Way back in 2001, John Yianni came out with a game called Hive, a little abstract game that could be called “chess with bugs.” Two players each control five types of bugs – the soldier ant, who can move all around the hive; the beetle, who can move one space at a time, but can climb on top of the hive; the grasshopper, who can jump in a straight line over any number of pieces; the spider, who moves exactly three spaces at a time; and the all important queen bee, who can only move one space at a time but holds the key to victory. The object of the game is to completely surround your opponent’s queen. You can’t ever break the hive into two pieces, and the fact that there is no board means that you have no other borders to constrain your game. Since you’re adding pieces one at a time, you might not even use all of your pieces.
In 2007, a mosquito expansion came out. The mosquito, parasite that it was, could take the power of any piece it touched. That was the last thing to come out for the system in a while. However, with the Hive Carbon version coming out this year (simply in black and white), as well as the new iPhone app, a new expansion was designed to go along with the game. And that’s what we’re talking about today: the Ladybug.
The ladybug power, just recently announced by John Yianni, is as follows: the ladybug moves exactly three spaces. The first two spaces must be on top of the hive, while the third is back on the table. You don’t have to move in a straight line. And that’s pretty much it. Yianni ran a contest on BGG for people to guess what the power would be, and you can see all of the guesses here. I don’t want to be cynical, but it seems like a pretty shrewd move – you might get a correct guess or two, but in the meantime, you get a ton of ideas for the next expansion.
There’s not a whole lot to say about this expansion, and it’s weird that I’m anticipating this bug so much. I really like Hive – it’s a wonderfully simple and portable game, and I have a lot of fun with it. And I’m getting better – it took me a while to win my first game, but I’ve won a few since. If you want to try it out, you should try Hivemania, an official online implementation. You could also go to Boardspace.net to play either against a bot or a real opponent.
The ladybug is coming out at Spiel 2010, and, though I’m not sure how much it will cost, the mosquito retails for $10, so maybe that will be the price point. Hive itself costs $30, and I’m assuming that Hive Carbon will cost slightly more than that (it does have the mosquito and ladybug already included).
I figure this is the most thematic buzz I’ve covered so far. Thanks for reading. Insert clever tagline here.