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Subject: Hive strategy as I see it rss

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ronaldinho @boardspace.net
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WHAT YOU ARE UP AGAINST
The objective is to surround your enemy's queen, before he surrounds yours. In other words, you have to do it faster than your opponent.

The queen is always attached at least on one side. So basically, your goal is to block five sides of the queen with fewer moves than your opponent. You achieve this by "stealing turns".

White: as the first player to go, he starts one step ahead, and therefore on pace to win.
Black: one step behind, but gets to react and hopefully counter white's opening (first four) moves, which in turn might lead to a turn steal.


TYPES OF PIECES AND TURNS INVOLVED FOR EACH
There are 4 types of pieces in play: pinned pieces, pinning pieces, blocking pieces, and everything else--the free pieces. In addition, each pinning, pinned or free piece has different values depending on how many moves it needs to become a blocking piece(assuming the pinned piece being free to move).

To place a free piece takes 1 turn.

To change a free piece into a blocking piece, assuming you placed the free piece in the right position, requires 1 turn. It might be more if you f@cked up, or if it's a spider.

To pin a piece takes 1 turn. If it takes more than that, forget it because he can just move the piece you want to pin.


PINNING TO STEAL
If enemy moves his free piece to block your queen, but doesn't pin it, move the queen to pin his blocking piece. He spent 2 moves, you spent 1. Your queen is still blocked on 1 side only. Result: you stole 1 turn.

Pinning n number of enemy pieces that can one-move-block your queen or one-move-pin one of your one-move-block free piece. Result: you stole n-1 turn/s, which usually means 2-1=1 turn.

Pinning an enemy one-move-block free piece, using your more-than-one-move-block free piece (a spider, poorly placed hopper/beetle/ant), lets you steal 1 turn. If this happens, chances are you both played poorly.

Pinning an enemy piece adjacent to his own queen. Standard 2 turn block by you, 1 turn free piece placing wasted by him. You stole 1 turn.


PLACING TO AVOID BEING STOLEN
Try to place all your free pieces so that they, or further placements, can one-move-block/pin. For every extra move required for you to block, is a stolen turn for your enemy. Since it's very hard to place a spider later on and have it be a one-move-block/pin free piece, place them early. In particular the first move, because that's probably gonna end up being a pinned and sacrificed piece anyways.

For reasons mentioned above, avoid placing a free piece that would of itself, or force further placements, to:
-pin one of your own free piece
-turn an enemey multiple-move-block free piece into a one-move-pin piece
-block your own queen
Conversely, use your placing to force your enemy into making one of these poor placements.

Good: placing piece to unpin one of your pinned piece. Possible 1 turn steal.
Bad: placing piece to unpin one of enemy's pinned piece. Likely turn/s lost.

Everything else being equal, place to enhance further available placing locations for yourself, and limit those of your enemy's.


BLOCKING
Always make the first block a pin, for reason mentioned above. Actually, every block after that must also keep the queen pinned. Never unpin the queen.

Avoid blocking moves that will unpin an enemy piece blocking his own queen, although sometimes it's unavoidable. I recommend having a free piece ready to one-move-block that space before unpinning it.

Unimpeded (no turn stealing attempt on your enemy's part), each block takes 2 turns: place and move.
Or alternately, 1 turn: beetle on queen, place directly adjacent, move beetle off for the winning block.
The second option might seem faster, but note that you need to invest at least 3 moves in order to put the beetle on the queen: place, move, move. On top of that, there's probably at least one block where you'd still need to use the 2 turn place-move because an enemy piece is next to it.

What you need to realize is, unimpeded, who surrounds first?
If it's the enemy, you need to steal turns before worrying about blocking. But then again, sometimes you need to move a free piece into a blocking piece to avoid being stolen a turn. Depends on the situation.
If it's you, keep blocking and try not to let the enemy steal turns.


TO PIN OR NOT TO PIN
that is the question

Do not use a one-move-block free piece to pin an enemy one-move-block free piece multiple times, UNLESS:
1. you can force him to run out of enough pieces to surround your queen with. If you do, then you likely force a draw. This is probably a good tactic only if you are slower in the race to surround the queen and have no way of winning.
2. you can force him to place 2 free pieces that can one-move-block the same space, and only that space, which also happen to not be the last space left for him to block. If all these happen, it gives you 1 turn steal. If this is the turn steal that will put you infront of or tied with him in the queen surrounding race, do it.

Do use a one-move-block free piece to pin an enemy one-move-block free piece once, and only once, IF:
this will immediately or eventually force him to place a free piece that's multiple-move-block, pins his own piece, etc etc, and give you the turn steal needed to win.



-drunkenKOALA
aka: ronaldinho @ boardspace.net


This is my understanding of the game so far. As I learn more, I'll add/revise this article. Feel free to comment.
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ronaldinho @boardspace.net
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Thanks. I try. This game is immensely fun. I've never heard of the game until this week and I am hooked already. So thanks to John Yianni. And credit to the players I played against this last week at boardspace. I wouldn't have learned much if they hadn't been decent players.

Again, feel free to criticize any errors in my article. Also, I didn't touch on openings, because I don't have it down yet. Currently I am using a spider spider hopper queen opening, not necessarily in that order except for the first spider.
 
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Matthew Dickinson
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Cherry Hill
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I can vouch for the Koala's grasp on this game. His pieces just always seem to be in the right place!
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Nathan James
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Thanks for posting this article on Hive strategy. I was having fun, but frustrated at my inability to beat the AI on Hivemania. (Many agree that the AI is not real great, but it was better than I was) After I reading this I immediately was able to beat the computer. This article was perfect for pointing out what to focus on.

Particularly valuable to me were these tidbits gleaned from the article:

Pin your opponent's queen early
Never free up your opponent's queen
Always pin an opponent's piece that is blocking his queen

I am finding it extremely useful to place in order: Spider, Queen, Ant
The ant then usually allows me first chance to pin an opponents piece. If there is not a tempting target my fourth turn is usually to place my second spider in striking distance of the opposing queen.
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ronaldinho @boardspace.net
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Thanks.

I just reread this article now, and while it is a good starting place, there is so much more to it. (I wrote it in my first week of playing Hive.) Maybe I'll update it sometime, not anytime soon though. I'll have to start playing again before I do.

By the way, your opening is better than the one I posted. Good I said, "I didn't touch on openings, because I don't have it down yet."
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Jeremiah Lee
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Can we get some definitions here? The only one that I'm not getting is a 'blocking' piece.
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Er heisst
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Jeremiah_Lee wrote:
Can we get some definitions here? The only one that I'm not getting is a 'blocking' piece.


It seems that what is referred to as a 'blocking' piece is a piece helping to encircle the opponent's queen. 'Blocking' pieces are used to achieve the utmost goal of the game, to block the other queen.
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Jon
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Great advice here. This article gave me a framework to think about the game, and it immediatly helped me win some games.
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John Mauney
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Looks like a good first draft for a beginning breakdown of this game. I recommend replace one-block-move and one-pin-move with something less clunky, like maybe block-threat or pin-threat. Also, there is no need to continually add the term 'free piece' to a lot of your observations since it's redundant -- obviously to perform moves, a piece must be free. But the definition of free piece is, of course, necessary.

I think from here you can extrapolate even more, especially when two players effectively use these against each other.

-- John M.
 
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Chris District
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bigjmoney wrote:
Also, there is no need to continually add the term 'free piece' to a lot of your observations since it's redundant -- obviously to perform moves, a piece must be free. But the definition of free piece is, of course, necessary.-- John M.


I disagree with you here. Many pieces might be able to perform a move, but a "free piece," in this strategy article, implies that the piece is not already pinning or blocking. You do not want to move a "free" piece that is being used to pin or block an enemy's piece.

.02
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Kieran Quinn
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Jeremiah_Lee wrote:
Can we get some definitions here? The only one that I'm not getting is a 'blocking' piece.


I'm not sure what he means by pin either.

The Hive Pocket rules use the word block when they're talking about a beetle being on top another piece which seems to suggest that they mean you can't at all move a "blocked" piece. Here, the OP seems to use the word block to simply mean touching another piece.

I can only imagine that by pinning he means moving a piece somewhere where your opponent is restricted from moving the pinned piece anywhere. Therefore, a pinned piece is worse than a blocked piece. For example, if their Queen Bee is at the end of a line, only touching one other piece, then using a grasshopper to hop over the line to be the new ending piece would pin the opponent's Queen Bee as they wouldn't be able to move their Queen Bee as that would break up the Hive into 2. You can also pin other pieces, including their pieces that are attacking your Queen Bee, in a similar fashion.

It'd really help if the OP defined his terms in the beginning especially since they're ambiguous at best.
 
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Randall Ingersoll
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Port Orange
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In the book 'Play Hive Like a Champion', I use the following terms:

Pin - Placing a piece (the pinning piece) in such a way that another piece (the pinned piece) cannot move without violating the One Hive Rule.

Block - Placing a piece (the blocking piece) in such a way that another piece (the blocked piece) cannot move without violating the Freedom to Move Rule. [Alternatively, placing a piece in such a way that access to an empty space is blocked by application of the Freedom to Move Rule.]

Cover - Placing a Beetle (or Mosquito acting as a Beetle) atop another piece, thus rendering it immobile.
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