Review – Hive Pocket from Gen42 Games

Review – Hive Pocket from Gen42 Games

Designer – John Yianni

Art – John Yianni

Gen42 Games kindly provided a review copy of this game

I’ve been playing Hive, a game for 2 players age 9+ on my ipod Touch for what seems like ages and really enjoying it. Surely its long over due for me to get a “hard copy”?

I was very intrigued and interested that John Yianni has produced a travel version of Hive, called Hive Pocket. Certainly a classic abstract game, Hive is long admired and my perception is that it should be in every gamer’s collection.

So a little background from the Gen42 website – Hive Pocket®’ débuted at the Nuremberg Toy Fair 2012 and is their seventh addition to the Hive® family since the first wooden print of this very popular and successful game back in 2001.

Since then Hive® has seen many incarnations from an iPhone App to the beautiful black and white classic edition ‘Hive Carbon®’ that was introduced last year at the Nuremberg Toy Fair 2011.

Hive Pocket® is the very same wonderful game but much smaller and compact.  Now you never need to go anywhere without Hive® again. This edition also includes the two expansions to the game ‘The Mosquito’ introduced in 2007 and ‘The Ladybug’ which was added to the Hive®family in 2010.

UnBagging
Yes, Hive Pocket, although packed in plastic, is stored in a drawstring carry bag. It comes with 26 Hive pieces, which are very nice indeed. You also get the two expansions to the game: ‘The Mosquito’ and ‘The Ladybug’.
The pieces measure 25 mm across and 10 mm in depth compared to the original game (see above) and this makes for a lightweight, very portable game, which of course is entirely the point. Surely, this makes Hive incredibly accessible and even more marketable. This is a very clever idea to increase the game’s reach to the mass market.
Gameplay
I guess you could say that classic games tend to be simple in their mechanics and challenging in the execution and strategy. Hive is no exception. The pieces represent different insects, each with its own specific movement.
The object is to surround your opponents’ Queen bee with other pieces, whether your own or not whilst preventing your opponent from doing the same to yours.
Players take turns placing or moving one piece and you need to place your Queen Bee by turn 4.  Simple really. Kinda chess-like. Well, not really that easy as you need to plan ahead and think how to optimize your moves. The constraint of not being able to dislocate from the hive that has been created makes this a really challenging game. Pieces aren’t eliminated and you may not need to use them all. As the players place their pieces, a connected hive is formed. It all plays relatively quickly and looks great. Not too much to remember but enough to push you against a clever opponent.
You have the following insects, each with a unique movement capability –
Queen Bee – 1 space
Beetle – 1 space but can move (but can’t be placed when entering the game) on top of the Hive, in other words on top of other pieces which prevents the bottom piece from moving and the stack takes on the colour of the Beetle
Grasshopper – jumps from its space over any number of hexes along a straight line to an empty space
Spider – moves 3 spaces in a direct path only around pieces that it is direct contact with on each step of its move
Soldier Ant – can move from its position to any other position around the Hive
Ladybug – moves 3 spaces; 2 on top of the Hive and then 1 down
Mosquito – takes on the movement characteristics of any creature it touches at the time, including opponents so its the most flexible and interesting piece
A couple of key rules are important –
One Hive rule – pieces in play must be linked at all times
Freedom to move – pieces can only be moved in a sliding movement (exceptions – Grasshopper, Beetle and Ladybug, and at times the Mosquito)
Did it work for me?
I must be honest and say that I’m not very good at Hive. I struggle with abstracts in general and they don’t seem to suit my thinking style but Hive is very enjoyable and fun, win or lose. It looks and feels great. It is easy to learn and yet challenging to play well as its quite tricky to organize your moves to trap the Queen. Well tricky for me anyway. Thing is, its quite addictive and I find myself immediately wanting to have another go. I love the fact that Hive Pocket now makes it very portable which makes it ideal for me to take into work for instance for some lunch time gaming. Hive is a solid game that is worthy of any gamer or non-gamer’s time (approx 20 minutes).
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 8 out of 10
Family friendly?
A 2- player game so not strictly a family game but it can be a fun experience for parent and child.
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