Today’s Major FUN Award goes to a SET, a card game of perception and logic for one or more players, age six and up.
SET is such a fun challenge, so absorbing, so elegantly designed that it got the Major Fun award even though it’s not really a party game (though, conceivably, there’s no upper limit to the number of players), or a particularly new game (it was invented about twenty-five years ago) or the kind of game that makes you laugh.
Each card has from one to three symbols of one of three different shapes, of one of three different colors, either outlined, shaded or solid. This outlined, shaded or solid bit makes for yet another complication, so the SET makers, if I may so designate them (actually, it’s SET Enterprises) have thoughtfully packaged the cards in two separate decks. The smaller deck contains just the solid (“filled”) symbols, and is, consequently, much easier to play with.
The game begins by laying out twelve cards, face -up. Simultaneously, players compete to find three cards that comprise a SET. A SET is: “three cards in which each of the card’s features, looked at one-by-one, are the same on each card, or, are different on each card.” My wife understood this immediately. After playing several rounds, I discovered myself understanding it (I could find SETs) but still not being able to verbalize exactly what a SET is. Apparently, it’s one of those left-right brain things. Which is key to why this game is so compelling. And why it works so well with even school-age kids. And why it’s won so many awards. Including the coveted Major Fun award.
Also, because the design is so elegant, it invites variations, several of which, including a cooperative version (always my favorite) are described on the SET site.
SET Enterprises also offers a daily puzzle. It’s a great way to get a sense of the game, and a genuinely absorbing challenge in and of itself.
SET is a great family game, a great game for school kids, an equally great game for adults, to play by yourself or at a party, or in a restaurant… Challenging. Elegant. Most truly Major FUN Award-worthy.