Hive: A Game of Strategy

Hive is a 2 player strategy game of perfect information that shares elements of both tile-based games & board games – much like Chess but without the board.

The game uses hexagonal tiles to represent the various contents of the hive. There are 22 pieces in total making up a Hive set, with 11 pieces per player, each representing an insect and a different means of moving –

One Queen Bee that can move only one space around the edge of the hive at a time.

Two Spiders that can move three spaces around the edge of the hive.

Two Beetles that can move one space in any direction including on top of another peice which renders that piece unusable until the Beetle moves.

Three Grasshoppers that can jump over one or more pieces in a straight line.

Three Ants that can move anywhere around the hive.

Hive is a game that is getting a lot of play at Quantum Victoria at the moment as it contains many, varied strategies and games can be played in about 10 minutes. It only takes a game or two to discover that the key to winning is mobility—retaining yours while restricting your opponent’s. Immobilizing your opponents pieces is accomplished in two major, but sometimes subtle ways.

1) Placing your peices so that the opponents are unable to move due to the nature of the hive or

2) Placing your tiles so that your opponents tiles are required to keep the hive intact, rendering them immobile.

Some great discussion has taken place around effective strategies, counter strategies, optimal strategies based on your opponents style of play (agressive, defensive, offensive, defensive-aggressive etc.), advantages/disadvantages of going first/second, strong opening moves, end games, decision trees etc. 

(Hive is also available on iOS – the AI is sophisticated enough to keep you playing for a few hours.)

I have developed a strong opening sequence of moves that I consider a defensive-aggressive opening that allows for the transition to an offensive-aggressive strategy after only 4 moves – really putting the opposition on the back foot. This strategy only works if employed by Player 1. It involves placing a Beetle followed by a Spider, the Queen and then another Spider in the following configuration:


This opening configuration is essentially unbeatable at the moment given that I don’t make any mistakes. (I’m sure it is beatable, just haven’t been beaten yet!) This opening relies on utilizing the mobility of the ant and the grasshopper as the late arriving pieces used solely for attacking. The spiders and the beetle can be used to pin down your opponents peices but also form a defensive ring around your Queen giving you flexibility depending upon your opponents early moves. The Beetle in particular can be used to escape midgame ‘bunching’ to counter an opponents over agressive Beetle and can also be used as the basis of a midgame counterattack.

Highly Recommended & strangely addictive.

Play the online version here.

The Numbers Game: Putting Yourself In Other’s Shoes

Perspective is essential.

In life, in your work and in everything that you do. It’s also essential in game theory when attempting to reduce a game to it’s simplest form via a process known as iterative deletion of dominated strategies.

The lecture below gives a simple game that illustrates this idea:

During class you are given a sheet of paper on which you must write a number between 1 & 100. The average number of everyone in the class will be calculated. To ‘win’, the number you choose must be 2/3 of the class average.

This game forces you to consider other people’s perspective. In order to think logically you need to put yourself in other people’s shoes, imagining what they are likely to do, and then determining your own strategy in response to your assumptions about the other player(s). 

This is a great game to introduce to a class of any age, regardless of experience in game theory, game thinking or mathematics. It’s simple enough that everyone can play, develop their idea of a winning strategy and engage in discussion around ‘why’ and ‘what if.’ Game Theory requires students to put themselves in other’s shoes – a valuable skill in life.

The solution to this particular game can be found by an iterative process whereby you systematically delete dominated strategies by considering other player’s actions. However the solution is not as obvious as you may first think.

Watch the video for a detailed analysis of a ‘solution.’

For a detailed description of some ideas on Game Theory check out Brian Weatherson’s notes.

One Chance

After having a discussion with a colleague about the illusion of choice versus actual choice in games, he directed me to a haunting flash game named One Chance that takes 5 minutes to play through and is best played with a set of headphones.

One Chance was developed by AwkwardSilenceGames. As the name suggests, it’s a game that you can only play once (however, by deleting your cookies & browsing history you can reply the game and I highly recommend it) and your choices have very real consequences. One can only describe it as an amazing experience.

I established a pretty strong emotional connection with this game and this is one of the main reasons I play games at the moment – this has evolved along side the evolution of games in general. I think this is true for any gamer who continues to play – you want to have an emotional investment with the narrative.

A basic synopsis of One Chance: You and your team have found a cure for cancer. Unfortunately, in six days, the world will end. What do you do?

Check it out.