Review: Kommissar, the board game



A Rankin Bass Production?


We played Kommissar just recently! Very fun, very very kitsch. We made a night of obscure games: “Kommissar”, “Masterpiece”, and “Park and Shop”. Enjoyed the review, thanks!

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Where did you even find a copy? I’d love to play it… in fact it might be a good thing to show my undergrads.

ours came from a grandmother-closet cleanout. I have no idea when/where it was originally acquired.

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Maybe it was bought new? It might be something I have to get on ebay or something if I want a copy…

i suspect it was bought new. cursory googlin’ yielded this:

Yeah, I did the same… looks like the auction was up to $26.

For those who’ve never seen “Papers, please”, one of the truly great dystopian border control games, here it be.


I guess I’m surprised that “Masterpiece” was obscure. Dated, yes. But both my grade school and my uncle owed a copy so I thought it was a standard part of 1970s culture.

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It very well might have been, but sometimes things that are popular and standard at one point get forgotten about later and are seen as found gems later. I’d guess the game was “lost” to history because that way of thinking about the Soviet Union was becoming somewhat outmoded by the 70s with detente on the rise and the game came out in the late 60s, it looks like. By the mid 70s, I bet it was out of print? By the time of Watergate and the revelations of COINTELPRO I think people were more interested in our internal problems than whatever social problems the people in the Soviet Union had.

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[quote=“digitalArtform, post:2, topic:41431, full:true”]
A Rankin Bass Production?

Not a state-approved toy? To the dungeon!

I think that with the increasing amount of restrictions we have to deal with (Brussels, I am looking at YOU!), the game could be updated for more current scenarios. Both the US and the EU versions could exist.

I actually was referring to “Masterpiece”, the art auction game which was mentioned in an earlier comment rather than Kommissar. That I completely understand has lost popular relevance, although I know from previous articles that both you and I have an interest in the former Eastern Bloc.

Oh! My bad!

Yes, that’s true. Endlessly fascinating stuff.

The spelling “Kommissar” used in the game is actually German, not Russian (that would be “Komissar”, and I’m not talking about fake-cyrillic lettering). Which made me think of the “Kommissarbefehl”, Hitler’s order to have all captured Russian party officers executed. Yeah I know this is just an old boardgame some people like or even have fond memories of, and I’m kind of pulling a Godwin here… Still, I find it an interesting hint on how the way the USSR was perceived in the US had a strangely German touch to it.

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Makes me think of Kremlin

Would that be the art of Jack Davis?

Some samples