Find3 is an addicting visual recognition game. The goal is to find a group of 3 cards (termed a “set”) that have a particular relationship with each other and remove them from the board. New cards are dealt in their place, and you repeat this process until there are no cards left in the deck.

Each card is made up of a collection of symbols defined by 4 different properties. For each property, there are 3 possibilities:

**shape**: circle, square, diamond**color**: blue, red, green**shading**: empty, shaded, filled**number of symbols**: one, two, three

With 3 possibilities over 4 properties, that means there are 3^{4} = 81 possible combinations. The Find3 deck contains each of the 81 cards exactly once.

The goal in Find3 is to identify “sets”. A set is a collection of 3 cards where each of the properties is either **the same on all cards**, or **different on all cards**. For example, if each card in a group of 3 is green, that passes the criteria for the “color” property (this property is the same for all cards). Alternatively, if one card is red, one card is blue, and one card is green, that also passes the criteria (this property is different on all cards). You will need to pass this criteria for *each* of the four properties, not just color! However, if two cards are red and one card is green, then the “color” property fails and these cards can never be a set.

Here’s an example set:

A breakdown of the properties confirms this:

**shape**: circle, diamond, square (all different)**color**: blue, blue, blue (all the same)**shading**: filled, filled, filled (all the same)**number of symbols**: one, two, three (all different)

The game starts by shuffling the deck and dealing 12 of the 81 cards onto the board. Click 3 cards that form a set to clear them from the board, and new cards will be dealt to fill the board back up to 12 cards. If you click 3 cards that do *not* form a set, you will be assessed a **30 second penalty**. The most recently dealt cards will be **slightly darker** to help you keep track. Continue to clear sets from the board until the deck is empty and there are no leftover sets, at which point the game ends and your final time is reported.

At times (with 12 random cards, about a 1 in 25 chance), there will be **no sets on the board**. If you believe there are no sets available, click the “no set” button. If you are correct, 3 more cards will be dealt and the game will continue. If you are wrong, you will be assessed a **10 second penalty** and you still must find the set before you can continue! Pressing the **“hint” button** will reveal a set on the board at the cost of a **60 second penalty**.

Since at least one of the four properties must be different on each card (or else the cards would be identical), sets can fall into a few different categories.

**Only one property is different**: These tend to be among the easier sets to find, because three unchanging properties means the cards look similar enough to draw your eye. Some examples:

**Two properties are different**: While two properties are also still the same, some of these types begin to get harder to see at a glance. Some examples:

**Three properties are different**: Only one property is constant between the cards. Some examples:

**All four properties are different**: With no similar properties at all, these tend to be the hardest sets to find at first. Some examples:

Simply looking for sets by randomly pairing three cards will not help you find sets quickly. Here are some helpful tips to reduce your visual search space and lower those times!

**Look for a lot of one thing:** If the board is full of blue cards, or cards with only one symbol, there is likely to be a set among them, so you can concentrate your initial search there. Color and number tend to be the easiest “bulk” properties to identify, but try to keep an eye out for lots of cards with similar shading and shapes as well!

**Look for very little of one thing:** Similarly, if there is only *one* card that is blue, then there is likely a set (with the “color” property different for all cards) that contains this card. Because it is the outlier, there are likely many red and green cards to choose from that can complement this card’s other properties in different ways to make a set.

**Look for nothing of one thing:** If there are absolutely no blue cards on the board, then you know that there is no possible set where the “color” property is different for all cards. This guarantees that any existing set *must* have a fixed color, and can often cut your search space in half. This can also help you determine that there is “no set” a little more quickly.

**Pick two cards and try to find its missing third:** For any two randomly chosen cards, there is a unique third card that completes the set; if a given property is the same on those two cards, it must also be the same on the third card, and if it is different, then the remaining option must be chosen for the third card. This “fill in the blank” strategy is a good way to identify what *types* of cards you need to look for. For example, if you have some blue squares and some red circles, you can make a quick search for green diamonds and then either further reduce your search or else rule out the possibility those two cards can be in the same set. It also helps to keep a very short mental list of the cards you would *like* to see (“if only I had that missing green diamond”), so if you take a different set and certain cards come up, you can very quickly take another set.

**Focus your search on newly dealt cards:** If you ever click “no set” and get 3 new cards dealt, then any set on the board *must* contain at least one of these newly dealt cards. Despite having 15 cards on the board, these sets tend to be relatively easy to find because your visual search is much more limited. Even when there are only 12 cards on board, it is often the case that there is only 1 or 2 available sets to find, so when you find and remove a set, the newly dealt cards are extremely likely to be involved in your next set. We slightly darken the newly dealt cards to help you keep track.

**If the board is very diverse, look for “all different” sets:** Ideally, your board is slightly more coordinated with certain properties so your visual search can start there. But sometimes the board will be equally spaced with cards of all colors, shapes, and numbers. In this case, your visual search should start by trying to find those pesky sets where all properties are different.

The average time for completing the game for the first time is around 20 minutes. After that, try to make it your goal to beat 10 minutes, which you should be able to manage with a day’s practice or so. Then, keep shooting to break each successive minute barrier. If you can get under 5 minutes, you’re an expert! Good luck!