How to Play Mexican Train

Directions courtesy of Future Aids, The Braille Superstore.

Players: 2-8
Ages: 8 and up.

Perhaps the best domino game to be played with a hub is called Mexican Train. Like all popular games, every group that has played the game for a while has their own variation of the rules. For example, Cardinal, the company that puts out the dominoes sold at Camping World and Toys R Us, has another differing set of rules.

Equipment for the game can be simple or slightly more elaborate. The only thing you really need is a set of dominoes and a domino hub. However, markers may be used so everyone knows who's trains can be played on. When a doublet is played you must click two tiles together as a signal. All part of the fun.

The game is commonly played with double-nine dominoes. From 2 to 8 may play. Each player should take 8 tiles to start with, so there is a "boneyard" to draw from.

The object of the game is to play off all your dominoes. You play onto your own train, onto the Mexican train, or onto other players marked trains.

After drawing the tiles each person then takes time to set up his train as he hopes to play it. Any tiles that do not fit on his train, empties, may be played later on others' trains, or on the Mexican train.

Begin by placing the highest double in the center of the hub, also called the station. The first player then places 1 matching tile in the notch nearest himself. If he does not have one he may draw, or the nearest person to his left may offer him one, if he has an extra. Play continues in this fashion around the circle to the left. When a player cannot play he draws one. If he cannot play this one, he then puts a marker on his train as a signal that it may be played on by others. A marker may be removed when a player is able to play on his own train. If you are not using markers, simply stand the last domino on your train up, so everyone knows your train is "open for business."

When a person plays a double, he must "satisfy" the double by playing the next matching tile. If he cannot, he must draw. If this does not give him the right tile, he must put up a marker on his train if it does not already have one. This signals that anyone may play on this train. No other train may be played on, however, until the double has been honored. Each player must play from his bone pile or draw one tile. If he cannot satisfy the double, he must put up his marker. When the double has been honored, play continues as usual. If there are no more dominoes matching the double, the game is over.

Anyone who does not have a tile to play on his own train may play on other marked trains, or the Mexican Train. The Mexican Train can be started by anyone who has a domino that matches the double in the center of the hub. Anyone is welcome to play on the Mexican Train at any time.

Each time a player puts down her second-to-last tile, she must quickly say "Down to one", or else another player may say " Draw one", or "How many do you have?". If that happens, she must then draw another tile.

When a player goes out, everyone counts their tiles at face value except for the double blank, which counts 50.

The next round then begins with the next lower double. A score-keeper should keep track of the scores until the game is over. The lowest score wins

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