Originally starting as a paper and pencil game back in the 1930s, Battleship gained most of its popularity when it was officially commercialized in 1967 by Milton Bradley. Most people agree that Battleship is a classic board game as most people have played some variant of it at some point. For the game to have survived for almost 100 years it has to be pretty popular. Due to its’ popularity Hasbro and Milton Bradley have really tried to cash-in by introducing quite a few Battleship spinoff games in the past. Today I am looking at one of those spinoff games Battleship Torpedo Attack which was released back in 2007. Battleship Torpedo Attack is unique in that it takes the traditional Battleship gameplay and adds in a mechanic where you actually get to shoot the ships. Battleship Torpedo Attack doesn’t differentiate itself much from the original game, but the shooting mechanics do make it a more satisfying experience.
How to Play Battleship Torpedo Attack
- Flip over the white plastic base and place it in the bottom of the box so the chute points towards the hole in the side of the box. Place the ocean grid on top of the plastic base.
- Place the torpedo tray over the hole in the side of the box. Place the peg trays on the sides of the box so each player has easy access to two of the trays.
- Slide a periscope onto each torpedo launcher. Attach a torpedo launcher to each side of the box. Insert three marbles/torpedoes into each launcher.
- Set each player’s scoring marker to zero points.
- Each player takes pegs of both colors and fills the two trays by them.
- Divide the ships so each player has the same ships.
- Each player will place their small ships on their launcher grid that is facing them (bottom grid). When placing the five ships they can be placed horizontally or vertically.
- Choose who will start the game.
If you are familiar with normal Battleship you can skim this section as it is very similar to traditional Battleship.
On a player’s turn they will call out one coordinate on the grid (B8 for example). The other player will look at their bottom grid to see if they placed one of their ships on that space.
- If there isn’t a ship on the space they will say “open water.” The current player will place a white peg on the corresponding spot on their top grid.
- If there is a ship on the space they will say “target located.” The other player will place a red peg on the ship on the space that was chosen. The current player will place a red peg on the corresponding space on their top grid.
Whether the shot was a hit or miss, the next player will then take their turn.
When a player has found all of the spaces that a ship occupies, the other player will say “ship located”. You will then move to the “Firing Torpedoes” action.
The player whose ship was discovered will place the corresponding large ship on the ocean grid between the two players.
Each space on the ocean grid corresponds to two columns and rows. When placing the ship it will be placed corresponding to the last coordinate that was chosen.
The player who found the ship will then prepare to shoot at the ship. They will look down the periscope mirror and aim for the ship’s peg that is sitting below the ocean grid. To shoot a torpedo the player will push the red trigger on their torpedo launcher. The player can shoot up to three torpedoes. If the player fails to hit the ship with any of the three torpedoes, the player will score zero points. The player whose ship was shot at will take back their large ship.
If the player successfully hit the ship they will score points.
The amount of points they will score depends on the ship they shot and how many torpedoes it took to shoot the ship. Along the side of the board there are pictures corresponding to each ship. If the player hits the ship on their first shot, they will score the highest point value for the ship. If they hit the ship on their second shot they will score the second highest value. For their third shot they will score the lowest value. The player will slide their scoring marker to record their new points.
The player who shot will return all of their torpedoes to their torpedo launcher. Play will then return to the Locating Ships phase with the other player taking their turn.
End of Game
The game can end in one of two ways.
If a player scores 1,000 or more points, they will immediately win the game.
If neither player scores 1,000 points, the player who scored more points will win the game. If there is still a tie, the players will have a sudden death shoot out in order to determine the winner.
My Thoughts on Battleship Torpedo Attack
For a spinoff game I have to say that Battleship Torpedo Attack doesn’t differentiate itself much from the original game. Basically there are two parts to Battleship Torpedo Attack. First there is your traditional Battleship gameplay where you call out coordinates to try and find the other player’s ship. This part of the game is exactly the same as the original game. The only real difference to Battleship Torpedo Attack is that you get an opportunity to try and sink the ships once you have fully located them. While the shooting mechanic is interesting (more on this later), the problem is that a large majority of the game comes down to the traditional Battleship mechanics. I would say that at least 80-90% of the gameplay is exactly the same as traditional Battleship.
As pretty much everyone has played Battleship at some point in their lives, I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about that aspect of the game. I personally have always had mixed feelings about Battleship. The game deserves credit for being a classic and being accessible for the whole family. The biggest complaint with the game is that it relies on a lot of luck. The player who is better at guessing the location of the other player’s ships will win the game. There isn’t a lot of strategy/skill to the game outside of cheating. The only real strategy you can implement in the game is to take a methodical scattershot approach when choosing coordinates. The best way to methodically search the grid is to check every other space in a diagonal pattern. This significantly reduces the number of shots that you need to take to cover the entire grid. This method will catch every ship except occasionally the two space boat. A player that just randomly guesses can beat you, but using a methodical pattern like this does improve your odds in the game. Basically your feelings towards traditional Battleship will apply to this aspect of Battleship Torpedo Attack.
The one unique mechanic in Battleship Torpedo Attack is the ability to actually shoot the ships once you find them. I was curious about this mechanic as it could have really changed the game. After playing the game I had mixed feelings about it.
On the positive side the mechanic is actually kind of cool. The game actually does a surprisingly good job simulating what it must feel like shooting a torpedo at a ship. The game has players use a periscope component which uses some mirrors to allow you to see under the gameboard. You have to scan the gameboard until you find the peg that holds up the ship you are shooting at. You aim your launcher and then push a button to launch a marble at the ship. If you hit the ship it will shoot out of the board. I have to say that it is surprisingly satisfying when you are able to hit one of the ships. If you miss you will get two more opportunities to sink the ship.
While the traditional Battleship mechanics will get you the opportunity to shoot at the ships, this mechanic plays a big role in whether you will win the game. You can do really well at finding the ships, but if you can’t shoot them you won’t win the game. The game is actually pretty clever in how it divvies up the points to the different ships. The smaller ships are worth considerably more points than the larger ships. These ships aren’t really any harder to shoot. This was done as a way to reward players who are better at finding the smaller ships in the first phase.
The problem is that the shooting mechanics don’t work as well as they should though. First it takes a while to adjust to using the periscope properly. How you look through the periscope will effect your aim. The first time I played the game I ended up missing quite a bit. I tried a bunch of different ways to aim and none of them seemed to work. After the game was over I did a little experimenting and I think I figured out what was wrong with the launchers. Maybe it was just my copy of the game, but I had to aim off center in order to hit the ships. After I made this adjustment I basically hit the ship every shot. I am guessing this is because when they put the aiming reticle on the periscope they didn’t factor in the tilt of the tray placed under the gameboard (to guide the marbles towards the exit hole). When you adjust for this though aiming actually becomes pretty easy.
At the end of the day the shooting mechanics do improve upon the original Battleship. Instead of a game that mostly relies of guessing the right coordinates, there is a little skill in shooting the ships. Shooting the ships is also pretty fun. The problem is it doesn’t drastically improve the game. I think this comes from a few things. First they just don’t play a big role in the game. You will probably spend at least 80-90% of the game with the traditional Battleship mechanics. There is also the fact that the shooting mechanics are pretty basic. Once you get the aiming quirks down, it is pretty easy to hit the ships on your first attempt. The shooting mechanics do improve on the original Battleship, but I don’t think they do enough to make Battleship interesting for someone who has never cared for the game.
Before wrapping up I wanted to quickly talk about the game’s components. There are some things I liked and others that I think could have been better. Outside of the aiming issue I was actually impressed with the launchers. They are easy to use and work really well. Most of the components are made of pretty solid plastic so they should last. For some reason the game doesn’t include many red pegs though. I don’t know why the game couldn’t have included more since you likely will have to remove the ships that have already been destroyed from your grids just so you can reuse the red pegs. I also think the game could have benefited from having some lights and sounds that would activate when you hit one of the ships as well. This would have added to the game’s cost, but I think it could have added quite a bit to the experience. The final problem is that it is a pain to fit all of the components back into the box. This is due to the bottom half of the box being shorter than the top due to it being used as part of the gameboard. You have to do a good job packing the components into the box for them to all fit and the box shut properly.
Should You Buy Battleship Torpedo Attack?
Battleship Torpedo Attack is an interesting spin-off game. For the most part it plays exactly like the original game. About 80-90% of the game is exactly the same as the original Battleship. If you are a fan of Battleship you won’t mind this, but it will turn off people that don’t like the original game. For the rest of the game you will get the opportunity to shoot the ships that you find. This mechanic has some aiming issues and can be kind of basic once you figure out what you are doing. It is hard not to have fun with the mechanic though as it is satisfying shooting the marbles and hitting one of the ships. For this reason I think Battleship Torpedo Attack is better than the original Battleship.
If you have never liked Battleship, the shooting mechanics are not enough to get you to like Battleship Torpedo Attack. People who like Battleship or can at least tolerate it may have some fun with Battleship Torpedo Attack though if they like the idea of being able to shoot the ships. If it sounds fun to be able to shoot the ships, I think you should consider picking up Battleship Torpedo Attack.