Domino - The draw game

The draw game is one of the easy basic games with dominoes. We describe all rules at the Domino Plaza in a standard format: first we list the number of players, an estimate of the time it takes to play, and the materials you need. Then we mention the aim of the game (how to win), the preparations and what you do when it is your turn. Finally we describe how the game ends and details about winning.

Because this is one of the basic games, the rules are described here in more detail than in the description of many other domino games.

Number of players
The game is for 2 to 4 players. This, you can play it with 2, 3 or 4 players.

about 5 to 10 minutes. However, time may vary according to how fast the first player goes domino (plays his last tile).

One domino game with stones 0-6. However, it is also frequently played with larger sets.

Object of the game
The first player to score 100 or more points wins the game. For a short game play to a total of 50 points, to be agreed in advance.

The deal
All bones are shuffled face down.

There is some discussion how many dominoes each player should draw. Hoyle's rules of games suggests 7 dominoes each for 2 players, and 5 dominoes when 3 or 4 play. The remaining bones are left in the middle and are the stock, usually called boneyard.

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.

The rules

  1. All bones played must be played to a free end and must match numbers. Example: 0-2 matches 2-1.
  2. The layout always has two open ends, each sprouting from one of the long side of the starting double. See the sample game.
  3. If a player can not legally play a bone, he must draw from the boneyard untill he can play. If the boneyard is exhausted, he must pass.
  4. Doublets are placed crosswise as usual.
  5. It is allowed to draw from the boneyard while a player can play a bone.

The end
The game ends when one player goes domino (plays his last bone) or when all players have consecutively passed. The player who dominoes or, if everyone passed, the player with the least number of spots, scores points equal to the number of spots on the stones in the hands of all other players.

Sample game
There is a sample game to illustrate these rules.

Small variations

  1. The number of bones dealt at start varies in different parts of the world.
  2. The game can also be played with larger sets, such as the double 9 game or even the double twelve set. With the double 9 set, play starts with bones added to both long sides and both short sides of the first middle, thus giving four branches and four free ends to add a bone to at all times. With the double 12 set, bones are added to all four sides and all four corners, thus giving eight free ends to play to.
  3. No bone may be played untill both (in larger sets: all sides) of the initial double have been played to.
  4. For further variations, see the Regional variations.

Strategies are basically the same as in The Block game:

Regional variations

In the traditional dutch variant,as my late grandfather taught it me, a player, when he cannot play, draws one or two dominoes from the boneyard, and passes his turn if this does not give him a valid bone. The last two bones of the boneyard are not drawn and remain unused. The double zero counts as 13 points when counting spots.

Mail me to add your own country to this list!

Q: Does the game end when one player goes domino and the boneyard is not empty?

A: Yes, the game does end. The player does not need to draw from the boneyard when he plays his last domino and the boneyard is not empty.

Q: The end-section says "The player who dominoes or, if everyone passed, the player with the least number of spots, scores points equal to the number of spots on the stones in the hands of all other players". So what if two (or more) players have the same amount of spots in this case? Who wins then?

A: I have not found any rules for this case, but I suggest that both players divide the points scored, retaining fractions.
A suggestion from Mark W Roen is: Shuffle all played dominoes. Let the two players with the same number of points both draw a domino, the player with the highest number of spots wins the game.

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