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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


  • 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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German language edition
Mexica (Temporarily Out of Stock)
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.8 in 21 reviews

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.

Intricate and Fun
August 14, 2002

There are so many considerations when contemplating ones move. Some games you get to know over time and eventually the best move seems clearly obvious, but Java is very intricate with may things to consider:

- Building brand new palaces

- Budding new palaces by chopping existing ones

- Upgrading palaces you're already in

- Using developers to block the veins of movement

- Taking the high ground for end-game positioning

- Maintaining festival cards

- Surrounding the valuable water tiles

Many more excellent options exist though they are too complicated to sum up in a blurb. To me the makings of a good game is diverse options and intricate game play. Java's got it!

Tikal and Mexica (brother and sister games that also use the action point mechanic) are good measures for how well you'll like Java. I love all three games and really enjoy contemplating my most efficient moves. If you enjoy this mechanic in one of the aforementioned games, I have no doubt Java will pleasure you the same.

Show all 21 reviews >

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