Décorum Board Game Review

Polyhedron Collider Decorum Board Game Review

It has been said (I’m sure) that games are an attempt to simulate and distil life, therefore, the closer a game comes to encapsulating the essence of that activity i.e. farming or building a rail network, the better the game is.  By this measure, Decorum it could be argued is hands down the best game ever made.  The problem is, trying to agree on how to decorate your house with your significant other is something I don’t want to do in real life, let alone in a game.
Decorum advertises itself as “a game of passive-aggressive cohabitation” and this is largely true, I would actually say that it is more like “a game of aggressive passive aggression”.  After playing this game I’ve needed to not see or speak to or see my “teammate” for a good ten minutes just so I can cool down.  Decorum does perfectly capture that feeling and notion of trying to get your way in a relationship without causing too much of an upset, but still has all of that frustration when your “teammate” changes something you didn’t want them to change.

I’ll be honest with you dear Reader; I’m getting worked up just thinking about and writing this review I might need to go and get a cup of tea.    

Polyhedron Collider Decorum Board Game Review House

The gist of this game is that you and your other half have decided that the house needs a make-over, every room needs renovating, but you both have different ideas of what that looks like, and rather than going to Homebase together to pick up paint samples followed by an afternoon at Dunelm looking at light fittings, you decide to just start doing stuff in the house without actually talking to each other.  If this is starting to sound too familiar then be warned this game could result in serious trauma/divorce.

In a game of Decorum you’ll play a specific scenario, which will set the house up and give each player a “role” to play, or in other words, will give each player a set of objectives.  Players then have 30 turns to meet the objectives of all players, however, players can’t tell one another what their objectives are.  This means that every action could, and likely will, literally conflict with what they are trying to do.  It is at this point when your eye starts twitching…and by “this point” I mean every damn turn!

Polyhedron Collider Decorum Board Game Review Objects

Your objective could be something like ‘Rooms on the left-hand side of the house must have blue walls.  Doesn’t that sound simple?  So, for two turns your action is to paint the walls blue in these two rooms.  Your “teammate” has seen you do this, you have even gone so far as to ask them what they think of the blue walls.  So, a few turns later when they are trying to meet their objective of ‘Rooms downstairs must contain three different colours, including the walls, and they repaint the kitchen because it already has a blue item in it…you…well, you basically lose your shit.

The notion of teamwork with so much hidden information is a great idea and to be perfectly honest, it really works.  The satisfaction and, utter disbelief, when you get to that point in a game where you have met all of the objectives is genuinely palpable.  I’m not the type of guy who does an air punch, claps or jumps up and down when I win, but when I manage to beat the scenario in Decorum I feel literally jubilant.

Polyhedron Collider Decorum Board Game Review Threes a Crowd House

But…but, winning in Decorum, for me at least is, a Herculean feat.  Maybe I’m just not very good at these types of hidden information games, maybe I’m just not very observant and I don’t pay attention or remember what my “teammates” have done previously.  Maybe the people I have played this game with are terminally stupid.  Who knows?  The point is, although what you are trying to do is quite simple, and in theory, it should be easy to track who has made what change to the house, these details seem to just slip out of my head and all I really care about is telepathically communicating to my “teammates” that the yellow vase in the bedroom does not get touched, and if they try to touch it I will break their fingers.

Decorum is very good at what it does.  It really does encapsulate the feelings of working towards a goal with someone else and trying to get your own way.  It’s a game that does stir up a lot of emotion, it’s very easy to become frustrated with your “teammate”, with the game, or even with other people in the same room just breathing.  It is a very tricky puzzle of a game, one that is incredibly satisfying when you manage to somehow achieve the solution, but mostly it just pisses me off.

This review is based on a full retail copy of the game provided by the publisher. 
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