Classic Board Games: Sorry!

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November 23, 2013 by briantshock

I’m pretty terrible at board games. All these nerdy board games my friend Mike wants me to play like “Battlestar Galactica” and “Smallworld” and “McWorld” go way over my head. If the rulebook is more than 15 pages or multiple decks of cards are involved, I’m probably too dumb to play it. My brain just isn’t wired that way to promote winning strategies. That’s why I’m instead going to talk about the classic board games I played growing up. Today, I’m not sorry to tell you a little about “Sorry!” (I am sorry for that “joke” though).

The game of friendship killing.

The game of friendship killing.


Published by Parker Brothers, originally trademarked in England in May 1929.

Long before relationships were shattered by Nintendo 64’s Mario Party, people were getting pissed off at each other at a board game called Sorry! It is a pretty simple concept; you’ve got all of your pieces and you need to get them out of your starting area on a lap around the board to your “Home”, or end area. Players cannot occupy the same space along the board; if somebody lands a piece on the space you are currently occupying you get bumped back to start, forcing you to repeat this whole journey again. Each side of the board also has two sets of four or five spaces grouped as a “slide”. If a player lands a piece on the beginning tile of the slide, they get to move to the end of the set, knocking anybody else in the middle of the slide back to their starts. If you can’t tell by now, there’s plenty of opportunity to be royally screwed over.

Movement is handled by drawing from a deck of cards and following the instructions on the card. These cards are numbered from 1 to 12, skipping 6 and 9 because they thought people would get too confused, with additional “Sorry!” cards. These cards mostly involved moving a piece forward the specified number of spaces, but there were a few others that told you to move back, or gave you the option of switching a piece with an opponent’s. The most insidious card was definitely the “Sorry!” card, which let you take a piece from your starting zone and place it on a space occupied by an opponent, sending that poor jerk back to their own start. That’s just a slap in the face!

Therein lies the problem, at least for me. There is absolutely no skill involved in this game. You just draw cards and are forced to carry out those actions. I have very little patience for games of pure luck like this. I enjoyed playing this when I was younger, but I do remember being frustrated by the game being completely driven by luck, with no interference of skill. It’s easy to curse the heavens, blaming the fates for dealing you a rotten hand or giving that kid in the neighborhood you secretly hate the exact card he needs to bump your ass back to the start.

It also can be frustrating to even start the game! The traditional rules say you must draw either a 1 or 2 to move a piece off the starting space. Trouble (with the pop-o-matic bubble) was also like this, forcing you to pop a 6 so you could move your piece out of the start, but at least there your odds were 1 in 6. Actually, I just did the math, and you have like a 13 in 45 chance in Sorry! of drawing a card to let you exit the starting space, but it always seemed worse than that. I guess Trouble is more frustrating in that regard then, but it simply cannot compare to the resentment bred by this game.

Many themed versions of the game have been produced, similar to how every intellectual property under the sun has a version of Monopoly, though it isn’t nearly that ubiquitous. The most bizarre version, in my opinion, is the one based on the Spider-man 3 movie.

Sorry (We made this movie)!

Sorry (We made this movie)!

Overall this game is not that bad. It’s incredibly frustrating, but the time it takes to set up and play is so low you don’t really feel like you’ve lost too much.

FINAL GRADE: 2.5 out of 5 Lost Friendships


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