This past weekend was monumental for us. Not only did we move our oldest daughter into the dorm on Saturday, but we spent Sunday cheering our youngest on as she started college too. They have two very different personalities and their move-in styles reflected exactly that. Madison moved in a couple days before her roommate, but Kennedy and her roommate decided on adjacent move-in slots. If you’ve ever been in a dorm room during move-in, you can only imagine the number of boxes, bins and suitcases spread across the tiny room. Multiple that by two. We’re fortunate, however, that their roommates have very similar interests and styles so we’re hopeful that this year will be great for both of them. That isn’t always the case. Decorum from Floodgate Games boxed up that conundrum into board game form, describing itself as “a game of passive aggressive cohabitation.”
Picture this: a four-room, two-story apartment, roommates, furnishings and paint. Oh, and lots of opinions! Decorum is a logic puzzle disguised as a game for 2-4 people. Working together with limited clues about what each person wants, the goal is to arrange the room to appease all the roommates. Begin by placing the apartment and object boards in the center of the table then arrange the objects and paint onto the object board. Set heart tokens nearby as they’ll be used to track the clues and rounds. The two-sided apartment and roof will vary based on the number of players and scenario.
There are multiple scenarios in the box with each packet getting progressively harder. But let me be clear, even the “easy” ones require players to be attentive to what is happening when it isn’t their turn. It isn’t like Pandemic where you can space off while someone else is playing. What they do – and why they do it – are important to helping solve the puzzle.
Open the scenario envelope and set up according to the instructions. In a four-player game, each player will select a color and take all the cards associated with it. Distribution of cards varies in two and three player games. For ease of explanation, we’re going to talk about four players. It’s actually best with four anyhow!
There are four rooms, four paint/object colors, three types of objects (lamps, wall hangings, curios) and four design styles (modern, retro, antique, unusual). Each resident in the apartment has their own preferences as indicated on the cards. One card lists all the interests which may have to do with any number of things. Some examples are liking/disliking certain objects, not wanting specific colors together in the same or adjoining rooms, preferring a particular paint color or even making sure a type of item is in a certain room. The assortment of conditions varies greatly. The smaller cards have one condition each and will be used when a house meeting is called. More on that later.
On your turn, you’ll do one of the following: Add an object to an empty slot, remove one object from the apartment, swap an object for one of the same type, paint a room or pass (if you’re fulfilled). After you’ve taken your action, you see if you’ve met all your preferences. If so, you say, “I’m fulfilled” so your roommates can look over the board and try to decipher your interests. Then each roommate will respond in a positive, negative or neutral way. It can be as simple as, “I love/hate it” because it conflicts with your own objectives or “I can deal with it.” if it doesn’t impact you. One time when I played, one of my roommates kept changing the paint color and my response was simply, “What are you, a monster?” After everyone has expressed their concerns or approvals, the next person takes their turn.
After each round, the round marker is moved one space. At the end of every 5 rounds, players can call a house meeting to try to get the others to see through their eyes. Each player may give ONE of their condition cards to ONE other roommate. These are always kept secret by the person who holds them. By someone else knowing another person’s conditions, it can help fill in the blanks of the logic puzzle that weren’t so obvious during the observations.
Play continues until everyone is satisfied (you’re great roommates) or the last round ends without everyone meeting all their conditions (work on your people skills). When you’re ready to play another game, grab a different scenario. I love cooperative games and logic puzzles have been one of my favorites since I was first introduced to them in third grade. Decorum scratches an itch with the merging of these two interests. Make no bones about this. You can kick butt in one scenario then completely fail at the next. It isn’t easy, but that’s what makes it great. Copies of Decorum are available online (Amazon and Floodgate Games’ website) as well as at local game stores. So find some people who you like to argue with and play Decorum.
What’s the worst roommate problem you’ve had to deal with?