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  • Writer's pictureJared Neal

Hive Pocket - Crawling With Fun

Updated: Jun 2, 2021



Retail Price: $28

Player Count: 2 (only playable at 2)

Age Range: 9+ (7+ for us)

Play Time: 20 mins. (consistent with our experience)

Complexity: 5 out of 10 (probably closer to a 3 in our experience)

Mechanisms: Grid Movement, Tile Placement

Designer: John Yianni

Artist: John Yianni

Publisher: Gen42 Games


Educational Value:

  • Strategic Thinking

  • Problem Solving

Overview:


Hive is an abstract two player game, where you take turns either placing a new tile into the hive, or moving one of your existing pieces. If either player completely surrounds their opponent's queen, you win the game.


Setup:


There is no setup, you just jump right in.


Gameplay:


The first player will place one of their tiles into the play area, forming the original hive. You then take alternating turns, either placing one of your tiles into the hive, or moving a piece you have already placed. When placing a tile, it can only touch other tiles of the same color. The queen (bee) tile, must be placed by your 4th turn, and none of a player's pieces may be moved, until their queen has been placed. When moving a piece already in the hive, you cannot break the hive in moving your piece. Breaking the hive occurs, when after moving you leave two separate groupings of tiles, that don’t connect in any way. In the base game, each player starts with 11 pieces, consisting of the following:

  • Queen Bee - moves one space per turn.

  • Beetle (2 tiles) - moves one space per turn, and may climb on top of an adjacent piece. That piece is immobilized, and that stack is now considered whatever color is on top.

  • Grasshopper (3 tiles) - jumps over one or more pieces in a straight line, to the first adjacent space on the opposite side of the line of pieces.

  • Spider (2 tiles) - moves exactly three spaces around the hive. It must move in a direct path, never backtracking.

  • Soldier Ant (3 tiles) - moves around the edge of the hive like a Bee or Spider, but it may move as many spaces as the player wishes.


If at any time, one player is able to completely surround the Queen Bee of the other player, by any combination of pieces, the player whose queen is surrounded loses.


Expansions:


The expansions don’t change gameplay, but just add three additional bugs that have different moving abilities.


Mosquito - takes on the characteristic of any creature it is touching, including a stacked beetle. If only touching another mosquito, it may not move.


Ladybug - moves three spaces, two on top of the hive, and then one down. It may not move around the outside of the hive, and must not end its movement on top of the hive.


Pillbug - moves one space. Instead of moving, it may move any adjacent piece on top of itself, and then down again into another empty adjacent space. Any piece which physically moved (directly or by the Pillbug) may not move or use its special ability on the next player’s turn.


Luck/Strategy:


There is no luck in Hive, this is purely a strategic abstract game. In some abstract games, going first can be somewhat of an advantage, but in Hive we haven’t found this to be the case. As is often the case with abstracts, you will be required to think tactically, and reformulate your strategy each turn.


Artwork:


There isn’t much artwork here, other than the engraving of the different bugs on top of the tiles. I feel like I should mention the tiles themselves here, as they are extremely nice, and a pleasure to play with. They feel a little bit like a nice set of dice, but they are heavier, and extremely durable.


Theme:


The movements associated with each piece, are pretty thematic. While you certainly aren’t ever going to feel like you are playing in an actual bug war, the movement of each piece does feel very intuitive based on the correlation to the insect it represents.


Replayability/Fun Factor:


Just the base game of Hive has plenty of replayability, but when you add in the expansions, it really gives it legs (no pun intended). Whether you get really good at it and think deeply about your strategic approach, or you just play periodically for a fun light strategy game, you are going to have fun playing this game if you like abstract strategy at all. The one caveat, which again is going to be true of most abstract strategy games, is that if the two players are very imbalanced in experience or skill level, it isn’t likely going to be very fun for either player. I don’t feel like this is as exaggerated as in something like Chess, but that could also partly be due to the fact that not many people are going to be expert level at Hive.


Conclusion/Audience:


As someone who enjoys, but doesn’t love Chess, I wasn’t sure how well I was going to like this one before I played it. With that said, this is far and away my favorite abstract strategy game now, because the nature of the theme keeps it light and approachable, but the balance of the game play leads to some very fulfilling strategic battles. Unless you just really don’t like abstract strategy games, I would highly recommend this for every family. In our experience, just about any elementary age child should be able to catch on to the strategy, if you coach them through the first couple of games.


+ Easy to learn and quick to play

+ High replayability

+ Highly strategic


- Differences in skill level can be frustrating


Final Score:


Jared - 8.5

Abigail - 8


Other Games You Might Like:


Onitama, Qwirkle, Santorini, Shobu, Yinsh


This game was purchased from my friendly local game store, and is available here. This isn't an affiliate link, but just my way of trying to support my FLGS, who carry great games at even better prices.

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