How to Play Sorry Board Game: Simple Explanation

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Last updatedLast updated: April 21, 2021
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Board games are a fun pastime that can be played both indoors and outdoors to brighten up the mood while bonding with your family and friends. Sorry! is among the popular board games that support more than one participant and is suitable for players from the age of 6 years. It was created by Parker Brothers as a simplified version of Parcheesi which is based on the ancient Pachisi game . In this article, we have provided a detailed explanation of how to play Sorry board game, including the rules and the maximum number of participants allowed in a single session.

You will also find comprehensive information on the game set-up, how long it takes to play it, useful gameplay strategies, and the accessories that are included to offer you more playing options. Besides that, we have featured all the available variants that you can adopt or customize once you learn how to play Sorry board game.

General information

How to Play Sorry Board Game: Simple Explanation

Sorry board game comes with an instruction manual and gaming pieces which consist of a board, a pack of cards with no number 6s or 9s and four pawn sets in 4 different colors, with each set featuring 4 pawns.

Main objective

According to the official Sorry rules, the objective of the Sorry game is to be the first player to move the 4 pawns assigned to you from your START space to your HOME space, which is considered a safe zone, by using moves dictated by the cards you will draw from the deck.

Number of players

The board game accommodates 2 to 4 players in a single session.

Recommended age

Sorry! board game is designed for players aged at least 6 years, making it one of the best family card games that accommodate young and older participants.

Session lasts for

A single Sorry board game session lasts for approximately 30 minutes.

The set-up

The game starts with each player selecting four pawns in one color and placing them on the START space that corresponds to that color.

Next, shuffle the pack of cards and make a draw pile by putting the deck face down on “Place Pack Here”.

Choose the first player to go first; this could either be the youngest participant or the player with the highest card draw who is referred to as “The Leader”.

The pawns move clockwise across the board and the play advances to the left. Sometimes, the instructions might require you to move the pawns backwards instead of in a clockwise direction.  If you want your own set, we recommend the Retro Series Sorry! 1958 Edition Game which comes with a full-sized board, 16 wooden pawns and a Sorry! deck of cards with retro graphics.

How to Play Sorry Board Game: Simple Explanation

Gameplay

Starting pawns: You may only start a pawn out by drawing a 1 or 2 card. If you draw any other card, you discard it and forfeit your turn. Move the pawn to your circle if you draw 1, or move the pawn in the circle and draw again if it is a 2 card.

Moving pawns: Pawns may slide, move backwards or jump and bump other pawns to avoid two pawns occupying the same space which the rules forbid. Depending on the number of moves you have, you may bump an opponent’s pawn to its START zone, jump over it if it is in your path, or lose your turn if the only move you have would land you in a space already occupied by your own pawn. 4 and 10 are the cards that allow you to move backwards. We have explained the rules that govern backward movement and sliding under the Board section in our guide on how to play the Sorry board game.

You must move whenever you can, even if it works against you, because you lose your turn if you cannot move. If the Draw Pile runs out, shuffle the discarded pile and reuse those cards.

Who wins?

The winner is the first player to get all their four pawns to the HOME space that matches the color of their pawns. The winner also starts the next Sorry game session.

The board

Board games come with boards that vary in their design according to the gameplay and accessories. In this section, we will explain the different zones on the board and the legal moves allowed on it.

START: This is the area where players place their four pawns with corresponding colors at the beginning of the game. It features a colored circle in front of it that does allow for placement of two pawns at the same time. If your opponent’s pawn is in your circle, bump it to its START zone.

HOME: This is your destination. You achieve the objective of the game by moving all your pawns to this zone.

Slide: These zones are in different colors and feature a triangle. If the card you have drawn lands you on a slide zone of your own color, place the pawn on that triangle. However, if the card lands you on a different-colored triangle, you may advance the pawn by sliding to the end and bumping any pawn, including your own, in your path back to their respective START zones. You should only slide on triangles that differ from your own color, regardless of the drawn card that landed you there.

Safety zone: They are similar but larger than slide zones. They also feature different colors and participants may only enter their own safety zones which match their pawn colors. A pawn cannot enter a safety zone through a backward move but it can move backwards out of the zone if the card permits it, and back into the zone on the next turn. Otherwise, all the other rules we have discussed are applicable in the safety zone.

The cards

How to Play Sorry Board Game: Simple Explanation

To understand how to play sorry board game, it is important to learn the cards and the values they represent.

  • 1: This card starts a pawn out or moves it one space forward.
  • 2: Apart from 1, this is the only other card allowed as a starting card. It also moves a pawn forwards by two spaces and lets you draw again.
  • 3, 5, 8: These cards advance the pawns forwards according to the spaces dictated by the number on the card. For instance, 5 moves a pawn five spaces forward.
  • 4 and 10: These are the only cards that are used for backward movement. 4 moves a pawn four spaces backward while 10 moves it either one space backward or ten spaces forward.
  • 7: This card advances a pawn seven spaces forward or splits this move between two of your pawns. If part of the split move lands a pawn HOME, the remaining balance of that move should be able to advance another one of your pawns.
  • 11: If you draw this card, you can move a pawn 11 spaces forward or switch one of your pawns with one of your opponent’s. If the two scenarios are not possible, then you forfeit your turn. Please note that card 11 is only applicable for pawns that are not in Start, Home and Safety zones, and you can slide if you switch and land on a different-colored triangle.
  • 12: It moves a pawn forward by 12 spaces. You may move a pawn in your START zone to a space occupied by an opponent’s pawn by bumping the latter to its START or else you forfeit your turn.

Variations

All the regular Sorry rules apply in the following variations with a few exceptions which we have noted below.

Team variation

One of the variations of the Sorry rules is the color code for team identification. In a team of 4 players, blue is paired with green while yellow pairs with red. Other exceptions that differ from official rules include:

1 and 2 can move the pawn of either partner in a team.

You may use 7 to split the moves between your own pawns and your teammate’s pieces.

Any partner in a team can move any of the 8 pieces for the two teammates.

You must use Sorry cards for legal switches with either the opposing team’s pawns or your own team’s pawns.

The winning team is the first one to get all their 8 pawns to their respective HOME zone.

Point-based variation

To make the game more exciting and challenging for adults, there is a variant of Sorry rules where players win by points agreed upon prior to the game. In this version, you place three pawns on the START zone and your fourth pawn on the colored circle.

Shuffle the deck and allocate five cards to each participant and then turn the draw pile face down. Participants play one card per turn and then discard it before drawing a new one. You also draw a replacement and forfeit your turn if the card you had drawn cannot move a pawn.

The winner is the first player to move all their four pawns to their respective HOME zone. The points are assigned as follows;

5 points for every opponent’s pawn that is not HOME

25 points if none of your opponents has moved more than two pawns HOME

50 points if none of your opponents has more than one pawn HOME

100 points if none of your opponents’ pawns have reached HOME

Sorry Fire and Ice board game

This version features fire and ice which were included in the 2013 edition  of the Sorry board game. Ice freezes a pawn to prevent it from being moved or removed during a gaming session while fire allows you to move your pawn quickly before your turn. Hasbro Sorry A5065 Sorry Board Game comes with 44 cards. 12 pawns and 2 power-up tokens.This variant deals each player three pawns.

How to Play Sorry Board Game: Simple Explanation

Other exceptions you should keep in mind as you learn how to play Sorry fire and ice board game are that any card with a positive number can start out a pawn, 2 does not let you draw again and a Sorry card allows you to advance forwards by four spaces.

Sorry Sliders board game       

For this version, gaming tools include two-sided boards, score boards, tracks, side rails, roller pawns and scoring pawns. Participants can choose from four different games, and the winner is the first player to have all their four scoring pawns HOME.

Final thoughts

Sorry board game is similar to a Backgammon set and other games that involve luck and strategy, but it differs in the actual gameplay and the number of participants and accessories, among other features. Now that you are familiar with the Sorry rules and the various versions available, you can look forward to an exciting game that you can adjust to match the age and number of the intended players.

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