ByJennifer L. Betts
Jennifer L. Betts
Jennifer has been a substitute teacher and paraprofessional in the public schools. For more than 25 years, she has also worked as a tutor for special-needs students.
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Updated April 12, 2022
It's never fun to be sorry--unless you are playing Sorry! that is. Learn how to play Sorry! through a few easy steps. You'll also get several variations of the classic ruleset to change it up.
Simple Instructions for How to Play Sorry!
Sorry! is a classic game played by children around the world. It's easy to set up and only takes about 30 minutes to play the classic rules. The winner is the first player to get all four pawns from the "start" space to the "home" space.
- The Rules of Sorry! Sliders Made Simple
Classic Sorry! Instructions
To get started, everyone selects their color.
- Put your pawns on "start."
- Play starts with the youngest player and moves to the left.
- To start, you draw a card from the Sorry! Deck. You must get a 1 or 2 to move one of your pawns off "start."
- For each turn, draw a Sorry! card and follow the instructions to move around the board.
- Players might move forward or backward a specific number of spaces or switch places with other players.
- Once following the instructions, place the card on the discard pile. (Reshuffle the discard pile when you run out of cards.)
- Gameplay continues until one person gets all of their pawns in their "home" space.
Moving Your Pawn Around the Board
Once your pawn gets on the board, there are several different actions it can take, depending on the card you draw.
- You can jump over another player's pawns to continue moving your designated number.
- If you land on a space occupied by another player, you say "Sorry!" and that pawn gets bumped back to its "start."
- If you will land on an area with your pawn, you can forfeit your turn.
- If you land on a triangle of a slide with another color, you slide down, bumping any other pawns back to start (this includes your own pawns). If it shows your color, you do not slide.
- When a pawn is getting close to "home," it will move into the "safety zone." This is an area only your pawns can enter. No pawns may enter the safety zone backward.
The Sorry! Cards
According to the official ruleset, you can draw 11 different sorry cards on your turn.
- 1 & 2 can move a pawn off of the start or move one pawn forward that many spaces.
- 3, 5, 8, & 12 moves one pawn forward that many spaces.
- 4 moves one pawn backward that many spaces.
- 7 moves one pawn forward that many spaces or can be split between two pawns.
- 10 moves one pawn forward that many spaces or moves one pawn backward one space.
- 11 moves one pawn forward 11 spaces or allows you to swap two pawns. You can forfeit this move if you don't want to switch or move eleven spaces.
- Sorry! takes one pawn from your start and put it in a space occupied by another player. You then move their pawn back to start.
Sorry! Rules Variations for More Fun
There isn't only one way to play Sorry! Families have developed alternative rules to add to the fun of the classic game. Check out a few Sorry! game variations.
Follow all the standard rules except in reverse.
- Start with your pawns lined up in the "safe zone."
- You'll have to move out one pawn at a time because, in this version, you can't jump your own pawns.
- Travel around the board in a counterclockwise direction.
- When you land on a triangle spot of another color, you slide back to the circle.
- The goal is to get all your pawns from the "safe zone" to the "start" spot.
In the points version of the game, the winner is the first player to accumulate a certain amount of points, such as 500, over two or three rounds. Each round ends when one player gets all their pawns "home." The gameplay follows the standard rules with the following exceptions.
- Only three pawns go on "start," and the other one goes on the circle outside start.
- Each player is dealt five cards.
- They use one of the cards in their hand to make a play on their turn.
- They then discard that card and grab a new card, keeping five in their hand.
- If they can't make a move with any cards in their hand, they discard one and grab a new card.
Points are awarded as follows at the end of each round:
- 5 points - To the winner for each opponent's pawn that is not in the "home" space
- 25 points - To the winner if no opponent has more than two pawns in the "home" space
- 50 points - To the winner if no opponent has more than one pawn in the home space
- 100 points - To the winner if no opponent's pawns have reached the home space
The goal in this version is to collect one pawn from each color on the board in your "home" space.
- Any time you land on the same space as another player, you take their pawn and move it into your "home" space.
- If you draw a "Sorry" card, you take the opponent's pawn to your "home" space rather than the opponent's "start" space.
- If you draw an "11" card, you can take any of your pawns stolen by an opponent and place it back at your "start."
You must move at least one of your own color pawns in the home space following standard rules to win.
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Get everyone out of their seats and moving around the table with this active version. This option takes longer than the classic because there are fewer opportunities to move your pawns. Follow the same rules, but the Sorry! cards take on new meanings.
- 1 = Switch seats with any other player
- 2 = Move ahead two spaces
- 3 = Everyone moves one seat to the left
- 4 = Move backward four spaces
- 5 = Move ahead five spaces
- 7 = Everyone moves one seat to the right
- 8 = Move two pawns a total of eight spaces
- 10 = Move backward one space
- 11 = Lose a turn
- 12 = Everyone at the table stands up and walks around the table in a circle, counting to twelve. When you hit twelve, all players take the seat closest to the front of their body.
- Sorry! = Choose two players to switch seats with each other.
If you are the gambling type, make a game of Sorry! into Sorry! slots. Grab snacks, pennies, or anything else you want to gamble with. Play by the normal rules set, but add this twist.
- When you land on a triangle slide, collect two coins or candies from each teammate who has a color on that slide.
- Each time you land on the same square as another pawn, collect one candy or coin from that player.
- When you jump a player, collect one candy or coin from them.
- Each time you get a pawn "home," collect two candies from each player.
- If you get all four of your pawns home, you win two candies from each player.
- Add up all the candies or coins at the end of the game, and the player with the most wins.
Color-Coded Truth or Dare
Players will really be sorry about what they say and do in this fun, mature version. You follow the usual gameplay rules but designate red and yellow spaces as "truth" spaces, then green and blue spaces as "dare" spaces.
- Red truth - Tell a truth about any other player.
- Yellow truth - Tell a truth about yourself.
- Green dare - The player who has a pawn closest to the one you just moved gives you a dare to complete involving gameplay against another player.
- Blue dare - The player who has a pawn closest to the one you just moved gives you a dare to complete involving gameplay that hurts you.
Players must complete a truth or a dare for any space on the game board, not including the "safe zones," with a red, yellow, green, or blue color.
- Truths can be any secret information.
- Dares must involve one move in gameplay, like trading spots with one pawn or moving another player's pawn to home. If you complete a task, you get to move ahead the same number of spaces you just moved. If you don't complete the task, you lose your next turn.
Don't Be Sorry
Classic board games like Sorry! feature simple rules, lots of family fun, and are adaptable to modern versions. Whether you're playing with a group of kids, adults, or both, you won't be sorry you grabbed this board game.
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