Battleship (also Battleships or Sea
Battle) is a strategy type guessing game for two players. It is
played on ruled grids (paper or board) on which each player's fleet
of ships (including battleships) are marked.
locations of the fleets are concealed from the other player. Players
alternate turns calling "shots" at the other player's
ships, and the objective of the game is to destroy the opposing
Battleship is known worldwide as a pencil
and paper game which dates from World War I. It was published by
various companies as a pad-and-pencil game in the 1930s, and was
released as a plastic board game by Milton Bradley in 1967.
The game has spawned electronic versions,
video games, smart device apps and a film.
The game is played on four grids, two for
The grids are typically square
usually 10×10 and the individual squares in the grid are
identified by letter and number. On one grid the player arranges
ships and records the shots by the opponent. On the other grid the
player records their own shots.
Before play begins, each player secretly
arranges their ships on their primary grid. Each ship occupies a
number of consecutive squares on the grid, arranged either
horizontally or vertically. The number of squares for each ship is
determined by the type of the ship. The ships cannot overlap (i.e.,
only one ship can occupy any given square in the grid). The types and
numbers of ships allowed are the same for each player. These may vary
depending on the rules.
the ships have been positioned, the game proceeds in a series of
rounds. In each round, each player takes a turn to announce a target
square in the opponent's grid which is to be shot at. The opponent
announces whether or not the square is occupied by a ship. If it is a
"hit", the player who is hit marks this on their own or
"ocean" grid (with a red peg in the pegboard version). The
attacking player marks the hit or miss on their own
"tracking" or "target" grid with a pencil marking
in the paper version of the game, or the appropriate color peg in the
pegboard version (red for "hit", white for
"miss"), in order to build up a picture of the opponent's fleet.
When all of the squares of a ship have
been hit, the ship's owner announces the sinking of the Carrier,
Submarine, Cruiser/Destroyer/Patrol Boat, or the titular Battleship.
If all of a player's ships have been sunk, the game is over and their
opponent wins. If all ships of both players are sunk by the end of
the round, the game is a draw.
The 1990 Milton Bradley version of the
rules specify the following ships:
Class of ship
In 2002, Hasbro renamed the Cruiser as
Destroyer, taking three squares, and substituted a new two-square
ship called the Patrol Boat.
Class of ship
The game of Battleship is thought to have
its origins in the French game L'Attaque played during World War I,
although parallels have also been drawn to E. I. Horsman's 1890 game
Basilinda, and the game is said to have been played by Russian
officers before World War I. The first commercial version of the game
was Salvo, published in 1931 in the United States by the Starex
company. Other versions of the game were printed in the 1930s and
1940s, including the Strathmore Company's Combat: The Battleship
Game, Milton Bradley's Broadsides: A Game of Naval Strategy and
Maurice L. Freedman's Warfare Naval Combat. Strategy Games Co.
produced a version called Wings which pictured planes flying over the
Los Angeles Coliseum. All of these early editions of the game
consisted of pre-printed pads of paper.
1967 Milton Bradley introduced a version of the game that used
plastic boards and pegs. Conceived by Ed Hutchins, play was on
pegboards using miniature plastic ships. In 1977, Milton Bradley also
released a computerized Electronic Battleship, followed in 1989 by
Electronic Talking Battleship. In 2008, an updated version of
Battleship was released, using hexagonal tiles. In the updated
version, each player's board contains several islands on which
"captured man" figurines can be placed. Ships may be placed
only around the islands, and only in the player's half of the board.
When the movie Battleship was released, the board game reverted to
the original 1967 style. The 2008 updated version is still available
as Battleship Islands.
Battleship was one of the earliest games
to be produced as a computer game, with a version being released for
the Z80 Compucolor in 1979. Many computer editions of the game have
been produced since. In Clubhouse Games for the Nintendo DS,
Battleship is known as Grid Attack. It is played on an 8×8 grid,
and includes slight variations, such as 4-player gameplay, and
various ship sizes and shapes. Versions of Battleship appear as
applications on numerous social networking services.
was also part of Hasbro Family Game Night for the PlayStation 2 and
Wii, as well as the Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade). These alter the
rules, including the size of the grid (8×12 in the NES version,
8×8 in the Game Boy version), size of ships (it is common to
feature a submarine that takes up a single square) and special shot
missiles for each ship. For example, in the NES version the cruiser
has a five-shot missile which strikes five squares in an X pattern on
the grid in one turn. Submarine-tracking sonar and aerial
reconnaissance to spot ships are also features.
A minigame version of Battleship was used
in the third season of The Hub's Family Game Night, which uses a
5×5 grid and the first team to sink three ships wins the game.
The Hub was a 2010 joint cable TV channel venture between Discovery
Channel and Hasbro to rebrand Discovery Kids. Hasbro handled
programming while Discovery handled distribution and advertising
sales. The Hub was intended to be a general, youth-oriented network.
In 2014, Hub Network was re-branded as Discovery Family to which
Hasbro remains a minority partner and programs the network's daytime
lineup with children's programs carried over from Hub Network, while
its prime-time lineup was replaced with reruns of non-fiction
programs from Discovery Channel's library, including science and
In 2012, the military science fiction
action movie Battleship (below) was released, which was inspired by
the Milton Bradley board game. A version of Battleship based on the
movie was released in which one side had alien ship playing pieces.
Battleship is a 2012 American military
science fiction action film loosely based on the board game of the
same name. The film was directed by Peter Berg and stars Alexander
Skarsgard, Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Tadanobu Asano,
and Liam Neeson. Filming took place in Hawaii and on USS Missouri. In
the film, the crews of a small group of warships are forced to battle
against a naval fleet of extraterrestrial origin in order to thwart
their destructive goals.
Battleship received mixed reviews and was
a financial disappointment, making $65 million in North America
against its gross of $303 million worldwide.
Filed under the Gender Stereotypes in
advertising we present the original 1967 Battleship Box cover. It
shows Dad and son having fun playing the game as Mom and daughter
watch on in the background while scrubbing dishes. Not unusual for
the time as many ads of the era depicted girls and women sitting on
the sidelines while they watched boys and men doing things.
Eventually, the game company replaced the box cover with a photo
showing a boy and girl playing the game, and the girl appears to be
winning. Later editions show a girl and boy playing with no reference
to who is winning.
the 1931 Salvo edition of the game, players target a specified
number of squares at one time, and all of the squares are attacked
simultaneously. A player may initially target five (one for each
battleship) squares per turn, and the amount of shots decreases when
one of the player's ships are lost. In other variants of this
mechanic, the number of shots allowed to fire each turn may either be
fixed at five for the whole game, be equal to the number of unsunk
ships belonging to the player, or be equal to the size of the
player's largest undamaged ship. The opponent may either call the
result of each shot in turn, or simply announce the hits or misses.
E.g: "two hits and three misses", leaving their opponent to
work out the consequences of the salvo. In the modern Milton Bradley
rules for Battleship, Salvo is listed as a variation "for more
experienced players", with the number of shots being equal to
the number of ships that the firing player has remaining.
One variant of Battleship allows players
to decline to announce that a ship has been sunk, requiring their
opponent to take further shots in order to confirm that an area is
clear. Another variant of the rule allows a player to move one of
their ships to a new, uncalled location every fourth or fifth move.
Another variant allows multiple players
and allow different shapes for the ships as long as each square of a
ship touches at least one other square of that ship.
A variant popular in the United Kingdom is
for each player to also have 5 mines. These occupy 1 square each and
are placed on the board in the same manner as the ships. When a
player's guess hits a mine on an opponent's board it destroys
anything in that square and the 8 immediately surrounding squares on
the board of the player making the guess.
It is known throughout the
world as a pencil and paper game and predates World War I in this
form. It was invented by Clifford Von Wickler in the early 1900s, but
he never patented the game and it was soon published by Milton
Bradley Company in 1943 as the pad-and-pencil game "Broadsides,
the Game of Naval Strategy"
Milton Bradley Company or simply Milton
Bradley (MB) was an American board game manufacturer established by
Milton Bradley in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1860. In 1920, it
absorbed the game production of McLoughlin Brothers, formerly the
largest game manufacturer in the United States. Since 1984, it has
been a division of Hasbro.
In 1860 Milton Bradley (below right) set
up the state's first color lithography shop in Springfield,
Massachusetts. Its graphic design of Abraham Lincoln sold very well,
until Lincoln grew his beard and rendered the likeness out-of-date.
to find a new way to use his lithography machine, Bradley visited
his friend George Tapley. Tapley challenged him to a game, most
likely an old English game. Bradley conceived the idea of making a
purely American game. He created The Checkered Game of Life, which
had players move along a track from Infancy to Happy Old Age, in
which the point was to avoid Ruin and reach Happy Old Age. Squares
were labeled with moral positions from honor and bravery to disgrace
and ruin. Players used a spinner instead of dice because of the
negative association with gambling.
By spring of 1861, over 45,000 copies of
The Checkered Game of Life had been sold. Bradley became convinced
board games were his company's future.
When the American Civil War broke out in
early 1861, Bradley temporarily gave up making board games and tried
to make new weaponry. However, upon seeing bored soldiers stationed
in Springfield, Bradley began producing small games which the
soldiers could play during their down time. These are regarded as the
first travel games in the country. These games included chess,
checkers, backgammon, dominoes, and "The Checkered Game of
Life." They were sold for one dollar a piece to soldiers and
charitable organizations, which bought them in bulk to distribute.
The Milton Bradley Company took a new
direction in 1869 after Milton Bradley went to hear a lecture about
the kindergarten movement by early education pioneer, Elizabeth
Peabody (avove right). Peabody promoted the philosophy of the German
scholar Friedrich Froebel. Froebel stated that through education
children learn and develop through creative activities. Bradley would
spend much of the rest of his life promoting the kindergarten
movement both personally and through the Milton Bradley Company. His
company began manufacturing educational items such as colored papers
and paints and he gave many of these materials away free of charge,
which hurt the company financially. Due to the Long Depression of the
late 1870s, his investors told him either his kindergarten work must
go or they would go. Bradley chose to keep his kindergarten work. His
friend George Tapley bought the interest of the lost investors and
took over as president of the Milton Bradley Company.
Bradley was an early advocate of Friedrich Froebel's (left) idea of
Kindergarten. Springfield's first kindergarten students were Milton
Bradley's two daughters, and the first teachers in Springfield were
Milton, his wife and his father. Milton Bradley's company's
involvement with kindergartens began with the production of
"gifts," the term used by Froebel for the geometric wooden
play things that he felt were necessary to properly structure
children's creative development. Bradley spent months devising the
exact shades in which to produce these materials; his final choice of
six pigments of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet would
remain the standard colors for children's art supplies through the
By the 1870s, the company was producing
dozens of games and capitalizing on fads. Milton Bradley became the
first manufacturer in America to make croquet sets. The sets included
wickets, mallets, balls, stakes, and an authoritative set of rules to
play by that Bradley himself had created from oral tradition and his
own sense of fair play. In 1880, the company began making jigsaw puzzles.
The company's educational supplies turned
out to be a large portion of their income at the turn of the century.
They produced supplies any grade school teacher could use, such as
toy money, multiplication sticks, and movable clock dials. Milton
Bradley continued producing games, particularly parlor games played
by adults. They produced "Visit to the Gypsies," "Word
Gardening," "Happy Days in Old New England," and
"Fortune Telling." They also created jigsaw puzzles of
wrecked vehicles, which were popular among young boys.
When Milton Bradley died in 1911, the
company was passed to Robert Ellis, who passed it to Bradley's
son-in-law Robert Ingersoll, who eventually passed it to George
Tapley's son, William. In 1920, Bradley bought out McLoughlin
Brothers, which went out of business after John McLoughlin's death.
Milton Bradley began to decline in the
1920s and fell dramatically in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
Fewer people were spending money on board games. The company kept
losing money until 1940, when they sank too low and banks demanded
payment on loans.
to avoid bankruptcy, the board of directors persuaded James J. Shea
(top right), a Springfield businessman, to take over presidency of
the company. Shea immediately moved to decrease the company's debt.
He began a major renovation of the Milton Bradley plant by burning
old inventory that had been accumulating since the turn of the century.
With the outbreak of World War II, Milton
Bradley started producing a universal joint created by Shea used on
the landing gear of fighter planes. They also reproduced a revised
version of their game kits for soldiers, which earned the company $2
million. Milton Bradley did not stop creating board games, although
they did cut their line from 410 titles to 150. New games were
introduced during this time, such as the patriotic Game of the
States, Chutes & Ladders and Candyland.
The advent of the television could have
threatened the industry, but Shea used it to his advantage. Various
companies acquired licenses to television shows for the purpose of
producing all manner of promotional items including games. In 1959,
Milton Bradley released Concentration, a memory game based on an NBC
television show of the same name; the game was such a success that
editions were issued annually into 1982, long after the show was
cancelled in 1973 (similar practices were used for box game
adaptations of the game shows Password and Jeopardy!).
Milton Bradley celebrated their centennial
in 1960 with the re-release of The Checkered Game of Life, which was
modernized. It was now simply called The Game of Life and the goal
was no longer to reach Happy Old Age, but to become a millionaire.
Twister made its debut in the 1960s as well. Thanks to Johnny
Carson's suggestive comments as Eva Gabor played the game on his
show, Twister became a phenomenon. In the 1960s, Milton Bradley games
were licensed in Australia by John Sands Pty Ltd.
In 1967, James Shea Jr. (bottom right)
took over as president of Milton Bradley (becoming CEO in 1968)
succeeding his father. During his presidency, Milton Bradley bought
Playskool Mfg. Co. the E.S. Lowe Company, makers of Yahtzee, and Body Language.
During the 1970s and 1980s, electronic
games became popular. Milton Bradley released Simon in 1978, which
was fairly late in the movement. By 1980, it was their best-selling item.
In 1979, Milton Bradley also developed the
first hand-held cartridge-based console, the Microvision.
In 1983, seeing the potential in the new
Vectrex vector-based video game console, the company purchased
General Consumer Electronics (GCE). Both the Vectrex and the
Microvision were designed by Jay Smith.
the late 1980s and early 1990s, Milton Bradley marketed a series of
games (such as HeroQuest and Battle Masters) in North America that
were developed in the United Kingdom by Games Workshop (GW) that drew
heavily from GW's Warhammer Fantasy universe, albeit without explicit
reference to the Warhammer product line.
In 1984, Hasbro bought out Milton Bradley
ending 124 years of family ownership. The 1990s saw the release of
Gator Golf, Crack the Case, Mall Madness, and 1313 Dead End Drive.
In 1991, Hasbro acquired Milton Bradley's
former arch-rival Parker Brothers. In 1998, Milton Bradley merged
with Parker Brothers to form Hasbro Games. After the consolidation,
Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers turned into brands of Hasbro
before being both dropped in 2009 in favor of the parent company's
name, since adjusted to Hasbro Gaming.