Battleship is a pen-and-paper game for two players. They will usually sit
back to back or otherwise ensure that they cannot see the other's sheet. Each
player has two 10×10 grids on his sheet. On one he places his fleet consisting
of five to ten ships of sizes between one and five squares. The other grid is
empty at the beginning. Each turn each player announces a shot, giving the
coordinates of the target. The opponent has to state whether or not the shot
hit. Once all squares of a ship have been hit, the ship is sunk. This has to
be announced as well. The player who first loses all his ships loses the game.
Number and size of the ships have regional variations:
- 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2
- 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1
- 5, 4, 3, 3, 2
Usually ships have to be in a straight line, horizontal or vertical, but
some implementations allow diagonal ships as well. In the Salvo variant,
popular in France, players have as many shots per turn as they have ships left.
Dreadnought is an implementation of the Salvo variant.
According to many sources Battleship was invented around 1900 by one
Clifford von Wickler, who however never patented it. This is highly unlikely,
since the name Clifford von Wickler itself is unlikely, and pen-and-paper
games typically played by kids at school rarely have a traceable inventor.
The rule variations in the different countries point to a traditional,
not invented game.
The name might be a misspelling of Clifford Van Wickler; at least one
family Van Wickler exists, and since it has an American branch, the first
name Clifford would be plausible as well. Some articles indeed state the
name of the inventor as Clifford Van Wickler, but no man of that name is
ever mentioned outside the context of Battleship.
It seems that Battleship was first published commercially by The Starex
Novelty Company, Inc., of New York as
Salvo: The Game of Wits in 1931.
19431967 Milton Bradley published it as Battleship (this version is
often dated 1931, but that is probably a confusion with Salvo) and came out
with an electronic version in 1977.
Siegbert A. Warwitz, in his 1998 book Spiele anderer Zeiten und Völker,
could trace the pen-and-paper game back to the late 19th century through