See that? That’s the high sign that Steve Jackson has finally gotten the Munchkin stick out of his ass and has announced that the 6th edition of his classic 1977 wargame will be in stores later this year. Having just named Ogre one of the best games of the 1970s in last week’s Cracked LCD column at Gameshark.com, I’m thrilled to pieces. I might cry. The sell sheet says that it weighs 12 pounds.
Ogre is a simple yet hugely atmospheric and thematic wargame. In its simplest incarnation, one player controls the Ogre, a giant cybernetic tank that can pretty much destroy anything. The other player attempts to defend an outpost using conventional infantry and armor. It ain’t balanced. But this box set will also contain G.E.V., a sequel to the original game that includes more extensive terrain and vehicle rules, Shockwave which adds more detail, and even more material never published in a boxed edition of the game before. More, including Jackson’s “I dare you to stock this” message follows.
At Steve Jackson’s site, he published a pretty interesting letter to distributors regarding the game’s imminent release. I thought it was pretty gutsy, because he’s basically saying “look, this is an expensive prestige edition of the game, it’s my first design, and it’s one of the seminal hobby games. Carry it or don’t, it’s my victory lap”. Awesome. After years of peddling Munchkin crap, it’s great to see one of hobby gaming’s earliest and most important designers state that he wants to leverage the fortune that game makes to get back to his roots. Here’s what he said in its entirety:
Later this year, we’ll release Ogre 6th Edition. It will be a very, very deluxe boardgame, with all the rules and units from Ogre, G.E.V., and Shockwave, as well as things that have only appeared in magazines and miniature releases Why? Because I want to. Ogre was my first design, and the boardgame version hasn’t been available for years. And people keep asking me for it. So some of our Munchkin money is going back to support the people who bought my very first game, by bringing them an edition with the best possible components.
It won’t be “Euro” style. No meeples, no plastic. This will be the kind of hex wargame that we dreamed about 30 years ago, back when our heroes were SPI and Avalon Hill. HUGE double-sided map boards. HUGE full-color counters with HUGE type. A HUGE box to hold them in. And giant constructible Ogres!
So why am I writing this letter? Not to say “Hey, distributors, we’ll do this if you like the idea.” I’m going to release this game, no matter what. If we don’t get enough distributor interest, we’ll release it for direct sales only, with (probably) a lower print run, and (certainly) a lower price, since we won’t have to build in the distributor and retailer margin. But I don’t want to bypass distribution. We went through this with GURPS Russia, back in ’98. When we solicited it, the distributors said “Meh.” We believed in the book, and printed a short run for direct sales. Suddenly everybody wanted it! It sold out quickly, distributors and retailers demanded it, and we ended up reprinting it for distribution! I won’t go through that again.
Here’s why you may not want this game: It’s going to retail for $100, and it isn’t full of plastic toys. It’s a classic hex wargame, and those aren’t in fashion. Here’s why I hope you DO want it:
It’s a humongous, heavy box that will have a huge shelf presence. How big is it? Over twice the size of Munchkin Quest. It takes three copies of the original edition of Ogre to cover up the word “OGRE” on this box. It’s got three huge mapboards with 1.5” hexes, and big full-color counters. The Ogre and building counters are 3-D constructible miniatures!
I don’t expect to keep this in print. Realistically, I expect to print it once and let people spend the next 30 years fighting over the remaining copies. The people who get it are going to show it off at parties and conventions.
It’s a pretty good game, if I say so myself. A lot of people remember it. (More than 25 years after its original release, Ogre won a spot in Hobby Games: The 100 Best.) Some of them would love to drop $100 for a beautiful version of the game they played 20 or 30 years ago, whether it was in high school, or in Germany or Kuwait or some classified spot in the middle of the Pacific.