As you may know, I had a really good experience with the first game in GMT’s Lunchtime Series called Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61. This series of card driven games is designed as fast playing small footprint games that can be played by both new players and veterans alike. I have played Fort Sumter over 30 times with my wife and she still is interested in playing it from time to time. So when a new game in the line was announced last year I was very interested. Red Flag Over Paris: 1871, The Rise and Fall of the Paris Commune covers the two months of confrontation between the Communards and the government in Versailles during the 1871 Paris Commune. Players will take control of one of these factions and fight for control over Paris. But, you will also need to win the hearts and minds of the French population, as the board is divided into two areas, including military and political, as well as being divided into several dimensions (Political Institutions, Public Opinion, Paris neighborhoods, and the forts on the outskirts of the city). The game forces players to make tough decisions like when to focus on political influence or military dominance and how to optimize limited resources.

We have reached out to designer Fred Serval for an interview on the game and it’s mechanics but he also was interested in finding a home for a series of quick articles on the history behind the cards involved in the game. We are lucky to be able to bring these articles to you and will be hosting a series of 9 posts over the next few months.

*Note: The cards and their event text are still the prototype version only intended for playtesting and the design and the event might still change prior to final development.

History Behind the Cards #2: Red Flag Over Paris Les Cantinieres Card Les Cantinières

“It is painful to say: in today’s civilization, there is a slave. The law has euphemisms: what I call a slave, she calls a minor; this minor according to the law, this slave according to reality, it is the woman.” – Victor Hugo

One of the crucial political aspects of the Paris Commune was the considerable support it had from women. Indeed, in 1871 France, there was not much to be conservative about when you were a woman, and everything was still to be obtained. Their role in the insurrection was pivotal, both in the political and military sphere. Les cantinières are a perfect example of women’s involvement in every aspect of the Commune. They served in the Fédérés troops, each battalion containing four cantinières. Their primary role was food supply and nursing, often providing medical care by risking their own life. But it was also a way for some women to get into the army and take part in the fighting. It is hard to quantify how many women enrolled and took part in combat; what we know is that women’s names were often present in the list of soldiers killed in action.

Therefore, it made sense to have event cards that showed women’s involvement in the military. Les cantinières are a powerful card, not for the cubes it provides, but because you don’t have to take them from your available cube pool but from the cubes that were removed from play. In Red Flag Over Paris, the Commune player has a hard time keeping enough influence cubes in play to revolve his final crisis hand; this event helps him do so by abstracting the decisive role of the cantinières on the battlefield.

Red Flag Over Paris Costumes
Costumes militaires de la Commune (by A. Raffet): soldier women holding a “chassepot”, french army’s official rifle, and a cantinière on the right.

Thanks to Fred Serval for this great look inside the history of this historical event.

The next card in the series will be #3 Les Amis de l’Ordre.

In case you have missed the recent posts in the series, you can catch up here by visiting the links below:

#1 – Victor Hugo

If you are interested in Red Flag Over Paris: 1871, The Rise and Fall of the Paris Commune, you can pre-order a copy for the special P500 price of $28.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: