I wanted to add a notation to the top of this review. I had a chance to talk to Blue Orange at GenCon about the defect with the hole in the wall not matching up with the lip of the flask. THIS IS A PRODUCTION ERROR THAT THEY WERE NOT AWARE OF. As I suggested in my review, they were supposed to match up. The gentleman I talked to was very upset about this mistake, so please don’t fault them for this error.
MFG: Blue Orange Games
#of Players: 2 – 4
Age Range: 8+
Overall Construction: DISCLAIMER: There is a misprint in the rule book that Blue Orange is aware of. They sent me a slip of paper letting me know about the issue. If you buy this game from a source other than their website it most likely will not come with the corrected information. The correction is that there are 6 balls for each player instead of the 8 that the rules say are there.
Let’s start off by saying that the Main component of the game is not actually a Beaker, it is an Erlenmeyer flask. There are 4 of them and they are made of plastic. They have a little wheel like device in the bottom of the flask. It is divided into 6 sections (1 for each of the balls) and divots to put your stir stick into. There are 4 stir sticks (1 for each player) and 6 balls (2 of each color) for each player. There is a groove cut out of the center of the flask that allows you to move your balls from the outside ring into the center of the flask. You can tell where the cut out is by the fact that it is not colored orange like the rest of the inner circle. 2 impressions are in the center for positioning balls.
There is a stack of cards with different configurations on the opposite side. These are what you will be trying to match. The rulebook is standard accordion style and the size of the cards and aside from the misprint is very informative.
Gameplay: Game play is pretty simple. Each player gets a flask, stir stick, and 6 balls (2 of each color). The balls and stir stick are inserted into the flask. The cards are shuffled and when everyone is ready, you flip the top card. Players try to be the first one to match the pattern and positioning on the card. From there decide if you want to play for score, play until you feel like quitting, or do a combination of both. There is a chart in the rulebook that lets you know how to score. When we play until we’re finished, but want to score, we just use the old fashioned method of giving the card to the person who completed it first.
Yes/No Recommend: I will say that I appreciate that Blue Orange sent the corrected information with the game. It proves to me that they care about their games and their customers.
Blue Orange has released a series of “Dr.” games. Although, all of the games in the series have pattern matching as their main goal, each game has its own unique way of getting to that goal. They are all fun, but I find this to be the most challenging and advanced of the games in this series. The thing that makes this game so challenging is making sure the pattern matches exactly. I say this because it’s the one thing that I have been seeing with all of the players. They focus on matching the color pattern, but overlook the positioning of the break in the center wall. It’s so fun to watch someone yell “Eureka” or knock on the table or whatever method you choose to use to signify that you have a match, only to have them get disappointed when there isn’t a match, and then everyone starts scrambling to try to be the real winner.
Something I love about this game is that it doesn’t take up a lot of space on a table and can be taken anywhere to be played. It is a little more interesting playing it in a library and trying to remain quiet. My daughter felt that it reminded her of a tv show she watches.
Another thing I love about this game is that it teaches pattern matching and manual dexterity. Trying to maneuver the balls from chamber to chamber is really more difficult than one might think, especially when you add in the race to complete the pattern match first and making sure you have the specific match. Although, you could use this with smaller kids to teach the same skills without using the race aspect of the game. Challenge them to match the patterns. If they get it correct they keep the card. If they get it wrong you keep the card. Try this until they can match all of them.
The Downside: I think this game would be better off if it used an actual beaker instead of a flask. Not just because the name would make more sense, but because it would make it easier to view the inside of the container, it would help everybody be able to make sure the patterns are correct easier, and the image on the card would match better too. There is a lip on the outside of the flask that the stir stick rests against. This lip can be a problem because people mistakenly think it lines up with the space in the center wall, which it does not. In fact, none of the 4 flasks in my set have the wall in the same place.
Where to Get It: This game is available at some big box stores, local game/hobby shops, internet retailers, and from Blue Orange themselves. For more information on this game please visit their website at http://www.blueorangegames.com/index.php/games/dr-beaker