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Décorum board game is one part Diplomacy, two parts visit to Ikea

‘A game of passive-aggressive cohabitation’

Living with other people requires growth. Emotional resilience is more than a hip new phrase — it’s a necessary coping strategy. But perhaps the biggest struggle we all share is just maintaining our own space and not exploding at the people we live with when they don’t pick up after themselves. Décorum, a new board game from Floodgate Games, explores that struggle through a decidedly benign pursuit: interior decorating.

Two characters chat amiable about the objects in their home. Image: Floodgate Games

At its core, Décorum is a logic puzzle with 30 unique scenarios. Each of the players at the table has their own set of conditions. Certain pieces of furniture must be on the lefthand side, for instance, or maybe they just don’t want to see any antiques. But the only way they can communicate those conditions is through one of three responses. They can either love it, hate it, or feel neutral. The result is a back-and-forth journey toward compromise — or a table-flipping freak out, I guess.

The visual design, from Komboh Creative and Michael Mateyko, is bright and cheerful. It feels less like an Ikea catalog, and more like a slick vintage magazine ad. Designers Charlie Mackin, Harry Mackin, and Drew Tenenbaum all seem to have the best of intentions with this game. As one notes in her online portfolio:

The real challenge isn’t just solving the problem with the limited information you and your players have; it’s dealing with the frustrations that will inevitably occur when your partner does something that messes up your plan. In order to be successful in Décorum, there will come a point where both players will have to let go of their initial strategy for how they were going to finish the board, and start paying attention to what their partner is doing instead. By introducing and providing an incentive to resolve conflict, Décorum mechanically encourages (or even requires) a positive form of compromise.

What I wouldn’t give for a bit more positive compromise right about now.

Décorum sits 2-4 players. Expect to find it in January 2022 for $44.95. Keep tabs on the official website for more information.