Hive (Pocket) Chess Board Variant

Hive is one of my favorite 2-player, abstract games. I like the idea of not needing a board and being able to play the game on the go, but one thing that frustrates me about the game is the fact that there is no board. The tiles are very slippery, which mess up the setting and sometimes confuses me about which tiles are connected. So, I wanted to come up with a variant where you can use a simple chess board, making the game easier to play and spicing things up a bit when you’re playing at the comfort of your own home.

  • The pieces go inside the squares on the board just like chess pieces do.
  • The starting player can put their first piece anywhere on the board, although, to not trap themselves at a corner, it is suggested that they start from somewhere in the middle.
  • One Hive Rule is still effective, with the addition that on the chess board, diagonal squares are also considered connected for this variant.
  • The Queen Bee still has to be placed within 4 turns, movement is still disallowed until the Queen is placed.
  • Queen Bee still moves one at a time.
  • Beetle also still moves one at a time and can go on top of other pieces. Beetle is kind of a crucial piece in this variant, you will see in a minute why that’s the case.
  • Grasshopper still jumps over other pieces with the addition that it must land on the closest empty square in the direction that it moves.
  • Spider still moves thrice and does not backtrack.
  • Soldier ant can still move freely adhering to One Hive Rule.
  • Lady bug still moves thrice, but it doesn’t have to get down on this variant, it can stay on top of other pieces, again, will be explained shortly.
  • Mosquito still imitates the other pieces that it touches.

Objective of the game is still the same: surround the enemy Queen Bee, with one crucial addition: It must be surrounded entirely by your own pieces! If there is still an enemy piece touching their queen, it doesn’t count as surrounded. Because chess board is much more limited than having no board at all and the diagonal is considered connected, this rule is added to make sure the game can be played (at least for some time) and does not automatically end while trying to keep the hive connected.

Because there are pieces that can go on top of each other (Beetle, Ladybug, Mosquito imitating either), it is possible to cover your enemy’s pieces and still surround the Queen. This is why Beetle is kind of crucial and Ladybug can stay on top of other pieces so that there is one more kind of bug that can cover other bugs. With the Mosquito imitating other bugs, there is a bit of a strategy added, you might want to keep it closer to Ladybugs and Beetles so that you have one more resource to cover up the enemy bugs. Finally, you can include some defense tactics by keeping some of your cover-up pieces close to your Queen so that you can stop your enemy from covering your pieces by covering their cover-up pieces. But also, you need some of them to cover-up the enemy, so I think this variant is quite balanced.

Hope you enjoy playing Hive like this. If you do, please let me know what you think in the comments!