Recognize the board game pictured? There are several variations of the actual board used for the game, however the general premise is the same to get the marbles out of the base position around the board and into their home spot first. The most aggravating part of the game is when an opponent knocks off a marble and returns it to the base position. In fact the most frustration in the game happens when the marble has traversed the entire board and is sitting there waiting for a one to be rolled and it gets knocked off. If you haven’t guessed by now the game is called Aggravation. The act of knocking off a marble and sending it back to it’s base is called “aggravating”, hence the name “aggravation”. It is a game based on chance with some skill and strategy.
The board pictured above my grandfather made for my mother around forty years ago. It’s a guess since they didn’t write the year on the board. I have played that game since I was a child and typically I am the red marbles with a pair of red dice, on the rare occasion I play with a different color. As a child I played the game mostly at my grandparents house, and with my grandfather. We would spend hours playing. It was great because we learned how to notify the other player about a play they might have not seen without saying it out loud; a throat clear here, a tap of a finger there, or a move of a glass of water closer to the board. As long as a person still had their fingers on a marble they could move it back and take another one to complete a turn. A lot of arguments happened when I would grab one marble and grandpa would tap his finger so I saw the opponents marble that I could aggravate back to their base position. I am not sure if the rule about not “helping a partner” before getting all marbles home applied to everyone or to just grandpa and I. I do recall it came up a lot when he and I played as partners.
The most fun is to introduce someone to the game and have them enjoy playing. It is fascinating to me how soon they will be smiling or snickering when they aggravate my red marble back to its base position. Or how soon it takes for the chant, “get the red ones” to start. I have both won and lost the game by one space.
The other day I was curious about the official rules and found out that there are some online. Each set I ran into varied slightly and varied from the rules that my family uses. For example in my family if you aggravate someone you get ten additional spaces, and partners can’t aggravate each other. In one set of rules I have found there is no mention of either of those rules. I also have never found where it says that one partner can’t help the other during the game. The only thing prohibited is rolling for the other person before all four marbles are home.
Below are the rules that my family has for the game and that I grew up using:
- Each player picks 4 matching colored marbles and places them in their base.
- Each player picks a set of dice.
How to Play:
- Each player rolls their dice to see who has the highest number.
- First player then rolls dice. A 1 or 6 moves one marble from base to the start position. The start position is the space on the corner to the left of the home position.
- A marble is safe on its start position.
- Marbles are safe in their home position.
- Only when a marble is on the board out of the base and home spots is it in play.
- Rolling doubles gets an extra turn. Can only roll 3 sets of doubles in a row.
- You cannot jump over your own marble. For example if I have two red marbles 4 spaces apart and roll a 6, I can’t jump over the lead marble with the one in the back.
- Marbles move clockwise around the board and cannot move backwards.
- Cannot go past your home spaces.
- When you aggravate an opponent that marble moves ten. If it cannot move ten then the next closest marble on the board moves ten. If no marble can go ten it is forfeited.
Team Play Specific Rules:
- Partners cannot aggravate each others marbles
- Partners can roll for each other only when they have all four of their marbles at home.
- Partners are seated across from each other.
- Partners can assist the other with game play during the game.
- If the board has a space in the center a marble can go there by exact count.
- It takes a one to get out of the center space.
- Marbles are not safe in the center space.
Short Cut Play:
- If agreed to a short cut can be taken by players. When you land at the end of the row, on your starting row, you can move around the inside circle on your next turn. Some boards call these the “star space”.
- You can exit from any star space.
We never played the game with teams larger than 2 even when playing with 6 people. I do recall playing the “short cut” game with my grandfather when we didn’t have long to play. The other thing we did was cover the other two sections and just play with the spaces across from each other. It shortened the game and made it a bit more fun with just two people.