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Hive Review

Hive Review

Stats at a glance

Players: 2

Duration: 20

Difficulty: Medium

Published: 2000

Ages: 9 +

Publisher: Asmodee

A sophisticated and minimalist 2-player board game involving bugs? Definitely! It is a strange game offering that really just works. Hive is a board game that has no board, bear with me, where a certain number of Bakelite tiles can be put and played on any surface. This allows for an exceptional game that can be played just about anywhere.

Check out our full Hive board game review below.


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06/09/2023 06:00 am GMT

Brief Overview of Hive

Hive is a game that is comprised of 22 bakelite tiles, nothing more. There are 11 black pieces and 11 white pieces – very much like chess! The object of the game is to use the insect tiles to surround the queen bee on the opposing side.  

Each player will take turns putting down tiles and move existing pieces on the board – aka any playing surface, even the beach! It sounds really simple, but it has a wonderfully deep feel to it. 

To understand it better, think of chess. It is an abstract strategy game that is bound to surprise players with its understated elegance!

Unboxing Hive

Hive Board Game Box and Components

The artwork on the box is all right, nothing to write home about. But, inside is a slightly different matter. The tray insert that holds the game pieces is worth discussing a little bit – strange, but noteworthy.

The insert is designed with the hexagonal pieces in mind to keep them from shifting, but more importantly, the shape of the insert prevents that irritating cracking of the tray corners. It also allows for the austere theme of the game to shine. The unadulterated design makes it exceptionally pretty to look at. Even when just sitting in the tray insert. 

Versions & Expansions

There are some other versions of Hive, based on player preferences. Check out Hive: Pocket for an even smaller, more portable version. If you like the classic black/white color scheme of chess, you should definitely pick up the Carbon version.

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How to Play Hive


Hive is a truly laconic game, which is evident in the game setup. All that is required for the preparation is to remove the tiles from the box. That’s it!


To determine who will go first is up to the players. One option is to keep to the style of chess and allow the player with the white tiles to proceed first. To start the game, each player must put down a tile – any tile which they would like to use. Then, each turn afterward will consist of a player either putting down a new tile or moving a tile.

This style of gameplay continues until one player’s queen bee is completely surrounded. Each of the insects has a different way in which they can be moved and this integrates with the role that they play in the game. 

What separates Hive from chess, is the fact that no tiles are removed from the game. This allows for each player to maintain a relatively strong force throughout gameplay.

Tile Placement

When placing a new tile, each player must ensure 2 things. The first, being that they do not put the tile down on its own – this is very important. The only time a tile can be placed on its own is when starting the game. Secondly, the tiles being put down must be adjacent to another tile of the player’s own tiles, not the opponents’ tiles.

Tile Movement

The tile movement of the game is where the magic lies. It is quite obvious that each insect (or arachnid) has a different way of moving which can impact the final outcome of the game. And one very important rule – the hive can NEVER be split. The way each tile moves is as follows:

  • The beetle can only move 1 tile per turn and is able to stack on another tile. It is even possible to stack all 4 beetle tiles on top of one another. The general rule is that the color of the beetle tile on top decides whose tile is valid. Beetle tiles are used to pin down other tiles.
  • The spider tile can move a total of 3 spaces in a direct line – this doesn’t just mean a straight line! This tile is not allowed to move back on itself in the same turn.
  • The grasshopper does what you think it does. It has the ability to hop over other tiles. It helps to fill in necessary gaps.
  • The ant tiles are capable of moving an unlimited number of tiles. This makes them the backbone of the player’s insect fleet. They can’t move past any other tiles if they are directly in the way of the ants.
  • The queen bee is the most important piece of the game! One could think of her as one would of the king in chess. Same modus operandi – move one tile only and need constant protection.  

Pros & Cons

Hive Pocket Board Game Box and Logo


  • The ability to play anywhere
  • One of the best abstract games out there
  • Comes with a travel pouch – great for travel
  • The value you get for the price
  • The quality of the tiles

There is so much to commend this game for. Out of the list above, what really makes Hive shine, is that it comes with a small travel pouch. This pouch instantly allows for the game to be put in a person’s pocket and be played everywhere. And the fact that a person doesn’t have to buy it separately is fantastic.


●       It is only a two-player game

The only negative thing that could be said about Hive is the fact that it is limited to 2 players. But then again, if that wasn’t so, it wouldn’t be as good as it is.

Conclusion: Verdict?

This is an understated and brilliant game. Yes, it’s not something you would pull out with a few friends, but that doesn’t discredit the game at all. The game is simple to understand and has the ability to stand up to a game of chess with ease.

It’s not a game that everyone would enjoy. However, many people would enjoy it more than they think they would. It is exceptionally well thought out and pretty enough to keep as a decoration around the house. There aren’t many games that can live up to Hive. 


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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/09/2023 06:00 am GMT

We hope you enjoyed our Hive review! Have you tried Hive or any of its other versions? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this clever abstract strategy board game. Drop a comment below!

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