Battleship Games

Ah, the Battleship games! This series of games was one of my favorites growing up. Sure I lost all the pegs (and one or two of the ships) but I played it until there wasn't enough pieces to jury-rig another game together!

There are literally dozens of versions of these games. We're going to be talking about the classic Battleship board game here, but don't forget about the Electronic Battleship game which we also review, along with the branded versions like Battleship: GI Joe!

Game Specifics

Ages: 7 years and older
# of Players: 2

First a clarification. If you looked at the picture up there, you probably noticed that this is one of the vintage sets of the Battleship board game. That's because the new versions are horrible when it comes to craftsmanship. The manufacturers are really cutting corners when it comes to materials and design and the game suffers for it. Most people are saying that the new versions are literally unplayable because the pegs fall out. If you really want to get this game for your family or a friend, I'd highly, highly suggest buying one of the used, vintage Battleship games. The quality is so much better and you can actually enjoy playing the game.

With that out of the way, let's talk about what you get in the box before we move onto the Battleship rules.

In each box, there are two game boards (which are really cool). In each game board, you have five ships (A carrier, a battleship, a destroyer, a submarine, and a PT boat) and many red and white pegs. If you're not familiar how these all go together, don't worry; I'll explain in just a bit.

How to play Battleship

The game starts up with both players opening their game boards (they open like briefcases). Once the boards are open, the players put them back to back so that the other player can't see their boards. On the bottom of the game board there is a place to put the ships. On the top of the game board there is a map where the players can put the pegs showing hits and misses.

At this point, each player needs to place their fleet. Each of the five ships need to be placed on the bottom part of the game board. You'll quickly notice that the bottoms of the ships have pegs which conveniently fit into the holes on the game board. You can place the ships wherever you like, but there are a few tips which we'll cover later on.

Once each player has placed the ships on their game board, it's time to actually start the game. One of the players goes first by calling out a coordinate on their map (the top of the game board).

So for instance, let's say a player calls out "B6!". The other player would look on his game board where his ships are located and see if he has a ship occupying B6. If he does, he would respond with "Hit!" and place a red peg in the ship at that location. The first player, feeling rather smug for getting a hit on the first play of the game, would place a red marker on that location on his map showing that he hit a ship there. If there was no ship on the second player's board at that location, he would have said "Miss!" and the first player would need to put a white peg on his map so that he didn't call the same spot again.

The turns go back and forth to each player, regardless of whether a hit or a miss has been made. As each ship is hit, a red peg is put in the ship (they have holes for the pegs on top). When all of the holes are full of red pegs, that ship is then "Sunk" and you need to inform the other player that this has happened, "You sunk my destroyer!". Following the normal Battleship rules, the object of the game is to sink the other person's fleet before all of your own ships are sunk.

What makes the Battleship games so fun is the suspense that builds up when there's only a few ships left. You can see how close the other person comes to finding your ship with a "Hit!" but they have no idea how close or how far off they are. Small ships like the PT boat can cause all kinds of problems if you tuck them away in a spot all by themselves.


Now that we've gone over the Battleship rules, here are a few tips that may help.

  • Don't group your ships together! - Spread them out a bit to make sure one of your ships doesn't get hit by searching fire when the other person is after a completely different ship!
  • Small ships like the PT boat are great on the sides of the map. Unless they get very lucky, they'll be looking for that little ship for a long time!
  • When calling out your shots, try to have a system for working your way across the board. Ships like the carrier are big and tough to hide. If you methodically call your shots in a set pattern, you'll quickly find the larger ships.


I have very fond memories of the Battleship games. Even if I never did get that Electronic Battleship Game I always wanted, the Battleship board game that my parents did get me was one very busy board game! Just be careful with the pegs (vacuum cleaners love them).

Remember to have fun!

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