Dominoes Variants: Advanced Tips for Different Versions


Dominoes is a timeless game with countless variations that add complexity and excitement to the traditional rules. Whether you’re a seasoned dominoes player looking to explore new challenges or a curious beginner eager to learn more, this article offers advanced tips and strategies for various dominoes variants. From Mexican Train to All Fives and Draw Dominoes, each variant introduces unique elements that demand a distinct approach. Let’s dive into the advanced tactics for mastering these exciting dominoes variations.

1. Mexican Train Dominoes

Mexican Train is a popular and entertaining dominoes variant known for its chain reactions and engaging gameplay. Advanced players can employ specific strategies to outmaneuver their opponents:

a. Start with a Double

In Mexican Train, the game typically begins with the player holding the highest double (the double twelve) starting the “Mexican Train.” Advanced players aim to be in possession of this tile or other high doubles, as it gives them control over the initial moves and the ability to start additional trains.

b. Block Opponents’ Trains

A key strategy is to block your opponents’ trains when they start new ones. This can be done by placing a tile with the same number of pips as the starting double (e.g., if they start with a double six, play a tile with two sixes). By blocking their trains, you force them to make alternative moves, potentially disrupting their plans.

c. Keep Your Train Moving

While blocking opponents is essential, don’t neglect your own train. Advanced players aim to keep their trains moving and avoid costly pauses. This can involve extending their own train, switching to the public train, or opening new private trains when they can.

2. All Fives Dominoes

All Fives, also known as “Muggins,” is a variant where players score points based on the total number of pips in the tiles played. Here are some advanced tips for mastering All Fives:

a. Focus on High-Value Tiles

In All Fives, high-value tiles are your best friends. These are the tiles with fives on one or both ends. Advanced players aim to create plays that maximize the use of high-value tiles to accumulate points rapidly.

b. Track Your Opponents’ Scores

Keep a close eye on your opponents’ scores. In All Fives, you can “mug” your opponents by scoring points they overlook. This happens when they fail to claim points they’ve earned. Track their moves and be ready to call “Muggins” to snatch those unclaimed points.

c. Strategic Blocking

Blocking in All Fives serves a dual purpose: preventing opponents from playing high-value tiles and potentially forcing them to leave points unclaimed. Consider both offensive and defensive blocking strategies.

3. Draw Dominoes

Draw Dominoes is a variant that introduces the element of drawing additional tiles when a player cannot make a play. Advanced players can use these strategies to gain an edge:

a. Plan Your Draws

Don’t draw tiles blindly. Advanced players anticipate their future moves and select tiles that will help them achieve their goals. For instance, if you aim to create a scoring opportunity, draw tiles that fit into your plan.

b. Force Opponents to Draw

Use strategic blocking to force your opponents to draw tiles. This is particularly effective when opponents have a limited number of draws before they’re unable to continue playing. Make it challenging for them to find the right tiles.

c. Timing Is Key

Consider the timing of your draws carefully. Drawing too early can reveal your strategy to opponents, while drawing too late may limit your options. Advanced players find the right balance to maintain a competitive advantage.

4. Matador Dominoes

Matador is a variant of dominoes known for its exciting gameplay and unique rules. Advanced players can employ specific tactics to master this variant:

a. Take Advantage of Matador Tiles

Matador tiles, also known as “bulls,” have unique abilities, such as forcing opponents to draw tiles or removing them from play. Advanced players use these tiles strategically to disrupt opponents’ plans and create openings for themselves.

b. Forming Matadors

Creating “Matadors” or “cages” is a strategic move in this variant. By placing tiles in a way that surrounds an open end, you limit your opponents’ options and potentially force them to draw tiles.

c. Scoring Opportunities

While creating Matadors is important, don’t neglect your scoring opportunities. Advanced players identify moments when they can maximize their points by using Matador tiles.


Dominoes variants offer a rich tapestry of strategies and gameplay experiences, making them a delightful diversion for players of all skill levels. Advanced players can gain a significant edge by applying the specific tips and strategies tailored to each variant. Whether you’re enjoying a game of Mexican Train, All Fives, Draw Dominoes, or Matador, the key to success lies in mastering the unique rules and nuances of each variant. So, the next time you’re at the dominoes table, remember these advanced tips and savor the depth and variety that dominoes variants bring to the game.

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