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    Review: Hive

    January 13, 2015

    Hive is a two-player strategy game in which players take turns moving or placing five different types of hexagonal bug pieces in an effort to surround the opposing Queen Bee, all while preventing their opponent from doing the same. Each bug has a different way of moving: grasshoppers leap over one row of bugs to land the other side; beetles can climb one space on top of another bug, pinning the those beneath them, etc. There is no board, only the tableau of a hive created by the hexagonal pieces touching each other, which highlights an additional very important limitation to movement: players cannot break the hive with their movement in any situation. If moving your Queen Bee would isolate your opponent’s Soldier Ant, you cannot do so and your Queen Bee must not move again until the hive changes to a form that would allow her to do so. The hive also grows over the course of the game as players add more pieces to it. These additional pieces can only be placed next to an existing friendly piece and not touching any enemies, and this replaces the movement of a bug already in the hive as a player’s turn.

    Hive is similar to Chess in its strategy, requiring players to plan out moves several turns in advance, rewarding those who can out predict and outmaneuver their opponent. The key difference is the constantly-changing nature of the board, which provides an excellent degree of replayability. As well, as pieces are never removed from the hive, pinning your opponent’s pieces and using them to help surround your opponent’s Queen Bee is integral to good strategy.

    This is a game with no randomness at all; only your wits against your opponent’s as you pick from a vast array of movement and placement choices each turn. I love this element in board games, as it means I will never just be dealt a bad hand and then suffer for it. The breadth of choices and lack of randomness in Hive is one of the things that makes it truly great.

    There are several expansion packs available (each with a new bug), which add even more depth to the strategy as new types of pieces are added into the mix. The Mosquito expansion gives players a versatile bug that takes on the abilities of any other bugs it’s touching. The Ladybug moves similar to a knight in Chess, crawling over the top of other pieces to drop down behind them. The latest expansion – the Pill Bug – has the ability to bump other pieces rather than move itself. There’s also the Carbon edition, featuring all black-and-white pieces, and Hive Pocket with extra-small pieces that are easy to travel with. Truthfully, though, all editions are very portable and even come in a nice, sturdy zip-pouch so you can take the fun on the road.

    Hive is an excellent strategy game for two players, short enough and simple enough to be considered a casual game, but with complex tactics that force players to think about every move twice. It must also be said that the form-factor of the game is gorgeous: the tiles are heavy acrylic and wonderful to move around – as long as you’re not afraid of bugs!


    If you like: Chess, Gobblet, Go
    You’d definitely enjoy: Hive
    MRP: $32.99
    Designer: John Yianni
    Produced by: SmartZone