Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Hive: Believe the Buzz

Hive: either you know it, you’ve heard of it but never played it, or you’ve never heard of it. If you are the former, chances are you love it. If you’ve heard of it before, you’ve probably heard great things. And if you are in the latter group, you are in for a treat. Hive is both easy-to-learn and highly addictive; two qualities which result in a swarm of admiration by all who play it.
After buying Hive, I actually didn’t play it for a while until i finally brought it to university with my one day (which was easy to do due to its easy portability). I started playing the game with my college friends, and before I knew it the game caught on like wildfire. We were playing it in the library, in the student lounge, in the cafeteria, anywhere we could between classes.
My friends fell in love with hive instantly. They loved how it could be played in ten minutes, they loved how many different strategies could be used, they loved the variability in how the pieces could be moved. The games gathered groups of observers, and literally the next day at least two had sought out the game themselves to buy. These little insects on their Bakelite game pieces had a massive effect upon the strategic curiosity and creativity of almost everyone who I have introduced this game to.


Hive is very chess-like in that your purpose is to capture the other players queen bee while protecting your own. There are a number of different game pieces represented by different insects which move in different ways, also similar to chess. Therefore a lot of the depth in Chess games can be found here as well since you must be trying to plan your moves ahead of time while anticipating the moves of your opponent at the same time.
What makes Hive unique to Chess and what gives it its distinctive gameplay appeal, it the existence of the hive itself. There is not static board in Hive. The board is created by the pieces itself and is constantly changing shape as the pieces are moved. The rule is that this hive may never be broken which can create some interesting strategic moves when trapping other pieces, since some pieces can’t move without breaking the Hive. The feature of the Hive also insures that no game ever looks alike which enhances your skills of adaptation and problem-solving.


Not only does Hive play beautifully, it looks beautiful as well. The components consist of twenty-two insect pieces in the form of Bakelite hexagons. This hexagonal shape allows for the hive to be arranged into strange and ever-shifting patterns. And they feel great in your hand, like a heavy stack of poker chips. They are heavy and durable and the sound of the pieces clacking together really make a game a tactile experience.
The design of the bugs themselves are gorgeous as they are each carved into their tiles with brightly coloured lines and grooves. There are five different types; the spider, the ant, the grasshopper, the beetle, and of course the queen bee. Each has their own role and contributes a lot to the game. The game also comes with a zippered pouch which allows you to carry the tiles around with you just in case an opportunity for an impromptu game may strike.


Hive is elegant, thought-provoking, highly competitive, and a whole lot of fun. It has been embraced by almost all who come across it and its popularity spreads through the admiration and praise of those who have played before. When a game causes people to rush to the stores to find it only the day after they first heard about it, you know it must be special. I don’t believe I have ever introduced a game to a group of people which captured their imaginations and intelligences as strongly as Hive has. Believe the buzz; Hive is a true masterpiece of a game.

4 Responses to “Hive: Believe the Buzz”

  1. I almost bought this the other day, but I wasn’t sure my wife would like it. I love the idea of the game, though, and I love the look and heft of the bakelite pieces. Is there much direct confrontation (which my wife dislikes), or does the conflict feel more tangential / incidental? I’ve read various accounts and descriptions of the game (mostly very positive), but I’m still a little wary….

    • The confrontation is very similar to that of chess. You are trying to trap the other persons pieces and prevent them from moving while trying to completely surround their queen piece. You don’t kill off pieces like chess, however, so its not that aggressive. You are trying to block and trap though.

  2. I just have to say, these game reviews of yours are an excellent resource. My wife and I love to play board games and card games, but we don’t know any “gamers,” so we’ve never even heard of a lot of these games.

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