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How To Play Mexican Train

Mexican train is a popular dominos game that got its name from the optional train that can be made that all players “own” or can play on; this train is called the Mexican train. The object of the game is to be the first player to discard of all the dominos in their hand by playing them on their own train, other players’ trains, or the Mexican train. There are multiple different versions of the game, but this article discusses the standard way of playing. The game consists of two to eight players and thirteen rounds.

Components Needed: Mexican train is played with a set of 91 dominos. Most players use a standard color set of double twelve dominos. Colored dominos make it easier to match the dominos when building trains because each number has its own color, but plain black dot dominos work as well. The game also requires two other components.

  • Center Piece: Players will need a center piece to use as the “hub” where all the dominos lines come off of and where the double domino for that round stays.
  • Markers: Each player will need some type of marker to signify that their “train” is up, so others can play on it. Markers can be anything such as a penny, quarter, colored playing chips, or playing pieces from another board game such as monopoly. Keep in mind each person playing the game needs one.

Preparation: Everyone chooses a marker to use and draws twelve dominos. Players develop a strategy on how they want to start and play their turns.

  • The rest of the dominos are put in a draw pile.
  • The player to the left of the player with the highest double goes first.

First Turn: For the first turn, players must start their line by playing a domino that matches that round’s double. If they do not have it, they must draw. If they still cannot play, they must put their train up. Other players can start their line for them on the next turn after they have started their own line.

The Basics: Every round starts with a double domino; the first round starts with the double twelve. Rounds after that go down from there, so round two would be double elevens and so on till you reach round thirteen and play the double zero.

  • To play, players must match up the end of the dominos with the same number. Ones match to ones and so on.
  • Players can only play on their line or the Mexican train once it is started.
  • If a player does not have a matching domino, then they must draw. If they still can’t play after drawing, they must put their train up.
  • If a player puts their train up, other players can play on their line until that player is able to take their marker down.
  • Players can take their marker down once they are able to play on their own line again; they draw once each round until they can play on their own line again.
  • Players still can play on the Mexican train if they have their marker up, but they cannot take their marker down until they play on their own line. If they can play on the Mexican train, they do not have to draw.
  • Players who have their marker up can still play on other players’ lines if they have their marker up, but must leave their own marker on theirs until they play on their own line again.
  • If a double is played, players must satisfy that double by playing another matching domino. If the player who played the domino cannot satisfy it, they draw and then other players try to satisfy it. If a player can’t satisfy it, they draw a domino and put their marker up. Train stays up till the next round after the double is satisfied, and they can play on their own line again.
  • The Mexican train is started after the first turn. A player must start it by playing a matching domino to the round’s double.
  • The game is played until the first person plays all their dominos in a round. The game ends after all thirteen rounds.

Winning: Players win a round by being the first to play all the dominos in their hand. After the first person goes out, everyone counts up all their dominos based on the dot value. Each round record this score. At the end of the game, players add up their score from each round, and the player with the lowest overall score at the end wins.

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