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Posts tagged as “Superior Firepower”

The Ogre Mark … 0.1?

centaur 1

Ogre T-Shirt

As a teenager I used to play OGRE and GEV, the quintessential microgames produced by Steve Jackson featuring cybernetic tanks called OGREs facing off with a variety of lesser tanks. For those that don't remember those "microgames", they were sold in small plastic bags or boxes, which contained a rulebook, map, and a set of perforated cardboard pieces used to play the game. After playing a lot, we extended OGRE by creating our own units and pieces from cut up paper; the lead miniature you see in the pictures came much later, and was not part of the original game.

Ogre Game

In OGRE's purest form, however, one OGRE, a mammoth cybernetic vehicle, faced off with a dozen or so more other tanks firing tactical nuclear weapons ... and thanks to incredible firepower and meters of lightweight BCP armor, it would just about be an even fight. Below you see a GEV (Ground Effect Vehicle) about to have a very bad day.

Ogre vs GEV

OGREs were based (in part) on the intelligent tanks from Keith Laumer's Bolo series, but there was also an OGRE timeline that detailed the development of the armament and weapons that made tank battles make sense in the 21st century. So there was a special thrill playing OGRE: I got to relive my favorite Keith Laumer story, in which one decommissioned, radioactive OGRE is accidentally reawakened and digs its way out of its concrete tomb to continue the fight. (The touching redemption scene in which the tank is convinced not to lay waste to the countryside by its former commander were, sadly, left out of the game mechanics of Steve Jackson's initial design).

Ogre Miniature

But how realistic are tales of cybernetic tanks? AI is famous for overpromising and underdelivering: it's well nigh on 2010, and we don't have HAL 9000, much less the Terminator. But OGRE, being a boardgame, did not need to satisfy the desires of filmmakers to present a near-future people could relate to; so it did not compress the timeline to the point of unbelievability. According to the Steve Jackson OGRE chronology the OGRE Mark I was supposed to come out in 2060. And from what I can see, that date is a little pessimistic. Take a look at this video from General Dynamics:


It even has the distinctive OGRE high turret in the form of an automated XM307 machine gun. Scary! Admittedly, the XUV is a remote controlled vehicle and not a completely automated battle tank capable of deciding our fate in a millisecond. But that's not far in coming... General Dynamics is working on autonomous vehicle navigation, and they're not alone. Take a look at Stanley driving itself to the win of the Darpa Grand Challenge:


Now, that's more like it! Soon, I will be able to relive the boardgames my youth in real life ... running from an automated tank ... hell-bent on destroying the entire countryside ...


Somehow, that doesn't sound so appealing. I have an idea! Instead of building killer death-bots, why don't we try building some of these instead (full disclosure: I've worked in robotic pet research):


Oh, wait. The AIBO program was canceled ... as was the XM307. Stupid economics. It's supposed to be John Connor saving us from the robot apocalypse, not Paul Krugman and Greg Mankiw.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Various shots of OGRE T-shirt, book, rules, pieces, and miniatures, along with the re-released version of the OGRE and GEV games. Videos courtesy Youtube.

I figured out why my computer’s not working…

centaur 0

"Now that's what we call a computer crash..."


More seriously, this is why when you really want to film something you need two or three different cameras. This really cried out for three: one closeup on the computer, one long shot on the shooting range to see it fly in the air, and one on the shooters.

-the Centaur

UPDATE: I had a discussion with friends, and there are at least two things the people in this video are doing that make them a hazard to themselves and others:

  • They're TRAP shooting with RIFLES!
    From one friend: "This will probably surprise everyone, but in my opinion these guys are complete morons because they are endangering others. They are "trap shooting" with rifles! I think I saw one shotgun in the whole video. I'm sure my gun enthusiast friends will agree with me that unless these guys are at least 3 miles from any other people (and even in the deep woods of Tennessee, you can't possibly be sure of that) they are endangering others by firing high-powered rifles into the air. As an example, a 30-06 rifle aimed at a high elevation can fire a round about 2.5 miles. Interestingly, the maximum range occurs at about 35 degrees elevation, not 45 degrees as one might think. When the round returns to earth, it's still moving at around 500 fps, which is fast enough to kill someone."
    After reading that, I remembered something else bugging me and I went back and found it. Watch the video again closely for the following gem around 1 minute in: The guy fills the test chamber with explosive and a fuse, he tamps it in with a stick and wooden hammer, then he puts his body over the chamber when putting the books on it. Now, the first time that I watched this, I thought he tapped the whole wooden shaft into the hole, but you can see it lying on the ground later. Regardless, he's putting himself in the line of fire with no thought of what might go wrong. From the other poster: "Yeah, I noticed that one too. I bet if it blew and tossed him into the air, his buddies would instinctively start firing until the smoke cleared and they realized it was him!"

Another of our gun enthusiast friends chimed in:

I certainly would agree about the trap shooting and with the care needed with black powder and fuses. There is no way to know, of course, but the woods in the background look pretty dense. If it's all private property it could go for miles. Still I wouldn't do that stuff with my rifles.

Ok, it's all fun until someone loses a loved one. Be safe, all.