What is Mexican Train?
Mexican Train Dominoes is a fairly popular tile-based game that is played using number dominoes. The winner is the one who has matched all their dominoes onto trains or the chains formed from a central hub. The rules are relatively simple, and once explained, any enthusiast can understand the Mexican Train game.
How to play Mexican Train?
The object of this game is to have the lowest score in the game. The game can be played for multiple rounds with different double values being used as a central hub. Once a player has played all his dominoes, the round is scored before moving on to the next one. The player with the least number of points after all the rounds is declared the winner.
The game consists of 91 domino tiles which contain all possible combinations of values from 0 – 12. Out of these, 12 dominoes have double values which will be used for double plays. A special marker is also provided to each player to mark their personal trains during the Mexican Train game.
The number of players can vary from 2 to 14 and the number of dominoes drawn, depend on the number of players in the game. The remaining tiles are placed to the side forming the boneyard. Dominoes are placed in a way that they are hidden from the other players’ view.
The game is played by trying to match a domino from the player’s pile with an open domino in the chain or train. The Mexican Train instructions state that players can match as many dominoes as they can, single or double, during their first play. During the second play, only one domino can be played as turns are taken in a clockwise manner.
Mexican Train rules
Initially, the double-12 piece is placed at the center and all the remaining chains originate from it. The Mexican Train rules are easy enough to follow. A train is simply a name given to the arrangement of tiles by a player around the center piece. A personal train remains closed as long as the player is able to match a tile during his turn during the Mexican Train game.
If the player is unable to match a single tile, they can pick one from the boneyard and see if it matches the open tile on their train. If there is not playable tile, the player places a marker on their train to denote it as open. This states that the train can be played by other players in the game.
Mexican Train with double 12 center hub
A Mexican Train can be formed by any of the players after the first round by matching a tile with the center hub. It is also an open train and any of the players can play a tile in it.
Players can match a domino in Mexican Train Dominoes with either a single tile or double values (tiles having same values on both sides). For example, if a double-6 is played, a single domino needs to be played of the same value to consider the chain as closed, or if a double-9 is played, it needs to be closed with a single domino of value nine. If the player is unable to close it, he can pick a piece from the boneyard to try to match it, or open his train. The next player following him needs to close the double before playing his train, or follows the same rule to open his train.
Once a player has played all the tiles in hand, each player gets to finish their turn before the score for that particular round is calculated using the Mexican Train score sheet. This is usually the number of points specified in the tiles remaining in each player’s possession. The person who has the lowest Mexican Train scoring at the end of all the rounds is declared the winner.
Suppose you have no tiles to play on your own train but another player has an open train. In this case, you can see if you can play a tile in their train. Or if a Mexican Train exists, you can check for matches for single or double plays. This saves the player from skipping a turn if they have no matching tiles for their train. Playing a double right at the very end also stops the other players from finishing their turns which could increase their points in the end.
- When provided with multiple trains to play during a round of the Mexican Train game, players should concentrate on matching tiles in their own train first. An open train indicates that the player is unable to match a tile, which means he would have to draw tiles from the boneyard every turn he misses. This would greatly increase his score.
- Players who are unable to finish a double, have to mark their trains as open. Hence, a player can use heavily played dominoes for doubles on his own train which would make it harder for other players to try to close. This would cause them to open their own trains in the process making for an effective Mexican Train strategy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it called Mexican Train?
While the ‘Train’ portion of the name comes from having to line up trains by the individual players, the name ‘Mexican Train’ has various theories, the foremost of which states that the game was invented by Mexican railway workers.
How many dominoes do you start with in Mexican Train?
The number of dominoes taken by the players depends on the number of players in the game and the set used. If a standard double twelve set is used, then for a play with 4 members or less, each can take 15 dominoes, while 5 to 6 players can take 12 each, 7 to 8 players can take 10 each, or 9 to 10 players can take 8 each.
Can you go out after playing a double?
Standard rules state that every double in the game needs to be answered. If a player plays it as the last tile, he will be left with no option but to draw to answer the double.