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Subject: Additional Hive Piece - The Mite rss

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H Jacobs
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Since another new attempt was being made to create a defensive Hive piece (The Moth =>
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/748486/additional-hive-p...) and this piece has some things in common with the thoughts I had on this issue some months ago, I decided to share these thoughts. Although it is probably too out-of-the-box for most people, maybe it can add to the creation of a decent defensive piece.

Background

The nasty side effect of the new additions is that the person who starts a game with these additions included has a higher chance to win than with the basic game. You can read more about this issue in the following article:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/680911/expansions-and-fi...

My first attempt to create a new bug that would add a defensive angle was described in the following article:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/647821/the-hive-addition...

It already had some pretty good defensive elements, like not being able to win the game, not changing the color of a pile of pieces (like a beetle does) and being able to pin down beetles and such. Unfortunately the piece is unpractical, because of the fact that it goes underneath other pieces.

Some other suggestions were being made, like that of Randall Ingersoll to put the piece on top. Problem was that it was in that case difficult to spot what the color of the pile should be. Jason Wallace suggested even a transparent piece.

With these last thoughts I started to work.

I also got some inspiration by the article about the usage of insects in the game:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/666538/do-you-get-it

Goal

So I wanted to create a defensive piece, one that plays natural and is therefore not difficult (a six year old should be able to play it without asking too many questions) and that had some similarity to insects.

Brainstorming

Building on the suggestions of Randall and Jason by using a piece that even when it is on top not changes the color of the pile, I winded up thinking of a parasite. This parasite could be on top of another insect, but was too small to be noticed. However it would cripple that insect. And because it is so small it can't occupy a spot on the playing field, it always has to stay on top on the hive. It should even start on top of the hive.

Why shouldn't the piece do and look exactly what I was thinking about.

And the MITE was born. This piece has the following physical appearances:



Rules

1. The Mite enters the game on top of the (uncovered) Queen Bee of the same color.

2. The Mite can only move one field to the top of an adjacent piece or pile of pieces.

3. When a piece is moved on top of a pile of pieces that includes a Mite then the Mite will automatically be put on top of the new piece.

4. A piece with a Mite on top cannot move.

5. The piece just underneath a Mite determines the color of the field for placing purposes.

6. A Mite doesn't have an influence on another Mite (see also Physical Appearance).

7. A Mosquito cannot copy a Mite (it is physically not possible). However the Mosquito can mimic the piece just underneath a Mite when adjacent to it.

Consequences

A Mite is always on top of another piece.

When there are two (or more) Mites on top of a piece they are put next to each other. In case another piece is put on that pile, all the Mites will be put on top of the new piece.

When the Mite enters play, the Queen Bee will not be able to move!

Optional Rules

The problem is of course that a Mite can also pin down the enemy queen. To counter this problem one could decide that it is not allowed to move the Mite onto the enemy queen (weak design) or that it only can move via pieces or piles of pieces that contain enemy pieces (to slow it down).

Commercial Options

Almost nobody is going to buy a defensive piece and especially not such a small (and weak) piece as the Mite. Therefore it would be better to add it to an additional piece or to distribute it as a promotional piece. (An advantage is that it can also be used with the pocket edition).

The remark made with the Moth also applies here. The basic version is good as it is and doesn't need this addition. It should only be used with additions like the Ladybug and the Mosquito.

Dragonfly

When a Dragonfly lands on a Mite, the Mite will get on top and the Dragonfly will be pinned (regular rules). The Mite will make the Dragonfly weaker and therefore more feasible.

Thoughts

A piece with a different shape than the other pieces is probably not acceptable for most people. However when you look at the analogy with the insects (in this case a parasite) it plays very very natural (just try it).

And don't forget that a lot of sports also have odd participants (e.g. goalkeepers for soccer, hockey and volleyball) so why not Hive?

H

[As said before, I've put the description of this piece on the forum to help the creation of a defensive Hive piece as revived by the Moth].

EDIT1: Needless to say that this variant only works properly when the optional rule that prohibits the placement of the Queen Bee on the first move is in place.
EDIT2: Added the (forgotten) Mosquito mimic rule.
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Sean Colombo
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Really interesting idea. I wonder if the Hive pocket edition will have 16mm pieces like you describe here. That would be a cool coincidence.
 
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H Jacobs
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Well I think the pocket edition will have pieces that a bit bigger. The goal is of course that the Mite is smaller to recognise the color of the piece it is on top of.

H
 
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Antonio Ferrari
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I like this piece. Regarding pin down enemy queen, could be used this optional rule, even if it's supposed to work only limiting mites to one per player: when you move your mite onto a piece with the enemy mite on top of it, return that enemy mite on the top of its queen (the opponent queen).

Unfortunately I think it could not work with adjacent bees...
 
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Randall Ingersoll
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Initially, I did not like this piece. But the more I thought about it, the more I like it.

It is designed as a defensive piece only. This is a good thing.

Some playtesting will help, but I think that the Mite could become too powerful in the end game.

There is no way to stop a mite! It is in fact a Mighty Mite!

In many endgame positions a player ends up in Zugzwang and is forced to make a move that weakens his position. When you can force your opponent to do so, you can quite often force a win.

But with a Mite atop the hive, the Mite will always be able to move. How can this be changed?

Some options:

1) When Mites occupy the same space, neither can move.
2) When Mites occupy the same space, both are permanently removed from the hive.
3) Mites cannot move unless the player has a legal move by another bug.

I truly enjoy these discussions!

Randy
 
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Antonio Ferrari
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rmingersoll wrote:

1) When Mites occupy the same space, neither can move.
2) When Mites occupy the same space, both are permanently removed from the hive.
3) Mites cannot move unless the player has a legal move by another bug.


Yes, Zugzwang. I think 3 could limit too much mites movement. I suppose 1 or 2 are better.

1 and 2 seem similar, what's the real difference in practice? Maybe I'm missing something...

 
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H Jacobs
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The main reason why one would use a Mite is to pin down pieces that can walk on top of the Hive (Beetle, Mosquito and Dragonfly). It is true, the Mite can always move, but when for example it is on top of an enemy beetle next to the last open spot of your queen bee, you still have a Zugzwang situation. When the Mite moves the game is lost.

I personally have a feeling that it won't be that big of a problem. Via playtesting this should become clear. (one could use a coin, a pawn or a die to represent the Mite).

I've added the rule that Mites don't have any influence on each other because of the fact that a single insect can become infested with Mites.

But one could always say, be consistent and let the Mites be able to pin down each other. (option 4).

@Antonio: with option 2 the piece that was pinned down can move again.

H
 
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Jarek Szczepanik
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Hi Chlorix!

Your idea of making a piece smaller for the purpose of being able to see the colour of the tile below was an elegant way to cope with the problem I had with the moth. I have reworked the rules for my piece in a way that they won't collide/double with the abilities of your mite and will post them after few more tests. I don't see the problem with having two new defensive pieces (all new creatures: mosquito, ladybug and dragonfly are offensive ones).


As for your tiny arachnid, I have few comments:

1. It seems to be ideal for defending against one of the most nasty openings (at least for me), when your opponent places beetles and/or grasshoppers next to his queen bee (that's why I like it!).

2. It is difficult to say if the mite will be too powerful or not: it is a slow piece (thus, in theory, not able to act immediately as a defence), plus it does not give you the advantage of changing the colour of the field it stays on to its own; on the other hand it is placed on top of player's own queen bee and can get near opponent's queen bee in 3-5 moves without being stopped what makes it a dangerous weapon.

3. I'm not sure if allowing the mite to be unstoppable is a good idea. It would be fair if your opponent could defend against any piece you use. Maybe not allowing it to move on top of the adjacent pile? - a single tile is a big mountain for the tiny mite, isn't it? I won't be using this restriction for the moth any more, so feel free to try it out. Then, the only way for the mite/mites to land on top of the pile could be by placing another piece on the field the mite/mites currently stays/stay on.

4. Is it possible to modify it's placing rules? It would be nice if the mite pieces could be added to a standard Hive set and could be
placed the same way as other pieces.

Good luck improving the mite!
 
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H Jacobs
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Hello Yarko,

After Randal's Zugzwang comment and your comment no. 3 I'm inclined to remove the "Mites have no influence on each other rule" and add that they can pin down each other.

That way it becomes much more difficult to pin down the enemy Queen Bee, because it is also the starting spot or the enemy Mite(s).

About your comment 4. Making the piece smaller not only provided a way to recognise the color of the piece underneath, but also secured that it could not be placed as the final piece that surrounds the Queen Bee.

It also added a problem. How is the Mite going to start? Putting it on your own (uncovered) Queen Bee seemed like a good idea, because the Queen Bee will always be part of the game fairly soon and there is only one available. It also comes with the price that your own Queen Bee gets pinned down when the Mite comes into play, which I like. Of course "the Queen Bee cannot be put in play on the first turn" rule has to be in place.

Personally I think the only choice to add an addition to Hive is to add one or more defensive pieces. Otherwise the game will be become even more unbalanced.

My main motivation to think of new bugs lies with the following variant:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/484931/the-hive-variant-...

Therefore I always like to see variants (like the Moth). And especially defensive ones. Most proposed bugs are (very) offensive.

H
 
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Jarek Szczepanik
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As for the placing rules for the Mite I think it would be interesting to if the Queen Bee started ''infected'' with the Mite of it's own color (both creatures enter the game together). You won't be able to escape with the Queen unless you move the mite on any adjacent tile. A mite that infects the Queen Bee... It reminds me of a certain real mite:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varroa_destructor
 
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Calvin Daniels
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I would have the mite start by placing on any own piece that is not directly connected to an opponent's piece
 
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H Jacobs
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The Mite version 0.3

In the meantime the Mite has developed a bit more. The first improvement a few months ago was the ability that Mites can climb on top of each other, which doesn't make them unstoppable any more (version 0.2). The following part describes the next version.

Introduction

Some time ago Svartisen contacted me to use the Mite for his Vassal engine, see also
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/773598/hive-with-unoffic...
He also had a plan to create more minibugs, which of course should all have similar standard abilities (in the process some new minibugs were created, but it's up to him to reveal those).

I told him that I was not happy with the way the Mite was performing. I think that the current Mite has some very good abilities in theory, but when you are playing with it, it just doesn't fulfill what it should do and that is to balance out that White is starting the game.

Lets look at the next example of a game of Hive including the Mite:
Move 1. White: Random Bug / Black: Random Bug
Move 2. White: Queen Bee / Black: Queen Bee
Move 3. White: Mite / Black: Mite
Move 4. White: Mite onto first White Bug

And then Black has a problem. If he puts his Mite on his random bug, it will be covered by the White Mite and the next turn the White Mite will cover the Queen Bee. Or he can stay on his own Queen Bee, to hold off the cover of the White Mite, but that means that the Black Queen Bee cannot move either. In both cases the White player has a big advantage.

We also discussed at that time the same placement as Talisinbear suggested above, but that still doesn't solve the problem of offensive covering of the opposing Queen Bee at an early stage.

Of course a rule could have been added that the Mite cannot cover the opposing Queen Bee. But that is a technical rule (bad design). How am I going to explain to a six year old why I cannot cover the opposing Queen Bee with my Mite?

Since we pictured the Mite as a Varroa Destructor I came up with a movement restriction. The Mite can only move to a spot (on top of the Hive) that is next to the own Queen Bee or on top of the own Queen Bee itself. The parasite is dependent of the Queen Bee of the same color. This way it keeps the intended defensive abilities and it cannot cover the Queen Bee anytime soon (the assumption is that the Queen Bee is not placed on the first turn).

Rules version 0.3

1. The Mite enters the game on top of the (uncovered) Queen Bee of the same color.

2. The Mite can only move one field to the top of an adjacent piece or pile of pieces, provided that this spot is next to the Queen Bee of the same color or onto the Queen Bee of the same color.

3. When a piece is moved on top of a pile of pieces that includes a Mite (or Mites) then the Mite (or Mites) will automatically be put on top of the new piece.

4. A piece with a Mite on top cannot move or use its abilities.

5. The full sized piece just underneath a Mite determines the color of the field for placing purposes.

6. A Mosquito cannot copy a Mite (it is physically not possible). However the Mosquito can mimic the full sized piece just underneath a Mite when adjacent to it.

Consequences

A Mite is always on top of another full sized piece. This also holds for a stack of Mites.

When the Mite enters play, the Queen Bee will not be able to move!

In case the Queen Bee is too far away for the Mite to move to a spot next to it, the Mite will not be able to move at all.

Thoughts

The Mite was developed as a defense against bugs that can move on top of the Hive, like the Beetle and Mosquito. In the meantime the Pillbug appeared, which changed the world of Hive dramatically. The effectiveness of the Mite in a game that includes bugs with a Queen Bee Rescue ability is much less than one without those bugs. Although the Mite is very good in neutralizing an offensive Pillbug.

I still think that minibugs are the perfect promo bugs. They can be used with the base set as well as the pocket version. Furthermore they are cheaper to produce and to transport than the full sized pieces.

H
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AbStrateGyk
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For a minibug, the ability to pin down and disable abilities of an enemy piece is a bit too strong. Instead, after landing on a piece, with its phoretic ability, it is able to hitch a ride from the piece under it. So if for example it is on top of your own Ant, the Ant can transport it...say next to the enemy Queen and on your next move, you can move it down next to the enemy Queen to the left or right of your Ant. I think that would make for an interesting game play. However, because it cannot pin enemy pieces, it will not be a defensive bug.

That being said, i think the ability of phoresy is already attributed to another suggested bug in the Moth. The Moth however weakens the enemy piece by limiting its movement while on top of it. So how is it that the Mite would be stronger in that it can pin an enemy piece? Seems that it should be the other way around.
 
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H Jacobs
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The addition of the Ladybug and the Mosquito lead to an advantage for the white player. By adding the two expansions the white player had two extra pieces available that could reach enclosed spots.

The Mite is meant as a pure defensive piece that can take out one of the bugs that is able to reach an enclosed spot. Picture this Mite as a Varroa Destructor, a parasite that actually kills its host.

Is it strong? Yes, but not overpowered, especially with the special rule that it can only move to a field next to the Queen Bee of the same color, which severely hampers its mobility. With the new rule it becomes some kind of goalkeeper.

For the "hitch a ride" principle, check out the [MINIBUGS] thread.

H
 
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Randall Ingersoll
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Chlorix wrote:

The Mite can only move one field to the top of an adjacent piece or pile of pieces, provided that this spot is next to the Queen Bee of the same color or onto the Queen Bee of the same color.



What happens if the Queen moves away from the Mire? When it gets three or more spaces away does the Mite become immobile?
 
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H Jacobs
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rmingersoll wrote:
Chlorix wrote:

The Mite can only move one field to the top of an adjacent piece or pile of pieces, provided that this spot is next to the Queen Bee of the same color or onto the Queen Bee of the same color.



What happens if the Queen moves away from the Mite? When it gets three or more spaces away does the Mite become immobile?


Yes it does become immobile. So moving your Queen, for example via the Pillbug, could have a disadvantage.

On the other hand the piece covered by the Mite is still immobilized. That is not dependent of the position of the Queen Bee.

H
 
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Randall Ingersoll
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I was lazy! When I went back and reread the rules, I see that this was already covered!
 
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AbStrateGyk
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When I googled "PHORESY", I get lots of pictures of MITES attaching themselves onto different types of bugs.

The most impressive radiation of phoretic associations occurs among the Mites. Phoretic mites may hinder their host by making flight more difficult, which may affect its aerial hunting ability or cause it to expend extra energy while carrying these passengers

So I think using the MITE (a phoront) for this minibug piece is misplaced. In fact, it should replace the obscure Pseudoscorpion.

When I googled "BITE PARALYSIS" I get results with TICK in it.

As for this immobilizing mini-bug piece, the TICK (a parasite) would have been more appropriate.

The toxins released by Ticks cause lower motor neuron paralysis, which is defined as a loss of voluntary movement and which is caused by a disease of the nerves that connect the spinal cord and muscles. With lower motor neuron paralysis the muscles stay in an apparent state of relaxation.
 
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Jarek Szczepanik
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Pseudoscorpions are also phoretic arachnids and use many insects for transportation, so the theme is not misplaced.

The ticks are parasites of vertebrates and not other arthropods, so they are less credible as parasitic bugs in Hive. Mites replace ticks in the insect world, and therefore the Mite is based on a certain species, Varroa destructor, which is a parasite of honey bees.
 
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AbStrateGyk
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I get that, but I don't think anybody would have known anything about a Varroa destructor (which i only learned about today) unless they consulted Wikipedia. Everyone knows what a Mite is and that it is distinctly phoretic, not many know anything about Pseudoscorpions, let alone encountered one. And as I quoted from Wikipedia above, phoretic mites "hinder their host" while pseudoscorpions do not. This is a special ability given to the Pseudoscorpion but in reality they do not possess this capability unlike the Mite.

So your argument regarding Mite vs. Tick is contrary to your selection of Pseudoscorpion vs. the Mite. And if one is to associate Phoresy among arthropods, then the mighty Mite should take the cake.

Which brings us to the Mite vs Tick argument. The Mosquito piece's ability to mimic other pieces' character was based on the argument that they suck blood. Blood from mammals. Mosquitoes are not known mimics, yet it was given the ability to do so by virtue of the fact that they metaphorically suck/absorb the movement and/or abilities of anything that it touches...even though they don't suck the blood of other insects. You can then transfer that argument with the Tick. Ticks are more commonly known parasites and they transmit diseases like Lyme disease that causes paralysis. This is exactly what the piece in question does...to immobilize another piece and, just like the Mosquito, it doesn't matter whether that piece is a bug or a vertebrate

So if one has to make an immobilizing piece, then the Tick should be it. (In fact, I don't even know the correlation of the Pillbug being able to lift and temporarily immobilize another piece...but that's another story).







 
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H Jacobs
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During the design of the Mite my first choice was indeed the Tick, but for exactly the reason explained by Jaroslav I choose the Mite as name in the end. And of course your reasoning towards the Mosquito is correct. However although the Mosquito created some sort of precedent, I still think it was an example that just isn't right and therefore I decided against the Tick.

The picture of the Varroa Destructor was suggested by Jaroslav and I still think it was a good idea. The fact that you learned about that particular Mite probably means that others will do so too, which is of course great, especially when one could consider the Varroa Destructor as being a threat to mankind.

Unfortunately the movement and abilities of the current bugs aren't on par with those in the real world (you already mentioned the Mosquito and Pillbug). The goal should be to create bugs that have some similarity with the real world, but since the bugs in the current game don't have those similarities either I don't think that one has to be too strict. I have the feeling that the latest bugs, the Pillbug and Ladybug, have been chosen because they are rather "cute", are known by everybody and can easily be distinguished, which is commercially important.

In an earlier thread I made the suggestion to swap the abilities of some of the current bugs:
Give the (Stag) Beetle the movement and abilities of the Pillbug,
give the Pillbug the movement of the Spider and
give the Spider the movement of the Beetle.

That would already solve a lot of the similarity problems. But I'm afraid that the movement and abilities of those bugs are already written in stone and will never change, leaving a discrepancy with the real world.

H
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Chris Binkowski
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I like the idea of the Mite, mostly because now that I have the Pillbug expansion I have some use for the mini-bugs included :P

But I think I am going to modify the rules a bit:

1. On a player's turn, their mite can be placed onto the hive but must start on top of their own queen.

2. Mites only move on top of the larger hive pieces one hex at a time.

3. Mites can be carried around the hive on top of pieces of their own color, but can only move onto or off of their own pieces: they can never move between enemy pieces once moved onto them.

4. Mites render enemy pieces under them unable to move or use special abilities. If an enemy piece moves to the hex under a Mite, it is no longer able to move (or be moved) from that position until that Mite is moved.

5. The color of the hex is determined by the topmost piece underneath the Mite.

6. Opposing Mites can never occupy the same hex.



I like being able to have some flexibility with the Mite, but at the same time starting them on the queen makes for a 'castling' move like in Chess, giving an optional extra level of defense to her.



 
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H Jacobs
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Interesting rules.

It becomes a more attacking piece than the original Mite.

Example:
Mite comes in to play on top of the Queen. It moves to an Ant. The Ant moves to the other side of the Hive. The Mite jumps of and pins down an enemy piece. This enemy piece could very well be the enemy Queen.

I think it is a different piece compared to the original Mite with its own right of existence.

H

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Chris Binkowski
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Maybe I should just call it a 'Flea'

But the two reasons I like having it this way is because, one, if the player's queen gets moved far away from the mite, the mite could get seriously stranded. And two: I really liked the notion of it being to hitch a ride on friendly bugs.

But just like Castling can be an offensive move in Chess (to bring the Rooks out to bare), so my Mite can be offensive at the cost of some tempo.
 
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Jarek Szczepanik
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There already is a Flea among fan made bugs. Maybe Froghopper bug would be a better candidate. It would be a fourth minibug! Your idea is somewhat similar to my early versions of Zombie-ant Fungus (mind controlling piece) and Pseudoscorpion (which slows down enemy bugs and takes their abilities away).
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