FTW Staff Picks - Hive

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.


Designer: John Yianni

Genre: Abstract

Player Size: 2 Players

Game Length: 20 minutes

For fans of: Chess, Quoridor 

The abstract genre is the most historied and primal in all of table top gaming. While games in general have evolved since then, there is still something captivating about crafting a new way to play in the genre that started it all. 

In Hive, players compete to be the first to surround their opponent's Queen Bee on all six sides. The pieces at their disposable all have their own unique set of rules for movement (akin to Chess). They are the Ant, Spider, Beetle and Grasshopper. Because there is no board, the field of play is dynamic. Players may not break the hive, meaning they cannot move a piece if it causes a disconnect between any of the other pieces. 

Games play out very quickly, usually no longer than 20 minutes. The quick playtime results in being able to play more games in one sitting. For a game like Hive, that means learning and adapting to playstyles. Getting your Queen trapped by an Ant in the first few turns is something all newbies learn to avoid in future plays. 

The key element to any great abstract game is simplicity wrapped in consequential decision-making. Offer the player a handful of tools and choices, where each move requires careful consideration of near infinite outcomes. Abstract games are head-to-head; "mano-y-mano". The game is played more in the mind than on the board. Games like Chess and Go have stood the test of time because of competition and the art of mastering the craft. Hive gives players a similar feeling of mastering a craft, without the need to dedicate a lifetime of practice towards earning it. 

Earl OliverosComment