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Java

English language edition


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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 90 minutes 2-4

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Product Description

Java is a fascinating island with great potential for development. Of special interest is the undeveloped area of central Java with its fertile soil and rich natural resources. These riches are much desired by the rulers of the regions that surround central Java.

Each player is one of the Javanese rulers, who wants to claim and develop the region for himself. Each player wants to bring his culture and control to these undeveloped areas. The players irrigate the land and cultivate new rice fields. They found villages, build palaces to create cities from the villages, and arrange festivals in the palaces. Each player desires to be the dominant force in the development of this new area.

Players earn fame points for building and enlarging palaces, for creating irrigation systems, and for arranging palace festivals. They record these points on the scoring track. The most points are earned in the final scoring. The player with the most fame points after the final scoring is the winner.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Advanced Strategy Game, 2002
Deutscher Spiele Preis
9th place, 2001

Product Information

Contents:

  • 1 game board
  • 56 3-space land tiles
  • 20 2-space land tiles
  • 12 1-space land tiles
  • 8 1-space land tiles
  • 40 palace tiles
  • 16 irrigation tiles
  • 30 palace cards
  • 12 extra action tokens
  • 48 developers in 4 colors
  • 4 scoring markers
  • 4 action summary cards
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Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 3.8 in 21 reviews

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Dry. More of an intellectual challenge than a social game.
June 15, 2004

The middle release of Kramer/Kiesling tile-laying trio of games proves to be quite challenging, but subtly so. Java starts out rather benign with players racking up big points. As the board fills up with tiles it turns into a real brain-burner. By the end of the game players are trying to eek out an extra point or two where they can while trying not to set up opponents for big scores.

Tactics in Java are deep but strategy is shallow. Let me explain. Each player has 6 action points to use each turn, this leads to agonizing tactical decisions on how to score the most points each turn. On the grand scale, or strategic scale, it is hard to set yourself up for a big score in later rounds, as each player after you is free to do as they wish. The best you could normally hope for is to put the player after you into some disadvantage after making a big score yourself.

I haven't yet played a game that lasted only the 90 minutes advertised on the box, add one hour to that. It does little good to plan for your turn while others are playing, as their actions will affect your choices greatly. There is much down-time while others agonize about the best use of their action points. There is no way to avoid down-time other than to play with a get-it-over-and-done-with attitude. If you find yourself playing with that attitude it is a sure sign of a bad game and Java is not a bad game.

For me Java causes a bit of a conundrum to rate. I found Java to be quite dry. There is little fun interaction with other players, but it is challenging and will be a game I suggest playing in the future. Each turn is more of a puzzle to figure out how to maximize points. It isn't multi-player solitaire, but close. I would normally rate a game as dry as this as a 2 or even 1 star, but Java has an appeal that I can't quite put my finger on. It may not stand up well after a dozen plays, but for now it is intriguing.

Java is not a game for casual gamers. It will only be enjoyed by true gamers and not all of them to be sure.

Do your research before buying this one. Java is not for all tastes.

 
 
 
 
 
by Mike B
It really grows on you... Just keep playing, you'll see...
August 03, 2003

You might notice that this review comes much later than the last one. I just had a gaming session where we played a War Game, Java, and a Light Strategy game. It became clear that Java is a truly deep, deep game, and I don't believe that anyone will realize this by just playing once or twice. It is not really fair to dismiss it as too complex for no return. I think the people who do that are/were looking for another Tikal or Mexica (Light, family strategy type games) which this is **absolutely** not. Just because there are so many different scoring strategies does not mean that one of them is not the best, on the contrary, the game becomes more like chess or go because you have so many different choices, but there is, in fact, a best move, and you probably WONT find it. I believe the beauty of this game, if it is EVER really discovered en masse, will become apparent some time later if people start to take it seriously. There is only a slight element of luck, that in the draw of the festival cards, so it is not a purely strategic game, but the luck gains and losses tend to be rare but dramatic. I think this just makes it FUN.

Without a doubt, analysis paralysis can make the game really drag, meaning that you have to be 'in the game' on everyone's move as much as you continue analyzing in chess or go.

Lets just look at the options in a turn:

6 action points

Actions you might take:

1. Enter a developer

2. Move a developer to a different terrain

3. Place a 3 hex tile

4. Place a 2 hex tile

5. Place a 1 hex tile

6. Place a Palace

7. Enlarge an existing palace

8. Place an irrigation tile

9. Draw up to 2 festival cards

You can take any action in any order.

By placing one tile you can break up a villiage or city, add to a villiage, join two villiages, join a villiage to a city, join two green areas, break up a green area, surround an irrigation tile, connect to an exterior area or increase the size of an exterior area, and usually 2 or 3 of the above PER TILE.

By moving/entering a developer you can move to an irrigation area for scoring, block a 'road' of single type terrain, position for palace building or improvement or scoring, block an area from being developed (you can't place a tile on a hex with a developer in it).

Build or enlarge a palace.

For comparison, chess has 32 pieces and 64 squares, go has 19 x 19 board (361 possible moves)while Java has 9 TYPES of move each with HUNDREDS of possibilities (a single 2 or 3 space tile can be oriented in six (hex) directions, and placed in approx. 70 positions (don't know the exact number)) times 6 different actions in one turn.

Java is a master level game. The players will separate very quickly into scientists and tinkerers. Successful patterns will develop, counter-strategies will emerge and the game CAN grow.

Unfortunately, the game was marketed to players of Mexica and Tikal as another game in that series. The 'rub' is that a casual player will have no chance whatever beating a serious player just like in chess and go, and the casual player will either lose interest or become serious. Given the number of games and the target market - losing interest is the path of least resistance.

It is impossible to talk about effective strategy in the space provided. The basics of the strategy belong in a book entitled 'Java: Basic strategies for the beginning player' and/or 'Java Openings' and/or 'The Middle Game in Java.' And so on.

Too bad the rating system only goes up to 5.

 
 
 
 
 
by Roman
Please Relax
October 22, 2002

I agree with the previous reviewer. This game should not be pulled out when the group is half in the bag, munching on greasy pizza, and banging the table.

But I disagree with the most of my fellow reviewers who describe this game as an anxiety ridden experience with lots of down time. Yes, there are a number of strategies and variables one needs to consider in tile placement and developer movement, but you should be able to think about this while the other players have their turn.

I guess slow gamers try to think about the ideal placement, when in fact there rarely is one. There are variable strategic choices which have some immediate effects and some unforseeable effects down the line. Part of the pleasure in playing a game such is this is watching how this process unfolds. Another pleasure is in watching the individual who constantly takes 5-10 minutes for each turn, end up losing to players who simply choose a strategy and enact it. The only cure I've discovered for slow gamers is to put them on a timer. Can't finish your turn in two minutes? Fine, next player's up. That really gets their a$$ in gear.


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