Two nights ago I finally got the chance to play this weirdly titled game, VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, at Dark Side Comics and Games in Sarasota Florida. Before I picked up the game, I had not heard anything about it from friends. I chose the game because the theme of coffee caught my eye, and boy do I love coffee.
This game is produced by Dice Hate Me Games, and I had never played a game by this company before. It took me about two weeks to finally play this game because I needed a friend’s help in figuring out the rulebook. I thought it was me, but apparently it wasn’t, because two other friends read this book and found it extremely difficult to follow.
The insert of the box was really awkward and unnecessary, so I removed it from the box. It was a white folded piece of cardboard that was supposed to be used to separate the game pieces, but it just was in the way, and was also left with grease stains from the burlap bag, so I decided to just toss it.
The game comes with white dice, black dice, tokens for each player, score sheets, and a ton of different coasters that are used in the game, dependent upon if you play with multiple players or just yourself.
How the game works:
On your turn, you will roll five white dice.
Your goal is to roll the best sets of same colors. Each color has a value, and the better valued dice beat the lower values, and more dice of the same color beat fewer amounts of dice with the same color.
For example: Green is a higher valued color than red. If Player A rolls three green ones and Player B rolls three red ones, Player A’s roll will beat Player B’s.
If Player A rolls three green ones but Player B rolls four red ones, Player B’s roll will beat Player A’s roll.
Whoever rolls the best combination of dice will gain one point, and if they can hold the best combination until the beginning of their next turn, they will gain an additional three points.
If the player who had the best combination of dice (also known in the game as the “featured blend”) is able to hold the best featured blend until the beginning of their next turn, they gain the three points, then they must remove a die from their featured blend.
Each time they maintain the best featured blend, they must remove a die. Eventually they will not have the best blend, or they will reduce their blend to one die, at which point they will relinquish the title of the featured blend.
While this is the easiest way to gain points, if a player cannot role a combination of the same colored dice and ends up rolling each die with a different color, they will win the rainbow blend, gain a point, and will gain an additional two points if the hold the only rainbow blend until the beginning of their next turn. Unlike the featured blend, you don’t remove any dice from the rainbow blend each round, but it’s easier to lose the rainbow blend, because there are no rankings of dice rolls for the rainbow blend.
A player can only score points for one type of blend at a time. If a player rolls the dice and can’t satisfy either a rainbow blend of five different colors, or beat the current best featured blend, they may choose to use their dice to gain research points, which allow them to gain extra abilities, dependent upon the color of the dice they rolled.
When a player rolls dice, they may choose which color facing up they would like to research. If two more more dice are the same color, the player may research that color multiple times. When a color has been researched 2, 5, and lastly 8 times, they gain abilities. The abilities gained correspond with the color researched.
When a color has been researched twice, they gain the ability. When it’s been researched five times, they gain the ability twice, and when the color has been researched a final eighth time, they gain points equal to the number listed on the coaster for that researched color.
IE in the above photo of the “lite” coaster, Field Testing, the brown color, gives 3 points when completed. The yellow Improve Bean color gives 4 points.
Note the black color is not listed on the “lite” coaster. This is because if someone chooses to research a black color, instead of gaining an ability, they gain black dice equal to the amount of black beans rolled. These dice in the game are called Flavor dice.
Flavor dice can be used to add to dice rolls to attempt to roll the best featured blend, or they can be used to assist another player’s dice roll. While doing this allows your opponent to gain points, by assisting your opponent, you would also gain a point for every die you assisted with.
The game ends when one player has reached 21 points.
I enjoyed this game once we got into the swing of things. The instruction booklet really made it difficult to figure out the game, but once we got the game rolling (pun intended), I found the game to be really enjoyable.
The dice are very nice quality, and the coasters are also very nice. The score sheets are double-sided paper sheets you write on, so I plan on getting four of them laminated and using dry erase markers, because you will eventually run out of score sheets.
The game also has a single player version to it, where the game plays against you as an evil corporation. I have not played this version yet.
I would give this game a 7/10. I think if I had been taught the game by someone who had played it a few times already I would’ve enjoyed it more, but the difficult instructions made the game difficult to get into at first. It’s also very coffee themed, so if you’re not into the theme that much, you may have a lack of interest in this game.
If you like to roll dice and enjoy a game with a bit of strategy, a bit of chance, you will really enjoy this game. While the dice rolling is all chance, what you do with your dice is where the strategy comes in.
I will be bringing this game with me to International Table Top Day on April 11, 2015, at the Dark Side Comics and Games in Sarasota, Florida if you’re interested in learning to play this game and giving it a go.
Hope to see you there!