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Chris Rogers
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Summary of Game Play

Hive is a two-player abstract game in which the players place and move hexagonal tiles (featuring a number of different bug silhouettes) in order to surround their opponent’s Queen Bee.

Setup
Interestingly enough, there is no set up for this game besides giving each player their tiles. One set is white (well… off-white) and the other set is black, but they both feature one bee, two spiders, two beetles, three grasshoppers and three ants. The “board” is formed by the playing of these pieces.

Play
On each player’s turn, they may do one of two things: place a tile or move a tile.

Placing a tile:
When you place a new tile, you may place it anywhere in the hive (the collection of placed pieces), as long as it only touches tiles of the same color. This rule doesn’t apply for the first tile of the game (otherwise you could never place a tile). You must place your Queen Bee before your fifth turn.

Moving a tile:
Once you have placed your bee tile, your other pieces can move around the board, based on the type of piece it is. The general restrictions are that a move must leave only one connected collection of pieces on the board (i.e. you cannot break the hive up) and the piece must be able to slide out of its position to move. You can move your tiles so that they touch pieces of the opposite color, unlike placing.

Each piece moves differently. The bee can move only one space (much like a king in Chess). The spider must move exactly three spaces. The beetle can only move one space, but unlike other pieces, it can move on top of the hive; it moves in three dimensions and thus is not subject to the rule about being able to slide out of position. The grasshopper leaps over other pieces in a straight line (again, not subject to the “freedom to move” rule). Lastly, the ant can move to any other space on the board, making it a very effective attacker.

The game ends when one player’s Queen Bee is entirely surrounded, by pieces of either color. That player loses the game.


Presentation

Rules
The rules are printed on a single glossy sheet, front and back. They are in color, so it is easy to understand the examples and rules explanations that might otherwise be a little convoluted with only text. The rules are clear and simple to understand, but I think they could use a short section explaining some basic tactics. When you are first learning the game, it can be a bit difficult to see what you should be doing.

Theme
The theme is fairly weak; the game is abstract. That said, the idea that the pieces are bugs of different sorts really helps players learn the game. When you explain to someone that the “grasshopper” leaps in a straight line over other pieces, the light immediately turns on.

Components and Packaging
The box is a solid, functional piece, with a nice insert that fits the pieces perfectly. There is a round vinyl bag in the box that can be used for carrying the game around more easily, and while it’s made well, I don’t care much for it. It’s an awkward shape for the 22 tiles, and it doesn’t offer much padding. I would have been fine without it. On a much more positive note, the tiles are excellent. Each tile is a thick piece of Bakelite with a color-coded bug symbol on top. They feel solid, they are easy to sort through visually, and even the sound they make when they clack together is magical. The pieces really make the game for me. Well, that and the rules.


Play

Player-interactivity
This is a direct-conflict, one-on-one game. You must always be on your guard about what you opponent’s plans might be, and try to counter them while building up your own attack plan. This game has player-interaction in spades.

Downtime and "Uptime"
Turns tend to be quick (although possibly bogged down by analysis paralysis). You only have a limited number of options, even with all of your tiles placed, so it’s relatively easy to make decisions. Making good decisions is a different story. This game is deep! However, it plays in less than 30 minutes, often far less. So even for people who aren’t big fans of abstract strategy, it can be a winner.

Gamble vs. Crunch
There is absolutely no luck involved; every player has the same pieces and the same options. What matters is how you use those options. The rules are simple, but the interactions between them can make for a very enjoyable game.


What makes me want to play?
I love the tiles. I love the short playtime. And the game has just enough abstract goodness to keep me interested without devolving into marathon brain-burning like some of the more popular abstracts (Go, I’m looking at you). On the other hand, there are enough options that it doesn’t feel overly simplistic or repetitive. It’s got a great balance.


What reservations do I have?
I lose at this game a LOT. That’s because I play it with my wife, and she’s just really good at it. However, this doesn’t actually put the kibosh on my desire to play it. It often just means that I wasn’t paying close attention. This game, despite the bright colors and light feel, can take a bit more concentration than I expect sometimes.
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Jordan Stewart
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Good review, I'm not particularly in to abstracts but I've been thinking about checking this one out.

thanks!
 
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Emmanuel Aquin
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Ah... the Hive. Those who haven't tried it should really give it a chance. It's a beautiful and sleek design.

But I don't see it as having a "weak" theme. The pieces behave like their insect counterparts (spider slithers, grasshopper hops, etc) and the hive rule (all tiles must always be connected together) also fits the insect theme. If this is an abstract game, then all games are abstract.

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Chris Rogers
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Amiral wrote:

But I don't see it as having a "weak" theme. The pieces behave like their insect counterparts (spider slithers, grasshopper hops, etc) and the hive rule (all tiles must always be connected together) also fits the insect theme. If this is an abstract game, then all games are abstract.


There is a theme, surely. But compare Hive to something like Puerto Rico, where you are producing, shipping, and selling goods, or Tannhäuser, where you are running around on a map shooting things, and then compare it to something like Chess, in which you are moving pieces in an abstract space and trying to attain an position goal. In my opinion, it's far closer to the latter than the former.

"Abstract" here isn't supposed to be a negative thing. But some people like to be immersed in the theme of a game, and they aren't going to find that immersion here.
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Thijs Lauwbierkoffie
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Good review

A abstract game is for me a game with no luck and simple rules. A game like ingenious with luck but no theme at all is not an abstract game although it is realy abstract

So this is an abstract for me, a good one
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tom moughan
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all games are essentially abstracts because anyone could argue "pasted on theme!" -- all games have mechanics of some sort.

Hive is worth every penny and then some in terms of enjoyment in my book..it was one of thefirst games I ever purchased on getting back into games and it has many "ah ha!" moments and awards clever play and choices.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Mr Thijs wrote:
A abstract game is for me a game with no luck and simple rules.


lengthtoavoid wrote:
all games are essentially abstracts because anyone could argue "pasted on theme!"


I don't agree with either of these definitions; for me an abstract game is simply one with a high degree of abstraction (hark! do I hear Rich Hutnik's keyboard tapping?). And yes, I do consider Hive to be abstract.

I'm happy to say that I do agree with both of these gentlemen on the other point, though: Hive is a very good game.
 
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tom moughan
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As a owner of many "abstracts" or rather games with components that have little or no theme, aka 4-in-a-rows, go, amoeba, checkers, all the king's men, viking chess, 3D chess, hive, etc, etc and played several others online at boardspace- I agree that certainly some games are truely "abstract", and others are considered euros that are largely abstracts in nature if you strip away all the window dressing and back story. I consider a good abstract to be a game that focuses on clever movement, counter movement, capture, and synergy between different pieces..something you see in many games not labeled an abstract...but yet if you look purely at the mechanics of the game its nothing more than just that with a theme. I personally enjoy a good theme and good window dressing...but a good game is still just that, with or without.
 
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