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Sub Search Reviews Sub Search - better than a 3-d version of


Author: airjudden
Milton Bradley's Sub Search is often referred to as a 3-dimensional battleship. Because the game has similar
playing pieces and uses the similar mechanic of guessing the location of hidden enemy vessel's, the
comparisons are not without cause. However, Sub Search requires far more strategy and is an overall better

The game is for two players only. It takes about 10 minutes to set-up and about 40 minutes to play.

The picture below shows one side of the game board. This is one player's view. The top-level game board (red
and yellow) represents the water surface and this is where the surface ships are placed. From the view in this
picture, this player would place have his ships roam in the yellow portion. Your opponent, sitting across and
seeing the same view, would have his surface vessels roam in the red portion.

The surface portions are portioned off in boxes (as opposed to hexes) and the boxes are numbered 1-36.
Below are 3 levels, each with 3 levels and each numbered the same. Therefore, for instance, in the picture
above, in the red portion, the closest far-right box is numbered 1 and each level below it, has the same
number box numbered 1. The top blue level (below the surface) is labeled 100, representing a depth of 100
feet. The next two are labeled 200 and 300, respectively.

Besides a lot of white and red pegs (identical to those used in Battleship), each player has 3 submarine playing
pieces, 1 mine piece, and 3 surface vessel pieces with holes in them (to hold pegs), and they look similar to
ships from Battleship. There are also 3 flags pieces. There is one set of red parts and one set of yellow parts.
Each player places his three submarines on the various levels. The only restriction is that two submarines
cannot occupy both the same square and same level. In the picture below, a submarine has been placed in
square 10 at a depth of 300 feet.

Then, each player places his mine playing piece on the 100 foot level. The only restrictions are that they
cannot occupy the same space as a submarine and cannot be above a submarine placed on the same
numbered space below it (200 or 300 foot levels) He writes this location on a piece of paper and folds it up and
places it in an open area.

Next, each player fills his surface vessels with white pegs (2, 3, and 4, depending on the ship) and places them
on the edge of the board on his color, which will be the right portion, above his opponent's submarines.

Each player then takes turns. He may move one ship 1, 2, or 3 squares in any direction. If he ends his turn on
the same numbered space as his opponents mine, the number is announced and revealed from the piece of
paper, and the ship and the mine is removed from the game. Whether he lost a ship or not, if he has any ships
on the board (not the edge) with white pegs in it, he may attempt to drop a depth charge from that ship.
(Note: it does not have to be the ship that moved that turned.) To drop a depth charge, he pulls out one of the
white pegs from that ship and selects a level below his ship. For instance, if the ship is on square number 22,
he would call out, 'Number 22, Level 200'. If a submarine is located on that square, the opponent calls out
'direct hit' and removes the submarine from the game. The other player would then go to his peg board (see
picture below) and place a flag on that spot. If the submarine is located adjacent to the target (but not
diagonally) or on the same space above or below the target, it is a 'near miss' (think of the pattern like the
legs of a jack). The opponent calls out near miss and the other player places a red peg in his peg
board. Any other results are a miss and the attacking player places the white peg from his ship in the
peg board (in the instance of a direct hit or a near miss, he places the white peg in this white peg tray).

Along with moving and dropping a depth charge, the same player may have his submarines fire a torpedo at a
surface vessel. This can only happen if the surface vessel is in the same vertical row as the submarine. In
other words, looking at the peg board above (which mirrors the playing surface), if you submarine is located
on square 14, you could fire at a ship on squares 2, 8, 14, 20, 26, or 32. To fire on a ship, you spin the dial and
if it lands in the red Hit portion (see picture below), the surface vessel is sunk and removed from the
game. Firing on surface vessels is a desperation move because it helps locate your submarine. It is usually
attempted when the surface vessels have a submarine located and are about to hit it on the next turn.
So to summarize, you may move a surface vessel, drop a depth charge, and fire on the surface vessels in the
same turn. Any and all are optional. When a surface vessel runs out of depth charges (white pegs), it has to
move back to the outside edge of the board and reload.

The first player to either destroy his opponents submarines or surface vessels wins the game. Overall, its a
very enjoyable game. Even as a child, I grew bored with Battleship because it was a guessing game with
little strategy. This game employs far more strategy. You must manage your ships wisely, lest you have all
three run out of depth charges, and have to wait turns before you can fire again. You also have two different
ways to win the game. Then the 3-dimensional aspect creates its own interesting situations. Battleship is a
kids game. Sub Search is a game for older kids and their parents.

Sun Aug 2, 2009 10:26 pm

Author: UnknownParkerBrother
airjudden wrote:


To make these work, get rid of all the extra letters in there. Just the number 99461 is all you want.

If you wish to control the size, then you manually add the words after the number, ie 99461 medium in the

Mon Aug 3, 2009 1:36 am

Author: kenchan13
nice review,i'm hoping to get this one soon.

Mon Aug 3, 2009 10:11 am

Author: JohnnySchmaser
I had this one as a boy and played it many times with my brother. Ah the memories.
Mon Aug 3, 2009 1:49 pm

Author: WhiteKnight85
I have fond memories of playing this game as a kid in the early 70s. I didn't play it as much as I wanted, since
I had trouble finding opponents for it on a regular basis.

Mon Aug 3, 2009 3:23 pm

Author: Cooz
Thanks for this nice, detailed review! I own this and eagerly await playing it with my son someday; preferably
after a viewing of "Destination Tokyo" (my favorite WWII Sub movie)!

Do you own Carrier Strike!? It is another WWII-era Ameritrash game from the 70's. It's not as "deep" as
Subsearch but it's still fun (especially with kids and after a viewing of "Midway").

Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:02 am

Author: kjamma4
Cooz wrote:

It's not as "deep" as Subsearch

Clever !

Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:38 am

Author: fedspaz
I always loved this game as a kid. Heck, I'll still play it if anybody asks. Just wish I would have kept the
original box for it.

Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:58 am