Mexican Train Rules

how to play Mexican train game rules

Learn how to play Mexican Train dominoes with our fast and easy to reference Mexican Train Rules

Players: 1 to 8 | Game duration from: 20 mins | Game Complexity: EASY
How to play Mexican Train rules in simple steps

What is the goal of Mexican Train?

Play all your Mexican Train dominoes and earn the lowest score across 3 rounds

Mexican Train Dominoes Setup

In each round, players try to be the first to play all their dominoes or as many of their high point dominos

Setup the Engine

In the center of the table, place the double-12 dominoes. This is where the trains start. Engine refers to the double-12 in the centrepiece.

Mexican Train game rules - the engine
The Engine

Shuffle and deal dominoes

Turn other dominoes face down, shuffle and each player draws the the number of dominoes based on the number of players playing.

  • 2-4 Players: 15
  • 5 -6 Players: 12
  • 7 – 8 Players: 10

Stand your dominoes on edge facing. Make sure they are not visible to your opponents.


Any remaining dominoes are put in a pile and this becomes the boneyard.

Select Starting Player for the round

Players randomly pick dominoes. Player with the highest value is the starting player. Play continues clockwise. In the next round, the player to the left of the starter becomes the new starting player for that round.

Mexican Train Step by Step Rules

The Engine starts with a double 12 domino.  When a round ends, each lower double is used for the next round until all doubles are used. The double-blank is the final round. Play move to the left. Each player plays one playable domino per turn, or two if the player’s first domino is a double. If they do not have a playable tile, they must draw a domino from the boneyard. If playable, it must be played. If not, their turn ends and play continues to the left. Players compete to place all their dominoes by playing matching end to end dominoes each turn.

Total Time: 20 minutes

Personal and Mexican Trains

The hub comprises of slots for each player where they can start their Personal Train of dominoes (typically only a player has access to it) and a slot for the Mexican Train where it is a public line of dominoes where all players can play onto.

Start a Personal Train

Starting Personal Train in Mexican Train Dominoes

Player plays a tile that end-matches the engine’s tile on the slot closest to them. Once started, the player can have access to their personal train as long as they can place.

Start Mexican Train

Player end matches tile to Engine tile on the slot designated for the Mexican Train. Normally, eligible for all players to play their dominoes. A marker may be placed and left on the Mexican Train to indicate it is an eligible train for play. The Mexican train can be started by any player during their turn if it hasn’t already been started. 

Playing of tiles

You can only play one playable (end-matching) tile during each turn, with the exception of playing doubles. Eligible trains to play on are: your personal train, the Mexican train, or any train with a “marker”.

Playing of Doubles

Mexican Train Doubles rules

Double tile is placed sideways on the train. You play an additional tile that isn’t a double (unless it’s your last domino, in which case round ends). Either the double or another eligible train can be used to play the additional tile.  Draw a tile if you don’t have another to play, then play it if you can. Place your marker on your personal train if your additional tile is not playable (your Double is now OPEN). Play moves to next player.

An Open Double (not played on)

When a player’s turn is over and the double is open, the player’s personal train becomes public and no other train is ineligible to played on until the the double is closed (played on). After drawing, subsequent players must mark their personal trains if they cannot play on the double. Once the double is closed, all players are free to play on any eligible train.

Your tile is not playable

Draw one from the boneyard and play it if possible. Playable tiles must always be played. Add a marker on your personal train if unable to play after drawing a tile. The personal train now becomes a public train where other players can play their dominoes on it.

Marker on your personal train

When a marker is on your train, other players can play on it unless there is an Open Double. You can still play on any eligible train during your subsequent turns while a marker is on your train. Your train marker remains there until you play on your personal train. Once you have played, you remove your marker.

End of Mexican Train Round

Whenever there are no more tiles in the boneyard, a player passes and places a marker on his train. Players must tap their last tile on the table when they have only one left. Whenever a player has “dominoed” (played his last tile, even if it is a double), or when the boneyard is depleted, the round ends.

Scoring Mexican Train Round

At the end of each round, the player going out gets 0 points, while the rest total all pips (dots) on their dominoes.

Begin New Round

Every new round begins with the double that is one number lower than the engine in the previous round (12, 11, 10, etc.). Place the double aside before shuffling. All trains, including the Mexican train, must match that double. In a full-length game with double-12 dominoes, there are 13 rounds since the blank double is the engine.

How to win in Mexican Train?

Player with the lowest score after thirteen rounds is the winner. In the case of a tie, player with the most 0-point rounds is the winner. (If still tied, lowest round total other than 0 is the winner).

Mexican Train Rules FAQs

How many dominoes do you start with in Mexican Train?

15 for 2 to 4 players, 12 for 5 to 6 players and 10 for 7 to 8 players.

Can you play on someone else’s train if you haven’t started yours?

Yes you can play on someone else’s train as long as it has a marker on it.

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