Broadside Board Game

Broadside, a Naval Battle of the 1812 War

The naval battles of the War of 1812 are highlighted as some of the most important battles of this American war, and in 1962 Milton Bradley decided to create and publish a board game that accurately captured the feeling of those naval battles. Broadside is a board game where warships take turns firing cannonballs at each other, and with each shot that is taken these ships will be weakened. This part of the game makes for an interesting strategic experience.

Broadside Setup and Play

Broadside is mainly designed for 2 players. The players will decide who will command the Red and Blue Fleets that oppose each other. The player commanding the Red Fleet will always be invading while the player commanding the Blue Fleet will always be defending.

How to Rig the Warships

Proper rigging of a warship involves the many white plastic pieces that make up the sails. There are 65 plastic pieces in all and 20 of them are “Spanker” sails, which stay true to the theme of 19th Century warships. Some ships only require one Cutter Mast to be placed inside the peg holes. Each ship has peg holes where players can place Masts in.

The Red Fleet will command 2 Ships-of-the-Line, 2 Cutters, 3 Frigates and 3 Brigs. The Ships-of-the-Line require 4 Masts each; 1 Jib, Fore, Main and Mizzen. The Cutters only require the single Cutter Mast. The Frigates require 3 Masts each; 1 Fore, Main and Mizzen. The Brigs require 2 Masts each; 1 Fore and Mizzen.

The Blue Fleet will command 4 Frigates, 4 Cutters and 2 Brigs. These boats are designed just the same as the Red Fleet’s ships as the Blue Fleet’s ships require the same types and amounts of Masts.

Before play officially begins the player commanding the Blue Fleet always places his or her ships on the game board first, and after the Blue Fleet is finished then the player with the Red Fleet can place his or her ships.

Moving Ships

The movement of a ship is made in chess-like form as ships can normally move any distance across the game board in a straight line. At other times, however, players will have to change the directions their ships are facing and then move their ships ahead. Ships in Broadside can never move horizontally nor diagonally. In a 2-step process a ship can turn to its right and then move ahead, turn to its left and move ahead, or make a reverse turn and move in that direction.


Players that initiate attacks with their cannons must perform those attacks at the end of a move. Attacks can never be performed ships face each other head on, when their backs are against each other, when one ship is following another in a line, nor diagonally.

If an enemy ship is stationed across from a player’s ship, then both players can engage in a Broadside exchange. In this exchange both players will remove one Mast from their battling ships. Only one Broadside can be used in an exchange. The other instance where firing a ship’s cannons can occur would be when a ship is “crossing the T”. This is a critical maneuver to master in the game. Crossing the T is the only way a ship can attack an enemy and not take any damage in return.

Shore Batteries

When a Red ship moves across a Red Circle that is controlled by by a shore battery, it must stop and check to see if that battery reads “Hit” or “Miss”. The Red ship will lose Mast if the battery is a Hit, but nothing will happen to the Red ship if the battery is a Miss. Whether or not it takes a hit from a battery the Red ship can continue its move. Ships are not allowed to stay on Red Circles. If a ship has 1 Mast left and gets hit by a battery, then it is lost and sinks to the bottom of the sea. By passing through a Double Red Circle, the Red ship will examine both shore batteries and for every Hit that is delivered a Mast will be lost. Shore batteries do not move and will have no effect on any Blue ships.


Buoys act as rocks that can sink any ship or allow a ship to pass. The player with the Blue Fleet will only get to know which buoys are harmful. When passing through a circle where a buoy rests, ships must stop and examine the buoy to check if it reads “Sink” or “Pass”. If the buoy reads “Sink”, then the ship will automatically sink. If the buoy reads “Pass”, then the ship can move along and finish its move. These circles the buoys rest on are Yellow Circles and no ships are allowed to stay on them.


The Red Fleet and the Blue Fleet have different goals in mind for winning in Broadside. The Red Fleet will be victorious if they can sink all 4 Blue merchant ships. The Blue Fleet will triumph if they can sink all 10 invading Red warships before all 4 Blue merchant ships are lost.


For players who enjoy doing battle on the open seas, Broadside is the kind of board game that will make players think a few moves ahead. When coming up with a strategy you will need to be aware of both your opponent’s movements and what the shore batteries and buoys contain. Broadside is a game where momentum can easily shift between players because of the batteries and buoys. Overall Broadside is a fun game if a group of players want to develop strategies ahead of time.

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