Circle Out

It is a distinct pleasure to introduce you to a new card game called “Circle Out.” Distinct, because it’s unique, a pleasure because its most definitely fun. The closest approximation I can come up with is the Major FUN Award-winning card game Set.

Like Set, Circle Out engages both logical and perceptual skills. It’s called Circle Out because the object of the game is to find sequences of cards that can be connected, color to color, the first color matching the last in the sequence, making a circular chain. The longer the chain, the higher the score value (if score is what you’re keeping).

The game begins by laying out 12-16 cards. The first player to find a circular chain (using each color only once per circle), takes the cards from the array, places them in front of her, and then replaces those cards with the same number of cards from the deck. The game continues until the deck, or the players, are exhausted. If you need more graphic clarity, watch this demonstration of the game.

Joseph Lytle, the designer of Circle Out, has a deep appreciation for math and fun. In one of his Youtube videos, called “Splitting the Deck/Circle Out as a Mathematical Curiosity,” he gives us a taste of the some of the more hidden properties of the deck. For more background, here’s Mr. Lytle expostulating on the inspiration for the game, which, oddly enough, has to do with a meditation on economics.

Lytle describes another variation of the game, which, in turn, helps us realize that the game is elegant enough to invite yet more variations – always a sign of a game that will prove high in replay value.

Recommended for 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, Circle Out can engage the entire family. Prepare to be surprised by who will prove better at the game. The skills required have little to do with education or maturity, which explains a lot about why Circle Out has earned a Major FUN Award.

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