By design, games are meant to do two things: entertain and educate. Games of all varieties can teach a player about the world around them, ingrain useful problem-solving skills, and/or help them learn about the other people playing the game. Principle Dilemma — a card game created by Joe Tarnowski that’s currently raising funding on Kickstarter — is definitely meant to help players learn more about those around them.
For a game that centers on exploring ethically gray situations and the moral discrepancies between people, Principle Dilemma is a pretty straightforward game. Every round a single player will draw a dilemma card, which describes a hypothetical situation, and then that player will choose which of the available actions they would take in the situation. After they’ve made their choice, the remaining players use their deceit cards to try to make the first player change their action. These deceit cards adjust variables in the dilemma, such as almost ensuring that an actor won’t suffer any negative consequences for their actions or adjust the social norms of any given situation.
If another player’s deceit card can make the starting player change their answer to the dilemma, they get a point. If the starting player once again chooses their original action under these new circumstances, the starting player gets a point. This goes on for as many rounds as the players like, and then whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.
As you’ve probably realized from reading this description, it’d be really easy to bullshit your way to victory in this game. But the goal of Principle Dilemma isn’t to win, it’s to better understand the people you’re playing with.
Whether you’ve known someone for years or are playing the game as an ice breaker, Principle Dilemma is a great way to learn more about people. The entire game is centered on figuring out the other players’ sense of morality and determining what kind of changes to a situation will alter their actions. Principle Dilemma is a fantastic game to play if you want to become fast friends with people or if you’d like really explore your oldest companions’ sense of right and wrong.
It’s also worth noting that Principle Dilemma is a stylish delight. The box containing the cards was etched with artwork inspired by Greek mythology and philosophy. The cards themselves continue this theme and it’s clear that a great deal of consideration went into creating the aesthetic of this game.
If you’re more of a competitive person and play tabletop games to outwit and defeat the other players, this card game probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for a fun and original icebreaker, Principle Dilemma is perfect for you. Whether you’re playing with people for the first time or the hundredth time, Principle Dilemma is a great way to learn more about the other players or test how well you think you know them.
*Disclaimer: An early copy of Principle Dilemma was provided without charge for the purpose of writing this review*