My wife likes to joke around and tell people that I have an irrational fear of bugs and spiders. I, on the other hand, like to say I have a totally rational fear of them. I’m pretty confident that given the chance a spider would kill me and every one I’ve ever loved. Based on this nugget of truth you’d think I’d be wary of a game that involves bugs, but I suppose that’s a testament to how interesting Hive is.
Hive is a two player board game with one major twist: there’s no board. The board is actually made up of the pieces added by players over the course of the game. The pieces must always be connected in one large group known as – wait for it – the hive. The hive must always be in one piece so if moving a piece would split the hive into pieces than you can’t move it. This property helps define the game board and also gives players the ability to strand opponent’s pieces. Thus the board gets built out as the game progresses.
Each player has a number of pieces with different bugs on them at his or her disposal, and like in chess each type has different rules for movement. Spiders, for instance, always move three spaces while grasshoppers can leap across the hive. You also have access to beetles, ants, and mosquitoes. You also have a queen bee whose role is similar to the king in chess. She can only move one space and the object of the game is to capture your opponent’s first.
The game includes all the touch and gesture controls you’d expect. Tap the pieces you want to move, slide your finger to move around the board, pinch to zoom or draw a circle to rotate, etc. They’re as intuitive as they are standard. There are four levels of AI difficulty ranging from beginner to hard, but when you first start even beginner is going to beat you a few times. There’s a two player “pass and play” mode as well as a peer to peer option though so you’re not stuck just playing the AI.
One of the things I like about this game is the high level of interaction. There’s no dancing around each other or keeping your distance. Since all the pieces need to be connected there’s just nowhere to run. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a defensive element here that needs to be paid attention to, however the second you stop attacking and let up you’re done for.
That’s really what makes Hive so unique and refreshing from a gameplay perspective. I feel like when I start a game of Hive we’re already heading towards the endgame. The queens are usually never more than few moves away from getting stuck, and then it’s really a foot race to get them surrounded first. Of course you need to be really careful as I’ve seen my fair share of queens slip out as they start to get surrounded.
Hive is a game with zero luck factor. Each player gets the same pieces and chooses when to play them. No random drawing or dice rolling. Losing means you made a mistake somewhere. This can be either awesome or a deal-breaker depending on personal preference. If you like a little randomness in your games then Hive may not be your cup of tea.
With games lasting between 5-10 minutes max it’s safe to say this one is a quickie. In fact most matches end before you ever get all your pieces into the game! I’ve noticed it works best against other players to have a “best of” series and play a few games in a row to determine a winner.
I don’t really have anything bad to say about Hive. It’s a perfect re-creation of the real world board game, and the AI means you’ll always have a willing opponent. For me it’s more interesting than a game like chess, and the quick playtime makes it perfect for on the go gaming. Well worth the price.