The Rules of the Game.
For the same reason that it’s hard to talk about the rules of dice, it’s hard to lock down what counts as ‘classic’ dominoes. Nobody knows exactly what the original rules were and now there are simply too many variants. However, the version known as Straight Dominoes is a good, family-friendly starting point on your dominoes journey.
Set-up: Play using a standard 28-tile double-six domino deck. Place the dominoes face down. Each player picks a tile and the player with the highest double (or highest single, if no doubles are drawn) goes first. Play continues in a clockwise direction.
Gameplay: Players start by drawing seven tiles. Any remaining dominoes (the ‘boneyard’) are left facedown, to be drawn as required. The player who won the draw can play any tile they choose. Each subsequent player lays another tile in the chain so that the touching ends are always matching numbers—that is, ones touch ones, twos touch twos, and so on. If they cannot play a matching tile they must either take a tile from the boneyard or pass. If the first tile is a double (known as a ‘spinner’), then players can start building chains in four directions—from either end, as well as at right angles to the tile. Later doubles are played at right angles to the chain that they’re in and can also be built on in any direction. The game ends when someone plays the last of their dominoes—yelling out “Domino!” as they do so—or if the players are unable to play any more tiles, in which case the game is said to be blocked.
Scoring: If a player has dominoed, then the other players count up the pips on their remaining tiles and award that many points to the winner. If the game has become blocked, then the player with the least number of tiles left is taken to be the winner and the points are tallied up in the same way. Play continues until someone reaches the target. You can set whatever target you want, although somewhere between 100 and 200 points is standard.
Tips: Play doubles and high-scoring tiles as early as possible. They’ll only get harder to play as the game continues and can end up boosting your opponent’s score. Keep as wide a range of numbers on your tiles as you can. This will give you more flexibility as the game goes on. If your opponent passes, then you know what numbers to try and keep off the board!
If you would like to score with our dominoes, there are numbers hidden in our pictures. 1 sun, 2 apples, 3 flowers, 4 mushroom spots, 5 leaf bug holes, 6 caterpillar bumps, and 7 colours in the rainbow.