Domino - 4 man 2 box game

This game is similar to the standard draw game and with Muggins, but 2 full boxes of double-6 dominoes are used and players may stack matching dominoes during game play.

These rules have kindly been provided by Mr. Mark Howard, San Mateo, he also holds the copyright to these rules.

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.

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.

The deal
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.

The rules

  1. All bones played must be played to a free end and must match numbers, as with the standard draw game
  2. The layout always has four open ends, each sprouting from one of the four sides of the first double played (called the spinner).
  3. The two long sides of the spinner must be played before the tips of the spinner are played.
  4. There is no requirement to play the tips before adding to the other free ends.
  5. It is allowed to draw from the boneyard while a player can play a bone.
  6. In all cases, subsequent doublets (after the initial bone) are placed and counted crosswise as usual, but their tips are not played.
  7. If a player cannot legally play a bone he must draw bones, one at a time, from the bone-yard (draw pile) until he or she can play or the bone yard is depleted.
  8. Once the bone-yard is depleted, then players must pass their turn if they cannot legally play a bone on any available free end.
  9. When an available free end matches a bone in your stock, you may STACK that bone on top of that end piece. For example, if the ace-deuce is played to an ace and you have the matching ace-deuce (from the second set of bones in play), you may stack that bone on top of the first one. You are not required to stack bones, you may choose to play the deuce to the deuce, leaving the ace as the free end, particularly if that play will add to your score. This variation allows players to replicate the score of a previous player and essentially not change the existing layout by stacking the matching bone on top of the available end, which can be done whether it adds to their score or not. If the center (double) bone has at least one free end, it may be stacked also. After a matching bone is stacked, play continues as usual.

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.

The end
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.

Cuttthroat variation
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.

Scoring example

  1. Say first play is the double-6. Then the next player lays the 6-3 on one long side of the spinner and scores 15 points:
    3 points are for the 6-3, 12 come from the double 6.
  2. Say the next player plays a 6-2 on the other long side of the spinner, scoring 5:
    0-2 0-2
    3 points are for the 6-3, 2 come from the 6-2.
  3. The next player may play on any of the 4 available tips. If he plays a 6-5 off one tip of the spinner, he scores 10 (as the open 6 tip is not being played and is not counted until it is added to):
    0-2 0-2 0-2
    0-2 0-2
    3 points are for the 6-3, 2 come from the 6-2.
  4. Say the next player has a double-6 or a 6-3, a 6-2 or a 6-5 in his stock, he can play any one of those on top of the matching bone and score 10, the layout viewn from the top would still look like:
    0-2 0-2 0-2
    0-2 0-2
  5. In the "Cutthroat" variation, he would steal the 10 from the previous player, adding 10 to his score, and docking 10 from the previous player's score. If he happens to play a double (the double-6 in this case) he would steal double, in this case, scoring 20 and also docking 20 from the previous player, in a cutthroat game.

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