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Old 03-29-2022, 07:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2017
Default Bughouse / Exchange Ogre

Hello all. I’m going to start with saying I have limited Ogre play experience because I only started playing after backing ODE in 2012, but I’ve read as much as possible to play catch up. Take these ideas with a grain of salt. I’m mainly a forum lurker (please excuse any possible posting errors) because there isn’t much I could add to 40 years of discussion, but I may have thought of an interesting scenario / variant of Ogre play.

I didn’t get into heavy board / card games until the mid 90’s and that started with chess club in high school, where I learned about Magic: The Gathering at a chess tournament, then found GURPS Cyberpunk at a local library which directed me to SJ Games to find Tile Chess, Knightmare Chess, and Proteus. I’ve been falling down the board game rabbit hole since.

I say this because back at chess club, I was introduced to a chess variant call Exchange Chess. If you’ve not heard of it, there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to it under the name “Bughouse Chess”. The important bits are these; there are 2 teams of 4 players playing on 2 chess sets. Each team plays plays separate games as opposite colors. It’s typically played as a Blitz game with 5-10 minutes on the clock. Play follows standard chess rules with one major exception; as pieces are captured, you’re teammate may opt to place a piece you’ve captured anywhere on their board instead of making a move. This is similar to the capture mechanic of Shogi, Japanese chess. The game ends when one king is checkmated.

With a few tweaks, I imagine this might be a fun 4 player Ogre variant. You would need two original Ogre boards and a variety of units. The basic Mk III scenario would be easiest to play and balance to see if this is even feasible. Each team would have a Combine (Ogre attacking) and Paneuropean (for defense) player sitting next to each other. As the Ogre player captures… I mean rolls over and destroys… the defense, the Ogre player may then give those units to their teammate to be repaired and sent out as reinforcements for their game. The game would end when a CP is destroyed and an Ogre escapes or when an Ogre is immobilized with all weapons destroyed, with both players on the team that destroyed the CP or immobilized the Ogre to win.

The problems are the details, as they usually are.

1. A blitz style game with the games out of sync is out of the question. If the war is to be won, it will be with strategic calculation, not twitch reflexes. (We will save those for the GEV pilots.) I think it would do well to have defense sides play simultaneously then switch to Ogre simultaneously play. It could play as Team A then Team B, but Ogre turns tend to be a bit shorter because they only move one unit and have a handful of weapons.

2. How would capture units / reinforcements be handled exactly? In Exchange Chess, the player skips their turn to play a piece anywhere on the board. Adding captured units for Ogre ONLY affects Paneuropean players and skipping an entire turn would be suicide. Also, adding a unit anywhere on the board would be WAY too overpowered. I would say a decent compromise would be to add a sub phase to Recovery where you may add reinforcements up to X (to be determined) VP within Y hexes of the CP. The problem with X is various unit values in Ogre. Maybe not since chess units are valued differently as well. Adding 1 unit per turn could be fair and it would be the players choice to add infantry or howitzer, depending on what was available and their needs. Y is a bit more problematic since reinforcements should only come from one area of the board. If you’re able to drop captured unit anywhere, you could just make a wall, however squishy, between the Ogre and CP. It would wear the treads down much faster than a normal game. If you could only drop them on the northern border or spawn them from a CP, StarCraft Barracks style, you’d have to spend time maneuvering them into position if the Ogre was far OR have an instant army camping at the CP. Maybe allow dropping in the northern section of the board?

3. Having a constant stream of reinforcements would be brutal to the Ogre players since they still have to slog through without respite. I think that means defense would have to be lighter than usual to allow the Ogre to operate without being overwhelmed late game. In Exchange Chess, both White and Black players may reinforce their army with like pieces. An Ogre is basically an all or nothing unit which cannot change hands, so reinforcements would only help half the team.

Those are the major hurdles I can see without actual play testing. Before spending more of my limited brain power, does anyone have any more pros or cons for pursuing this style of variant? Maybe I’ll have to lay out a couple of games side by side and see what else I can find. After typing everything out, however, the idea seemed smarter in my head.

Oh! Just had a thought right before hitting post that would solve problem 3 of Ogre players not being able to reinforce; don’t use Ogres! Ok, ok, before you stop reading because “how can you play Ogre with Ogres?”, I just remembered I’ve been wanting to play Mini Ceasefire Collapse from Scenario Book 3. The original Ceasefire Collapse would work as well, but be significantly more complicated / slow with a constant stream of units.

So if one team has a Combine and Paneuropean player, when a Combine captures any Paneuropean unit of their opponents, they can give that unit to their teammate to reinforce with on a later turn, and more importantly, vice versa! Then the problem would be dropping units right next to the opponent’s CP, which shouldn’t be a thing. Dropping them on the East / West map edge sounds appropriate since it would still take a couple turns to position them. Reinforcing 1 unit per turn seems right to dissuade stalemates. If an army is losing 2+ units per turn but only gaining 1, it would slowly lose out. But if you could defend well and NOT lose any units, you’d end up ahead.

I think this version (Ceasefire Exchange?) would be much better and easier to play, but it would be interesting to see Ogres thrown into the mix somehow later. Anyhow, thanks for reading silly armchair scenario designer ideas! Ogre really is a great sandbox game to allow for such a wide array of scenarios, no matter how outrageous.
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Old 04-10-2022, 03:31 PM   #2
FJCestero's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2008
Default Re: Bughouse / Exchange Ogre

I think you pretty much covered the basics. Say 12 VP a turn (but at least one unit to cover extreme cases such a missile crawlers and 15VP SuperHeavys) on any map edge behind the CP. Armor and infantry might be 2/3rds (guessing) of "normal" start parameters since none of them can be permanently killed.

The only thing you might have overlooked is the "snowball" effect. Once an Ogre shunts enough conventional units to the other map, that Ogre is doomed, because it won't be able to destroy them fast enough so it's a positive feedback loop. So if a team does well as the Ogre, he's effectively adding his enemy's units to his own on the other map. Zombie effect.

You know? There might be another cool scenario idea in there too! Ogre Zombies! :D

The only other thing I can think of would be portals that only conventional units can use, and which might move 1 hex/turn, or so. But why would a player with a surplus of tanks on one board want to push them through to the other map where they'd have to fight his own Ogre???

If you get this right, you could chain together any number of maps an take the Ogre mayhem to new levels!

Anyways, cool idea for a scenario. Kick it around a bit more.
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