Battleship Game

“You sank my battleship!”

Strategically place your fleet out of harms way and pray that your number (and letter) doesn’t come up. In the seas of war, torpedoes are flying and coordinates barked at an ever-increasing pace. It’s going to take a little logic and a lot of luck to win this battle, all fought within the confines of dueling plastic L-shaped game boards. This is Milton Bradley’s Battleship, “the classic naval combat game!”

A game made popular during the Cold War era, but invented decades earlier as a paper and pencil game, Battleship pitted two players against one another in a race to sink the opposing fleet. After carefully positioning a fleet of five plastic ships on a 10×10 grid, the battle was ready to commence. Each folding game board contained two grids that sat perpendicular to each other and were hidden from the opponent. The lower grid was where you placed your ships, each containing from two to five holes. The upper grid was where you tracked your progress against your opponent. By exchanging coordinates, one at a time like a game of battle-bingo, you used a supply of red and white pegs to record hits and misses. Once you achieved a hit, you knew the general area a ship was in, but you weren’t ready to sail victoriously back to port just yet. You still had to determine the size of the ship, and therefore, how many hits were necessary to sink it, and you had to know where the rest of it lay on the grid. It could take a number of guesses to send a ship to the bottom of the sea and meanwhile, your opponent is lobbing his or her own torpedoes at you and getting closer. The game required deductive reasoning and some mighty good guesses to stay afloat.

Naval technology has progressed over the years and so has Battleship. Now, less labor-intensive electronic versions are available, complete with the synthesized sounds of war. The grand daddy, Electronic Battleship: Advanced Mission introduced high tech innovations such as reconnaissance aircraft and voice recognition.

Still, the classic version (now made by Hasbro) manages to retain a certain charm that continues to make it a favorite amidst a sea of variations that include a Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean version. Something can certainly be said for the simplicity of a handful of pegs, nervously clutched as sweat drips down your brow and you try to ascertain the position of that pesky two-holed boat before you are blown to smithereens. Ah, the memories.

If you have your own recollections to share about this timeless board game, regale us with your sea adventures. Perhaps you engaged in a particularly epic engagement. Or, maybe you just spent years begging for the electronic version, but never had your wish granted. All of your thoughts are welcome in our comments section as we celebrate the beloved game of Battleship, here at Retroland.

3 Responses to “Battleship”

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  1. jennifer harris says:

    I love playing this game!

  2. Tranker says:

    Nothing like the casual sexism of the sixties–Mom and Sis in their proper place washing dishes in the kitchen whilst the men of the house engage in manly mock-Cold War combat.

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