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This game, which dates from World War I, originally was a popular pencil and paper game. Pad-and-pencil game versions were published in the 1930s, and in 1967 Milton Bradley released a plastic game board version. In our version, a military fleets takes on a gang of pirates. Who will end up holding the booty?!


The youngest person goes first and the game alternates between the two players. In each round, players take turns selecting one square in search of opponent’s fleet. For instance, a pirate might say “Ahoy:2” to indicate that position on the opponent’s grid. If the opponent has a ship in that spot, they say “hit,” if not, they say “miss.” All targets are tracked on the grids with X marks. With the goal of finding and sinking the enemies entire fleet, over time, players gain a sense of the opponent’s fleet location. 


In our game variation each player to also has mines or bombs. These occupy one square each and are placed on the board in the same manner as the ships. When a player’s guess hits a mine or bomb on an opponent’s board it destroys anything in that square and the eight immediately surrounding squares on the board of the player making the guess.


When all of the squares of a ship have been hit, the ship’s owner announces the sinking of the ship. If all of a player’s ships have been sunk, the game is over and their opponent wins. If all ships of both players are sunk by the end of the round, the game is a draw. Arrrrr!


Each player has two grids. These grids are typically square – traditionally 10×10 – and the individual squares in the grid are identified by letter and number. For your DIY version, you can make your own grid and set the types and number of ships! A player arranges ships on one grid and uses the other grid to record their shots on the opponents grid as they seek to sink ships. In our game version, you are either a military or pirate fleet. Ahoy!


To set up the game, each player secretly arranges their fleet on their grid, with each ship occuping a set number of consecutive squares on the grid and are arranged either vertically or horizontally (no diagonal positions). Each grid square can accommodate only one ship. The types and numbers of ships allowed are the same for each player. Our game has a suggested fleet, but you can mix things up in your DIY version, provided each player has the same combination of ship sizes.

Giant Octopus




Say “Arrrr!” frequently

Say “me” instead of “my” 

Say “ye” instead of ‘you”

Say “aye” instead of “yes”

Say “thar” instead of “there”

Say “yer” instead of “you are”

When in doubt, say 'G'yaaaarrrrrrr.'

Make sure to roll the "R."

  • Ahoy!: hello

  • All Hand Hoy: everyone on deck

  • Avast!: stop

  • Blimey: expression of frustration

  • Booty: treasure

  • Bounty: award for capturing a criminal

  • Briny deep: the ocean

  • Buccaneer: pirate

  • Bucko: friend

  • Chantey: a song sailors sing in unison while working

  • Colors: flag

  • Dubloon: Spanish gold coin

  • Fire in the hole: warning a cannon's about to be fired

  • Hearties:  friends or comrades

  • Hornswaggle: to swindle something, usually money, out of someone else

  • Jolly Roger: pirate flag with skull and cross bones

  • Loot: Stolen money or possessions

  • Marooned: To be abandoned with no food, drink or possessions

  • Matey: shipmate

  • “No quarter!”: means “We won’t accept surrender!”

  • Plunder: to steal

  • Poop deck: top deck on a large ship

  • Run a Rig: play a joke on someone

  • Savvy?: Do you understand?

  • Scallywag - someone you don’t trust 

  • Scuttle: to sink a ship 

  • Shanty: song

  • Shiver me timbers!: an expression of surprise

  • Sink Me: an exclamation of surprise

  • Smartly: do something quickly

  • Walk the Plank: be forced to walk off a plank and into the sea

  • Yo-ho-ho: a pirate’s laugh

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