Recently, we picked up a copy of Hive: Carbon, an abstract tile-placing game by John Yianni. The game itself reminds me of mix of DVONN, Go, and Chess.
I have been thinking about getting this game for 8 or so years, but always wondered who might I play this with? It turns out my lovely wife really enjoys abstract games, and was curious about this game. So when she, the usually frugal one, suggested “What about this game?” I said “Sure! We can even play it outside because the pieces are waterproof”. Huzzah for resin.
The goal of the game is to surround your opponent’s queen bee, using both your pieces and their pieces. The game starts from a blank slate with each player taking turns either adding a new piece or moving an existing piece.
At no time can the hive be disjoined; A piece can be moved so long as in doing so all of the other pieces in play remain contiguous.
Akin to Chess, each of the types of pieces have different rules for movement. Some pieces slide (i.e. you must be able to slide them out of their slot without having to move the adjoining pieces), others can step out of an enclosed area.
Akin to Go, you must concern yourself with degrees of freedom.
Queen Bee (x1): The queen is your most important piece, if she is surrounded, you lose. She may slide one space.
Spider (x2): The spider slides exactly three spaces.
Grasshopper (x3): The grasshopper steps out of their spot along a straight line over at least one piece.
Ant (x3): The ant may slide along the entire perimeter of the hive.
Beetle (x2): The beetle steps out of its spot and moves exactly one space; It may move on top of another piece.
Mosquito (x1): From an expansion, the mosquito may move as if it were any piece that it is adjacent too.
Ladybug (x1): From an expansion, the ladybug moves two spaces on top of the hive and then one space down; It may not end its turn on top of the hive.
The game takes about 10 to 20 minutes to complete, with the hive slowly gaining in size. As players jockey to surround their opponents queen, pieces will join the board, others will become locked in place, and still others will move to further confine the queen.
Remember to focus on the queens freedoms. By default, the person who’s queen has the most empty sides is winning. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. A grasshopper can quickly vacate it’s adjoining spot by the queen; Likewise a grasshopper can quickly jump into position adjacent to your queen.
I’ve enjoyed the handful of games that I’ve played. There is a depth of strategy to Hive. I’m looking forward to further exploration.