Basic Trains - domino game rules

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 may 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 (played all their tiles). 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.

This page was contributed by Joe Celko (jcelko212@earthlink.net).   © Joe Celko 2001. Last updated: 5th July 2020

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