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Ogre

Rules

I like Ogre miniatures, but I was never a fan of the Ogre Miniatures rules. The hex grid in the original rules simplifies speeds, ranges and locations in ways that make the rules easy to play at a properly rapid pace. I collected all the hex-based game rules and used those, until recently when I acquired the 6th edition Battlefields rules which collect and update all the various rules and units into one book.

Every time I play or even study the Ogre/GEV system, I rediscover how good a game it is. Even after decades of wargaming, the basic Ogre/GEV rules make for a pretty entertaining game with or without miniatures. The core system is uncluttered, easy to learn, and simple enough to play that in the midst of the very first game you can already be thinking about tactics instead of rules mechanics. It's an added bonus that it's easy to tinker, tune and modify - if there are any near-future weapons system you think Steve Jackson failed to include, you can add it yourself, and it's really easy to balance against the other weapons systems already present.

Tanks

I actually prefer GEV to Ogre as a game, so when I started collecting miniatures for Ogre/GEV, it was the "little" units that interested me most. Ogres are kewl and rad and gnarly and all that, but they tend to unbalance a game and limit tactical nuance. A single unit with the power of a whole company (or battalion!) is a big weight to throw around, and difficult to balance.

Unfortunately, the actual SJG brand miniatures were always beyond my price threshold. On the bright side, I never liked most of the designs anyway, and it turns out they're also far too big. I get the rationalization that tanks have grown in the future in order to carry all the armor and big weapons and sophisticated gear, but I just thought they nearly all looked like the wrong scale.

I began my collection by shopping the generic scifi ground combat market. I found lots of options, and over the years, more all the time. 6mm and 10mm are very popular scales for scifi ground combat miniatures.

Along Came An Ogre

While Steve Jackson Games was producing metal models of the actual Ogres, I kept buying them. Unfortunately, the design/release cycle was very slow and it took years to get through the entire set of Ogres, so a couple models came and went while I wasn't looking. I still don't have either the Doppelsoldner and Ogre Ninja.

More Ogres

I was never happy with the idea that both sides used the same Ogre designs. Obviously the game designers weren't either, since they designed the Fencer and Doppelsoldner in the 1990s. There are plenty of instances in real war of armies pressing capture equipment into service, but in truth military organizations operate according to doctrines that determine what equipment works best for them. Also, in a make-believe future war, it's far more fun to give each side its own designs with unique style and flair. So, I did.

What's in a name...?

The body of rules built up over time have listed many unique names for Paneuropean Ogres - Pikeman, Legionnaire, Fencer, Doppelsoldner. That suggests a naming theme of notable classes of soldiers from European history (well, okay, a "Fencer" is more of a martial hobbyist than a soldier...). Any Paneuropean Ogres I create from thin air must have names fitting this theme.

To make sure new Ogre designs weren't going to unbalance the game, I needed some kind of evaluation of combat power based on all the features, and here the Internet Ogre community came to the rescue. I used the ACME Make-an-Ogre tool to get at least a rough out the components included in each new design.

Pikeman

The rules and canon literature mention the Pikeman as a Paneuropean Mk.I Ogre. I dislike that name (it should have been Phalangite or Hoplite or even Reiter), but I feel compelled to use it the way it is presented.

On the one hand, I dislike both sides using the exact same design, but on the other the Mk.I Ogre is exactly the sort of first attempt at a newfangled cybertank design any military establishment would make (it's basically just an overgrown MBT with the largest available tank gun and a cybernetic brain). I don't consider Ogre Mk.Is much use in a game, so I haven't built a Pikeman, and I probably won't unless I'm trying to use up cool leftover scifi tank hulls of the right size.

Hussar and Lancer

I created two Paneuropean versions of the Mk.II: the Hussar and Lancer. The second generation of any complex machine is usually where field experience has begun to cause design choices that differentiate it from its competition at the same level, so I decided to posit that Paneuropean engineers fielded two designs of the same basic overall power to see what worked. The Hussar is the Paneuropean Mk.IIa, with higher speed (M4) than the Mk.II Ogre but a bit less AP armament (4x AP). The Lancer is the Paneuropean Mk.IIb, a Hussar with a superstructure containing 3 missiles and a single launch tube replacing the main gun turret.

The hulls I chose are from the old Gropos miniatures line of 10mm Babylon 5 tanks (now discontinued, I think). I had four Frey MRLS hulls and four Uller AD hulls. With some filing, filling, drilling and kitbashing, the Uller became the Hussar and the Frey became the Lancer.

Legionnaire

I decided I hated the Legionnaire being merely a renamed Mk.III, so I decided to reimagine it as a more Paneuropean conception of the first real cybertank slugger design. The only change I made to the Combine Mk.III was to swap out the 2 missiles for 2 missile racks and a magazine of 6 missiles. In points this puts the Legionnaire between the Mk.III and Mk.IIIB, suggesting an arms race under way. I have yet to find suitable models to make one of these. I consider the Legionnaire to be an early upscaling of the Ogre concept, an attempt to combine the endurance of the gun-armed Hussar with the range and hitting power of the Lancer.

Huscarl

I also disliked the Huscarl being a badge-engineered Mk.V. Any vehicle design at this late stage of development should show completely unique design elements. I used the ACME Make-an-Ogre tool to rough out a variation of the Mk.V that emphasizes the Paneuropean predilection for missile racks over individual missiles, but is otherwise a boiler-plate Mk.V. I consider it a Paneuropean attempt to repeat the success of the Combine Mk.V design using Paneuropean parts, one that recognizes a need for a high-endurance slugger design to be used where the missile-heavy Fencer won't be sufficient.

The Microworld Super Tank provided the Huscarl hull and many parts. It's the right size, the low-rise front has the proper Paneuropean low-front/high-back design cues, the long "heavy" guns are just right as Ogre secondaries, the toppers gave me all the parts I needed to fashion missile tubes and AP turrets, and a spare Fencer B turret on the front completed the Paneuropean design flair.

The Ogre Timeline

My revised Ogre development timeline looks something like this:
Combine: Mk.I Ogre, basically a proof of concept, a crewless superheavy tank with a big gun.
Paneurope: Pikeman, functionally similar to the Mk.I Ogre in all ways (speed, armament, etc.).
Combine: Mk.II Ogre, bigger, heavier, and better armed, to protect the investment of the AI and take advantage of its ability to coordinate a large and varied weapons complement.
Paneurope: two versions of a second generation cybertank on the same hull, a big gun tank (the Hussar) and a big missile tank (the Lancer). Both are faster than the Mk.II Ogre, but lighter and with less AP aboard. Like the Mk.II, neither is a very successful design, with insufficient hitting power or endurance to make the cost worthwhile.
Combine: Mk.III Ogre, the first really fearsome cybertank, with a lot of staying power and a heavy and varied weapons array.
Paneurope: Legionnaire, functionally similar to the Mk.III Ogre in speed and hitting power, but with a magazine of 6 missiles (launched through 2 tubes) to give it more staying power.
Combine: Mk.IIIB Ogre, an up-gunned Mk.III with more staying power.
Paneurope: Fencer, released around the same time as the Mk.IIIB. The Fencer is a second attempt at a missile-heavy design, this time with a lot more missiles, missile launchers, and endurance. Very successful. In a gun duel it would lose to a Mk.III, but theoretically able to destroy one at long range before that matters.
Combine: Mk.IV released in response to the Fencer - a similar missile-heavy design, but with an Ogre main gun giving it extra gun power.
Combine: Mk.V Ogre, a straightforward redesign of the Mk.IIIB concept, made even larger to carry more weapons and armor.
Paneurope: Huscarl, basically the Paneuropean interpretation of the Mk.V concept - a huge, tough, monster cybertank with the hitting power of a battalion. As with other Paneuropean designs, missile launchers and a protected magazine are preferred to the Combine's arrays of missiles out in the open.
Paneurope: upgrades the Fencer to the Fencer B by replacing the dual-secondary Fencer turret with the dual-main turret of the Huscarl.
Combine: Mk.VI Ogre, yet another straightforward upgrade of the basic Ogre concept - bigger, stronger, more guns, more missiles, more everything. Hard to kill, very expensive, impossible to transport.
Paneurope: Doppelsoldner, a titan with all the best features of the Huscarl and Fencer, and a few extra guns thrown in. Somewhat weaker than the Mk.VI, but still an awesome, scary and powerful machine.