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 agreed to provide a home for this 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 #6: Louise Michel
Louise Michel is one of the most iconic members of the Paris Commune. To this day, she is still considered as a symbol by Anarchists and Radical Feminists. Born from an illegitimate union, she grew up in North-Eastern France and received a “proper” education from the parents of her biological father, members of the local petite bourgeoisie. After getting her school teacher diploma, she refused to take the imperial oath and moved to Paris in the XVIIIth arrondissement to open her own school. As a convinced anarchist, she was focused on providing education to working-class kids and used innovative forms of teaching, close to what is known today as Active Learning.
In the 60’s she became involved with radical socialism that was brewing at the time in Paris, associating with figures such as Blanqui, Vallès, Varlin, and Ferré (most of them are also in the deck). She gained popularity during the Siege of 1870 as she organized a school dining hall for the poor kids of her neighborhood. Thanks to the support of the population of the XVIIIth district, she got elected to the vigilance committee, a Parisian republican organization created after the fall of the Empire. When on the 18th of March the soldiers sent by Versailles came to Montmartre, she mobilized the population to confront the soldiers and made sure that the Commune kept control of its cannons.
First, as an ambulancière (see card #2), then as a soldier, Louise Michel took an active part in combat. She was part of all the major Commune military operations, fighting in Neuilly, Clamart, and Issy (one of the critical military spaces in Red Flag Over Paris). She will be on the barricades until the last days of the Bloody Week. For all those reasons, I wanted Louise Michel to be a strong and prevalent event of the Commune faction. With this two Ops card, you have a lot of options: first, it increases Revolutionary Momentum, only a few events do, then you can use it for one operation point either in Paris or in the Public Opinion spaces. This dual aspect of the card represents how Louise Michel was as much a woman of action as an intellectual that shaped the political heritage of the Paris Commune.
Thanks to Fred Serval for this great look inside the history of the characters and events behind this very interesting historical period.
The next card in the series will be #7 Free Mason Parade.
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 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/