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Have you played… Hive?

Sorry to ant-agonise you

Do you want to play chess? No? Okay, what if I added some ants and a beetle and two grasshoppers and a queen bee and arranged them all on the table like some sort of ferocious, hexagonal tribe of multicultural picnic invaders? What about now? Yes, of course you want to play. But you can’t, because the PC version of Hive has no players.

That’s sad, but probably understandable. A digital adaptation of a board game endorsed by Mensa doesn’t have the same youthful vibrancy as your Plunknites and your Fortbats. In Hive, you have to surround your opponent’s Queen bee with other insects, making it impossible for her to move. Different insects have different moves. The grasshopper leaps over pieces in a straight line. The beetle clambers on top of pieces, pinning them in place like a heavy brute. The ant can scurry anywhere along the outside of the hive. It’s chess for entomologists.

If you’re a board game type, you should already own the physical version, or its smaller “Pocket” edition. Unless you can’t stand the sight of spiders printed on hard, hexagonal plastic. Still, there are few games capable of testing your mental fortitude in such a watertight way. It's a game you won't want to part with. I moved country a few years ago and had to give away most of my board game collection. But Hive was among the trio of games I kept. Insect chess rules, even if there’s no players on PC.

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