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Hive: A Review

A Review of Hive

Hive is an abstract strategy game that I have categorized as "chess-related" (Z-3) according to my own Chess Variant Classification Scheme (CVCS). Hive shares (to a partial extent) four essential properties with chess (broad term):

It is a game of movement and capture, rarely of placement (no capturing, some placement: 50%)
It features Bilateral symmetry and equality of material (no initial setup: 50%)
It has functionally differentiated pieces (100%)
Win by capturing a definitive singleton (royal piece) (no capturing: 75%)

So, in my opinion, Hive is not a form of chess, or even chess-like, but is a chess-related game.

A game of Hive consists of two players alternating turns. A turn consists of either placing a piece, or moving a piece that has already been placed. There is no capturing in Hive. The goal of the game is to surround the opponent's royal piece (in Hive parlance, the Queen Bee). There is no board needed in Hive, as pieces must be placed and moved in such a way as to avoid creating isolated clusters, and all piece movement is relative to the existing placed pieces. However, a smooth, flat, level and stable surface is required to play this game. There are five types of pieces in all, and the rules for moving them are simple and easy-to-learn.

My experience with this game is that it tends to be a short, tactical game, rather than a game which requires long-term, strategic thinking. The game has a natural, unstructured feel to it, which differentiates it from highly structured games, such as chess. Games are usually short (20 minutes or so). The theme of crawling (and leaping) bugs jives well with the pieces and their movement. This theme element, however, is not strong enough to exclude this game from being considered an abstract game.

The pieces are composed of white and black high-quality Bakelite hex-tiles. The instructions are simple and clear. The packaging and game components are all high-quality, and durable.

So, is Hive a chess variant? I would say that it is not. It is related to chess, but not chess-like enough to warrant calling it a variant. Hive's most chess-like characteristics are: pursuit of the opponent's royal piece, and differentiated piece types. However, the restricted movement, the lack of a board and symmetric setup, combined with the complete absence of capturing, make Hive a very different game than chess.

More Information


Hive Board Game - How to Play Hive
Mark Lim


Games With Two - Review - Hive
Jason Moslander

Reviews Without Pants: Episode 4 - Hive Carbon
Stephen Keller

Hive video review
Tim Kerby / Tim Kerby Productions

The Games Journal
Greg Aleknevicus

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Author: David Howe.
Web page created: 2012-04-22. Web page last updated: 2012-04-22