Geek Trivia

Which Classic Board Game Was Originally Paper Based?

Trivial Pursuit
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An example of the original paper-based Battleship map

Answer: Battleship

Most of us remember Battleship as a clam-shell style board game that unfolded and provided a hidden sea-space for two battling naval fleets to position their ships. The original game wasn’t so sophisticated in design, however, and was played on paper.

Long before it was a Milton Bradley asset, Battleship was played around the world. There are so many variations of the game, in fact, that it’s impossible to track down the original one. Russian military officers played it on scrap paper as early as the turn of the 20th century. A similar game, known as Baslinda, existed in the 1890s. The first known commercial printing of a paper-based Battleship type game in the U.S. was in the 1930s. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the game and variants thereof were published all over the place. Among the early companies printing paper-based versions was Milton Bradley; back in the 1930s and 1940s, they called the game Broadsides: A Game of Naval Strategy.

While the game fell out of popularity, Milton Bradley brought it back in a big way in the 1960s. In 1967, they introduced the tabletop version most of us are familiar with, complete with tiny plastic ships and white and red pegs. The game proved enduringly popular and was even one of the first board games converted into a computer game (there was a release of the title for the Z80 Compucolor computer in 1979).