Each player has his or her own "start" location and "home" location. The objective is to be the first player to get all four pawns from the start square to the home square. Sorry! is played by drawing cards instead of rolling dice. The pawns are normally moved in a clockwise direction, but can be moved backward, if directed. Moving a pawn backward can occasionally be to one's advantage.
Each player chooses four pawns of one color and one player is selected to play first.
Each player in turn draws one card from the stack and follows its instructions. To begin the game, all of a player's four pawns are restricted to Start; only a 1, 2! card can release them to the rest of the board. Playing a 1 or a 2 places a pawn on the space directly outside of start; playing a 2 does not entitle the pawn to a second space (this is ambiguous on the 2007 Hasbro link instructions and the card instructions, but is explicit in the 1972 Sorry! game instructions).
Two pawns cannot occupy the same square. A pawn that lands on a square occupied by another "bumps" that pawn back to its own Start. In most cases, players cannot bump their own pawns back to start. If the only way to complete a move would result in a player bumping themselves, the player just loses their turn.
If a pawn lands at the start of a slide (except those of its own color), it immediately moves to the last square of the slide. All pawns anywhere on the slide (including those of the same color, and including pawns on the "end spots" of the slide) are sent back to their respective Starts.
The last five squares before home are the "safety zone". Access is limited to those pawns of the same color. Pawns inside the zone are immune to any form of forced movement from other players such as Sorry! cards. However, forced backward moves can cause a pawn to exit the zone, and a pawn can only enter home upon exact count: an 8 is unplayable when there are only 3 spaces remaining, for example.
|1||Move a pawn from Start or move a pawn 1 space forward.|
|2||Move a pawn from Start or move a pawn 2 spaces forward. Drawing a 2 entitles the player to draw again at the end of his or her turn, whether the 2 itself can be used or not.|
|3||Move a pawn 3 spaces forward.|
|4||Move a pawn 4 spaces backwards.|
|5||Move a pawn 5 spaces forward.|
|7||Move one pawn 7 spaces forward or split the 7 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 7 cannot be split into a 6 and 1 or a 5 and 2 for the purposes of moving out of Start.|
|8||Move a pawn 8 spaces forward.|
|10||Move a pawn 10 spaces forward or 1 space backward.|
|11||Move 11 spaces forward or switch places with one opposing pawn; if the player cannot move 11 spaces they are not forced to switch and instead can forfeit their turn.|
|12||Move a pawn 12 spaces forward.|
|Sorry! card||Move any one pawn from Start to a square occupied by any opponent, sending that pawn back to its own Start. Nothing happens if there are no opposing pawns on the board or there are no pawns in Start.|
Remember that the 7 can be split; it is often possible to do so such that one of the pieces winds up on a slide, thus increasing the value of this card.
All other things being equal, moves that cause a pawn to wind 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 of "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". This avoids wasted moves.
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. Bear this in mind when deciding whom to victimize with a "Sorry" or an 11 of your own.
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".
Once one of the partners has played all of their pieces into home, they continue to draw and play cards on their turn, if possible, for their partner. The first partnership to play all eight pieces in its home wins.
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, players pick one card from their hand and play it face up. Normal rules apply. If a 2 is played, they 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, they 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 is 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 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 themselves to finish on their following turn, their opponents would probably stop them 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 less cards at the end of each round than players who do not.
Hoyle Table Games, a computer game consisting of 18 board/table games offers a game similar to Sorry! entitled Bump 'Em. Instead of using pawns, the players use bumper cars. There are four teams: red, blue, yellow and green. The board does not move in a regular square, but rather follows a path akin to a freeway cloverleaf. There are no partnerships allowed.
The following cards have the following abilities. There is no specific amount of each card, due to the fact it is a chance by computer.
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 pit row. If you have no cars in pit row, you must pass. You cannot save this card for later, as you would in a traditional Sorry! game.
The board also comes with oil slicks, which act as the Slides! and landing on a persons bumper car will "bump" them back to pit row.
Point system goes as follows:
|5||To any player with X number of their 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|
In addition to normal play, the game provides an extra deck of cards called Way Sorry!. Along with the standard cards, it includes the following:
|Happy||Makes one pawn immune to being moved or attacked for one turn, much like stepping in the Safety Zone. This can cause enemy pawns to be obstructed or simply not allow them to make the best move. It also prevents pawns from sliding, if the invincible pawn is on a slide. Pawns are not eligible for this card if they are in Start or the Safety Zone. This card also allows the player to draw again, much like the 2 card.|
|Punish||Prevents one opponent's pawn from moving for one turn. This does not protect it from being moved or attacked. Cannot be used against a pawn in Start or the Safety Zone; but if the pawn is sent back to Start before its turn comes around, it remains punished. This card allows another draw.|
|Buddy||Moves any pawn on the outside track to the space beside the nearest pawn in either direction.|
|Bully||Moves any pawn on the outside track to the nearest pawn in either direction and bumps it.|
|Way Sorry!||Identical to the Sorry! card. However, with the Way Sorry! card, the player must continue bumping pawns until either the board is cleared of opponents or the player's Start is empty.|
Older versions of Sorry! contain a "diamond space" directly one space back from the start square. This allowed the opportunity for a "10" card to be used in its variation of "one space backwards", thus allowing a freshly entered piece to move backwards one space and onto the diamond. However, once on the diamond, that piece was not allowed to move forward except by force of an opponent's Sorry! or "11" card. That piece would have to remain on the diamond square until the drawing of a 4, 10 (which would be a forced "one space backwards"), or 11 (which would be a forced "switch"). It was always subjected to an opponent's Sorry! or "11 - Switch", and likewise was sent back to start if an opponent landed on the diamond square. Thus, players could pass over other opponents' diamond squares, but never their own.
According to the included rules in several newer editions, the directions state that a player may enter their safety zone by drawing a 4 or 10 card, and moving a fresh piece backwards accordingly. However, a 10 card, moving one space backward, will not allow entry to the safety zone, and is still subject to a forced move. One would need to draw two 10 cards to move a piece into the front of the safety zone.
The original English rules stated that a pawn could not pass over the diamond square (of its own colour). This would seem pretty obvious since otherwise it would be going round again rather than going to "HOME," but it could conceivably be desirable if you could land on someone else's pawn who had nearly won. This did not prevent reaching the diamond square by means of a 10 card, backwards from the "START" square, but later being forced to move forward because no other move was available. As the pawn had not passed onto the square in the forward direction, it had not passed over the square; rather it had reversed onto it.