Game of SET

An old game and I never had seen, played or heard about it… I am referring to the game of SET.

My son went on a school camp where they played SET, and back home we bought a boxed version. It is very addictive!

This card game was created by Marsha Jean Falco in 1974. As part of a genetics study she wrote down the information she collected in the form of colored symbols. This made it easier for her to compare combinations of inherited genes and the resulting behaviour of her subjects (german sheperd dogs). At some point, someone suggested that there was potential for having some fun with these cards, and that is how the game was born. It took until 1991 before SET appeared on the market though.

The rules are very simple. They involve creating sets of 3 cards out of a total of 81 cards. These cards have four different characteristics: each card has a unique combination of numbers (one, two or three), shapes (diamonds, ovals or squiggles), colours (red, green and purple), and fillings (solid, striped or open). Three cards form a set if the following is true for each and all four characteristics: all cards have the same property, or, all cards are completely different. An example of a set is the combination of three cards that display:

  1. one red striped oval
  2. two green open ovals
  3. three purple solid ovals

You try to find sets of three cards and take these off the board. The game ends when no more sets can be found, and the winner is the one who has collected most sets. When you hear people yell “SET!” you will realize that they are actually playing this game.

I will not try to explain the full rules here. The SET website has documented the SET rules, and the mathematics behind it., They also have a daily puzzle competition and more worthwhile things to read.

I have found several online versions of the game. Because the rules are so simple and well-defined, it does not take a lot of code to write.

  • Browser-based:
  • Windows/Linux
    • The best program to use (in my opinion and that of my wife) is TATset. It is open source and although the homepage (http://www.tatset.com/) seems to be off-line, the Sourceforge page is still there. Screenshot:
TATset

TATset

I hope you will have as much fun with SET as I am having!

Eric

5 thoughts on “Game of SET


  1. Hi Brad

    I had to search hard to find a copy of that javascript version of set, but I have found it.

    See the updated text of the article, I added a working link to the ZIP file as well as an online copy.

    Eric




  2. Unfortunately I received a copyright infringement notice from setgames.com and had to remove the online game from my server. I have updated the main article accordingly.
    Well done, Set Enterprises. One more US company that lost all its good will.


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