Mexican Train Dominoes Rules: Instructions and Gameplay Guide

Ever thought of building a train with dominoes? As bizarre as it may sound, in Mexican Train, you can!

The Mexican Train Dominoes rules are quite similar to Tri-Ominos rules, with the basic gameplay revolving around strategic domino placement in both the games. The only differences here, besides the shape of the tiles, are the Mexican Train and the absence of a board.

The game is pretty straightforward with Mexican Train Dominoes rules being relatively uncomplicated. However, over the years, several variations have sprouted to add a tad bit of complexity here and there, including Swan Drive, Matching Doubles, and more.

Ready to get your train started? Let’s find out everything there is about Mexican Train Dominoes!

What Is Mexican Train Dominoes

Mexican Train Dominoes Game Info image

Mexican Train Dominoes is classic dominoes with an interesting twist. The game, for instance, revolves around building trains, branching from a ‘central station’. The dominoes are like the coaches. The faster a player can get rid of the coaches in hand to build trains, the better! Unlike the official classic dominoes which is played with up to 4 people, this game can be played with a larger group. 

Number Of Players: 2-10.

Ages: Enjoyable for all ages.

Difficulty: Easy.

Length Of Play: 40 – 45 mins.

Main Objective: Matching the dominoes at the open end of the train with a domino in the hand until all dominoes are played.

Why We Love It: It’s the perfect game for a lazy afternoon, a drinks-filled night, or anytime when you want to have fun without putting much thought into the game. Since it only requires basic strategy, you can literally play Mexican Train anytime, anywhere, and with anyone!

Mexican Train Dominoes Equipment and Set-Up

The equipment required to play Mexican Train Dominoes is minimal and the set-up is super simple. You will simply need;


In a typical set, you will find 91 dominoes and a few markers. These 91 dominoes are all pipped on one face and the other face is blank. 

The pipped face is further divided into two sections. The pips on these sections can be of different numbers and colors or the same. In the latter case, it’s called a double domino. (For instance, a domino with 5 pips on both sections is a double-five domino).

This cool set by Spin Master Games has 91 dominoes along with 4 cute plastic trains as markers. Additionally, they also have the starter piece to keep the trains arranged and ‘in their track’.

Double Twelve Mexican Train Dominoes in Tin
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Follow these simple steps below to set-up Mexican Train Dominoes:

  1. Place all the dominoes upside down on a flat, large surface. Shuffle them thoroughly.
  2. Distribute a set number of dominoes among each player. Follow the chart to find out that number: 
  1. Ask each player to flip their dominoes horizontally upwards so that the other players cannot see what they have got.
  2. Put all the remaining dominoes to the sides. These make the bone pile.
  3. Place the starter piece at the center. Place 1 double-twelve domino at the center. This is the Mexican Train and will mark the start of each player’s personal train.
playing mexican train dominoes image

Mexican Train Dominoes Rules and Instructions

Mexico Train Dominoes is divided into 13 rounds from double-twelve to double-blank at the center. Once your game is set-up, you can decide amongst yourself who would like to go first and continue in the clockwise direction.

How to Play Mexican Train Dominoes

Throughout the game, the players have to match one of their dominoes with the closing domino on the train. To begin with, making their personal trains, each player will need a domino with twelve pips on at least one section of a domino.

Let’s say player A has a domino with 12:5 pips, A has to place the side with 12 pips towards the center so that 5 will be at the closing end. If the player has another domino with 5 pips on a section, A will place that adjacent to the closing end to elongate the train. 

In this way, A will keep matching the numbers on the closing end and play the dominoes until A doesn’t have any more dominoes that match. The turn passes on to the next player who will do the same. 

However, note that playing multiple dominoes is allowed only in the first turn and next turn onwards, the players can only play one domino. If they don’t have any matching domino, they have to pick one domino per turn.

This first turn is especially crucial and the only part where you have to use your brain to visualize a pattern that will help you play the most number of dominoes within a single turn.

Double Domino Exception: The only exception to the above rule is when a player plays a double domino. In this case, the player gets rewarded another turn, however, in this extra turn the player can only play a domino matching the double domino

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Opening and Closing A Train

When no matching domino is available, the players have to draw one from the bone pile and place a marker over his/her train to declare it open. When this happens, every player gets the option to match their dominoes on either their own personal train or that open train of an opponent. 

The train remains open until the owner of the trainmatches a domino at the closing end and closes the train again. 

Playing On The Mexican Train

If a player has no matching domino available for either their own personal trains or other open trains, they have the option to elongate the Mexican Train at the center. Naturally, they will need a matching section to do that.

Note that a player per round can start only 1 Mexican Train. This train then remains open for all players. Once open, the Mexican Train cannot be closed as no one owns it.

When a player finishes with his hand of dominoes in that round, all dominoes are shuffled. The play continues in the same manner with double-eleven at the center. The rounds repeat until the last round has a double-blank at the center.

Scoring and Winning The Game

At the end of each round, scores are tallied. So, who wins? Here is how it works. We look at the sum of the total number of pips on each domino that is left with a player. it becomes the score of that player in the round. The winning player gets a 0.

After the final round with a double-blank, these scores are added. The player with the lowest score wins.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mexican Train Dominoes

What are the variants of Mexican Train Dominoes?

Since the name of this game is based on the shared train for all players, naturally, once the Mexico train is removed, you can create more similar variations. Such variations are called private trains or domino trains. More popular variations include Fast game, Delayed first turn, among others.

With Mexican Train Dominoes rules, can we play a single domino even if we have a matching double domino?

No. According to Mexican Train Domino, when multiple dominoes are matching, the double domino has to be played before any other domino.

What to do if the boneyard is empty in Mexican Train Dominoes?

If a player doesn’t have a matching domino and the boneyard is empty, the player skips the turn. If all players don’t have any matching dominoes available, the round ends, and scores are marked.

More Tiles and Dominoes Games That You Might Like

We understand that domino games can get addictive. If you can’t get enough of playing with tiles and dominoes but are running out of varieties, we are here to your rescue.

You should try games played with lower sets like Cyprus (played with a double-nine set) and Sebastopol or Maltese Cross (played with a double-six set).

If you loved the gameplay of Mexican Train and would like to try the same with different tiles and concepts, you should try playing Bananagrams; a fun variation of scrabble. However, if you want to try something completely different in tile games, we would suggest absolutely give Azul a try. It’s creative and pretty damn unique.

Otherwise if you’re looking for more inspiration, why not check out the best domino games for two players for more options.

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