Vivajava: The Coffee Game
A Blend That’s Great, Even with Eight
Vivajava is my hidden gem story. I ordered the game without really knowing how it worked. I just liked that it was about producing coffee. But low and behold, what I ended up with was a fantastic game that quickly became a hit among my group of friends.
Vivajava is a rare breed. It’s a eurostyle production game which works for up to eight people and involves tons of interactivity among players. In short, its awesome. It fills an interesting Niche, as most games involving that many players tend to be party games or secret role games like The Resistance or Werewolf. Having the option for an actual strategy game with that many people is great.
The goal of the game is to make the best-selling coffee blends and earn points based on how long they stay in the market. Coffee blends are made using a basic poker system, but with coloured beans pulled randomly from roaster bags instead of playing cards. This is a brilliant idea as it’s something most people can relate to an latch on to. The best blends get the best places on the market.
Vivajava also has a number of other great mechanics including a research track which gives you special abilities. It also has the added strategy of trying to maintain an efficient roaster filled with any number of coloured beans in order to make the best blends. There’s a lot for gamers to sink their teeth into here.
But where this game really comes out strong is the actual blending process. Why is that? Because in order to blend, you must do so as a team with one or two other players. Therefore, you are making temporary alliances every turn in order to team up and make the best blend possible between you both. This makes the game very interactive and dynamic and gives it its spark.
Like a great cup of coffee, the artwork and components of Vivajava are soothing and comforting. There is a stack of blend slates, each with interesting art. The colour schemes of the main board work very well to create a consistency. And the fact that the game actually comes with little wooden coffee beans is just awesome.
There may be slight confusion between the red and brown beans if the lighting isn’t quite right, but that’s really just a nitpickers problem and not that big a deal. Otherwise, the components are top notch. The roaster bags are good quality, the graphic design works well, everything is great.
I expected this game to be a game I bought because I liked the idea of a coffee-centric game, but one that would just sit on my shelf as an oddity. I underestimated how fun it would actually be. Now I get plenty of requests for “the coffee game”, and it’s easy to see why.
Vivajava promotes interactive gameplay and can accommodate groups as large as eight, which is a rare thing. And it also does all this without sacrificing genuine eurogame economic strategy, which is even rarer. Vivajava is a great game that fills in interesting niche, and one which I highly recommend.