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The ogre situation in the Monster Manual 3 is the same as the giant situation: they first appeared in the Monster Manual 1, and are about to get new and improved versions of those entries in the Monster Vault. The MM3 contains more “exotic” variants that will nicely complement the rewritten “basic” ones from the MV.

The Lore

Classic ogres, such as the ones that will show up on the Monster Vault, are comically stupid brutes. The ones contained in this entry break that stereotype by being significantly smarter, and capable of sophisticated tactics on the level of any other humanoid opposition. In other words, the Monster Vault will Ogre Harder while the Monster Manual 3 will Ogre Smarter.

The extra brainpower of these ogres doesn’t necessarily make them nice - the entries here are still all Chaotic Evil, they’re just smarter about it. Nothing prevents you from Shreking it up and having ogres that are both smart and non-evil at your table, of course.

The Monsters

As usual, Ogres are Large Natural Humanoids with a ground speed of 8. Everything else about them varies per stat block, though their abilities tend to be styled as big smashy strikes.

Ogre Cave Hunter

This one is sneaky. The Cave Hunter has learned to perform stealthy raids, evade pursuers, and lure them to ambush spots disguised to look like the ogre’s home cave.

Cave Hunters are Level 8 Lurkers with 70 HP. Like typical ogres, they wear hide and fight with ogre-sized Clubs that have Reach 2. However they can use these weapons in more creative ways beyond the usual basic attack.

Smash and Swing does half the damage of a basic attack, but dazes for a turn and allows the ogre to slide the target up to 5 squares on a hit. It’s excellent for herding PCs together so other monsters can use area attacks, and for opening them up for the truly damaging attacks from the cave hunter itself.

The first of these is Skull Bash, which requires a dazed target and does roughly double the damage of a basic attack. The second is Victim Shield, an interrupt that requires a dazed enemy within 2 squares and triggers when it’s targeted by a melee or ranged attack. It gives the ogre +4 to defenses against that attack, and if the attack misses the chosen victim takes its damage instead. In that case the cave hunter can also slide the victim 4 squares to another space within 2 squares of it.

Note that the hunter doesn’t need to have dazed the victims itself in order to use these abilities, so if there are other monsters who can daze in the fight, they’ll be able to use these abilities more often.

Ogre Ironclad

Ogre Ironclads are smart enough to wear piecemeal metal armor instead of the more usual raw hides, and to fight using tactics that resemble cavalry, with closed ranks and powerful charges. Since their armor is still kind of improvised, being looted from smaller victims, it tends to fall off if it takes too many hits.

Ironclads are Level 9 Soldiers with 96 HP. They wield big Mauls whose basic attacks mark for a turn on a hit. Their Ironclad Reaction gives them a free attack against a marked enemy that ignores the mark, and this attack also pushes the enemy 1 square and knocks them prone.

While the ironclad is bloodied they take a -2 penalty to AC, but their charges allow them to make basic attacks against up to 2 targets instead of the usual single attack.

Ogre Storm Shaman

Storm Shamans are perhaps the only ogres in the books that have no negative modifiers in any of their mental attributes. They worship the primal spirits that symbolize the fury of the storm, and their magic can bring that fury down on their enemies.

Storm Shamans are Level 11 Controllers with 114 HP. All of their attacks have a storm magic theme. They can cast Thunder Blasts to deal thunder damage and deafen (save ends), or Call Lightning to deal lightning damage and blind (save ends). Their melee attack is a Thunder Staff that deals thunder damage and can daze (save ends) if it hits a blinded or deafened enemy. Those ranged spells are also area attacks, so there’s a big chance that they’ll leave someone vulnerable to a daze from the staff. A second shaman in the encounter will make them both even more annoying.

Ogre Dreadnought

Conceptually, this is pretty much an upgraded version of the Ogre Ironclad above. Unlike the Ironclad, the Dreadnought actually uses custom-fitted gear, wearing a full suit of plate and wielding a greatsword.

Dreadnoughts are Level 14 Soldiers with 140 HP. Their greatsword has a Threatening Reach 2, and its basic attack also immobilizes for a turn on a hit. If the dreadnought fails a saving throw, it can use Dreadnought Resolve (recharge 4+) as a reaction to immediately reroll it with a +2 bonus.

They’re almost Brutes, in other words, since they lack a marking power. Still, Threatening Reach and immobilizing attacks make them effective at halting the PCs’ advance, so the Soldier role still fits.

Final Impressions

A pretty varied lineup, especially when combined with the Monster Vault ogres. It should easily allow you to build all-ogre encounters for use as the inhabitants of a lair or as a special unit in some other villainous force.