The art of the retcon may have been perfected in the comic book industry, but board games can occasionally get in on the fun too. When it was first announced that the Battleship movie would feature an evil alien race, the internet snark machine started firing on all cylinders. "But there aren't any aliens in the Battleship board game!" the commenters decried, so what was Hasbro to do? For starters, they've gone back and re-made the original Battleship with added alien ships. Happy now?
The new movie edition has replaced one fleet with a set of five alien ships: the flagship, heavy ordnance craft, red storm stinger, blue shredder stinger, and the small assault ship. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume these names will make more sense once you've seen the movie.
This ain't your daddy's Naval fleet. All five of the new alien ships are pictured above.
Taking a look at the human navy fleet, though, we can draw one conclusion about the film: the world must band together to repel the alien invasion. There are both American and Japanese destroyers fighting on the same side. Don't tell great grandpa!
Going beyond the surface, Classic Battleship Movie Edition is more than a few upgraded plastic ships; there's also two new game modes packed into the box. In Salvo mode, players get as many shots as they have remaining, while in Special Ops mode, a new deck of cards gives players added firepower.
But are these new game modes any fun? For starters, the Salvo mode definitely has a place in Battleship. Adopting a hunt/target strategy with a focus on knocking out one ship before moving on to the next will actually speed up most matches. Don't believe me? Check out this mathematical analysis of optimal Battleship strategy. To be fair, the skill cap is low enough that Battleship is more of a social activity than a true game, so throwing in some salvo rules will help keep the game moving along. A dragging experience is the number one enemy when playing a game as a social activity, making the Salvo mode a natural choice.
As for the Special Ops mode, that version of play turns Battleship into a much crunchier game. The deck of action cards grants players the ability to fire extra shots, blitz entire rows or columns, and even pry coordinate information from their opponents. There is also a "remains in play"-type card that grants an extra shot each turn until one of your own ships is destroyed.
The Special Ops cards are dealt out in a starting five-card hand, and players can take two actions per turn: any combination of playing cards from their hand or drawing new ones from the deck.
I'll be honest, you're not going to find me bringing this to my local game night, but for the target audience of a seven-year-old, the Special Ops mode of Battleship Movie Edition could be gold. I'm not aware of any other game on toy store shelves that would teach a kid the concept of hand management with card-driven actions.
Sure, the options open up if you have a dedicated game store available, but most kids are only shopping at Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us. If that's the situation you're dealing with and you want to turn a budding little geek onto gaming, you could do a lot worse than diving into the advanced rules of Battleship Movie Edition with them.