The Mexican train is a game played with dominos, in principle a double 12 set containing 91 pieces numbered from 0 to 12. The objective of the game is to get rid of all your pieces as fast as you can, so to get a few points as possible.
Playing the game
The first round starts with the double 12 layed down at the center of the table. The second round starts with the double 11, then the double 10, and so on. The 13th round starts with the double 0 and the 14th with the double 12 again. The dealer deals between 8 and 15 pieces depending on the number of players.
Chains of dominos, called trains, are going towards the players starting from the central double (sometimes called the station).
Each player has his own private train, and there exists an additional train, the mexican train, which is owned by nobody.
The personal trains of each of the players are initially closed, meaning that only their respective owners can play on it. at the opposite, the Mexican train is always open, all players can always play on it.
At your turn, you must play a domino from your hand, whether into your own personal train, the mexican train, or into any other open train. You aren't allowed to play into a closed train which isn't yours.
As in any domino game, to play in a train, one of the two numbers on the domino you are playing must correspond to the one on the current end of the train. At the beginning of the first round, the first piece of all the trains must be a 12.
IF you don't have any playable piece, you must draw one from the boneyard. If the domino just drawn is playable, you can do so immediately. Otherwise, you keep it in your hand and your personal train now become open. From now on, any player can play on it.
As soon as you play in your own train, it becomes closed again and you are thus back alone allowed to play on it.
Either your train is open or closed, you always ahve the possibility to play in the public train or in another player's train currently open.
Playing in another player's open train doesn't close it. The public mexican train stays always open to all players, at any time.
The first who got rid of all his pieces wins the round. A round may also be declared draw if the situation is totally stuck; more precisely if the boneyard is empty and if a complete round of the table happens without anyone being able to play any piece.
Playing a double allows you to play again. You can then play any domino in any accessible train. You keep your turn as long as you are playing doubles.
If you leave a double at the end of a train, the double is said to be unterminated. If you don't play another piece just in front of it in order to terminate it, next players will then have to do it.
In such a case, the player who can do it must terminate the double by playing on the adequate train, even if it is normally private and currently closed. If he can't terminate the double, he must draw, and if he still can't after having drawn, his own personal train become open and the turn goes to the next player. As long as the double stays unterminated, no one can play in another train, including the public train.
If several doubles are left unterminated, what can happen if you play multiple doubles in a row, they have to be terminated in the reverse order, the first left unterminated double is terminated last.
If you play a double as your last piece, you win the round without replaying.
At the end of the round, players count points according to the dominos they still ahve in hand. The winner, who has an empty hand, doesn't take any point. The double 0 is worth 10.
Players who reach a certain amount of points fixed in advance, 100 for example, go out of the game. The final winner of the game is the last to stay in.
Keyboard shortcuts summary
- Spacebar: draw a domino
- C: look at trains currently on the table
- E: say how many dominos each player has and how many are in the boneyard
- S: read scores
- T: say whose turn it is