Russian board games from 1920s and 1930s

Gus Winterbottom's picture

An interesting look at Soviet graphic design and typography as applied to board games.

Kristians Sics's picture

Well... I hope the Russians love their children too.

Theunis de Jong's picture

They must have enjoyed their evenings of "Chasing Trotsky".

Where is "Tetris, the Board Game"?

Igor Freiberger's picture

Very interesting! Great examples of design and type usage.
Maybe a Russian Typophile could give us some insight about these games.

MrMoto's picture

The first few games are titled as follows (maybe):

Chemical War
Long Live the Revolution!
Reds and Whites (I doubt the rules make it easy for the Whites ...)
Aerial Conflict
Aerial Combat (note: the letters going downward are part of the first
Cycling Race (?)

A bit lower down: the one in greyish blue is something like 'Journey through Wealth'.
I thought at first the city was burning, but it appears to a 'wealthy' industrialized city. Next, a similar theme: Electrification.

I'll let someone else take over the translation from here.

microspective's picture

Mr. Moto, I thought at first you were joking. Your titles were so intriguingly Orwellian that I had to follow the link. I think I stand corrected.

Thomas Phinney's picture


I have been thinking about doing something on typography in board games (I have a collection of several hundred board games myself), but it would have been both more modern (mostly 80s-present) and largely English language.



David W. Goodrich's picture

I'll contribute "Happy Landings" (literally "good flight") for the game celebrating a flight from Moscow to Mongolia and Peking in June and July of 1925. I'll leave it to a native speaker to translate the "осводовец" of the Morse code chart immediately following.


eliason's picture

I'm still trying to convince myself this isn't a perfectly executed satire.

apankrat's picture

> "осводовец"

.. is a member of OSVOD, which is a "Society of Water Rescue" - an all encompassing volunteer society that included lifeguards, swimming teachers, water safety educators, those working on improving rescue techniques and equipment, etc.

apankrat's picture

> Chemical War
> Revolution
> Long Live the Revolution!
> Reds and Whites
> Aerial Conflict
> Aerial Combat
> Cycling Race (?)

Circular Race rather
Travel by Plane across the USSR
Polar Expedition of Krasin and Malygin Icebreakers
Travel the Wealth of the USSR
Electrification - not to be mixed with Electrocution :)
Moscow-China Dobrolet - a made-up word, literally - "Kind/Happy Flyer"
Alphabet of Young Osvodovetz
Your Friend of Avtodor - Avtodor is the same as Osvod, but applied to the cars instead of water :)
Maneuvers by Young Friends of Osoviahim - as far as I remember it was a society dealing with training volunteer reservists for the defence department. "-him" stands for "chemical", probably capturing the fascination with gas masks of that period :)

If there is interest, I can translate the rest, but it's all pretty much in the same vein.

Igor Freiberger's picture

One must understand those games from a historic, contextual point of view. They make sense for a country living post-revolutionary and post-war times. To view this as a caricature is to misunderstand their '20s and '30s reality.

Theunis de Jong's picture

.. a historic, contextual point of view ..

As in, the American equivalent would be Monopoly (1935).

Boros's picture

I love the one with the wheels and belt made of images, and the machine operator in the back. Something like a production line. Also, the next one, with the battleships. This is so exciting!

oprion's picture

1924? Holy smokes, that's barely out of the civil war!

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