OBJECTIVE: Sink all five of your opponents’ ships first!


MATERIALS: 2 game boards, 10 ships, red pegs, white pegs

TYPE OF GAME: Strategy board game



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Battleship is a classic board game everyone has probably played at one point in their lives! A very simple game in theory, this game has entertained families and friends for decades, and there’s definitely no sign of its popularity slowing down at any point! In fact, Battleship is on par with other famous board games like Risk and Clue. This is one of our favorite two player board games!


Prior to the famous 1967 Milton Bradley plastic boards and peg version of Battleship, commercial versions of the game, such as Salvo in 1931, were played with pen and paper. Opponents would each have a piece of paper with two grids, a targeting grid, and a grid to mark the placement of their ships. Following the release of Salvo, there were several other commercial releases of the game on pen and paper during the 1930s and 1940s. Interestingly, Battleship was also one of the first board games to be released as a computer game. It was produced in 1979 for the Z80 Compucolor and acted as a precursor for many more electronic versions of Battleship.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the official rules of Battleship!


Each player sits across from each other and opens their game boards. Secretly, each player places each of their five ships on the ocean grid, this is the bottom half of the game unit. Each space on the ocean grid has a corresponding letter and number. Letters are labeled on the left side of the board, from top to bottom. Numbers are labeled left to right across the top of the grid. 

You can place the ships horizontally or vertically, but they cannot be diagonal, off the grip, or overlapping. Note that players cannot change the location of any ships after the game has begun, so think carefully!

Here are the 5 ships you’ll need to place on your ocean grid, and the amount of spaces they occupy:


A Battleship board game consists of 2 game boards, 10 ships (5 for each player), and a number of red and white pegs. After setting up the game boards as instructed above, the players must set aside their red and white pegs in the designated slots of the game board.


battleship rules

Choose a player to go first. Each player will take turns calling out coordinates on their targeting grid. Keep in mind it’s only one coordinate for each turn! The targeting grid is the top half of the game unit. Each space on the grid has a corresponding letter and number in the same fashion as the ocean grid. A player will call out a letter and then a number (for example, B3) to their opponent to signify a space in the grid. 

Remember: The objective of the game is to hit and sink all five of your opponent’s ships, so you should pick a letter and number according to where you believe the ships to be.


If you call out a coordinate that misses the other player’s ships, the opposing player calls out, “Miss!” You then put a white peg on the corresponding coordinate on the targeting grid to mark where you’ve missed.

For example, if you called out B2, which was a miss, place a white peg on the B2 slot of the targeting grid. This marks the end of your turn.


If, however, you call out a random coordinate and it happens to hit the other player’s ships, the opposing player must call out, “Hit!” You then place a red peg to the corresponding coordinate on your targeting grid. This way, you’ll gradually get an idea of where the opposing player’s ships are.

The other player must also mark a red peg on the ship that was hit in order to keep track of the game.

When all the holes on a single ship have been hit (as in, filled with red pegs), that ship has sunk. When a player’s ship has sunk, that player must call out, “You sank my (insert name of the ship here)!”


The player who sinks all five of their opponent’s ships first wins the game!


battleship rules

The classic game of Battleship is a fun way to pass the time with your friends and family, but if you really want to spice up the game, there are many variations and additional rules you can add!


For a more challenging version of Battleship, play salvo rules. To play this version, on each turn, call out five different coordinates and mark them with white pegs on the targeting grid. After you call all five shots (also called a salvo), the opposing player must announce which were hits and misses. If any shots were hits, change the corresponding coordinate on the targeting grid from a white peg to a red peg to mark a hit.

If any of your ships sink, you lose one shot on your next turn.

For example, if you have 2 sunk ships, you can only call out 3 sets of coordinates on your next turn or salvo. Or if you have 4 sunk ships, your salvo is reduced to just one shot!

Other than this rule, continue gameplay as normal until a player sinks the 5 of the other player’s ships and wins the game.


To add more of a challenge to this variation, don’t announce when a ship has been sunk! With this rule in place, players will need to take additional shots around the ship in order to confirm that the area is clear.


In classic Battleship, once you place a ship on your ocean grid, you cannot move it. However, if you want to introduce a bit of chaos into the game, allow players to move a ship to a new location every 5th turn!


Another variation of Battleship rules is if a player gets a hit, that same player is allowed to take another turn. The player may continue to call shots until they miss. So, after the player misses, the turn passes onto the other player.


Other variations of Battleship you might want to check out include:


Can You Stack Ships in Battleship?

Absolutely not! While you can place ships pretty much wherever you want on the game board, vertically or horizontally, you cannot stack ships on top of one another. That would make for an impossible game!

Can You Put Ships Next to Each Other in Battleship?

Yes, definitely. You can put ships next to each other in Battleship, but to reiterate, the ships cannot occupy the same grid space.

Is Battleship a Hard Game?

Not at all! Even children as young as 7 can play this game. However, although Battleship is a simple game, since you can’t see where your opponent’s ships are, this game can be pretty difficult, depending on how lucky and/or strategic you are with your guesses! If you want, you can make this game more difficult by playing one of the many variations available.

Mia Kim

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