U Build It Battleship is a great attempt at reinventing a classic game. I remember vividly sitting many hours in daycare after school and during school breaks playing many sessions of the original plastic version with my friends. I hope we all learned those many ways to strategize and attack in varied patterns while trying to make our placement of our ships as difficult to read as even the best poker players. The u-build line of games hoped to cash in on this nostalgia with parents and bring in a new group of players with the current kids. I do have a few problems with the execution however.
Battleship is definitely a game that should be in every family’s canon of board games because it is so simple and yet teaches many skills that are hard to replicate in other games. The goal of the game, for those out there that have never played, is to place your naval fleet on a coordinate grid in such a pattern that is hard to guess. Each player then take turns calling out coordinates that replicates modern artillery fire. The person who runs out of ships first loses. With the u-build version, you can certainly play the classic version and never deviate. If you want to take a in an extra challenge, this version allows for customization of your fleet in such a way that is feels like a tactical role-playing game like Warhammer 40,000 or Command and Conquer. The idea is for you, the player, to add and subtract artillery pieces from your ships to either give them more firepower or to make them deceptively small so to keep the other player from guessing their position. This could be a great and rich computer experience for young ones and old ones alike, but I think the cardboard pieces and flimsy board make for a more frustrating than rewarding experience, sadly.
I understand that the board game industry has seen a downward turn with console and computer gaming being the popular choice of entertainment for their demographic. I am not saying this was not a good try. I also understand the push for eliminating costs of production. What I have a hard time with is the cardboard pieces and board so thin that durability is a question from the first session of play. I also say that with a certain loyalty to the old all plastic version of the original game that many of us hold dear in our childish hearts.
I recommend this game for a tad higher 9+ demographic for the full U-Build experience. If you want to play the classic version, 7 years old is certainly old enough to understand the rules. I wish Hasbro would have invested in a more “lego-esque” construction to their pieces because I think the name and concept calls for it. On a scale of 1-10, I give this a solid 5. Happy naval battle to all who wish to sail the open seas of combat with family fun as their destination.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, who received no compensation other than the complimentary copy of the title reviewed.