Ogre Review: Tactical Tabletop Warfare

I will be the first to admit that I am awful at tabletop games. The more complicated they are, the worse I become. My performance in Ogre is a testament to my lack of skills, though I could tell early on that it has considerable depth to its gameplay. As we’ve heard with countless other games, it is easy to learn, but pretty hard to master.

Ogre is a digital adaption of physical game that has been around for years. I have never played the original, but from what I noticed the virtual version could very easily be played as an actual game. Ogre has three modes—a tutorial, a campaign, and multiplayer. The tutorial was thorough enough to teach you the mechanics, but it is up to the player about how they strategize. Occasionally, the game will offer some insight, but failures and successes are a direct result of your actions and the trademark roll of the dice. The game has several scenarios that the player must navigate, including destroying a titular, hearty Ogre unit before it can escape the map and destroy enemy forces.

Components consist of vehicles and infantry, each with their own stats, movement speeds and mechanics. Variety exists, though not in excess. There are pros and cons to attacking with certain units and even combining strengths. You and your opponent, AI or otherwise, move in phases. From what I could gather there are only combat and movement phases, though, during one scenario I played, a certain vehicle type had its own movement phase. In all, the game plays well and the controls are smooth. Talking about the game makes me want to play it again so I can become better, which does not happen often.

A defeated Ogre vehicle.

The art is distinct enough to set Ogre apart from other tabletop war games, and the variety in map tiles adds visual appeal in addition to changing the actual terrain. While perhaps not anything too different from the norm, the visuals suit Ogre and don’t distract from actually playing the game. I will note that the explosions look particularly satisfying, and when you attempt an “overrun” attack, the board changes and adds to the futuristic element, which is quite nice.

The soundtrack is fitting, and reminiscent of music associated with military media. It is another element that does not distract or detract from the gameplay, and the traditional snare hits blend with a more electronic and futuristic sound very well. I always like to note that you can buy the score separately, which would be cool to play with the tabletop version since it does add to the tense battle atmosphere.

Given that Ogre is at its core a tabletop game, the replay value is nearly endless. It supports both local and online multiplayer, and the addition of some incredibly intelligent AI for single player means that almost no scenario should play out the same way, no matter which mode you choose. With a list price of $25, what you get out of Ogre depends on what you want from it, and how much you enjoy strategy and/or turn-based games. Auroch Digital seem to update the title regularly with fixes and other features, which is great to see.

I enjoyed my time with this title, and if you like tabletop games or consider yourself a strategist, I would suggest giving it a look.

Ogre is available on Steam.

DISCLAIMER: The product, Ogre, was given to us by developer Auroch Digital. This does not affect the outcome or final score of the review.
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Colton is a computer science student at SUNY Fredonia who hails from Buffalo, NY and would much rather be writing articles, scripts, and poems than code. Find him stressing in your nearest coffee shop. A few of his favorite games are Half Life/Half Life 2, Resident Evil 4 and Super Mario 64.

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