This week I decided to review one of my favorite abstract strategy game out there: Hive. What is an abstract strategy game you ask? Basically, any strategy game that doesnt rely heavily on a theme (think Go or Chess.) Traditionally, I am all about a good theme, but the simplicity and speed of Hive keeps me coming back game after game. Hive is a two player game that typically takes 15 minutes to play, but many games only last a few minutes. Besides the speed of the games, Hive is ultra portable. The game consists of 26 tiles Thats it! I opted for the pocket edition, which shrinks the size of the tiles and makes the game even more portable. The game is light, waterproof, and can be played on any flat surface, which makes it ideal for traveling, camping, at the bar, etc. In addition to being hyper portable, the game is also incredibly strategic and fun to play, which makes it a great option for any occasion.
In Hive, the objective is to surround the opponents queen bee, while at the same time preventing your queen from being surrounded. Each turn, players either place a piece, or move an existing piece. Players take turns placing or moving pieces until one of the queens is surrounded. The first player to surround their opponents queen wins the game.
The game starts with each player receiving 13 pieces. The pieces consist of (1) a queen bee, (2) a beetle, (3) a grasshopper, (4) a spider, (5) a soldier ant, (6) a ladybug, and (7) a mosquito. One player places a piece from their hand into the center of the table. The opponent then places one of their pieces and joins it to the other piece.
Players take turns placing pieces from their hand on to the table. Pieces can be placed any where on the table at any point in the game. The one caveat to this rule is the queen, which must be played by the fourth turn.
No pieces already on the table may move until the queen has been played. Once the queen has been played, players are free to move the pieces as they see fit, and each piece moves in its own unique way. The queen bee can move one space at a time.
The beetle moves one space at a time as well, but the beetle can climb on top of other pieces. This allows the beetle to move from piece to piece on top of the hive. Additionally, when the beetle is on top of another piece, the covered piece may not move.
The grasshopper does not move around the hive like the other pieces, but jumps from one space to another. The grasshopper may jump over any number of pieces, as long as the pieces are joined in a straight row, and there is an unoccupied space on the other side.
Spiders move three spaces at a time.
Soldier ants can move from one position to any other position in the hive.
The ladybug moves two spaces on top of the hive, and one space around the hive.
The Mosquito takes on the movement rules of any creature that it touches, which means that the mosquito changes throughout the game.
Every piece on the table must be linked to the rest of the hive, so players may not move a piece if it would separate the hive into more than one part. Additionally, pieces can only move if they can slide freely, so if a piece is surrounded so that it can not slide out, then that piece can not be moved. Players continue placing and moving pieces until the opponents queen is surrounded. The game ends as soon as a queen is surrounded by pieces of any color.
Hive is hands down my favorite travel game out there. Because the game is just a bag of tiles, it is an ideal game to play on a plane or while lounging at the beach. The game is easy to stash in my bag, and is great to play at the bar when Im waiting for friends. The tiles are waterproof, so Im not worried about a spilled beer ruining the game, and the tiles are small enough to pack with me everywhere. In addition to the portability, the game is easy to pick up and teach to others, so no scouring the instructions every time you want to play. The unique movement of each piece give the game a similar feel to chess, so a high degree of strategy is required to really excel. How much strategy? Every game of Hive involves me staring at the table in complete silence trying to anticipate my opponents every move. Even though games only last a few minutes, when you surround your opponents queen you feel like you really accomplished something. Hive incorporates everything thats great about abstract strategy games, and offers it in a compact ultra portable package. Hive is a necessary addition to any game collection, and you can purchase it on Amazon.