The tank-type vehicle, considered obsolete by the end of the 20th century, ruled the battlefields of the 21st.
Several factors led to the reappearance of mechanized warfare. The first was the development of biphase carbide armor (BPC). Stronger than any steel, it was also so light that even an air-cushion vehicle could carry several centimeters of protection. The equivalent of a megaton of TNT was needed to breach even that much BPC armor -- which meant that, in practice, nothing less than a tactical nuclear device was likely to be effective.
Infantry, which had for a time eclipsed the tank, declined in importance. Although an infantryman could carry and direct a tactical nuclear missile, he had to be extensively (and expensively) protected to survive the nuclear battlefield. Thus, the "powered suit" was developed. Four cm of BPC, jet-equipped, it could guard a man for about a week (in increasing discomfort) from shrapnel, background radiation, and biochem agents. However, the cost of equipping infantry reduced their value. They were still more flexible and maneuverable than armor, and now they were almost as fast -- but they were no longer cheaper.
Long-range nuclear missiles, which had been expected to make a mockery of "conventional" operations, likewise declined in value as jamming technology and laser countermeasures improved. Without satellite guidance, no missile could hit a less-than-city-sized target at more than 30 km -- and no combatant could keep a spy satellite operational for over an hour. Missiles big enough to carry jam-proof guidance systems were sitting ducks for the big laser batteries -- for, although lasers had proved too temperamental and fragile for battlefield use, they were fine as permanent antiaircraft units.
Thus, the tank-type vehicle -- fast, heavily armed and armored, able to break through enemy positions and exploit disorganization -- returned to wide use. And once again, planners fretted over priorities. More guns? More armor? More speed? Increase one, and lose on the others? Increase all, and build fewer units?
Some interesting compromises appeared. The 21st-century infantryman, especially with the later "heavy powered suit," was a tank in his own right, at least by 20th-century standards. The armed hovercraft or ground effect vehicle (GEV), equipped with multi-leaf spring skirts for broken ground, could attain speeds of 120 kph on any decent terrain, and 150 on desert or water. Conventional tanks were slower but tougher. All fired tactical nuclear shells.
The ultimate development of the tank-type weapon, though, was the cybernetic attack vehicle. The original tanks had terrorized unsophisticated infantry. The cybertanks terrorized EVERYONE, and with good reason. They were bigger (up to 50 meters), faster (hovercraft models proved too vulnerable, but atomic-powered treads moved standard units at 45 kph or better) and more heavily armed (some had firepower equal to an armor COMPANY). And two to three METERS of BPC armor made them nearly unstoppable. What made the cybertank horrifying, though, was its literal inhumanity. No crew was carried; each unit was wholly computer-controlled. Although true mechanical intelligence had existed as early as 2010, and fully automated factories and military installations were in wide use by the middle of the century, the cybertanks were the earliest independent mobile units -- the first true war "robots."
Once the first cybertanks had proved their worth, development was rapid. The great war machines aroused a terrified sort of fascination. Human warriors devoutly hoped never to confront them, and preferred to keep a respectful distance -- like several kilometers -- even from friendly ones. They were just too BIG.
One fact, more than anything, points up the feeling that developed toward the cybertank. Unlike other war vehicles, they were never called "she." Friendly units of the speaker's acquaintance were "he;" others were "it." And the term "cybertank" was rarely used. People had another name for the big war machines -- one drawn from the early Combine units and, before that, from dark myth.
They called them Ogres...
Steve Jackson's pen and paper Ogre brought to virtual life on the Apple II. This game comprises of the Basic and Advanced scenarios for the first edition of Ogre from 1977. Two players may play the game as intended (one player operating the cybertank, the other defending the command post using normal units) or one player may "match wits" against the Apple by having the computer control the Ogre while the player defends his command post.
USA Release Badges
UK Release Badges
OGRE - Apple II Game Play Screenshots
Giant Bomb.com - OGRE Game Credits, more screenshots and releases.
OGRE for the Apple II - Gameplay video (Apple II)
Virtual Apple 2 - Play OGRE Online
IGN.com - Ogre Manual (In-Game Manual Version)
Gamesdbase.com - Gameplay video (MSX 2 Version)
Xtcbandonware.com - Download and play DOS version