, while the Ogre is often alone, but able to engage many targets at once.

Combat follows a set series of phases, where the player gets a chance to move and attack, and then the other side goes. Maneuvering around the Ogres, such that your units can get close enough to attack, while maximizing their chances of surviving the opponent's turn, is at the center of the game's strategy. The game seems extremely simple at first glance, but there is much more subtlety to the tactics than may first appear. I actually had to research some common strategies just to get through the first mission, but once I had a better understanding of the mechanics, a mission which seemed impossible became far easier. That isn't to say that the game throws you in blindly. There is a solid tutorial to start things off, where you learn about moving and attacking and so on. However, after that the ten mission campaign drops you straight into the deep end of the pool. If you are like me, several attempts will be needed for each mission before a winning strategy emerges. In particular, I enjoyed stacking my forces with the quick GEV's, since they get to move again after firing. This lets them zip in, take a shot at an Ogre, then flee out of range of its wrath. 

The UI for handling all of this moving and attacking is mixed bag. On the one hand, it is perfectly functional and clear about what you are doing. Click to select a unit, click a highlighted space to move, click to select a target, select the units you are using for the attack, click "Fire" to attack, and so on. The problem is that you are very often moving around quite a few units, and each one requires this slightly too lengthy series of clicks to function each turn. The movement animations are also a touch too slow, and you can't do anything else while they play. This makes moving a stack of five tanks from one space to another a real chore. If you were playing the tabletop game, you could just pick up a whole pile of units and, assuming they are all the same type, move them to another space in the blink of an eye. In the PC game, this could take a good thirty or forty-five seconds of clicking. The developers have been steadily sending out patches to address feedback, and I hope they will add in some means of speeding up this area of the game. 

The combat, while for the most part compelling, had some stumbles for me as well. There is a lot of good strategy here. How you position your units, what priorities you set for targets, and the composition of your force all matter a great deal. More than once I lost a mission and felt frustrated, but then immediately jumped back in with the thought "Well, what if I did it this way instead?" From what I've learned on my own, and gleaned from reading online, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy here. The simple question of "How does one kill an Ogre?" has all sorts of answers. With that said, the boardgame origins of the combat mechanics don't always feel right in video game form. Rolling the dice always introduces luck into a game like this, and you will see a lot of dice rolled in Ogre. Part of the strategy is balancing the odds. Do you go all in on one sure-thing attack, or do you make several lesser attacks, with the chance of destroying multiple targets? One aspect of the combat which drove me crazy though, was taking out the treads on an Ogre. Unlike the weapons on an Ogre, the treads are targeted by each unit individually, with a rather low chance to hit, and there are a LOT of them to destroy. Sometimes this boils down to watching fifteen units pew-pew at a weaponless Ogre for multiple turns in a row, slowly grinding away the treads until you win or run out of time, with no skill involved whatsoever. I'm sure a long time fan of the game could jump in here and tell me that I'm approaching it incorrectly, and they might be right!

If you want to flip things around and take command of the Ogre yourself, that is certainly possible. Besides the campaign, the game features skirmish maps which include several different generic scenarios. Some are balanced, while others involve lopsided forces, like a human army and a small Ogre defending against an extra dangerous class V Ogre.  While the AI is decent enough, and will give you fits in the tricky campaign, there is of course the option of online play against a human opponent, the sort of match that Ogre was originally designed for. I didn't get to experience this myself while playing the game for review, but it seems to be functioning based on reports from other players.

It feels almost wrong to render any kind of verdict on a game that is been enjoyed by thousands of players longer than I have been alive, especially after only spending a week or so with it, but here we are. Ogre will most certainly please fans of the tabletop game. Everything is here, presented in a very clean and functional digital wrapping. There's online play for beating up your distant friends, and a couple of modes for solo play that will keep you busy for many hours. For players coming into it strictly as a PC game, it may feel constrained in some ways. The luck of the dice which can turn the best laid plan on its head, and the at times clunky UI could drag down your experience. Despite those criticisms, there is a very solid core of strategy gaming to be found here. New tactical layers reveal themselves as you get familiar with the mechanics, and usually reward your improved approach with much better results. I think any fan of turn-based strategy gaming will find something here to sink their teeth into.

Developer: Auroch Digital

- Joe Beard

                                                        Last Days of Old Earth Review   Hang on, wait a second. Why am I r...

Last days of Old Earth Review Last days of Old Earth Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Auroch Digital

                                                        Last Days of Old Earth Review

  Hang on, wait a second. Why am I reviewing this game? I am a grognard whose pedigree goes back to the early days of board wargaming. I don't even read Sci-Fi; well, very little. The map isn't of Europe or anything I have seen before, and what about all of the strange units? What's up with them? Just as companies have to branch out like Slitherine has done into IOS, Android, and non-historical games to keep pace with, and sometimes create new markets. We wargamers should do the same. I know I used to look down my nose at a map that had "shudder" areas instead of hexes. I now play Ageod games all the time and love them. So please, people, step out of your comfort zone with games every once in a while and check out those beer and pretzel games, fantasy, and Sci-Fi games. So does Slitherine and Auroch Digital hit one out of the park to the ultaran nebula, or is this game the last spark of a super nova turned cold?

  Last Days of Old Earth was reviewed earlier here when it was still in early access. The game has changed since then, and also just received a very large update.

 In this turn based strategy game, you can play as the Skywatchers Clan or the Automata.

 The Skywatchers Clan are the last remnant of humans who live on Earth; not ours, but one that has been turned into a freeze pop. Playing as them, you are marching toward the equator, which is still warm enough to sustain some life.

 The Automata are a robotic race of sentinels that are in the way of the Skywatchers Clan on their trek to the equator.

 The only thing that confused me is that the Skywatchers clan is set on doing its Northwalk. Living in the northern hemisphere, it had me turning my head several times. This again is proof that people should think, look, and walk at times out of their comfort zone.

 In some ways, the game resembles a turn based RTS game. You build facilities and upgrade them. You explore the map looking for both resources and enemies. The map is a blank slate except for the few tiles that you can see at first. As far as similarities to RTS games, that is about it. At its heart it is a strategy game as much as any wargame is.

 The main difference is that it is turn based. So you have no need for frenetic map searching or finger clicking. It reminds me of the newer board games with its die rolls and cards to pull.

 The terrain is varied, and gives bonuses to the defender like a typical wargame. The units have all strengths and weaknesses that have to be used to used to attack or to defend against your enemy.

  You can build outposts which are military installations, and also build collectors on resource tiles.

 One place the game really shines is in terrain height. In this game it actually matters. You not only get the expected defense bonus, but your units can actually SEE farther on the map. This helps immensely with recon, attack, and defense planning.

 The other very well done part of the games is in its hero units. They have special abilities, and also have a set amount of units that they can command in armies.

You can garrison your HQ or your outpost or deploy your armies out of them. If you lose your HQ to the enemy, the game is lost. All of your installations have limits on the amount of units allowed to be present in the garrison. Units in installations can also be healed and repaired. There are a few units that can do this for your armies in the field.

 The game turn starts with a die roll to determine who wins the initiative. You can use your resources to buy more chances to win the die roll. Gaining the initiative not only lets you move first, you also gain more action points to use during that turn.

 Battles occur when units of both sides are in the same hex. You can choose to autoresolve it or move it to the field of battle. The field of battle is pretty typical in its look and usage. The front line is for units defending and attacking directly with the second line used for support units.

 The AI is very competent on both the field of battle, and the maps.

 The graphics at first seemed to me a bit cartoon-like (see above), but the maps and units grew on me. They are actually well done for the game's story line.

 Resources are the key to the game.You have to get moving on the first turn. For both recon and to search, find, and capture the different resource hexes on each map. Not only finding, but also defending your resources is really the crux of game play. If the enemy can take away your resources you will lose. Possibly a slow loss, but a loss nonetheless.

 The game comes with the ability to choose your units before you start with the ability to build your own 'decks' of them before battle.

 The game also has an adjustable 'sudden death' meter in the skirmish games. This is a good addition so the player doesn't have to destroy all of his enemies or capture the entire map to win that scenario. 


  To add to the player's choices, the game has some interesting features. A unit can go into stealth mode in a forest tile and become hidden. You can try to assassinate your enemy's heroes. Sabotage is also something you can do against your enemy and cut down on his supply. The game also has 'encounters' where the player's forces will move next to a tile that has a force that is not one of the two antagonists. The player has to choose on how his forces will react to this. It is possible to gain allies during one of these encounters.

 To sum it up, this game is an interesting title that really does have some depth if you take the time to play it. A lot of wargamers or grogs would look askance at it due to the story and graphics. This one will remain on my harddrive and I will definitely play it. In the beginning I was skeptical, but it has proved its worth.


 Game: Last Days of Old Earth
 Developer: Auroch Digital
 Publisher: Slitherine
 Date of Review: 8/6/2016