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Subject: StormGate Reviews - Hive Carbon rss

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Chad S
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Hello, and welcome to the next entry in a series of reviews, collectively called StormGate Reviews. These reviews will not concentrate on the specifics of how the games work, but rather a brief overview of the main mechanics, how people who play the games receive and enjoy them, how they look, and lastly, my own thoughts. Any edits are to fix grammatical or spelling errors. To see other reviews in the series, Click Here!

Intro:



Hive is an award winning abstract strategy game for two players, similar to chess, with a twist - there is no board. This review will focus on the Carbon edition of the game. I have edited this review to include an expansion on the "My Thoughts" section after receiving feedback.

Entomophobics should probably stop reading this review. You've been warned!

How It Looks and What's In The Box:



The box is attractive, a nice muted silver/grey colour, showing the black Queen surrounded by the other 6 white pieces.

The first thing you see when opening the box is a zippered travel bag. This is a nice touch - you don't need to carry the box around if you don't want to. Lifting the bag reveals the short instruction book, and a nice plastic vacuform insert holding all 26 pieces, 13 of each colour. The pieces are very high quality - thick, heavy ceramic. The game can easily be played outdoors. There was also an advertisement for other Gen-42 games.

The Carbon edition of the game also includes both expansions, the Ladybug and the Mosquito.

How it plays: 15 to 60 minutes, including teaching the game.

Hive has a very simple rule set. Each player takes one of their pieces and, one turn at a time, either places a new piece into the Hive, or moves one of their existing pieces around the Hive. To place a new piece, other than the first piece by each player, simply add the piece so that it is only connected to other pieces of your colour. The Queen must be placed within the first four turns, and you can't move a piece until your Queen is part of the Hive. Like chess, each piece (Ant, Grasshopper, Queen, Beetle and Spider) also has its own movement rules. Some pieces can move long distances, some can move a fixed amount, some can hop on top of other pieces, and so on. The only other movement rule is that you can never "break" the Hive - all pieces must always be connected.

The object is to surround your opponents Queen. This is done using any combination of his and your pieces - as long as it's surrounded, you win.



How it was received:

My usual gaming group have all had the chance to play this game multiple times, as it is usually played out very quickly. As such, this game sees quite a bit of play - and for good reason! It's superb. There have been very few complaints from anyone that I've played with. Everyone always comments on the high quality of the pieces, and how easy it is to learn - and almost everyone sees, right away, that there is a deep experience to be had. You can tell, just by watching a new player to the game, that new strategies are just a few moments from coming to fruition in their minds.

Breaking out the game at various public places almost always draws a crowd. It looks slick, is easy to learn, and can be taught in minutes.


Above, a Hive game in progress, using the Carbon pieces.

Hive is definately a thinking gamer's game. If you're out just to have some quick mindless fun, you'll want to select another game. But for all those other times, beating your opponent with your wits and skill leaves a satisfying feeling that isn't matched by many other games. The only other downside is that, at least in the Carbon version, some new players to the game said that the pieces tended to blend together, as the Hive is just a sea of black and white. To my eyes, this is a non-issue (it's actually a plus - it looks amazing), but some had a difficult time remembering which piece was which. It's not that the pieces all look the same, it's just all black and white. I'm sure this problem would go away after a few plays, however.

My thoughts:

I was introduced to Hive at my local gaming store - the owner loves it, and he thought I'd like it, so he introduced it to me. He was right - I loved it. At the time, it was sold out at the store, so I went home that day and found an online retailer that had a copy of it in stock.

My copy of Hive arrived within two days, nicely packed in a box, with peanuts and bubblewrap. When I opened the box, I found that the walls of the bottom of the box - the part that you can't see when the lid is on - had some damage around the edges, and the insert was torn almost completely in half. On top of that, the white Queen and the bag was missing.

I sent an email to Gen-42 (the publisher) explaining my situation. Gen-42 is located in the UK, and I am in Canada. Their customer service representative instructed me to contact their North American distributor for a replacement piece and bag, which I did, immediately. This is where things get a little unusual.

The person at their North American distributor told me, via email, that the people I bought the game from were not authorized to sell the game in North America. I sent an email back to the lovely person in the UK asking what the problem was - it turns out that the NA distributor didn't do 3 minutes of research to find out that the company I bought the game from was, in fact, authorized to sell in North America - they just specialized in European games. Unfortunately for me, the NA guy had gone on vacation, and would be 2 weeks before he could ship me a replacement copy of the game.

The UK person, being extremely apologetic, wanted to be kept in the loop of what was going on. Three weeks later, my replacement copy of Hive arrived via US Postal Service. It was in an envelope - no packing peanuts, no bubble wrap, nothing - just an envelope. The box was, of course, again damaged, as was the insert because of the box being crushed, but at least all the pieces were there this time. So, off goes one more email to the UK explaining what had happened.

Needless to say, the lovely lady at Gen-42 was furious, and did something that I am still blown away by - she went to another retailer in Canada, bought a copy of the game, and had them ship it to me via UPS. It arrived in perfect condition.

Gen-42's customer service is outstanding, standing by their product and making sure that the customer - me - got what they paid for. Needless to say, I will be buying more products from Gen-42, starting with Army of Frogs.

I love how it never plays the same twice, there's just so much stratey involved with a game that consists of only 26 pieces. New players can beat veteran players (though rare), and like most abstract games, play length is usually over quite quickly. Like Chess, I have seen two people with hundreds of games under their belts go for an hour or more, but for occasional players it is easily over in 15 minutes. It takes a couple plays to wrap your head around the movement restrictions of each piece - especially the spider - but after you've "got it," it pays off with an experience that almost can't be beat. Even if you lose, you still learn new things, what to do to counter your opponent, and come away with a positive vibe. All around, it's simply a fantastic game.


The black Queen is surrounded. White wins. Flawless Victory. Fatality.

Bottom line:

An incredible abstract strategy game that is worthy of its praise. There is a digital version of this game available, also, and from what I'm told, it's excellent. It can be played just about anywhere - on a bus, on the beach, at the cottage - table not required. Highly recommended to any gamer out there.

Score: 8.5/10
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Jérôme
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TyrionXavier wrote:
My thoughts:

I was introduced to Hive at my local gaming store - the owner loves it, and he thought I'd like it, so he introduced it to me. He was right - I loved it. At the time, it was sold out at the store, so I went home that day and found an online retailer that had a copy of it in stock.

My copy of Hive arrived within two days, nicely packed in a box, with peanuts and bubblewrap. When I opened the box, I found that the walls of the bottom of the box - the part that you can't see when the lid is on - had some damage around the edges, and the insert was torn almost completely in half. On top of that, the white Queen and the bag was missing.

I sent an email to Gen-42 (the publisher) explaining my situation. Gen-42 is located in the UK, and I am in Canada. Their customer service representative instructed me to contact their North American distributor for a replacement piece and bag, which I did, immediately. This is where things get a little unusual.

The person at their North American distributor told me, via email, that the people I bought the game from were not authorized to sell the game in North America. I sent an email back to the lovely person in the UK asking what the problem was - it turns out that the NA distributor didn't do 3 minutes of research to find out that the company I bought the game from was, in fact, authorized to sell in North America - they just specialized in European games. Unfortunately for me, the NA guy had gone on vacation, and would be 2 weeks before he could ship me a replacement copy of the game.

The UK person, being extremely apologetic, wanted to be kept in the loop of what was going on. Three weeks later, my replacement copy of Hive arrived via US Postal Service. It was in an envelope - no packing peanuts, no bubble wrap, nothing - just an envelope. The box was, of course, again damaged, as was the insert because of the box being crushed, but at least all the pieces were there this time. So, off goes one more email to the UK explaining what had happened.

Needless to say, the lovely lady at Gen-42 was furious, and did something that I am still blown away by - she went to another retailer in Canada, bought a copy of the game, and had them ship it to me via UPS. It arrived in perfect condition.

Gen-42's customer service is outstanding, standing by their product and making sure that the customer - me - got what they paid for. Needless to say, I will be buying more products from Gen-42, starting with Army of Frogs.


Your thoughts are about buying the game and how cool the people at Gen-42 are, not about playing the game at all.
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Chad S
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My review series are generally not about how to play the game. Instead, they are general information about the game, and how its received by others. Each review says as much in the opening paragraph.

My thoughts about this game were about the customer service - any company that has that much dedication behind their product deserves to be talked about. Customer service with games that arrived with problems is part of the gaming experience, and Gen-42's is incredible.

The rest of the review talks ad naseum about how great the game is, how it draws crowds, is easy to learn and is enjoyed by everyone who I've played with.

I'm sorry you didn't get that from the review.
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Jérôme
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TyrionXavier wrote:
The rest of the review talks ad naseum about how great the game is, how it draws crowds, is easy to learn and is enjoyed by everyone who I've played with.


Just superficial compliments, still no idea why to love the game except that it looks good and the rules are simple.
Somewhere you talk about a deep experience but apparently lack words to describe that feeling.

I'm sorry that you confuse thoughts about a game with thoughts about customer service.

I wanted to compliment you on the pictures but a quick search taught me that they're not yours. Well, good choice of pictures then...
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Chad S
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Well, you can't please everyone, I spose.

As I said in the opening paragraph, I (usually) don't go into details about game mechanics in my reviews. Instead I focus on how other people feel about it, and my experiences with the game. My experiences dealt with customer service - excellent customer service.

I have heard from Gen-42, and what you call "superficial," they called exemplary, kind and complimentary.

If you actually read the review, you would have learned that Hive is a thinking gamer's game, is quite attractive, draws crowds, does not receive many - if any - complaints, is playable virtually anywhere, has a deep strategic element, someone with skill will beat someone without, and is played quite often in my group. I even mentioned that you can see on people's faces that you can tell when the game clicks for them - new strategies forming in other people's minds. If that's not describing "feeling" about the strategic element, I don't know what is.

Also, as I said, I wouldn't describe actual strategies - that's up to you, the player, to decide for yourself. As I already said, my reviews don't concentrate on gameplay mechanics, and as such, I wouldn't describe any sort of strategy for playing.

I don't confuse my thoughts about the game with thoughts about customer service - a publisher's customer service is part of game culture. Sometimes a company will win you over simply by being curteous, as Gen-42 has, and I will buy their products again. If I hadn't bothered contacting them, my game would be incomplete or returned to the store where I bought it, and I would have missed out on this great game. Instead, part of my experience with this game included a series of incredible acts of service on behalf of Gen-42.

It seems as though you're going out of your way to make backhanded compliments and outright insults. And before you argue this, yes, saying that I "lack words" and my compliments are "superficial" are insults. In my opinion, you are being incredibly rude and disrespectful. I will not reply to you in this thread again. If you want to continue this discussion, please take it to private messages.
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The Compulsive Completist
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TyrionXavier wrote:
It seems as though you're going out of your way to make backhanded compliments and outright insults. And before you argue this, yes, saying that I "lack words" and my compliments are "superficial" are insults. In my opinion, you are being incredibly rude and disrespectful. I will not reply to you in this thread again. If you want to continue this discussion, please take it to private messages.

I liked the review. I'd just chock it up to him having a bad day.
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Jérôme
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Hockey Mask wrote:
I'd just chock it up to him having a bad day.


Admitted, I did have a bad day.
Also I could have worded my criticism a bit more subtle. Apologies if I have offended any of the readers here.

TyrionXavier wrote:
I don't confuse my thoughts about the game with thoughts about customer service - a publisher's customer service is part of game culture.


Well, the review is posted as game review, not as an essay on game culture.
My posts about your review are meant as a general critique on the tendency of posting trivia about games without saying anything insightful and then call them reviews. Your review triggered my annoyance because the thoughts on the game weren't about the game at all. Even though I sympathize with Gen-42 for treating you so kindly, it doesn't make the game itself anything better nor worse. And you think I need views on strategy for a review being complete, but I haven't stated that anywhere. All I'm looking for in a review about a game is a personal opinion about how the game plays and why it makes you feel the way it does. There are too many materialistic perspectives on games already.

TyrionXavier wrote:
In my opinion, you are being incredibly rude and disrespectful.


That's ad hominem.
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Kevin McCaig
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Tsaar wrote:
Admitted, I did have a bad day.
Also I could have worded my criticism a bit more subtle. Apologies if I have offended any of the readers here.


Subtlety is irrelevant, the issue I have with your criticism is that there's nothing constructive in any of it, not until this final post do you say anything about what you'd have preferred or what might've made the review better, or why you really have an issue with it.

TyrionXavier wrote:
Well, the review is posted as game review, not as an essay on game culture.
My posts about your review are meant as a general critique on the tendency of posting trivia about games without saying anything insightful and then call them reviews. Your review triggered my annoyance because the thoughts on the game weren't about the game at all. Even though I sympathize with Gen-42 for treating you so kindly, it doesn't make the game itself anything better nor worse. And you think I need views on strategy for a review being complete, but I haven't stated that anywhere. All I'm looking for in a review about a game is a personal opinion about how the game plays and why it makes you feel the way it does. There are too many materialistic perspectives on games already.


I think you're being overly critical here, why does the reviewer relating an anecdote on their customer service experience deserve your wrath? Sure it's flavour text rather than actual thoughts on gameplay / game mechanics, but it's relevant to the value of the product, and it's an interesting story. While it may have triggered a personal pet peeve of yours it's not only useful in helping me decide whether or not to purchase the game, but it's also only a third of the review overall. He may not have gone as deep into his thoughts as you might have liked but that's no excuse for using the comments section of his review to voice a "general critique on the tendency of posting trivia about games without saying anything insightful and then call them reviews.". Especially since you didn't bother to actually say that you were doing so in your first couple of comments. Furthermore describing it as an "essay on game culture" is disingenuous hyperbole; there IS a review there beyond the anecdote, and your response makes it clear that you have an axe to grind when it comes to materialism in gaming culture (perhaps you should write an article on that, it would be a good topic, but just as a game review is no place for an essay on game culture, the comments are no place for espousing your agenda either). He's right in saying that you were rude and disrespectful, and if you had just said, "I don't like this review, I wish you could have gone into more depth on why you like the game or why I should like the game, rather than describing your customer service experience" I doubt this would have ever been an issue.

You would do well to remember that reviews on this site are voluntary, (mostly) unsolicited, and require a fair amount of effort to prepare and present in an entertaining fashion (in fact you've done 2 yourself); consequently in our responses, even if negative, we should always endeavour to be succinct, reasoned and polite.

TyrionXavier wrote:
In my opinion, you are being incredibly rude and disrespectful.

That's ad hominem.


No, it's actually not. In order for it to be ad hominem Chad would've needed to state something like: "You're wrong BECAUSE you're rude and disrespectful." when what he actually said was something along the lines of: you're wrong AND you're rude and disrespectful.



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chris schott
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Jerome, you are correct that the review is mostly about the game aesthetics, the rules, and the customer service experience. Anyone who wants to know about the unique game play will have to look elsewhere.

Chad, while my Hive box was in perfect shape, the brittle insert was too broken to use. However, the bag is such a great addition that the box is superfluous. If you or anyone would like my Hive box, let me know.

Kevin, are you a sock puppet?
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Kevin McCaig
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spacerx wrote:
Kevin, are you a sock puppet?


No, I'm better looking than Chad.
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Chad S
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Darkbringer wrote:
spacerx wrote:
Kevin, are you a sock puppet?


No, I'm better looking than Chad.


wow



I challenge you to a duel! [/homer]



 
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Chad S
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spacerx wrote:
Jerome, you are correct that the review is mostly about the game aesthetics, the rules, and the customer service experience. Anyone who wants to know about the unique game play will have to look elsewhere.

Chad, while my Hive box was in perfect shape, the brittle insert was too broken to use. However, the bag is such a great addition that the box is superfluous. If you or anyone would like my Hive box, let me know.


Sure, I'll take the box. I can replace the one that I have that is still damaged. I ended up with 2 copies of the game, and am running a contest at the local game store to give away one of them. I certainly wouldn't mind an undamaged box for the copy that I'm keeping.

I don't understand Jerome. All of my reviews state from the outset that they are not about the specific mechanics of the game. That coupled with the horrible attitude and insults, I just don't know what to say.
 
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chris schott
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1. If you are posting opinions to a public forum on the internet, you have to get a thicker skin. Now.

2. GM me your address and I'll send the box, carefully packaged.
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Russ Williams
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spacerx wrote:
1. If you are posting opinions to a public forum on the internet, you have to get a thicker skin. Now.

Also be able to separate the content of the feedback from the manner of presentation. I.e. it's ultimately better to take away something positive (knowledge of what works and what doesn't in the review) than to get angry because someone seemed rude to you.

For what it's worth, I also was surprised to reach the "My thoughts" section, expecting a summary of your impressions about the game, and instead there's a long customer service story of the sort that normally appears as a general forum post like "Great customer service from Gen 42!", not in a review of the game (or perhaps as a quick aside in a review). Hopefully that is useful feedback. If not, oh well; in any case, no offense intended.

Meanwhile, enjoy Hive.
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Chad S
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russ wrote:
Also be able to separate the content of the feedback from the manner of presentation. I.e. it's ultimately better to take away something positive (knowledge of what works and what doesn't in the review) than to get angry because someone seemed rude to you.

For what it's worth, I also was surprised to reach the "My thoughts" section, expecting a summary of your impressions about the game, and instead there's a long customer service story of the sort that normally appears as a general forum post like "Great customer service from Gen 42!", not in a review of the game (or perhaps as a quick aside in a review). Hopefully that is useful feedback. If not, oh well; in any case, no offense intended.


Oh I'm not angry, and you weren't offensive in the slightest. I was just pointing out to Jerome how he was coming across. I figured if he wanted to continue that conversation that doing it privately would be the best place to do it, as a forum thread isn't the place for it. He said it himself, he was just having a bad day. In my opinion that's no excuse for his remarks, however.

Generally, I use the "My Thoughts" section to summarize my thoughts about my experiences with the game. In this case, the standout experiences I had with this game were with the lovely people at Gen-42, so that's what I wrote about.

Quote:
Meanwhile, enjoy Hive.

Thanks! It's a great game. Just played a few games yesterday with the group. Here's an addendum to that section (which I will add to the review after I post this message):

I love how it never plays the same twice, there's just so much stratey involved with a game that consists of only 26 pieces. New players can beat veteran players (though rare), and like most abstract games, play length is usually over quite quickly. Like Chess, I have seen two people with hundreds of games under the belts go for an hour, but for occasional players it is easily over in 15 minutes. It takes a couple plays to wrap your head around the movement restrictions of each piece, especially the spider, but after you've "got it," it pays off with an experience that almost can't be beat. Even if you lose, you still learn new things, what to do to counter your opponent, and come away with a positive vibe. All around, it's simply a fantastic game.
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John Butler
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I'm looking at Jerome's response many years later and it hasn't gotten any more acceptable. Regardless of the review content, this is aggressive and in poor taste. That aside, the review gave me an interesting perspective beyond the rules summary I've gotten elsewhere, thanks!
 
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