Rules for Playing Mexican Train Dominos

By Kate Lee

To play Mexican Train dominos with two to eight players, you can use regular dominos or a special Mexican Train game set. These sets come with a center hub, plastic train tokens and a preprinted scorepad to make the game easier. If you are playing Mexican Train with regular dominos, you need small tokens or coins for markers and a sheet of paper.

Size

You can play Mexican Train dominos with a double-six set (28 dominos), a double-nine set (55 dominos) or a double-twelve set (91 dominos). Double-six sets work best for two to four players, double-nine sets work well for four or five players, and double-twelve sets are best for six to eight players. The number of dominos each player should draw depends on the size of the domino set, and the number of players. With a double-six set and two to four players, each person should draw 6 to 9 dominos. With a double-nine set and four or five players, each person should draw 7 dominos. With a double-twelve set and six or more players, each person should draw 11 to 12 dominos. Draw more dominos if you have fewer players, and fewer dominos if you have more players.

Features

To start the Mexican Train dominos game, place all of the dominos face down on the table and shuffle them. Each player can then draw his or her dominos from the pile, leaving the remaining dominos as the "bone yard" or "rail yard." The player with the highest double in the set places it in the middle of the table, or in the special Mexican Train domino hub, if one is available. If no one has the highest double, each player draws another domino until someone gets it. Once the center double domino hub is in place, each player creates his or her own train by matching dominos end to end, extending from the center hub and working toward themselves.

Function

Once the trains are in place, the player who placed the initial domino goes first. He or she must either add a domino to his or her own train, or start a new train from the hub, the Mexican Train, that anyone can build on. Play then passes clockwise to the next player, who must match a tile to his or her own train or the Mexican Train. When players cannot play a domino, they must place a token on their own train, which opens it up to other players. They then draw a domino from the bone yard or rail yard, and pass to the next player.

Considerations

When players play double dominos on the trains, they must place them crosswise in the train, then play a second domino. The second domino can be placed on the double, or on another available train. If the player cannot play a second domino, she must draw a domino from the bone yard and pass to the next player. In some variations of Mexican Train rules, the next player must then play on the last double domino played. Play continues until one player has used up all of his dominos or until no one can play, and there are no more dominos available to draw.

Significance

Once a round of Mexican Train dominos has ended, all the players add up to total value of any dots on the dominos remaining in their hands and record these scores on a score sheet. For the next round, the next highest double in the set is the hub. For example, with a double-twelve set, the game starts with the double twelve, the next round starts with the double eleven, and so on. The Mexican Train game continues for as many rounds are there are double dominos in the set. The player with the lowest total score wins.

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