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Mexican Train Dominoes

Quick Guide

Proficiency Grade

Intermediate

Young Children & 
Elderly Adults

# of Players

Friendly

2+

Ideal # of Players

6-10

Replay-ability

Medium

Strategy Needed

Medium

Amount of Luck

Medium

Ability to Learn

Easy

How to Play Mexican Train

Mexican Train is a variation of the classic game of Dominoes where the objective of the game is to be the first player to play all of their dominoes.

Setup

The first round starts with the highest double in the set (ie double-twelve set would be the double twelve domino). This tile is placed in the centerpiece and called the 'Main Train Engine.' Then, the rest of the dominoes are shuffled face down and each player draws a specific number of dominoes, depending on the number of players (see 'Variations'). Any remaining dominoes are left as a draw pile in the 'boneyard.'.

Start

Determine the first player. You could choose the oldest player, or the youngest, or it could be perfectly random.

The first player must play a tile that matches the first double on the 'Main Train Engine' or start their Personal Train (also called 'Mexican Trains") in front of them. Each player's Personal Train must start with the same engine number (ie if the engine in the train hub is a double 12, the train must begin with a 12 on the starting end).

The Main Train and the Personal Train can be any amount of dominoes so long as each domino in the train has a matching end to the adjacent domino. Each player can only have one Personal Train.

In subsequent plays, players can either play a domino that matches the end of any open train, including their own. 

 

Public and Private Mexican Trains

If the player cannot play, they must draw a tile and see if they can play it. If they cannot, they must pass their turn and mark their train "Public," then it is the next player's turn.

A train that is marked with a token is Public, and any player can add to that train. A train that is not marked is “Private” and only the player who started that train can add to it. A player who has marked their train Public may change their train back to Private and remove the marker in subsequent turns if they are able to play a matching end on their train.

Doubles

If there is a “double” (a tile with an equal amount of dots or same number on both ends) on any train, it must be 'satisfied' before any further play. If the player with the double plays, they can play an additional tile to 'satisfy' it. If they do not have one, they must draw a tile. If the drawn tile cannot satisfy, then the player marks their train "Public" and the next play must satisfy the double. This continues until the double is satisfied, then the normal play continues.

Round Scoring
The round ends when a player plays their last domino or when no player can make a play. Each player’s score is tallied by adding up all the dots or numbers on his remaining tiles. A double-blank tile is worth 50 points.

Note: A round cannot end in a double. If it does, the player who played a double as their last move gets 50 points. 

Game Ending

The subsequent rounds of play begin with the next highest double (ie for the double-twelve set, the next would be the double-eleven, then the double-ten) all the way to double 0. A double-twelve set would have a total of 13 rounds. The starting player will rotate clockwise as well each round.

When all rounds have been played, the player with the least amount of total points is the winner!

Variations

Player to Domino Ratios

This game is very adaptable for number of players and type of domino set. The larger the domino set, the more people you can play with, just adjust the number of tiles to draw by the number of players and domino set that you are using.

Choose the number of tiles to pick in Mexican Train based on the number of people playing, and the type of domino set:

 

Uno Rule

In all domino games, our family rule is that you must say "uno!" when you only have one tile left. If someone catches you not saying uno, you must draw two tiles from the boneyard as a penalty.

Special Mexican Train

A special “Mexican Train” may be started by any player with a domino from their hand that has a matching end with the engine. It extends out of the engine and is always marked public and never becomes private. It remains separate from all personal trains.

The Mexican Train may be not be started on the first turn, nor on a turn where a double needs to be satisfied.

Only one Mexican Train may be created for any round.

Double Doubles

If the player draws a second double and is able to play it while trying to satisfy the first double, they must draw another domino from the boneyard and play that as well. This repeats if the player continues to draw playable doubles until the player has drawn and played a non-double, or fails to play a drawn tile. If they fail to play a drawn tile, they must mark their train Public and play continues to the next player.

If more than one double needs to be satisfied, then they need to be satisfied in the order they appeared in play.

First Player = First Double

The player with the "Main Train Engine" for that round places it in the center of the hub (instead of the double being left out of the original boneyard. They are the starting player for that round. If no one has the required Engine then each player simultaneously draws a domino from the boneyard until it is found and a starting player is determined.

First Turn Double Saver

If a player ends his train in a double on the first turn, everyone continues finishing their first turn without needing to satisfy the double. On the second turn players, they players then must “satisfy” the double before any other type of play can be made.

Double-0 Points

The double-0 is worth 0 points, instead of 50.

Thoughts

This one is a long-time extended family favorite. Whether or not the name is racist, it's an incredibly easy, yet fun game that people of all ages can play. As many domino games, you don't need a set number of people, so it is great for big family or friend get togethers.

 

I remember playing many games around my grandparent's table, where we would pull up many chairs to fit in as many players as possible. Even with dementia, I remember playing with my grandpa, long after he forgot who I was.

Given we would play with so many people, and did not have an 'Official Mexican Train' set, we would use pennies as the 'open train' marker when each person's train became Public. I still prefer to play with pennies to this day.

Where to Buy

 

Coming Soon

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