Set – a pattern recognition competition

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Similar high speed puzzle/pattern recognition games include Ghost Blitz and Ricochet Robot. Play them enough against good opposition, and you get really terrifyingly fast real quick.

My son (6) loves Ghost Blitz and nobody he plays it with (except me, fortunately) can even remotely keep up with him. He even beat my friend who was once Dutch champion Set.

These games are about recognizing complex patterns in the tiniest fractions of seconds. (Except Ricochet Robot, which is more of a puzzle, and slower than the others.)

I love this game, it forces you to think - but it is funny, my kids often don’t want to play it even though they are surprisingly good at it, ie come over and pick out a set right away, after my wife and I were staring at it without success for several minutes. It really is a game of thinking vs chance.

When I ran a game store in the nineties, we sold tons of copies of Set. Anyone looking for a new game that could be played by all ages just needed to see it demoed once, and they’d buy it immediately. Quarto was another example of a simple system that required different thought processes than we’re used to using in games:

Yes. This is a brilliant game. My mom used to be a para for BD kids and this was one of the games they had. She introduced it to us and my kid and her cousins all play it.

I cant remember the age on the box, but a bright 4-5 year old can play it. I think we removed one of the types of cards for the little kids (I want to say the shaded ones, it’s been awhile). But anyway, it gave them one less type of thing to match up and the younger ones got it easier.

But once older, all the cards, all the pattern recognition.

Am twitching that the second photograph does not show a Set.


This is a fantastic game, I can’t endorse it strongly enough. It’s fast, simple, and makes my brain feel weird.

Second photo? Yeah, I know!

For years, whenever we traveled to visit other families, we would bring this as a gift. It’s a great game for any age, no language barrier, and adults do not automatically have an advantage over kids.

A few people have hinted at this, but I’ll come right out and say it: my 8 & 9 year old daughters could totally kick my a** in this game, and no matter how hard I tried, I would win only a small fraction of the time. Used to drive me crazy. They could watch a movie while still beating me…

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Fantastic game. However, it is not a good party game. Take it out during a party and conversation stops as everyone focuses on looking for sets.

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