GEV Strategy

Before I delve into my contribution to the world of OGRE/GEV strategy, I’d like to give you a brief recap of the existing writings.  The OGRE book provides a good starting point for the discussion of strategy and tactics.  The book is still in print (as of November 2005).  The articles in the book are:

Click on this picture to go to the Ogre Book product pageOgres and the Fuzzy Wuzzy Fallacy – in a nutshell, the idea is to overwhelm the Ogre with as many units as possible attacking as soon as possible.  Think all GEVs attacking as far forward in the obstructed area as possible.  Swarms of LTs and LGEVs are also in the fuzzy wuzzy tradition.

Defensive Strategy and Tactics in GEV – a good introduction but only has one suggested defensive setup for Breakthrough and another one for Raid.  Neither of them are viable defensive positions, in my opinion.

The Four Howitzer Defense in OGRE – nicely written and concise.  Does it work?  Don’t know, never tried it.

Playing the Odds in OGRE/GEV – my vote for the most useful article in the book.  It’s definitely improved my game.  Let’s you know which attack odds (2-1, 1-1, etc) give you the greatest probability for success.

Basic Ogre Defense – a good introduction for newbies.  Gives a good feel for the flow of the game.  Also required reading for people who insist on shooting Ogre missiles.

Tournament OGRE/GEV – a solid article with hints/info focused on the GEV scenario Ceasefire Collapse.  Remember the two maxims: #1 – destroy the enemy units first, forget the CPs/towns etc. #2 – Strive to concentrate your whole force against a portion of the enemy’s.

Basic OGRE Strategy – by Evil Stevie himself.  Good advice about using the terrain to tie up/muddle the defenders.

Riding the Shockwave: Analysis and Strategy – Useful comments of the strengths and weakness of the Shockwave units.  Interesting reading but not a lot here to improve your game.

The only other OGRE/GEV strategy that I am aware of is on David Morse’s cool fan site.  The address is  He has the only strategy article on The Train I’ve ever read.  Also helpful is his GEV Units Reviewed, which points out the supremacy of GEVs and superheavy tanks.

My motivation for adding to this tactical advice was borne out of repeated defeats I experienced when I started playing GEV again (fall 2004).  I hope I can give the reader some ideas to avoid the same fate.  I’ll start with the GEV scenarios.


Breakthrough – Not much to say about this scenario.  The attacker’s job is pretty straight forward as is his unit selection.  The most important key for the attacker is to keep his forces together.  Do not spread your GEVs across the board.  You must keep a strong concentrated force to win the battles ahead.

As for the defender, there is simply no hope.  I have never seen a successful defense in this scenario, and it is my opinion that the scenario is “broken”.   The defender faces 2 more GEV attackers as in Raid, but only receives 2 armor units in compensation as well as no reinforcements.  The GEVs gain more points for getting off the board quickly yet they will still win if they can eliminate all the defenders.   All they need to do is to destroy the defending armor and keep at least 3 GEVs left over.  Over time, those 3 GEVs can kill all the defending infantry, and never be counterattacked!

Think of it another way.  You have 12 armor, he has 6 plus infantry.  If the defender keeps his forces together, the GEV can use their superior mobility to escape early and win the game.  This is not usually what happens.  Usually the defender spreads his forces out.

With his forces placed to cover the 3 GEV escape routes (the road at 04xx, the gap at 1008, and the beach at 2007) the defender will be overwhelmed by the concentrated GEVs.  The attacker in this case can take his time, systematically eliminating the defending armor.  We’re talking 12 GEVs on 2-3 armor with a few infantry at the point of contact.  Usually he attacker will have 4-6 GEVs left after the defending armor is destroyed.  He can now destroy the infantry at his leisure. 

The best a defender can hope for in this scenario is a marginal victory for the Combine.


Raid – The most popular GEV scenario is a blast to play.  The attacker has lightning mobility but is weak on the attack and defense.  The defender has just a few units but is saved by a constant string of reinforcements.

The attacker has the easier job.  As in Breakthrough, the attacker should resist the temptation to spread his units out and keep them concentrated.  Except when you are expecting spillover fire, you should keep your GEVs stacked to the limit.  This is especially true early on when you need the concentrated attack power.  Later on, when the defense is scattered, you may want to split them up on occasion.

The attacker usually picks either the west portion of the map (around the road at 04xx) or the east portion (either on the SE island or on the big river) to concentrate his forces on.  While I’ve seen both approaches work, I favor attacking in the east.  I’ve got lots of clear space, and there are 10 town hexes on the island (80 points) plus the river bridge.  I find I usually get about half the island town hexes as a by-product of blasting enemy defenders.  Advancing on the big river gives you the water movement bonus and you can pick either side of the river to veer off of.  The drawback is the big river is a double barrier to GEVs, and you can find yourself trapped on the island without enough points to win.

Regardless of which approach you take, always make sure as an attacker that you destroy the defending armor first, and clean up on the towns afterwards.  Never fire on a city when there is a defender in range.  You can get the cities afterwards when you’ve broken the back of the defense.

One of the best tactics for the attacker is to strike out with his GEVs and then retreat into a town hex.  That way your GEVs are D4.  The defending units attacking you are easily wiped out the next turn.  They are in the open, you are not.  So try attacking and then moving into the towns at 0418/0518 or 1718/1818 on the second phase.  You’ll likely survive the counter attack, and then you have a firm base for operations further north.  A side bonus of the sheltering in an undestroyed town is the enemy attack on you will likely blow the town, scoring 8 points for you in the process.

Another solid tactic for the attacker is to destroy the town hex at 2315 as soon as possible.  Not only do you score 8 points for this, but it also slows down defending reinforcements.  1/3 of the defenders reinforcements are GEVs.  They end their movement for the turn as soon as they enter a destroyed town at 2315!

The only time I leave 2315 undestroyed is when I try to enter the hex myself, with the idea of continuing north to be free on the pond.

Steve Jackson said “There’s really no way to build a secure defensive line with a handful of armor and 20 points of infantry.  But it’s interesting to try.”  More like frustrating to try!   I have four defensive variations to give you hope.


Defense in Depth – My first defense was inspired by the GEV – A Designer’s Introduction article in the OGRE book.  In the story, a howie and a mobile howie, surrounded by infantry, try to hold off a swarm of GEVs.  I use 2 standard howies, as I feel the mobile howie’s slow mobility does not compensate for it’s lack of range. 

In figure 1, the howies are at 2113 and 0911, protected by city and swamp respectively.  A double stack of 3-squads at 2016 is out of range of entering GEVs, and then can either drop down to attack GEVs in the city at 1718/1818 or retreat to a defensive position in laketown.  The  3-squad on the river bridge can head south for additional defense, or help seal off the escape route off the big river but north of the stream at 1616, or it can head west if needed.  The 2-squads just north of the stream can go either direction as needed.  Or you can send one of them to the trees at 1514 and control the entire stream crossing.

In the west you are defending the stream that runs from 0115 to the howie swamp.  You will want to destroy the bridge at 0412/0413 as soon as possible.

Note that this defense forgoes defending the southern towns.  The victory points you lose I feel you would have lost anyway, since any defenders in the towns draw fire that would destroy the towns anyway.  Plus the extra depth gives you 1 or 2 turns of reinforcements on the map before you have to tangle with the GEVs.

The drawback to this defense is putting all you eggs in one basket by choosing howitzers.  Many players use a more fuzzy wuzzy approach when defending in Raid, opting for many light units (especially light tanks).

On second thought I might move the 2-squad at 0511 to 0711, just to stop the GEVs from making a concentrated rush on the howie.  Really there are just not enough units available to the defender to make it airtight.


Frontal Defense or “Mike’s Tricky Raid Defense” – I owe this defense to my online opponent Mike Pelletier, who spanked me pretty good with it.  I’ve modified it slightly here.

This defense is more fuzzy in it’s approach – you see more 2-squad infantry and LTs used for a greater unit count on the defense.  It’s most striking feature is that it seeks to contain the GEVs to the bottom of the map.

In the east, the defense will seek to stay out of range of the GEVs yet punish them on turn 1.  The town at 1718/1818 is undefended, but will be powerfully counterattacked if the GEVs shelter there.  The 5 squads at 2116 can be go south to the attack or withdraw to the cover of the laketown city (upon second reflection, just stack those 5 squads with the LT at 2016.  This will stop them from getting excluded from the attack if the road is cut by a wary GEV).  The same tactics apply to the 3-squad at 1916 and the LT at 2016.

The stacked GEVs at 1815 have a lot of choices.  They can go to either side of the big river with no penalty or south on the river itself and receive the water movement bonus.

In the middle, 4 squads will try to hold the GEVs south of the stream.

In the west, the southern town hex at 0418 is defended.  This is to curtail GEV movement.  If the 2-squad there is attacked the road in the city will be cut by spillover fire.  Any GEVs who try to shelter in the towns at 0418/0518 can be overrun by all 6 nearby infantry.  If there are too many GEVs to overrun, then the infantry can snuggle up in the trees (double defense) and let the GEVs have it.

The missile tank at 0415 is out of range of the attackers yet can swoop down and powerfully cover the town and southern area beneath it.  The trees and your infantry can prevent the GEVs from counterattacking the missile tank.  The missile tank has a range of 7 when it stays on the road!  The LT at 0815 is again out of range of the GEVs (initially, that is) but stops the GEVs from trying to maneuver around the town.  The trees in this area are your biggest ally – they curtail GEV movement and lend you troopers double defense.

What often happens in the west is that the GEVs are held up considerably.  They may make an attack or two on the town, but then retreat to the SW to avoid the counter attack.  Thus they lose a turn or two getting around the defense, giving you a few more reinforcements.  Sometimes, this makes all the difference.

A quick note on CP placement.  I have not shown the placement for either CP in these defenses.  I put CP Alpha (D3, M0) at 2109.  Here it enjoys double defense plus 3 entry points for reinforcements (the 2 roads plus the northern edge of the map) as well as favorable defensive terrain (swamp, streams, cities).

For Beta (D1, M1) I place it either at 0701 (where it can move to either side of the large body of trees, depending on where the attacker is) or at 0806 (where is makes a 7 turn journey along the road to join CP Alpha.  Here it will enjoy the benefits of terrain and reinforcement mentioned for Alpha above).

Very rarely have I seen the CPs nuked in this scenario.  The attacker must keep the defending armor destroyed in order to win, and I feel that any attacker who takes the time to go way up north to bag a CP will get overrun by reinforcements and ultimately lose the game.

Warning!  Wacky untested strategy ahead!!

The Basket Case Defense (or, Putting all you eggs in one basket!!)  - This defense occurred to me after looking over the maps above (Defense in Depth). 

First, consider these facts.  1) There's 10 town hexes on the island, and only 9 town hexes spread up and down the west side of the map.  2) Spreading out the howitzers to create a fire zone that covers the entire width of the map means that the howies have very little overlap and thus very little ability to support each other.  3) The further north you force the attacker to go, the more he will get hit by reinforcements!

Thus this rationale;  heavily protect the most valuable real estate on the board AND ensure the howies can support each other when under attack.  Force the attacker to head north to get his points.

Therefore the east side of the map will look like this:

Both howies have very favorable defensive positions and are surrounded by infantry.  GEVs cannot attack the big city without getting hit.  Their weakness in an attack from the north on the pond, but the GEVs have a big big detour to get there.

Hopefully your opponent will enter on this side of the map.  He must either engage the howies taking major loses (those 3 squads in the city are a bitch for GEVs) or go on a big detour to the west.

The west side of the map will look like so:

Six squads defend the west side of the map.  Their only goal is to delay the GEVs.  The 3 squad on the road can split on it's first move, 1 squad going to the trees just north of the town and cutting the road at 0417.  This is to force the GEVs around the trees and causing them to lose time.  The remaining 2 squads can shift north and blow the bridge at 0413.

I'm hoping the GEVs end their first turn somewhere around the #1 marker on the map.

The attackers cannot blast the 3 squad at 0813 on their second attack phase, and these swamp infantry can attack any units trying to slip by the gap between the swamp and the trees.  I'm hoping the hovers end their second turn somewhere around the #2 marker on the map.

Of course after that they can attack the infantry and press north.  Hopefully a few lucky reinforcements can take over the defense from here.

It would make sense to stack one squads when setting up the map, so it appears there are 3 units under each cover.  If the attacker thinks he is facing 6 units in the west instead of just infantry, he may commit fewer forces to the west.

Afterthought - when setting up the defenders, stack the swamp infantry as 3 one squads, and start them at 0715.  I say this because any units that are setup in a swamp are assumed to be infantry, and we don't want the attacker to think the west in weak when deciding where to attack.  They can move to the swamp on turn 1.  More one squads for the infantry at 0415 as well.

Thus at the start of the game the west defense would look like this:

They don't look so innocent now, do they?  Note I use the explosion marker when cyberboarding to cover units at setup.  If I ever do another Ogre gamebox, I'll include a dedicated COVERED counter to use for these setups.



Advanced Raid Defense – In this scenario, 16 GEVs are attacking against 8 armor and 24 infantry.  Most importantly, the defender rolls twice for reinforcements every other turn.  Overall I feel these changes make the game easier for the defense to win.  While the Basic Raid is slightly biased towards the attacker, Advanced Raid is slightly biased towards the defender (IMHO).

This defense is a frontal defense, seeking to attack the GEVs on turn 1. 

In the east, we have the sneaky superheavies in the river technique.  If your opponent has not seen this before, it can be pretty effective.  Remember that you always start Raid with all defenders covered.  Your opponent will likely be puzzled by the units in the river.  What could it be?  A couple of GEVs?  Or swimming infantry? No matter, your opponent thinks, I’ll just move up and crush it.  When the covers are removed however, there is no way for the GEVs to attack the supers.  They are lurking on the river bottom.  On your turn the supers can attack up to 6 hexes in either direction.  You are sure to bag a few GEVs.

I guess I’m assuming your using Shockwave units in GEV.  Doesn’t everybody?

Four squads of infantry are again positioned to either attack the town at 1718/1818 or withdraw to the defense of laketown.  A strong infantry presence in 1718 and 1818 is there because I’m hoping one of the 3-squads will survive.  That way the supers can shelter there, counter attack and be D10 all at the same time (that’s the dream anyway).

In the west, we’re taking a page from Mike’s Tricky Raid Defense, but the defense of 1418 has been beefed up a little bit.  Plan to use a spare infantry squad to blow the road at 0417.  This makes an unbroken expanse of trees for the GEVs to contend with.  Note that the LTs and the Supers have an overlapping field of fire in the middle of the board to prevent GEVs from slipping through the gap. 

In the middle of the board there is a mobile reserve of 2 GEVs.  These units can swing either east or west depending on where the hotspots are.  The alternate location for these GEVs might be on the river at 1816.  This brings them closer to the action in the east, yet still able to get to the west in 2 turns if needed.

A 2-squad has been placed at 1514 to control the stream crossing.


Ceasefire Collapse – the slugfest.  Two equal forces, both sides set up blind.  Phil Rennert’s advice from Tournament OGRE/GEV comes to mind – strive to concentrate your whole force against a portion of the enemy’s.

This is easier to do is you are the eastern player, as you can concentrate your forces at the bulge at 1408.  So for this example let’s assume we are in the east.  Figure 4 shows the starting positions from a successful game.

The entire armor allotment has been placed as close to the enemy as possible.  All 8 supers are concentrated together, and 6 of them will carry 2 squads of infantry each.  Why are the bulk of my infantry riding on the supers?  Because you should always try to concentrate your forces.  What about protecting the undestroyed towns at 1718/1818?  Let ‘em burn, because the primary goal is to destroy the enemy forces.  I could care less about my towns since I will win the game if I have forces on the map and my opponent does not.  In fact I’m hoping my opponent has some armor located down south that he’s planning to nuke my towns with.  That will mean that his forces are dispersed and I can have my way with his northern forces and then deal with the southerners later.

Keep all the Supers close together and hopefully your opponent has spread some of his forces up and down the road at 04xx.  The supers should attack the nearest/largest group of the enemy.

You can let the infantry ride until you are close to an important climactic battle.  Then let in the infantry dismount and join in the battle.  About ½ of them will get shot off the supers during your approach, but that still means ½ of them will be able to join the fight.

For the defense of the CPs leave just a few token infantry, like so:

Obviously you are planning to win with this aggressive strategy.  You certainly don’t have any other forces to fall back upon if the attack fails.  Keep the attacking bulk of superheavies moving and press home the attack before your opponent succeeds in regrouping his armor in one place.  You are counting on superior weight of armor at the point of contact, giving up the first shot if necessary.  Getting the first move helps.

Well that’s about it for my GEV strategy article.  I have not played the The Train scenario at all, so I have no comments on it.  Reading over the scenario it looks like the defense will have a tough job, but that does not mean impossible.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and that it helps you play a better game.  If you disagree with portions of it, all of it, or agree with it, or have comments/suggestions, please email me at  I’m always curious to see other defensive deployments for Raid/Breakthrough/Ceasefire Collapse/The Train.  So if you have a winner, send it to me and let me take a look.  I’d be glad to add it to this article crediting you as the originator.

The illustrations in this article are exported bitmaps from the cyberboard player, using the Classic Ogre & GEV gamebox. 

Good luck and good gaming!


v1.0, November 2005.