Set – game of quick visual recognition

Set card game

Be the first to spot Sets.

Last month, we reviewed a little card game, iota, that reminded us a lot of the card game Set. We mentioned Set in that review for comparison purposes, but only at a high level.

Well, now it’s time for a more complete review of Set.

How to play Set
The object of the card game is to collect the most “sets” of cards. A set of cards consists of 3 cards that are either All Alike or All Different in each of 4 features. The four features are Symbol, Color, Number, and Shading. And each feature comes in 3 varieties.

  • Symbols: Oval, Diamond, or Squiggle
  • Color: Red, Green, or Purple
  • Number: One, Two, or Three
  • Shading: Filled-in, Empty, or Striped

To be a set, each of the card’s features, looked at one-by-one, must be all the same on each card or all different on each card. So every feature needs to separately satisfy this condition. If only 2 of the 3 cards are the same in any feature, then it’s not a set.

Set card game

Grid #1: How many Sets can you spot?

For example: If you see 3 cards where each has a Diamond and each is Red and each card has a different number of diamonds, but two are Striped and one is Filled-in, then it’s not a set because the Shading feature condition isn’t satisfied (2 the same – Striped, 1 different – Filled-in).

As another example, look at the image of Grid #1. Multiple sets can be found – one set is comprised the 3 cards: Single Red Empty Squiggle, Two Purple Filled-in Squiggles, and Three Green Striped Squiggles. The Symbol is the same on all three cards, but the Number, Color, and Shading are all different on each card.

How many other sets can you spot?

With 12 cards displayed on the table at a time, sets can be tricky to spot because everyone is racing to be the first to find a set. When a player recognizes a set, they call it out, point it out, and then collect the cards to their stash. Those empty spots are then filled with 3 new cards and play continues until the deck runs out.

Can the whole family enjoy Set?

Set card game

Grid #2: How many Sets can you spot?

While Set can be enjoyed by everyone in the family (ages 6+ recommended), it may not be a hit with everyone. It’s a game of quick visual perception and that doesn’t appeal to everyone.

As we mentioned in our review of iota, mom isn’t a fan of Set. The part she doesn’t care for is the racing element. For such a game of mental/visual concentration, the part about being the quickest to spot a set adds too much pressure for her taste. She prefers the opportunity in iota to work with a hand of cards and construct matches of the features on the cards – giving her time to figure it out without the rushed pressure.

Dad (I) on the other hand really likes set. I love the race to be the first to recognize sets of cards from the grid and snag them up. Set requires a different way of thinking. And I guess that’s another reason why I like it. I like the change of pace it provides from other games and exercising a different part of my brain.

Set card game

Plenty of cards in the deck.

The last time we played as a family, the person that came in second place was Caleb – our 9 year old. He’s surprisingly quick in spotting sets as well. And it’s great to hear him call out a set while the rest of us are staring bug-eyed at the grid and not finding one.

We’d also like to add that Set has been a great game to have at scout camp as well. Simple card games are great to take a long for moments of down-time at camp and most of the boys love competition. Similar to our family though, not all of the boys find it their cup of tea. But there’s enough requests to make sure it ventures with us on future camps.

How does Set score on the “Let’s Play Again” game meter?
Set card gameAs you might have guessed from our review, the “let’s play again” game meter is mixed on Set. It’s a hit with some and playing multiple rounds or multiple times brings a lot of enjoyment. But for others, they may play once in a while, but will leave it at that.

So if you’re looking for a style of card game that’s a good departure from other cards games you have on hand and tests your visual recognition skills, give Set a try.

The Board Game Family Game Ratings
Caleb: 4.0 Meeples Caleb
Brooke: 2.0 Meeples Brooke
Jaden: 3.5 Meeples Jaden
Trevor: 3.5 Meeples Trevor
Mom: 2.0 Meeples Mom
Dad: 4 Meeples Dad
AVerage: 3.2 Meeples Average
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Comments: 2

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I don’t think I’d like the racing in this one either! I’ve bought some games that have the element in them to play with my friend’s kid and some more adult but not sure they’ll ever be a favorite with me. I’m not much into rowdy chaotic aggressive type games especially with fast recognitiont thrown in! Spot It looked like fun but I have trouble with that one – esp with the pictures different sizes-and the pics are a bit small for me. I keep thinking I’ll get better the more I play these though! I DID like Iota!




Set is one of the few games we totally quit playing because one member of the family (my wife) was simply a lot better at it than everyone else. It got kinda frustrating for the rest of us and not much fun for her. With groups of roughly equal skill, it’s a good game, but not a favorite.




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