People of all ages, from kids to adults , love playing Dominoes. The fun and the easy-to-play game has historical origins. It’s the perfect game for a family game night or a brunch game with friends. Not to mention, games are more than just a hobby for some people. If you enjoy board games, puzzles, and similar activities, you should try playing dominoes.
A lot of people live with this misconception that it is a highly competitive game, but this isn’t entirely true. While the domino game has many versions with varying levels of difficulty and complexity, learning a few strategies can help you master the exciting game.
If you are new, let’s have a look at the basic setup and rules of playing before we move on to tips and tricks. After all, understanding the basics first is crucial to mastering any game.
Important Terms to Remember
Like any other game, playing dominoes requires that you familiarize yourself with certain names and terms. Remembering these will help you become a pro at dominoes.
- Double 6 dominoes set : The standard game set with 28 pieces is called a double 6 dominoes set
- Bones: The pieces are called bones, stones, and tiles
- Hand: The bones a player holds is called their hand
- End: This is the name for a half-bone
- Doublets: Doublets are bones with the same value on each end
- Boneyard: This refers to the bones that are not drawn during the setup
You start by placing the bones face down on a table. Then, it’s time to shuffle all of them by moving them around on the surface of the table. Each player selects 7 bones and keeps them in front of them in a standing position. It is important to make sure that your opponent is not able to see the value of your bones. The game starts with the player who has the highest value of doublet. These could be any value from double sixes, double fives, double fours, or double threes.
When playing dominoes, the player with the highest doublet takes the first turn. However, if no player has the highest doublet value, you can start off with the heaviest bone. No, that doesn’t mean putting the bones on a scale. Rather, you can determine the heaviest bone by looking at the bone values. For instance, the heaviest bone with a 6-5 value has a weight of 11. You can do this by taking alternative turns drawing tiles. The player with the highest bone goes first, and the cards are then reshuffled. A hand is drawn, and the player chooses a tile to start the game with.
Playing the Dominoes Game
The player with the highest doublet goes first. It is played by placing the tiles vertically on a flat surface, such as a table or floor. Doing so will make it easy for you and your opponents to identify the bones easily. The second player plays using a bone with a matching value.
For instance, if the first player played with a 5-5 bone, the second player’s playing bone must also have a 5 at the end. Oftentimes, you may not have such a bone. When you can’t play your turn, you must say ‘pass’ so your opponent can play their turn again.
The game proceeds when you and your opponent take alternative turns and place matching bones at one of the two open ends.
The player who runs out of bones to play with eventually wins at dominoes. The tile values of the losing player are counted. This total is added to the winner’s score. For instance, if the player holds a 2-4 and a 5-0, 11 points are added to the winner’s score.
The game ends if both players are unable to place a tile on an open end. In this case, the winner is the player with the lowest total, and the losing opponent’s tile value is added to their score. Then, the game restarts by shuffling the tiles. Now, the loser takes the first turn and is allowed to lay any bone.
You can keep an overall target score such as 50 or 100, depending on how long you want to play the game. Or, you can also make your own rule for the winning part, such as the most points or the most hands.
Dominoes Game Strategies to Help You Win
Some people think that you need sheer luck to win at dominoes. They believe that there is no strategy involved in what tiles a player draws and their opponents lay down. In reality, this is not the case. You can use the following tips to increase the odds of winning at dominoes.
Be Quick to Play Your Doubles
You don’t get much opportunity to play doublets as the game proceeds. This is normally because they have the same suit value on both ends. Moreover, they are also usually high-point tiles. For this reason, it is smart to play them at the beginning of the game.
Play the Heavy Tiles Early
Just as it is best to play your doublets as quickly as you can, you must also play your heaviest tiles first. Heavy tiles refer to tiles that have the highest values. This reduces your risk of ending up with the highest points in case the round is blocked. Moreover, you can’t be certain of who wins the round; it is best to play safe by getting rid of high-value bones so that you don’t add points to your opponent’s score in case they win the round.
Keep a Range of Tiles in Your Hand
It is essential that you have a range of various tiles in your hand so that you are able to match as many tiles as you can. This will also ensure that your opponent doesn’t get any extra turns if your turn is blocked because tiles are unavailable. Keeping similar suits will keep you stuck in the middle of the game.
Study Your Opponent’s Suits
It is important to observe your opponent’s moves in the dominoes game. Take note of what tiles they draw from the boneyard. They may be doing so when they can’t play, which suggests that they will face the same situation again if the same numbers are on the board. You can play strategically to block your opponent’s game.
Having a hobby for games and puzzles is similar to having a passion for dancing or singing. However, games are more strategic than practice. You can easily master games such as dominoes if you learn and implement a few strategies. While there are many tips and tricks that you can learn while playing the game, the above-mentioned strategies can help you get off to a good start. You can also master the game for an upcoming family game night or party with friends.
A good book on intermediate dominoes strategy is Play Dominoes Like a Champion by Travis Newsome. Check it out if you’re looking to up your game.
I’ll have to check out that book, thanks for the recommendation!