During a trip to my FLGS, the owner and I were talking about new games and he mentioned Kolejka. We talked about how bizarre it is to have a game based on Communist Poland and how waiting in line for stores to open sounded incredibly odd for the premise of a board game.
Curiosity got the best of me and when I returned home, I logged in to BGG and looked into it, watched a short video review and read about the game and it’s ratings. When I returned to the store a few days later to pick up a copy of Dark, Darker, Darkest, I kept picking up Kolejka and looking at it, returning it to the shelf and looking around more. I picked up DDD and was about to leave when I went back over to the shelf and wound up leaving the store with it.
The game is set in 1980′s Poland. Every player has different goals and desires, that they need to be able to acquire. Unfortunately, the fulfillment of those wishes is caught up in the deliveries of product, or lack of deliveries to the local neighborhood stores. Even in these rough times, you’ve been able to save up enough money to pick up the products that you need, but due to shortages, the merchandise is delivered in very limited quantities. The goal of the game is to be the first family to pick up all 10 items on your shopping list.
Place the game board in the center of the table with the Truck Delivery Board next to it.
Shuffle the Product cards by color and put one card of each color on the outdoor market. The order in which you place these cards will remain unchanged for the rest of the game. Place the remaining product cards on their appropriate places on the delivery truck board.
Place the market trader meeple on the outdoor market in the first field. It’s marked with the letter B.
Each player will choose their color of their meeples (family members) and take their queuing cards and player assistance cards in matching colors.
Each player shuffles his/her own queuing cards and forms a stack, then draws 3 cards.
Each player then draws one shopping list card and places it face up in front of him/her. The player with the highest number on their list gets the first player marker.
**It’s important to note that Kolejka is a game where all information is open, so other players will know what you’re looking for and what items that you already have.**
Then in clockwise order, starting with the first player, the players will take turns placing their pawns, one at a time in front of stores of their choice, until all of their pawns are in line.
Once all meeples are in place, you’ll place a spectator (a black meeple) at the end of each of the five lines. You’re now ready to play Kolejka.
Game Play Overview:
Kolejka is played over a series of rounds, each round is broken into 6 activities.
1. Queuing Up
At the beginning of the game, everyone is already queued into lines. During the Queuing Up step of the following rounds, any meeples that were able to come home with their items are now allowed in player order to place their meeples back into new lines to wait again.
2. Merchandise Delivery
The Manager (the first player) will draw the top three cards from the delivery deck stack and place them face up on the designated spots in the center of the board. (This will depend on the number of players, if you’re playing with less than 5 players, less items will be delivered to the stores). The manager then transfers the merchandise from the delivery trucks to the appropriate stores, as long as the supplies last.
3. Queue Jumping
The queue jumping phase plays out over 3 turns, and this is the part of the game where it can turn ugly really fast. The player with the first player marker can now choose one of the three queuing cards that they have in their hand and play it face up on the designated spot on the board. The next player may now play a card, this will continue until all players have had a chance to play 3 of their queuing cards in a similar manner.
Each player starts the game with only 10 Queue cards, there are 5 rounds of each week, so you may run out of Queue cards before the end of the first week, if you’re out of cards you, don’t get them back until the 6th round of the game. So you have to think carefully about how and when to play your queue cards each turn.
When a player chooses to pass, they are no longer allowed to play Queue cards during that round again. The Queue cards change the placements of the meeples in each queue. I’m won’t list the details of each card, but know that most of them have the ability to screw over each player and prevent them from gaining the merchandise that they need.
4. Opening of the Stores
When the stores open, the players at the beginning of each queue till take all of the available merchandise. Each pawn can only take one items of merchandise, so getting the proper placement in the queue is vital to winning the game.
Your pawn will return home with the merchandise acquired and in step 1 of the next round, you’ll be able to queue them up in line again.
If an item of merchandise has been purchased by a spectator, it will then be added to the outdoor market on the designated field and the spectator will then be moved to the end of the same line they just acquired merchandise in.
If there are any items left in the store, they’re then left in the store for the next round.
5. Exchanging Merchandise at the Outdoor Market.
Any players that have queued up their meeples in front of the outdoor market can now exchange any number of products for items available in the market. Merchandise is exchanged at a rate of 2 for 1, except where the market trader sits, there is only a 1 for 1 exchange rate.
If a player does not wish to shop during this phase, he/she can pass and the pawn can remain in front of the market until next round or return home empty-handed. Any other players on the outdoor market place may then choose to exchange merchandise at the market.
This is the ‘clean up’ set of the rounds. The manager will then turn over the discarded merchandise delivery cards and place them on the waste bin spot on the board.
Any ‘Closed for Stock taking’ cards that were played are them moved to the discard pile.
The market trader is then moved to the next spot at the outdoor market.
Each player will draw up to 3 queuing cards to replenish their hands, as long as they have enough cards to do so.
The next player in a clockwise direction will take the game opening market and the first of the 6 steps will start again.
Once you’ve played 5 rounds through the above steps it’s Saturday and the board must be tidied up. The waste bin containing the used delivery cards is emptied and all of the cards are reshuffled to create the delivery deck again.
The queuing cards that have been played and discarded are now reorganized and handed back to each player. They’re shuffled and each player can draw back up to 3 cards.
The market trader is then placed back on the first card in the outdoor market again.
The first player to buy or exchange the final item on his/her shopping list wins the game. If two players simultaneously end the game, the player with the biggest surplus of items then wins the game, if the players are still tied with surplus items then the game ends in a draw.
Kolejka, also known as Queue is essentially a worker placement game, that plays out with some special abilities that are played out through using the Queuing up cards that you have each round. While a game about waiting in lines for merchandise or food in communist Poland may not sounds exciting or interesting, there’s a good level of strategy involved once you play your cards.
In both of the games that I’ve played, the game has gotten really cut throat with players taking every opportunity to block and ruin opportunities for other players. It’s easy to set up and learn and doesn’t take too long to play out, though depending on the amount of queuing cards that are played, it could take longer.
Kolejka has good components, though be prepared to spend some time stickering the cards when you want to play. The game comes with 6 rule books in different languages, each language rulebook comes with a set of stickers so that you can make each deck of cards read in the proper language as the cards are all in Polish when you open the game.
The game is produced by ‘The Institute of National Remembrance’ and is considered a ‘historical board game’. “It was designed to reconstruct, in a vivid manner, the circumstances in which Poles lived for decades under an externally imposed communist system.” This may make the game sound heavy and unapproachable due to the serious nature, but it plays out completely differently than that. It’s a fairly fast, fun but tough game.
This is the 2nd edition printing of Kolejka and would have gone largely under the radar if I had not had a discussion with my FLGS owner about it. It’s something that I feel will hit the table on a regular basis, it’s a good introduction to worker placement and allows you to build a good strategy based on the cards you’ve drawn. If you’re looking for something interesting and easy to each, give Kolejka a shot.