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Décorum

Who knew decorating a house could be so complicated! But it certainly can be when multiple people have very definite views on how everything should look, and no one is saying exactly what those views are.

Published by Floodgate Games, Décorum is a logic puzzle game for 2-4 players that plays in roughly 30-45 minutes.

Gameplay

Gameplay varies slightly in Décorum based on player count.

For two players, there is a campaign you can play through with twenty different scenarios. You are encouraged to play through these in order, as the difficulty increases as you work your way through them.

You open the envelope for the scenario you have selected. Both players take a condition card. Each condition card gives you a character and a bit of story to read aloud. It also lists 3-5 conditions for how you want the house to look in order to feel fulfilled, which you keep secret during the game.

The house board is set in the middle of the table. There are four rooms, two on each floor. The scenario you are playing lists what color of walls each room starts with and what items start in each room.

Every room has a space for one lamp, one curio, and one wall hanging. These three types of items can come in four different styles (modern, antique, retro, and unusual), and four different colors (yellow, red, blue, and green). Spaces can be empty as well, and not every room will always need to be filled (although each room will always need to have a wall color).

The conditions you will be trying to meet in order to be fulfilled might involve the colors of rooms or items, or the style or number of items. For example, you might need a certain number of retro items in the house, or you might need one empty space in any room that has something blue in it. There are many different possible combinations of conditions.

Each round consists of both players taking a turn. On your turn, you may take one action. Actions include adding one object from the supply into an empty space in one of the rooms, removing an item from a room and returning it to the supply, swapping out an item in a room with the same type of item but in a different color and/or style, or swapping a room’s color with a different color. If all the conditions on your card have been met, you may also pass as your action.

After you take an action, you check to see if all your conditions have been met. If so, you announce that you are fulfilled. If both players are fulfilled, the game ends. After checking for fulfillment, if the game is not yet over, you move on to the comment phase. You may ask the other player how he feels about the action you just performed. Your partner is only allowed to give a general response such as “I really liked that”, “I don’t like how that looks” or “I don’t care one way or the other”. Your turn then ends.

Once both players have taken a turn, the round ends. At the end of rounds 15, 20, and 25, you have a heart to heart, in which each player may read out one condition from their card.

If you are both able to be fulfilled before the end of round 30, you win the game.

Games for 3-4 players work quite similarly, although there is no campaign and you simply select a scenario envelope to play. You have house meetings instead of heart to hearts, and these happen every five rounds. During these, you share a single condition with a single player, passing them a card to read that lists the condition you are sharing.

Some scenarios also have a roommate mechanism, in which you have a token representing yourself in one of the two upstairs bedrooms; this is ‘your room’. You can have special conditions based on your room, and one of the actions you can choose on your turn is to ‘switch rooms’. Each room can only hold two people, so you might have to kick someone out into the other room when performing this action.

Décorum Components

Décorum promo image (provided by the publisher)

Review

If you enjoy logic puzzles, Décorum is a truly exceptional cooperative game. The puzzles are so well thought out, and the back-and-forth interaction is really engaging — it forces you to analyze other players’ actions and choices, to try and deduce why they are doing something, and when it’s necessary to steer them towards another path that will meet both your requirements, as well as considering how you might be able to do that.

The heart to hearts and house meetings are a nice mechanism to prevent the game from becoming too frustrating when you just can’t seem to make any progress, while choosing which conditions to share remains key to making the most of these opportunities.

Décorum is perfectly enjoyable as a 3-4 player game, and it’s interesting to juggle all the different players with their actions and requirements, and the roommate mechanism is a fun one. It’s also nice that it’s easy to dip in and out of the game with that many people, with no campaign to play through. You can just select any scenario.

That being said, the game is really spectacular at two players. That tight back and forth, trying to really figure out what that one other player is thinking and doing, is just great cooperative gameplay. The campaign system is a nice way to slowly be introduced to more and more difficult scenarios, and there’s a few fun surprises promised in the envelopes.

In both cases, it’s a nice touch that every scenario includes a little story to be read, and if you have a group that enjoys it there’s definitely some room for a bit of fun role-playing while you’re at it.

There is an app on the way that will provide even more scenarios, but at the time of writing it hasn't been released yet. It has the potential to greatly increase replay value, as this is definitely a game that you could end up binging.

Décorum is a truly great logic puzzle game and an excellent cooperative experience. It’s cleverly put together, looks great, and feels fresh and new.

Pros: Works well at all player counts, nice aesthetics and production quality, exceptional two-player game, intriguing gameplay

Con: App is not yet released at the time of writing

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.