John Hupp
United States
Westerville
Ohio
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I'd like to start out by saying I wasn't a fan of the original VivaJava: The Coffee Game. Although I enjoy euros it was a little too complicated for my family so I never purchased it. We are, however, a fan of dice games (thanks Wizkids!), so when I saw VivaJava condensed down into a dice game on Kickstarter I had to check out. After a self-demo my wife and I played our first game last night, and had a great time!

I should also disclose that I don't drink coffee, but that's neither here nor there.



Overview:
Each turn players roll dice that have different color beans, then try and make "blends" to score points, or use those dice for "research" to acquire special abilities. The first player to 21 wins.



Components
I love custom dice, and VivaJava Dice has some seriously nice ones! These are solid full size dice with molded sides to represent the different coffee beans that you will use to make blends. Each side is a different color bean along with a number, with 6 replaced by a black bean with a circle around it. In addition to the regular white dice you roll, you can acquire black "flavor" dice during research. While sides 1-5 are like the regular bean dice, the 6 is replaced by a rainbow wheel that works as a wild.

In addition to the awesome dice there are several thick cardboard coasters that you use during the game, a small stack of cards for explanations on the research abilities, as well as a set of cardboard chits for the "wild" research coaster. There are also a small handful of wooden disks for tracking certain research abilities, and a tear-off paper pad for tracking research and points. Of all the components I found this the weakest. I would have preferred some kind of player board with a handful of cubes or tokens to track my research and point levels than a disposable paper pad for tracking.

The burlap "travel" sack made me giggle, and is a nice addition to this compact game.


Gameplay
Each turn consists of rolling up to 5 bean dice, in addition to any flavor dice you acquired on the previous turn. You then have a choice: Produce a "Feature" or "Rainbow" blend in a Yahtzee-style format of matching beans or having beans of all different colors, or committing those beans to research to acquire special abilities on the research coasters.

If there are already beans on the feature blend then you must either acquire a better set (either beating a pair with a triple, or beating a pair of 2's with a pair of 3's), otherwise you are forced to use the research option. Becareful though! Use a research too much and you will gain a set amount of points, but lose the option to use that ability anymore.

Each turn was fairly fast paced - roll the dice, decide what to do, mark the research or points gained, then it's the next person's turn. If you scored a feature blend in the previous turn, you'll get more points at the start of your next turn, return one bean to the dice pool, and are then presented with a choice: do you "let it ride" and keep the beans on the feature blend, hoping your opponents don't beat it, or do you take those beans off the feature blend and roll what's left, trying for a "better" blend or research points. Not a deep strategic decision, but it was enough to make the game interesting.

The first couple of turns were slow for the teaching aspect, but after that we were less than a minute per round. Overall our game ended was about 15-20 minutes total.

Additional research coasters will provide different options, as well as "wild" research coaster which lets you choose your own abilities to add using the small cardboard discs. It gives a decent variety to the game so each play can be different.


Not the blend I would choose...

Impressions
VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, in addition to have a long title, was a quick fun game! While the game would suit itself to a multiple-match tournament style, I'd prefer this one as a intro or filler game during a gaming night. It plays quick, is very charming, and the theme is just right to make it interesting. I'd recommend this to fans of the original VivaJava fans, or just about anyone would likes rolling dice!

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TC Petty III
United States
Carlisle
Pennsylvania
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Alyindar wrote:

I should also disclose that I don't drink coffee, but that's neither here nor there.

Thanks for the review! No coffee drinking required (although highly encouraged).

It either scored a natural 20, or an upside-down 14. Either way, thats pretty darn good!
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Michael Mesich
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Horta chortles.
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Dice roll better out of jittery hands.

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Garrett Snedeker
United States
Tomball
Texas
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Good review! I agree it is a perfect filler/starter game with small groups.
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Dan W
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
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I saw your title: "Dice, coffee, ..." and I thought wait... Did I miss out on the Ice Coffee expansion. I think it's the second time this has happened to me.
 
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