SET - Board Game Box Shot

SET

| Published: 1990

SET is a highly addictive, original game of visual perception; a fascinating challenge for either solitaire or competitive play.

To create a SET, a player must locate three cards in which each of the four features is either all the same on each card or all different on each card, when looked at individually. The four features are, symbol (oval, squiggle or diamond), color (red, purple or green), number (one, two or three) or shading (solid, striped or open).

Age is no advantage in this fast paced family game. SET is great fun for the whole family because there is no previous knowledge required.

SET card game
images © SET Enterprises

User Reviews (14)

Filter by: Order by:
Player Avatar
7
Intermediate Reviewer
Champion
Mask of Agamemnon
Novice Advisor
6
114 of 121 gamers found this helpful
“Left-Brained Gamers, Rejoice!”

One of the most fascinating things about sitting down with a new, unfamiliar gaming group is learning all about the types of games they like to play and how their tastes coincide with or vary from yours. The lady brought me to meet some of her friends recently, who were having a board game party. She thought I’d fit right in.

We walked into the apartment to discover a deck of cards already laid out on the table, with various shapes and colors and patterns across them. Once we’d all exchanged greetings, put buffalo chicken rangoons in the oven to cook, and settled in, I was introduce to SET.

Final Summary First

SET is the kind of game you’ll either love or you’ll hate. It requires sharp, quick analytical skills to notice patterns in a random assortment of cards — and to do so before the other players at the table.

Basically, if you are a left-brained person you will absolutely excel at this game. If you’re right-brained, maybe not so much.

This isn’t a social game at all. The room goes silent as soon as the cards are dealt, as players begin scrutinizing the available cards in an effort to find the next SET. There are occasional moments of congratulatory praise and dismayed wails of being a moment too slow to see a set, but it’s not a game for table talk and friendly chatter.

Game Setup

There’s a deck of cards. Each one has one of three shapes on it, in one of three numbers (single, double, or triple), in one of three colors, in one of three patterns (solid, striped, blank outline). Twelve of these cards are dealt to the table, arranged three rows by four rows.

Setup complete!

Gameplay in a Nutshell

Players inspect the cards and search for a SET: three cards whose four variable either match, or are all different. It’s hard to grasp at first, but through the first play becomes more and more clear.

When a player finds a SET, he or she calls “Set!” and takes the three appropriate cards. Obviously this is where the speed factor of the game comes in, as you want to acquire the most obvious SETS before your opponents do.

Three cards are dealt in place of the removed SET and play continues. If the group agrees that there are no SETS within the twelve cards available, three more may be added to the arrangement.

When all cards have been dealt and the players can find no more SETS, the game is over. The player who acquired the most SETS wins.

Should You Buy This?

For a group of gamers who like a quick game that sharpens your analytical skills and gives your left brain a little bit of exercise, this is probably a must-buy. It will make a quick filler game between your intensely intellectual rounds of Aeronautical Physics Trivial Pursuit – Genius Edition.

A right-brainer like me hopes it never hits the table again, to be honest. I didn’t have much fun, despite picking it up in short order and being able to spot the admittedly easiest SETS. Don’t buy it if you like lazily drinking beer and making sophomoric jokes during your games.

Epilogue

We played a second and third round, which we turned into a drinking game. When someone called out “Set!” and their selection turned out to not be a correct SET, that person was forced to drink. I think there’s real rules for a player that incorrectly calls “Set!”, but ours were better.

After the smart-brain people had their fill of pattern matching, I introduced them to the worlds of King of Tokyo, Castle Panic, and Scalawag! Minds were most definitely blown for these novice gamers.

 
Player Avatar
7
USA
Norway
Finland
I play black
9
80 of 87 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 3
“It Might Be Called Work, But It's So Darned Fun!”

Sunday night is game night at the Gamer Bling household. Each family member (your humble reviewer, the Gamer Bling Official Companion, Gamer Bling Expansion #1, and Gamer Bling Expansion #2) each get to choose a game in rotation. Recently, that game was Set, as chosen by Gamer Bling.

The Promise

Gamer Bling’s package of Set is remarkably free from marketing hype, which is (a) refreshing, and (b) entirely in keeping with the cerebral feel of the game. The game’s tagline is “The Family Game of Visual Perception,” and the closest thing to actual sales text is “12 ‘Best Game’ Awards,” which is presented with nary an exclamation point.

As mentioned on the box back, the object of the game is to identify sets of three cards, based on the quantity, shape, color, and shading of the objects on the cards.

Sounds vaguely bland and “educational,” doesn’t it?

The Delivery

Set delivers quite precisely on its promise, with two caveats: (1) it’s a lot more fun than they make it sounds, and (2) it’s not really a game of visual perception; it’s more of a game of visual analysis. If it were a find-the-hidden-picture game, it would be a game of visual perception. Instead, the puzzle aspect and logical component (see below) mean that, in Gamer Bling’s opinion, it is a game that is actually fun.

There are no turns. Players lay out 12 cards in the center of the table, then try to find sets among them. (As a sample, there is a set of 12 cards on the back of the box that has no less than 6 sets hidden within it.) The first player to spot a set calls out “Set!” and collects the cards. New cards from the deck replace those taken, and the cycle continues.

If everyone gets stuck, deal three more cards to the table to break the logjam. Once the deck gets depleted, players score by the number of cards they collected.

Please indulge Gamer Bling while he gets a little mathematical here.

Each card is defined by four parameters:
• Quantity of figures on it (1, 2, 3)
• Shape of figures on it (oval, diamond, squirgle)
• Color of figures on it (blue, green, red)
• Shade of figures on it (hollow, shaded, solid)

Thus, with four parameters, each with three options, there are 81 (3 to the fourth power) possible permutations. And, of course, there are 81 playing cards in the box, so each card is unique.

Now a set is a group of three cards for which each parameter, evaluated on its own, either has three different values or three identical values. Thus a set might have all identical quantity (two figures), identical colors (all blue), different shades (one each hollow, shaded, solid), and different shapes (one each oval, diamond, and squirgle). Since each card in the game is unique, you will never have a set where all the cards are identical; there will always be one parameter where all the cards are different. And therein lies the wonderful challenge of the game.

The greatest feeling of success comes when you find a set for which all of the parameters are all different. Yes, it’s a set, but the cards bear no relation to each other at all, for example: one hollow blue squirgle, two shaded red ovals, and three solid green diamonds.

The game plays quickly—20 minutes maybe?—and you can easily get 2-3 games in during a game night. But play too many games in a row and you’ll find your brain gets exhausted from its mental sprints.

Finesse

The colors used for the cards are not your standard colors. The blue shades towards purple, for example. Gamer Bling cannot swear to it, but it appears that the color may have been carefully chosen to minimize the impact of color-blindness on a game that requires differentiating colors.

There is no text at all, so it is eminently portable to all cultures. As long as you can teach them.

Skills Required

As a homeschool parent, Gamer Bling believes in seizing every opportunity for learning. Here’s what the kids can learn or practice with Set.

Logical Analysis: This is a biggie. Since each set of cards must have at least one parameter that changes, one must look for trends and series. This skill is enhanced when one has to grind to find a set; taking a measured analytical path (“All right, I’ll look for any possible 1-2-3 set”) means making a quick decision and rigorously implementing it.

Clarity Under Pressure: You are in direct competition with other players, and have to keep your mind focused in order to win.

Thinking Out of the Box: Again, the best aspect of this game is that each set has to have one parameter that varies, often more. In an age where the school systems teach to the test and promote parroting over understanding, this creates better mental agility.

Family Game Night Value

It’s fast, it’s got a great mix of logic and intuition, and it’s easily handicapped for varying skill levels, although you may be surprised at how fast your kids pick it up.

Once folks get over the learning hump of “everything can’t be the same,”, it’s a solid gateway game for non-gamers.

And it’s very portable, being maybe the size of a Kindle .

TL;DR

For a seemingly dry game, it’s fun.

For a speed game, it’s analytical.

And it’s cheap. You have no reason not to buy it.

And thank you for taking the time to read a Gamer Bling Sunday Night Review.

 
Player Avatar
9
USA
Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
7
97 of 107 gamers found this helpful
“It's GOOD to Exercise the Brain! ~ And Maybe a Little Bit Painful :-)”

It’s good to have a few games in your closet that are quick to teach. Set is a pattern recognition exercise. There are no strategies, tactics or knowledge required (other than a few simple rules). Some people will not be good at first, so keep this in mind if you’ve been practicing…

How to Play…

Set is just a deck of 81 cards. Twelve cards are dealt on the table face up. The players quickly try to find a “set.” A set consists of 3 cards that are all the same or all different. What?!!! Well, each card has a certain number (one, two, or three) of shapes (oval, diamond, or squiggle) in and color (red, green, or purple) and fill (open, solid, or striped). A set is 3 cards that could have all solid or one of each solid, open, or shaded… but can never have 2 of one (2 solid) and 1 of the other (1 striped)… make sense? It will if you take this tutorial:

http://www.setgame.com/images/tutorial/flash_version/set_flash_tutorial.htm

When a player finds a set, they take the cards, and the 3 blank spots are filled with 3 new cards. Play again! The player that collects the most sets wins the game.

You can also play an online version at:

http://www.setgame.com/set/puzzle_frame.htm

Conclusion…

Set is a great filler. It will be tricky for someone to figure out the first time they play. You may get a feeling of superiority. That feeling will quickly fade once they figure it out. I do not believe this game can decide if someone is smarter than another. Our brains work differently, and even though pattern recognition is used in IQ tests… it’s only part of the test. I know a kid who can crush everyone I know at this game, yet he can’t win at most strategy games.

The game may frustrate some people, but I think it would be valuable to test yourself online. It’s been proven that such a thing as “exercising” the brain can provide favorable results. This game is perfect for that. The online version will help make sure you don’t miss anything, and once you are good… buy the card game and show your friends how brilliant you really can be.

 
Player Avatar
4
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Critic - Level 2
Gamer - Level 3
10
76 of 85 gamers found this helpful
“Not for everyone but definitely for me”

Simply put, Set is a game of pattern recognition. You are presented with 12 cards laid out on the table with patterns of shapes and colors. The goal is to match up groups of 3 cards that form a set by calling “Set!” and picking up three cards. The rules behind that are difficult to explain without pictures, but I’ll try. Each card has 4 characteristics: shape, color, pattern, and number (e.g. 3 solid green diamonds or 2 shaded purple ovals). A set consists of 3 cards where each of the 4 characteristics irrespective of the others are either all the same on each card or all different on each card. There are visual instructions on their website. At the end of the game, each set is worth a point and the player with the most points wins. Players also lose a set for calling “Set!” and not picking up a valid set.

I love this game. The gameplay ranges from fast and furious to everyone quietly staring and searching for patterns. It can be very easy to teach (or very tough) and has very wide appeal. Great to bring out at family get togethers.

However, there are many people who will find this game to be difficult to grasp regardless of how many times they play. I dare say these are usually the same people who hate math class. This doesn’t mean they’re dumb, it’s just that Set requires you to use your brain in a very specific way. I would compare it to tone-deafness: some people got it, some don’t.

There’s also a daily Set puzzle online.

 
Player Avatar
7
Knight-errant
Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
7
78 of 90 gamers found this helpful
“A very creative game, but beware; it's not for everyone”

In every competitive game, there is a chance for someone to walk away from a game feeling as if they could have done better, or that they failed some sort of personal challenge. No matter how a game is geared, there is always that chance, and that turns a fun game into something else, an albatross around one’s neck. I have heard of people playing a game once, and then being trounced so badly that they never have the urge to play that game again. That doesn’t mean that the game itself is bad, however; there are just some circumstances that can happen that will color a game in a person’s eyes. And nowhere is this problem more apparent than in competitive games of a cerebral nature.

Set is a fast-paced game that deals with collecting sets of three from a collection of cards that are placed on the table for all to see. The publisher overview says it all; there are four distinct features of the cards (color, symbol, number, and shading) and it’s the player’s job to pick three cards that are either all alike in all aspects, or all different in all aspects. This might sound simple, but it is harder than it sounds.

There are three variation for every feature: For color, there is red, green, and purple. For symbol, there is Diamond, Oval, or Squiggle (a curvy shape that looks like a packing peanut). For number, there is either one, two, or three symbols featured, and for shading, there is either solid shading, outlined shading, or lined shading.

Now, some of the easiest matching that you can do is looking for qualities that are the same. But the game itself forces you to look for some different qualities because the cards are unique in the game. So you won’t ever be able to collect three cards that are alike in every single quality. At least one will be different. For example: A solid purple diamond card with one symbol on it can be combined with the same type of card that has two symbols on it, and one that has three symbols on it. Since the cards are all alike in the three qualities of color, symbol, and shading, and all different in the quality of number, the cards form a set. But if that third card had featured a different colored diamond, say green, it would not have been a set. Or if the purple color had been outlined instead of solid, it would not have been a set. For a better explanation of how sets work, view the site’s flash tutorial here and click the How to Play option. It’s much more practical to see things in action than have them explained.

Once you understand the principles involved, the game boils down to pattern recognition and speed. Given enough time, just about anyone can pick out the qualities they need to match with the cards, but the problem is, your opponents will be doing the same thing, and can sometimes find a match for the very card you are seeking to match at the same time. It’s a lot more difficult to find matches quickly when you’re trying to stay conscious of your opponent’s speed. It’s also easy to misfire – to collect what you think is a set, only to be corrected afterwards.

The game itself is very simple, but it requires players who have never played Set before to adapt themselves to different ways of thinking. Patterns are fairly easy to match, but finding different ones can be the challenge in this game, and familiarity DOES help. Players who have played Set before will most likely have a clear advantage over the new player. This is not a failing of the game, but rather human nature.

In short, I do like this game, and I think that it’s fun, but though it is simple, it’s not the easiest game to wrap your head around. And its cerebral component can leave one questioning their ‘smarts’ if they do poorly the first couple times that they play. However, it is a worthwhile game that is worth playing a couple of times to see how it works, and to engage in a bit of friendly competition. One of those games that is easy to take with you and plan anywhere you go.

 
Player Avatar
3
Critic - Level 2
8
65 of 76 gamers found this helpful
“Ow. OW! My brain! Ow!”

I absolutely love this game.
But I absolutely hate trying to teach it. I almost gave it a 3 for “Easy To Learn” but I’ve had entire games go by and still people didn’t know how to collect a set. I’d explain again and again with many different types of examples, but it still wouldn’t get through to people.
BUT! I don’t care!
See, the thing is, no matter how slowly people learn this game, they still learn it. And I love a game that is both extremely simple and EXTREMELY complex at the exact same time.(note the capitalization)

The thing that gets me is that some people get it right away and know what to look for, and others it takes longer but they’ll start calling “Set!” “Set!” “Set!” all in a row once they get the hang of it.

It’s a game that I can play with my family and they’ll do just as well with it as my game group. Nobody’s good at this game and that makes it kind of great.

 
Player Avatar
2
Rated 5 Games
10
75 of 97 gamers found this helpful
“Good alone or with others”

Do you like doing puzzle type games such as Sudoku?
This game is fun as a puzzle by yourself. When no one else will play a game, you can always pull this out.

Do you like speed based games such as Slap Jack or Speed?
In a group this is a speed based game. You are racing to find the matches first.

This is a fun game alone, with two players or a small group.
Racing to find the next set; groaning when the set someone else called first takes one of the cards in the set you just discovered; sharpening your skills as you learn to see the sets! I love it!

 
Player Avatar
6
Smash Up: Dinosaur Faction Fan
Knight-errant
Tomahawk
7
78 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“A very fun mind game”

I don’t play a lot of solitary games so SET has sat on my shelf for quite awhile. My wife loves it but we have never sat down to play. I could see the mathematical and educational components of the game so I picked up a couple copies from the LGS to play with my students. We finally got the chance yesterday. And I can say I was quite impressed.

The game is simple, lay out a dozen cards and find the set where either all characteristics are matching or no characteristics are matching. (ie., color, shape, quantity or fill) The game can be quite a challenge. There were some rounds in which we found one or two sets right away and others where there was seemingly no set. I say seemingly, just because we didn’t see the set did not necessarily mean it doesn’t exist.

A fun fast paced game that I was surprised that so many students liked. I guess you should never judge the type of gamer someone will be.

A great time killer between a couple friends. Take it to the coffee shop and kill some time. A great little game.

 
Player Avatar
5
Platinum Supporter
Thunderstone Fan
6
74 of 102 gamers found this helpful
“It Can Make You Feel Stupid”

This game is all about finding pattern matches before everybody else. The problem is that it can be very frustrating and even demoralizing for people who aren’t as fast. My wife and kids love the game, but my rating is based on my own point of view … the point of view of somebody who tends to always lose. 🙂

If I go into a game imagining I’m being pitted against a bunch of geniuses, then I can feel some sense of accomplishment if I get at least one or two sets. Of course, that probably means that everybody is just going easy on me.

I’m told that if I practice, I can get better. Perhaps I should play against a sloth. A monkey might be a bit too much competition, but I’m sure I could take on a sloth.

 
Player Avatar
2
My First Heart
10
79 of 132 gamers found this helpful
“Pushups for your brain”

Sudoku, Crosswords, and Set. Some of the reasons I don’t expect to get Alzheimer’s. This game is simple in concept, though it seems a little tricky to explain at first. Most people have an “ah ha!” moment when they actually catch on, and then they know just what to look for. Very few people either never get it, or just don’t care, but for those of us who do, this game is terrifically addictive. I like to throw down the gauntlet with anyone who is game, or just play solitaire to give my brain a little workout. It’s nice that you can enjoy it playing just a few seconds, or go through the whole desk and play a full-out game. This is one of my all-time favorite card games!

 
Player Avatar
3
I Own a Game!
Follower
Sophomore
9
74 of 124 gamers found this helpful
“Lots of fun - worth the price.”

It seems odd to me, but Set seems to split up my gaming friends more than any other game.

Half my friends seem to completely hate it, and would rather stare at a wall than play Set. The other half loves it, and will gladly play it any time someone suggests it, even if there’s other good games around.

Set works well with almost any group size — 1 to however many people can get a good view of the game.

You can even make up great ways to play on the bus solo!

 
Player Avatar
5
Belfort Fan
Eminent Domain Fan
Marquis / Marchioness
6
74 of 125 gamers found this helpful
“Pattern recognition to show how much smarter everybody else is”

Set is a great game where you are actively recognizing pattern matches. It plays very fast, in enjoyable, activates the brain, and is priced at a great value.

The only problem is that I find that the people I play with are typically faster than me at this game, which is humbling to say the least!

 
Player Avatar
1
Reviewed My First Game
7
72 of 123 gamers found this helpful
“Must enjoy visual puzzles”

Set is a quiet game that gives your brain some meat to chew on. The game will appeal to those who enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and a Sudoku, playing Tetris, or finding Waldo. Attention span and ability to concentrate required.

 
Player Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
6
53 of 100 gamers found this helpful
“A puzzle for one or more people!”

A nifty little game that really doesn’t involve any strategy whatsoever. Everyone pretty much stares at the cards on the table trying to make a set of the patterns on the cards. Someone says, “SET”, then everyone checks that person to see if they made a set. Person with the most sets wins.

Okay, you might think that sounds boring, but if you like puzzles, this game will suck you in! Your eyes might get bleary trying to find a pattern, and your head might start to hurt, but this game can make a nice diversion from your current fare of gaming.

There really isn’t much too this game beyond what I put, so no need for a long review here! Puzzle aficionados go buy it!

 

Add a Review for "SET"

You must be to add a review.

× Visit Your Profile