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Subject: Help! Countering an aggressive opening. rss

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Owen Johnson
United Kingdom
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I'm fairly new to the game, and I play with a small set of people, and I try to figure out some ideas for myself. I've run into a problem: what do you do to counter the extremely aggressive opening of Queen - Ant - Ant (All moves are White's), or any version of this whereby the first player brings on one more ant after the second player has placed their queen, and then starts an all out pinning assault on the queen? It seems that the second player has a very hard time even getting into the game when the first player plays this aggressively.

All suggestions welcome: I know that there are some very good Hive players out there...
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David Norman
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TheAlteredOne wrote:
I'm fairly new to the game, and I play with a small set of people, and I try to figure out some ideas for myself. I've run into a problem: what do you do to counter the extremely aggressive opening of Queen - Ant - Ant (All moves are White's), or any version of this whereby the first player brings on one more ant after the second player has placed their queen, and then starts an all out pinning assault on the queen? It seems that the second player has a very hard time even getting into the game when the first player plays this aggressively.

All suggestions welcome: I know that there are some very good Hive players out there...


My instinct is, start by bringing on your lesser creatures, use those creatures to pin his ants, and then use the fact that your unpinned creatures are better than his to win the game from there.

David.
 
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Philip Thomas
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Well, if he has played Queen-Ant-Ant he already has at least 2 pieces next to his queen. If you found a way to pin the first Ant that could help.
 
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Yoki Erdtman
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Did he start with placing the Queen, followed by Ant - Ant?

If you're new and want to get some practice, why not play the online version? It's not as smart as a real opponent, quite predictable actually, but it should teach you some good moves.

If he starts with his Queen you could also start with your Queen, having them tied up next to each other is a sure recipe for a tie. You could also start with your Beetle, climb his Queen and then plop down a few quick bugs next to it, but beware of being restricted from placing new bugs if your opponent manages to surround your Beetle.

When playing white I almost always start with my Queen, so I understand why you have trouble with it. Here's another idea, why not ask to play white, and then you start with the same aggressive opening and see how your opponent counters it?

Anyhow, best of luck to you.
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Tony Chen
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Mathematically (assuming both players play perfectly), the only non-losing move may be to also start with a queen and play for a draw.

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Owen Johnson
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Just in case this thread ever gets noticed again, the beetle provides the answer. An early beetle placement threatening to climb on top of his queen changes the comparative move count radically: there are quite a few variations that I'm only just starting to explore, but many of them seem to provide the possibility of a player 2 win IF player one does not defend and continues an all out attack. This rebalances things and leads to "proper" games.
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Michael Capizzi
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GoogleShoes wrote:
Just in case this thread ever gets noticed again, the beetle provides the answer. An early beetle placement threatening to climb on top of his queen changes the comparative move count radically: there are quite a few variations that I'm only just starting to explore, but many of them seem to provide the possibility of a player 2 win IF player one does not defend and continues an all out attack. This rebalances things and leads to "proper" games.


Owen said EXACTLY what I would suggest. My usual hive opponent loves the queen-ant-ant opening. But, if I play a beetle early enough, he must spend a turn either deploying his own beetle in defense, or he has to use an ant to pin my beetle. I then have time to drop my own ant down, and I have already lessened the gap between the two of us.
 
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Owen Johnson
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Some developments since I last posted about Hive: I can't seem to get past the stalemate potential that exists when one player leads with a queen. It seems to invite a queen in response, and those games tend to end as draws, unless one player can either move their queen (unlikely given the tempo of the game) or alternatively end up two spaces ahead on surround count (unlikely for the above reason).

"So don't respond with a queen" comes the answer. The problem is that the next set of moves tends to involve a heavy ant attack. While it is possible to weather the storm defensively for a while, it's hard to find a winning line. Even the beetle strategy only works when the ant player leaves the beetle-topped queen without attached support: if they leave a piece next to the queen, the beetle produced "rapid piece drop" around the queen falters early.

There are a huge number of variations, obviously, but the non-draw record I have experienced so far isn't great.

The problem is that when I play the queen-ant aggression opening, I either win or draw. When it is played against me I can either choose to draw or lose.

The issue I have is this. I am not suggesting that there is an Abalone style problem with this game in reality, but in personal experience a weaker player going first who has twigged how powerful the queen-then-ants opening is can repetitively play it, and will always either draw or win. It will only be when they get fed up of drawing that they will experiment with lines of play where they can lose, but are more likely to win than draw. Again, this is purely a personal experience thing: I'm not trying to suggest that there is a flaw in the game.

Maybe the solution for me would be to play that the queen can only be introduced on moves 2-4, NOT on the first move, for both players?

Any further hints on how I can break out of this rut will be very welcome. I like this game, but the "stalemate queens" line of play is proving very irritating.
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Jahangir Ali
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I've been playing hive for a while, and have noticed this too. Queen, ant ant ant seems to be unbeatable. Certainly the dumbot at boardspace.net and hivemania can't beat it although it does a good job of delaying defeat.


I'd welcome any comments too.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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If this is true that this opening cant be beat but can be drawn, then I would propose the following:

Consdier a draw to be a victory for the second player.
White has an advantage in the game, this could even it out by allowing player 2 to play for a draw. Black could then respond to this opening by placing a queen and playing for a draw.

Does this work, or would it break the game in other ways?
 
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Chris Miller
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You could play by tournament rules - Queen can't be placed as first piece.
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Yoki Erdtman
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millercv wrote:
You could play by tournament rules - Queen can't be placed as first piece.

I haven't heard of this, are the tournament rules on the game's web site? I'm off to look...
 
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