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 Werwolves.
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
- Soviets Opening Moves Article
- Pre-Order Page
As Werwolf you are in a unique position on turn one, as you are the only faction that can play key events straight away. This should be your very first consideration, and it will depend on the events that have been drawn for the first two turns of the game. If any of these events come up, they should be a top priority and carefully considered instead of your key events:
- Radio Werwolf: possibly the strongest capability in the game, this event lets you place the Radio Werwolf token with a base, and as long as it survives your terror actions are free! Werwolf is usually strapped for cash and relies on terror to gain points, so this is a must-have.
- Otto Skorzeny: Getting this capability early in the game is a massive boost. Every time your guerrillas march, they flip back to being underground. Considering that you need your guys underground for nearly every action (including terror) and that it costs the Allies and Soviets precious actions to reveal them, this card gives you a tremendous advantage on terms of your action economy. It also lets you slip into even well-garrisoned, loyal spaces and stay underground, opening up the entire board for your terror, assassinate, capture and ambush actions.
- Walter Schellenburg: Like Skorzeny, this capability card gives an advantage in keeping your guerrillas underground for longer. Search actions are the primary way for the occupiers to find your men, but with Schellenburg you can pay 1 resource and flip a die roll’s worth of guerrillas back underground after every search. Provided you still have some cash lying around, you can avoid detection for most of the game and watch as the Allies and Soviets waste actions trying to flip you. If this card comes up in the early game, it is definitely worth it.
- The Fuhrer Lives: The decision of when to play this card is huge. It nearly doubles the Werwolf victory level by flipping all spaces in passive resistance to active resistance. There are 2 good times to play this – after you have used terror right across the map to maximise the number of spaces in passive resistance, or straight away on turn 1. Waiting to play this card can gain a lot more points, but is very risky. You can’t play the card unless total resistance is higher than total Allied loyalty. This means the Allies can block you from playing it, perhaps permanently, by building up their loyalty across the map. So, in many cases it is best to play Fuhrer Lives on the very first turn when you know for sure you will actually be able to play it. This puts you at 37 victory points on the very first turn and you need 35 to win. Even though it is impossible to win on the first crisis round, the other players will no doubt start to target you as you will be way out in front. The trick with this opening is building a working alliance with the Edelweiss player (whose terror actions can really hurt you) and trying not to seem like too much of a threat while hovering around the 30-32 victory point range.
- National Redoubt: I would generally not recommend playing this first turn UNLESS the first event card showing is a really strong one for another faction, like Nuremberg Trials for the Allies. It is enormously beneficial and doesn’t require much (just control of a mountain space) but best to save it to block another faction’s event later. When you do play it, Bayern is the best space due to its high population and location close to many roads and important cities.
Now, assuming there are no great event cards for Werwolf and you have decided not to play a key event, you have the option of performing an action with special action. There are 3 good choices here.
Recruit + Capture
This is my preferred opening. Werwolf starts with 10 resources, enough to recruit in plenty of spaces. Start with Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rhineland-Pfalz, Sud-Baden and Saarbrucken. Why these spaces? Because they all have a solid population of 2 and you can grab several research and HE tokens on turn one, either by placing new pieces on top of them if unclaimed or using the capture special action to steal them from whoever went first.
It is also worth recruiting in Bayern and Baden-Württemberg too (and you are placing 2 guerrillas each due to the bases here) for the same reason. You may have spent a large chunk of resources on turn one with this opening, but you now have guerrillas throughout the countryside ready to do terror actions later.
Your accompanying special action with this opening would usually be capture to grab research and HE, but assassinate is also an option. The best target for this is Allied troops – as every casualty hurts Allied morale and you are weakening the opponent who is most directly competing with you for the hearts and minds of Germany. Well-timed assassination can also give you control of some provinces early in the game – very useful when it comes to crisis rounds.
Terror + Capture
This is a somewhat aggressive opening. Do not use terror on the bulk of your controlled spaces – they are already at passive resistance and The Fuhrer Lives can be used to shift them to active. The main purpose of this action is using your guerrilla in West Berlin to remove the passive Allied loyalty there. This is very annoying for the Allies as it drops their victory points and West Berlin (with its high population of 6) is now neutral and open to Werwolf and Edelweiss recruitment.
The Allied player will have to deal with this straight away with reconstruction or a trial or else see guerrillas multiply in the German capital. Along with the terror, the guerrilla in West Berlin could also be used to assassinate an Allied troop. However, this is a bit of a waste of a special action and you would be better off combining terror with capture to boost your resources and grab the research and HE in southern Germany.
March + Wunder-waffen Strike
This is a bit of a crazy and aggressive move, but really shocks the other players and can potentially do a lot of damage. One member of our playtesting team uses this opening a lot to great effect! The first step is using march actions to grab as many research tokens as possible. The guerrillas in Bayern can pick up the HE there and march into both Thüringen and Bundesland-Sachsen, taking the research in each space.
A guerrilla from Baden-Württemberg can also take a research from its origin space, move into Rhineland-Pfalz and grab another one. A guerrilla from Hessen can march into Nordrhein-Westfalen and also take research. Finally, the guerrilla in West Berlin can march into Mecklenburg and take yet another research – this is the crucial one. The research there can be used immediately in a wunder-waffen strike against either East or West Berlin.
This will kill up to 6 Allied or Soviet pieces and remove the loyalty in the city space while adding a terror marker. The Allies in West Berlin are a good target, as casualties hurt them more and this half of the city has a higher population. In either case, you have really angered one of the occupying powers right at the start of the game!
The risk here is twofold – you have made an enemy out of another player who will now want revenge, plus the die roll for wunder-waffen strike might not go your way. It might even kill your own guerrilla! However, this opening move is not over yet. You will still have a few guerrillas who haven’t moved and are not really in position to do much. Spare guerrillas can be marched onto the roads that lead to Soviet or Allied cities – this costs you 0 resources, blocks road movement, allows lucrative capture actions on the roads and hurts the Allied/Soviet economy in the crisis round if they don’t clear out the guerrillas.
In the example above, we have marched from Kassel onto the road to Weimar and from Frankfurt onto the road to Bonn. So, this opening can severely hamper the occupying powers despite being a bit risky and not as directly linked to Werwolf goals.
So there you have it – some of the best ways to seize the initiative and set yourself up for victory early in the game when playing as the Werwolves.