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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

You Sunk My Battleship!

So, I look outside my window, and surprise,'s snowed.  Again.

I think that most of my fellow North Americans will agree that this has been the winter that will not die.  School closures seem almost as frequent as burst pipes, and I think that this is one of the few winters in which the temperature has stayed in the negatives for more than seven days straight.

Which doesn't seem like it would be a big deal in Celsius.  But in Fahrenheit?  That's freaking cold!

In fact, I seem to remember back when I was in school that when the temperature got too cold outside, teachers kept us indoors at recess and lunch hours to keep us safe.  We were also kept inside when there was a thunderstorm, heavy rain, or a solar eclipse.

I'm not kidding about that last one either.  My elementary school really did keep us inside during an eclipse.  I guess they were worried that all of us kids would look up and be permanently blinded.

So, what did we do during indoor recesses?  Lots of things.

Truth be told, I was one of those kids who absolutely loved indoor recesses instead of outdoor recesses.  Oh sure, it was nice to go outside and play on the equipment, but I liked the idea of staying in the classroom, just so I didn't have to worry about the older kids threatening to beat me up in the football field at recess.

But whenever we had indoor recesses, we pretty much had free reign to do whatever we wanted inside the classroom for fifteen minutes.  This meant being able to read whatever books we wanted, or being able to play with all the toys in the classroom.

Personally, I liked to play board games.  Granted, in a fifteen minute period, there were only a few board games that were worth playing.  Let's face it.  By the time you got to Professor Plum's turn in Clue, the recess bell was ringing and the game was over.  In Monopoly, you were lucky if you got to pass Go and collect $200 before recess ended.

Ah, but the game of "Battleship"?  Now that was a game that could be played quickly and easily.  I reckon that I sunk about a hundred battleships by the time I was ten. 

The first time I played the game was in second grade, as my teacher had it in her classroom as one of the board games we could play.  And believe me, next to "Toss Across", it was one of the most sought after games in the classroom.  Would you believe that two kids actually fought over the game during one indoor recess and those two kids had to spend indoor recess out in the hallway?

Well...actually, I can believe it.  I was one of those kids.  Not my proudest moment.  But, come on!  It was freakin' "Battleship", man!

I think that part of the appeal of "Battleship" was that it was ridiculously easy to play.  As long as you could count to ten and knew the alphabet up to the letter J, you were golden.

The board game - originally released by Milton Bradley in 1967, and which began as a pen/paper game as early as the 1930s - pits two people against each other in a turn-based manner.  Each person has several different sized boats to hide somewhere on their 10x10 grid.  These boats can take up anywhere from 2 spaces to 5 spaces on the grid, and can only be positioned horizontally or vertically.

The boats used in the gameplay are...

Destroyers - 2 spaces
Cruisers - 3 spaces
Submarines - 3 spaces
Battleships - 4 spaces
Aircraft Carriers - 5 spaces

Now, each person would call out a number and a letter combo like A-3, or D-8, or J-9, or whatever number you pick, and the other person will tell you if you missed the target, or hit the target.  If you miss, the player marks it down on their board with a white peg.  If it is a hit, you mark it with a red peg.  And if you happen to find all the squares where a submarine is occupying, well, you have the right to scream "YOU SUNK MY SUBMARINE!" as loud as you want.

Well, except during indoor recess at school.  That'll get you sent out into the hall as well.  Do not ask me how I know this.

Now, obviously the main goal of the game is to sink all of your opponents boats, but I will give a lot of credit to my second grade classmates.  We found ways to shorten the game during indoor recess time.  Sometimes we would play the game as normal, but the first person to sink a boat would automatically win.  Or, we'd just play with one boat each and take turns to see who could sink the other person's battleship first. 

And part of the strategy of the game was placing your boats in a way that the opponent couldn't guess where they were.  Kind of like the example that I have provided below.

Okay, so I have my destroyer in A2, A3
My submarine is H8, I8, and J8
My cruiser is D5, E5, F5
Battleship located in A5, A6, A7, A8
And my aircraft carrier is E10, F10, G10, H10, and I10.

Now, why did I do this?  Simple.

I purposely avoided all four corners.  In my experience, most opponents try to aim for the corners of the board first.  But most people tend to avoid the spaces around the corners...which is why most of my boats are around the perimeter, but never touching a corner.  I've also got one random boat in the center of the board...just in case people seem to think that I have all my boats around the edge.  My hope?  It will throw them off.

Of course, this is just one plan.  Other people employ different strategies.  Some line their boats up so they all intersect a specific number.  Others build an island made of boats so that it will be impossible for the other person to tell what boats they have sunk (which I admit is also an excellent strategy).  And one cheater I know used to move their boats around as they were playing.  Needless to say, nobody wanted to play with HER very long.

All in all, Battleship still remains a great game to play.

Just avoid the 2012 movie.  AT ALL COSTS.

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