The game's name was inspired by the Dreadnought - a battleship used by the Royal Navy. The game had several features that were unique at the time of its publication. Every battleship and battlecruiser ever built for any country was available for use in gameplay. Unlike game boards commonly used at the time, the playing area had no fixed outer boundaries. Instead, the game was made up of four large blue sheets marked with hex grids. The sheets were placed side by side and if a player sailed towards the edge, any unoccupied sheet could be picked up and moved to create a continuous playing surface. The game also included rules for making smoke screens and for maneuvering around torpedo attacks in order to minimize the number of torpedo hits.