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Subject: Ants/Spiders - 2/3 counter mix rss

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Simon Andersen
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There is a lot of suggestions to make the spider more powerful. That seems to lead to extra rules that are quite outside the simplicity and spirit of the game.

Has anyone tried to just switch the number of ants (2 instead of 3) and spiders (3 instead of 2)in the game, thus making the spiders the soldiers of the mix and the ants the more scarce cavalry units (in chess terms)?

I only played around 15 games or so, so I will continue with the standard rules for a while. But I would like to hear if anyone has tried out this variant.

Alternatively, if you don't have the pieces or don't bother making them, just change the attributes of the two insects - if you can remember the changes during play!

xx

Simon
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Quinn Swanger
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*Sigh*

Do not take offense as this is in no way directed toward you, but I feel compelled to repeat the refrain I've mentioned already on at least 3 other similar variant threads:

"Will everyone PLEASE stop effin' with the effin' spiders!" yuk
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Andrew Brown
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I have to say I have had a similar thought (also related to the function of pawns in chess). However, Aesthetics mean too much to me in games, and I don't know how practical it is to make this change. I'd keep the set as is just because I don't want to put a sticker on one of the ants or, heaven forbid, buy another set to get an extra spider.
 
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Jon
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qswanger wrote:
*Sigh*

Do not take offense as this is in no way directed toward you, but I feel compelled to repeat the refrain I've mentioned already on at least 3 other similar variant threads:

"Will everyone PLEASE stop effin' with the effin' spiders!" yuk


Your heartfelt request presumes people have read your posts in other threads.

An easier option may be to ignore these threads yourself.
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Eric Walkingshaw
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GodfatherPTS wrote:
I have to say I have had a similar thought (also related to the function of pawns in chess). However, Aesthetics mean too much to me in games, and I don't know how practical it is to make this change. I'd keep the set as is just because I don't want to put a sticker on one of the ants or, heaven forbid, buy another set to get an extra spider.


Or you could just say Spiders move like Ants and Ants move like Spiders...
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ŁṲÎS̈
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qswanger wrote:
*Sigh*

Do not take offense as this is in no way directed toward you, but I feel compelled to repeat the refrain I've mentioned already on at least 3 other similar variant threads:

"Will everyone PLEASE stop effin' with the effin' spiders!" yuk



but, but, but

they suck.
 
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Guido Gloor
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I agree. We should really give the pawns in Chess the ability to move backwards and sideways, too, yeah.
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Eric Walkingshaw
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haslo wrote:
I agree. We should really give the pawns in Chess the ability to move backwards and sideways, too, yeah.


I really don't see what the problem is. People have been coming up with chess variants since the earliest beginnings of the game. The movements and setup of pieces in the modern incarnations of chess are the result of centuries of experimentation with different variants. In other words, chess is the worst possible example you could pick as to why you shouldn't mess with the pieces in Hive.

Hive is a great game, but it's not sacred. Maybe Hive with three spiders and two ants is a better game and maybe it's not, maybe there's a particularly clever new movement for the spider out there that radically alters and deepens the strategy. Why harass or mock people who want to talk about these possibilities, try them, and find out? I'd even argue that if we're invested in Hive and want it to grow and last, we should be encouraging exactly this sort of experimentation.

Sorry to single you out, Guido. We follow a lot of the same games and I know you're a smart and nice guy. I just wanted to respond to the general anti-variant sentiment and you were an easy target.
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Russ Williams
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walkie wrote:
haslo wrote:
I agree. We should really give the pawns in Chess the ability to move backwards and sideways, too, yeah.


I really don't see what the problem is. People have been coming up with chess variants since the earliest beginnings of the game. The movements and setup of pieces in the modern incarnations of chess are the result of centuries of experimentation with different variants. In other words, chess is the worst possible example you could pick as to why you shouldn't mess with the pieces in Hive.

I suspect part of the issue is that the chess tweaking was presumably proposed and decided by players with a lot of chess experience and knowledge, whereas the Hive spider "fixes" are very often from new players who only just started playing. (Admittedly not always, and I have no idea if it's the case in this particular thread; I'm just explaining why I think these "spider fixes" don't get a lot of enthusiastic response. That plus the fact that they are almost never actually tested before being posted. Untested ideas are a dime a dozen, as the ladybug contest thread shows.)

So I think it's just the same understandably jaded "I enjoy the repetition" kind of reaction as in any other game forum when newbies frequently post in effect "I haven't actually played yet, but this seems broken..." or "After playing once, it seems like this should be fixed by doing..."
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Guido Gloor
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walkie wrote:
Sorry to single you out, Guido. [...] I just wanted to respond to the general anti-variant sentiment and you were an easy target.

Not a problem, and thanks for tempting me to answer

walkie wrote:
I really don't see what the problem is. People have been coming up with chess variants since the earliest beginnings of the game. The movements and setup of pieces in the modern incarnations of chess are the result of centuries of experimentation with different variants. In other words, chess is the worst possible example you could pick as to why you shouldn't mess with the pieces in Hive.

Sure, yeah - from that point of view I couldn't have picked a worse example. However, why I brought up Chess is the following: In Chess, like in Hive, there are clearly stronger and weaker pieces (and unlike with the Dwarves in Small World, it's entirely obvious that this power difference was intentional). And part of the skill in both games is knowing when and how to use the weaker pieces for their best. In Hive, when I place a Spider, I keep the Ant for later. I can use the weaker pieces to protect and / or enable the stronger ones. And if I can use the Spider for a really great move, the move is even greater because it was a Spider that did it.

Now the sentiment that churns out all these variants, it appears to me, is the following: "The Spider is a weaker piece than the others, that shouldn't be the case, I want to make a variant that makes the Spider stronger / brings its power level up on par with the others / makes it useful and not useless / makes it special and not some semi-Ant." That's the wrong approach to take, I think - we don't need a stronger Spider. Maybe something really special could work (like the pawn in chess being the only piece that captures in a different direction than it moves), true, but it doesn't need an all-out buff, nor is it inherently wrong that the Spider doesn't do anything that special: It's special already because it gives the player more pieces with almost Ant-like, but not quite, movements.

Now yes, I should have written this in a different such thread, because this one here isn't along the lines of strengthening the Spider and takes a different approach, one that makes it even more important to pick the battles for the Spider. It just happens to be yet another Spider variant anyway, I was overcome by my pet peeve instincts it seems...

walkie wrote:
Why harass or mock people who want to talk about these possibilities, try them, and find out? I'd even argue that if we're invested in Hive and want it to grow and last, we should be encouraging exactly this sort of experimentation.

Very true, and I particularly agree about the playtesting bit that you hint at. I'm all for variants that improve and broaden the available strategies. And I guess that yes, there's no reason to dismiss any variants straight out of hand. After all, they can be fun even if they don't improve balance or playability, and something good might come out of a variant that at first sight doesn't look too attractive, too.

It's just that there's so many Spider variants, while I don't think they're necessary in the first place. I'd have less of a knee jerk reaction if somebody were to post an Ant variant, or a Beetle variant, for a change.
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Eric Walkingshaw
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russ wrote:
I suspect part of the issue is that the chess tweaking was presumably proposed and decided by players with a lot of chess experience and knowledge, whereas the Hive spider "fixes" are very often from new players who only just started playing. (Admittedly not always, and I have no idea if it's the case in this particular thread; I'm just explaining why I think these "spider fixes" don't get a lot of enthusiastic response. That plus the fact that they are almost never actually tested before being posted. Untested ideas are a dime a dozen, as the ladybug contest thread shows.)

So I think it's just the same understandably jaded "I enjoy the repetition" kind of reaction as in any other game forum when newbies frequently post in effect "I haven't actually played yet, but this seems broken..." or "After playing once, it seems like this should be fixed by doing..."

I definitely understand this, and get annoyed myself when people uninformedly scream "broken!".

I think the issue for me is that, as an internet forum, this seems like an acceptable and safe place to post half-baked ideas, especially when they're couched in phrasing as modest as the original poster's was. Some half-baked ideas end up being good. And for all the ones that aren't, well, that's what thumbs and sorting by "Hot" are for.

That said, I would absolutely love it if more people followed up on their variant ideas, reporting back with analysis of how it affected the game and strategies. And for people interested in variant design, I think you just have to look at the Neuroshima Hex! forum to see how receptive folks can be to well thought-out and playtested variant ideas.
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Eric Walkingshaw
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Thanks for the response, Guido, and the lack of hard feelings.

Just to derail the conversation by taking the chess example unnecessarily further... the queen was once the vizier in chess, and one of the weakest pieces! But I understand your point, and it's a good one.

haslo wrote:
It's just that there's so many Spider variants, while I don't think they're necessary in the first place. I'd have less of a knee jerk reaction if somebody were to post an Ant variant, or a Beetle variant, for a change.

I think this is probably a key thing. I have delved into the Hive forum several times but only just started following it. So while I have seen many spider variants, I haven't had them pop up in my subscription list every other day. I can see how that would become annoying.
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Simon Andersen
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You guys are great!

This is why I love the Geek; people take the fun in games seriously here.

There is a lot of factors that makes it hard to compare chess to hive, except they're both abstract games, can end in a boring draw and...have a queen piece.

The initial positions of the pieces are very different. In chess you have fixed starting positions that greatly affects the relative value of the pieces depending on what phase of the game you're in. Pawns start out with a guarding role and gradually weaken as the line spreads out. There is also a lot of them, so although weak the pawns serve an important role/class in the overall setup.

Introducing pieces in Hive is more homogenic as every piece is placed the same way and only has its special movement to rely on. The spider is a piece you usually want to get out of the way or into a position where you don't have to worry about it anymore.

I don't think people wants to change the spider just because it's weak. It also has to do with the feel of the possibilities and reason for the piece to be in the game. When I play chess, the pawns feel right and significant, both mechanically and thematically (first line screen/cannon fodder and later supporting role).

Not so with the spider in Hive. It feels a lot more like a 'filler', with an attribute that is merely a handicapped version of the ant (I know, I know, others wrote this a million times before).

What I do like about the spider is that you have to time it's move in relation to the other bugs if you want to use it in an attacking/surrounding role. That makes it interesting mechanic-wise.

From that perspective, maybe it really is the ant that is a little boring? My guess is that the 3 spiders/2 ants variant would make for a slightly longer and challenging game - without fracking around with the rules too much. With 3 of them, you'd have to use the spiders more actively - as your main soldiers - and really think about the right time to let loose those ants.

But I'm just making assumptions here - I will instead test this variant, straight away! Then I'll get back to you.

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Simon Andersen
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By the way, I use DIY versions of the game, so I can use as many or as few of the different bugs that I want to.

How about a pure spider and queen version? Woouuuhh!
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Russ Williams
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simombo wrote:
How about a pure spider and queen version? Woouuuhh!

Now that is a crazy funny idea that I might try to convince someone to test with me.

I suspect it might end in a long draw. But it could be amusing to try and see!
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Randall Ingersoll
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Hive Ant/Spider discussion
Has anyone tried handicapping a game between two players of unequal ability by adjusting the spider/ant ratios?
For example the better player gets 2 ants/3 spiders, the weaker player 3 ants/2 spiders?
Unfortunately, all my play is on-line at boardspace.net and I don't have the opportunity to try this.
 
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Orpheus
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Hmm, old thread, but I switched Ant/Spider powers. IMO the game is more interesting that way, and more difficult (which is a good thing).

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Simon Andersen
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Finally, Orpheus.

Welcome to the dark side!
 
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Cody Kunka
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Another interesting point is that the number of pieces has increased with the three expansions. I commonly play with all the base pieces minus one ant and plus one ladybug. I've found that change forces better use of the spiders.

Side note: The ratio of pawns to other chess pieces is much higher than the ratio of spiders to other Hive pieces. Maybe the spider-ant switch better parallels chess... for better or worse.
 
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