Hive Pocket is an abstract tile placement game, where you place chunky insect tiles with the aim of surrounding your opponent’s queen bee.
Like in chess, each player is black or white and each type of piece has different movement abilities. Unlike in chess, there is no board. In Hive, you form the play space with the pieces themselves, placing pieces for your first few turns, which – except for the first turn – aren’t allowed to be touching your opponent’s pieces.
Another key rule is the “One Hive” rule. At all times, the hive must be connected as one. If moving a piece would separate the hive into two sections, you can’t move that piece. Also, if your piece couldn’t squeeze into or out of a space without moving other pieces, it can’t. This leads to a lot of movement to block other pieces moving.
But how do pieces move?
Your queen bee can only move one space, but this can often shake the game up in big ways. Beetles move one space, too, but can climb up on top of the hive and sit on other pieces, preventing them from moving.
Grasshoppers move by hopping over at least one other piece, but can go in a straight line as far as possible till an empty space. Grasshoppers, like beetles, are great for filling (or getting out of) gaps where other pieces would be stuck.
Ants and spiders scurry around the outside of the hive – ants as far as they want, spiders exactly three spaces. And that’s it – except for the mosquito, lady bug and pill bug expansion pieces with their own unique movement rules.
It’s very strategic, easy to learn, hard to master, and very engaging every turn.
Every time I’ve played this game there have been dramatic reversals, with a player moving from what appeared to be certain doom, to relative safety. How you move your pieces has huge repercussions for how your opponent can move, and what you can do next turn. You can often look at the hive and see no possible moves, only to find one last respite which changes everything and lets the game continue for several more rounds.
Hive comes in a few versions. Hive Pocket fits in a handy little bag, making it portable but with pieces that are still chunky and satisfying to place. Hive (the non-pocket version) has even bigger pieces and is not as portable. We feel like Hive Pocket is the perfect size, and comes with mosquito and lady bug pieces.
Hive is challenging, strategic, engaging and fun. A great portable game for two.