Best Battleship Layout (Where Should You Place Your Boats?)

Best Battleship Layout (Where Should You Place Your Boats?)

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In the game of Battleship, the first step to winning is to have your boats set up so that your opponent has a hard time figuring out where they are. To do that, you have to think about your own strategy of how to find your opponents ships. 

If you play defense against your own offensive plan, it will definitely help against your opponents.

When selecting how to attack, the first shot is going to simply be a guess. There is no logical reason that any one spot on the board is a better guess than any other. 

Remembering that will help you understand that no matter where your boats are, the first hit is going to be luck, and only from there will skill begin to be implemented in the game.

When you start placing your boats, there are a few strategies that you should implement. 

First, have at least one boat on the edge. Second, don’t connect your boats. Third, try to be asymmetrical in your layout, avoid patterns. Finally, be unpredictable.

The idea of edge placement is the majority of players will always search the interior of the board for boats. The reason for this is you are more likely to find a boat if it can be placed in any direction from the spot you target. On the edge, your piece can only go north and south or east and west. This means that if I target a spot on the edge and I don’t hit something, I only eliminate that spot, and maybe one other rather than eliminating multiple spots. 

When you connect boats, you open yourself to another strategy of attack, circle that spot until you get a second hit and follow it until the boat is sunk. If your opponent hits one of your boats with a shot and starts to circle, he might hit a second boat. 

Once this happens, he can follow that hit and then sink your ship fairy quickly. 

Once he knows what ship is sunk, and notices the hits aren’t equal to the size of the boat, he knows there is a second boat that he found and he can start targeting that one immediately.

Basically if you place two boats together you are giving up one of your boats for free! 

The next placement strategy is a little more difficult to avoid, but one of the more important ones. 

Our minds, in general, think in patterns. Do your best to think asymmetrical when placing your boats. 

If you avoid patterns, it will make more work for your opponent.

Finally, make sure you surprise even yourself with where your boats end up. Again, the first shot and the first hit are all luck. The longer it takes your opponent to hit you, the more luck it is going to take for him to win, and the sooner your skill of attacking will allow you to take control of the game.

To see all of the different Battleship editions and spin-offs currently available you can click here.

Is There a Strategy to Battleship?

Though most people feel that their first few shots are completely random, if you implement a few things into your attack, it will help you find ships more quickly. 

Conversely, if you understand the offensive strategies that help people win, you can counteract those strategies with your set-up at the beginning of the game.

Though the game of Battleship is relatively easy, there are plenty of different strategies that can help you improve and win more often. These strategies can be both offensive, as in where you take your shots, as well as defensive, where you place your ships.

When considering strategy in the game Battleship, you have to consider both sides of the game. What you see and what you are trying to reveal. 

On the offensive side, you need to implement strategies that limit randomness. On the defensive side, you need to implement strategies that take advantage of human behavior and systematic searching.

As an offensive play, you want to limit what feels like random shots. Most players will have a ship located in the center of the board. Taking your first few shots in the center 4×4 grid will allow you to find that. 

Another offensive strategy is only attacking even or odd numbered spaces until you hit a ship. This eliminates half the board when you are selecting random places to shoot. 

A final offensive strategy is to circle a hit until you get a second hit on your opponent’s boat. Once you have the second hit, you can follow that line until you have sunk his ship and move back to your previous strategy of attack.

On the defensive side you want to avoid placement that will help the above strategies. Don’t place boats in the center of the board, and don’t chain your boats together.

How Many Shots Does It Take to Win Battleship?

Looking at a game of Battleship, if you get extremely lucky, the minimum number of shots to win the game would be seventeen. There is one carrier that takes five hits to sink, one battleship that requires four, a cruiser and submarine that require three hits each and a destroyer that requires two.

Statistically speaking, the likelihood of you getting a hit with your first seventeen shots is next to impossible. 

So based on that truth, how many shots does it take to win?

Most games are going to take between 40 and 80 shots to win. The better players who understand the strategies of the game will be on the lower end and the players who don’t grasp the concept will be on the higher end. ​

The best part of the game of Battleship is every game has a significant amount of luck that is required before skill takes over. This gives every player a sense that they can win.

Can You Put Ships Next To Each Other In Battleship?

The game of Battleship has four simple rules for ship placement during the initial setup of the game. Each player must follow these rules, and anyone that doesn’t would be cheating.

The first rule is you cannot hang a ship off the board. 

Every section of the boat must be within the 10×10 grid. 

Second, ships may not overlap each other. 

Next, you cannot place a ship onto another ship.

Finally, you cannot move ships once guessing begins.

There is not a rule that prevents you from placing ships next to each other. Some players use this as a strategy to confuse players about what ships their opponent has or hasn’t hit.

Though you can place ships next to each other, this strategy should be used sparingly based on the general hunting strategies that are implemented by players. If you place too many ships next to each other, your opponent will have to take less random shots and this means you will have a higher likelihood of losing.


Battleship is a classic game that can be fun for anyone. Due to its initial randomness, it is also a fair game across multiple skill levels. Also, due to how many strategies are based on probability vs chance, it can help kids grow to love statistics.

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