Escape to the Pantry: Video Battleships

Or Zoom Battleships, Facetime Battleships, or Skype Battleships if you prefer (yes, you get the drift)

The new normal, thanks to this blasted virus thingy is the use of videoconferencing technology for meetings. This has meant your Skype, Facetime or Zoom account taking over from the office or boardroom table. More often than not, it has been used for meeting family members and friends.

Videoconferencing is proving its worth in online quiz sessions; particularly the awesome Virtual Pub Quiz hosted by a former pub landlord in Darwen. We think Skype and its like could be good for another paper-based game: Battleships.

“You sank my Battleship…”

Battleships is often played on paper. Ideally, squared paper so you don’t have to spend too long perfecting each grid. If you have MB’s Battleships game with the plastic boards, pegs, and fleet of ships, the experience is even better. No more having to draw the grid for a new game.

If you don’t have the luxury of Milton Bradley’s version or the like, there are ways around this, thanks to the internet. Yes, you could download a pre-drawn grid and run off a few copies from your printer. In fact, you can do just that via countless websites – and on East of the M60, you can do just that via this post.

There are two ways of playing Battleships: one is the ‘traditional’ Hit or Miss version where you quote the grid reference in turn. Or you can play the Salvo version.

The ‘traditional version’ is based on one player quoting a grid reference and the opponent saying ‘Hit’ or ‘Miss’. Then the opponent takes his or her turn. The player who successfully clears his or her opponent’s fleet is the winner.

In the Salvo version, you have five shots for each turn. Your opponent states whether any of your five shots are hits or misses. Then your opponent does the same with yours truly saying ‘Hit’ or ‘Miss’.

By then, either your fleet or your opponent’s fleet of paper ships should have been obliterated. If not, this is where the ‘traditional’ version could suffice till the game reaches a climax. Once again, with the Salvo version, the player who successfully clears his or her opponent’s fleet is the winner.

How to play Battleships over videoconferencing apps

Whether online or on the kitchen table, the rules are exactly the same. Where videoconferencing apps have one advantage over the kitchen table is being unable to cheat. You cannot peer over your opponent’s shoulder.

The most obvious bonus is being able to conduct games with friends several miles away. If your videoconferencing app enables you to send instant text messages, you can quote the grid reference that way. As well as using your microphone. You can also use that facility to say ‘Hit’, ‘Miss’, our ‘You’ve sank my battleship, aircraft carrier, patrol boat, cruiser or submarine’.

For added impact, I would take a tip from the great Robert Zimmerman in Subterranean Homesick Blues. You could add to the excitement by having pre-drawn captions saying ‘Hit’, ‘Miss’ or ‘You’ve sank my…’ A blank sheet of paper could be used as a makeshift white flag of surrender when your opponent beats you.

You will also need

  • A friend with a Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp, or Zoom account.
  • Marker pens or pencils.
  • A sheet of paper with two Battleship grids, featuring your grid and your opponent’s grid (please download our template).

Desirable though not essential

  • A small chalkboard and chalk (for writing your captions).
  • MB’s Battleships game (better still if your friend also has the game too – plus it saves on paper).

Downloading instructions

  1. Click the link that reads ‘Battleship Templates‘.
  2. If you are playing at home, print two copies of this sheet: one for yourself, and another for your opponent.
  3. If you are playing over a video link, email the sheet to your opponent. Once your opponent is ready, you can start playing.

Before I go…

Feel free to download the sheet. Better still, have a bash and prepare for hours of fun.

S.V., 06 May 2020.

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