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Groups of game elements that together provide more benefits than they do individually.

To encourage players to collect certain combinations of game elements, games can have rules that define some combinations as Sets that either let players win games when they have collected them, determine the winner based on enumerated list of Sets when gameplay ends, or give bonuses when all used together.


Mahjong is played until a winning hand is achieved by a player, and this hand consists of a combination of the various categories of Sets possible (Pongs, Kongs, Chows and Eyes). The score received for the winning hand depends on the combination of Sets and since one receives extra points for certain combinations this can be viewed as a type of Sets also. The much simpler Card Game Go Fish uses Sets similarly to end game instances.

Poker and its derivatives (e.g. Guts and Texas Hold'em) make use of different types of Sets which have an internal ranking against each other and which is used to determine winners when necessary. No Thanks! is another Card Game that uses Sets differently; any series of cards (including only two cards) lets players only count the lowest card when scoring (the goal is to received as few points as possible).

Sets are typically found in Computer-based Roleplaying Games such as the Diablo series, the Dragon Age series, and Torchlight. Here they exist as groups of game items, typically armor or pairs of weapons, that when all equipped provide

Using the pattern

Sets exist in two main ways in games: either as ways of defining end conditions or defining scores or ranking when the end conditions has been met, or as game elements that can provide Improved Abilities when used together.

The first use of Sets is typically done through defining groups of Cards or Tiles that have some common characteristic to be Sets. Mahjong and Go Fish uses this to end the game when a player has a Hand consisting only of sets (the hands may consists of Tiles, and may partial or wholly be public to the other players). When Poker rounds ends with a somebody having matched the last bet; here the various Sets possible (e.g. one pairs, two pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, etc.) determine the winner. No Thanks! ends when all Cards have been taken some the players and here Sets lets players avoid getting points for all Cards they have that form consecutive series except for the lowest one in the series. Yahtzee shows that use of several Dice can be the basis for collecting Sets as well. Games that make use of Sets for rankings or scoring typically also make use of Tiebreakers.

Sets that provide Improved Abilities typically consists of Game Items, and can be seen as Combos of the actions of having picked them up or equipped them. What constitutes these Sets can be any type of Game Items that can be used, e.g. Tools or Weapons, but the perhaps most common use is different pieces of Armor or clothing. Games designed to provide these types of Sets may wish to consider the randomness with which different parts of the Sets are made available through for example Loot and Trading.

Regardless of if the Sets are used for scoring or providing bonus effects, game designers have the option of making the relations between different types of Sets follow Arithmetic, Geometric, or Discontinuous Progression.

Diegetic Aspects

It is difficult for Sets to be perceived as such if they do not diegetically match, that is Sets need to have Thematic Consistency with each other even if other parts of the game break this.


Sets are a way of modulating Game Items by making certain combinations of these have additional effects to those they have individually. Quite naturally, this creates Collection goals of several Gain Ownership goals, and as players near completion of these sets can give rise to Anticipation.

As mentioned above, using Sets of several different Game Items together to gain additional bonuses are examples of Combos. These types of Sets are also typically Optional Goals.


Can Instantiate

Anticipation, Collection, Combos, Gain Ownership, Improved Abilities

with Game Items

Optional Goals

Can Modulate

Game Items, Hands

Can Be Instantiated By

Armor, Cards, Dice, Thematic Consistency, Tiles, Tools, Weapons

Can Be Modulated By

Arithmetic Progression, Discontinuous Progression, Geometric Progression

Possible Closure Effects

Potentially Conflicting With


New pattern created in this wiki.