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 have 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 though, 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 is 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 3 consecutive squares which can be positioned anywhere on the grid. We have provided 4 different ‘radar card’ designs to choose from (in addition to some blank ones if you wish to create your own). It is important that both players are using cards with identical items on so that they know what they are 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 is important that the position of the battleship is kept secret from their opponent. Each player/team takes it in turns to have one minute to spot one item from their ‘radar card’. If they see something, then they can fire a shot by calling out the grid reference (A1, C3 etc.) of 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 is 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 3 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 cannot 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 time keeper if available. Some tips and variants:
  • Laminate the cards and use dry wipe pens that can be cleaned off afterwards.
  • 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.

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