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Mexican Train Dominoes


 

Equipment and Preparation

A double twelve set of dominoes is used. This contains all possible pairs of numbers from 0 (blank) to 12, giving 91 pieces in all. In addition some markers are required. Traditionally, coins were used: one penny for each player and one nickel, but some players use markers representing locomotives.

The dominoes are shuffled and each player takes a number of dominoes and stands them on edge so that their faces are visible to the owner but not to the other players. Up to 4 players take 15 dominoes each, 5 or 6 take 12 each, 7 or 8 take 10 each, and 9 or 10 players take 8 each. The remaining dominoes are left face down in the boneyard.

Number of players

6 to 10 players may easily play. However, if less than 6 people are playing, it is recommended that only the double blank through nine (or a set of Double 9 Dominoes) be used.

Age

For playing with a good sense of strategy players should be teens. (See strategy section). If not several years younger.

Time to play

With 4 people who know the game, we would estimate an average playing time to be between 3 or 4 hours. (we take longer because we do not smoke in the house) And several times throughout the game we stop for a "desert break".

The deal

  1. Place the dominoes face down on the playing surface and move them around to shuffle them.
    The shuffle rotates to each player, clockwise around the table with each hand.


  2. Determine the number of dominoes to be drawn by each player:
    • 2 to 4 players - 15 dominoes
    • 5 to 6 players - 12 dominoes
    • 7 to 8 players - 10 dominoes
    • 9 to 10 players - 8 dominoes
  1. The remaining dominoes are set aside to be drawn as needed by the players. This is called the “draw pile” or “bone yard”. For players convenience, there may be more than one “pile” on the table; however, each players is free to make his or her draw from any of the “piles”.


  2. The game begins with the double 12 and each hand thereafter uses the next lowest number (first hand double 12, second hand double 11, etc.) until a hand has been played to correspond with each double.


  3. The first round begins with the player having the double 12 in their hand placing that domino in the center of the table. If no one has the Double 12, each player draws a domino from the “pile”. If the Double 12 is not drawn by any player in the first round of drawing, a second round of drawing occurs. The drawing rounds continue until a player has located the Double 12 and play can begin (See variation #3).

    Note: Succeeding hands use the same procedure when no player has the Double 11, Double 10, etc. in the initial draw.


  4. When the double for the round has been found and placed in the center of the table, each player then sorts their dominoes by matching numbers to form a personal train. Each player’s train must begin with a domino that matches the double in the center of the table. Your next domino must match the other end of the first domino (Example: double 12 in the center - you arrange your dominoes 12-5; 5-3; 3-11; 11-7; etc.). Line up as described above until all possible dominoes in your hand are used. The remaining dominoes that do not fit into your “train” are called “slough” and are to be played off on the Mexican Train or other player’s trains whenever possible.

The rules

  1. Play begins as soon as all players have assembled their hold trains (dominoes they have drawn and are holding in their hands). Radiating from the center Double, each player has their own space on which to play their train. No other player may play on another player’s train until a player has been unable to play and has placed a marker (a penny or other) on their last played domino or their assigned spot, if they have not yet played any dominoes. Once may play on the other player only as long as the marker is out to indicate the train is available for others to play on.


  2. The separate Mexican train runs around the table and may be played on by any player in turn. It must begin with the same number as is on the center double (example: double 12 in the center, the Mexican train begins with a 12; a double 10 requires a 10, etc.).


  3. The player who played the double in the center starts the play, continuing clockwise around the table. The first player may play on the center double or start the Mexican train. If the first player does not begin the Mexican train, the train may be begun by any of the ensuing players when their turn arrives. The following players may then play on the Mexican train by matching a domino to the number on the “off” end of the domino (example: train begins with a 12-5, the next player then plays a 5-7; then 7-3; etc.). Each player has the option of playing on their own train or the Mexican train, using the Mexican train to “slough off” the dominoes that do not fit into their personal train.


  4. When a player cannot play on their own train, the Mexican train or a “marked” train of another player, then they draw a domino from the boneyard. If they cannot play that domino on the board, then they place a marker on the last domino of their train (penny or other marker). All players may then play on this player’s train as their turn arrives. If this player can play anywhere on the board at their next turn, the marker is then removed and no other player may play on that train.


  5. If a player plays a double during play, they must then play another domino somewhere on the board - their train, the Mexican train, or a marked train. If a play is able, they may play doubles in more than one spot - on their train, the Mexican train, or a “marked” train. Even though two or more doubles have been played, only one additional domino must be placed somewhere on the board. If a player cannot follow-up the double with another domino, they draw and Rule #9 is followed.
    EXCEPTION: A player may go out with a double without having to play another domino.

Last tile

  1. As play proceeds, any player who is down to one domino must give notice to the other players. This is usually done by tapping the remaining domino on the table. This rule applies even if the player realizes that their domino will not be playable at their next turn. Failure to notify other players, by tapping, before the next player lays down results in a penalty draw of one domino from the boneyard.

The end

  1. When one player has played all their dominoes, the other players must add up the total of their remaining dominoes and give that total to the scorekeeper. Double blank count 0. (Example: remaining dominoes in your hand - 3-5, 11-12, 10-7 = 48).


  2. As soon as the first round is completed (double 12), the next round begins with the double 11, the next with double 10, etc., with the last round being the double blank.


  3. The player with the lowest total score after all rounds is the winner.

Variations

  1. A player placing the double may follow-up their double with a play anywhere on the board. If they do not play on the double, the next player must “satisfy” the double through use of a domino from their hand or by drawing. If this second player cannot “satisfy” the double, they place a marker on their train and the next player must attempt to “satisfy” it.. This procedure is followed until the double has been satisfied.

    If more than one double has been played, the rule above applies to the first double placed on the board being “satisfied” first, and the second double “satisfied” second.

    If a player must place a marker on their train when not able to “satisfy” a double, they may remove the marker as soon as they are able to play anywhere on the board during their next or subsequent turns.


  2. Same as variation #1 with the following exception: A player may remove their “marker” ONLY when able to play on their personal train.


  3. Instead of drawing to locate the necessary double (double 12 for the first round, for example) the players may choose to use the highest double available in the players drawn hands that has not already been played. Thus, if the double 12 or 11 are not in the players hand, but the double 10 is, then the game begins with the double 10 and the scorekeeper make note that the double 10 has thus been used. The double 10 will not be played again.


  4. To speed up the game, before turning the dominoes over to “shuffle”, the double to be used to begin the next hand may be held out and placed in the center after the players have drawn their hands. With this method, the player who “went out” on the preceding hand, begins the play.


  5. In scoring, the Double blank counts 50.


  6. Note: Domino dots may be painted to make them more recognizable as follows:
  7. 11 - Red
    10 - Blue
    9 - Yellow/Gold
    8 - Green
    7 - Silver/White

Strategy

    We are very good at playing 'cut throat'; i.e. Placing a double domino down (On the Mexican Train) and then not satisfying it. Therefore, making the next player satisfy the double from the middle of their hold train (dominoes in their hand). (Of course, this action has a re-action from others who do not play this type of strategy. This re-action can result in harsh words, bruised body parts, and men sleeping on the couch!!)

Feel free to print these instructions for quick reference while playing.

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