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New board game recreates daily life of communist times

A new board game in Poland hopes to recreate the black market and long lines of communist times. Players try to buy basic goods but supplies run out before they reach the counter or someone with connections pushes in.

Kolejka game

Players get a chance to "play" at standing in line

A new board game recreating the grim Communist days of shortages and food lines is to be released on Saturday in Poland. "Kolejka", Polish for queue, was created by the state-run National Remembrance Institute to show the grim facts of daily life in Poland before the end of Communist rule in 1989.

"It's supposed to show the realities of Poland in those times - the black market, the long lines, and how one person in a line looked at another as an adversary," the game's creator, Karol Madaj, told the German news agency, dpa.

"Even though this game is just numbers and colors, we really tried to get across the climate of that time," Madaj added.

Players scheme against each other to move ahead in line to secure such basic goods as shoes or loaves of bread.

Each player has a set of cards, which confer certain advantages. One card, which depicts a mother with a child in her arms, allows the holder to move to the front of the queue.

With other cards, a player can transfer goods from one store to another, or shut down a store entirely to thwart opponents' shopping plans.

The game also features a bazaar where players can trade unwanted items or resell store-bought goods at a higher price.

Polish people line up in Warsaw during the period of martial law

Queuing for food was reality for many during the period of martial law in Poland in the early 1980s

Bringing back memories

This feature is meant to recreate Poland's flourishing Communist-era black market. During that time, many Poles brought back goods from their travels abroad to resell at home at inflated prices.

"The idea was to show young people, who have not experienced this, how hard those times were, and what their parents or grandparents had to undergo to buy ordinary everyday items and to shop," Madaj said, adding that most young people don't remember the hardships of Communist times when empty shelves and long lines were common place.

Madaj was 9 years-old when Communist rule ended in Poland, after years of protests by Lech Walesa's Solidarity labor union.

In creating the game, Madaj mostly relied on his own memories of standing in line with his mother. Historians helped to fill in the gaps and make the game as realistic as possible, he said.

Author: Natalia Dannenberg (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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