Derailing the Train
A Dominoes Game by Edwin G. Edgley


“Derailing the Train” with DominoesTM


Copyright © 1998-2011  ·  Edwin G. Edgley

All Rights Reserved

Revised January 21, 2011


Setting up the “Train Platform


1.  Place all the dominoes face down on a playing surface and shuffle them.


2.  Determine the appropriate number of dominoes for each player and have each player select them.  The following is suggested as a beginning:


            2 to 4 players; distribution 10 dominoes each using a double nine set.

            5 to 8 players; distribution 10 dominoes each using a double twelve set. 


The initial number of dominoes distributed as well as the appropriate set of dominoes (double six’s, double nine’s, double twelve’s) can be varied according to each individual’s taste and total number of players.  The remaining dominoes are set aside in the “train yard” to be drawn as needed by the players.


3.  The game begins with each player examining their hand, and the player with the highest set of doubles placing that piece in the center of the train hub.  This first set of doubles becomes the first train “platform.”  The game is played once for each platform, using the highest unused set of doubles each time, until all doubles, blank’s through 9’s (in the case of using a set of double nine’s), have been used to start the play.


4.  If none of the players has an unused set of doubles to start the game, then all players draw one domino from the train yard at once.  This process continues until one player draws an unused double and that double is then placed in the center of the train hub starting a new platform.   A game is finished after the last platform has been played.


The Play


5.  The player establishing the platform is the first to play after placing the highest unused double in the center of the train hub.  Play continues in a clockwise direction. 


6.  Each player builds a “personal train,” by placing one domino at a time in their successive turn, radiating from the center of the train hub toward their seated position, matching end to end the last domino played.  As an example, if double 8’s was the domino used to start the game, then play would begin from center outward initially matching the number 8;  i.e. 8-4; 4-6; 6-2; etc.  Play continues until a player has used all of his or her dominoes.


7.  One separate “community train” can be established by any player who is able to match the platform double in the center of the train hub.  This community train is always considered “public” and may be played on by any player during their successive turn.  Only one community train can exist at a time.  Each player’s personal train is considered “private” and may be played on only by that individual player.


8.  If any player, at their successive turn, is unable to make a legal play, then they must draw a domino from the train yard.  If after drawing a domino, they still are unable to play, then a marker is placed on their train and it becomes public and can be played on by any player.  The train remains public until that player is able to play a domino on their personal train, at which time the marker is removed and it becomes private once again.


9.  Double dominoes are considered “derailers” and are used to derail any established train on the board, public or private.  A double domino can only be played on a train ending with a matching number; double 2’s on a 2, etc.  Once a train is derailed that player cannot play on any public train until their train is “back on track.”  A train is back on track when any player plays a matching domino on the double that derailed the train in the first place.  As an example, if a double 4 domino is placed on a train, only a domino with a matching 4 can be used to set it back on track.  The player who derails a train has an option to set it immediately back on track by playing a second matching piece should they desire.  A player may derail their own private train, the community train or any other player’s train public or private.  Once a private train has been derailed it is automatically marked and considered public.  The train continues to be public until the individual player owning the train can again make it private by playing on their own personal train.


10.  A person owning a derailed train cannot play anywhere on the board until their train is back on track, drawing a single domino as necessary, each turn, until they are able to set, or another player sets, it back on track.  *No plays may be made on the entire board by any player while the community train is derailed.  More than one train can be derailed at a time.  If both an individual player’s train is derailed and the community train is derailed, *an exception to this rule allows the individual to set their own train back on track, even though the community train is still derailed.  However, no further plays may be made on the entire board until the derailed community train is set back on track.


11.  When one player is down to their last domino, it is considered common courtesy to advise all other players by tapping that domino on the table at the end of the turn that left them with one domino.  An exception to this courtesy is when a player “doubles out” by placing a double derailing a train and then setting it back on track in the same turn with a matching domino.


12.  At any time when the train yard has run out of dominoes, play continues in a clockwise direction until no further plays can be made by any player.




13.  When a person plays their last domino and goes out, or when no further plays can be made by any players and the train yard is empty, then the platform is finished and all players add up the total number of their held dominoes and that score is added against them.  As an example, a 3-5; 4-6; 2-blank; would add up to 20 points.   Double blanks are scored as a 0-0 or 0 points.  When all of the platforms have been played, the person or team with the lowest cumulative score wins.


14.  If a person is able to derail another player’s train with their last domino, going out in the process, then total number on that domino is added to the derailed player’s score.  A similar play on the community train adds that score to every player’s totals except the player going out.  If a player derails their own train in order to go out then that score is added against them.  This scoring does not apply when a person doubles out, setting the train immediately back on track.