Rules for Mexican Train Dominoes Game

By Kristen May
Rules, Mexican Train Dominoes Game
bjearwicke/sxc.hu

Mexican Train is a simple domino game that can be enjoyed by a group of four to 10 players, ages 6 and up. It follows the same basic rules of play as most domino games, with dominoes being placed end to end with matching halves touching each other.

Materials

To play Mexican Train, you will need a set of Double 12 dominoes, containing 91 pieces. You also will need a small marker for each player. Traditionally, coins are used, but some sets are available with small train-shaped markers. One larger marker is also needed to identify the Mexican Train.

Setup

To set up the game, the dominoes are placed face down and mixed to make the "boneyard." In a four-player game, each player draws 15 dominoes. With five or six players, draw 12 dominoes each; for seven or eight players, take 10 dominoes; for nine or 10 players, take eight dominoes. The first round is the "round of 12," and the player holding the double 12 domino plays it in the center. Subsequent rounds decrease in number, so the second round will be started with the double 11 domino.

First Turn

Starting with the player who played the first domino and continuing clockwise, each player has a turn to form a train as long as possible from the center toward himself. Dominoes are played end to end in a single line, with the first domino played matching the number on the center domino. A player must stop when she cannot play another domino on her own train.

Subsequent Turns

Each player may play one domino from his hand onto either his own train or the special Mexican Train, which is marked with the one unique marker and follows the same rules of play as the individual trains. If a player cannot play a domino, he draws one from the boneyard and can play that. If it cannot be played, he places his marker on his train, signifying that it is "open" for other players to play on. That marker is removed once he can play a domino on his own train on a later turn.

Doubles

Double dominoes are special cases in the Mexican Train game, and they have their own rules. When a player plays a double on a train, she gets to play another domino on that turn, either on the double, or on another available train. If she chooses to not play on the double, or cannot play on it after drawing, the next player must play on the double (or draw a domino and pass, meaning the following player must play on the double).

Scoring

When one player has played all of his dominoes, the round is over. All players count the number of dots on the dominoes remaining in their hands and the scorekeeper records these numbers. After all the rounds have been completed, the player with the lowest score wins.