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 #8: Adolphe Thiers
Adolphe Thiers was one of the most significant French statesmen of the post-Napoleonic 19th century. He started his political career during the July Monarchy (1830-48) and remained a fervent Orleanist (liberal monarchist) his whole life. After the collapse of the Second Empire, Thiers became France’s temporary leader, a position confirmed after the elections of February 1871 that appointed him as the head of the executive. He was responsible for the negotiations with Bismarck in preparation for the temporary armistice on the 17th of February and the Treaty of Frankfurt on the 10th of May. As the head of the Versailles government, his decision to take back the Paris Cannons on the 18th of March was the trigger that started the Civil War. Victor Hugo was ruthless when describing Adolphe Thiers, referring to him as a “bloody runt”. Regarding the 18th of March crisis, Hugo’s analysis of the statesman is sharp: “In wanting to take over the canons of Belleville, […] he sparked the powder keg. Thiers is the embodiment of premeditated thoughtlessness“. He later became the first President of the Third Republic, a temporary glory. To this day he is mostly remembered for ordering the Bloody Week’s repression and what he called the ‘Expiation’ of Paris.
Thiers and Jules Favre negotiating with Bismarck
Adolphe Thiers being the most powerful political figure in France during the Paris Commune events and I needed his event to reflect his stature and his role during the crisis. As the main negotiator with the Prussians, he managed to free some prisoners of war to strengthen Versailles’ army to take back control of Paris. Therefore, this event is one of the few ones that enable an increase in Prussian Collaboration. In Red Flag Over Paris, the Prussian Collaboration track is a way for the Versailles player to release up to a third of their available cubes. Adolphe Thiers also managed through his movement, “the Liberal Alliance” to ensure monarchist’s support to the newly formed Republic, and this is reflected by placing up to 2 influence cubes into their space which should be enough in play to lock up this political area and secure a safe entry into the National Assembly.
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 #9 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/