How To Win At Battleship

May 18, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Nick Berry who formerly worked in Microsoft’s Casual Game division (the people behind the Xbox) used mathematics to come up with a strategy that can increase your likelihood of victory in the board game, Battleship. Highlights of Aisha Harris’s report on Berry’s strategies include:

  • If you pick random squares on the board to target your opponent’s ships then on average it will take you 66 moves to sink your opponent’s battleship.
  • You can reduce this to 65 by using a Hunt mode. In this mode you keep in mind that any ship has to occupy at least two squares. Therefore you should only target half the squares to find the ship.
  • The real secret though allows you to drop it to 44 moves. This method requires an understanding of probability distributions and while you need a sophisticated computer to calculate all of the probabilities perfectly you can engage in a little bit of it yourself. If, for example, you’re looking for the aircraft carrier – the largest ship on the board – you know that it can’t exist on any stretches of ocean with less than five squares. Therefore you should target areas with the greatest probability of hiding a five slot ship.

To read more about Harris’s attempt to utilize these differing strategies, how Berry came up with these strategies, and the random nature of the game, click here.

Source: Slate