Sorry! (game)

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Sorry diamond edit.jpg
Older edition
Publisher(s)W H Storey & Co
Parker Brothers
Winning Moves Games
Setup time1–5 minutes
Random chanceHigh (Cards)
Skill(s) requiredCounting, Tactics, Strategy, Probability

Sorry! is a board game that is based on the ancient cross and circle game Pachisi. Players try to travel around the board with their pieces (called pawns) faster than any other player. Originally manufactured by W.H. Storey & Co in England and now by Hasbro, Sorry! is marketed for two to four players, ages 6+. The game title comes from the many ways in which a player can negate the progress of another, while issuing an apologetic "Sorry!"


The objective is to be the first player to get all four of their coloured pawns from their start space, around the board (sometimes "backward"; see below) to their "home" space. The pawns are normally moved in a clockwise direction but can be moved backward if directed. Movement of pawns is directed by the drawing of a card.

The board game is laid out in a square with 16 spaces per side, with each player assigned his or her own coloured Start location and Home locations offset towards the centre, one per side. Four five-square paths, one per colour, lead from the common outer path towards a player's Home and are designated his or her "Safety Zone". On each side are two "Slides", grouping four or five spaces each.

Older versions of Sorry! contain a coloured "diamond space" directly one space back from each start square, with the rules stating that a pawn of the diamond's colour may not move forward over this square. Instead, a player of that colour must diverge from the outer space square towards his or her "Home". However the diamond and corresponding rule were removed from subsequent print. If you happen to get a card and land on an opponent, that pawn goes back to start


William Henry Story of Southend-on-Sea filed for a patent for the game in England, where it was registered as a trade mark on 21 May 1929 (UK number 502898). It was subsequently sold in the United Kingdom by Waddingtons, the British games manufacturer who sold it from 1934.[1][2]

In the United States, U.S. Patent 1,903,661 was filed for Sorry! on Aug 4, 1930 by William Henry Storey. A Canadian patent followed in 1932.[3] The US patent was issued on April 11, 1933. Sorry! was adopted by Parker Brothers in 1934. Hasbro now continuously publishes it.

Classic rules[edit]

Rule 1: Each player chooses four pawns of one colour and places them in his or her Start. One player is selected to play first.

Rule 2: Each player in turn draws one card from the deck and follows its instructions. To begin the game, all of a player's four pawns are restricted to Start; a player can only move them out onto the rest of the board if he or she draws a 1 or 2 card. A 1 or a 2 places a pawn on the space directly outside of start (a 2 does not entitle the pawn to move a second space).

Rule 3: The Relaxation Start: When a young player is playing, especially when learning the game of Sorry!, a relaxation is offered in allowing one of their pawns to begin the game already on the board, on the space directly outside their Start, as the tedium of waiting for a 1 or a 2 can be wearisome even for experienced players.

Rule 4: A pawn can jump over any other pawn during its move. However, two pawns cannot occupy the same square; a pawn that lands on a square occupied by another player's pawn "bumps" that pawn back to its own Start. Players can not bump their own pawns back to Start; if the only way to complete a move would result in a player bumping his or her own pawn, the player's pawns remain in place and the player loses his or her turn.

Rule 5: If a pawn lands at the start of a slide (except those of its own colour), either by direct movement or as the result of a switch from an 11 card or a Sorry card, it immediately "slides" to the last square of the slide. All pawns on all spaces of the slide (including those belonging to the sliding player) are sent back to their respective Starts.[4]

Rule 6: The last five squares before each player's Home are "Safety Zones", and are specially coloured corresponding to the colours of the Homes they lead to. Access is limited to pawns of the same colour. Pawns inside the Safety Zones are immune to being bumped by opponents' pawns or being switched with opponents' pawns via 11 or Sorry! cards. However, if a pawn is forced via a 10 or 4 card to move backwards out of the Safety Zone, it is no longer considered "safe" and may be bumped by or switched with opponents' pawns as usual until it re-enters the Safety Zone.

2013 Edition rule changes[edit]

[citation needed]

In the 2013 Edition, several rules were changed. Each player only has three pawns. A pawn can be moved out from Start upon any positive number card. A Sorry! card gives the alternative option of moving forward 4 spaces. The 2 card no longer allows one to pull another card.

Furthermore, two additional items known as Fire and Ice were added, and depending on which card is drawn, can be placed on certain pawns on the board, modifying the playing rules for those pawns. In short, fire gives a pawn the ability to move ahead quickly before the player's turn, and ice stops a pawn from being moved (or removed from play) at all.

There are some corner cases that are not well explained in the rules, such as "What happens to fire if one pawn removes the pawn with fire by landing on its square?". Should the fire be set back to out of play, or should it transfer to the attacking pawn?

Classic cards and function[edit]

The modern deck contains 45 cards: there are five 1 cards as well as four each of the other cards (Sorry!, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12). The 6s or 9s are kept out to avoid confusion. The first edition of the game had 44 cards (four of each) and the extra 1 card was soon introduced as an option for quicker play.[5] A 1996 board from Waddingtons had 5 of each card.

Cards are annotated with the following actions:

1 Move a pawn from Start or move a pawn one space forward.
2 Move a pawn from Start or move a pawn two spaces forward. Drawing a two entitles the player to draw again at the end of his or her turn. If the player cannot use a two to move, he or she can still draw again.
3 Move a pawn three spaces forward.
4 Move a pawn four spaces backward.
5 Move a pawn five spaces forward.
7 Move one pawn seven spaces forward, or split the seven spaces between two pawns (such as four spaces for one pawn and three for another). This makes it possible for two pawns to enter Home on the same turn, for example. The seven cannot be used to move a pawn out of Start, even if the player splits it into a six and one or a five and two. The entire seven spaces must be used or the turn is lost. You may not move backwards with a split.
8 Move a pawn eight spaces forward.
10 Move a pawn ten spaces forward or one space backward. If none of a player's pawns can move forward 10 spaces, then one pawn must move back one space.
11 Move eleven spaces forward, or switch the places of one of the player's own pawns and an opponent's pawn. A player who cannot move 11 spaces is not forced to switch and instead can forfeit the turn. An 11 cannot be used to switch a pawn that is in a Safety Zone.
12 Move a pawn twelve spaces forward.
Sorry! card Take any one pawn from Start and move it directly to a square occupied by any opponent's pawn, sending that pawn back to its own Start. A Sorry! card cannot be used on an opponent's pawn in a Safety Zone. If there are no pawns on the player's Start, or no opponent's pawns on any squares outside Safety Zones, the turn is lost.


Players who have a pawn that has not moved too far away from its start area, and draw a card that allows them to move a pawn backward, can (and should) elect to move this pawn backward. Move a pawn in such a situation backward enough, and the pawn is suddenly almost home.

The 7 can be split; it is often possible to do so such that one of the pieces ends up on a slide, thus increasing the value of this card. It also provides an additional opportunity for pawns to get Home, so long as there's another pawn on the board to use up the remaining spaces.

All other things being equal, moves that cause a pawn to end up in front of an opponent's start square are poor choices, due to the high number of cards that allow that opponent to enter. Some feel that leaving a pawn on one's own square just outside "Start" (also known as the "Dot") is a poor position to be in since new pawns are blocked from entering play.

There are numerous strategies and tactics employed by skilled players. One such strategy is to leave the last pawn in the "Start" square and move the other pawns around the board while waiting for a "Sorry" card.

Another smart move requires two pawns in play: While marching one pawn around the board, a player can leave a second pawn near "Start" (within two squares of the dot) and wait for the 4 card to be drawn and moving the second pawn into position to run quickly "Home".

Due to the 11 (switching places), 4 (moving backwards, as noted above), and "Sorry" (allowing the player to send virtually any pawn back to its start) cards, the lead in the game can change dramatically in a short amount of time; players are very rarely so far behind as to be completely out of the game. This should be considered when playing a "Sorry" or an 11.

Slowing the game down is a risky yet effective move when given the opportunity. Essentially, when a player has the chance to switch with or hit the apparent leader, even though the move will not be to the player's immediate advancement around the board, the move should be made to keep the leader out of "Safety" and more importantly, out of "Home".


Players can elect to play the game in two teams of two. The team pairings are always colours on opposite sides of the board (i.e. Red and Yellow vs. Blue and Green). The game is then played as if two players had eight pawns each: for example, the yellow player may move a red pawn for any legal move. A 7 card could be split between a yellow pawn and a red one but can still be split between no more than two pieces. However, a partner's pawns are not "bump-proof": if yellow were to draw a Sorry! card with only red pawns on the board, or land on a red pawn's occupied space, yellow would have to bump its teammate.

Once one of the partners has played all of his or her pieces into home, he continues to draw and play cards on his or her turn, if possible, for his or her partner. The first partnership to play all eight pieces in its home wins.


A variation with more scope for strategy allows for each player to play the card of his or her choice from a hand of pre-dealt cards.

This variation is played by shuffling a full deck of Sorry! cards, and selecting a dealer. Five cards are dealt face-down to each player. Starting player selection is decided by normal play rules. For each turn, a player picks one card from his or her hand and plays it face up. Normal rules apply. If a 2 is played, he may play another card. Being unable to play a card after playing a 2 card does not warrant the reshuffle rule, however; if able to play another, he must. At the end of the turn, that player picks up however many cards were played face-down. End rules apply. This variation is commonly coupled with point-play, noting that it usually produces faster and more aggressive play. Similar to regular game rules, a player must play a card if able. If a player is unable to play a card (called a dead hand), that player must discard one card and draw another face-down. If the player is able to play a card, the player must do so. If the player is able to play multiple cards, the player may choose freely which one to play.

Another version, similar to the above, involves dealing out the entire deck of cards before play starts. The same rules apply as the previous variation except with a very different strategy. Namely, it forces players to think about when they play certain combinations of cards. For example, if a player's first move is to lay down a 2 followed by a 4, allowing himself to finish on his or her following turn, his or her opponents would probably stop him or her with a Sorry card or an 11, effectively wasting the first player's 2 and 4. Rather than playing a combination like this early in the game, it is often wise to save them until the end, when all the Sorry cards and 11s have been played. Note that players who have 2s in their hand will appear to have fewer cards at the end of each round than players who do not.

Bump 'Em[edit]

Hoyle Table Games is a computer game consisting of 18 board/table games, one of which is Bump 'Em, a game similar to Sorry!. Pawns are represented as bumper cars, and the board follows a path akin to a freeway cloverleaf instead of a regular square. There are no partnerships allowed.

A player takes a turn by taking a ticket from a ticket roll. A roll of tickets consists of five 1s, five 12s, and four each of the other tickets. When all the tickets on a roll have been taken a new roll is loaded. Tickets are randomly ordered on each roll.

  • 1: Move one bumper car out of "pit row" (start) or advance one space
  • 2: Advance two spaces
  • 3: Advance three spaces and take another card
  • 4: Advance four spaces
  • 5: Advance five spaces
  • 6: Advance six spaces or move nine spaces backwards
  • 7: Advance seven spaces or switch places with an opponent
  • 8: Advance eight spaces or split the move between two bumper cars
  • 9: Advance nine spaces or move six spaces backwards
  • 10: Advance ten spaces
  • 11: Advance eleven spaces or move one space backwards
  • 12: Advance twelve spaces or move one bumper car out of pit row
  • Bump 'Em: Similar to the Sorry! card in the traditional game. Take one bumper car currently in pit row. Choose an opponent's car. Take their place and send them back to the pit row. If the player has no cars in the pit row, he must pass.

The board also comes with oil slicks, which act as the Slides! and landing on a person's bumper car will "bump" them back to pit row.

Point play[edit]

Variation rules apply (five cards in hand style play, see "Variation"). The winner is decided by achieving a certain number of points over a span of several games.

Point system goes as follows:

Points Scenario
5 To any player with X number of his or her own pieces in home (X being the number of pieces in home at game's end).
5 To winner for each opponent's piece not in home.
25 To winner if no opponent has more than two pieces in home.
50 To winner if no opponent has more than one piece in home.
100 To winner if no opponent's pieces have reached home.

The winner is decided when one player achieves a set number of points agreed upon by all players before play starts. Variations for faster play include point penalties for certain cards in each player's hand at the end of each set.

Video game[edit]

A electronic gaming version of Sorry! was released in 1998 as a Sorry! computer game. Also, a handheld version was released in 1996.

Versions published[edit]

  • A 1996 board from Waddingtons had 5 of each card.

Basic edition re-releases[edit]

  • Sorry! Nostalgia: First version with diamonds, a version with a different board, wood parts and in a collector's box.
  • Sorry!: Family Game Night Edition.
  • Sorry! Fun on the Run! Edition.
  • Hasbro's Classics: Sorry! Limited edition; contained a new box and with diamonds.
  • Hasbro Adventure!: The Action Pack – with Twister, Connect Four, and Trouble.
  • Sorry! The Greatest Hits: The FULL Pack! – Had 5 editions of the game, chosen randomly.
  • Sorry! 2013 Edition Game

Themed editions[edit]

NOTE: Many of these themed editions have special rules on the 3, 5, 8 & 11 cards that specify special movement rules for players if their colour matches the one named on the card.

Other Sorry!-themed games[edit]

NOTE: These are games that use elements of the basic Sorry! game, but with totally new gameplay.
  • Sorry! Card Revenge: A card game in the style of UNO, but featuring a large electronic pawn that directs certain elements of the game when its head is tapped (via playing a SORRY! card).
  • Sorry Express!: See description below.
  • Sorry! Sliders: A board game where the pawns act as shuffleboard-like tokens using several "target boards".
  • Shakin' Sorry! Dice'n'Grab Edition: Dice-based game, where the object is to roll enough of your colour face to fill your HOME board.
  • Shakin' Sorry!: Had a collectible Sorry Keychain.
  • Sorry! Spin: A twist or spin of the game. Released July 2010.
  • U-Build Sorry: Part of Hasbro's U-BUILD series, which had a Lego-like board that allowed for custom paths, and a modified game goal of "escorting" pawns from the centre of the board to your HOME space.

Sorry! Express[edit]

Parker Brothers has released a travel version of Sorry! called Sorry! Express. The game consists of three dice, four home bases, a start base, and sixteen pawns, four in each colour. Up to four players can play this game. To play, each player takes a home base and sets it on a different colour and all of the pawns are put on the start base no matter how many people are playing. The first person rolls all three dice and gets one of four possibilities for each die:

  1. Colour pawn – The player takes the corresponding colour pawn from the start base and, if it matches up with the colour of his or her home base, puts it in his or her home section. If not, it is put in his or her waiting area. When there are no more pawns of a particular colour in the Start base and a player rolls that same colour, he can take that colour pawn from another player’s waiting area, not his or her Home section.
  2. Sorry! – Take a pawn from the home section of one player’s home base and keep it.
  3. Wild Pawn – The player may take any colour pawn from the Start base or waiting areas (not the Home section of another player) and keep it.
  4. Slide – Change either one's own Home section or someone else’s Home section to a different colour.

The first person to get four pawns of the same colour in their home section wins.


  1. ^ "Search for a trade mark - Intellectual Property Office".
  2. ^ "History".
  3. ^ Office, Government of Canada, Industry Canada, Office of the Deputy Minister, Canadian Intellectual Property. "Canadian Patent Database / Base de données sur les brevets canadiens".
  4. ^ "Scan of Sorry! rules at" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Sorry 1939 Instructions" (PDF).

External links[edit]