Trains

These games takes their family name from the feature that the players build their own private line of tiels ("trains") instead of playing on a shared layout for the initial part of the game.

The goal is to domino, since scores are based on the tiles left in the other players hands.

This family is usually played with a larger domino set, say double nine or double twelve, but it is possible to play them with a double nine or double six set for a faster game. A smaller set and fewer players is not as good a game, however. You would need to adjust the size of the hands accordingly.

Given a double twelve set, you can make smaller non-traditional sets to adjust the games to either less time or a smaller number of players. If you decide to build a smaller set, you should consider the problem of whether or not a single train exists (i.e. whether it is possible to connect the entire set of dominoes into one train), since it will affect the game. This problem is discussed on another page.

Basic Trains

This is a simple game in the train family.

Equipment

The game uses a double nine or double twelve domino set.

The Deal

There is no boneyard in this game; any leftover tiles are put aside and left face down. The number of players determines the number of tiles in a hand according to this table:

PlayersDouble Nine Double Twelve
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
13
11
9
7
6
6
5
22
18
15
13
11
10
9

The Play

The highest double is played first and play moves clockwise. Each player in his first turn puts down a double, called his "engine" in front of himself. If someone cannot make this first play, the game is blocked, nobody scores and a new hand is dealt.

After the first turn, each player must add another "car" to his "train" by matching the ends of a tile from his hand to either end of his own train. A player not able to add a car to his own train loses his turn. After adding a car to his own train, the player can then add one and only one car to any or all of the trains belonging to the other players.

Doubles are played in line; there are no spinners.

Scoring

Play stops when one player has dominoed. They are the winner. The winner gets 5 points for each tile left in the hands of the other players. The game is 120 points.

Comments & Strategy

Trains can get pretty long, so you might want to fold the line around or remove the middle tiles and replace them with a face down tile across the two ends of the train.

Counting the ends is important in this game. You want to keep both ends of your train available for your own play and to block the ends of the trains of the other players.

For example, if all of the sixes are on the board and in your hand (there are 11 sixes in a double nine set), then adding one of your tiles to an opponent's train so that both ends of their train are sixes will block them from further play.

Likewise, you should try to avoid having both ends of your own train equal to each other.