I am reviewing the standard Hive Mosquito expansion but this is available in the Hive Pocket and Carbon Hive sets.
First off, what do you get? Hive: The Mosquito is a set of bakerlite tiles, one for each player with a gray Mosquito imprinted on the tile. The rules are also included.
The rules for the Mosquito have the tile following the same placement rules as the original tiles. Any tiles that the Mosquito comes in contact with (whether that be your own or your opponents) give the Mosquito the ability of that adjacent tile. So if the Mosquito is touching a Grasshopper, it can jump over other tiles in a straight line or if it’s touching a Spider, it can move three spaces. When interacting with the Beetle tile, the Mosquito’s rules become a tad more complex (but not much). If the Mosquito touches a stack with a Beetle on top, the entire stack counts as a Beetle and if the Mosquito finds itself on top of a stack (as it acted like a Beetle in a previous turn), it continues as a Beetle until it comes down from the stack. Lastly, if a Mosquito touches another Mosquito (and only another Mosquito) it cannot move (as it has nothing to mimic).
The Mosquito is an interesting addition to Hive and might provide the most strategic depth of any of the tiles that the game offers. With the ability to mimic whatever it’s touching, players always need to be aware of where the Mosquito is and what it is touching. It can be easy to forget about and the next thing you know, it’s a Grasshopper and has landed across the ‘board’, blocking in your Queen.
I worried that the Mosquito would be overpowered. Many expansions hit the shelves as way to milk more out of a successful game or fix what was broken and I wasn’t sure how the Mosquito would fit into the Hive world. While initial plays made me immediately think it was overpowered, that was my fault for not better grasping the nuances of a piece that can mimic anything it touches.
The Mosquito, for us, also brought out the notion of defense more than the other tiles. We made sure to go out of our way to keep valuable tiles away from the Mosquito so we wouldn’t get trapped or worse, waste our Mosquito or Beetle to block the opponents tile.
The Mosquito’s true value comes after several plays and players are familiar with the inner workings of the bug. Now the Mosquito can be used to bluff the opposing player. Due to the mimic ability, the Mosquito is such a strong piece that cannot be left alone so players are forced to deal with it.
I think the added strategy of the Mosquito adds time to the game. Not much (as the game is already short) but it can cause players to pause and think more about their decision making and tile placement. If Standard Hive takes roughly seven minutes to play, the addition of the Mosquito could boost the time anywhere from two to five minutes. Not game breaking in the slightest but still something worth noting.
I love the addition of the Mosquito and it’s such an easy inclusion to the game. If you don’t want to play with it, it’s easy to remove as well. All in all, the Mosquito is just another piece. It’s not going to be a game changer or propel a player to victory. It fits right in with the other tiles.