Jun 032006

I got to try out Marc’s hex board game last night “Hive”. Here are my thoughts:

The game is an interesting abstract where your only move is to place a numbered double-sided hex with “arrows” onto a donut-shaped hex board. The goal was to have a higher total of points from your hexes than your opponent. This was accomplished by capturing (flipping) your opponent’s pieces by pointing your higher-numbered hex’s arrow toward your opponent’s piece, or by teaming up with smaller pieces and “equaling” the enemy piece. The rules are simple and gave me time to focus on the strategy.

Of course, I wasn’t 100% sure of what the strategy was, which is a good thing. I mostly ended up playing a piece to at least capture one of his pieces so that I felt like I was making forward progress. When I decided to spice things up by placing my piece alone on the other side of the board, I didn’t get any immediate “feedback” from it. Was it a good move? I wasn’t quite clear about that until several turns later. In fact, I’m still not quite sure if it was a good move or a bad move.

I’m not sure I like that the game tends to grow from one location. There seems to be little incentive to play all over the board. This is, of course, a huge incentive to play near the group – capturing!

I would really like to see an analysis of the optimal score per move. Each player has two sets of 1-9 tiles. That’s 90 points per side. (Now that I think about, we might have mis-added the totals up because both of our scores were in the eighties!) So, a player has to get more than 90 points to win. I’m going to venture a guess and say that a player needs to score at least once per turn to win (or at the very least keep up the rate of the opponent).

I like how the angle of the double arrows is at 120 degrees. That seemed to prevent a lot of double flipping in one turn.

Mechanically, I didn’t like having to keep track of the directions of the arrows when I flip. I think I messed up on a few occasions. If this was a video game, then I could see the captured color just changing, but as a board game, the flipping has to be taken into consideration. Is there any way to make this easier to remember?

Another thing about flipping: Any game piece that you have to flip repeatedly should be of some thickness. I know this is a prototype, but when you move to the next step, thicker pieces will help.

The game was very close at the end, which was good, and it was unclear who the winner was until we totalled up the score. Now after thinking about it, I want to play again to test out some of my strategy theories.

Overall, the rules were very complete and all cases were handled. I think there is room for some more spice in the game. Give something to the players to consider besides flipping hexes.

Here’s some other abstract games that this game reminded me of:
Ingenious – Play it online!

2 Responses to ““Hive” Review”

  1. I only looked over the shoulders while Dan and Marc played this, but it reminded me of a cross between Omnigon
    (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/4607) and Ataxx (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ataxx).

    For richness, and without having played so forgive me if you’ve been down this path, you could allow players to place two pieces or rotate one.

    You could also simplify the points and have them directly related to their shields/walls. For instance, make the piece with the lowest value is the most flexible and the piece with the most value is the least valuable. You might
    also reduce the number of values; instead of 1-9, have something like eight 2s, four 4s, and two 8s, say. Make the math easier and you can
    reduce the decision-making time.

    Just off the top of my head, mind. I would like to play this in the future.


  2. […] game design, out in the open « “Hive” Review […]

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