So, while at UK Games Expo I had the pleasure to meet and interview John Yianni, he was a delight to talk to and a very nice man. John was demoing Hive Pocket, a travel sized version of Gen 42 Games’ best seller.
After the interview John very kindly gave me the demo version of the game to keep, which was great for me as I’ve been meaning to try the game since it won “best small box game” in the 2010 Unboxed Awards, and it didn’t just win, it decimated the competition with double the number of votes.
That evening my friend Sam and I broke the game out at a table outside the hotel and set about learning the game, we then played seven times in a row. Does that make it a good game? Well, lets find out.
Hive is an abstract game at heart and although it has insect designs on the pieces, it is really only to distinguish which piece can move in what way. The aim of the game is to construct the Hive in such a way as to trap the opposing Queen so that she is surrounded on all 6 sides.
Hive Pocket comes in a very bright orange drawstring bag, I think this is to make it easy to spot on your shelf, why else would it be this hideous orange colour!!
Inside the bag though it’s a different story.
Hive contains 26 pieces in total, with 13 pieces per player:
1x Queen Bee (Yellow-Gold)
2x Spiders (Brown)
2x Beetles (Purple)
3x Grasshoppers (Green)
3x Soldier Ants (Blue)
1 x Mosquito (Grey)
1 x Ladybird (Red)
The pieces are both very beautiful and very durable. They are smaller and lighter than the original game, by about a third but other than that the game is essentially the same, but it does include both expansions.
But the best bit is the price tag. Given the reduction is size and weight you would expect a significant reduction in price and you’d be right. The full size game costs £20 plus £7 for both expansions where as Hive Pocket comes in at a very affordable £12.
Playing the Game
To set up the game each player takes all the pieces of one colour. You are now ready to play!
Randomly determine a starting player, that player places one of his pieces down on the table. Then the other player does the same, it must be touching one long edge of the piece played by the first player. This is the only time the players can play a new piece so that it is touching an opposing piece.
Players must place their Queen within the first four pieces and they cannot start to move pieces until they have placed their Queen.
Now on your turn you can either place a new piece or move an existing piece. If you place a new piece it may not be touching an opposing piece on any side.The pieces move in the following ways.
- Queen Bee – The Queen can move one space
- Beetle – The Beetle can move one space, but it can also move vertically on top of the Hive. A piece underneath a Beetle cannot move and is considered to be the same colour as the Beetle.
- Spider – The Spider moves exactly 3 spaces
- Ant – The Ant can move to any space
- Grasshopper – The Grasshopper can jump over pieces in a straight line, it lands in the first empty space it comes to.
With the exception of the Beetle and Grasshopper all the pieces may only move by sliding along the table. If they cannot physically slide into a position in the Hive they cannot move into that position. You may not move a piece if it means you would break the hive into two or more pieces.
Play continues in this fashion until one player’s Queen is surrounded on all six sides.
The Mosquito and the Ladybird are intended for players who have played the base game a little more. They work like this:
- Ladybird – The Ladybird always moves exactly 3 spaces and always 2 on top of the hive and 1 down.
- Mosquito – The Mosquito can move exactly like any of the pieces it begins it’s turn next to.
I like it. It’s a great two player game that plays quickly and looks and feels great. The pieces are very tactile and they look bold and inviting to new players.
A game takes between five and ten minutes to play and that feels right, it can be a quick filler or you can play several games in a row.
It’s simple to learn, certainly easier than Chess for example, but I did have a little trouble with the rulesheet at first, but once you understand how to play it’s very easy to teach and get people playing almost instantly.
That being said, just because it’s simple to learn and play doesn’t mean that there is no depth and strategy. There are so many things going on in the game that you have to constantly be alert and thinking several moves in advance.
If you play two player games at all then I highly recommend this title. Hive has proven over the last decade to be a popular game and there is a very good reason for that. I think your mileage may vary on the game, especially if you are playing against an opponent with a better mind for strategy than you, but if you treat it as a fun way to pass the time, it’s a great game.