You might think I am referring to a locomotive that rattles noisily down steel tracks somewhere in Mexico. Well, I am not. I am talking about a popular board game using dominoes that I discovered through friends.
A year ago or so, when in Mexico, Tom and Dee Grant, along with another couple, Don and Leslie, introduced my wife, Barbara, and I to the game. I forgot about the fun event until our last visit to the Grant’s home. That evening we again played Mexican Train, but with another couple as Don and Leslie weren’t available.
During the game, funny little things occurred that brought chuckles. Soon the double entendres were flying. I laughed until my eyes were blurry. The game went on for five hours. Barbara won. She’s a games person.
Anyway, when we returned to our home in Oregon, I decided to buy the game. Fearlessly, I went online and found www.mexicantrainfun.com.
Wow! Check out the website and you will see why it nearly blew my mind. It’s not exactly the slickest website in the world, but boy is it ever filled with, well, content. I thought I’d find a simple game featured here — you know, a box full of dominoes, the other necessary pieces, and some simple instructions. Wrong. Instead, I was faced with a a long list of choices.
First, which set did I want? here were five options: a Double 6 with threes and fives (the number of pips on a tile), the most popular size, along with a Double 9, a Double 12 with 91 dominoes with the tile pips ranging from blank (0) to 12, a Double 15 with 136 dominoes ranging from 0 to 15, and a Double 18 featuring 190 dominoes, with the tile numbers ranging from 0 to 18. This one allows you to play more complicated games.
The website features a video to help you see the games and the colors on the various sets. In addition to dominoes with pips, they’re also available with numbers (makes ‘em easier to read). There are various racks and trays (wood or plastic), a rules and strategy book, tournaments to sign up for, and domino clubs to join. There’s even a blog site for players’ comments.
For example, a question was posed on the site about a player announcing that he wanted to “go out” on a double (a tile with the same number of pips on each half), but not having a tile to answer it. The rules were checked, and seeing a name of a recognized expert on the game they called her. Her response was that you must answer a double to go out. This changes the strategy of the game a great deal, since you should try to hold a tile that coordinates with a double, or be sure to play a double earlier if it doesn’t match anything in your hand so you can go out, or, if it is a low double, hang onto it to the end because it will be low points in your hand. Get it?!
You are wondering why I don’t explain the above in greater, more lucid detail, it’s because I really can’t, at least not yet. I am still a novice. Like I’ve said, I’ve only played the game twice. I’m not Barbara!
I have learned one important detail, however. It turns out that the owner of the premises where the game is being played is the final arbiter in all disputes. It might pay to host the game.
What’s available on the website doesn’t stop there. They sell train markers, a set of eight that come in solid colors or with glitter, or a Double 6 with black dots and brass spinners (don’t ask). You can buy a container (case) in vinyl, tin, wood, or aluminum, and carry it in a tote bag with a Mexican Train logo. Ot how about a yard sign for advertising that Mexican Train is being played at your place tonight?
They sell train hubs in clear plastic, or wood hubs for six or eight players. Some sets have train hubs that come with sounds. Even chicken sounds! And why not also get yourself a set of 10 colored chicken markers while you’re at it? Or there’s always the interactive yellow hub with chicken-foot and train graphics and sounds. Simply push “train sound” when you start a train, or “chicken crow” when you start a double (again, don’t ask!).
There are attractive red caboose pencil sharpeners, dominoes with jumbo sized pips or numbers, even a spiffy, four-fold domino tabletop. There are large train markers, the Mexican Train whistle key chain, and, best of all, a large glass train in a silver gift box. And of course you have to have scorecards, and an official train pen.
It’s apparently highly recommended that you cover your game table with felt. It makes for quieter play, and the tiles slide more easily. Also, since dominoes pick up dirt from table surfaces, people’s hands, food, and drink, over time they become dirty. You guessed it. The site offers cleaning remedy suggestions.
Being a party animal, I decided I wanted to be able to play with eight players, so I opted for the professional-sized Double 15. Hey, it was on sale, at a whopping 19% discount. I saved $16. Plus, bonus, it came with a faux cowhide Leatherette case with a snap closure. And the train hub is interactive. You know, with those funny chicken sounds.
I stopped short of purchasing the game night lawn sign. I like to think that shows a certain steely sort of masculine will and determination.
On the other hand, it could simply be because I don’t have a lawn.