You could argue Battleship is a battle of wits, but you’d be wrong. So let’s turn it into one.
As you may know if you’ve been following the board gaming side of BoLS for a little while, I’m a 90’s kid and radical as they come.
The thing about being a 90’s kid is that I have adult grownup money now, but never learned to distinguish myself from the desires of my youthful self, so I spend my money on stupid stuff that young me would have wanted to buy. Hollywood was figured this out and they are doing their best to make sure the stupid stuff I buy is the stupid stuff they are putting out there.
To hype myself up for this most excellent adventure, I sat down with the least heinous time-travel movie series ever made. It was during my re-watch of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey where something clicked in my head.
Why couldn’t the Grim Reaper beat Mr. Preston and Mr. Logan at Battleship? Is there really so little skill involved? It seems like there is, right? The game is nothing but choices you, as the player, get to make. And while there’s an argument to be made that Battleship is more about reading your opponent and trying to get in their head, that’s dumb and boring.
Let’s rework some of the rules to Battleship and make it more exciting!
The idea that a Patrol Boat has the same combat abilities as the Destroyer is bonkers. So with this variant, we expand on that idea.
On the player’s turn, they announce which of their ships will be activating this turn. If a ship has been sunk, it can not be activated.
- Carrier: Interceptors – Roll a die, On a 3+ opponent can not use Destroyer bombs on their next turn. Then attack as normal.
- Battleship: Heavy Guns – Attacks as normal twice
- Destroyer: Bombs – Attacks in a cross pattern or attack as normal.
- Submarine: Sonar – The player chooses a 3 x 3 area of the board by declaring the center square. The defending player answers “yes” or “no” to if any of those 9 squares contain any of their ships’ sections. Then attack as normal.
- Patrol Boat: Mechanic Crew: Roll a die, on a 5+, repair one damage to any of your ships. Can not attack. If Patrol Boat is your only remaining ship, you lose.
If you’re looking for a more logic puzzle based variant, this is for you. Loosely based on the color matching logic game, in this variant players get multiple shots per turn, but they don’t know which ones hit.
Each turn, players can fire up to 4 times. The defending player tells them how many of their shots hit, but not which ones. However, the defending player also tells which ship was hit. It will be up to the player to use their logical deduction skills to eliminate the options of which ones were missed. If a player’s ship is sunk, they declare that openly to the other player, informing which was sunk.
Suppose you fire 3 times and 1 of them hit the Cruiser. You could pick one and spend your next turn attacking every adjacent square around it and seeing if you score another hit, confirming your target. But you might guess wrong on which one hit. So instead, since you know it’s the Cruiser, you may be able to eliminate certain shots, based on where the large ship would be able to fit within other shots you know missed.
This variant isn’t even Battleship anymore, but it’s an idea I was toying around with. This is less about specific rules and more just my brainstorming notes, loosely listed.
- Players have 3 stats, Health, Strength, Dexterity. Players distribute 10 points between the 3 stats. Str and Dex checks are made by rolling under your stat.
- Players use their ships to build a maze on their board. One section of ship must be along the edge of the wall, the location of which is told to the other player.
- The players take their pegs to mark their own ships with traps (white) and monsters (red).
- The players take turns blindly navigating the other players maze by telling them which direction they want to move. Players get 3 moves a turn.
- If they would fall off a ship, they make a Dex check or their turn ends.
- Fighting a monster requires a Str check or lose 1 health. Turn continues after the fight, win or lose. Monsters can not be passed while alive.
- Walking into a trap requires a Dex check or lose 1 health and end your turn. The trap is disarmed regardless.
- Players can rest on their turn to restore to max health.
- The first player to fully explore the other player’s maze wins.
Like I said, this is just a collection of notes. It probably is very flawed as is it, but I think the idea as merit.
Hopefully these gameplay variants inspire you try dust off that Battleship box and give it a play. It’s been a while and if I’ve learned as a 90’s kid, it’s that toys and appliances get sad when they aren’t played with.
Thanks for reading!