Review: Hive

Components are tiles, thus no worry for getting them scratched up. Setup and tear down are extremely easy.

Length 15 Minutes

Release Date 2001
pic791151Designer: John Yianni
Publisher: HUCH! & Friends
Category: Abstract Strategy, Animals
BGG Ranking: 157
Price: Hive: The Original $29.99; Hive Pocket $19.09
Hive is a two-player abstract strategy game. Players control a variety of different bugs, vying to protect their Queen Bee from becoming surrounded. Taking a note from ChessHive is addictive, easy to learn, and evolves into an abstract masterpiece that begs you to play, “just one more game.”

Content Guide

Hive is straight-up tiles with bugs on them. There is nothing positive or negative about this game. It is as neutral as games come.

Review

Sitting at a table across from another player, you are given varying numbers of five different bug types: Queen Bee, Soldier Ant, Beetle, Spider, and Grasshopper. Taking turns, you must place these chunky bug tiles on the table in front of you. By turn four, you must place your Queen Bee, who will quickly become your most coveted and well-defended tile. Tiles are placed adjacent to other tiles, and eventually only next to your own bugs.
Each bug–or insect, if we are really trying to be politically correct–has a different movement pattern. The Queen can only move to one adjacent space. The Grasshopper can jump in a straight line over any number of tiles. The Beetle can hop onto an adjacent piece, disabling its movement, and potentially allowing your own bugs to spawn next to it.
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White is one turn from a loss, unless he can free his queen from becoming surrounded.

I suppose I would be yet another gushing gamer to admit my obsession with these tiles. Mind you, I own Hive Pocket, but I still adore the weight and size of the components. Dropping a new tile into the fray is satisfying. Who doesn’t smirk at the thick thunk of a fat bakelite tile slumping onto a wooden table? In contrast, the bug illustrations embedded onto each piece are very simple and not particularly interesting.
Most games of Hive finish within 10-15 minutes. I can also teach the game in less than five minutes. Its length, ease of teaching, and portability make it an automatic inclusion on any trip I go on where I might be able to get a game in with someone.
What keeps me returning to Hive is its self-teaching nature. Being a quick, two-player game, Hive reveals its deepest, darkest strategies as a reward for multiple plays. Much like Chess, the more you play, the more you understand what makes the game tick. You learn why you would be a fool to ignore blocking your opponent’s Soldier Ants. Good placement of your Queen Bee becomes essential. Spiders become hugely beneficial, instead of a nuisance.
Another interesting feature of the game is how new players can develop new meta strategies. Despite my dominance against specific players, I can be easily whooped by a newcomer implementing a unique strategy I hadn’t thought of preparing myself against. However, I learn which opening strategies are powerful, and which ones waste your bugs. Figuring out blocking, attacking, and timing are critical to success.
Hive Pocket is so durable and so portable.

Hive Pocket is so durable and so portable.

Even though I love this game, it has basically no theme. I suppose one could argue each bug somewhat matches the movement of its real-life counterpart, but it is a stretch of an argument. I feel you could easily stamp whatever you like on top of these hexes and still have a successful game. 
The game stays relatively fresh with a frequency of new players, but one might find themselves desiring new bugs to add to the arsenal. You are in luck. Hive features three expansion bugs, including: Mosquito, Pillbug, and Ladybug. Each adds a new twist to movement and board control.
You also can play Hive in multiple ways. The original HiveHive Carbon, and Hive Pocket. Each implementation of the game has the appropriate expansions available as well. But maybe you just want to try before you buy? You can play online at boardgamearena.com or you could try the iOS version for $1.99. 
I love Hive. It’s an extremely accessible game. To be honest, aside from bland artwork and a literally pasted-on theme, I can’t find something I dislike about this game. Players quickly remember how each bug moves, and because there are so few, it doesn’t become an issue for most. I love the tiles, strategy, and fun that Hive brings to the table.

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The Bottom Line

Hive brings tiles, strategy, and fun to the table. It is cheap, portable, and easy to learn. Hive is awesome.

 

8

Chris Hecox

Chris enjoys the simple things in life, like teaching his wife the newest review game, looking up Ketogenic recipes, and playing 10 hour long indie games on Steam. If he's not thinking about the oil drum components from Manhattan Project: Energy Empire, playing Player Unknown: Battlegrounds with his college buddies, or dwelling on the release of Daredevil Season Three, he's probably shooting or editing video, because that's what he does for a living.