Best Battleship Layout: Tips, Tricks, & Strategies (To Win The Game Every Time)

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Board games are an incredibly popular way to spend an evening having fun with family or friends. But if there are just two of you playing it severely limits your choice of board games. 

Playing the game of Battleship is a great way to have fun with only two players. 

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

Of course finding the enemy ships is an important part of Battleship but if you place your ships in the best locations it will help give you time to find their ships and hopefully win this epic sea battle. 

When selecting where to attack, the first shot is going to simply be a guess. There is no logical reason that any one spot on your opponent’s 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 in regards to which spots are the best (and worst) to place your Battleship boats. Afterall, the perfect boat layout can mean the difference between success and failure.

The best tips for your ship placements are: 

  • Always have at least one boat on the edge.
  • Never connect your boats. 
  • Try to be asymmetrical in your layout, avoid patterns.
  • Be unpredictable.

I will dive into each one of these tips in more detail down below to help you decide which layout is the best option for your gameplay style. Of course there are many possible locations where you can put your ships but it is a good idea to use these boat layout tips to help you get a general idea of the best locations. 

Best Battleship Layout: Tips, Tricks, & Strategies (Win The Game Every Time)

Battleship Boat Layout Tips

All of these tips will help you create the best strategy for all of your ship placements. If you just use one of these tips, you will get better results however, when you combine them all, that is where this strategy will really start to shine. 

Ultimately Battleship does have a lot of luck involved however, so if your opponent gets lucky and hits your Destroyer (the smallest ship that only fits two pegs) on their first guess you are at a severe disadvantage. 

Of course all of these tips are dependent on your opponent’s skill level. If they are just playing for fun then maybe you won’t want to use all of these layout tips as you want them to have a chance. 

Afterall, completely destroying your little cousins in a game of Battleship isn’t the best way for them to have fun. So just use these tips with caution. 

1. Place A Boat On The Edge

The idea of edge placement is that the majority of players will always search the interior of the board for boats trying to hit a part of the ship. 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. 

So, by placing a boat or two on the edge you will help keep those boats from getting hit for longer. 

2. Never Connect Your Boats

When you place boats on adjacent squares to one another, 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 and you will be down two boats instead of one. 

Once this happens, he can follow that hit and then sink your second ship fairly 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! 

3. Avoid Patterns With Your Boats

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

The human mind, in general, thinks in patterns. Do your best to think asymmetrical when placing your boats. 

If you avoid patterns, it will make more work for your opponent to find those boats. 

One thing I like to do is place my aircraft carrier on one of the edges and then place my other smaller boats randomly throughout the middle of the board. This helps to keep the boats at random while also using the other tips mentioned above. 

When placing your last ship be sure that you didn’t place all of your ships in any sort of obvious pattern. For example if you placed most of your ships north and south then it would be a good idea to place your remaining ship where it is going east and west. 

Anything that you can do to avoid patterns will help you have a winning layout. 

4. Be Unpredictable

Finally, make sure you surprise even yourself with where your boats end up. Again, the first shot and the first hit are all luck so you might get unlucky right off the bat. 

However, if your boats are entirely unpredictable locations you still will have a chance to win a game.

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.

Unfortunately, you can’t place your Battleship boats in diagonal lines (boy that would be unpredictable) but there are ways that you can be less predictable. 

Being unpredictable is especially helpful in the late game. As more and more of your boats are sunk your opponent might begin to see a pattern and will then take guesses based on that pattern. 

If your boat placements are unpredictable (and not in a straight line or pattern) then they are much less likely to find your smaller boats like the Destroyer or Patrol boat. 

When using these tips just remember you are likely not the first player to try and get sneaky with your ship designs. So if you are playing against someone who always wins at Battleship you might be better off using these tips as a layout for where to attack rather than on where to place your boats. 

5. Practice Your Boat Layouts

If you enjoy playing Battleship but want to get better for the next time that you play then a good way to do that is to practice your boat layout strategy. Of course you can’t just layout boats on the board and know how well it will work, so a great way to practice your boat layouts is by playing a game on the Battleship app. 

You can play Battleship on a mobile app on your phone against a computer algorithm or against human players as well. By playing repeatedly against other people you will get better at making sure you don’t have any recognizable patterns, that you are unpredictable, and you will figure out which places your boats are most commonly found at. 

This will help you make better choices for your layout the next time that you are playing against a family member or friend. 

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 strategy, it will help you find the enemy’s ship more quickly (and of course help you win). By getting into

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 are important to consider in the early game. 

By getting into a “hunt mode” and trying to find your opponent’s boats using a specific pattern you will be more likely to win the game rather than simply hopping all over the board hoping to find a ship. 

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 middle 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 (that you mark with a red peg) until you get a second hit on your opponent’s boat. Once you have the second hit, you can then follow those straight lines until you have hit the rest of the ship and then move back to your previous strategy of attack.

On the defensive side you want to avoid using a Battleship layout strategy that will help the above strategies. Don’t place boats in the center of the board, and never chain your boats together.

One of the incredibly helpful things that I have learned over the years is to always use a white peg to mark not just where I have guessed but also where it would be impossible for a boat to be based on the guesses. Ideally with each guess you want to eliminate as many spots on the board as possible. 

Then use your white pegs to mark those eliminated spots. 

When attacking in the Battleship game I personally prefer to use a checkerboard pattern with 3 places in between each hit. That of course means the Destroyer (the two peg boat) could be hiding in one of those places but I often get lucky and end up finding it when using the 3 spots between each guess. 

By going this route you will be much more likely to find all of their Battleships before they locate yours. 

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 Battleship layout 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.

Matthew R

Hi, My name is Matt and I am all about toys! When trying to find accurate information online about toys I was finding it difficult so I decided to make this site.

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