My regular gaming partner and I have continued to dig into Ogre in the past weeks.  At the time of my last update, we’d mainly played the classic Ogre scenarios, one Ogre vs. an Army.  Recently, we’ve been playing around with the GEV maps and the Raid scenarios.

The Raid scenarios are a lot of fun, but are VERY tricky for the attacker.  The attacker gets a big stack of GEV’s, and is tasked with doing as much damage as possible to Command Points, cities, and bridges.  The defender gets a handful of armor and infantry, and a regular trickle of reinforcements.

The defender’s free setup will result in a series of quite different scenarios.  The attacker has to focus on force preservation above all else due to the incredibly strict scoring system.  If the attacking player loses even half of his/her force, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the defender will win.  However, if the attacker fails to to any damage to the defending force, it’s fairly likely that he/she will end up having to retreat off the board before doing any damage at all, or will be surrounded and destroyed in the backfield.

The way that point-buy armies create interesting scenarios is a real strength of the Ogre system.  However, it also opens the door to the worst sort of ugly min/max-ing.  I really worry about the ability of players to freely choose Howitzers and Mobile Howitzers, and I worry that they form a “best” option that will of necessity dominate army composition strategies.  Obviously, Ogres change things up quite a bit, making artillery much less of a board-dominating monster.  It’s still early days, I guess.

The same problem can ruin a scenario in Memoir ’44.  Artillery has the potential to dominate a board in that game, especially if one side’s mobility is restricted or if force composition makes it a bad idea to move out of fixed defensive positions.  Some of the worst Memoir ’44 scenarios are those where the attacking artillery can blast away safely at a defending force which does not have the position or the mobility to mount a counter-attack.

That said, the fixed starting positions in Memoir ’44 put the responsibility for avoiding that situation firmly in the hands of the scenario designer, and good scenario designers rarely make the mistake of pitting artillery against immobile defenders.  In Ogre, thanks to the point-buy army system, every player is, in part, a scenario designer, and the potential for a bad army-buy or a silly gimmick to ruin a game seems pretty high.

It worries me.