For most people, I think the real Set game is probably most appropriate, since 6 year olds can get the hang of the adult version and Set Junior isn’t really that fun of a game to play with preschoolers. However, if you have preschoolers who might want to play too, there is a definite advantage to having this little kid version. Read on for a full comparison of Set vs. Set Junior.
Product: Set Junior
Company: SET Enterprises
Recommended Age Range: 3+
Price Range: ~$10
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Comments: You know how some games just seem “smart” (like chess)? To me, Set is one of those games. I first learned about Set when I saw my incredibly brilliant and amazing college roommate playing by herself in our dorm room freshman year. We played together for awhile (I lost badly) and I fell in love. I ended up buying my own set so I could practice on my own. While multiple people can play each other by racing to find sets, it’s also a fun game to play on your own, kind of like Solitaire, but more satisfying.
I loved Set so much that when my oldest was about 4, I bought him this Set Junior game that claims to be for kids 3 and up. The adult Set game is just a deck of Set cards. The junior version has a double-sided board. On one side, all kids have to do is match the Set cards to images on the board. Theoretically, it teaches kids HOW to make sets, but that understanding is not really necessary. On the other side of the board, the child can advance to a real Set game. The board is not really needed at all, but the fact that it shows the 12 blank spots to lay out your cards helps the players remember to turn over new cards.
When my son was 4, he had fun playing the beginner/matching side of the board a few times. However, it wasn’t very fun for me (unlike the real Set game) and he lost interest quickly. I was pretty disappointed. We ended up putting it in the closet for a couple years. Now that he’s almost 7, we just brought it out again a week ago. We played the beginner side of the board a couple times and it helped him really understand how to make sets. Then we flipped the board over and tried playing a few real games. He’s not super fast, but he gets it. Instead of racing, we’ve been playing by taking turns finding sets (as the junior version instructions suggest).
I still have the adult version which has more cards in it (80 vs. 27), but I think we’ll stick with the junior version for awhile longer. Why? 1) Having the board to help you lay out the cards really does help us remember to always have 12 cards showing. 2) Having less cards makes the game take less time, which is still a plus at his age. 3) If his 4 year old sister decides she wants to play with us, we can just flip over the board and play an easier game. I’m pretty sure even his 2 year old brother could match the cards to the board.
For all those reasons, Set Junior really is more family friendly for families with young kids. However, it’s never going to be my preschoolers’ top choice. If a family doesn’t have young kids, the adult version of Set would definitely be more than sufficient. There is absolutely no reason why my 6 year old couldn’t be playing the adult version if we made the same modifications (fewer cards and taking turns instead of racing). However, if you have 4 or 5 year olds in your family who might want to play with the bigger kids, this Set Junior game might be right for you.
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I’ve never played the Set board game, but I’ve heard of good things about it and I have a couple kiddos who love playing board games. I think we’ll try Set Jr to start and work our way up :)
If you’ve never played Set, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were underwhelmed by the little kid version, but the grown-up version (which kids can play too) is really satisfying. Whatever you decide, I hope you have fun!