Battleship/battleship has been a popular game for generations. These games, which were originally played with paper and a pen, have inspired various board games, electronic handheld devices, computer games, and even movies. Even after all the changes to the version and the rules, the game is still pretty easy to play with graph paper and a pen.
Method 1 of 4: Preparing the Battleship
Step 1. Give each player a battleship box
The standard battleship game set consists of two squares, one for each player. Each box has two diagrams, each on its inner surface.
A game set will be difficult to use if it doesn't have two squares, a large number of red and white pawns, and at least six ships. Try playing on graph paper as described below, or look for an online version of the game
Step 2. Make sure all the boats are complete
These ships vary in length and take up different numbers of squares on the diagram. Both players must have the same ships. The following is a general list of ships, but if you don't have all of these ships, just make sure the two players are evenly matched:
- A five-box long ship (air transport ship)
- A four-box long ship (warship)
- Two three-box-long ships (sailing ship and submarine)
- A two-box long ship (destroyer)
Step 3. Each player must construct his ship in secret
With the box open and players sitting across from each other, each player must place his or her ship on the diagram in front of him. Follow these rules to determine the placement position of your ship:
- Ships can be placed horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally.
- You must place all five ships on the diagram.
- All ships must actually be on the diagram. There must be no boat hanging from the edge of the board.
- Vessels must not be in a position to cross each other.
- Once your ships have been placed and the game has started, you can't move your ships again.
Step 4. Decide who will take the first turn
If both players cannot agree, toss a coin or decide in some other random way. If you are playing multiple games in a row, consider allowing players who lost the previous game to go first in the next round.
Method 2 of 4: Playing Battleship
Step 1. Learn how to shoot
Each player will use the diagram at the top of his box, which is completely occupied by ships, to record his shots at his opponent's ships. To shoot, pick up a box on this diagram with the coordinates indicated by the letters on the left and the numbers above the diagram.
- For example, the box at the top-left corner is named "A-1," because it's located in row A and in the column labeled 1.
- To the right of A-1 is A-2, then A-3, etc.
Step 2. Learn how to respond to your opponent's fire
After the first player announces the location of his shot, the second player checks the same coordinates on his diagram that are occupied by the ship. The second player then responds (honestly!) in one of the following ways:
- If the first player hits an empty box without a ship, the second player says "Miss!" (missing)
- If the first player hits the box with a ship, the second player says "Hit!" (hit)
- In most of the official rules written on the game sets, the player must also declare which ship was hit (for example, an air transport ship). However, many people do not play with this rule.
Step 3. Take note of the hits or misses
If the first player misses, he will place the white pawn in the hole in the top diagram of his box, and the second player places the white pawn in the hole in the bottom diagram of his box. If the first player hits the opponent's ship, both players must use the red pawn, with the second player placing his pawn directly into the hole above the ship that was shot.
You don't need to record your opponent's missed shots on your chart below if you don't want to. However, you need to keep track of your opponent's successful shots, so you know when a ship has sunk
Step 4. Announce when each ship sinks
If all the boxes in the hull are shot, the ship sinks. The player who places the ship must tell his opponent, "My ___boat is sinking," by stating the type of ship that just sank.
The names of the ships are written in the preparation section. If you forget, you can say, "My __ boxed ship is sinking."
Step 5. Shoot alternately until one player loses all his ships
Players will take turns shooting, regardless of whether the shot is successful or not. Whoever manages to sink all of his opponent's ships first wins the match.
Method 3 of 4: Playing Battleships on Graph Paper
Step 1. Bold the chart to 10x10 size
Draw four squares on graph paper, each measuring 10 by 10 small squares. Divide these four squares by two players, each getting two squares, labeled "my ship" and "opponent ship."
Step 2. Draw the ship on your diagram
Hide the box labeled my ship from the opponent's view, and draw a thick line to represent the five ships, anywhere within the bounds of the diagram. Each ship is one box wide, and varies in length:
- Draw one ship of five squares (air transport ship)
- Draw one ship along four squares (warship)
- Draw two ships of three squares (sailing ship and submarine)
- Draw one ship along two squares (destroyer)
Step 3. Play by the usual rules
Use the instructions above to play the battleship game normally. Instead of using pawns, draw an X for a hit and a dot for a missed shot, or use any symbol system that's easy for you to understand. Use the box labeled with your opponent's ship to record the shots you've taken, and the box labeled my ship to record your opponent's shots.
Method 4 of 4: Further Variations
Step 1. Try using the original "salvo" rule
After playing the standard game for a while, you can try something more challenging. In the "Salvo" rule, you take five shots at a time in turns. Your opponent will respond normally, notifying you of hit and miss shots, but only after you've selected five squares as targets. This version of the game is played from at least 1931.
Step 2. Reduce the number of shots when you start to lose the ship
Increase the suspense and reward the player who sinks the first ship, adding an extra rule to the Salvo rules above. Instead of shooting five times at a time, each player can only fire once for each surviving ship. For example, if the first player loses a sailing ship and still has four ships, he can only shoot four times in each turn.
Step 3. Complicating the game with further Salvo rules
Play by the original Salvo rules above, but don't tell your opponent which shot was hit or missed. Instead of doing it, tell them how many shots were hit and how many missed. These rules will result in a complicated game, and are only recommended for expert players.
Since you won't know for sure which square is correct, the regular red/white pawn system may not work in this variation. You may have to use pencil and paper for each player so they can write down each salvo that occurs and the opponent's response
- Once you've successfully hit your opponent's ship, try targeting adjacent squares in the same row or column, so you can hit the part of the ship that hasn't been hit.
- You can also buy electronic battleship games. The main rules are always the same, but some of the electronic versions have "special weapons" which will be explained in the game instructions.