facebook pixel
Domino game being played.

Mexican Train first turn rules, tips, and clarifications worth knowing

The Mexican Train Dominoes Facebook group has over 400 members discussing strategy, sharing thoughts, and asking questions about Mexican Train. Most people have questions about playing doubles, how to satisfy the double, and opening first turn or first-round rules. House rules can also introduce fun situations in Mexican Train Dominoes.

The first play sets the tone for the rest of the game, so having clear rules and strategies in place matters.

Which comes first: satisfy the double or start the train?

Question: "On the first turn, as you're building your train and you end with a double—and cannot satisfy the double—does the next person have to satisfy the double before being allowed to build their train?"

House rules can dictate this scenario since the formal game rules rarely specify this situation.

The situation:

Answer: In this scenario, Player C should first satisfy the double domino by laying one of their own or drawing a domino from the boneyard. This means Player C might not be able to start their train until their second turn. Player D will pick up and play on their train to begin their round.

When do you establish house rules for tapping?

Question: "So, we play the 'tap when you have 1 domino left or pick up 2 rule'. I had two dominos in my hand, a double and a piece I could play on it (double 1 and a 1|5 type thing). So, I went out on this. Played both dominoes on my own train and never tapped. There was a SCENE."

The situation:

Answer: There will always be gray areas and house rules that some players encounter mid-game. Generally, house rules should be established and followed to the letter before the first tile is played in the first round.

This scenario sounds like a reasonable "single, continuous play" since satisfying the double is technically part of one turn, and there is no need to announce the last domino.

Do you have to play all your matching tiles at the start of the Mexican Train first?

Question: "Say the double 6|6 is the engine, do all tiles with a 6 on them need to be at the start of a Mexican Train? Or can you play them in the personal trains after starting your own train?"

The situation:

Answer: Player A can either play a tile starting with a 1 on their train, or, they can choose to play a starting tile starting with 6 on the Mexican Train to match the engine tile.

Strategically, we recommend players play as many moves with as many dominoes as they can on their train first. Player A can play any tile with a 6 on subsequent turns anywhere in their train so long as it matches end-to-end.

If I play max moves on the first turn and draw, can I then lay multiple dominoes?

Question: "This question is about playing Mexican Train with no limit on the number of tiles you can play on your first turn. During my first turn, the Mexican Train is a 12 and I don't have a 12 in my hand—so I draw a domino from the boneyard. Let's say it happens to be a 12. Can I now proceed to build a train starting with the 12 and lay multiple tiles down as it is still my first turn, or am I limited to just the one tile?"

The situation:

Answer: This is likely another gray area most house rules don't account for. We think if you have to draw from the boneyard on your first turn under these house rules, you forfeit your ability to lay additional tiles. Drawing from the boneyard is your turn's immediate end, whether you can play it immediately or not, and play moves clockwise to the next player.

Which comes first in Mexican Train Dominoes: the double or the first move?

Question: "If a player is not able to start their own train and therefore hasn’t been able to get in the game, can that player back a double that was left uncovered by a previous player, or do they just have to draw again for a starter and pass the uncovered double to the next player?"

The situation:

Answer: Player B must cover the double, either by placing one of their playable tiles or drawing among the remaining dominoes in the bone pile.

Satisfying the double takes precedence over any other move. Once they cover the double, their turn is over. Their personal train is still open. Subsequent turns move to Player A.

Is the double blank any different in Mexican Train?

Question: Does the double blank domino count as a valid starting double?

The situation:

Answer: Unless your house rules say otherwise, the double blank domino is treated just the same as all other doubles. Each player plays as if they need to match the blank end of the engine.

Can I play on someone else’s train on the first move?

Question: “If I can't open my train on the first turn, can I play on another open train?"

The situation:

Answer: Player C could play on Player B’s open train if they wish, or on their own train. They can also play on the public Mexican Train. Whether or not they should start their train or someone else’s so early is a matter of strategic debate.

Can someone open a train for me in Mexican Train?

Question: "If a player cannot open, do they have to put a train marker at their spot or can another player open for them?"

The situation:

Answer: No, player B's train is now open. Player B would place a marker opening their train, and another player could come along and play on that player's train, the public Mexican Train, or your open train if they wish. If they played on the open, private train, then it would be officially started and you could play on it for your next turn. But another player cannot open a train for you as a "gift" or lend a tile to you—no matter if they're family or not!

Copyright 2019 DillyDallyGames. Terms of Service | Privacy Policy