I was recently reminded of the childhood naval game Broadside. As the defender, you get to place four shore guns and six mines during the setup phase, one on either side of two channels. mine and shore gun placement in Broadside

The channels are choke points that the attackers ships have to pass through to be able to win the game; one is close to the attacking fleet starting location and represents a direct path to the merchant ships they need to sink to win the game, while the other channel is out of their way.

The trick is that two of the guns are useless decoys, while the other two get a free shot on any ships that passes within range, and three of the mines can destroy an entire ship, while the other three are duds.

Does anyone who remembers this game ever develop a strategy for how to place these static defensive units, and if so, how did that change how you deployed your blue fleet once the game started?

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I liked to put my good mines on one side of the board, and my good guns on the other side of the board. Then place my ships where their "broadsides" could cover the channels.

As I remember, the British fleet had 25 sails, the American only 20. But the guns and mines more than make up for it, for the Americans. Inevitably, the British ships lost sails to the guns. One or two would also hit a "live" mine.

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  • Did you tend to place the mines on the close or far side or did you mix it up? Did you tend to more heavily defend (with your ships) the mined side or the shore gun side? – Adam Wuerl Jun 10 '11 at 22:22
  • @adam: As I remember, I mixed up mines and guns between the near and far sides. I would tend to defend the near side more heavily with ships, easier to recoup. – Tom Au Jun 10 '11 at 22:37
  • Wait, doesn't that totally change your answer? – Adam Wuerl Jun 10 '11 at 23:30
  • @adam: One way, I have mines on the near side, and guns on the far. The other, I have guns on the near side and mines on the far. But ALWAYs have more ships on the near side so there isn't a "pattern." – Tom Au Jun 10 '11 at 23:56
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    @adam: One interesting strategy is to mix up the pieces and place them at random so that even YOU don't know where they are. The theory is that a random placement of pieces will win, because the British has the tougher time. (I remember losing one game because the British player was able to read my "body language.") – Tom Au Jul 12 '11 at 13:33

This was decades ago for me but I remember that I would send a cutter through the middle where both guns would shoot. If both were there I lost 1 sail and if none I was through clear.

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  • I don't think this answers the question does it? – Pat Ludwig Jun 11 '11 at 2:13
  • Not at all really, although it makes me think of another good question. Perhaps he can port his answer of there once I ask it. :) – Adam Wuerl Jun 11 '11 at 2:44
  • @pat: I've played the game (over 40 years ago) and consider this a "partial" answer. It just scratches the surface but I wouldn't consider it frivolous or off topic or non-responsive. There's a difference in my mind between a "bad" answer (one of these) and a "not good" answer from an inexperienced player. – Tom Au Jun 11 '11 at 15:33
  • @Tom - Not answering the question tends to attract negative votes. Just trying to warn the OP here. – Pat Ludwig Jun 11 '11 at 18:15
  • @pat: He started off well with: "I would send a cutter through the middle where both guns would shoot." It was the "and then" part that was lacking. One problem is that he (and I) played this game decades ago and forgot the game. OK, I take your point if you're saying "this is not a COMPLETE answer." But I took your remark as "this is answering the wrong question." – Tom Au Jun 11 '11 at 18:21

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