Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ogre Miniatures at DexCon 2011

As I indicated previously, one of the highlights (for me, anyway) of the just-passed DexCon convention in Morristown was a session of Ogre Miniatures on Saturday afternoon. I had mentioned it on the Steve Jackson forums and here, but I wasn't sure how the turnout would be. I cautiously showed up on Saturday with my figures, fully prepared for an empty game, but the reality was quite the opposite.

Just setting up the terrain, setting out a few units, and conspicuously leaving the rulebooks on the table as I did so, generated a lot of interest. There were quite a few "oh my god! I remember that game!" and "wow... I wish I had known you were running this" comments. I had originally set a limit of 4 players, but had to expand it to 6 because of the demand. It wasn't a huge problem, as the scenario I had in mind could easily scale.

Each side was given 300 points. The PanEuropeans were defending, trying to keep the invading Combine forces from destroying a pair of factories and an oil tank facility that had the bonus of blowing up when the tanks were destroyed, causing damage to nearby (or overrunning) units.

I was a little surprised by the choices of both sides. The attacking Combine forces had a pair of Mk III-B's, and the defending PanEuropeans chose a Fencer, a MK III, and a pair of Superheavy tanks as their primary defense. To be honest, I thought the Combine would take a lot of GEVs and the PanEuropeans would take a lot of infantry, especially as I set up several wooded areas along the most likely thrust axis (infantry in Ogre are doubled on defense when in forest). Shows what I know.

I did goof somewhat in having both sides set up within 12" of their respective edge. I should have allowed the defender to set up within maybe three times that space. Next time I run the scenario, I'll rectify that. But in the end it wasn't the fact that they had to move up to form a defense that undid them.

The attackers came on strong as they should, with both MK III-B's moving in tandem (forgive the pictures-- I only had one actual MK III-B figure, so a MK III had to stand in for the other unit). That gave them a hugely powerful strike force that would guarantee the obliteration of any single defender. They ended up moving into the lake near the defending oil tank facility, and sitting there for a turn or two while they got into position. The defender's MK III stood in their way, standing sentry, waiting for the two MK III-B's to emerge from the water. I actually got to use my "submerged conning tower" pieces!

While that was going on, the attacking GEVs and a couple of heavy tanks were dancing with a pair of PanEuropean superheavy tanks on the road. The Fencer stayed in the woods, not able to decide whether to commit to wiping out the lighter Combine units or moving to help head off the two Combine Ogres.

The defending MK III kept moving back, and moving back, waiting for the two attacking Ogres to emerge. And that, I think, marked the source of the PanEuropean team's problem; they weren't aggressive enough with their defense. If they had chosen a lot of little units, a more passive defense could be justified tactically. But by throwing almost all their points into large, heavy-hitting units, they almost demanded that they take an aggressive tack. They did not do so, however. The Fencer did come up to join the defending MK III, but it was almost hesitant in doing so.

As soon as the Combine MK III-B's emerged from the lake, they laid into the guarding MK III and took it out as a combatant. Almost all of its weapons were destroyed in the first round of fire, and it was pretty much completely non-attack-capable in the second round, when the other MK III-B joined in. The Fencer's missile racks were the first to go, and the attacking Ogres were pretty much unscathed.

At that point I called the match-- although the defenders would certainly have done a heap of damage to the attacking smaller units, the combined force of two MK III-B's, with little but a near-crippled MK III and a missile-less Fencer between them and the primary objective, the conclusion was foregone.

All in all, a terrific time, enthusiastic players, and a chance to play with new folks and remind others that some of us are still out there playing the "oldies but goodies". The response was so good that we will be running at least two games next year at Dreamation and/or Dexcon (both put on by the same outfit, one in February, and the other in July). By then, I hope to have the train ready for battle!

Unspeakable thanks to Rob "Northy" for providing the forest terrain in the above photos. They really added to the game!


JasonZavoda said...

Ogre is the best of the metagaming microgames I've played and one of the most enjoyable tactical sci-fi wargames ever (though I have a deep and abiding love for Battletech first edition).

I know Grodog did an Aliens game at Northtex but this Ogre with those minis would have been amazing. Wish I could have made it to Dexcon.

Joseph said...

They had about 8 Battletech games at the con, Jason. You would have been in hog heaven! Not sure exactly what version it was, but it looked fun. Northy played in one of them; perhaps he can fill in the details.

Northy said...

Firstly, don't worry at all about terrain - I'm just glad I actually made it more or less on time to the game and that the trees finally saw action! Next year, though, I may have to keep the terrain for my own board unless we get two games scheduled at different times, then there will be marshes and forests galore!

The Battletech games varied somewhat. Mostly the standard 'mech games, but I think there was at least one Aerotech game too. They were well run though the players did find it easy to get distracted and trail off into chat. I'd definitely recommend looking for a few games (both Ogre and Battletech) next year. I've already started putting pennies in the jar for it. :)

JasonZavoda said...

The later editions of Battletech can be fun but the first edition game system was a fantastic design including the rules from citytech that allowed you to make your own mech. Unfortunately the following editions seemed to add untested rule changes that, to me, had severe problems of game balance.

Actually I'm not sure how much Ogre changed beyond the originally system because that is the only one I've played.

Northy said...

Without wanting to too heavily turn Joe's blog into a discussion about Battletech, the current ruleset goes a long way towards making things run fairly smoothly. So long as you avoid the crazy experimental tech (which is clearly labeled as such). There's the mech construction rules available too.

As for Ogre Miniatures, it's my understanding that, aside from errata, there haven't been any truly drastic changes.

Misternizz said...

PLEASE consider running this at Fall In, in nearby Lancaster PA this Fall. :-D

Joseph said...

Halloween is always an insanely busy time of the year around here, Mrnizz; lots of pagan goings-on (Samhain for Mrs. Grognard and Winternights for me), our annual Halloween party, plus there's the usual trick-or-treating on the day itself with a 10-year-old in the house. I'm not sure a convention that runs October 28-30 is really in the cards, but I'll certainly try.

Any other conventions in the area on a perhaps less hectic weekend?