Hive is an abstract board game for two players. Players compete to gain control of a hive, trying to surround their opponent's queen bee to win the game.
Start of the game
Each player takes all pieces of their color (white or black) into their reserve. The following pieces are available:
- 1 queen bee
- 2 beetles
- 2 spiders
- 3 ants
- 3 grasshoppers
Additionally, expansion pieces are available if the game is played with them:
- 1 ladybug
- 1 mosquito
- 1 pill bug
Initially, the play area is empty.
During a player's turn, a player may do one of two actions:
- Place a piece from their reserve to the play area
- Move one of their pieces in the play area
At the start of the game, a player may only place pieces until they place their queen bee. In addition, the queen bee must be placed by a player's fourth turn; if after three turns a player hasn't placed their queen bee, they must place it on the fourth turn.
If a player is able to make a legal move, they must do so. If a player is unable to make any legal move, they must pass.
Placing a piece
To place a piece, a player takes one piece from their reserve and place it onto the playing area. The piece must touch at least one of their own pieces by a complete side, and it may not touch any of the opponent's pieces. Exception: The first piece placed, of course, will not touch anything, and the second piece placed will necessarily touch the first piece (of opposing color).
Moving a piece
To move a piece, a player chooses one of their pieces in the play area and moves it according to its movement rules below. The following golden rules must be followed at all times:
- Adjacent pieces must always share a complete side, never part of a side or touching only at a point. Imagine a hexagonal grid; each piece occupies one such space on the grid.
- The One Hive rule: The hive may not be disconnected at any time. When a player moves a piece, the rest of the pieces must form a contiguous group, and the moved piece must also end up adjacent to the group.
- The Freedom of Movement rule: A piece must be physically able to be moved to its destination, one space at a time. In most cases, this means a piece must "slide" to its destination. Some configuration of pieces might leave a gap that is too narrow for a piece to pass through. A piece that climbs can also be subject to this rule, if there are two tall stacks that leave a narrow gap.
Piece movement rules
- Queen bee: slides to an adjacent space. A player loses if their queen bee is surrounded (see below).
- Beetle: slides or climbs to an adjacent space. The beetle may climb over other pieces; if an adjacent space is occupied by a piece (of either color), a player may move their beetle on top of the piece. The piece underneath is immobilized and cannot move until the beetle moves away. It's possible to have beetles climbing over other beetles, making a taller stack. If a beetle moves on the same level, it slides.
- Spider: slides three spaces around the hive. The spider may not turn back within the same move. Occasionally the spider may be adjacent to more than one parts of the hive during the move; it may continue crawling on any side of the hive it touches as long as it's not traveling backward.
- Ant: slides to anywhere. The ant may move anywhere as long as the golden rules are respected.
- Ladybug: climbs for two spaces then drops back down. Like the spider, the ladybug moves three spaces: the first and the second are on top of the hive, and the third must brings it back to ground level.
- Mosquito: moves like any piece it's touching. The mosquito may choose any piece it's adjacent to, and copies its movement. It may climb onto the hive as a beetle; then, while on top of the hive, it is a beetle (even if it doesn't touch any beetle) until it moves to ground level. A mosquito that is only adjacent to another mosquito cannot move. A stack of pieces is treated as a beetle for the mosquito (it may not copy a piece underneath the beetle). If the pill bug is also in play, a mosquito adjacent to a pill bug may copy the special ability of the pill bug.
- Pill bug: slides a single space, or moves an adjacent piece to another space adjacent to the pill bug. If the pill bug decides to move another piece, it chooses a piece adjacent to it, moves it up onto the pill bug, and moves it back down to another empty space. The pill bug may not move the piece that just moved in the previous turn, and the piece moved may not move in the next turn. The pill bug may not move any piece in a stack of pieces. The pill bug must also respect the golden rules (in particular, a piece may not be moved if it will break the hive, or if the gap is too narrow).
End of the game
The game ends when a queen bee is surrounded on all six sides (by pieces of either color). The owner of the surrounded queen bee loses.
In case both queen bees are surrounded at the same time, the game is a draw. In addition, players may agree to a draw if the game ends in a stalemate, of repeating moves over and over.
- Ladybug: The ladybug piece is used.
- Mosquito: The mosquito piece is used.
- Pill bug: The pill bug piece is used.
- Tournament opening rule: The queen may not be placed in the first turn.