This is originally a board game for two players, though it can be played with pencil-and-paper and has been adapted to computers. The classic Milton Bradley set-up has two identical plastic half-boards, one red, one blue. Each half has two 10-by-10 sections: one flat one with peg holes where you place the ships, and a vertical section with peg holes which has the dual purpose of marking where you fire your shots and hiding where your ships are from the other player. Both grids are labeled with letters in one direction and numbers in the other, A to J and 1 to 10 respectively.The most common setup gives each player one two-peg destroyer (formerly a patrol boat), one three-peg submarine, one three-peg cruiser (formerly the destroyer), one four-peg battleship, and one five-peg aircraft carrier, which are arranged on the flat board in an arrangement of the player's choosing. Each turn, one player says where he's firing his shot; the other declares whether they miss or hit (you can place pegs in the ships when they hit), whether a ship is sunk, and the type of ship. The last player with at least one ship on the board wins. One game variant allows the player to fire as many shots as they have ships still afloat.Received a live-action film adaptation in 2012. With aliens and Liam Neeson. There have been a number of video game adaptations as well, from the NES to modern PCs.
This board game has examples of:
- Awesome, but Impractical: The aircraft carrier. Being five pegs long, it is the easiest ship to find, and when that happens it is only a matter of time before it is sunk.
- The Game Boy Radar Mission gives players a reason to specifically hunt out the opponent's aircraft carrier first - if it's not sunk before 15 turns are up, an aircraft gets launched from it. Said aircraft counts as an additional ship (meaning it must be hit to win), is 1x1, is NOT subject to the near miss rule, and is placed randomly in a spot not yet fired upon. It's not that uncommon to lose because the aircraft was in one of the last 5 spaces on the board.
- Attack Its Weak Point: In Super Battleship for the SNES, you have to manually aim your guns at enemy ships to sink them. This will impair the ship depending on where you hit them: Shooting the guns will prevent them from firing back. Shooting the aft of the ship will knock out the engines (usually the second thing you want to hit after you take out the guns). Hitting the radar will affect weapon accuracy, the conning tower will affect how fast the ship can repair itself in the following turns (mainly useful only for the players), and hitting the armory will affect how many shots you can fire during that engagement session. This can be taken advantage of, allowing for skillful players to take out a massive battleship with a dinky little patrol boat (which will be sunk in one shot from said battleship at full power).
- Big Bulky Bomb: The first Game Boy game had special weapons a player could use to cover multiple spots in one attack. Variations include firing off 2, 3, and 5 missiles into 2, 3, and 5 spots of your choice, a missile that attacks in the four corners of a 3x3 grid, a missile that attacks 5 spaces of a 3x3 grid in an X pattern, and the Tomahawk missile, which covers an all 8 spaces surrounding the spot that you fired it at. These weapons were incredibly useful for finding the Submarine (which only took up one spot), and the Carrier (which took up 8 spaces in a 4x2 pattern). Destroying various ships prevented the enemy from using the very same weapons.
- Calling Your Attacks
- Catch Phrase: "You sank my battleship!"
- Critical Existence Failure: Damage doesn't affect a ship until it is sunk.
- Averted when playing the game variant that grants each player one shot per turn for each of their surviving ships. This only counts for the player's fleet as a whole; the individual ships still count the same until they get sunk.
- Averted in Super Battleship. You can disable a ship's various systems, including preventing it from firing back by destroying the guns, depending on where you aim at the ship.
- Cool Boat: Guess.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The game's alternate title, which is also answers in many languages: Sea Battle.
- Excuse Plot: Assuming they have one at all, Battleship spinoff games tend to have paper-thin plots. Surface Thunder's entire plot fits onto one page of the manual, and is in no way required to play the game. Your mileage may vary as to how paper-thin you consider the plot of the movie.
- Fog of War: Another optional game variant allows the players to keep the identity of their ship a secret when their opponent scores a hit (until something gets sunk of course).
- Luck-Based Mission: Though there are various strategies to root out ships (grid searching, for example) and methods to determine direction once you've scored a hit, the game ultimately comes down to who gets lucky enough to hit all five ships first. Made worse by the fact that, statistically, you'll likely take out your opponent's 3 to 5-peg ships first, making the little 2-peg boat a nightmare to find.
- More Dakka: Variations on the standard ship theme include "A shot for every remaining ship" and "A shot until you miss" - particularly lucky players of the latter can potentially strike the enemy's entire fleet in one turn.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The live action adaptation. How does one make an action movie based on a simple tabletop game? Simple, ditch the pegs and add aliens (who attack by firing "pegs").
- One Ship Navy: According to the 'plot', the player's nation in Surface Thunder has been completely reduced to a single warship: you.
- Palette Swap: The cruiser and submarine are essentially the same; only their physical models are different.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: There's a Star Wars tie-in edition, with a hexagonal space grid, computerized hit/miss notation and ships replaced by iconic Star Wars vessels (X-Wings, Star Destroyers, etc.).
- Refuge in Audacity: Some of the possible ship arrangements.
- Simple Yet Awesome: First player to sink his opponent's whole fleet wins. Sound simple? Good! It's fun!
- Stuff Blowing Up: Some versions of the board game even make explosion sounds, which probably helps keep players honest.
This board game appears in the following shows:
- In Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine are shown playing a game over some exposition. Instead of the usual battleship, it's Elaine's submarine that gets sunk, and Jerry prompts her to make an explosion sound before they continue.