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Subject: Set: Are you ready to make your head explode!?! rss

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Christopher Seguin
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I had some time to spare, so I decided to make a quick, short trip to my FLGS to hang out. Little did I know that I would be cajoled and tricked into a head-ache inducing activity that doesn't involve Monopoly.

Actually, all humor aside, this game is actually quite fun. This game will definitely force you to use your best analytical and visual accuity skills. There is no strategy to this game, and it is highly random. I felt as though I could review this game after my first and only time playing it, as the concepts and general gameplay are made evident in a matter of moments. Our playgroup consisted of 4 to start, then we added a 5th after about 4 sets had already been scored and taken. Which worked out fine, as the 5th player ended up coming in at 2nd place even though he missed the first few draws.

The object, clearly enough, is to find 3 out of the 12 visible cards that have certain attibutes that are either completely alike, or completely different. However, that is not as easy as it sounds, as there are 4 out of 12 possibly attibutes on each card. This game requires a strong sense of mental organization to be able to play.

The "attibutes" that each card can have are COLOR, SHAPE, SHADING, AND QUANTITY. So, for example, a set would include 3 cards that are all red, or 1 green, 1 purple, and 1 red. No other combination will work. However, with four different qualities, you have 81 cards in the deck to make matches from. So, not only are you considering 1 card of each color, you have to find ones that have either all of the same shape, or one of three different shapes (and then again, repeating for both the SHADING and the QUANTITY atributes, also).

Whew...that gives me a headache thinking about it.

You also have to have patience, as anytime to declare a "Set" when there actually isn't one on the board will cost you a point (the same amount you get for finding a "Set"). The guy who won the game that I played managed to win because he never called a bad set, and instead won the "battle of attrition" as everyone else lost a few points here and there for their ill-timed calls of "Set". The game can play relatively quickly with larger groups, and there is a built-in feature that allows the game to expand if everyone agrees that no sets can be found in the current set up.

It should also be noted as there is not a typical amount of player interaction with this game. To an outsider observing the game and not knowing the purpose, it can look like 5 or 6 people sitting around a table all suffering from a bad case of AP (or indigestion). This game can be played comfortably by a casual gamer or a serious hardcore gamer.

Overall, though, I like this game, and recommend it. It can play relatively quickly with 4 or 5 people, requires a level of patience and visual accuity, and has a very easy and quick learning curve. Because I have not tried it with younger children, I cannot make any presumptions about whether younger players would enjoy it; however, it is my understanding that this game is used in the educational system by some teachers. This game earns a 7 out of 10.
 
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Got two game tables and a microphone
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If you think this is tough, try Jungle Speed...
 
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Alexander B.
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daveroswell wrote:
If you think this is tough, try Jungle Speed...


Not really comparable... Jungle Speed is about quick pattern matching and reflexes; Set is about a much deeper kind of pattern analysis and has no reflex component at all (you say "Set" verbally and don't have to grab anything). Set is about a combinatorial kind of analysis rather than simple matching: big diff.

Games that are a bit similar to Set in terms of this deeper level of pattern work include: On the Dot and Carrousel.
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j b Goodwin

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This is an awesome game which is easily explained. However, it takes a few moments for the complications to set in. Once you get the gist of what's going on, it's a game you can play with all different kinds and ages of people, because you can't necessarily tell who's going to be good at this. It's not unusual to see a child destroy an adult in this game, and I've seen good, aggressive players reduced to whimpering hulks by this game.

It's very fun, but it's very intense--inside your head. We've always joked about this game making your head explode, and I'm sort of glad to see it wasn't just us.

If you like this game and want a few slightly different twists on a theme, try Toppo, Twitch and Mixup. Don't forget the aspirin.
 
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Arthur
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chrisnd wrote:
There is no strategy to this game, and it is highly random.


These are the last two things I would say about Set. Maybe the strategy isn't a kind you are used to, but even bad players get better and better as they play more. There's not strategy in the traditional sense, but it is not devoid of strategy either.

Random? Since all players have access to the same cards, I wouldn't say there is a random factor that changes anything. Sure, the cards that come up are random, but during any game, if you play to the end, all cards will come up. Unless someone is waiting for a combination of three certain cards - a very stupid thing - the order in which the cards come up changes nothing.
 
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Christopher Seguin
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OldestManOnMySpace wrote:
chrisnd wrote:
There is no strategy to this game, and it is highly random.


These are the last two things I would say about Set. Maybe the strategy isn't a kind you are used to, but even bad players get better and better as they play more. There's not strategy in the traditional sense, but it is not devoid of strategy either.

Random? Since all players have access to the same cards, I wouldn't say there is a random factor that changes anything. Sure, the cards that come up are random, but during any game, if you play to the end, all cards will come up. Unless someone is waiting for a combination of three certain cards - a very stupid thing - the order in which the cards come up changes nothing.


I guess I should clarify.

I say there is no strategy in the sense that you cannot "plan out your next 2, 3, or 4 moves", which is a prototypical strategy technique. "Improvement"...

OldestManOnMySpace wrote:
even bad players get better and better as they play more.


...is not the same as "strategy". Sure, I got better as my first game progressed, because I managed to figure out how to create predictible patterns. I don't know if that is strategy in the classical sense (ala BattleLore).

By randomness, I mean the shear variability of the cards. Sure, everyone gets to see the same cards, but that does not in any way elimate, or even reduce, the randomness. The fact that 81 completely different cards can appear in any order at any time defines it as a HIGH RANDOM FACTOR.

So, I guess I should have defined it better.
 
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M@tthijs
Netherlands
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It's a great game.
Only downside is: all players will turn silent and are all 100% focused on the cards. That kinda ruins the social part of being together and playing games.
So this game regularly hits the table. But it always stays on short.

(Sidenote - variant: try playing Set with a couple of friends at the end of a gaming evenening or other gathering. When everyone had a couple of beers)
 
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