Battleship: Going Off the Grid
Battleship is a classic game which some people consider a hit while many other think of it as a miss. Many critics of Battleship argue that the game is pointless, since its really just a pen and pencil game. They argue that the grid system which is the basis of the game’s makeup could be stretched out on a notepad in about thirty seconds and the game could be played from there. This is true, yet I think that those people who make these complaints are forgetting one thing; the power of imagination.
Battleship isn’t about guessing squares one by one. Its about putting yourself in the shoes of a Naval commander, placing yourself on the deck of that armored cruiser. Its about hearing the ping of radar and feeling the apprehension before an attack. This is why kids love Battleship; their imaginations are allowed to take over even when at that is inform of them are one hundred small squares arranged in one larger square.
Sometimes I think gamers are a little too hard on the classic, popular games, just like film snobs are against mainstream Hollywood movies and indie music hipsters hate bands that get radio airtime. But remember, Battleship is really a game for children and its still a fun game so long as you still have some part of that childhood ability to transport yourself to another time and place. As long as imagination is present in the people who play, Battleship will always be more than just a grid.
Battleship is a game of guessing and elimination. Don’t be fooled, there’s not much strategy going on here. There are very minor strategies which how to pick where your missiles are going, but these strategies are more deceiving than anything else. You may think that placing all your ships around the edge is clever, but it doesn’t really matter that much.
What the game boils down to is two players hiding their ships on their grid and then taking turns guessing where on the coordinate grid the other persons ships are. And yet, this can be fun. Its fun to arrange your ships in a pattern you don’t think they’ll expect. Its exciting to hear then say “hit” or “you sunk my battleship”” in their disappointed voice as you throw your arms up in victory. If you are expecting a strategic chess match, you will be disappointed. But if you are able to put yourself right in the fleet, you may have some fun with it.
Battleship consists of two folding game boards, each of which has a grid on the top half and a gird on the bottom. It also comes with white pegs which indicate misses and red which indicate hits. The top gird is where you record your own guesses, and the underlay of the grid actually looks like a radar screen which the underlay of the bottom grid looks like water, a nice little touch to trigger our imaginations
The truly great component of the game however is the ships themselves. Each player gets five ships of different sizes; the Aircraft Carrier, the Battleship, the Submarine, the Cruiser and the Destroyer. These plastic gray models have not really changed in design much over the years and still look as great as ever. They are just as detailed as they need to be to allow yourself to believe that they are actual naval ships at your command.
Battleship may not be able to keep the interest of serious gamers afloat since it does lack strategic play and doesn’t actually go that deep despite its theme. But that doesn’t mean its a bad game. It is exactly what its supposed to be, game which puts you into the control room of your battleship peering out the periscope in a one-on-one battle against your enemy, which is sitting across from you trying to hide their board from your view. Battleship allows imagination to take over as long as we let it. This is something children have no problem with and something we as adults could practice a little more. Battleship is not sunk, it just needs a creative mindset to keep it moving.