I saw this game by chance on Kickstarter a few months back and thought a board game that taught the basics of programming might be fun for my daughter for Christmas. (Yes, she’s that kind of kid…) It was bundled with their internet-oriented Enter the Spudnet game. Potato Pirates is now one of my kiddo’s favorite games, and it’s easy to see why: it’s super easy to play, fun, and quick. You can play a few games of Potato Pirates in half an hour.

You get two ships named after different types of potatoes and potato-related foods, and a hand of cards that have either an action like “mash” or “roast” and a number of potatoes that are suitably murdered on a ship, and program cards that set up parameters like multiplying the attack, or conditionals. There’s also “surprise cards” that allow you to recruit more potatoes, or hijack another player’s ship and the like. Lastly, if you get all six of the blue “Potato King” cards, you win; otherwise you have to destroy all of the ships of your opponents. Anytime a Potato King is drawn, you are require as the player to shout “All Hail!” and the others must race to shout “Potato King” first, or pay two potatoes as punishment. (The potatoes are represented by small and large [counts as 5] foam balls.)

It’s silly and fun, and the art look like it came from the same guys that gave us the Oatmeal, but the game design is by Codomo — an outfit out of Singapore. You can find it at ThinkFun or Potato Pirates website. This game runs $35-40 US retail. Is it worth it? The retail price is a touch high-priced for my liking, but just a touch; I got it as a bundle which was much more reasonable. It you like whimsical, simple, and fast games for playing with kids, it’s a firm yes, especially if you can find it under $30.

Tied to this is Enter the Spudnet, in which you pay delivery services that must fulfill orders around the game world.

There are six factions, and you have to set up your two factories, draw cards that give you actions tied to internet concepts like 404s, DoS attack, etc. These allow you to destroy your competitions “ships” as they go out and attempt to be the first to bring all your orders in; you can overload the factory servers of your enemies and stop them from being able to function — though you can’t use their space/server, either. There’s rules for bots, and other internet “goodness”. It can get pretty cutthroat and is a lot of fun. Like Potato Pirates, this is a fast-playing game — maybe 30 minutes — and is simple enough that my 10 year old grokked it straight off. My wife, who has a strong grounding in programming, thought it quite good.

Again, the art, production values, and rules are excellent. It retails for about $70 and can be found at the link above. Is it worth it? Again, as with Potato Pirates, it’s a touch high in price, but as a bundle was reasonable. I would definitely buy it if you found it under $60.