Aggravation Board Game Instructions

Updated on July 14, 2015

How to Play Aggravation, the Classic Marble Race Game

Aggravation is a classic game created in 1962. Because it has been around for so long, you may find it anywhere from store shelves to garage sales or the back of Grandma's closet. However, a truth about hand-me-down games is that the first thing that gets lost is the instructions. If you have lost the rules to the game, not to fear: Here, you can find them reproduced below.

Have fun learning how to play this decades-old board game!

Game Rules

Game Objective:

The first player to advance all of his or her marbles around the board to the "Home" position from the "Base" position wins.

Deciding Who Starts:

  • A) A player selects a matching set of colored game marbles and places them in the base row of the same color.
  • B) Players each then roll one of the dice. Whoever gets the highest number plays first. Play then proceeds clockwise from the first player.

Basic Movement:

When it is a player's turn, he or she rolls one of the dice and moves a marble clockwise the number of spaces equal to the number shown on the dice. If a six is rolled, that player gets another turn.

Starting a Marble:

A marble must be "started" before it can be advanced around the board. To do this, it is moved from the base row to the start hole (see picture below). A player only moves a marble to the start hole when he or she rolls a six or a one—it cannot be advanced until the player's next turn. (Remember: If you roll a six, you get an extra turn!) Each player can only have one marble occupying the start hole at a time.

The base row, home row, and start hole are labelled on a homemade Aggravation board. On this board, the red marbles are in the home row, and the green marbles are in the base row.
The base row, home row, and start hole are labelled on a homemade Aggravation board. On this board, the red marbles are in the home row, and the green marbles are in the base row. | Source

General Play:

After a marble is started, it can be advanced clockwise along the game path. The number of spaces it travels each turn is equal to the number that player rolls on the dice. Count every hole, whether the hole is empty or already taken by a player's marble.

Jumping over of landing on an opponent's marbles is permitted. For more on landing on an opponent's marble, see the "Getting Aggravated" section. However, jumping over or landing on your own is not. If one of your own marbles prevents you from moving another marble the full count on the dice, then you are prevented from moving the "blocked" marble, and your turn is forfeited.

After a player has one or more marbles on the game path, when he or she rolls a one or six, the player can either start a new marble or move an already started marble along the way. Be advised, the movement of the marble will be either one or six spaces, whichever is displayed on the dice.

Warning: If one of your marbles is already on the start hole, you are precluded from starting another marble. If you have no other marbles to move or do not have the available spaces open to move, your turn is lost.

Getting Aggravated:

Landing on an opponent's marble is permitted (landing on your own is not). This is called "getting aggravated."

If an opposing player turn stops on your marbles exactly, your marble is "aggravated" and must go back to its base row without delay. The abandoned hole is now occupied by your opponent's marble. This aggravation can occur anywhere on the board except in a player's home or base locations.

Once a marble is relocated back to its base by aggravation, it can only be moved to the start hole by rolling a one or six on your next turn, as previously mentioned.

Note: When you roll a one or six, if an opposition player happens to be momentarily stopped in your start hole as he or she is traversing the board, you can move a marble from your base to start and thereby aggravate your opponent's marble.

Board Move Shortcuts:

  • Center hole shortcut: This is the best shortcut. Obviously, it is located in the game board center. To take this shortcut, you must roll the exact number needed for your marble to land directly in the center hole (the center hole is considered one space further than a star hole). If you are already in a star hole, you need to roll exactly one. Once you are in the center hole, rolling a one on a subsequent turn is the only way out. When you roll a one, then you can move to any star hole (most likely the star hole closest to your home row).
  • Star hole shortcut: For this shortcut to be activated, a marble must land in a star hole with the exact count on the dice. Then on the next roll of the dice, the marble can be advanced clockwise around the star holes. You move the marble the number of holes allowed by the roll on the dice around the star holes and then down the path that takes you to the home area with any remaining count on your dice. (At the player's discretion, he or she can exit from any star hole.)

Shortcuts are optional. They can be very beneficial because they reduce the time it takes to advance around the board. But there are dangers! Your marble can be aggravated in the star or center holes, just like in regular play!

The Home Stretch:

When coming into home row, you have to land in an open space by the exact number count registered on the dice. Since you cannot jump over your own marbles, your first marble must land in the farthest home position. Since this is the case, as you advance each marble home, the exact count on the dice is imperative. If the dice roll gives excess moves than are required for a marble to land in the open spot, that marble cannot be advanced. Try to move another. If no marbles are available, your turn is over.

Winning the Game:

The first player to get all marbles to the home row wins!

Playing in Teams:

You can also play in teams of two or three, depending on how many players the board you are using is designed for. When you are playing in teams, each team member must use alternating spots on the board. For example, in the picture above, one team would have to have a member playing the yellow marbles and a member playing the blue marbles, while the other would need a member playing the green marbles and a member playing the red marbles.

You can pass a teammate's marble, but be careful—you can also aggravate it!

Play in teams proceeds as usual, except when one player moves all of his or her marbles to home row. When this happens, the player will continue playing, but each of his or her rolls will move a teammate's marbles. If you are playing in teams of three, the finished player will have to declare which teammate he or she is playing for before each turn. Remember: Rolling a six wins you an extra turn, even if that six moves your last marble into home row—your extra turn will just be played on behalf of a teammate.

The first team to get all of their home rows filled wins!

Thanks, and enjoy a fun game of Aggravation!


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      Kim 2 months ago

      I have read so many different versions of this game. My in-laws play it almost every week but they play it a little different. To start you must roll a 1 or 6 if you do not then you cannot bring a marble out. To get in the center you must roll a 6 but to get out you must roll a 1. I've never heard of the stars before so that was new, we have never played with a deck of cards, and we have never played if you roll a 4 you move backwards 4 spots that's very interesting. We have played that once you get all of your marbles in home then you will continue to roll each time its your turn and you can help out your partners.

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      Gwen 3 months ago

      How many sixes can you roll and keep on going in a row? I used to play on three times could a six be rolled. TY!

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      Anne 3 months ago

      My mother taught us if you rolled a 4- you had to go back 4. This was great if you were on home. Also she played if you landed on someone else's marble and aggravated them- you got to move ahead 5 spaces- prize for knocking them on the space. This makes the game more interesting!

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      Phil Lyons 9 months ago

      If you roll a six and cannot move it, can you roll again?

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      john 13 months ago

      we play "EXTREME AGGRAVATION!". 2 dice, doubles rolls again, and on your turn you can move any marble of any color, one marble per dice. The only goal is to fill your "home" with any color you can...good luck

      play at your own is aptly named!

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      david 15 months ago

      i love that game

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      Annak 16 months ago

      My family used to call this came Hell or Aggravation. The board was like a Chinese Checkers board. Is this the same? If so how do you play?

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      gepeTooRs 2 years ago

      Wow, I have a website as well but I can’t write as well as you do. Very good stuff.

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      Howard 2 years ago

      We play with cards. Question is if you have marble at home, can you use the 4 card to go backward 4 out of home , land on an opponents marble send him back to his start base? The 4 card can only go backward.


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      Allen 2 years ago

      We played as when came out on one or six, then if you rolled a four you could go backwards right before home. Another shortcut.

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      titaniumtiger 3 years ago

      the way i was taught is that you can get into the center hole with a correct number from your position on the outside, like you rolled a 5, and the last of the move could put you in the center, but you had to roll a 1 to leave the center

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      Diane G. 4 years ago

      My homemade board has no center hole and is played with marbles and 6 decks of cards.....NO DICE. Maybe this is called something else?

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      Laura 4 years ago

      How can I get the instructions printed for the Board Game Aggravation?

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      Liarvehavetut 4 years ago

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      Openretlery 5 years ago

      My spouse and i utilized to find on top of existence yet lately We have accumulated a new opposition.

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      scoobydoo 5 years ago

      what is the answer to Georgecoon Question? we have had some discussions on this question

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      Brenda B 5 years ago

      my grandpas game we use 2 dice not one die how else do you get to roll again on doubles?

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      GEORGECOON 5 years ago

      Playing Aggravation/rule question...

      We are playing teams, 2+2. We play that an extra role is allowed if you role a 6. When playing teams, and one member gets all home, he then can role for his partner. The question is...if you role a 6 and that 6 gets all your players in, can you then immediately take that extra role for your partner or must you wait until the next time your turn comes around?

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      Fran 6 years ago


      He does indead need to move home he cannot pass his home to go around the board again he must wait for the appropriate numbers to be rolled on the die and advance to his home without extending past it!


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      doris 6 years ago

      is it allowed to go round and round the stars just to kill an appoinent my son thinks so and patrols round round just to aggravate does he have to move toward home or is this allowed

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      Lynn 6 years ago

      My board game has a total of 72 holes and 4 holes at base for four players. Is this aggravation ? this board was home made years ago like over 30 years\...thank you...