Battleship: Hidden Threat Card Game
I enjoy “Battleship”, though there’s admittedly only one way to play it correctly in order to maximize your hit potential…that is, search in an “X” like pattern until you come across something. The game gets boring once you begin playing this way, for it simply becomes a race to see who will come across whose ships first. In looking at “Battleship: Hidden Threat Card Game” on Amazon, it promised special abilities and cards with special powers…naturally I was intrigued. I quickly nabbed it for $6.58, which is about what other card games of the genre tend to go for (“Scrabble Slam” = $5-7, “Monopoly Deal” = $5-$15, etc.).
The game includes 80 playing cards (24 coordinate cards, 52 destruction cards, and 4 reference cards).
Setup & Gameplay
Players choose a color, take all the cards of that color, and separate/shuffle the coordinate cards and destruction cards into two separate decks. They’ll then deal their coordinate cards face-down in a 3×4 grid in front of them (these contain 5 ship cards and 7 miss cards). Each player draws five cards from the destruction deck to form their starting hand. The youngest player goes first.
On a player’s turn, they’ll play 1 card and then draw back up to five. If the destruction deck runs out, players shuffle the discard pile and use that as their draw deck.
White Peg Cards – Players can play these to search for enemy ships. When playing one, the player will choose which face-down coordinate card to reveal. It stays face-up for the rest of the game.
Red Peg Cards – Players can play these to both search for enemy ships AND inflict damage on revealed enemy ships. If you use it as the former and reveal a ship, damage applies. The card slides under the ship card to keep track of damage. If you play enough pegs on a ship to meet or exceed its hitpoint value, you sink it!
Power Cards – There are a few of these in the deck to give players special powers, like give their ship a shield, heal a friendly ship by removing a peg card, and etc.
Ship Powers – Once revealed, a ship can use its special ability. Each of the five ships has a unique ability which expires when they do, so use them while you can!
The first player to sink all five enemy ships wins the game!
Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played. For more information, you can check out the rulebook here:
“Battleship: Hidden Threat Card Game” is surprisingly fun and doesn’t fall into the same trap that the board game does. Perhaps “trap” is too strong a word, though players who learn the optimal “X” search pattern in standard “Battleship” will find their play repetitive and lacking in options. I like the fact that each ship has its own ability…the submarine, for example, can only be “hit” with white peg cards instead of red peg cards. Power cards are also a nice touch and add some extra oomph to the game. They certainly gave me a few more options to consider on my turn.
While the game is reliant on luck more than strategy, it’s not a bad little game for the $6-7 price tag. The play time is short, which is perfect for school nights and folks with a busy schedule. I would have preferred a thicker card stock, but it’s OK as-is. If ship powers and power cards aren’t your thing, you can remove the power cards and opt not to use the ship abilities via the beginners variant listed in the rulebook. If you’re a fan of “Battleship” and want to mix up your game a little, give this baby a test drive.
Final Verdict: 7/10