Potato Pirates is a new card game available now on Kickstarter. It is a strategy game with the unique and educational focus of teaching children how to code. The game promises to teach players 10 hours of programming concepts in 30 minutes, all without the need for a PC. The strange but cute artwork will definitely appeal to younger players while the unusual potato based humour should help to keep them engaged. The game is designed for 3-6 people and is aimed at ages 6 and above. Keep reading to find out more about the Potato Pirates Kickstarter.
Codomo provided us with a review copy of Potato Pirates free of charge.
Potato Pirates Kickstarter
Within the Potato Pirates deck is hidden 7 Potato King Cards. All 7 of these cards must be collected in order to win. This can be done by drawing cards from the deck, eliminating enemies with potato based weaponry and sabotaging players with surprise cards. Attacks can be powered up with the use of programming concepts. Alternatively destroying every other player in the game will also lead to a win.
Each player begins with 2 ship cards, 5 playing cards and 10 potato crew to sail the seven seas. Players draw cards and then upgrade any ships currently at anchor in preparation for sending them into battle. Once sent into battle, ships can each attack one other ship. Control cards, such as if/else, can modify this behaviour in different ways. When attacked a ship loses some of its potato crew. Once the whole crew is dead the ship sinks and is no longer usable. New ships can be bought in exchange for crewmembers as long as there are enough potato crew to man the new ship.
When drawing a Potato King Card, the card must be revealed immediately and all players salute the Potato King. The last player to do so must surrender 2 of its crew. There are 3 different types of attack card and they all deal different amounts of potato damage. New attacks can only be equipped to anchored ships. Attacks can be stacked on ships to deal more damage but can also be stacked with control cards to modify behaviour. Control cards must be paired with an attack or action card. Control cards are all based on different programming concepts such as For and While loops.
As a Software Engineer this game intrigues me greatly. I live in the UK where, until recently, programming and computer science were not subjects taught at school. Even now I believe the curriculum leaves a lot to be desired.
Software like Scratch has really allowed children to get to grips with the fundamentals of programming in a fun and approachable way. I think, if done correctly, that Potato Pirates can offer something similar. Scratch requires a certain level of creativity that some people, myself included, struggle to find. Potato Pirates on the other hand provides a fun and ready made setting, removing some of the need for creativity.
Also the game doesn’t try to abstract the programming aspects of the game. For loops are called For loops and, upon reading the rules, behave exactly as I expected a For loop would. Too many teaching tools for younger children try to hide away the concepts but Potato Pirates is upfront and the information on their Kickstarter page seems to show it is effective.
Potato Pirates has already surpassed its goal of S$15,000 and stretch goals have started to unlock. There are still 2 weeks left to go at the time of writing so there is still plenty of time to back and help to unlock additional stretch goals. There are a variety of backing options available including art books and multiple copies of the game.
Codomo are hoping to get the game out to backers in time for Christmas. However, this is Kickstarter so make sure you do your due diligence before backing and make sure you are happy to back a game that could be delayed. Though if it does arrive in time for Christmas it would make a nice stocking stuffer!
As a Software Engineer I think games like this have so much potential. I love the theme of the game and the presentation is top notch. I have already received a copy and will be doing a full review soon. I’m hoping at some point to take this game into a school to let some younger people try it out and get their opinions on it too.
From what I have seen and played so far Potato Pirates looks like it will be a lot of fun and a great way to teach kids some fundamental programming concepts. I look forward to trying this game with my fellow coding colleagues.