Sink car boredom with 'I-Spy Battleships'

As part of our 15 games to entertain kids on long car journeys series to help you survive an upcoming trip in one piece, we've created an original game combining two old classics which will keep children aged 11 and up quiet!

In a nutshell...

Two players or teams compete to be the first to sink the other's ship. Rather than guessing grid coordinates, the squares are determined by items you see whilst on your car journey!

This will stop you getting asked "are we nearly there yet?" for...

Plenty of games of ‘I-Spy Battleships’ will no doubt be played, so you won’t hear the “AWNTY?” cry for about an hour!

LOL factor:

Low. There’s too much concentration going on to be rolling around in laughter!

Required Mensa levels:

A bit more involved than some of the other games, kids aged 11 upwards will enjoy ‘I-Spy Battleships’.


The game's played on one of our ‘radar cards’, which are made up of a 4x4 grid with 16 I-Spy items on. Each player/team has a card on which they place their battleship. A battleship consists of three consecutive squares, which can be positioned anywhere on the grid.

We've provided four different ‘radar card’ designs to choose from, as well as some blank ones if you want to create your own. It's important that both players use cards with identical items on so they know what they're looking for on the opposition’s card.

Once the card has been chosen, each player/team needs to position their battleship on their own radar card. It's vital that the position of the battleship is kept secret from the opponent.

Each player/team takes it in turns to have one minute to spot one item from their ‘radar card’. If they see something, they can fire a shot by calling out the grid reference (A1, C3, etc.) where the item lies on their own card. The opposing player/team calls hit or miss, depending on whether part of their ship lies in that grid square or not. Their go is then over, and it's the opposition’s turn.

If a player/team cannot see anything in their minute, then their go is over without firing a shot.

The first player/team to secure three hits is the winner. 

Some rules to avoid arguments:

When a player sees an item on their card, they must declare it to the others in the car by shouting “I-Spy a (name of item)” so that it can be verified by the others.

In their minute, a player/team does not have to call the first thing they see, but if they choose to ignore an item, they can't call it retrospectively. When called, it must be available to be seen there and then by the opposition. Timing for the minute is done by the team not looking for an item or by an independent timekeeper if available.

Some tips and variants:

  • Laminate the bingo sheets and use dry wipe pens that can be wiped off afterwards so you can play over and over again.
  • Play with more than one ship, or have ships made up of single, double or quadruple squares.
  • Allocate two minutes for players to spot items.
  • When you fire a shot, write a small H for hit / M for miss in the box in the relevant square in your ship card grid.

Looking for more car games?

You can see our full list of games to entertain kids on long car journeys here, providing you with plenty of ways to keep the kids occupied no matter their age or the length of your journey.