Monday, July 26, 2010

App O' the Mornin': Hive

When John Yianni’s brilliant game of tile-laying and maneuver was first published in 2001, it introduced an interesting twist on the abstract strategy. The tabletop version features 22 hexagonal tiles made of sturdy Bakelite. Each player gets 11 tiles in white or black, with various tiles depicting a single kind of insect. Players take turns placing tiles so they form a continuous hive, and then move those tiles to trap the opponent’s Queen bee.

Each bug has unique movement rules: the Queen bee can move one space at a time, Ants can go anywhere around the edge of the hive, Grasshoppers can jump, Beetles can move one space and land on top of (and thus block) any other insect, and Spiders can move exactly three spaces around the outside of the hive. No piece may move if its movement will split the hive in two.

The main strategy of the game is control the outer edges of the hive, limiting the movement of the Queen in order to close the trap. You can try the game out using a Java version on the Hive website, which also includes some excellent tips and strategies.

The original Hive game
Thanks to the work of LotusLand studio, this innovative game has become a terrific app. LotusLand went the extra distance to offer a 3D engine that can be tilted, panned, or spun to view the playing field from any angle. It even offers different tile sets as well as the “mosquito” tile, which was initially sold separately from the original game. (A mosquito can take on the abilities of any tile it touches.)

The result is remarkably deep, with unique rules requiring the development of fairly elaborate strategies akin to chess.

The original games retails for $30 (about $23 at Amazon), while the app costs $2.


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