Monday, June 6, 2016

Battleship (game review)

We recently added Battleship to our game library, and I have to admit I was excited. I remembered playing as a kid and loving the game, so I figured it would be a great addition to help change up what we play with Bobble. It said ages 7+ on the box, but I figured Bobble would probably catch on well, so why not try?

The game comes with two separate fold-open boards, 5 ships for each board, and more white and red pegs than seems necessary because the boards are hard to close when you have them divided up and in their respective holding areas.

The one thing that instantly comes up as a negative for this game (aside from all the small pieces and having a toddler) is that you can’t really play this comfortably if you aren’t at a table. This might not be a con for you, but we tend to just pull out games and play on the living room floor. This is hard for me to do with Battleship because I’m tall enough that I would see the other person’s set up, so I have to stretch out across the floor to play. Again, might not seem like a negative, but it’s a lot more uncomfortable after a while (and much harder to get up from) now that I’m in my 30s than it was two decades ago!

If you’ve never played Battleship, the premise is quite simple: set up your ships on the horizontal part of the board however you want (so long as it isn’t diagonal), and try to guess where your opponent has set theirs up. The game board is a grid with letters along the Y axis (top-bottom) and numbers along the X axis (left-right). You use red pegs to symbolize hits on the ships, and the white pegs to show misses. You use the upper part of the game board (the grid that your ships aren’t on) to mark your missed and hit calls against your opponent. You only need to mark hits on your actual ships on the bottom part to show you where your opponent has hit a ship.

To play, you call out a coordinate like B3, and the other player will tell you if it was a miss or a hit. If it’s a hit, they will tell you which ship you hit so you know how many places it should be taking up in the area (the carrier, for example, takes up 5 spaces so has 5 places to hit before you sink it). The first person to sink all of their opponent’s ships wins.

This is a much slower game than some of our other games that we’ve reviewed so far, but that’s due to the vast possibilities to call out if you’re really unlucky and can’t seem to find a ship. Alternatively, it could go pretty quickly if you get lucky with your calls.

The hardest part of this game with Bobble was getting him to remember to mark his hits and misses on his board. He would remember to mark the ships that we hit of his, but he’d just get so excited if he hit a ship that he’d bounce for a minute and then forget to peg. On the other hand, he’d get frustrated if he didn’t hit and complain for a second before the next person went, and still forget to peg.

After the first few times of playing with him, he got really good at “seeing” the board. At first he was just guessing and it was a shot in the dark. If he had a hit at B3, the next call he made might be H8. He wasn’t understanding the game to where he could visualize the hit means there is another spot right near there that would also be part of the boat. To help with this, hubby took a board (after a game ended) and left all the pegs on it. He showed him the hit and then nothing around it, then held up the boat that he hit to his upper board to show him that it would fill spaces immediately around there.
It helped, because now Bobble is really good and wins a lot. I’d be irritated with how good he got so quickly, but I’m too proud to really be legitimately upset.

Squiggle wanting to play... she tried, anyway!
This is a great game for encouraging strategizing and helping to learn a bit of rudimentary geometry skills (coordinates, anyone?). No reading is required for this game (if you can teach the child the rules), but they will need to know numbers, letters, and be able to memorize the name of the ships to tell you which one they sunk. (Admittedly, I never remember what they are called… I tend to say, “You hit the 3-holed one!”) Just make sure you have a bit of time to play, as it can go on quite a bit. If your child is younger, like Bobble, I would recommend playing with another adult (or older child) on their side to make sure they are not moving ships around or missing pegs their first few times they play. Definitely a game worth having in your collection, though!

They also make a travel version, though I honestly cannot see any car ride ever being smooth enough to make those little pegs (or ships) not get lost in or under seats… regardless of the person’s age. Hit a pothole or something and boom. Pegs would likely rain everywhere! (My husband says he never had an issue, but he also used the travel version to take places and then play there, not in the car.) There is also an electronic version, but I was hoping the electronic version would involve a red light showing where you got hit (or got a hit) when you touch the square on the grid, thus eliminating the pegs. The reality of it is that it makes sounds, but you still have pegs. I guess I'll just stick to the original, then!

You can buy Battleship for between $12 and $16 at most retail stores.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. Hasbro did not sponsor this post in any way. The game was received as a gift from a friend.

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