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Subject: Trying it with Five players- the Cowbird variant! rss

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JessA
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My family has been pulling Sorry! out of the closet quite a bit lately. It's a game that my six year old can be competitive at and if we play with holding a hand of three cards, then I don't mind it much either.

The only problem is that we are a family of five, so someone has to sit out when we play. I pondered this issue a little more than is deserving of a game like Sorry! and I wondered if we could add a fifth player.

My thought was that the fifth player could have four pawns of four different colors and place one pawn in each person's start space. This way everyone would have four pawns and the fifth person would need to get each of her pawns in the proper colored home.

Amazing Labyrinth had the perfect pawns for this. They are the four colors of Sorry! (red, blue, yellow, green), plus they are wooden and chunky in contrast to Sorry's sleek, plastic pawns, so there'd be no getting them mixed up.

Now, to present this idea to my family. They were somewhat bemused as I explained it to them. They had some questions, "So, we'd all keep four pawns, but there'd be an extra pawn in my starting place?" I tried to put a good spin on it, "Yes, kind of like a cowbird that lays her eggs in other birds nests--it's the cowbird variant!"

My family thinks I'm completely nuts when I use BGG lingo, I got ribbed for the phrase "Cowbird variant" all night long.

So, we gave it a go. I was the cowbird. Unfortunately, one of sorry's flaws reared its ugly head, I could not get a good card. We went through the deck one whole time without me drawing a single card that would get me out of start. No 1's, no 2's no sorry!s. grrrrr. This is what makes this game so frustrating! Altho, it was a source of endless ribbing and bemusement to the rest of the family. The cowbird was flightless.

Well, then I started to get some decent cards. It became immediately apparant that stopping on someone's starting space is very dangerous. Now, there are two people who could knock you off, rather than one. Also, my hubby felt I had an unfair advantage because I could choose what area of the board to get a pawn out. However, I felt this worked against me, because no matter which pawn was out, there was someone who would be more than happy to Sorry! me back home and take my spot. I got sent back many times---was it because of my position on the board, or because my family was in a "pick on mom" mood? Who knows?

Bedtime arrived before the end of the game and we had to stop with my daughter the declared winner because she had two pawns in home.

I'm not sure if we'll play the Cowbird variant again, it didn't really seem like everyone was clamoring for more---altho, that's no different than a regular game of Sorry!

 
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Michael Nerman
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This variant seems like it would make the game a lot longer because people would be sent home more often (using 1 and 2 cards on a player that just got out), but I don't see it being unbalanced. The Cowbird would be more vulnerable to being sent home, but would also have the ability to send other people home more frequently. Actually, maybe that would suck for the cowbird...
 
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