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VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game!

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VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game!
By far one of the best games I got a chance to play at Origins was VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, which is currently live on Kickstarter. Not only did I play it more than any other game at the con, but I also got to sit down with it’s designer TC Petty III. In the photo below you can see Dice Hate Me Publisher Chris Kirkman (on the left) showing Petty (on the right) the newest prototype at the Origins Game Fair.

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“Chris ‘highly encouraged’ me to begin working on a card game version after World BoardGaming Championships last year,” Petty said. “Which was pretty cool, considering that the game had not been released at the time. I had already laid the foundation for the card game, so I began working on expanding the idea. The dice game was a happy accident; one of those eureka moments.”

I got to try out both the old prototype and the new prototype dice at Origins and let me tell you that the new ones are simply gorgeous, which you can see for yourself in all the photos I took. What you don’t realize is that the pics I shot were all done in horrible low lighting and without my normal equipment. So for them to look as good as they do says a lot about the dice. They are beautiful and I desperately wish I owned a pair so I could do some real product photography.

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The best part of VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, other than the dice and awesome theme, is that it works with 1-4 players, something the original VivaJava can’t do. At the start of your turn, you roll five dice and then have two options. You can either score points by blending the dice and making a brew or you can spend dice to research and earn special abilities. The abilities are interchangeable and the base game comes with 24 different ones which allow for tons and tons of randomized game play. The goal is to be the first player to hit 21 points and there are multiple ways to do that.

When I asked Petty about what changed the most over the development of the game he said it was the interactions and abilities.

“The scope of the game changed considerably over time with early help from Jason Tagmire and Josh Tempkin,” Petty said. “Originally, the game had one coaster with 5 abilities. With encouragement, the game expanded to 20 abilities that could be interchangeably added or subtracted without altering the base system. This was a major change that really made VivaJava Dice stand out as different experience from the original game.”

The main color beans that can be rolled are white, yellow, brown, red, and green. However, there is a sixth black bean in the game and if you research it you earn a special Flavor Die. The Flavor die can be used to invest into another person’s blend or it can be used as an extra dice to roll on your next turn.

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“After Unpub 3, I was discouraged because the game felt considerably less interactive than VivaJava. Darrell Louder offered multiple suggestions that made it into the final game, slightly twisting the game and creating the Flavor “Investment” mechanic which mimics the teamwork aspect of VivaJava,” Petty said. “I think people will be surprised at the level of positive interaction, while still keeping the Euro/Classic, personal engine systems that I love.”

Amongst the many games of VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game that I played at Origins I also got to take a stab at the solo version of the game. Petty created multiple A.I. characters, each with a different personality, and when playing single player you face off against them. It is brutal, hard, and epic all at the same time! They A.I.’s basically cheat so when you do beat them you actually feel like you’ve accomplished something.

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In many ways, VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game reminded me of other dice games like Roll Through the Ages, Elder Sign, or King of Tokyo. Yet there is something special and more to it because it’s not just about set collection. You could play a game and only focus on making blends, but if you do it’s going to be super hard since you won’t have any special abilities that will allow you to manipulate the dice. Thus the game becomes big on balancing and trying to not only maximize your own way of scoring but doing what you can to stay even with your opponents’ abilities.

“VivaJava Dice was a difficult game to work on,” Petty said. “Because, to me, it had to justify it’s existence. I was nearly ‘freelancing’ to create it, so I spent many nights wanting to throw the game out the window because it wasn’t good enough. Who cares if there was a handshake and a wink, I don’t ever want to put out some crappy game. But, I’m really glad I didn’t put my head in the sand, because I think there is something really special here.”

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VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game is on Kickstarter. You can grab it for a mere $30 and take it from someone who has already spent hours playing the game, this is a must buy for any gamer. It’s as light or as heavy as a game as you want it to be and can be played in both a serious and casual environment. It’s easy to transport and flat out fun.

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