'SET' can get the whole family hooked on logic
By Richard C. Moon
The Gamesman

Marsha Jean Falco was working as a population geneticist at Cambridge University and was involved in a project involving set theory, combinations and permutations. She found that playing-card decks offered an easier way to visualize complex gene combinations, and this gave her an idea for a game based on visual perception.

The result was SET, a highly original and addictive game of perception and logic.

The game is so simple a 4-year-old can play it and yet so complex it captured the attention of the high IQ society MENSA.

MENSA named SET the "Best New Mind Game of 1991 based on Originality, Intellectual Challenge, Aesthetics, Quality Design and Longevity. "The game was also chosen by Scott Morris of OMNI Magazine as one of the six best games introduced in 1991.

SET is for one or more players , aged 6 and up. It is a "board game without a board."

In other words, it is played with a special deck of 81 card. Each card is red green, or purple. Each card contains ovals, squiggles or diamonds. Each card has one, two or three symbols. And, finally, each card is solid, open or striped.

The object of the game is to identify "sets" of three cards in which each feature listed above is EITHER the same on each card OR is different on each card - number, shape, color, or shading.

The apparent simplicity of the concept is deceptive, especially for first-time players.

To play, the dealer shuffles the cards and lays out 12 so that they may be seen by all players. Players do not take turns. Any player may shout "SET" and remove three cards from the layout if he has a set.

This "set" is then checked by the other players, scored, and play continues.

Play goes on until all players have had a chance to deal.

When you first play the game, it is recommended that you start with only the red cards. This will be especially helpful in introducing the game to small children. Maybe it will help the adult too.

One thing to remember is that kids sometimes do much better at this type of game than expected, often beating the socks off grown-ups.

There are several things that make this a great game for kids AND adults:

It teaches problem solving. It helps in matching colors, shapes, designs, patterns and numbers. It teaches observation. This list of positives goes on and on.

But the most important thing is that it is fast moving and a lot of fun.

By Richard C. Moon - The Gamesman