Starting at the end of 2015 Blue Orange Games began a line of board games known as the Dr. Collection. Starting with Dr. Eureka, the series has since expanded to three games: Dr. Eureka, Dr. Microbe, and Dr. Beaker. Having reviewed and enjoyed the other two games in the series, I was interested in taking a look at Dr. Microbe. While the other two games in the series focused on rearranging balls in test tubes and beakers, Dr. Microbe changes up the formula quite a bit by having players grab and arrange microbes into petri dishes. Dr. Microbe is another fun family board game in the Dr. Collection but it doesn’t quite live up to the other two games in the series.
How to Play Dr. Microbe
- Place the large petri dish filled with the microbes in the middle of the table.
- If you aren’t playing one of the variant rules that utilize the purple virus, remove it from the petri dish.
- Shuffle the cards and place them face down on the table next to the petri dish.
- Each player takes a petri dish and one pair of tweezers.
Playing the Game
Each round begins with the top research card being flipped over. All of the players play at the same time. Players grab microbes from the petri dish in the middle of the table with their tweezers and add them to the different compartments of their dish.
Players must match the correct bugs to the right compartments based on the flipped over card. The players must also fill in the empty compartments following a couple rules:
- The large section of the petri dish holds the superbug. The superbug has to be a different shape and color than all the other microbes placed in the tray.
- The smaller sections must hold microbes that are a different shape than all of the other microbes in a player’s tray. Each microbe also cannot be the same color as the superbug.
When a player thinks they have completed their tray they yell out “Eureka”. All of the players must stop and the players verify if the player is correct. If the player is correct they get to take the card and another round begins. If the player is incorrect the round continues until someone is correct.
A couple additional rules must be followed in the game:
- If a player drops a microbe on the table they must pick it up before they take any other actions.
- A player cannot steal microbes from another player’s dish.
- You cannot add microbes to another player’s dish unless you are using the sabotage variant rule.
End of Game
The first player to collect five cards wins the game.
The first variant rule utilizes the purple virus. The purple virus is placed in the large petri dish to start the game. Throughout the game players can pass the purple virus to the tray of the player on their left. Players can keep passing the virus during a round. When a round ends, the player with the purple virus in their dish has to give one of the cards they collected to the player who won the round. A player that has the purple virus in their dish cannot collect the card for the current round until they get rid of the purple virus.
The other variant rule allows players to sabotage the other players. With this variant rule players are able to add microbes to their opponent’s dishes. The only way players can get rid of unwanted microbes from their dish is to place them back into the large petri dish in the middle of the table.
My Thoughts on Dr. Microbe
Just like with the other games in the Dr. Collection, Dr. Microbe is a family board game built around scientific equipment. As I pointed out in the other reviews, I love the concept behind the Dr. Collection. The games might not teach any real science concepts but it teaches reasoning skills and might work in getting children interested in science. I really commend Blue Orange Games for using a science theme in a game whose first goal is just to be fun.
Having played all three games in the Dr. Collection I would have to say that Dr. Microbe is probably the most unique of the three games. Other than the theme the games share the concept of looking at a goal card and trying to replicate it using your own equipment. Otherwise Dr. Microbe plays quite a bit differently than Dr. Eureka and Dr. Beaker. Instead of figuring out how to move the balls around, Dr. Microbe focuses on figuring out which microbes have to be placed into the empty spaces of the petri dish. Once players have figured out what microbes they need, they have to use their tweezers to pick up the corresponding microbes and place them in the corresponding spaces in their petri dish. While the gameplay shares some similarities with the other games, Dr. Microbe does play quite a bit differently than the other games in the franchise.
Compared to Dr. Eureka and Dr. Beaker I would say that Dr. Microbe is probably the simplest of the three games. Dr. Microbe forces players to put some thought into figuring out what missing microbes they have to add to their petri dish. While it is pretty easy to figure out what microbes can be put into the smaller compartments, you need to put some thought into figuring out the superbugs. I think the game will give children enough challenge while avoiding frustration. As far as adults are concerned though I think the game is less challenging than the other two games since once you are familiar with the game it is not that hard to figure out which microbes to put in the empty spaces.
While Dr. Microbe might play quite a bit differently than the other games in the series, it still keeps the most important factor, fun. The game may not be for everyone but if you like these type of games I would be surprised if you didn’t enjoy Dr. Microbe as well. Dr. Microbe is the type of game that the whole family can enjoy. While serious strategy gamers probably won’t like the game, I see parents enjoying the game with their children. Adults that like these type of games can probably still enjoy the game even if they don’t play it with their children.
I would probably say that the biggest problem that I had with Dr. Microbe is the fact that the game can get a little too hectic at times. While it takes some thought to figure out what bugs you need to place in your dish, the biggest challenge in the game is just getting the microbes you need from the dish in the middle of the table. The problem is that the dish is pretty small so if you have four players going for microbes at the same time their hands will regularly get in each other’s way. Most of the time you will have to fight one or more players over the microbe you both need. Player’s hands and arms can also get in the way of the current card which will block some people from seeing it. I wouldn’t mind the chaos if it happened occasionally but it seems to be constant.
I am not sure what the best option would have been to reduce some of the chaos in the middle of the table. Using a larger petri dish might have helped some as there would be some distance between the microbes which might cut down on the congestion. Another option might be to give each player a holding dish that would hold one of each type of microbe. If you would use this variant players would no longer have to fight over the microbes. The game would be focused entirely on players figuring out which microbes to place and placing them as quickly as possible. This would reduce some of the competitiveness though which might adversely affect the game.
Speaking of variants I want to quickly discuss the two variants included with the game. Before trying out the two variant rules I was intrigued because I thought they were going to change up the gameplay quite a bit. After trying out the variants I can see what they were trying to do but I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of either rule.
Let’s start with the purple virus variant. I liked the idea of adding another mechanic to the game since it forces players to focus on another thing in the game. Instead of just focusing on filling your petri dish you need to pass the purple virus to the next player if it gets placed into your petri dish. I actually really like the idea that you can’t end the round if the purple virus is in your tray. The problem that I have with the variant is the fact that the player stuck with the purple virus has to give one of their cards to the player who wins the round. This is too big of punishment in my opinion. Losing a card is a big punishment and a player getting two cards in one round almost puts them halfway to winning the game. If I were to ever use the purple virus again I would probably just use the rule where the player who has the purple virus in their dish can’t claim the card until they get rid of it.
The other variant rule is basically what I like to refer to as the free-for-all variant. Basically this rule lets players mess with the other players by throwing microbes into their dishes in order to distract them. At first I thought this would be a fun way to mess with the other players but it breaks down pretty quickly. The problem comes from the fact that there are no rules on how many or how often a player can add microbes to the other player’s dishes. If a player really wanted to they could just throw a bunch of microbes into the other players’ dishes and while they are distracted getting rid of all of the microbes, finish their own dish. When players abuse this ability, the game is no longer fun. Now if you would create some house rules regarding the number and/or frequency of adding bugs to the other players trays, I think this variant could be pretty fun.
As far as the components are concerned they are fine for an affordable children’s game. The bugs are rubbery and durable where I don’t see them being damaged from excessive play. The game also comes with plenty of goal cards. You will repeat cards but there is no way you will ever be able to remember any individual cards. The trays and tweezers are only made of plastic but they feel durable enough that they should last. The components aren’t fantastic but they serve their purpose and are perfectly fine for the game’s retail price.
Before wrapping up I might as well give my thoughts on how Dr. Microbe rates with regards to the rest of the Dr. Collection. In my opinion Dr. Microbe is probably the worst game in the collection. It is still enjoyable but I found the mechanics in Dr. Eureka and Dr. Beaker to be more enjoyable. The reason I preferred the other games is because I liked figuring out how to move the balls around in order to match the cards. In Dr. Microbe it is more about figuring out what microbes you need and moving them to the corresponding spots in your dish with your tweezers. When you add in the chaos of having to sometimes fight over microbes, I just don’t think Dr. Microbe was quite as enjoyable as the other two games.
Should You Buy Dr. Microbe?
Like the rest of the Dr. Collection series of games, Dr. Microbe is a fun family game with a science twist. The game is quick and easy to play. While the game isn’t super challenging for adults, the game provides enough challenge to children without being overwhelming. Dr. Microbe can get a little chaotic at times but the game can be enjoyed by both children and adults. I will admit though that I enjoyed Dr. Eureka and Dr. Beaker more than I enjoyed Dr. Microbe. I still had quite a bit of fun with the game though.
If you didn’t really care for the other games in the Dr. Collection or don’t find Dr. Microbe’s concept to be that interesting, it probably wont be the game for you. If the concept intrigues you though or you liked the other games from the Dr. Collection I think you will also enjoy Dr. Microbe.
We would like to thank Blue Orange Games for the review copy of Dr. Microbe used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.