I taught Hive to Scrabblette last night. It's an interesting game, but I can't escape the nagging feeling that there aren't many viable strategies.
In the first game she placed an ant as one of her first 3 pieces. As I expected, as soon as she was allowed to move it she brought it around to pin my bee using the One Hive rule. I did the same to her. From there it could have been a race to finish the game, except I knew I would lose so I had to do something else.
But what? Isn't it very difficult to defend against an opponent who pins your bee? I needed to build an alternate path to the ant and get the bee out, and what opponent is going to let me do that? As it turned out, Scrabblette made the mistake of surrounding me with all 3 ants, so the bee slipped out the side and pinned all of them to the hive using One Hive. From there my grasshoppers moved in for the kill.
In the return match I started, so I planned to have a free ant to pin the bee with. As it turned out Scrabblette placed an ant next to her bee, so I pinned the ant to the bee, removing the biggest threat to my queen while also blocking one of her bee's freedoms. Again, Scrabblette's inability to pin my bee cost her the game.
But is that all there is to this game? Pin the bee then send in the troops? I'm hoping there's more.