Dice Game: Battleship
This is an enjoyable family game offering quick action and suspense for a group of any size.
Battleship is also known as Ship, Captain, Mate, and Crew; Mariner; and Destroyer.
Playing Time: From 2 to 10 minutes per round, depending on the number of players.
Number of Players: Any number can play; 3 to 6 players is best.
Number of Dice: Five.
Equipment: Dice cup; simple tally sheet for keeping score.
Object of Game: To be the first player to reach 100 points; or to score the highest number of points in ten rounds of play.
To Start: Each player rolls the dice to determine the order of play. The lowest roller goes first. Play proceeds clockwise.
The Play: Each player has up to three rolls of the dice on their turn.
The first player begins their turn by rolling all five dice. If the cast does not produce at lease one 6, they recasts all five dice for their second roll.
If the first cast produces a 6, they have their ship. They set aside the 6 and recast the four remaining dice for the second roll. (A player who rolls more than one 6 on the first roll counts only one 6 and recasts the four remaining dice.)
If the first cast produces a 6 and a 5, the player has a ship and a captain. They set aside the 6 and 5 recasts the three remaining dice for their second roll.
If the first case produces a 6, 5, and 4, the player has a ship, a captain and a mate. They are ready to take on a crew. They set aside the 6, 5, and 4, and make take the sum of the two remaining dice as the number of members in their crew. Or, they may choose to recast the two dice for their second roll.
Note that the player who rolls a 5 or a 4 on their first cast, but does not roll a 6, cannot count the 5 or the 4 as their captain or mate. They must recast all five dice for their second roll. They may not collect a captain until they have a ship (6).
Once a player has set aside their ship, captain, and mate, they are ready to take on a crew.
A player who collects their ship, captain, mate trio on their first roll may take up to two additional rolls of the remaining dice to pick up their crew, keeping whichever die or dice they want from these two casts. Any dice cast in the third roll must be kept.
Once a player chooses to roll again in quest of a high number of crew members, they must accept the total of their later cast.
In some instances, a player will not be able to produce a ship, captain, and mate in three casts. In such a case, the player may not take on a crew and scores zero for that round.
After the player has finished their turn, they score one point for each crew member (excluding the captain and mate) and enters this total on the tally sheet as their score for the round. They then pass the dice to the player on their left.
The player with the most points after ten rounds of play wins the game. If two players are tied after ten rounds, a one-round playoff determines the winner.
Or players may determine before the game begins that the first to reach 100 points is the winner. Otherwise a round is completed even if a player has already reached 100 points and the highest total over 100 points wins the game.
The winner of the game takes the pot. Or the winner of the game collects a payoff of so much per point according to their margin of victory over each player.
Strategy: An average score for one round would be 7. If a player is able to get a ship, captain, and mate in fewer than three casts, and their crew totals more than seven members, they would be wise to settle for such a total and not take their remaining roll or rolls. If the crew totals less than 7, they should make an attempt to improve their score.
However, a player’s position relative to their opponents should determine their strategy. A trailing player must try to catch up to the leader by attempting a high score for their round.