Homemade Set Game Instructions

My mom is very into "education" at all times, even when having fun and trying to relax. As a kid, she'd let us watch a movie or TV show if it was educational, and she'd try to get us games and other activities that were "brain building". I wasn't so into the concept, thought it was a bit embarrassing that she'd rather we watch "Bill Nye the Science Guy" and "Magic School Bus" instead of WB programming, and that our toy shelf included games like "Mastermind".
That all changed when she got us the game of Set.
Invented by Marsha Falco, a geneticist, in 1974, the game Set is a card game which not only is lots of fun to play, it also develops your right brain and whole brain thinking skills, which is why my Mom loved it. But that's ok- I love to play it too.

Recently I've seen Set at my friends and family when going to visit, and I got reminded how much I used to love the game. But at over 20 dollars for a set locally, I decided that I wouldn't be spending our money on that.

At our recent family get together, my niece and I were playing Set, and Lee walked up to me and asked me how to play. I told him that it was a game for big people, that it would be too hard for him to understand. He persisted and I explained to him that the game is about finding sets. He caught on immediately and spotted a whole bunch of sets that even I hadn't spotted. Then Ike wandered over and found some sets as well!

That finalized it. If both my older kids were able to play Set, and they wanted to play Set, we'd have our own game of Set. And it didn't matter that the game is expensive- I knew it couldn't be too hard to make our own version of the game of Set, and that it would only cost a fraction of the cost of buying the game new.

And so we made our own Set game.

Even if you've never heard of the game of Set, don't worry. I've included instructions as to how to play this game.

Equipment Needed:
1 package index cards, ideally unlined. If using large index cards, you need only 41 cards. If using smaller, you need 81 cards.
3 different colored markers, whose colors differ enough from each other. I used green, red, and blue.
Scissors or a paper cutter if using large index cards.
Ruler if using large index cards (optional).
1 old video cassette case (optional).

1. The game of set has 81 cards. If you have large index cards, measure halfway across, and then cut them, either with scissors or a paper cutter.

2. In every game of Set, you have a card that looks different. You have shapes on the cards that are different colors. I used green, red, and blue shapes. You have 3 different shapes. The standard Set game uses ovals, squiggles, and diamonds. I used hearts, circles, and triangles. You have 3 different amounts- some cards have one of each shape, some have two, and some have three. And each shape is filled in differently- in the standard Set game, there are solids, stripes, and outline. I used outline, polka dots, and stripes.

You want to draw a shape on each card so that you have one card for each combination of all the above. In other words, one card with a single, outlined, blue heart, one card with two outlined, blue hearts, one card with three outlined, blue hearts.
And then the same for striped hearts instead of outlined.
And the same for polka dotted instead of striped or outlined.
As shown below.

And then do the same for blue circles.
And blue triangles.

And then do the same for red hearts, circles, and triangles.
And then do the same for green hearts, circles, and triangles.

I found the easiest way to do this so I didn't get confused and/or forget any cards was to lay out 9 cards, and with the same marker, draw the outline of one column of a single shape, one column of two shapes, and one column of three shapes. Then each row, I filled in, to either leave as just an outline, make polka dots, or make stripes.

I then put that aside and lay out another 9 cards, and using the same marker, did the same thing with the next shape. And then the next shape with the next 9.

And then I'd switch markers and do the 9 cards, then 9 cards, then 9 cards.

And then switch markers and do the 9 cards, then 9 cards, and then the last 9 cards.

A grand total of 9 groups of 9 cards, 3 groups per color.

3. I gathered up all the cards, and wrote SET across the back, so that when we have another card game made out of index cards (I already made another, will show you it soon enough), you can tell the games apart just by looking at the back.

4. I used an old video cassette case that I found in the trash to be the case to hold my game of set. I opened it up, slid out the paper with the movie title, and slipped in the word SET into the spine. I'll probably decorate it some more in the future, or maybe not.
If you don't have a video cassette case, its fine. Just find something to store it in, because just rubber banding it together will likely make the cards get ruined faster.

5. I'd like to laminate these cards at some point (my friends have a lamination machine that they said I could use), just so they last longer, but even if I don't, these are still durable enough, as index cards are somewhat thick and therefore won't rip or crumple as easily as if these were from regular paper.

That's it! That's all you need to make your own game of Set.

Now how to play-
Basic Set Game Instructions:
(There are variations to the game, but this is the basic game. I've included a link to the instructions to the variations below.)

1. The object of the game is to find as many sets as possible.

2. To play the game, you lay out 9 cards on a flat surface.

3. If playing solitaire, you look for sets on your own. If playing with other people, each person tries to look for a set. As soon as they see a set, they call out "set", show the set to the other people so they can confirm that it is, in fact, a set. If it is a set, you put it aside in your designated pile.

4. After picking up a set, replace those three cards with three more cards from the deck, so that there always are at least 9 cards down at all times.

5. If everyone playing agrees that you can't find any sets among the 9 cards, add another 3.

6. If you still can't find a set among those 12 cards, add another 3.

7. When you finally find sets, don't replace those three cards you picked up if you have more than 9 cards down.

8. At the end of the game, the person who has collected the most sets wins. If you're playing solitaire, if you can't find any more sets when there are 12 cards down, the game is over.

Ok, so I've written how to make the game, how to play the game, but what exactly is a set?

A Set Is:
So, remember when we were making the cards, I said what each card should look like?

Well, there are 4 characteristics found on each card:
1) Shape- is it heart, circle, or triangle? (Or in the original game, oval, squiggle, or diamond.)

2) Color- is it red, green, or blue? (In the original, purple, green, red.)

3) Filling- is it an outline only, dotted, or striped? (In the original, outlined, filled, or striped.)

4) Amount- is there one, two, or three shapes on each card?

To make a set, you need three cards that- in all four characteristics, are either all the same, or all different.

For example, you can have a set 3 cards- one single, blue, striped circle, two blue striped circles, and three blue striped circles. In that set, all of them are exactly the same in their shape (circle), color (blue), and filling (stripe), but their amount differs. 

Or you can have a set that is all different- one single, red outlined heart, two striped blue circles, and three dotted blue triangles. In this set, all of them have different shapes, colors, fillings, and amounts.

The rule of sets is- if two are the same and one is different, (whether in shape, color, amount, or filling), its NOT a set. If all three are the same, or all three are different, in ALL the aspects, then it's a set.

Here's examples of different sets I got when playing.

All different. Three blue striped circles, two green outlined hearts, one red dotted triangle.

Two aspects (shape, filling) the same, the others (color, amount) different. All striped. All triangles. One red, two blue, and three green.

One aspect the same- amount. The rest (color, shape, filling) different. All three. Red dotted circles. Green outlined triangles. Blue striped hearts.

Three aspects similar (color, filling, amount), one aspect different (shape). All three, blue, outlines. Hearts, circles, triangles.

Two aspects similar (shape and amount). Two aspects different. All one heart. Red dotted, blue striped, green outlined.

Two aspects similar (shape, filling), two aspects different (amount, color). All dotted triangles. One green, two red, three blue.

Two aspects similar (amount, filling), two aspects different (shape, color). All two outlined. Red heart, green triangle, blue circle.

One aspect similar (filling), 3 aspects different (shape, color, amount). One green circle, two blue triangles, three red hearts.

Now that you (hopefully) understand how to find sets and how to play the game, here are variations of the game- alternative Set game rules.

Total cost for my project- I bought my index cards from a more expensive place- it cost me 5 dollars for 200, of which I used 40. Total cost- 1 dollar. Instead of the 20 it would have cost me in the store. If you can get index cards cheaper than that, this game will cost you even less.

Hopefully you'll enjoy this game as much as I do, especially now that you know how you can make it for a fraction of the price of the store bought version.

Have you ever heard of the game Set before? Have you ever played it? Are you a fan of the game? Are your kids? Do you own it? How much did it cost you?
Do you think you'll try out making this game at home? Why or why not? Does this seem like the type of game you or your kids would enjoy?
Have you made your own version of popular games before?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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