Having the opportunity to sit down with a board game creator; to listen to his enthusiastic explanations about his latest creation; to play a game together and watch him carefully take notes, ask all kinds of questions to gauge my understanding of the game’s rules and mechanics as well as my level of interest in the game or in one of its unique components; to suggest any improvements is as enriching an experience as actually playing the game. This is the privilege I was granted by Kevin Bouchard.
Mr. Java: The Story of a Québécois Creation
I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin Bouchard during the Journée des créateurs d’ici (a local game creators fair) held at the Imaginaire store in Quebec City. The event took place in early October and Kevin was organizing his Kickstarter campaign to market his first game: Mr. Java.
Following real world logic, Mr. Java offers a deep dive into the creative world of companies that must manage time, money and human resources to successfully deliver projects … all to their clients’ utmost satisfaction. The various mandatory conditions for completing projects, such as calls for tender, bids and project presentations, employee training, entering the stock market or overtime practically make Mr. Java an initiation into the world of business and management.
I will not, of course, give a detailed account of the rules (that’s why there’s a booklet after all!), but I will give you a few leads to pique your interest about this little gem that comes in simple box covered in highly detailed illustrations and graphics!
Using various mechanics (resources management, worker placement, a form of engine building, dice throws – the element of chance can be reduced or even negated by exchanging additional work weeks), the player is called upon to develop a strategy that will make their company number one! Each company has its own characteristics and abilities that modify the game’s rules. For example, Kopio inc. specializes in industrial espionage and reverse engineering. A player can, therefore, copy a competitor’s action free of cost. In the case of Frikis Inc., the Geeks are quickly hired and the expertise grants advantages even before the start of the first round. At Prospera, profitability is the number one priority: dividends are doubled for research and development, etc.
In practical terms, the game is comprised of diverse stages based on a number of work weeks (game rounds) predetermined by the players … according to the chosen play mode (Small Business/basic or Big Business/advanced) and how long they wish to play. A grid, in the rules booklet, suggests different options depending on the number of players and the desired play time.
After the players have chosen (or drawn by lots, as preferred) the companies they will head as directors, each player starts by selecting the action (or actions, depending on the play mode) that they wish to carry out. In turn (the first player having been randomly determined at the start of the game; although, one of the possible actions is to declare oneself the first player), actions are executed and gains are collected: First Player token, cash, employee experience, Project cards to be completed, return on investment, stock market dividends, etc. During this stage, players amass money or additional week tokens and pawns move forward on the various game boards: reputation, experience, consultants’ expertise, etc.
So how do you accumulate victory points? Cash, experience, reputation and bonuses all count for points (for example, 3 points for every $100 ooo earned at the end of the game, each reputation point is worth one victory point, various bonus. And so, for the diversity of completed contracts or for speciali the player with the most points wins the game.
Title : Mr . Java
Creator: Kevin Bouchard
Number of players: 1 to 4
Play time: 30 to 60 minutes depending of the number of players and the selected mode
Ages: 14+ on the box, but no problem with 10+ in Small Business mode
Theme: business, IT, human resources
Mechanisms: resource management, (type of) worker placement, (type of) engine building, dice.
My rating: 9/10
What I Think
Let’s starts with a few summarized thoughts. The mix of the different mechanics is smooth and harmonious. The game balance is suffici avoid having one of the players get too far ahead of the other performance ently well calculated to regarding their . In this way, it is difficult to guess the winner before the end of the game. The game board components, mostly made of superior quality surface assembly board or cardboard and wood changing, value if bumped.
Moreover, having the option to play in a simplified or advanced mode, which will determine the game’s length, significantly enhances play time. Indeed, the short version can be played at the start of an evening or to fill a gap in the schedule by playing a quick game between two other board games. It can equally be the main event on game night with all its advanced components, plus the additions are part of the Kickstarter campaign’s stretch goals. Letting you determined the game’s duration by selecting a mode allows you, for example, to bring the game to work and play during your lunch break …with or without your colleagues.
While I haven’t had the opportunity to play in the individual mode, the explanations I received enable me to say that it would be quite enjoyable. Did I mention that this game is addictive?
The game provides an original and strong dynamic thanks to the increase of the dices’ value according to each player’s choices and strategies. In my opinion, this is a major plus for Mr. Java as this grants it a distinctiveness that is rare – if not unique – when compared to other games.
Finally, in addition to its replay value, the quality of its materials and human and environmental considerations, without forgetting its (a little more than) slightly addictive quality, be aware that the game’s price for the Kickstarter campaign is really competitive. Without revealing any details on this topic (let’s let the creator experience some suspense and surprise), I really want to underscore how much the purchase price listed by Viviludi demonstrates that the game is truly good value for money.
I personally tend to consider my game acquisitions based on their rate of return, that is to say that I try to think about how many times a week, a month or a year I will pull it out of my game library. In this way, I can calculate how much each play session will cost. For Mr. Java, in view of how much fun I (my player profile: strategy, 4X, conquest and confrontation), Dominique (profile: cooperative games, legacy, worker placement and resource management) and Bruno (profile: confrontation, legacy, engine building, strategy) had, in spite of each of us having different interests when it comes to choosing games, I believe that Mr. Java will come out to grace the game table at least once a month. So, over less than six months, the game will have cost me less than a monthly film admission as well as being very enjoyable.
Still in relation to cost, the Kickstarter campaign’s stretch goals are, as it were, beyond interesting: additional cards and game boards, increased playability thanks to events … and let’s not forget proposed upgrades to the design of the box and certain game components.
All in all, Kevin Bouchard and Viviludi are offering nothing less than a deluxe quality game for the price of a basic one!!! It will also be possible to opt for metal tokens over cardboard tokens (of already very good quality). To top it all off, Quebec residents will have the option of picking up their game, saving the shipping fees! With all these advantages, how could you not want to fund this game?
Beyond the game itself, being around Kevin Bouchard is a pure pleasure! His passion ignites passion in others. He is also very humble, open-minded and welcomes all comments that could push the game’s dynamics and immersive qualities further.
Bruno and Dominique, in whose company we had a fun play day, likewise appreciated being able to receive Kevin ’s thanks for their time, ideas and suggestions. All four of us are from different backgrounds and pretty dissimilar professional fields… and yet, we found ourselves dissimilar familiar territory fairly quickly and the game marvellously fulfilled its function: we had fun and “grew” our companies… to such an extent that Kevin couldn’t remember having played so many games with the same players. The game creates an “I don’t want to leave” atmosphere! Super addictive!!!
The Kickstarter campaign
Keep your eyes peeled, Kickstarter campaign is launching soon: November 5. Follow the link (starting november 5!) and preregister for further details.
EARLY OFFER: If you register on : Viviludi page, you will receive a $5 discount on Mr. Java. Click here: www.viviludi.com
You can also stay up to date via:
BoardGame Geek (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/289075/mr-java)