Designer: T. C. Petty III
Publisher: Dice Hate Me Games
Date Released: 2014
Number of Players: 1-4
Age Range: 10 and up
Setup Time: about 10 minutes
Play Time: about 30 minutes
Game flow and Review:
This is another game we played while waiting for another game to open up at Nuke-con. But this one’s a lot more involved—certainly, not a game to learn, play and master in ten minutes.
VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game (or simply VivaJava Dice) serves as a nice follow up to the board game of the same name. You play the role of a VivaJava CoffeeCo employee, and you’re tasked with finding the best coffee beans and then creating unique and flavorful coffee blends.
You begin with a pool of six-sided dice (usually your dice pool consists of five dice, but the rules can change the number of dice you roll in a turn). Every die has a number and a color associated with each side, and on your turn you either try to match the color/number of the face of each die for the signature blend, which is worth the most victory points, or roll five different numbers/colors on the dice to make the rainbow blend, which isn’t worth as many victory points as the signature blend but you get to taste the rainbow.
So the game play works a little like Yahtzee, but instead of scoring points immediately for rolling a lot of the same color but not enough for a signature blend, each color represents a special ability (except for black—black has a constant and powerful ability—but we’ll cover this one later) and you can research the ability, making it stronger, by placing research points into the research track for the corresponding color. Once you master an ability, you lose the ability for the rest of the game, but you score a heap of points. First person to 21 points wins.
And VivaJava Dice has a ton of plug-and-play research abilities, at least fifty or so, which makes each game unique and changes the strategy to win each play through. But perhaps the best ability comes with the black coffee bean. Blacks are also sixes, so they make the most powerful signature blends, but you can also trade your black coffee bean rolls for black dice. Black dice function similar to the normal dice pool, but you may be able to roll twice as many dice on your next roll.
We only played one game, and the demo player left a bitter coffee taste in our mouth by marking his research points so light no one could see them. We didn’t know he was about to win the game until we saw his pencil graze the 18 point mark. But still, we can see VivaJava Dice for the dynamic, fun game it is. It blends Yahtzee and other press your luck games with the strategy you get from deck/pool building and grinds up both games with a neat coffee theme. It never felt so good to be a barista.
Verdict: If you like Yahtzee or deck/pool building games, you should give this game a try. You can’t quite place which game it most closely resembles but you wouldn’t want to know what goes into your Frappuccino either. Every game is a fresh brew.