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Parlour Games for Modern Families: Battleships

It is said that this game was developed by British prisoners of war during the First World War. This game also has its commercial spin-offs, as with many a game that originated from humble beginnings. It has continued to appeal to the imaginations of generations of children since then.

Number of players: 2

Age: 8 and up

You will need: Pen and paper

Playing time: 15 minutes

Object of the game

To be the first to destroy the ‘enemy’ fleet.

How to play

  1. Each player draws two ten by ten grids. On the left hand side of the grid, players number the squares from one to ten. Along the top of the grid, they place the letters ‘A’ to ‘J’.
  2. Each player uses one grid for their home fleet, and another for the enemy fleet of their opponent. For the moment, the enemy-fleet grid stays blank.
  3. Each player has a fleet of ships consisting of the following:
  • One Battleship (equivalent to four squares)
  • Two Cruisers (each equivalent to three squares)
  • Three Destroyers (each equivalent to two squares)
  • Four Submarines (each equivalent to one square)

Each player places their ships on their home grid, by using the letters ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, and ‘S’ to represent each type of vessel. They must keep their home grid hidden from the other player, perhaps by using a ‘screen’, such as a book, between them. The letters can be placed vertically or horizontally. Each ship must be made up of consecutive squares. No two ships can touch each other, even by a corner. For example:

BattleshipsAfter deciding who will go first (a coin toss should do it), each player takes a turn at guessing where their opponent’s enemy fleet might be by calling out a reference (say, ‘ten, C’). If no ships are placed there, their opponent calls out ‘miss’. A miss is marked as an ‘X’ on the equivalent square (in this case, ‘ten, C’) of the enemy-fleet grid (as above). If it is a hit, the letter of the vessel hit is added to the enemy-fleet grid. The other player then has their turn to guess the location of their opponent’s enemy fleet. All hits must be declared, as well as the type of vessel hit. In this way, players start to work out where the enemy fleet is placed, and can make a series of directed hits to eliminate them.

The player who hits all the enemy fleets first is the winner.


Parlour_Games_coverThis is an edited extract from Parlour Games for Modern Families by Myfanwy Jones and Spiri Tsintziras, published by Scribe, RRP$24.99, out now. Available here.

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