On Christmas day (2004) my wife's family came over for dinner. In between the meal and dessert, we brought out Aggravation. This was my second time playing the game, but my wife's family has played it for years.
We used a recent edition, pictured here:
Aggravation is a race game where each player has four marbles that need to travel around the board from the players' start spaces to their home spaces. One needs to roll a 1 or a 6 (on a six-sided die) to move a marble from the base into the track. One can jump over an opponent's marble, but not one's own. Each player rolls the die and moves the number that comes up. If a six is rolled, the player can roll again.
Almost everything in the game is done by exact count. There are a ring of shortcuts in the center that may be used only if a marble hits one of the shortcuts by exact count. The same is true for the super short cut in the very center of the board. Once there, a marble may only move off of it with a roll of one. This makes marbles in the super short cut a very easy target for "getting aggravated." A marble is aggravated (or its player is) when an opponent's marble lands on it by exact count -- then it gets sent back to start all over again.
One of the strengths of the game is that it plays very quickly. I spent my first 10 or so rolls stuck, unable to move because I hadn't rolled a six or a one. However, after about a dozen game turns I already had one of my marbles in a home space. There is some room for strategy, but most of the movement is based on the luck of the die. I took the strategy of focusing on getting each marble home instead of trying to keep all my marbles moving. It almost worked because, despite my slow start, I was essentially tied with with my mother-in-law toward the end of the game. We each had three out of four marbles home. She won shortly thereafter.
The shotcuts add a nice wrinkle. They tend to even things out, and make it so that, for the most part, nobody really has to travel the whole way around the board the long way.
All in all, Aggravation provided a pleasent 40 or so minutes of entertainment for five people. This is a very light game that can be enjoyable at family gatherings.