SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception

SET is one of those classic games that I somehow went without playing until adulthood. My wife introduced me to it a few years ago, and it’s become one of our favorite things to get out and play together when we have time to. (She’s way better at it than me and pretty much everyone else we try to include.)

This is a fast-paced card game of pattern recognition. You shuffle the deck, set out a 4×3 grid of face-up cards, and players proceed to quickly find as many “sets” of three cards as they can, based on specific mixes and/or matches of four features:

  1. Color — Each card is red, green, or purple.
  2. Symbol — Each card contains ovals, squiggles, or diamonds.
  3. Number — Each card has one, two, or three of that symbol.
  4. Shading — All symbols on each card are solid, open, or striped.

A “set” consists of three cards in which each feature is EITHER the same on each card OR is different on each card. That is to say, any feature in the ‘Set’ of three cards is either common to all three cards or is different on each card.

So, a set could be something like…

All three cards have two red ovals, but they all have different shadings.


The three cards all have different colors, different symbols, different *numbers* of symbols, AND different shadings.

It’s one of those things that you have to try for yourself before you really get it. After a few rounds, things will “click” and you’ll be off to the races. I honestly feel like my mental agility goes up after playing this game, and our 6yo son is even able to pick out sets from time to time.

SET is just $10 on Amazon. Pick it up and it’ll probably become a family favorite of yours too.