In this series of articles, we are looking at the best opening moves in Werwolf: Insurgency in Occupied Germany, 1945-48. This is tactical advice for the crucial first few turns of the game and will be useful for play-testers or anyone interested in the game. The images used here are prototypes and not the final product. For this article, we are focusing on the most brutal counter-insurgent force ever – the Soviets.
More content on Werwolf:
- Preview: Werwolf, a COIN-inspired wargame
- Werwolf Faction Overview Articles: Allies
- Werwolf Faction Overview Articles: Edelweiss
- Werwolf Faction Overview Articles: Soviets
- Werwolf Faction Overview Articles: Werwolf
- Edelweiss Opening Moves Article
- Allies Opening Moves Article
- Pre-Order Page
As the Soviets your impression on turn 1 is going to be: why are there all these annoying yellow pieces in my land!? As such, your temptation will be to crush Edelweiss simply to protect your loyal East German population. There is nothing wrong with this instinct, as Edelweiss have the ability to steal a lot of research tokens (setting your nuclear program back several turns), perform terror against your pro-communist population or ambush/infiltrate your troops and NKVD.
However, this all depends on the opening turn. If Edelweiss move before you, they will have most likely grabbed all the research tokens within easy reach of you and generally created a nuisance of themselves. If not, you have a free hand. Here are some of my favourite openings.
Reinforce + Transport
As the Soviets you will gain most of your points from control of territory. Because controlling a space requires more pieces in that space that all other factions combined, you will need a lot of Red Army troops and NKVD police units to accomplish this. An early reinforce action will set you up for the game by getting the majority of your pieces on the map in turn one. Here is the best way to do it.
First, reinforce in East Berlin with any mix of troops and police, plus swap 1 cube for a HE token. HE is great for Soviets – you need 5 of them to play the key event Wrath of the Gods and they twice as strong as troops when using assault and bombard. You also might indoctrinate in East Berlin as part of the reinforce action, but only do this if the Edelweiss guerrilla that starts there is already activated or moved away, as Edelweiss terror will shift the space directly to neutral, wasting your investment.
Next, use the transport special action with East Berlin as the origin space. This special action is underestimated by new players – it allows you to move all cubes from one origin space through any number of roads and cities, and then into adjacent provinces. They do not need to stay together, but can branch off into any number of directions. Depending on what Edelweiss did before you, with a transport action you can move your huge force in East Berlin out to seize control of the provinces of East Germany: Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Thüringen, Bundesland-Sachsen and Sachsen-Anhalt (this last one is not urgent, you will regain control as soon as the Allies leave).
This not only gives you control and points, but now provides some protection for the whole population with communist sympathies (Soviet loyalty). You might also be able to grab some research tokens if they have been left free. Your next step is to reinforce in any number of these provinces, I normally go with 3-4 of them. An even mixture of troops and police is best and placing a base in Brandenburg at this stage is also great, as you will be able to leave troops permanently stationed in this valuable province. By the end of this move, you will have taken control of nearly all the land in East Germany and placed up to 20 new Soviet pieces on the map, leaving you ideally placed to sweep south into Werwolf territory or west into Allied or Edelweiss territory in subsequent turns.
Search + Bombard
This is a more aggressive opening and should be done if you are moving BEFORE Edelweiss. First, search in East Berlin. Then, using cubes from East Berlin, search into Mecklenburg and Brandenburg, from Weimar into Thüringen and from Dresden into Bundesland-Sachsen. You should be able to grab research in Mecklenburg, Thüringen and Bundesland-Sachsen, plus you are denying Edelweiss the chance to use terror, ambush and extort in all of these spaces.
Finally, bombard in one space – Brandenburg is a good choice as it is a valuable province and you should be able to destroy the base there.
Assault + Interrogate
This will be an optimal move if Edelweiss went before you and now have active guerrillas throughout East Germany – for example, they may have done the recruit + extort or terror + false flag combo suggested in our earlier article for Edelweiss. In this situation, you have a chance to kill or at least expose a lot of enemy pieces.
First, if Edelweiss have activated the guerrillas in Thüringen and Bundesland-Sachsen to grab the research there, assault in both spaces. Now you have the research as well as tenuous control of those spaces, allowing you to reinforce into them later. Next, do an interrogate special action. This is down to a die roll so you might only reveal 1 guerrilla, but here are the top priority spaces in which to activate, IF the guerrillas there are still underground:
- East Berlin: protect your highest population space from terror. After the interrogate special action is done, you can assault here as well to get rid of this pesky Edelweiss piece!
- Brandenburg: revealing these guys will expose the base here to bombard or assault in a later turn, and it’s a high value space to control.
- Mecklenburg: exposes the base here as well.
- Kassel: this is an essential road hub that the Soviets should be taking as soon as possible to open up movement into the south. Revealing the one Werwolf guerrilla here allows you to destroy it later, thus preventing your patrol and transport actions being held up as you pass through.
All of these combos are great, depending on the situation, but sometimes the event deck will offer something more tempting. Here are some cards that I will strongly consider playing instead of taking an action and special action:
- Ivan the Terrible: this is a capability card that will benefit you for the rest of the game. Every time you perform an action, you can reveal a guerrilla for free. This doesn’t sound like much, but considering that Werwolf or Edelweiss will nearly always be dispersed across your territory with single guerrillas able to do ambush, terror, capture, assassinate and other nasty things to you, this is extremely handy! If you take it on turn one, you will have many turns to use this ability and it will make destroying guerrillas so much easier.
- Marshall Zhukov: Like Ivan the Terrible, this is a capability card that will benefit you for the entire game, with a free assault every time you perform an action. This is just outstanding, as there will ALWAYS be a space with guerrillas or bases that you will want to destroy and this saves you resources and actions. If you can get this AND Ivan the Terrible, you will have a free reveal and a free assault with every action, letting you rip through vast numbers of insurgent pieces throughout the game.
So there you have it – my top Soviet opening moves. Now get out there and conquer Germany