A majority of the original reviews were submitted by Charles Bahl and Robert Waters...Thanks!!!
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Game: Java (Rio Grande Games)
Submitted By: Charles Bahl (The Quake Coast Game Club, San Jose, CA)
Java by Ravensburger/Rio Grande looks like a sure winner. After all it is designed by the Kramer/Kiesling team that brought us Tikal and Torres. And it looks cool too with all its 3D rice fields and multi-story palaces. In fact, Java is sort of a Torres/Tikal combo where a piece's ability to construct palaces (a la Tikal) is tied to its vertical position (a la Torres). But somewhere along the line, the additional complications of Java just don't pay off in terms of additional fun. The chess-like perplexities of this game just beg for extended ratiocination as you stoop over the board contemplating every possible permutation in order to harvest the highest score. The game creeps along at an unbearable snail's pace. In a four-player game, take your turn then go wash the car and do your laundry. In general I found this game mind boggling and tedious to the extreme. Definitely a game for go/shogi players only. If you've just got to try it, I recommend the two-player version (chess clock obligatory).