How to Win in Wir sind das Volk! (Three Basic Tips, #7)

You know the general idea of this series: You’re a new or intermediate player of a strategy game and look for some easy-to-digest tips that will see your fortunes improve without you having to read tomes of strategy literature. That’s what we’re doing today for playing Wir sind das Volk! (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame) – well, almost. Wir sind das Volk! is not a game to accept easy answers to complicated questions. There’s a reason I called it the most nuanced Cold War game out there. This nuance does not only allow the game to tell a compelling story of the two Germanies, but also makes it a bit tougher to give generalizable tips. So, I’ll give you two basic tips – which actions to prioritize and what the most important track is– and one that requires a bit more in-game thinking: Regularly assess the victory and defeat conditions and act accordingly.

Actions: Build > Improve LS > Remove Unrest

It’s as simple as that. You will use most of the cards spent for actions on building, followed by improving living standard, and only rarely use a card to remove unrest. Building your economy up (or, in the case of the East, trying to keep it afloat) is the backbone of a successful game. The most efficient way to improve living standard is with 1-point cards – that’s also excellent for using your opponent’s strong cards without losing tempo. Removing unrest with a card is slow and expensive (either you give up a nice event, or, in case you use an opponent-associated card, you pay with your economy), and should only be a last resort to get out of a mass protest for the West. For the East, removing unrest with an action will be necessary less often in the first three decades (as the police power and the socialists at your disposal will take care of mass protests), but in the last decade, removing unrest via the action can be worth it to avoid defeat by four mass protests.

Cards from the second decade. The two overall strongest cards are “Protests of 1968” (an event for the East) and “Prague Spring” (an event for the West). Should you take your own event or deny your opponent theirs? Image from the online implementation at play.boardgamecore.net.

Just a short side note on actions and events: Unlike many other card-driven games where the common decision point is if to play your cards for the event or for the action points, WsdV!’s open card display results in a different decision point: Will you trigger your own strongest event (and have your opponent likely reply by triggering theirs) or will you take your opponent’s strongest event for action points (and have them reply in kind)? There is no hard-and-fast rule on that, but the next two tips will hopefully give you some more insight.

Tracks: Prestige > Socialists > Western Currency

First of all: You don’t want to neglect any of the three tracks. But if you are in doubt where to focus, this can serve as a rule of thumb. Western currency is nice, but in the end, it’s usually only a gradual help or pressure on the east (I’ve played around 40 games, and have never seen a victory by the East’s national insolvency, although it’s been close at times). Socialists have more uses – their numerous presence gives the East more wiggle room for incurring unrest, and both sides can threaten victory if they manage to push the marker far enough in their respective direction (almost a fourth of my games have ended in either a Defeat of Socialism or Triumph of Socialism victory).

The three tracks on the game board. The prestige marker sits in the middle – which means that West Germany has the immense advantage of going first in several phases at the end of the decade.

Prestige, however, rules supreme. Going first for playing a card is not that big a deal – after all, whoever goes second can enforce that they go first for the second half-decade, so it mostly evens out. The prestige bonuses for the end of decade are nice, and they add up. Finally, going first in the end of decade is amazing! That can be the difference between East removing a useless factory for flight and running down a useless factory in the western currency phase on the one hand and West ripping crucial infrastructure, running down crucial factories, and then removing living standards.

The export level is 2. As western currency sits at -1, the East needs four 2-value export factories to support their three living standards. No problem! …or is it? West goes first in the end of decade, dismantles the infrastructure between Schwedt and Neubrandenburg, which downgrades both factories and leaves the East two short in the western currency phase. West can run down either the Schwedt or the Neubrandenburg factory (to 0) with that, thus the respective living standard gets removed.

This is a bit more situational than the first tip. Of course, if you’re in position to push for a socialist victory, the socialist track becomes the most important, and if you’re in danger to lose by national insolvency, better do something for your western currency. Which brings us to the last tip…

Check Which Victory and Defeat Condition is Most Likely and Act Accordingly

Yep, that’s a mouthful. You see why I was reluctant before to label it a “basic tip” in the spirit of this series. Still, try it out, and I think it’ll help you much to gain strategic clarity.

Here’s what I mean: Regularly take the time (I like to do that after a decade has ended) to sit back for a moment and take a bird’s eye view of the situation: What is the most likely way for you to fulfill any victory condition? And what is the most likely way for your opponent to do so? And which of the two is more likely? For example: You’re playing East. You’ve done okay overall, but the socialist track is woefully underdeveloped. You think your best chance to win is the standard victory of survival after four decades; your opponent’s best chance is to gun for a defeat of socialism. You think that the defeat of socialism is more likely – or at least just as likely, but will trigger a phase before the decade ends. Then your highest priority is to avoid defeat of socialism by triggering your own socialist-positive events and taking your opponent’s socialist-negative events away from them; and your second priority is to steer the course to ensure your survival.

Have you played Wir sind das Volk! What are your best tips for winning? Let me know in the comments!

…and, in case you’re looking for more articles of this type, here are those for

Twilight Struggle

Prussia in Friedrich

The Hapsburgs in Here I Stand

The Papacy in Here I Stand

England in Here I Stand

Eldritch Horror

2 thoughts on “How to Win in Wir sind das Volk! (Three Basic Tips, #7)

    1. cliosboardgames Post author

      Glad you enjoyed it!
      When it comes to mechanics, Wir sind das Volk! is one of the hardest games to describe – there are so many, and they are all connected with another. A strong economy supports living standard, living standard removes unrest in one’s own Germany and increases it in the other, unrest blocks further economy building… and don’t get me started on the “End of Decade” rules! But once you’ve played one or two games, everything comes beautifully together (and those first games of exploration are a lot of fun, especially if both players are new!).

      Like

      Reply

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