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 #7: Walery Wroblewski
Walery Wroblewski, like Paule Minck and Jaroslaw Dombrowski, is an excellent example of how revolutionaries from around Europe took part in the Paris Commune. Coming from a Polish gentry family, Wroblewski studied in a military school in Saint Petersburg, as Poland was then part of the Russian Empire. Under his uncle’s influence, he became an ardent polish patriot and entered clandestine nationalist circles where he met with Jaroslaw Dombrowski. He was wounded in the Polish January Uprising of 1863, as he was heading the insurrection in Lublin. He then had to flee into exile in Paris in 1864 where he took a job as a printer worker, a profession known in the capital for its political activism. Walery remained a militant and was a member of the Committee of the Union of Polish Democrats.
During the Prussian siege of Paris, he proposed to create a Polish legion in the French Army. The Government of National Defense rejected his offer. Following the March 18th uprising, The Commune desired to use his military experience, and he was appointed commander of fortifications between Ivry and Arcueil. During Bloody Week, he led the heroic defence of the Butte-aux-Cailles, then of the Bastille neighbourhood. Following those two ‘defeats’ he refused the position of Commander in Chief of what was left of the Fédérés. He even asked to be demoted and ended the Bloody Week fighting as a private. After the Commune’s fall, he lived in exile in London, where he joined the General Council of the International Association of Workers. He opened a small print workshop where he published socialist literature such as Lissagaray’s Rouge et Noir. Following the amnesty of 1880, he was allowed to return to Paris and died there in 1908. He is buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery near the Mur des Fédérés and on his tombstone is written:
“To The Heroic son of Poland
From the People of Paris”
I wanted the deck of Red Flag Over Paris to pay tribute to those polish soldiers that took part in the 1871 insurrection. Their training and military experience were great assets for the Fédérés. Wroblewski’s heroism and faithfulness to his beliefs makes him a magnificent example of the men and women that took part in the Paris Commune. Knowing his role during the Bloody Week, it made sense to have his event provide a critical defensive asset for the Commune player: placing a Barricade in one of the three Paris spaces.
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 #8 Adolphe Thiers.
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/