When Hive was first released the hexagonal tiles were wooden, with mounted stickers depicting the various insects. This has now been updated to black and white Bakelite tiles with brightly coloured bugs. The tiles look and feel fantastic and are far more durable than the old wooden tiles - my old wooden copy has taken quite a beating
Inside the Hive Box
Currently, there are three different versions knocking around and some expansions. The regular game comes with 22 hexagonal tiles, 11 black and 11 white, each set of 11 depicting a Queen Bee, two Spiders, three Ants, two Beetles, and three Grasshoppers.
Hive has no board, the hexagonal tiles are laid next to each other forming the hive, tiles once placed can subsequently be moved, with each type of insect depicted on the tile having different moves. The moves are surprisingly thematic, the Ants run around fast, the Spiders track around the edges, the Beetles can climb over things, the Grasshoppers jump, and the Queen hardly moves at all.
There is one hard rule, the hive can never be divided, so any move which would divide the hive into two or more parts is illegal. The objective is to completely surround the opponent's Queen, this can be with pieces of either colour. Sounds simple? Well yes it is; achieving that win can be anything but simple.
If you think Hive might be shallow, or have no strategy, think again. It's surprisingly challenging, surprisingly deep, easy to learn, hard to master, has almost zero set up and take down time and plays in around 20 minutes on average, so it ticks many of my boxes.
Hive is one of the most portable games around, it has no dice, no cards, no board, it is just those 22 near indestructible tiles. You can sling it in a bag, take it to the beach, play on a small table in a coffee shop. The pocket version plays on the tray table of a plane and is perfect for anyone travelling light.
Pocket - Has one inch hexagonal tiles rather than the regular 1.5 inch tiles. Comes with the Mosquito and Ladybug expansion, and a small drawstring bag.
Carbon - The same 1.5 inch tiles as the regular game, with black bugs on white tiles and white bugs on black tiles. Comes with the Mosquito and Ladybug expansion, and a plastic travel bag.
Ladybug - Only needed for the base game, included in Pocket and Carbon.
Only needed for the base game, included in Pocket and Carbon.
Available for all three variants.
Hive - The Boardless Board Game: Tactics and Strategies. By Steve Dee. It's an enjoyable read and a good introduction to the game.
I am always on the look out for good two player games, and I travel a lot. Hive fits with my life and is a fantastic two player game. Hive is near perfect for killing time at airports or on a ferry. Pocket takes up very little space, it along with a custom drawstring bag, has become a much loved travel companion.
Editors note: This blog was originally published on 24/03/2017. Updated on June 30th, 2021 to improve the information available.