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 #4: Georges Clémenceau
Georges Clemenceau, also known as “the Tiger”, is one of the most emblematic Statesmen of the Third Republic. He left a mark in history for his involvement during the First World War as he was France’s Prime minister from 1917 to 1920, considered the “father of victory”, he was a central actor of the Versailles Peace treaty negotiations in 1919. But his political career started decades before that, in the early 1860’s, when he created an underground Republican Newspaper at a time when France was still under the rule of Napoleon III.
When the Empire collapses, he is appointed mayor of the 18th district of Paris, one of the poorest neighborhoods of the Capital. He starts getting politically active and opposes peace negotiations led by Thiers. He appoints the famous revolutionary Blanqui as an officer of the Paris National Guard. On February 8th, 1871, Georges Clemenceau will get his first mandate: representative of the Seine in the newly formed National Assembly, where he continues to actively oppose what he considers an unfair peace treaty.
After the Paris Commune is declared on March 18th, he will continuously try to bring the two opposing governments to the negotiation table to find a legal way to get out of this political crisis. Deeply shocked by the summary execution of Military Officers in the city of Paris, he will fight relentlessly to put an end to the brewing Civil War. Misunderstood by the two factions, he will fail to obtain a reconciliation and will be forced to resign from his mandates.
Georges Clemenceau is, for me, one of the most representative neutral political figures of the Paris Commune. On the one hand, he was politically close to the Communards, in favor of Social reforms, a true republican, and a strong supporter of secularism. But he also believed in the importance of legal institutions, opposed the use of violence in the political debate, and was troubled by the radicalization of Paris streets. His event represents just that: his will to de-escalate tension in military spaces to put the fight back where he thought it belongs, Political Institutions.
Thanks to Fred Serval for this great look inside the history of this historical event.
The next card in the series will be #5 Otto Von Bismark.
In case you have missed the recent posts in the series, you can catch up here by visiting the links below:
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: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-849-red-flag-over-paris.aspx
We also recently published an interview with designer Fred Serval and if you are interested you can read that at the following link: https://www.google.com/amp/s/theplayersaid.com/2020/04/06/interview-with-fred-serval-designer-of-red-flag-over-paris-1871-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-paris-commune-from-gmt-games/amp/