Tabletop Tuesday: Great for two (part 2)

Last week, we featured a beautiful, strategic abstract board game perfect for two players – Azul. If you missed it, I highly recommend you go have a read as it is one of my favourites! Yet another fantastic abstract game made especially for two players is Hive.

Hive by John Yianni is a strategic two-player game easily comparable to chess. The queen needs protecting, but instead of knights, bishops and castles the game pieces are common garden animals. It does not come with a board and only needs a small flat surface. In Hive, you need to strategically move your Soldier Ants, Spiders, Grasshoppers, Beetles, Mosquitoes and Lady Bug (the latter two added as expansions) to protect your own Queen Bee while attempting to surround the other player’s.

A Hive of Activity

On each turn, a player chooses to either place a tile from their insect supply or move one of the already placed tiles. As mentioned, the goal is to surround the Queen Bee of the other player, preventing her from moving.

Hive has two overriding rules:
When moving a piece, it may never cause the hive to be split in two.
Except for the Grasshoppers and Beetles, tiles may only be moved by sliding.

Play starts with players taking turns placing one insect of their choice on the table. Newly placed tiles may only be placed adjacent to the player’s own tiles and not touch the other’s. The Queen Bee needs to be placed by the fourth turn.
Players can decide to rather move one of the already placed tiles. These are allowed to be moved next to the other player’s tiles. Just like chess, each piece has its own unique movement style. Their movements actually somewhat resemble how the insects move in real life:

The Queen Bee can only move one space at a time.
The Soldier Ant can move any number of spaces along the outside of the hive.
The Spider can move three spaces at a time – no more and no less. It only moves along the outside of the hive, can’t jump over gaps and may not backtrack itself.
The Grasshopper jumps over any unbroken, straight line of adjacent tiles and can drop into spaces in the middle of the hive. It can’t move unless it’s jumping.

The Beetle moves only one space, but can move along the top of the hive, as well as along its edges. It can drop into spaces otherwise blocked and can also block other pieces from moving by stopping on top of them. The color of that stack is also changed to the color of the Beetle for the purposes of adding new tiles to the game. Multiple Beetles can be stacked on top of each other.

A Mosquito can take on the movement ability of any creature of either color that it is touching at the start of its move.
The Ladybug must move twice on top of the hive, then one space down on its last move.
It may not move around the outside of the Hive and may not end its move on top of other pieces.

Strategic, quick and portable

A game of Hive can last between 15 to 20 minutes. It has simple rules but is extremely strategic – like most abstract games are. You need to think carefully about each and every move. One wrong move could cause your Queen Bee to be surrounded. Naturally, the game time can easily be extended when players continuously assess and reassess every possible move.

It might be simple to teach but could take quite some time to master the strategy. It is compared to chess, after all! Rematches are a given and easily facilitated by how the table can be reset in the blink of an eye. One of my favourite things about Hive is that you can throw all the tiles in a small carry bag and take it along to the next board game night or even on vacation. It’s even easier if you buy Hive: Pocket Edition with tiles only 24mm wide, instead of the normal 37mm.

Hive will test your strategic thinking and keep you focussed throughout. It’s perfect as a compact, travel-ready game. But most importantly, it’s great for two!

Games, sports, music, series, reading. I think I have too many hobbies.

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