Number of players
The game is intended for for 4 independent players. The game may be played with 5 or 6 players as 56 dominoes are used, giving ample supply.
about 15-20 minutes.
Two domino game sets with values 0-6. It is suggested that 2 sets of matching size and thickness be used, but if available, of two distinctly different colors, particularly if you want to be able to easily separate the sets after game play.
Object of the game
The first player to score 150 or more points wins the game. For shorter or longer game play, a total of 100 points (taking approx. 10 minutes) or 200 points (taking about 20-25 minutes) may be agreed upon in advance.
All 56 bones are mixed together and shuffled, face down. Each player draws 7 bones, keeping them face down until after the bone pile is cleared to the side. Once everyone is ready, everyone can lift or look at their bones at the same time.
The first to play their double-6 puts it in the middle. If all players concede there is no double-6 to play from their stock, then the first to put the double-5 in the middle starts, and so on, with each descending double. Whoever places the initial double (the spinner), the turn then rotates to his or her left. Unlike some other versions of draw, there is no requirement to branch all four sides of the double in the first 4 plays, in fact, the 2 long sides of the spinner must be played upon before either of the short ends (tips) are played.
After each hand, the bones are all reshuffled and the same deal and lay-down (fastest/highest double laid down) is followed, regardless of who won the previous hand.
Every player keeps his dominoes secret. He places them on their long edges in such a way that only he himself can see them.
To start the player with the highest double puts it in the middle. This is called setting the highest domino. The turn then rotates to his left. For those who wonder how dominoes can remain secret while sorting out who holds the highest double, one player asks: does anyone hold double 6? If any one holds it, that player responds by setting it. If no one sets, the player asks: does any one hold double 5? And so on down untill double 0. In the rare case that no one holds a double, players shuffle and draw again.
Scores are tallied by an appointed player using a tablet. Usually / is marked down for 5 points, \ for the next 5 points (making an X) and O is used for tens. Rows of 50 points are used to facilitate easy recognition of points by players, without having to ask the score during game play.
Points are counted on the free ends that are in play. This means, once the long sides of the first double are played, then the two far ends of the newly played dominoes are counted and the two short ends of the spinner are not counted themselves. If they are played upon, then the new end (3rd, then 4th side of the spinner) are tallied with the far ends (*refer to scoring example below). Points are given for free end totals in increments of 5 (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and so on.) and must be called by the player before the next player lays down, in order to be scored. It is suggested the player call out the points as they place their bone. If a player calls or notices the points after the next player lets go of the bone they are playing, then those points were forfeited.
Each hand ends when one player goes domino (plays his last bone). The player who dominoes or, if everyone passed, the player with the least number of spots, scores points equal to the cumulative number of spots on the stones in the hands of all other players.
If no one can play (which pretty much seems impossible, but if the bone yard is totally depleted and all players have consecutively passed), the player with the lowest cumulative total in their hand wins. They then add the cumulative points of the other players to their score, less the points from their own hand. If two or more players tie for the lowest hand, then the one with the lowest single bone (double-blank, then ace-blank, etc..) wins the hand.
At the end of each hand (while the shuffle is being done) the score keeper should announce the point totals to the players.
A popular version called "Cutthroat" follows these rules, but also allows a player to steal the points of the previous player's play, when they stack on the following play. For example; Player 1 plays a blank-6 to a blank and scores 10 points as the other end has a 2-4, with the 4 exposed. Then, Player 2 lays down either a 2-4 on the available 2-4 or a blank-6 over the available blank-6 or the matching double over the exposed double (with at least 1 free side), then Player 2 not only scores the 10, but steals the 10 points from Player 1. If the player plays any double to accomplish the cutthroat, he scores DOUBLE the score and decrements the previous player by double the score also. After a matching bone is stacked, play continues as usual. Refer to scoring example below*. Any points that are "stolen" are generally lined out.
Basic guidelines are the same as a regular draw game: Play your doubles whenever you can and keep your own hand as varied as possible.
You should try to deduce what stones other players have in their hand as well as what may be in the bone pile. Using 2 different colored sets also adds to the strategy slightly as you can watch for what has been played and what you have to deduce which color would be better to draw from if you have to go to the bone pile.
Watch out for Cutthroat situations if playing that particular variation.
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