The version of the Mexican Train Dominoes rules that we believe is the most straightforward, elegant, and minimizes the chance of repetitive or tedious elements.
The goal of the game is for a player to place all of his or her tiles on one or more chains, or trains, that radiate from a central hub or “station.”
Mexican Train Dominoes Explanations
The most popular name for the game comes from a special optional train that all players have access to.
However, the game can be played without the Mexican train; these variations are known as “private trains” or “domino trains.” It has something to do with the game Chicken Foot.
1. Mexican Train Equipment
A standard set of Double Twelve dominoes is used to play Mexican Train Dominoes online. Each set contains 91 dominoes, and we recommend using dominoes with colored spots because it is difficult to match dominoes at a glance otherwise.
Free Mexican Train, unlike most other domino games, requires some additional equipment. To begin, a special hub with a slot in the center for the starting double and eight slots around its edge is used to begin each domino train.
Hubs range from high-end manufactured items that make a ‘Toot Toot’ sound when pressed to simple home-made creations that take only a few minutes to cut out of cardboard.
Second, the game requires the use of two different types of markers. These can be anything, but most people use coins, such as a penny for each player’s train and a 20 pence coin or a ‘nickel’ for the Mexican Train.
Sets designed specifically for the game Mexican Train. Differently colored little plastic trains are usually used to mark each player’s train on dominoes.
2. The Basics of Mexican Train
In Mexican Train, when a player places a domino on the table, it must follow standard domino rules.
Domino must be placed so that one end of the new touches, the end of a domino already on the table and the end of the new domino matches (shows the same number of dots) the end of the domino to which it is adjacent.
Unless the tile is a double, it can be squared in any of the three directions as long as the two matching sides are completely touching.
A ‘Double’ is a domino with the same number on both ends. A Double can only be placed next to a matching end of a domino that has already been placed on the table.
Doubles, on the other hand, are always placed perpendicularly across the end of the domino already on the table to form a ‘T.’
A tile that is played to a double must be placed perpendicular to the double and touching at its center. A double, unlike the other dominoes, cannot turn a corner.
The domino chain takes on a snake-like shape at random, depending on the players’ whims and the limitations of the playing surface.
3. The Preparation
To begin, shuffle the dominoes face down in circles with the flat of the hand, producing an appealing sound that has been known for centuries.
Each player is dealt a specific number of dominoes based on the number of players. Up to four players each take 15 dominoes, five or six players each take 12 dominoes, and seven or eight players each take ten dominoes.
In friendly games, players usually just line up their dominoes in a row facing them on the edge of the table. “Sleeping” tiles or “the boneyard” are the remaining dominoes.
The hub is in the center of the table, and each player chooses a slot on the table’s outer edge that faces them as the starting point for their train.
One additional slot is designated as the ‘Mexican Train’ starting point, and the Mexican Train marker is placed in this slot to indicate it. The player who has the highest double position is in the Mexican Train Hub’s center.
4. The First Turn in The Game
Players take turns in a clockwise direction, starting with the player to the left of the player who put down the highest double.
At Mexican Train Dominoes, each player’s first turn differs from subsequent turns, and it may take some thought to get the best advantage.
The player begins their ‘train’ by placing their first domino in the hub’s designated slot. The central hub domino must match the end pointing towards the middle.
Then, they continue to add dominoes from their hand to the ‘train’ until they can’t put any more down.
5. The Subsequent Turns
A player can only place one domino on any of the trains available to him or her on each subsequent turn. The following is how the turn goes:
- The turn ends when the player, if possible, plays a domino to one of the available trains
- If not, the player must choose a domino from the graveyard. The new domino from the boneyard is played to one of the available trains (see below) if possible, and the turn ends there
- If the player is still unable to play, he or she places a marker on the domino at the end of their train, making that train available to all other players
If a player’s train has a marker on it, the marker is removed whenever they play a domino to their own train. In addition, if a player plays a Double, that player gets another turn right away.
6. The Available Trains in The Game
The player can take any of the following trains:
- The player is in charge of his or her own train
- The Train to Mexico (if not yet started, the player can start the train with a domino matching the central Double)
- The train of another player, but only if it has a marker on it
7. The Winning
The goal is to be the first player to clear their hand of all dominoes. The game is over as soon as this happens, even if the last tile is a Double.
The winning player receives a score of zero, while the other players receive the sum of the remaining spots on the dominoes in their hands.
Typically, a series of games is played, with the winner being the player with the fewest points at the end of the series.
8. Special Situations
If no one has a double in their hand when the game begins, players take from the boneyard until someone does, at which point the Double is immediately laid in the hub.
There will be no slot available on the hub for the Mexican Train if there are 8 players, so it will have to start on its own a short distance from the hub.
However, A player cannot start their train in their first turn, they must simply place their train marker next to their slot.
In addition, if a player draws a domino in a later turn that allows them to start their train, they can only play that domino and remove their marker. The first turn is the only time you can play multiple dominoes.
If a player is still unable to play and the boneyard is empty, the player must simply pass and ensure that their train is marked.
Then, a player completes all of their dominoes in their first turn, the other players are allowed to finish their first turn as well.
The game ends and the scores are counted only after each player has completed their first turn.
9. General Variations
Some people who play on the Mexican Train app begin a match with the Double 12, then the Double 11, and so on until the final 13th game, which begins with the Double blank domino.
In some variations, the special first turn is not present, and players are only allowed to place one tile in their first turn, as they are in all subsequent turns.
10. The Variations on Playing Doubles
When it comes to Doubles, there are various options. These rules are not recommended for beginners, teens, or people who prefer more straightforward play because they add additional complexity to the game and introduce new situations that slow the game down.
Even if the Double is on another player’s train that is not marked, the basic and most common additional rule for Doubles play is that if a Double exists at the end of any train, the Double must be satisfied (laid against) in the next turn.
All other available trains are ignored, and if a player cannot play against the Double right away or after drawing from the Boneyard, he or she must place a marker on their train and pass the game to the next player. Normally, this rule does not apply during the special first round of play.
A variation on the above Doubles rule is that a player who plays a Double and thus has another turn is not required to play against a Double for this bonus turn. The player can play against any train that is available.
Of course, this means that a player can play multiple Doubles in a row, requiring players to play against two or more Doubles over the next few turns before returning to normal play.
In conclusion, Mexican Train Dominoes is a simple game for players. It is elegant, however, it has a few variants and you can also play for free.