Review: Dr. Beaker


Two years ago Dr. Eureka was a surprise hit with my gaming group. We were like mad scientists trying to mix the correct molecules into test tubes. It was a straightforward and fun real-time puzzle featuring top-notch components.

Its sequel, Dr. Beaker, once again is impeccably produced: the beakers and stirrers look like they’re straight from a laboratory. Would Dr. Beaker be a game-changing sequel like The Godfather II? Or would it be a huge dud like The Sting II? And will I ever be able to reference a movie from this century?

How To Play

Each player receives a beaker full of marbles and a stirrer. A card is turned over and everybody simultaneously tries to move the marbles in the beaker to match the pattern depicted on the card. Like Dr. Eureka, the object of Dr. Beaker is to be the first player to match your components to the current card.  

Use the stirrer to move marbles to the correct spaces.

Players are only allowed to move marbles via the central area and by using the stirrer. You can’t push marbles over each other or shake the beaker to pop marbles up and down. Instead, you must push and drag marbles in and out of the center while rotating the beaker dish to place the marbles in the correct spaces.

The first player to match the card takes it. In a four-player game, the first player to collect three cards wins. Lower player counts require fewer cards to win.

Good Doctor or A Quack?

My expectations were high for Dr. Beaker. At first glance it looked fun, treading the familiar Dr. Eureka ground with a new set of cooler-looking components. However, the game fails to match the original’s excitement primarily due to the fickleness of these components.

The problem? It’s not easy to move the marbles. I expected the rotating dish to rotate smoothly. It didn’t. I expected the marbles to move in and out of the middle section with ease. They didn’t.

Dr. Beaker’s fiddly beaker, stirrer, and marbles.

My wife likened Dr. Beaker to one of those old-school number-sliding puzzles, where half the challenge was trying to move the darn numbers. The puzzle may have been engaging, but the components ruined the experience.

Likewise, you’ll spend more time trying to handle the stirrer and beaker than actually figuring out the puzzle. What’s the best way to hold the stirrer and the beaker? Should you look straight down into the beaker while moving marbles? Should you hold the beaker at an angle? Is it easier to use the smaller or bigger end of the stirrer?

It’s an unwelcome change from Dr. Eureka, whose simple components (three test tubes and marbles) were the unobtrusive background to a terrific puzzle. You simply poured marbles from one beaker to another until you matched the card’s goal.

Dr. Eureka’s simpler and easier-to-handle test tubes and marbles.

Even after multiple plays Dr. Beaker’s components weren’t easier to manipulate and they too often became the main attraction, or rather distraction, as the puzzle solving became secondary. Most of the game’s action wasn’t about matching the goal on the card; rather, it was about overcoming the components.

It’s a shame because the puzzles were neat little brain twisters; they challenge you to find the fastest and most efficient way to move the marbles into their final positions. Instead of a feeling of accomplishment whenever I won a round, though, it was more a feeling of relief that the components hadn’t stopped me from playing the game.  

Dr. Beaker also has accessibility issues. The game requires a certain amount of dexterity, and for anyone with colorblind issues this could be a game to skip over. For some reason Blue Orange changed the colors used in Dr. Beaker, and under certain lighting the red and green marbles look similar. Color blind players may need others to explain each card at the start of a round to determine where all the marbles go.

Color changes between Dr. Beaker and Dr. Eureka. Under certain lighting, the green and red marbles look similar.

While the idea of Dr. Beaker is a good one, its execution is poor. The puzzles are interesting, but they’re done in by a questionable choice of components. Given the choice, I’d never choose to play Dr. Beaker over Dr. Eureka. As a sequel it’s like Jaws 2: an intriguing idea on paper, but the end product is nowhere near as good as the original.

iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Blue Orange Games for providing a copy of Dr. Beaker for review.

  • 5.5
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0
    Your Rating:


Real-time puzzle-solving, just like Dr. Eureka
First-rate production evokes a laboratory atmosphere


Components are difficult to manipulate and overshadow the actual game
Not entirely accessible for those with dexterity issues or colorblindness

5.5 Fair

Discussion2 Comments

  1. I know they also made Dr. Microbe.

    Pessimistic as it may sound, I don’t think either could be considered a worthy ‘sequel’, specially given how interesting the test tube puzzles are even for adults. The fact that it could have a working puzzle mode (specially using some BGG variants for finer granularity) speaks volumes.

    However, I think that Dr. Microbe could be considered a good game if you take it on its own. Simply madcap fun that only follows the broad strokes of Dr. Eureka (all-playing as quickly as possible to meet the obligations of a card).

    For some folk it might even be a better game.

    I’ve not played Dr. Beaker and it’s a real shame about the components.

  2. Pingback: Review Roundup – Tabletop Gaming News

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: