Semmes Senior Center
Mexican Train Dominoes
September 9, 2014
Mexican Train, also known as simply Trains, is a game played with dominoes. The object of the game is for a player to play all the dominoes from his or her hand onto one or more chains, or “trains”, emanating from a central hub or “station”. The game’s most popular name comes from a special optional train that belongs to all players. However, the game can be played without the Mexican Train; such variants are generally called “Private Trains” or “Domino Trains”. It is related to the game Chicken Foot.
A double-twelve set of dominoes is marketed as the standard for Mexican Train, and accommodates up to 8 players. Other sets are commonly used as well. The following alternate sets are common, depending on the number of people playing:
- Double-Six (2 players)
- Double-Nine (2-4 players)
- Double-Twelve (5-8 players)
- Double-Fifteen (9-12 players)
- Double-Eighteen (13+ players)
In addition to dominoes, the game also requires:
- One token or marker for each player
- A special spacer, known as the “station” or “hub”, used to evenly space the trains around the central domino (optional).
- Pencil and paper to keep score
Many sets of dominoes include a station and special train-shaped tokens for markers, and packaged games with a central “station” and custom tokens are available. However, the station piece is not strictly needed, and anything from coins to poker chips to even pieces of candy or slips of paper can be used as markers.
With a standard double-twelve set, the player with the double-twelve plays first. In each successive hand the next lower double is used until all doubles are used. The double-blank is the final hand. If no one has the required double for the round, players each draw another tile simultaneously until it is found. The player with the required double opens the station by placing this double in the center as the “engine”.
Play continues to the left. Each person lays exactly one domino per turn, if possible. If they are unable to, they must draw a domino from the boneyard. If they are able to lay that domino, they must do so immediately. Otherwise, their turn is over and play continues to the left, each player using the dominoes in their hand to make as long of a train as possible by playing matching dominoes one at a time, end to end. A player who can lay a domino must always do so.
A train can be as long as the players can make it; it only ends when all dominoes that could match its endpoint have already been played. As a result, trains can become quite long, especially with an extended domino set. It is acceptable to “bend” the train 90° or 180° to keep the train on the playing surface, as long as it does not interfere with the endpoints of other trains.
Wikipedia contributors, “Mexican Train,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mexican_Train&oldid=621670682(accessed September 2, 2014).