Russia Bans Queue

by on March 24, 2016 at 7:30 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Games | Permalink

Kolejka (queue) is a Polish board game based on life under communism.

The players line up their pawns in front of the shops without knowing which shop will have a delivery. 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 closest to the door of a store. 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 queuing cards, such as “Mother carrying small child”, “This is not your place, sir”, or “Under-the-counter goods”. But they have to watch out for “Closed for stocktaking”, “Delivery error”, and for the black pawns – the speculators – standing in the queue. Only those players who make the best use of the queuing cards in their hand will come home with full shopping bags.

…In this realistic game you really have to be savvy to get the goods.

The game was initially developed by Poland’s Institute for National Remembrance to teach about life under communism but the game became an unexpected hit and has since been translated into English, French, Japanese and Russian among other languages.

The Russian government, however, is not amused and have banned the game.

IPN reported that Russia’s consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor warned that the game is perceived as “anti-Russian” and excessively critical of the Soviet system. Russian authorities asked Trefl, the company who bought the game’s license from IPN, to either remove the direct historical references from it or risk getting the product banned.

“IPN did not agree to the implementation of these changes and that is why Kolejka is no longer in Russian shops,” a statement by IPN reads.

I imagine the Russians wouldn’t like Kremlin either.

Addendum: A lot of Americans could use some reminders about price controls and socialism, fortunately you can download and print Kolejka in English here (scroll down).

1 Jan March 24, 2016 at 8:00 am

True Kolejka has never been tried.

2 Careless March 24, 2016 at 8:19 am

An excellent start to the comments.

I’m delighted that this game is real

3 ConfirmationBiasIsAFemaleDog March 24, 2016 at 9:52 am

Just like conservatism has never failed only conservatives have and there has never been a real free market.

4 JWatts March 24, 2016 at 10:56 am

Irony or Not? Poe’s law strikes again.

5 derek March 24, 2016 at 11:49 am

Failure is a design implementation of free markets. There are many examples, but one comes to mind. A vigorous and interesting restaurant or food service market is characterized by lots of people opening neat places with unique ideas, as well as lots of people failing miserably. The well established restaurants need to keep their quality high, respond to the tastes and demands of the customers since there is ample competition. If you looked at the casualty rate of restaurants in such a place it would be appalling, but the experience and choice would be excellent.

Free markets cease to operate well when that failure mechanism is circumvented either through natural monopolies or government intrusion. Both are usually attempts to impose some sort of stability to the marketplace but end up creating either stagnation or limited consumer choice.

The problem with socialism or any centrally planned economies are the inability to respond. Prices are information and business people respond to them all the time, the best businesses have a very quick feedback loop that allows them to see a failure quickly and respond quickly. If you take that information away by setting prices by some mechanism, by the time you get the information the situation is past a simple adjustment but usually facing collapse.

The evil of socialism is not it’s intentions but it’s results. The ability to impose by force something that won’t work will last as long as the resources last and the power remains. It was easier to kill off a bunch of Ukrainians than to question the orthodoxy of communism. It is easier in Venezuela to arrest people for smuggling toilet paper than to dismantle the thought and power structures that created the shortage in the first place. A business selling toilet paper that can’t get it into the hands of consumers at a price they are willing to pay is by definition out of business.

6 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 3:51 pm

“Prices are information and business people respond to them all the time, the best businesses have a very quick feedback loop that allows them to see a failure quickly and respond quickly…”

I wish people who teach these things could state it precisely as you have, and refrain from ever even suggesting the notion that prices contain the sum of all information relevant to anything the consumer or society might like to know about a product.

My second year macroeconomics class was taught by a mentee of a Nobel Prize winning researcher, Barro, and from his perspective there was no standing down from the view that price contains the entire sum of information relative to what we need to know about a product. (From a personal perspective, I think he was a really good guy – I was broke that term, didn’t have money for the expensive textbook, and since the library hadn’t stocked any copies of it yet he lent me his personal copy until there was one available on short-term loan from the library. Also, he very clearly invested a massive amount of time into incorporating diverse pedagogical approaches into the teaching of each lesson, and was infinitely available for after-class questioning until everyone had drifted off.)

For an obvious example of how this thinking is flawed, the price doesn’t tell us all we need to know if the product was produced by child slave labourers who will never go to school and die by age of 20 due to unhealthy working conditions. Regulations might go too far, but in principle are absolutely needed in many cases.

7 Cliff March 25, 2016 at 12:14 am

I’m sure your professor was smarter than you, what what his reply to that?

8 Nathan W March 26, 2016 at 9:58 am

Yeah, I’m pretty sure he was smarter than me too, most especially in mathematics. But impervious to certain forms of reasoning – his training was entirely in the same field. He seemed to hold some naive optimism that unfair things would get incorporated into the price signal in the absence of policies which would make it true.

Really good at teaching all the standard doctrine in macro-economics. Actually, in a lot ways he was really world aware and had really good anecdotes to help understand everything he was teaching about. This was a rather isolated area of disagreement. One to be chalked up to “too much time in the ivory tower” I think.

Iranian. Muslim. BOO!

9 David s March 24, 2016 at 8:18 am

In Soviet Russia, board game plays YOU!

10 The Original D March 24, 2016 at 12:36 pm

We are all pawns in the Putin-Trump chess match.

11 dearieme March 24, 2016 at 8:25 am

“A lot of Americans could use some reminders about price controls and socialism”: a lot of American Democrats would apparently prefer socialism to Hellary. Can’t say I blame ’em.

12 JWatts March 24, 2016 at 10:54 am

I’d say the amount of votes Bernie Sanders is getting would be good evidence that it’s at least 40%.

13 dan1111 March 24, 2016 at 11:21 am

These people prefer Bernie Sanders as president, but that’s not the same as preferring socialism. Sanders clearly will not be able to implement his proposed agenda if elected. It’s not clear that a Sanders presidency would move America farther to the left than a Clinton presidency.

14 derek March 24, 2016 at 11:51 am

Paradoxically it would probably move the US to the right.

15 cowboydroid March 24, 2016 at 12:11 pm

It’s not the same, but it’s a very strong signal they do prefer socialism.

16 dan1111 March 24, 2016 at 12:40 pm

I’m sure some do. But with only two candidates in the race, the other of whom has a huge amount of baggage, lots of people are supporting a candidate who only imperfectly matches their preferences.

17 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 8:44 am

Very cool.

I wonder if they might produce an analogue to laissez-faire capitalism, including things like “employer relocated to a low-wage country, delivery arrives but it’s not for you”, “your $1 a day salary isn’t enough to buy that” or “your parents couldn’t afford to send you to school, and disease transmitted by rats during landfill scavenging prevents you from walking to the store”.

I think most of the West has a roughly decent middle ground on the communist / laissez-faire spectrum.

18 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 8:46 am

I wonder how the game would go over in Venezuela. They have more recent experience of such things.

19 B. Reynolds March 24, 2016 at 8:48 am

Let’s see… where in the world do we see more landfill scavenging? The more market oriented ones, right? *rolls eyes*

20 Slocum March 24, 2016 at 9:11 am

…and the countries that have recently boosted hundreds of millions of people from $1 day into the global middle-class and beyond — how did they do that? By becoming more capitalist or communist? The knee-jerk anti-market sentiments of comfortable western lefties never ceases to amaze.

21 JCW March 24, 2016 at 9:54 am

I think you mean “the knee-jerk anti-market sentiments of Republican voters, who are about to select Trump as their nominee in the 2016 Presidential Race.”

22 Slocum March 24, 2016 at 10:22 am

Trump is terrible on trade (and in general). But that’s really not the same thing as being anti-market, which is what you find on the other side (I haven’t yet heard Trump complaining about Americans being offered too many kinds of deodorant and sneakers). Trump (and his voters) don’t want the government to control markets ‘for our own good’–just to keep out the foreigners taking our jerbs. But with respect to Republicans, this is not really new. There has long been nativist / populist / corporatist wing of the Republican party. In the 90’s, Pat Buchanan, was probably the leading exemplar, and there are many historical precedents to Buchanan and Trump (Smoot and Hawley were both Republicans).

23 Thiago Ribeiro March 26, 2016 at 10:44 pm

“Trump (and his voters) don’t want the government to control markets ‘for our own good’–just to keep out the foreigners taking our jerbs.”
What was the deal about dealing with the Chinese again?

24 derek March 24, 2016 at 11:54 am

Actually in vigorous economies where people are getting well off landfill scavenging is a profitable business. People with money to spend improve their surroundings which means throwing stuff away. The metals and other things have value and there is a large volume to exploit.

A local smelter was setting up a process where they would collect discarded electronic devices and smelt out the valuable metals. This would only happen if there was a vigorous and thriving market for electronic devices and consumers with resources able to buy them.

25 Jan March 24, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Check out these families of scavengers, just lifting themselves out of poverty and into the global middle class! http://articles.latimes.com/2006/dec/17/news/adfg-childdump17

26 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Well, considering that the countries where there is landfill scavenging are not welfare states and do not have strong labour laws … I would say that such situations basically apply to underworlds where laissez-faire runs supreme, with all the virtues of exploitative mafias that this implies.

27 Cliff March 25, 2016 at 12:17 am

Dude no. You realize Africa is crazy socialist, right? They just can’t afford those things or they would have them.

28 Nathan W March 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

Socialist argumentation is pretty big in politics and electoral campaigns, etc. People respond very well to it, because they would like a helping hand and the extent of injustice in the distribution of resources is basically unimaginable to the average Westerner.

But, reality, it’s not very socialist at all. Regulations primarily serve to block competition, not to uphold standards. Redistribution goes to corrupt cronies and is disproportionately targeted to various in-groups (especially the same ethnicity as whoever wins the election).

See through the rhetoric and look at the facts on the ground. Africa is not very socialist at all. But it is becoming somewhat more so over time, for example expanded access to education, interventions in agricutlure which benefit the poorest farmers through irrigation, access to improved seeds and fertilizer, in some cases requiring banks to hold policies which ensure access to banking services for the poor, and others.

Roughly the same applies to India, which is actually what I think of when I discuss landfills. For starters, there is a sufficiently large middle class in India that it’s worth something to mine the landfills for recyclables – things with post-use market value almost never make it that far in Africa.

29 Axa March 24, 2016 at 8:52 am

It’s about the history of Poland. Why the people in charge of memories should make a game of something that has not occurred in Poland?

30 cowboydroid March 24, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Ummm… Satellite state???

31 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 4:15 pm

a) they’ve proven that they have a market and might be able to sell a game which similarly exposes the flaws of the other extreme, and b) it might further stoke interest in the initial offering since no one could possibly feel that they had an explicitly ideological agenda in marketing the game, c) even-handed treatment of both sides of the ideological spectrum appeals to me.

32 Axa March 25, 2016 at 9:48 am

It seems people in Poland don’t care about even-handed treatment of both sides of the ideological spectrum. Even less being regarded as pushing an explicit political agenda. That worries are for honest journalists and students, not a nation that has been occupied by Russians, several times for many years. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/culture-leaders-in-poland-report-growing-fear-of-russia-a-1006372.html

33 MOFO March 24, 2016 at 9:09 am

I like it. The game ends when one of the players lifts a billion people out of poverty.

34 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Or, they produce a third game where a billion people are lifted out of poverty due to government interventions which enable them to succeed in markets.

35 Cliff March 25, 2016 at 12:18 am

Sorry, the game is supposed to be based on history

36 Nathan W March 26, 2016 at 10:17 am

Please do tell. Where’s the list of countries that got rich with no public education, zero publicly provided health care, no government investment in roads, bridge or electricity infrastructure, and no labour laws? Let’s exclude from the sample situations where massive wealth was extracted from colonies …

And you are left with a sample of zero.

Lassez-fair capitalism has never actually been tried. But you’ll find some subsets in history, for example 1820s London was not too far off in many respects, where young males could enjoy average life expectancy of somewhat more than 20 years old. Yeah, let’s try that one again.

37 sam the sham March 24, 2016 at 11:07 am

there is a laissezfaire board game. M.U.L.E. You colonize and make habitable a new planet… mostly everyone benefits, but sometimes people get royally screwed. I will provide more econ games later, but plenty good ones exist. eve online too!

38 John March 24, 2016 at 11:30 am

Monopoly was developed for just such a didactic purpose.

39 Andy Hallman March 24, 2016 at 2:48 pm

The creator of “The Landlord’s Game,” a precursor to monopoly, encouraged players to share their wealth. According to wikipedia: “It was intended as an educational tool to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies.”

40 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Good point. Maybe the best strategy is to sell to Parker Bros, who might market the games as a duo.

41 TaoOfGaming March 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm

I know the “I wonder if…” was asked in semi-jest, but I came up with a list of (mainly terrible) games that could be considered anti-capitalist, or at least anti-inequalitist, as well as some (good) games that reveal economic truths that aren’t particularly flattering to capitalism.

Of course economic games are a huge genre, of which I just scratched the surface.

https://taogaming.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/queuing-krelminology-corruption-and-commerce/

42 rayward March 24, 2016 at 9:08 am

Extremism of any kind is abhorrent, whether on the left side of the spectrum, on the right side of the spectrum, or off the spectrum (i.e., anarchism). I’m not sure where Tabarrok (or Cowen or the others who occupy positions at GMU and the Mercatus Center) fit in this trichotomy. Their intellectual ancestors come from a place heavily influenced by extremists, mostly on the right side of the spectrum but also on the left side, so it’s often assumed that their intellectual descendants must occupy space either near the middle of the spectrum (i.e., sometimes incorrectly labeled libertarian but more accurately labeled moderate) or off the spectrum. I identify as moderate, which is to say or conservative, conservative in the sense that extremism on either end of the spectrum begets extremism on the other, while off the spectrum begets unpredictable extremism on either end of the spectrum. Libertarians seem to believe they are above the fray, that they favor neither the left nor the right but the “natural” position. What they ignore is that there is no “natural” position, not as long as their are human actors. Moderation attempts to find and stay in the sweet spot, where extremists are held at bay and prosperity reigns. But it takes constant work, claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

43 Floccina March 24, 2016 at 10:23 am

Define Extremism. Mother Theresa was quite extreme as are the Amish, Mormons, Quakers Mennonites, Jefferson, Franklin etc..

44 Jake March 25, 2016 at 1:08 am

Exactly.

Presumably we are all extremely anti-slavery.

45 Vaniver March 24, 2016 at 9:22 am

I used to play Kremlin during high school, and then discovered recently that it had been re-released and had a chance to play it again. I call the “the game of aging Soviet bureaucrats” and it seems excellent as a simulator of that. (In particular, it’s amusing to deliberately assign people not under your control to ministries they’re terrible at, to make them easier to purge.) The central strategy of the game–assigning hidden loyalties to politicians–is probably the weakest point, and I want to play a game at some point where it’s done randomly to see how that changes things. But the tactics of the game (moving people around on the org chart, performing duties, rolling for health changes) works well.

46 efcdons March 24, 2016 at 9:37 am

The queue is one of the most important democratic institutions in the western world. The demise of the queue in the west is to me evidence of the unravelling of the social solidarity that resulted in the post-war middle class societies. Now it’s all “fast pass” everywhere and the rich can buy their way to the front of the line.

Have you ever been to India? There are no lines. People crush forward as a mob and the social hierarchy plays out in that the upper class are just lead to the front.

It’s another symptom of growing inequality and more evidence of the way inequality affects our society in negative ways.

47 Slocum March 24, 2016 at 10:27 am

If the queue has met its demise in the west, just exactly what is it that the rich are buying their way to the front of? And do you imagine that communist party apparatchiks waited in bread queues in the Soviet Bloc? Or that Maduro and his buddies are, as we speak, standing in line to buy toilet paper?

48 Floccina March 24, 2016 at 10:33 am

+1

49 Lord Action March 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

The last time I was at Disney World with my children using FastPass+ to schedule my ride on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, I knew deep down that the end of Western Civilization was imminent.

50 Jan March 24, 2016 at 11:11 am

I hope you at least gave those poor slobs and their children who deserve to be poor the finger on your way to the front of that non-existent line.

51 Slocum March 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm

We’ve got some pet pretty amazing ‘poor’ people if they’re vacationing at Disney World.

52 Lord Action March 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm

“We’ve got some pet pretty amazing ‘poor’ people if they’re vacationing at Disney World.”

Watch them as they trudge, grey and forlorn, through the 45 minute standby line at Pirates of the Caribbean, these 70-percenters envious of the cruel 5-percenters passing them by. Coveting their precious exclusive monorail stop at the Contemporary Resort, while the downtrodden poor pay for parking in Goofy-27 and sleep fitfully at some dreary Marriott. Complementary breakfast! This is an omelet!? One day, the revolution will come and Sanders will have them all against the wall! Or perhaps cleaning up protein spills in Mission Space…

53 Jan March 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm

When you’re driving a Maserati, even the guy in a Range Rover is a little bitch.

54 MOFO March 24, 2016 at 1:33 pm

“When you’re driving a Maserati, even the guy in a Range Rover is a little bitch.”

This, my friends, is why income inequality is the issue of our time. What kind of people are we if we force our poor people to drive Range Rovers when the 1% have Maseratis?

55 Lord Action March 24, 2016 at 1:48 pm

“What kind of people are we if we force our poor people to drive Range Rovers when the 1% have Maseratis?”

Eventually we’ll all be equal. In a cloud of steam on the side of the highway.

56 JWatts March 24, 2016 at 11:01 am

“If the queue has met its demise in the west, just exactly what is it that the rich are buying their way to the front of?”

+10 long lines, efcdons’ post was poor logic

“The demise of the queue in the west is …”

And yet it’s often the Lefties complaining about how bad Walmart is with long lines and poor people everywhere.

57 Jan March 24, 2016 at 11:13 am

Lefties complaining about long lines at Wal-Mart? Reaching a bit now, aren’t we?

58 carlolspln March 24, 2016 at 7:42 pm
59 efcdons March 24, 2016 at 1:54 pm

“If the queue has met its demise in the west, just exactly what is it that the rich are buying their way to the front of?”

The queue. If people can buy a position in a queue it’s not longer a queue.

If apparatchicks can get to the front of the queue then the queue is not a queue there either.

The DMV is a beautiful example. I love when I see rich people complain about spending time in the queue. No one buys their way to the front. Everyone is spending the one currency of which we all have the same amount, the 24 hours in a day.

60 Slocum March 24, 2016 at 2:26 pm

“The DMV is a beautiful example. I love when I see rich people complain about spending time in the queue.”

You know, I kind of appreciate the DMV in a way, too — it’s government incompetence out there, loud and proud, front and center, for everybody to see and suffer through. Where I live, not just the rich, but absolutely EVERYBODY effing hates it and complains about it. If the DMV was actually quick, pleasant and convenient, people might be in favor of even more big government, but there’s little chance of that ever happening. So it has an (unintended) purpose.

61 efcdons March 24, 2016 at 2:51 pm

I like the DMV for the exact same, but opposite reason. The DMV has a terrible reputation but it is actually not that slow and pretty competent. Even here in the government hating deep south the DMV is pretty good. When people see the DMV doesn’t actually suck they might think “hmmm. Maybe those propertarians who are theologically against government are actually wrong and crazy.”

62 MC March 24, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Equal time-wasting misery for everyone. Socialism rocks!

63 marris March 24, 2016 at 10:29 am

It may be “democratic” in some ideal world, but not in the real world.

In the real world, those with means will simply *hire* someone to stand in the queue for them.

In the real world, those with connections will get what they want by making backroom deals with the storekeeper. Did the Soviet leaders stock their mansions by standing in queues?

Even in the ideal world, as long as there are heterogeneous preferences, queues are unnecessarily wasteful. If you care about fairness, then it is far less wasteful to redistribute income, let everyone bid for the N items they care about, and let markets clear at the clearing price.

64 efcdons March 24, 2016 at 1:59 pm

If you were at the DMV and some guy pushed to the front saying “excuse me, I’m taking the place of my hired queue sitter” everyone would be cool with that? I think people would go nuckin futs.

In the real world those redistributive policies are politically impossible because of people like our hosts and their politically active patrons so the queue is a good solution.

The queue also doesn’t require any distribution. Everyone has the exact same amount of time in the day so willingness to stand in line longer than another person is a much better indication of revealed preference than a billionaire being able to buy something I really want with an amount that is nothing to him but is just a little more than all I have in the world.

65 Slocum March 24, 2016 at 2:34 pm

You’re clueless if you think everyone has the same amount of time. I have a professional occupation, and my time is flexible. I can take an hour or two or an afternoon pretty much any time without it any repercussions (financial or otherwise). I can even sit and do some work while waiting for my number to come up. Working class people, on the other hand, tend to have non-flexible hourly jobs where any time off will be unpaid and they often have limited transportation options, so getting to the office to wait in line may not be easy and there’s no chance they’ll be able to productive work while waiting.

66 Floccina March 24, 2016 at 10:32 am

Have you been to Italy? When I was there it seemed that the Italians did not know how to queue, I heard the British tourist complain about the Italian not knowing how to queue. I got a kick out of observing both the Italian mob pushing forward and the Brits complaining. Quit fun of this USAer. Italy is in the heart of the western world.

I lived in Honduras for a while and it was similar to Italy, each man for himself.

“Fast pass” is not a decline in orderliness and is hardy the demise of proper Queuing.

67 efcdons March 24, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Southern Europe is part of the queuing world. Western is probably the wrong descriptor. Certainly in the Anglo world and maybe northern europe and countries descended culturally from those areas (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, etc.)

68 efcdons March 24, 2016 at 2:02 pm

I meant southern europe IS NOT part of the queuing world.

69 IVV March 24, 2016 at 11:28 am

My wife and I happened to be in Dresden for the 100 year anniversary of the Hygiene Museum, so we decided to attend. There were exhibits of the history (good and bad, with explanatory markers), a dance performance put on by local children, a speech, and a giant cake that was cut and served to everyone.

Everything was proper and well organized up until the point when cake was served. Suddenly, the demure and staid masses, who so graciously parted to make sure everyone had a chance to view the performance, became a maddening scrum pressing urgently to receive each slice. Admittedly, they maintained some decorum, stayed behind the velvet ropes, and allowed the museum president and staff get on with the business of cutting cake. But the irony of the massive sea of jostling elbows craving a dessert of mediocre nutrition in the Hygiene Museum was not lost on me.

My wife, East German by birth, and having lived in America for the last decade, stood shocked at the display and remarked, “Americans would never allow this to happen this way. They would line up. The caterers would give instructions to make it all move smoothly. And the museum president would have better things to do than cut and serve cake.”

70 Adrian Ratnapala March 24, 2016 at 3:39 pm

This might simply be a sign that Germans like cake better than Americans, or most other people for that matter.

They are partly justified in this, as German cakes are better than most other cakes.

71 IVV March 24, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Dresden is well-known for its coffee-and-cake culture.

Honestly, there was a lot of better cake we had/have in Dresden.

72 Tim March 24, 2016 at 11:00 am

Someone should start a Monopoly game where, at random, some players begin already owning Boardwalk and Park Place and most of the money, others start with Connecticut Avenue (or its nearby neighbors) and enough to make it around the board once (if they don’t land on Boardwalk or Park Place), and others start out with nothing. Maybe rename it “Anyone Can Win”.

73 TMC March 24, 2016 at 11:39 am

‘Cause Boardwalk and Park Place build themselves, right?

74 Thelonious_Nick March 24, 2016 at 11:46 am

I would love to play Monopoly with you with real money on the line. Here’s a hint: Boardwalk and Park Place are terrible investments (nobody ever lands there), and the light blue group is a great investment. One strategy in this situation would be for the light blue player to buy four houses for each property (only $50 each). He and another player with a monopoly in the cheaper area of the board could easily lock up all the houses before the Boardwalk player is able to afford any.

75 Chris March 24, 2016 at 1:25 pm

The mathematics of the best properties in Monopoly are well known among hardcore Monopoly players even if most general players don’t know it. This information is on the web now, but I remember it first from some kind of science magazine in the mid-1980s. The Reds, Orange, and Purple monopolies are the best to own. Yellow and Green are next. Then Light Blue (although this monopoly can be good early on – timing is everything). Then Dark Blue (the famous Boardwalk and Park Place) and then the slums of Baltic/Med. All 4 Railroads are good especially in the early to mid game, but the Utilities are worthless. I feel most long term players know this in their guts.

Luck, of course, is always important in any individual game, but statistically a player wants the monopolies from the stretch of St Charles to Illinois Avenue more than the others.

76 Sam Haysom March 24, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Someone should invent a game where you go back in time and by subtly manipulate past events grind the chip on Tim’s shoulder down from a 100 lb chip to maybe like a 10 lb chip.

77 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 4:46 pm

I think most players would quite after the first roll which established who got which starting position.

In the interests of playing on, the lucky contenders might be inclined to perfect redistribution at initial conditions in order to find someone to play with. One might be inclined to consider it from the perspective of the classic “dictator’s game” in game theory and behavioural economics, but in this case, I’d wager that well above 90% would refuse to play unless the initial conditions were perfectly equal and 100% fair play was guaranteed.

The end result would be traditional Monopoly with a 2-minute instructive twist at the beginning, the first once or twice you played.

78 jb March 24, 2016 at 11:05 am

As long as we are talking about board games, let me put in a plug (heh) for Power Grid. That is the best illustration of basic supply and demand out there in any game, and is quite fun as well.

79 JWatts March 24, 2016 at 11:09 am

+10 for Power Grid, it’s one of my favorite games. It has a nice auction mechanism with a reverse turn order to prevent a run away leader.

80 JWatts March 24, 2016 at 11:10 am
81 MOFO March 24, 2016 at 11:12 am

I hate that game because i always lose.

82 jb March 24, 2016 at 11:30 am

Other games with cool auction mechanisms (that is one of my favorite game elements):

Moderately involved:
Modern Art (the whole game is a series of auctions, and you can win just as well by selling to the other players as by amassing the best collection)
Ra (each player has a fixed set of bidding tokens they can use each round, and when you use them up you can no longer bid)

Fairly light:
For Sale
No Thanks

83 JWatts March 24, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Yes, I own Ra (excellent), For Sale and No Thanks also. If you like market style games you might try Shark (on the lighter side) or Union Pacific

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/433/shark

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/94/union-pacific

High Society is another light auction game: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/220/high-society

Medici is a good, medium auction game: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/46/medici

84 JWatts March 24, 2016 at 11:08 am

Here’s Soviet Russia’s preferred board game: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/99/fortress-america

And the original cover art (with Saddam before he was well known in the west): https://boardgamegeek.com/image/56809/fortress-america

85 zbicyclist March 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

I think queuing behavior has gotten more civilized in the U.S.

(1) I remember banking in the 1960s — separate lines for each teller, with the next person right behind the person being served, so there was little privacy. Now there’s commonly a single queue for all tellers, some feet back from the tellers so you get a bit of privacy.

(2) Restaurant queues have been improved by technology. You give your name and get a beeper (or, give them your cell number and they text you). So, you can walk around the block on a nice night. And you don’t have to listen to endless loudspeaker calls of “Silly, party of 4”. Technology has clearly improved this experience of being in a queue.

The notable exception to queue improvement is TSA lines (airport security).

86 Mark Thorson March 24, 2016 at 11:58 am

I remember hearing from a coworker about 1980 that somebody had a patent on the “wait here for next available teller” sign. Apparently, this was an early business method patent, if it really existed.

87 carlolspln March 24, 2016 at 8:03 pm

I don’t think you can patent the Erlang C algorithm, Mark [based upon the binomial theorem]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erlang_(unit)#Erlang_C_formula

This work was done in 1917 at Tele Danmark.

88 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Yeah, TSA is getting worse every year. Last flight I took out of Toronto was routed through the US. There was a first set of lines where they triaged by flight time. A second line to check the boading tickets. A third line to wait to input your flight details into the automatic system. A fourth line to wait for immigration inspection. A fifth line to wait for the actual security check.

Anyone still remember the good ol’ days when you just flashed your boarding pass before going through the metal detector? Like 1 hour versus 5 minutes. Times billions of flights a year. Presuambly the average flier’s time is worth somewhere in the range of $30-40 an hour (wealthy people fly more often).

If the statistical value of a life is around $6 million, you’d have to be facing 1,000 plane-related terrorist deaths per year before the policy would be worth it. Oh, but irrational fear must rein supreme.

Or, you could just lock the cockpit. When alternative solutions are so obvious and cheap, it is difficult to see the stated motives as credible. I will refrain from suggesting a diversity of conspiracy theories which are consistent with TSA policy …

89 Quantitative Sneezing March 24, 2016 at 11:59 am

Talk of capitalist board games, and no one mentions Acquire?

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5/acquire

90 Kevin Postlewaite March 24, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Here’s a link to more info about Kolejka:
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/85325/kolejka

91 Nathan W March 24, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Queues – increasingly irrelevant when you can order lots of stuff online and in many other cases just take a number and fiddle around on your phone/laptop until your number is called. I’m surprised about the above discussion on the DMV. They don’t take numbers? You actually have to wait in line? Wow.

I literally cannot remember ever having to wait in an actual line in any public service outlet in Canada, with the exception of student services in universities (which might make sense when you consider that the lines mostly occur in the first week of classes and there’s no space to seat people in such numbers). Government being for the service of the public and all, they could perhaps do a better job of offering free wi-fi connections at all such outlets. For wealthier anti-government types, it could be billed as maximizing the time value of high social contributor individuals, for example executives whose time might be worth a thousand dollars while waiting.

92 kevin March 28, 2016 at 3:44 pm

You wait in line to get a number. Theres like 4-5 different services, each one taking a different series of numbers. You can’t leave though, so once you have the number I’d still consider you in a queue, even if your free to sit down and not wait in a literal line.

93 Daniel in VA March 24, 2016 at 9:26 pm

If jb’s plugging Power Grid, I’d like to plug the 18XX series of games. They are based on railroad operations and stock market trading. They have no random influences, but end up with chaotic and unpredictable dynamics because of the “butterfly effect”.

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