An old board game. Instead of a board though, it had a large roll-out mat. Unfortunately it was very difficult to get this mat flat on most carpet, and it being flat was very important to the game. Playing on a tiled or wood floor was easier, but colder.

The game involved each side having a number of plastic model ships which they set up on this mat. Each ship had rubber bands inside (which the user had to put in and frequently snapped), and the guns and conning tower were pushed in, against this rubber band tension and clipped in. These ships could not be moved once placed by the player.

Each side also had a submarine with a pull back, rubber-band sprung catapult thing. This is much like a pinball plunger and launched discs across the mat. These small 1.5cm or so diameter discs were fired at the opponent's ships from the back of the mat (so you couldn't shoot through your own ships). This seems a bit unrealistic to me now since they were supposed to be torpedos...! The submarine's conning tower consisted of a stack of these discs so about 8 could be launched before they needed re-loading.

Each ship had a slot at 'sea-level' underneath each of its guns and towers. When you managed to lodge a disc in one of these slots on the opponent's ships, the appropriate bit (gun or tower), would fly up and out. When all the sections of a ship had been removed, that ship was removed from the board.

As far as I remember, there were no turns- each player went hell for leather at the opponent with his sub, and the first to destroy all of the opponent's ships, won.

Mat flatness was extremely important because any wrinkles meant the discs flew off at unpredictable angles which made play nigh on impossible.

See also Crossbows and Catapults and Scramble.

Update: Apparently it was a board not a mat. I can't be 100% sure, but I seem to remember there always being carpet 'issues'. Maybe someone can contribute and correct me...

Torpedo Run! by Milton Bradley only loosely fell into the realm of board games. Instead, it was more of an action game, in the same realm as such 'board games' as Fireball Island, Mousetrap, and anything else which involved cheap plastic implements, physics that never quite worked, and something vital eventually breaking. The TV ad, if I recall, was fantastic, though. Men in navy uniforms running around a control room as things exploded. Unless I'm completely mistaken.

In the box, you'd get:

  • A metric buttload of red plastic discs. These are your 'torpedoes'. Just a bit smaller than a quarter, and twice as thick.
  • Two large Yamato-style battleships, with three 'damage points', the front and rear gun turrets, and the superstructure. A disc going into the slot of the 'damage point' would hit a tab, releasing a catch and causing the gun/building to be propelled upwards by a rubber band.
  • Six ickle Compass Rose-style destroyers, with a single damage point, again, the superstructure.
  • Two submarines, which looked a bit too modern to fit with the rest of the World War 2 theme. They had a small compartment in the top, where you put the discs. A slider attached to a rubber band 'flicked' the discs out.
  • One large, cardboard gameboard that never quite folded out flat
  • One box, with exciting watercolour artwork of ships exploding in a tumultous sea.

  • It should be stressed that half the ships are tan, and the other half are grey.

    How it is (meant to be) played

    Both players position their fleet at their side of the board. Then, dividing the discs in half, load their sub with discs and... let loose.

    Generally, the idea was to just blast away at each other until either your or your opponent's ships had lost all their guns/superstructure.

    As you can imagine, this would get dull after a few rounds, so the manual listed plenty of other solutions, such as, not being allowed to reload your submarine after it had fired its load of discs, the ability to repair ships, and gradually moving the ships along the board. The game was probably most exciting when you just went for it, though, frantically scooping your opponent's missed discs off the floor and trying to reload your submarine.

    What would actually happen

    For a start, the submarines had to be held flat on the board, as the launcher part and disc rested on the board when fired. If you didn't hold it level (tricky on an uneven board on a carpet), you'd either fire the disc in the air or the launcher thing would miss the disc completely.

    Also, you might score a direct hit in a ship, and the corresponding bit wouldn't pop out. Or they might just pop out on their own.

    Worst of all, the launchers, only being plastic, would survive maybe two weeks usage before the horrendously brittle and poorly-designed launching mechanism would snap. It was impossible to flick the discs hard enough with your fingers so... off to the store to buy *another* set. Still, then you had massive fleets squaring off, which was loads of fun... until your new subs broke, and you just gave the whole thing up. Fantastic while it lasted, though, sort of a real-life version of Seawolf.

    The 'carpet issues' WyldWynd must be thinking of is the fact that, to avoid seams, the board had many cuts so it folded up nicely, but would also lie as flat as possible. Unfortunately, on a carpet (even a relatively shallow one) sometimes the weight of your wrists on the cardboard would make one panel shift up slightly and mess up your aim. It was definitely a cardboard playing board, though.

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