The history of Communism intrigues me. I have traveled to and worked with game development companies in Russia, China, and Hungary. When I was growing up, I visited the Berlin Wall where my Father was stationed – he later spent time in the military on both the borders of then South Vietnam and South Korea.
Queue succeeds where Monopoly failed in two distinct areas. Monopoly was originally designed to illustrate the pitfalls of capitalism, but gameplay actually rewards it. And, let’s all be honest, Monopoly, is not the most fun game in our collections. Queue is both fun and successfully educates the player on some of the inherent problems of communism.
Queue was created by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance to ensure that a small portion of what it was like to live under Communist rule in the 1980s was kept alive. Specifically what is it like to shop in a country where production is controlled by the state and not the free market. For the MTV generation, you may remember that was the time of Solidarity/ Solidarność and Lech Walesa. You may have had a red and white pin with their logo on your jacket next to those of The Clash and Give Whirled Peas a Chance.
The game is beautifully crafted, with 40-page manuals individually printed in seven languages. The game instructions themselves only take up 15 pages, including the FAQ. The rest of the manual is devoted to history and photos of the lines themselves. There is some amount of assembly required, specifically the somewhat tedious requirement of placing two sets of stickers on 50 cards from the language of your choice.
I have a soft spot for educational/games for good, and Queue is among the best I have ever played in this genre. Not only is it educational, it is actually fun and the gimmick isn't just a one trick pony. Queue remains an enjoyable game, even after several playthroughs. A missing component of too many Educational Games. The context of the game is brilliantly reflected in the rules, cards and period items for sale. From the game and watch clone GRA ELECKTRONICZNA to the styles of the SUKIENKA dress to the industrial design of the TELEFON phone.
Each player begins with their own unique shopping list for the week. The player who collects the most items on their list wins. Players queue outside the stores, but as there is never enough items for each store, shortages always occur and you are never sure which store will get any deliveries at all. To obtain the limited supplies, you must get to the front of the queue.
But there are plenty of cards each player can use to alter the queue order (each based on actual Polish queue events): You may be moved back in line for “Criticizing The Authorities;” you may move up for "Carrying a Small Child" (and it doesn’t have to be your child); you may look at what will be delivered in advance because you have a “Friend in the Workers Party Provincial Community;” and you may want to bluff how desperately you want an item in the hope you will be moved to get the item you really need. With five rounds (the game ends on a Saturday), the game moves along quickly and can be played in 45 minutes.
I played the game with my daughter and some colleagues. The biggest lesson that came through was that no matter how many regulations one imposes to create an equal economic system, there will always be some that are more equal than others, to paraphrase George Orwell. And the free market will always serve as a relief valve for some of the pressure caused by shortages. This is illustrated in the game by speculation and outdoor markets. You may buy an item you don’t need in hopes of exchanging it later for what you really need to win the game.
– John E. Williamson
Queue (Kolejka) Board Game
by Instytut Pamici Narodowej
Ages 12 and up, 2-5 players
$230 Buy a copy on Amazon
$65-$100 Buy a copy on eBay