The Communist economic system was very good at producing one thing in particular - queues. Life in Poland in much of the 70s and 80s, unless you were one of the lucky party heads, required you to queue regularly for everything from basic food stuffs to clothing and cleaning materials while larger ticket white goods could take years to procure and a car or a place to live literally decades.
Created back in the early 2000s by the Polish Institute for National Remembrance, this simple board game was designed to help younger people learn about the failings of the system and to understand what their parents and grandparents would have had to go through to keep the family functioning. The board game became a huge hit with people buying it not just for the educational value but because it was entertaining and strangely attractive in a nostalgic way. The game allowed different generations to get around an old-fashioned board game and play together while prompting conversation about these challenging times.
So how does it work? The game tells the story of everyday life in Poland at the tail-end of the Communist era. The players' task appears to be simple: They have to send their family members out to various stores on the board to buy all the items on a shopping list. The problem is, however, that the shelves in the five neighbourhood stores are empty. The players line up their pawns in front of the shops without knowing which shop will receive a delivery first and whether upon arrival that delivery is actually the expected goods. Tension mounts as the product delivery cards are uncovered and it turns out that there will be enough product cards only for the lucky few standing at the front of the queue. Since everyone wants to be first, the queue starts to push up against the door. To get ahead, the people in the queue use a range of 'skills' of the period which are printed on the 'queuing' cards, such as 'Mother carrying small child'. Mothers with small children did not have to queue so taking your small child (or that of a neighbour perhaps) was a good tip.
It's excellent fun and educational too. The playing cards and instructions come in a variety of languages which means you don't have to speak Polish to get an idea of what life was like for Poles in this period.
You can read more about the game and the story behind its development on inyourpocket.com
game board board with vans 30 pieces in 6 colours 50 cable cards in 5 colours (10 in each colour) 5 cards shopping list 60 cards goods 15 cards supply of goods in 5 colours (after 3 of each colour) 5 player aid cards first player marker and pawn peddlers instruction