Review: Docker – crane operators duel

Docker - packaging

In the port still, you can hear the quiet hum of many voices all the time. In this case, the silent „hummmm“ is not a siren from the ship. Whoever comes gets puzzled, where is this mysterious sound coming from.

To discover its source, you must bend your head backwards and look straight up. There, together with chasing seagulls, are crane arms, which transport containers from cargo ships and load them back. It is from this particular movement, where symphony of polyphonic sounds is coming from. Their moves have a perfect order and each arm is a well-coordinated, dancing with each other in rhythm and with sky and clouds in the background.

Role of crane operator sitting high over the world in a cabin may be a dream come true for someone, even if only for a day. And for the others, who are terrified of height, this could be a real nightmare. Everyone sees it differently. But if you get a chance to try rearranging load for yourself and beyond from safety of your home, probably both camps would nod to this offer.

Docker - game in progress

You are invited in the world of shipping preparation by puzzle game , which is our second reviewed game in a number of small boxes line from . The first was a larcenous The Blue Lion (review), but this time, we move from the environment of shiny objects into fishy-smelling open spaces of unnamed port probably somewhere in France. From there comes said company Jactalea and also illustrator . Authors of the game, however, are from Germany – Reinhold Wittig, Hilko Drude and Ingo Althöfer.

On the lid of the box, you will find a small cargo ship loaded with containers to the brim. But we are not interested in what is inside, although you may be curious about it. But it is not part of our work. We have to stack cargo from the ship out and when doing that, also compete with other crane operators, who try to grab some containers for themselves. Our profession is paid according to the number of boxes shipped, so you better hurry up and don’t stand there doing nothing!

Inside the box, you will find thin rules in three languages at the very top – English, German and French. Beneath them lies small-sided game board with illustrated compartments for stowing containers. The surface is divided into nine squares positions with containers pictures. You also get similar metal monsters, which are hidden under this plate. And no, they are not made of metal anymore.

Docker - game in progress

Containers in this case, are represented by twelve colored bricks. In groups of three are present colors yellow, green, red and beige. And with them, on the bottom of the box, lies also one white six-sided dice, that will be assisting you with your playing and rearranging business.

Thus, we have a complete listing of all available components. Players choose one of the colors of cubes and take all of this shade for themselves. Between rivals, there must be place to put a tiny game board. The starting player takes dice and starts rolling.

At the beginning of your turn, each player rolls the die. Number of dots determines amount of motion, that can be done with your containers (cubes) around the board. At the beginning of the match, you have to deploy your first cube into the game on one of the four positions with an arrow. Entry to the game board counts as the first step.

Docker - game in progress

Player can move freely in a zigzag way with one cube across the board. However, there are some important rules and restrictions. Most important for the whole tactic is the fact, that no square may be entered twice during one movement.. This means, that you can not return, and any place you come to, should have an escape route.

But then you learn, that you can also move over the ground using crane arm – you can climb up. At this moment, however, not only one step in horizontal direction counts as a step, but also each floor, you move up or down. And although it is not clearly specified by the rules, you simply can not stop moving anywhere in the air. Instead, you must always end movement on firm ground or on other container. It does not matter, whether its yours or not.

Movement can not be divided among more of your cubes. As long as you still have some cube of your trio of containers outside game board, you can choose to place it on (also on one of four spots with an arrow) with your movement and roll it according to dice number. You will do this perhaps, because no movement is possible for you with your currently active cubes or you would give a tactical advantage to rival otherwise).

Docker - board

The biggest twist is concealed in the fact, that if someone’s cube is covered by other container, it can not move. Only the top one can jump of, but it has to have sufficient movement points to climb down on firm ground. And it’s pretty tricky, because you can easily capture opponents container, if he gets distracted or he is plainly unaware. But you need to have some luck with dice too.

Player, who can not move any of his containers and has already all his cubes in play is immediately removed from the game. The winner is the one, who keeps moving with his containers the longest. He becomes the best crane operator in the port.

Docker is an elegant puzzle and logic game for multiple players. It offers a breathtaking tactical battle. But this is not just driven by capabilities of all opponents, but also by luck. That is represented in the game with presence of a naughty white dice. If she wants, she can simply wave you goodbye. In this game, it is just important to keep more options open.

Docker - game in progress

That is, why it is crucial to not put more blocks in a game, until you really have to. At the beginning, you are chasing others, while trying to capture opponent containers. In less players, such herd continues in one form or another until end of the game. But when the surface is filled with all four colors, a proper crush occurs.

Game in any number of players has something to it. But in two, the outcome depends less on results of dice, while more on ability to manage positional tactics and outmaneuver your opponent until the final defeat.

Perhaps the only significant negative, except genuine simplicity of the game, is hidden in the rhythm of player moves. Counting vertical steps may take time with some players, and if you play against very thoughtful opponent, you can wait longer, until he calculates all available options. And there can be quite a lot of them. So turns can then, despite the seeming simplicity, stretch uncomfortably.

Docker - game in progress

Processing is very simple. The board is reversible, but in fact exactly the same on both sides. This helps you in preparation of the game. Wooden cubes are common. The visual impression is therefore not astonishing, but game is primarily focused on the gaming experience.

Docker is good and surprisingly tactical game. Yet you must always be ready to grapple with adversity and dice. Each number can decide. But mostly it depends mainly on your planning and ability to find your way even in the most hopeless situations.

DesignerIngo Althöfer, Hilko Drude, Reinhold Wittig
ArtistCyril Bouquet, Nadiia Nemchenko, Reinhold Wittig
Publisher(Self-Published), 1-2-3-Games Éditions, Blue Orange (EU), Edition Perlhuhn (Göttinger Spiele), Feelindigo, Giseh Verlag, Jactalea
Year Published2008
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 2, 3 players
(3 voters)
Playing Time5
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(1 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(3 voters)
CategoryAbstract Strategy, Dice
MechanicDice Rolling, Roll / Spin and Move
FamilyComponents: 3-Dimensional (3D)
Primary NameDocker
Alternate NamesOmba, Докер

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Docker – crane operators duel
Final word
Docker is a logical game, where you will be shifting cubes from place to place. These cubes are in reality containers, which you are moving from a cargo ship to a freighter. There is a lot of logic in this game and a great emphasis on imagination. You move your cubes each round not only in 2D, but also in heights on top of other containers, climbing to heights. But you always have to end your movement on solid surface. And that’s not easy, because number of steps is decided with a dice roll. Players can capture each other containers and block them. And that’s area, where Docker makes excellent experiences, above all in higher player numbers. In case you do not mind luck given by presence of the dice, then you will most certainly enjoy this game. Docker match lasts only a few minutes. But these are tough and full of thinking..
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
logic quickie
simple pocket game
tense game with spatial imagination
you must adapt on randomly falling numbers
option to use dice step by step
blocking of movement
Cons
counting might delay moves in later phases of game
dice leads your movement
two players are playing touchlast
3
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