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VivaJava: The Coffee Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: I love coffee rss

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Robert Singer
United States
Pennsylvania
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I have had the pleasure of play testing VivaJava. It is truly a game that scales wonderfully from 3 players to 8 players without the need of buy any future expansions (somewhat unique in this day and age). The game’s main action takes place simultaneously so there is little down time.

VivaJava is both cooperative and competitive and feels like a unique gaming experience.

Play:
Starting with the player who is farthest back on the score track. Players place their piece on a location on a map of the world, collect the colored coffee bean on that location and take the positive or negative bonus on the spot plus any bonus from their research tracks. They place their bean/beans in their roaster (coffee bag).

After everyone has picked their spot in the world and taken their beans, players now break into teams based on the section of the world they are in (here is the cooperative part). Teams now must decide whether they will blend a coffee brand or research. This happens simultaneously and creates a lot of table talk between team members as they tell people what beans they have in their bag and make their case for blending or researching. Team members take their two-sided (research/brew) disk in their hand and at the same time reveal either research or blend. Majority rules and ties yield a research result.

To research, each player expends three research points on their research tracks. These very cleaver tracks allow you to change how many beans you get at locations in the world, how you draw beans out of your bag when you blend and allow you to get special action cards. The research tracks also yield victory points at the end of the game.

To blend, players on a team must each contribute at least one bean from their bag and five beans must be contributed in total between all members of the team. Beans are pulled blind from their bags and once a player stops pulling beans they can no longer contribute. These five, colored beans are place on the coffee card create a kind of poker hand (five of a kind is more valuable than 2 pairs of beans and the bean colors vary their value in event of a tie). The card of beans with a marker for each team member is put in order of value next to the brand-scoring chart. The most valuable brand will score the most points, any existing less valuable brands will slide down the scoring chart and be worth less points. Coffee brands will continue to score points untill they drop off the scoring chart (best seller list). Each team member on a blending team may now improve one of their research lines by one point.

Points are now scored for each coffee brand on the coffee brand-scoring chart, awarding points to each player on a brand. Then each coffee brand looses its least valuable bean (coffee brands degrade over time and may also fall off the score track) and the turn starts over.

With fewer players there are intern cards that players can use to help them research and blend. Each intern provides some help but also comes with some negative attributes. I played a four-person game with the interns and loved the dynamic the interns provided.
All is all VivaJava is a very interactive game with multiple roads to victory. You must make good research choices to help you make the better coffee blends and you have to know who to team up with and when. You can take advantage of players with better beans by blending with them. This is a very fun game!

Whether you are a coffee drinker or not, VivaJava is just the jolt of caffeine you need.
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Brandon M
United States
Ohio
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“Games give you a chance to excel, and if you're playing in good company you don't even mind if you lose because you had the enjoyment of the company during the course of the game.” ― Gary Gygax
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On the subject of gameplay, I have a few questions:

Do the teams change round to round?
How does the game end?
What is the approximate game length?
How does the theme fit with the mechanics?
You mention the intern cards are used for fewer players. What would you say is the ideal player number?

Thanks!
______________

I am definitely interested in seeing the Kickstarter campaign for this one. It sounds like an interesting game.

I would be interested in the coffee can tin box that was hinted at as a possible kickstarter reward/pledge level.

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Robert Singer
United States
Pennsylvania
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Do the teams change round to round?
The teams each round are determined by where on the world players place their pieces.
There are three sections of the world each with three spots. Some of these spots have positive effects and some have negative effects. Depending on where you are in the turn order (on the scoring track), you place you piece on a non-occupied spot in a section of the world of your choice. Players further behind in scoring will have more options. Players further ahead may have less spots to choose from but a better idea of who is in sections of the world and whom they may want to team with. Taking a spot with negative effects may be worthwhile if it allows you to team with people who can create a valuable coffee blend.

Game End?
The game ends when all the coffee cards have been used (blended) or when one player gets to (I believe) twenty-one points. At that point the round is finished and final scoring for research cards is done.

Theme?
I feel the theme and the game go well together. If you have ever shopped for coffee, certain coffees are more expensive than other depending on the beans that are used. The game mimics this well. The research cards allow you to get extra beans and or be more selective on the beans you get and pull from you coffee roaster (just like a coffee manufacturer would do).

Time?
This is a game that should take 60-90 minutes. It fits perfectly in the time allotted for our Tuesday game night at my church.

Numbers:
I have played this game with four people and the intern cards (a version I greatly enjoyed).
I have played this game with eight people without the intern cards (highly interactive and great fun).
This is a game that is great fun from three to eight players. A game that is very interactive with very little analysis paralysis, easy to learn, yet with multiple roads to victory. It flows so well that you will not ever need to glance at your watch but will finish wondering where the time went.
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Brandon M
United States
Ohio
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“Games give you a chance to excel, and if you're playing in good company you don't even mind if you lose because you had the enjoyment of the company during the course of the game.” ― Gary Gygax
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Great to hear and I am digging the answers.

Thanks for the quick response!
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A. B. West
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Beech Grove
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Nice review of this anticipated game. Sounds like great fun with some original mechanics. Well done!
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TC Petty III
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Carlisle
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Wow, Rob, thanks a lot for this, and especially answering questions. You've been an integral part of the entire process, and the Interns would not exist without you and E.B.'s kindness to slog through a late-nite play-test. A million thanks! You are the best!

I'll have to post a picture of your garage. I'm sure your board game collection would make some weaker men on this site weep.
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Zawadi Svela
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How are the possibilities of some people "ganging up" on someone else in this game?

Like, if the only possibilty to create a coffee brand is through cooperation, is it possible that people can always choose "research" when being teamed up with one particular person?

How does the game play with these kinds of people?
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K S
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Roseville
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Hvazadi wrote:
How are the possibilities of some people "ganging up" on someone else in this game?

Like, if the only possibilty to create a coffee brand is through cooperation, is it possible that people can always choose "research" when being teamed up with one particular person?

How does the game play with these kinds of people?


Good question sir, I +1 this. I have a guy in one of my groups who takes the "Well I'm done this game lets see if I can back stab everyone to bring us all down to my level and maybe I can squeek this one out" mentality so games can get real interesting and backstabby (he freekin loves games like Survive...).
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Dice Hate Me
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joker9991 wrote:
Hvazadi wrote:
How are the possibilities of some people "ganging up" on someone else in this game?

Like, if the only possibilty to create a coffee brand is through cooperation, is it possible that people can always choose "research" when being teamed up with one particular person?

How does the game play with these kinds of people?


Good question sir, I +1 this. I have a guy in one of my groups who takes the "Well I'm done this game lets see if I can back stab everyone to bring us all down to my level and maybe I can squeek this one out" mentality so games can get real interesting and backstabby (he freekin loves games like Survive...).


As with any game that incorporates a lot of social interaction, the gameplay and atmosphere in VivaJava is dependent on the group that plays it. If you gather a group of fairly friendly, relaxed, open gamers, then you'll have a lot of cooperation and positive strategy. Gather a group of power gamers together and you'll probably see some underhanded tactics. However, VivaJava is a forced cooperation game, not a forced mess-with-your-neighbor game. Although there may be times when it's in a player's best interest to sabotage a plan or two, the winning strategy in VivaJava skews much more toward making the best of any situation with your partner(s). This often requires teamwork and steady strategy.

Anyone who only seeks out and chooses Research through the game will find it very difficult to win.
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TC Petty III
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VivaJava: The Coffee Game » Forums » Reviews
Re: I love coffee
ckirkman wrote:
joker9991 wrote:
Hvazadi wrote:
How are the possibilities of some people "ganging up" on someone else in this game?

Like, if the only possibilty to create a coffee brand is through cooperation, is it possible that people can always choose "research" when being teamed up with one particular person?

How does the game play with these kinds of people?


Good question sir, I +1 this. I have a guy in one of my groups who takes the "Well I'm done this game lets see if I can back stab everyone to bring us all down to my level and maybe I can squeek this one out" mentality so games can get real interesting and backstabby (he freekin loves games like Survive...).


As with any game that incorporates a lot of social interaction, the gameplay and atmosphere in VivaJava is dependent on the group that plays it. If you gather a group of fairly friendly, relaxed, open gamers, then you'll have a lot of cooperation and positive strategy. Gather a group of power gamers together and you'll probably see some underhanded tactics. However, VivaJava is a forced cooperation game, not a forced mess-with-your-neighbor game. Although there may be times when it's in a player's best interest to sabotage a plan or two, the winning strategy in VivaJava skews much more toward making the best of any situation with your partner(s). This often requires teamwork and steady strategy.

Anyone who only seeks out and chooses Research through the game will find it very difficult to win.

Just wanted to add a note or two, since the main questions I receive are related to how much "screw over" the game creates.

In most all cases, a player has made a direct decision that round to join a team or visit a certain region. And since turn order is determined by player's point totals, and Research is the only way to affect this, a player that gets "forced" to research can, next turn, secure a country on the world map that is surrounded by negative abilities. Any other "ganging up" players would then have to take a big hit in points or strategy to do it again.

Plus, the Invest Research track allows you to invest in other player's Blends and receive points without actually Blending yourself. So, you can have a Blend even when Researching.

Suffice to say, there are game mechanics, not just social elements, that combat this type of play. Just be careful not to hinge a BIG move on someone who you know is just waiting to turn on you. Because, while not encouraged at all by the game, a mean-spirited player can get you once if you let them. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, you've probably read the rules wrong for VivaJava.
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