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Subject: Serving the nation with Hive II rss

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Keng Leong Yeo
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aka Uncle
As with my previous session report, this isn’t a single play report per se, but more of a series of Hive games stretching over the course of 2-3 weeks.

I will not repeat the background for this report, as it is similar to that from my previous report.

Another year has passed and it was time for another in-camp training (ICT). I hadn't bought many portable boardgames over the past year. Blokus Duo was probably the only one. With this in mind, I packed only Hive which was a hit last year, as well as Blokus Duo.

As it turned out, I was unfortunately deployed to a more isolated location with only two buddies. One of the duo, Simon, owns a copy of Hive. I had introduced to it to him during the last ICT and he liked it enough to go out and purchase his own copy.

I managed to get in a few games with Simon when time permitted. What was more interesting was the other buddy, Luke, got so bored that he asked us to teach him the game as well. He had professed a disinterest in boardgames during the last ICT. Imagine my glee when we finally broke his resistance! ninja

Luke turned out to be a slow learner and during the initial few games, Simon intentionally went easy on him, e.g. not escaping his queen bee when he could. I actually thought that slowed down Luke's learning process further.

When I sat down for my first games with Luke, I declared that I will play to my fullest, so that he can pick up the tricks of the trade quickly. He agreed. So whilst I managed to beat him easily over the next few games, he quickly caught onto the main tricks and cut out most of his mistakes. Before the end of the ICT, he had managed to take one game off me. He was really happy when he eventually did.

Luke also started asking about where to buy the game, and its costs. He explained that his parents were usually at home doing nothing other than watching TV. He reckoned it would be good if there were other activities to occupy them, as well as keeping their minds active.

Occasionally, when our duties allowed, we were allowed to return to the main bunk where the rest of the team were stationed. I broke out Hive whenever I had the opportunity but only one other team member was interested.

But what a find he turned out to be! He was one of the fastest learners of Hive I have taught the game to. By his second game with me, he had understood without any prompting or hinting from me, all of the main tricks. Though I always allowed him the slight advantage of going first, he had improved so vastly by his fourth or fifth game that our game times were pushing 45 minutes and draws started looking more likely. I was to find out later that he was an avid Xiang Qi player during his younger years. That explains his short learning curve!

By the end of the ICT, he had managed to take 2-3 games off me, with a couple of draws. I enjoyed our Hive games immensely. Time certainly passed quickly when we were boardgaming.

Our final game took place during the last night of our ICT. Luke happened to be around and was watching us going at each other for almost an hour. It was a particularly intense game where my queen bee was threatened by both his beetles for the first half of the game. I managed to threaten his queen bee enough to make my escape. I was especially proud of the coup de grace delivered by the oft maligned spider. So much so that I committed the finishing positions to memory, reproduced it at home, took a pic of it and posted in BGG. Here it is:

At the end of our game, Luke's sole comment was "Cheem!"

He later told me he did not understand the rationale behind a number of our moves.

P.S. I forgot to mention that Blokus Duo turned out to be unpopular and seldom hit the tables.
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