Aggravation Board Game Rules + Tips So You Don't Lose Your Marbles

Updated May 18, 2022
Kids playing marble board game

The Aggravation board game is a marble race game that can lead to hours of fun for players six and up. Playing Aggravation is pretty simple, from the rules to the strategy for winning. Beyond just the basic rules, find out what makes Aggravation just so aggravating. This game is designed for players six and up; it's a good one for kids and grown-ups to play together.

Getting Aggravation Set Up to Play

Similar to Parcheesi, Aggravation is easy to play and set up by following a few simple steps. Remember, setting up Aggravation shouldn't be aggravating. Players just need to get their marbles set up and begin the game.

  1. Set up the game by having all participants select one of the six colors to be their color.
  2. Each player should grab four marbles (of their color) and place them on their spot on the game board.
  3. Find out which player goes first by having everyone roll the dice. Whoever has the highest number starts the game.
  4. Play continues counterclockwise, so the person sitting to the left of the last player will go next.

Key Aggravation Board Game Rules

Playing Aggravation is fun and easy. When it is your turn, you will roll the die and move your marble around the board in a manner consistent with a few specific rules. Different rules and spaces will either help or hinder your marble in the game, so you'll need to know a few key rules in order to play.

  • You can't land on or move past your own piece (marble) on the board.
  • Game pieces are "aggravated" when an opponent lands on them.
    • Aggravated pieces must go back to the start; the player will have to roll a 1 or 6 to move their marble again.
    • A player's marble can't be aggravated on an inside corner.
  • Using shortcuts can help you play Aggravation more successfully by moving your piece closer to the home base.
    • If you land on a "star" spot, you will be able to move along the other "star" points around the board on your next turn.
    • A "superstar" spot can be reached with a successful die roll. After landing there, if you roll a 1 on your next turn, you will be able to go directly to the star spot closest to your home base.

How to Play the Aggravation Board Game

Once you know the basic rules above, playing aggravation is easy. You'll need at least two players and can play with as many as six. Review the rules below.

Step 1: Getting Your Marble Started

A player starts their turn by rolling the die. In order to move around the board, you need to get your marble pieces out of the starting point. To do this, you need to get a 1 or a 6. If you roll a 6, you get an extra roll, but if you get a 1, you need to wait until your next turn to move your piece.

Step 2: Moving on Up

With piece(s) now moved from the starting point of the game, you proceed in a clockwise direction around the board following the arrows. Move the number of spaces indicated by the total die count. If you roll a 1 or 6, you can bring out a new marble. You can jump over any opponent's piece if your die roll is high enough (count the marble you jump as 1, just as if the space was empty).

Step 3: Aggravating Your Opponent

If a roll causes your piece to land on one occupied by an opponent, their marble is considered to be "aggravated". The opponent's piece has to go back to his corresponding base and repeat step 1, and you get to stay in the position they were in.

Aggravation Board

Step 4: Getting Blocked

If a roll would cause one of your playing pieces to land on or have to go past one of your own marbles, then you cannot move that piece. If this is the case with all of your marbles on the board, then you will not be able to move at all that turn. Play will turn over to the player sitting to your left.

Step 5: Winning the Game

To win the game, you must successfully move your marble pieces into one of the four home base spots by an exact roll, keeping in mind that you cannot jump over any of these spots that are occupied. The first player to get all of their pieces in place wins the game!

Aggravation Variations: Team or Partnership Play

The rules above specify how to play Aggravation as individual players. For even more fun, consider team or partnership play. You'll need four or six players for partner play or six people for team play.

How to Partner Play (Two-Player Pairs)

In partnership play, you'll need to play in pairs. You can play with two pairs (four people) or three pairs (six people). You and your partner will play on opposite sides of the board. Other participating partners will do the same. The rules are the same, except that if you or your partner finishes moving all of your pieces to your home base, play can still continue. The "finished" team member simply gives his partner an extra dice roll. The first partnership to get all of their pieces to their corresponding home base wins the game. This can be a great option for couples on game night.

How to Team Play (Three-Player Teams)

For team play, get into two groups of threes. Sit team members in alternate seats around the board. Gameplay is the same as in "partnership", except that any player that has completed the game must declare which team member their extra die roll will go to. The first team to get all of their pieces to their corresponding home wins the game. Try this option when you have a large family get-together.

Strategies for Winning at Aggravation

While sometimes it comes down to the luck of the die, there are a few specific moves or strategies that you can use to improve your chances of winning when you play Aggravation.

  • Use the shortcuts to your advantage. When done strategically, you can exit the star spot nearest to your home base, giving you an advantage.
  • If it looks like you will be blocked by one of your marbles on a roll, move another piece to avoid this.
  • Try to get all your marbles out as quickly as possible to have more moves on the board.
  • Go for the moves that are going to aggravate other players. This gives you an advantage. Just remember, they will probably aggravate you too.

You'll Never Have More Fun Being Aggravated

This board game can get rather rowdy, but it's all in good fun. Keep your eyes on your marbles, roll the dice, and do your best to be the first player to bring all your marbles home.

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Aggravation Board Game Rules + Tips So You Don't Lose Your Marbles