Sinking Ships, Not Feelings
- What: Battleship game
- When: 5 years old and up
- Why: Fun for kids and adults, promotes number and math skills
- Where: Amazon
When I say Battleship, I don’t mean the constant battles I have with my kids (Why? Do we have to?) or myself (One more hour and then another responsible adult will be home!). I mean the classic Battleship game from my own childhood. My kids have recently discovered it and my seven year old loves it. He loves blasting things, and guessing games, and winning, so basically all three got rolled into one giant awesome game for him.
Your kid needs to know their numbers up to 9 and roughly the first half of their letters to play this game. Other than that, it requires no literacy skills. It took my son a few turns to grasp the concept of the graph (C3, H1, etc.) to name each point, but after that, he was off and running.
If you haven’t played before, each player gets two boards, which fold compactly for storage. For playing, the target board is on the vertical surface, and an identical board lays below it on the horizontal plane. The horizontal part also has some extra spaces to store pieces when not in use.
Each player gets five boats in varying sizes from two to five pegs long. They can place them in any orientation in any spot on the board before the game begins. Players then take turns guessing locations to try and hit their opponent’s boats. Once you hit all the spots on the boat, the boat sinks. Sink all five of the other player’s boats before they sink your five and you win.
Except for boat placement, the game depends largely on luck to get the first hit on any boat. After that, it helps to understand basic geometry to locate the orientation and direction of the boat, but it certainly isn’t required.
My seven year old played against his dad and five year old sister for the first two times when we stumbled across the game in a restaurant (with a playoff sporting event and lots of adult drinks on tap, so win for everyone!). My husband and I looked at each other without speaking, and we both thought the same thing: This game will be a huge hit.
I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me to try it before.I hadn’t played myself since roughly elementary school, when each month or so one lucky student would get to play with the principle. I haven’t invested in our own copy yet because with the holidays right around the corner, I like to leave a few quality things for their wish lists.
It has lots of small parts, like the boats you place and the pegs you use to mark both your and your opponent’s hits and misses. It’s a two player game for sure, since it only comes with two boards, though multiple players can play in teams.
You can get electronic versions that make noise, as well as themed versions like Star Wars, if you want to move beyond the classic game. One even includes airplanes now for more pieces to search and destroy.