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October 6, 2016 / Jett

Dr. Eureka Review

Throw on your lab coat and get ready to science it up with Dr. Eureka. In this two-to-four player dexterity game, players will race against each other to create specific formulas with their three test tubes and three different chemicals. You don’t need your PhD in chemistry to excel, but this deceptively simple tabletop game is entertaining while making you feel like a scientist at work.

Each player will start the game with three test tubes and three pairs of coloured balls. The green, red and purple balls represent three unique chemicals. At the beginning of each round, a player will reveal a challenge card that depicts a specific formula that all players must create. From there, you’ll pour the balls between your different test tubes in an attempt to recreate the combination depicted on the card. The first player to successfully complete the sequence yells, “Eureka!” to signify their progress and if they did it right, they’ll get the point. First player to five points wins the game.

The action of having players pour the balls into different test tubes is brilliant on many levels. One, it makes perfect sense with the theme of the game. Between the act of pouring the balls back and forth between the test tubes and the processing power your brain requires to solve each challenge, you feel like a stereotypical scientist concocting something important.

Two, the action requires some finesse. Just like chemicals in a lab, you need to pour them with precision, as the sizing of the balls relative to the opening makes it something you can’t take for granted. Furthermore, you’re not allowed to use your fingers to nudge a ball from one test tube to the next. There will be no shortage of tense moments where you’re trying to pour with speed, though the balls are either getting stuck at the lips of the test tubes or falling out completely, eliminating you from the round.

It all comes together to create an instantly fun experience. The sensation that comes with trying to problem solve and move on the fly is excellent while matching the theme almost perfectly. My one caveat being that there’s a mechanic in the game that allows players to flip their test tubes upside down and have that formation count as a success. While it serves a valid gameplay purpose in allowing players to create combinations in scenarios that may not be possible otherwise, it is a bit weird that the game disqualifies you if a stray ball falls onto the table, yet flipping your open test tube upside down onto the table is fair game. Minor complaint, but one that sticks out for a game where its thematic integration is otherwise bang-on.

My other minor gripe with the game is that perspective is key. You’re required to arrange certain colours in sequence, but if four players were to sit in pairs facing each other, then odds are half of the players are looking at the card upside down. This is much harder to decipher, giving the players on the other end of the table an advantage. You either need to find a formation where players are all sitting on the same side of the table, or the card is displayed perpendicular to everyone else so that everyone has to do the same level of mental translation .

Dr. Eureka caught me by surprise on multiple fronts. It’s a game that is so simple to teach, yet so entertaining and tricky in execution. The combination of dexterity and puzzle-solving required to be good at this game is a great workout for your mind and body. Even after the initial novelty of pouring out the contents of test tubes wears off, the core gameplay will keeped you hooked over the course of many plays.


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