Number of Players: 2-8
Game Duration: 60 mins
Players Aged: 12+
You will need: A set of double 12 dominoes (91 tiles) or 2-4 players can use a double 9 set (55 tiles); a personal marker for each player; a double marker.
The markers could be coins, poker chips or colored counters as long as they are all unique.
Deal out the bones as follows:
With a set of double twelves:
2-4 players, 14 tiles each
5-6 players, 12 tiles each
7-8 players, 10 tiles each
Remaining tiles form the boneyard.
With a set of double fifteens:
2-6 players, 15 tiles each
7-8 players, 13 tiles each
9-12 players, 11 tiles each
There are two stages to this game; building trains, and the playing stage. Play moves clockwise in both stages.
The double 12 is placed in the centre of the table. This is the engine. The remaining dominoes are shuffled face down. The first player then builds a train, a sequence of matching dominoes. The train must start with a twelve (so it can be coupled to the engine). The dominoes will match according to their number as in a standard dominoes game.
Player 1 lays their whole train leading from the double twelve out towards them. The aim is to lay as many tiles as possible so you have less to get rid of later.
After Player 1 lays out their whole train it is Player 2’s turn to lay their train. If any player doesn’t have a 12 in their hand then they must keep all their dominoes and wait for the playing stage. They have no train of their own.
So at this stage most, if not all, the players will build their own train, a personal playing area. The trains will lead out from the engine towards the player that laid them. This formation is known as the roundhouse.
Eventually it will be player 1’s turn again.
Each player, in turn, places a tile to make the trains longer and to try and empty their hand.
When you cannot go you must draw one domino from the boneyard unless the boneyard is empty.
If you can play, you must place a tile.
It is at this point that the markers are used. The double marker rules are explained below. If there is no double marker in play then you have three options.
1) Lay on the end of your own train. If you cannot lay from your hand you can draw from the boneyard and can lay that tile if it matches. If it doesn't match you place your personal marker on the end of your own train. This opens it to other players. When a player has laid a domino on the end of your train, take your personal marker back.
2) If you cannot lay on your own train but somebody else has their personal marker in play then you can lay on the end of that train.
3) You can also start the Mexican Train. It must start with a twelve so that it can be coupled to the engine. You lay just this first domino. From then on it is open season on the Mexican train, anyone can lay on it at any time. Only one Mexican train is allowed per game, but you can start this one Mexican train at any time in the playing stage.
So when the game is in full swing you can lay:
On another player’s train which has a personal marker showing.
On the Mexican train
On your own train.
If you can’t go for any reason then you put your personal marker on your own train.
A player that could not build a train in the building trains phase of the game is stuck without one. They must pass until a Mexican train is created or until double and personal markers are on the table. If a twelve comes into their possession from the boneyard then they can start a Mexican train.
If a player lays a double at the end of a train then the double marker is put there.
That player must also lay another domino in that go. If they can't they draw from the boneyard. They can lay on the same train on which they put the double. In this case the double marker is removed. They can also lay on any other train, in which case the double marker remains in play.
The next domino must be laid at the end of the train showing the double marker. If you cannot lay against the double you must pass. If you pass put your personal marker at the end of your train.
When a domino has been laid on the train with the double the marker returns to the engine until it is needed again.
As long as the double marker is in play you must lay on the double, or pass.
If you pass on a double you must place your personal marker at the end of your own train.
If you have several doubles in your hand you may place them in one turn, on different trains that are in play , i.e. a 5-5, a 3-3 an 8-8 then to end the go a 5-4. If you go like this then the double marker stays on the 8-8. You can also place your last tile against the double you have just laid. So if the last domino in this go was an 8-6 placed on the 8-8 then no double marker would remain in play.
The End of Play
The last domino in your hand must be announced. If another player notices that you have one tile left and have not announced it then he can make you draw two tiles from the boneyard, unless it is empty. If play goes round the circle and returns to you with nobody noticing that you have not announced then you have got away with it and can lay that tile.
The round finishes when one player has no more tiles to play or when the game is blocked.
After you have played this round you play 12 more rounds, the next starting with the double 11, then double 10 and so on down to the double blank. There are thirteen rounds in a game of Mexican trains and you score cumulatively.
A player that empties their hand scores 0. At this point all the other players score the total number of pips on the dominoes left in their hand.
Usually, a series of games are played and whoever has the least points at the end of the series, wins the match.
In the unlikely situation that no player has a double in their hand at the start, players take from the boneyard until someone does pick a Double at which point it is immediately laid in the hub.
If there are 8 players, then there won't be a slot available on the hub for the Mexican Train so it has to start by itself a little way away from the hub.
If a player is unable to start their train in their first turn, they simply put their train marker next to their slot. If, in a later turn, the player draws a domino that enables them to start their train, they can only play this one domino and remove their marker. The opportunity to play multiple dominoes only happens on the first turn.
If a player is unable to play and the boneyard is empty, the player must simply pass and ensure that a marker is placed upon their train.
In the rare case that a player plays out all their dominoes in their first turn, the other players are all allowed to also complete their first turn. Only once each player has completed their first turn does the game end and scores are counted up.
MexicanTrainFun.com is a USA-based company dedicated to all things related to Mexican Train dominoes. These rules are based on the most popular and challenging version of the game. These are the rules used at our train events.
The goal of Mexican Train is to be the first player to lay down all of your dominoes. Whatever tiles are left in your hand count against you, so play strategically and try to get rid of the high-numbered tiles. Play moves clockwise from one player to the next.
The Start Player and the First Tile
Shuffle the dominoes; face down, on the table. We recommend that before the round starts, all players look for the starting tile. The player who finds the tile starts the game. They place the double-12 in the center of the hub. This domino serves as the "engine" for the round.
The remaining dominoes are turned face down. This supply is known as the boneyard. Then, each player takes the appropriate number of dominoes (see below) and stands them on edge, so that they can see the faces (the side with the pips) but their opponents cannot. We strongly recommend using domino tile racks to make this easier for you and so your dominoes don’t fall down.
• For 2-3 players, use a double-9 set and each player takes 15.
• For 4 players, use a double-12 set and each player takes 15.
• For 5-6 players, use a double-12 set and each player takes 12.
• For 7-8 players, use a double-12 set and each player takes 11.
• For 9-12 players, use a double-15 set and each player takes 11.
• For 13-14 players, use a double-18 set and each player takes 11.
Each later round starts with the player who has drawn the next-lowest double. For example, the player who draws the double-11 in the second round starts that round. The 13th and final round begins with the player who draws the double-blank.
The First Turn
The start player now starts to build a train (a single row of dominoes) starting from the center domino and moving toward the player. The end of the domino placed near the engine must match the engine's double number. (Example: If the engine is a double-12, the end of the domino placed near the engine must be a 12. The other end can be anything at all.)Taking turns in a clockwise direction, the other players do the same.
If a player cannot start a train on the first turn, they can draw from the boneyard pile. If they pick the needed domino (in this case the double 12- they can immediately play it. We call this the “Golden Domino” – when you are lucky enough to draw the domino that is needed. If they don’t draw the tile they need, they place a marker (train) where a domino would have been placed to indicate that they could not start a train.) On the second turn and all subsequent turns, any player can play dominoes in marked areas.
After Player 1 plays a domino on their train, it is Player 2’s turn to play on their train. If any player doesn’t have a 12 in their hand then they must keep all their dominoes and draw one from the boneyard. If a player cannot play, then they must put a train marker on the hub at their location to indicate that anyone can play on their train. At this stage most, if not all, the players will build their own trains, a personal playing area. The trains will lead out from the engine towards the player that laid them. This formation is known as the roundhouse. Eventually it will be player 1’s turn again.
Each player, in turn, places a tile to make the trains longer and to try and empty their hand. When you cannot go you must draw one domino from the boneyard unless the boneyard is empty. If you can play, you must place a tile.
Options for Play:
1) Play on the end of your own train. If you cannot play from your hand you can draw from the boneyard and can play that tile if it matches. If it doesn't match you place your train marker on the end of your own train. This opens it to other players. When you play on your own train again, take the train marker off your train and no one else can play on it.
2) If you cannot play on your own train but somebody else has their personal train marker in play then you can play on the end of that train.
3) You can also start or play on the Mexican Train. It must start with a twelve (EX: for round 1) You play one domino to start it. From then on it is open season on the Mexican train, anyone can play on it at any time. Only one Mexican train is allowed per game, but it can be started at any time.
Playing A Double Domino
If a player plays a double at the end of a train then they announce “Double.” They also must ANSWER the double. That means if it’s a double 6, they place the double 6 and MUST PLACE ANOTHER TILE with a 6 with the double at the same time. If they can't they draw from the boneyard. If they draw and pick the tile they need, in this example “6”, they can immediately play the tile on their train to match the double. If they can’t answer their own double after picking in the boneyard, they must place their train marker on their train.
The next domino by the next player must be played at the end of the train showing the double. If you cannot play against the double you must draw from the boneyard. If you still can’t play, you must pass. If you pass you don’t have to put your marker on your train. Play continues until the double is answered with three dominoes, forming a chickenfoot. Many people place a chicken on the double so players can see where the doubles are on the table.
VARIATIONS: We recommend that you only answer one domino on the Mexican Train vs. three dominos for a chickenfoot, this adds an element of intrigue and makes you think about the best play for your doubles.
The End of Play
The last domino in your hand must be announced. You can announce by tapping your tile loudly on the table or by saying ”uno” loudly. If another player notices that you have one tile left and have not announced it then he can make you draw two tiles from the boneyard, unless it is empty. The player must announce this before the next player has drawn a tile. NOTE: Very people ever enforce this rule, it’s a friendly game, and it’s a tough call.
The round finishes when one player has no more tiles to play or when the game is blocked. Note: You are not allowed to go out on a double. If you play a double, you have to answer it to be officially out.
A player that empties their hand scores zero points. At this point all the other players score the total number of pips/ dots on the dominoes left in their hand. Usually, a series of games are played and whoever has the least points at the end of the series, wins the match. You don’t have to play all 13 rounds, you can end whenever you like.
After all rounds have been completed, the player with the fewest points wins. If there is a tie, the player who scored the most zero-point rounds wins. If there is still a tie at this point, the player with the lowest total in a round, other than zero, wins.
Rule Variance: Many people count a double blank as 25 or 50 points vs the recommended 0 points. This is up to your train gang, you just need to decide this at the start of the game
If a player is unable to play and the boneyard is empty, the player must simply pass and ensure that a marker is placed upon their train. Play continues until all of the available moves are played.
RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT FOR PLAYING DOMINOES
We recommend a set of double 12 dominoes for 2-8 players.
Choose either dots or numbers. We recommend numbers for maturing or younger players since it’s easiest to count and see. It’s best to get a set with an interactive hub & all the pieces.
A standard flat hub for the engine
Interactive Hub- plays sounds –“Choo” to announce your train and/ or “Chicken Sound” to announce a double
Domino Tile Holders
Choose wood or plastic, the plastic trays hold more dominoes (44) vs the wood racks which hold up to 30 dominoes.
Trains and Chickens
Trains mark when your train is up, we also recommend the train starter piece for the Mexican train. Chickens are used when playing chickenfoot and marking a double. Train Starters and/ or Train Key chains mark the Mexican train.
We recommend using a scorepad, we specially designed ours in color and with subtotals to make keeping score easier and MORE FUN! We also have fun pens that clip right on the scorepad.