As a game that is designed to imitate real battle strategy there are many elements in the approaches to this game that mirror real life strategies used in war. Taking a much simpler approach but still retaining the core values will help a player to master the tactics for successful victory in Battleships.
Placing your fleet
Avoid wherever possible placing ships in a formulaic patter like equally spaced rows or columns. Equally try not to have ships touching each other as that increases the possibility of an opponent gaining a second hit in one move. The aim here is quite simply to create a formation that could not easily be guessed and equally would not accidentally be stumbled across by complete fluke.
Some people use this rational to justify a slightly different pattern. They argue that by placing all the ships in one clump, they have an unpredictable position that opponents are unlikely to predict. Equally even in the event of a hit and destroyed ship, logical thought would be to direct further firing in other areas of the board therefore protecting any ship that is directly next to a destroyed one.
In spite of the very large number of variations on fleet positioning, sticking to a methodical approach to striking will yield the most successful results. The game will always have to start with some complete guesses but as time goes on these must be refined to narrow down the possible places where an opposing ship may be.
The chequered strike pattern is a particularly popular method. Because no ship is smaller than two squares this tactic will reveal even the smallest of ships much quicker than random shots.
Whenever a hit is made, remember to make the next choice carefully. It’s very easy to follow a line that has been prejudged however if a player looks at the board logically they are likely to narrow down the number of feasible positions that the rest of the partially damaged ship is placed in.
Generally speaking people will start shooting somewhere near the centre of the board so when placing try to avoid this hotspot. Despite the advice given above, many players will still stick to a rigid format of having their whole fleet in parallel positions; if this pattern is identified early it will make systematic progression much easier.
Understand your opponent
People will often tend to play more than one game with the same opponent. In this case pay attention to the patterns that an opponent follows. It will become clear quite early on that people often follow a very similar striking pattern from the beginning. Therefore placing ships in a position that avoids this pattern will give a head start advantage.
Often battleships players will also have predetermined bias on which of their ship should be close together and which far apart. A common one, for example, states that the destroyer (5 squares) and the battleship (4 squares) should be in roughly diagonally opposite corners to be as far away from each other as possible. If a few games show that an opponent is doing this each time, be sure to exploit that knowledge early on.