From the moment that I picked up my first copy of Ogre, I was a wargamer. Sure, I had roleplayed, and played Car Wars, but this was different. From that point on, anything with hexes and a CRT made my palms itch with desire. Fifteen years later, the itch has been well and truly scratched. Ogre Battlefields triples the available number of maps, along with introducing the first new units available to the system since its re-release.
Packaged in the traditional SJ Games ziplock packaging, the supplement contains 4 new (semi)geomorphic maps, a counter sheet of new units, and a (also traditional) sheet of new rules and scenarios for the new maps and units.
The maps are the heart of the release. After years of playing with only 2 maps, (3 if you count the original Ogre map) the new maps are a godsend. Due to the layout of the original GEV map, the lake and river prevent true geomorphic layouts, but Mr. Jackson compensates by providing 2 maps each with borders similar to the original GEV and Shockwave maps, which means that you will be alternating G-series maps and S-series maps in your layouts.
One of my few disappointments when opening the package was the lack of any new terrain types. You are still limited to forest, swamp, clear, water, and city hexes, with roads, railroads, streams, and bridges for additional map elements. I would have thought that some hilly terrain would have been nice, perhaps adding a hex of range to each unit located on each hill hex. There would still be no need for LOS rules, since most fire is assumed to be indirect or tac nuke anyway.
The terrain is mostly densely packed with cities and forests, appropriate for a Central European battlefield. Map G2 provides half of a large lake, with some open terrain in the south. Map S2, my favorite, provides a long loop of river. Map G3 is restrictive terrain, filled with swamps and forests. Map S3 supplies the other half of the large lake, and a good mix of other terrain. My favorite combinations so far are G2 and S3 combined to make the large lake, and S2 combined with the original GEV map to provide a long stretch of river.
The counter sheet adds engineers, militia units, and position improvement counters (revetments and improvised bridges). There are also counters for the Paneuropean Fencer Ogre, and buildings for two different red forces. That is my second major disappointment. I would have liked to see infantry and armor units for the red factions, as opposed to just seeing buildings and a couple of Ogres in the first releases.
I have not tried the scenarios yet, but they seem to be mostly variations on a theme. You see the old Breakthrough and Raid scenarios, along with the obligatory train scenario. The engineers are featured in a couple of interesting river crossings, however. Also, I cannot make a truly informed discussion of the new unit types or rules. None of them seem to cause any difficulties to the system, however.
In conclusion, I would say that this is a must-buy for anyone who enjoys the Ogre/GEV series. The components are of good quality, consistent with the rest of the series. Definitely a worthy release for the series. I can't wait to see what's coming next.
P.S. Mr. Jackson, if you are listening, this is my wish list: I would like to see some new Ogre maps, featuring maybe a river and an industrial complex, along with all those fantastic molten craters. I would also like a complete set of the red on white and white on red counters, for both Ogre/GEV and Shockwave. There is just something about the simplicity of your system which begs for multiplayer carnage. Finally, some desert, alpine, or jungle maps would be extremely cool. Anyway, thanks for twenty years of wargaming fun.
Craig C. Robertson