Battleship Review
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Players: 2
Ages: 7 and up
Playing time: About 30 minutes

What Milton Bradley calls “The Classic Naval Combat Game” actually originated on pencil and paper after World War I but became the familiar plastic 3-D version in 1967. Battleship is now part of our culture. Jerry and Elaine played it on Seinfeld, and so did Toy Story’s Mr. Potato Head: “You sunk it!”

But, like me, you’ve possibly never played it yourself. My own kids taught me tonight. It’s easy to see why it’s still around and has even branched out to electronic and handheld versions.

You start out with two folding pegboards (they resemble miniature laptop computers) and lots of red and white pegs. Each player gets five ships of varying sizes: carrier, battleship, destroyer, submarine, and patrol boat. Set up the ships any way you like (except diagonally) on the lower pegboard, or “ocean grid.” Taking turns, each player calls out the coordinates (“E-7”) of where they think the other player’s ships are. The other player must answer “Miss” or “Hit.” The player hit must also specify the type of ship.

Red pegs are for keeping track of hits; white for misses. You must use strategy and the process of elimination to reach your objective. The first player to sink all five of his or her opponent’s ships wins the game. The fun is magnified when you guess correctly and get a hit; likewise when your opponent lashes out uselessly and keeps missing your ships. Cool, self-made explosion noises such as “Ka-pshhhhh!” are optional.

So who won my first-ever game of Battleship? My nine-year-old son. It was a close one, but, for the record, he sank my battleship.

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