Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hive

People are buzzing about Hive, even in out of the way places.

Hive is a simple abstract game played without a board. Each player gets eleven hexagonal pieces with which to play, in five types of bugs.

Each turn you may move a piece into play, or move a piece in play to another location. The pieces always have to be touching each other. Each bug type has its own special movement rules, ala chess. The object of the game is to cause your opponent's queen bee to be surrounded. Unlike chess, pieces cannot be killed.

The primary tactics appears to be to immobilize opponent's pieces, either by moving one of your own pieces in such a way that they cannot move theirs without separating the hive into two pieces, or by climbing on top of one of them with one of your beetles (the only piece that can move onto other pieces). Detailed strategies are, as yet, unknown.

I got this game from its reputation on BGG. It didn't really sound that thrilling. How much can you do with eleven pieces? On the other hand, chess has only sixteen pieces and does pretty well, so maybe.

There are three versions of the game out. The first two are made with wooden pieces and stickers, while the third version is made out of Bakelite pieces, something like a hard glossy plastic.

In Israel, you can buy the third version. I spent 119 NIS, although you can find it for more in most places. In Hebrew it's "Haoketz", and is available online from Baduk.

I have played only one game so far and it does seem like an interesting game, although the inability to remove your opponent's pieces is a little strange. Many people have added a house rule to boost the power of the otherwise pathetically abilitied spiders by allowing them to bite a piece next to which they land and send it back to the draw pile. Others have simply allowed the spiders to move into places that normal pieces can't. Others simply accept that some pieces are more powerful than others.

The gameplay is generally pretty quick, maybe ten or fifteen minutes. This may be extended as players begin to learn better plays.

One worrying aspect is that, as in some other modern abstract games, it looks like it may be possible to force a tie game, either frequently or always. We'll have to see if that's true.

Another game using similar mechanics would probably make the basis for a good multi-player game.

Yehuda

The Escapist talks about the recurring pattern of blaming the younger generation's games for violence.
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