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Hive FAQ

FAQ for Hive
List of game FAQs

Rules PDFs

This thread noted that the official site does not make it easy to directly access the rulebooks. Here are direct links to the PDF files:


Mosquito - Multi-Language
Ladybug - Multi-Language
Pillbug - Multi-Language


Pillbug Carbon - Multi-Language


Pillbug Pocket - Multi-Language

Q: Can I use the online Hive implementations at and to check legality of rules?

A: Yes. They have no known bugs about the rules.

However, if a bug might occur, you can report it on the forum and it will be fixed by the admin. Of course, this only counts for the version.

Q: Do I have to surround the enemy queen with my pieces to win?

A: No, the color of the 6 pieces that surround the queen are irrelevant. Typically it will be surrounded by some black and some white pieces.

Q: Are ties and draws possible?

A: Yes, if a single move causes both queens to be surrounded simultaneously, or by mutual consent if it is clear that the game will never end due to each players' best move creating cyclical repetition.

Q: Can I make a move that surrounds both queens at the same time?

A: Yes. This causes a draw, and is not an unusual result.

Q: What's the new tournament variant rule to reduce ties?

A: The variant rule is: You cannot place your queen as your first move. This was found to significantly reduce ties in tournaments at Bee/Spider/Ant is a powerful first-player opening; the best answer by the second player was generally to mirror it, which placed the Bees adjacent to each other, likely causing a draw by surrounding each bee on all sides except one shared space.

Q: What if I can move no placed piece nor bring in a new piece?

A: Then your turn is skipped and your opponent in effect gets 2 turns in a row. It is unusual but possible for this to occur. Some players consider this a stalemate, as in chess (when, on a player's turn, their king is not in check but no move can be made that will not put their king in check), but John Yianni's personal ruling, and the behavior of the AI at HiveMania, is a skipped turn.

Q: Can I voluntarily pass, or make a "no-op move" which does not change the piece arrangement?

A: No. The rules clearly say "Players then take turns to either place or move any one of their pieces". The only time you pass is when you must pass due to having no legal move.

Similarly, you can not make a "move" which leaves a piece in the same place and thus doesn't change the play situation, i.e. it is illegal to make a move practically indistinguishable from passing.

Q: Is it possible to place a new piece next to my beetle which is on top of an enemy piece?

A: Yes. The color of a hex is considered to be the color of its top piece.

Q: Is it possible to place a new beetle piece on top of one of my pieces that touches no enemy pieces?

A: No, all new pieces must be placed on the table.

Q: Can I drop a piece into a surrounded hole?

A: Yes, if all the surrounding pieces are your color. The "freedom to move" rule does not apply to dropping new pieces.

Q: Can beetles climb onto another beetle that is on another piece?

A: Yes. You could even have a stack of 5 pieces (4 beetles stacked on top of some base piece.) With the Mosquito expansion set, you can have a stack of 7 pieces (4 beetles and 2 mosquitoes all stacked on top of some base piece).

A beetle can directly climb up or down several levels (from the ground to the top of an adjacent tall stack, or from a tall stack down to the ground).

Q: Are beetles affected by the Freedom To Move rule?

A: Yes. If a beetle is not climbing up onto or down off of a piece, it moves exactly like a Queen Bee. A beetle cannot move into a space it cannot physically slide into.

The Freedom To Move rule also affects beetles when they're climbing up and down. A beetle attempting to climb up or down the hive can still be blocked by other beetles stacked on top of the hive. The rule is, if the two stacks of pieces that might block the movement are both taller than both the space the beetle is moving from and the space the beetle is moving to, then the beetle is blocked.

Here's a diagram to make it clearer.

     >-< A >-<
    < C >-< D >
     >-< B >-<

Let's say the beetle is at B and wants to move to A. Take the beetle temporarily off of B. If the shortest stack of tiles of C and D is taller than the tallest stack of tiles of A and B, then the beetle can't move to A. In all other scenarios the beetle is free to move from B to A.

For those who prefer a math formula:
height(A) < height(C) and
height(A) < height(D) and
height(B) < height(C) and
height(B) < height(D)
moving between A and B (in either direction) is illegal, because the beetle cannot slip through the "gate" formed by C and D, which are both strictly higher than A and B.
Otherwise, movement between A and B is legal.

For a lengthy discussion on this subject, see .

Q: Can beetles on one piece move directly onto an adjacent piece, or do they have to go down to the table, and then on a later turn climb up onto the different piece?

A: Beetles can move directly from the top of one piece to the top of an adjacent piece.

Q: Can a spider move into a space it can't fit into?

A: No. It moves just like an ant, except must move exactly 3 spaces.

Q: Can grasshoppers jump over a stack of more than one piece?

A: Yes. Hive designer John Yianni has clarified that the Grasshopper, unlike all other bugs, literally jumps over all the pieces in its flight path. It's never blocked by a "gate" created by a pair of Beetle/Mosquito stacks on either side of its path.

Q: Aren't spiders just weak ants?

A: A spider is indeed strictly weaker than an ant. Some people are bothered by this and propose many variants to "fix" the "problem". Others are not bothered by it, and say "A rook or bishop is strictly weaker than a queen in chess, too." While more limited, Spiders are useful in many circumstances, particularly in the early phase while the hive is small. Learning to use your spiders correctly can give you an advantage, especially in a circumstance where you might have just used a soldier ant. If used correctly, you'll usually only use them once, and they'll give you the pinning power you need early on, without wasting your soldier ant pieces for when you'll really need them in the late game.

Q: What about the new Mosquito piece?

A: It has its own game entry with info: Hive: The Mosquito. All rules about movement of specific pieces (in the rules and in this FAQ) also apply to a mosquito moving as such a piece, of course.

Q: What are the pieces made of?

Phenolic resin. Many people informally call them "bakelite", but technically they are not bakelite (which is only one of many types of phenolic resin).

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