Mag's Set Solitaire

This is a simple game of solitaire using an ordinary deck of SET® cards. Like most solitaire card games, there is a good deal of luck involved, but there is at least some strategy involved in this one.


One deck of SET® cards, and enough room to lay out 9 piles of cards.

Basic Rules

Lay out 9 cards face up. (I put them in a 3x3 pattern, but it doesn't matter.) These are the start of 9 piles. If there are any Sets, remove the cards that make up the Sets. If two or more Sets involve one common card, only one of those Sets may be removed.

Lay out 9 more cards on top of the piles. Continue removing any Sets you find. If removing a Set uncovers other cards, continue looking for Sets using the newly visible cards.

Whenever you empty a pile completely, you may -- but are not required to -- move a card to it from the top of another pile.

You may examine the cards that are beneath the top card in a pile, but you may not remove them until the cards above them have been either removed in Sets or moved to empty piles.

Repeat for 9 rounds, until the SET® deck is empty.

How You Win

The goal for the game is to make as many Sets as possible. You "win" if you finish with 9 or fewer cards left on the table.

Possible Strategies

Empty piles are important, because they afford you the opportunity to make Sets with the cards that are further down in all the other piles. Having more cards usually means making more Sets. So I leave empty piles empty, except when I move cards into them expressly for the purpose of making a Set with a card(s) I uncover. My thinking is that (with the next 9 cards) if there is only one card on that pile, it may be more likely to end up empty again. The tradeoff is that I could have made one of the other piles a little smaller.

If there are two Sets that have a card in common, I look at the cards underneath them before removing one of the Sets. Maybe one is a better choice than the other, such as if a new Set is possible using the cards underneath, or if a pile can be emptied.

A Variation

Try it with the restriction that you're not allowed to examine cards below the top cards on the piles. Intuition suggests that this variation would be harder to win, but I haven't tried it, so I'm not sure.

mag and judd