The best times to play a double in Mexican Train Dominoes
The best time to play a double in Mexican Train Dominoes is when you have one and can string them together to be the first player out of all their dominoes. But there are some additional strategies worth knowing.
When to play a double in Mexican Train Dominoes
Play doubles early in the game.
You'll have more moves available to you and you increase your odds playing your last tile in quick subsequent turns. This works best when other players are unable to match their engine tile and get off to a slow start.
Play doubles to avoid points late in the game.
If someone is close to going out and the dominoes drawn from the bone pile are dwindling, lay the doubles to reduce points. The player with the lowest points after the final round, usually of three, wins.
Lay a double tile to block opponents on or approaching an uno.
A player with one or two tiles left may get stuck having to close a double if you can lay one at the right time. This may force them into drawing a domino from the boneyard or open their train, causing havoc on their strategy.
Block an opponent by playing a double.
Play moves clockwise, so depending on what the player to your left is laying, see if you can identify what they're after. If you're unsure, go by what they played last. If they laid a tile ending in |6 and you have a 6|6, the chances of them having another 6| to play are low.
Common mistakes and when not to play doubles in Mexican Train Dominoes
Don't blindly lay doubles on your or another player's train
if you can't cover it or don't have a strategy to string them together.
Avoid playing a double on the Mexican Train.
Because a double is only coverable once, it doesn't add any strategic value to your personal trains, the Mexican Train, or open another player's train.
Play on your own train where possible.
Doubles on your train give you the most value because you can see your own tiles. So avoid playing your doubles on opponents' trains unless you're just stuck or trying to reduce pips to keep your score low if you're unlikely to win.
Play doubles early, not late.
Playing doubles early in the game gives you the most flexibility by granting you more moves. The single dominoes remaining in your hand can be played elsewhere on your private train, someone else's train, or the public train.
Mexican Train house rules and variations on doubles
There are all sorts of Mexican Train rules people adjust to their liking. How to handle playing doubles is no different.
Some variations require people to answer the double with one tile. This is how the iOS
apps work. When you play Mexican Train on your phone or tablet, standard rules apply.
Some prefer playing with up to three tiles. This is a huge shift in play that can end games much faster—which is useful for large groups playing with as many dominoes they can get their hands on. And it changes the strategic value of one domino, double tiles, and what's left a player's remaining tiles.
Other house rules include forbidding players to play doubles on the Mexican Train. Or, if playing with multiple Mexican Train engines (another known variation), playing only one Mexican Train.
Other FAQs about playing doubles in Mexican Train
What happens after I lay a double?
When you lay a double domino, like 2|2 or 10|10, you must also play an additional tile that is not a double. The exception being if it's your last tile. This is a winning strategy because the sooner you can get down to only one tile the sooner you can play it a win.
What happens if I don't have a tile to play?
You can play the additional tile on the double itself OR on another eligible train. If you don't have a tile to play, draw and play. If you're unable to play the additional tile from the bone pile, play passes to the next player and that player draws from the bone pile or lays a domino.
What opens a train and what is an open double?
If you lay a double and don't close it, meaning it's not played on, the tile is "open". When this happens all other trains are closed for players until someone can close the double. If subsequent players are unable to play, their trains are open with a train marker and everyone must immediately play a newly drawn tile on each round. In the Mexican Train Dominoes iOS
apps, a train is marked for you automatically.
What happens if someone else lays another double?
The double must be closed, so if someone else lays another double play continues until a player plays a closing tile. You and opponents will have to draw from the bone pile if no one has a playable tile. Our mobile and online Mexican Train Domino
games handle all the rules and normal play for you.
Can I play two or more doubles in succession?
Yes, during your turn you can play two or more doubles back-to-back. As always, after your last double is played you must lay an extra tile that's not a double on any eligible train. And doubles must be satisfied in the order they were played, so the eligible double for the additional tile is the first one played.
What if all eligible tiles to close a double are already played?
If there are no more tiles to close a double is already played, and players have no remaining dominoes, the open double is ignored and no longer restricts play on eligible trains. If there's some other open double that can be closed, that restriction remains. This scenario is most likely toward the end of the game when the bone pile is limited.
You may also be interested in these helpful posts: