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Werwolf is a COIN-inspired, alternate history wargame with 4 totally different factions. Here, we take a closer look at Edelweiss.
Of all the factions in Werwolf, this one has received the most interest so far because it is entirely unique and not so closely tied to a clear historical entity like the Werwolves, Allies or Soviets. In the game’s timeline, the Werwolf insurgency is large and well-organized, throwing the occupation of Germany into chaos and opening the possibility of driving out the Allies and Soviets altogether. But not all Germans want a return to Nazism – far from it. Many of them desire a future free of enemy occupation but also free of Hitler and his fanatical Werwolf followers. These patriotic but anti-Nazi Germans have joined together under the banner of the Edelweiss Movement.
Drawing on real history, there was a group called the Edelweiss Pirates who were active in the 1930’s and 40’s. They were young, romantic, anti-Nazi and anti-Communists radicals who took joy in beating up Hitler Youth patrols but also suspected Bolsheviks. They caused minor security concerns for the Nazi regime and the Allied occupation government as late as 1946. We chose the term Edelweiss as a title for this faction not only due to the guerrilla activities of the “Pirates” but because the edelweiss flower has long been a potent symbol of Germanic patriotism, martial valour, rugged individualism and love of the alpine wilderness. Elite German troops, including the Gebirgsjäger and Fallschirmjäger, had to retrieve an edelweiss flower from a mountaintop to prove their worth as true soldiers. The yellow and white flower symbol of the Edelweiss insurgency stands in stark contrast to the black, hooked cross of the Werwolves.
In the game’s timeline, the Edelweiss faction draws from a wide range of groups, but its leadership is comprised of traditionalist Prussian aristocrats like Claus von Stauffenberg and Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, as well as the infamous Desert Fox – Erwin Rommel. These men were historically involved in the “Black Orchestra”, an anti-Nazi conspiracy that had planned on assassinating Hitler with the 20th July “Valkyrie” plot. In Werwolf, this plot has not occurred, but the Black Orchestra network provides leadership, organization and resources for the Edelweiss Movement. Ex-members of the Abwehr (historically purged in 1944) provide spies and agents for the Movement, allowing them to infiltrate other factions.
The rank-and-file Edelweiss guerrillas in the countryside are comprised of embittered Eastern Front veterans loyal to old Prussian values and desperate to protect their families from the Red Army and NKVD. These are joined by the survivors of the Brandenburg Division, who specialised in false flag attacks. In the cities, Edelweiss cells are recruited from rebellious youth who have been brutalised by Allied bombing and Soviet atrocities in the East, but do not want a return to Nazism. These various groups all have a common goal – outlast the invaders, defeat the Werwolves and be recognized as the legitimate ruling power of Germany once the insurgency is over.
To this end, the victory condition of Edelweiss is based on total population under their control, plus their number of bases. It is important here to remember the distinction between control and loyalty/resistance. Control of a space means military dominance – your faction has more pieces (whether they are guerrillas, troops, police, bases or HE tokens) than all other factions combined. Loyalty (which could be Allied or Soviet) and resistance indicates the sympathies of the population in that space and is often entirely different to who controls it. For example, when the game begins the Allies have control of Nuremberg despite it being in a state of passive resistance, while Edelweiss control Brandenburg despite it having passive Soviet loyalty.
Edelweiss are the only faction whose victory condition does not depend on the loyalties of the population. They are not primarily trying to win hearts and minds and do not subscribe to any of the three dominant ideologies – democracy, communism and Nazism. This does not mean that they don’t care at all about popular opinion – far from it. They would prefer the populace to be in a state of neutrality or passive resistance, as this is where they draw recruits from. They also don’t want the other factions to win, which necessarily means targeting civilians who side with the Allies, Soviets or Werwolves. As such, Edelweiss terror actions shift a space directly to neutral. This is extremely effective and can greatly damage the victory level of other factions.
The challenge for Edelweiss is that they have the fewest pieces of any faction (see above) but are trying to wrest control of spaces from their stronger rivals. Their victory threshold is lower than others – unlike the fanatical Werwolves who want a mass uprising, the aloof Prussian aristocrats would be happy carving out a smaller state of their own even if the country is divided. Indeed, they will often work with the Allies to help contain communism and Nazism. Still, they face a challenge in evading the enormous firepower of the invaders and the ubiquitous Werwolves.
To outmanoeuvre these stronger enemies, Edelweiss have some useful tricks up their sleeve. Their false flag attacks involve stealing Soviet uniforms and attacking the Allies (or vice versa), making the Cold War rivals even more suspicious of each other. This can even trigger another world war, which will keep the superpowers very busy! Edelweiss can also infiltrate to take control of other faction’s pieces – this can sometimes be done to take control of Research or Heavy Equipment tokens. Finally, their key events and some other event cards in the deck keep Edelweiss eligible for the next turn, allowing them to maintain the initiative and follow up success with more operations. Generally speaking, they will be able act more frequently than any other faction.
The best overall strategy to follow as Edelweiss is to go under the radar and evade, obfuscate and distract your enemies. Recruit throughout the countryside away from the gunsights of the Red Army, infiltrate to steal enemy pieces and tokens, keep Cold War tensions high with false flag attacks and only emerge to attack directly when you are close to victory.
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