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Dominoes Review


Another all-time classic board game that I love. Sometimes it is the simple games that bring the most entertainment to the table top. Having learned the game from my grandad as a little boy it also stirs up some childhood nostalgia as they are fond memories. They were very much happy times.

Another game initially developed hundreds of years ago. I never knew its earliest origins were from the Chinese Song dynasty, some time in the 13th century. Before coming out in variations in western society.

How to Play.

A modest game for 2-4 players and minimal space required. 28 dominoes contained within a set. Spotted numbers 1 to 6 printed on the domino faces in pairings, don’t forget the blank face either and the double tiles.

Interestingly there are variations in the way to play this game. These could be regional or national differences, even. I’m not sure. There are more variations than I was actually aware of so I will give a quick overview of the rules I know and then highlight some other ways to play.

Place all your dominoes face down in the centre of the table and give them a mix. Then players draw dominoes.

2 Player Game = 9 dominoes each.

3 Player game = 7 dominoes each.

4 Player game = 6 dominoes each.

Some dominoes always need to be set aside. Typically, the highest drawn double starts, this being a double 6 first. Then once the first game is played, the player to the left starts the next game.

In turn play, if a double 6 starts, the next player has to follow up with a domino that has a 6 on it. They play creating the beginning of the line, the option now is for a 6 and one new number attached to the tile played to be played by the next player. Play goes on and players play one domino each on a turn. If a player cannot match up with what’s on the board they “chap” or pass a turn. The game ends when a player plays their final domino, or if no one can play a domino a count up is required.

Depending on our mood we score in 2 ways, whoever gets rid of all their dominos first wins and gets 1 point and we may play first to 5. In the event that no one can get rid of all dominoes, count up the spots left, lowest score takes the 1 point.


We might play first to 50 points loses and the lowest score takes the win. By this, players play to get rid of all dominoes, the game ends under the same conditions as before and the remaining players add all the printed spots left to their individual score. Accumulating with each game until someone hits 50 (or whatever number, maybe 100) and the game ends.

There are other games, referenced as the Blocking game, which is another variation of above where you draw dominoes out the discard pool if you cannot play, until you can play. A scoring game, the draw game. A line of play game also.

The skill

Whichever version you play you need to pay attention to odds and chance of play. I’m pretty sure this would have frustrated my Grandad somewhat as I did not fully understand the odds, my goal then was just to get rid of the highest numbers first, so that in the event of a count up I stood a better chance of winning. Not necessarily appreciating I might block the board when leaving two 6’s at either end of the line and actually all 6 dominoes had been played, meaning the game ended instantly as no one could play. It is important to track what is going on and consider this and the overall opportunity.

The social

One of those perfect pub games due to its simplicity. Dominoes is a very social game appropriate for anybody. You could cast your mind back hundreds of years and imagine those scenes of people in a tavern playing a game of this. The banter and competition of the game, the hollering when you can see your final play coming, only to be undercut by an opponent getting rid of their last domino first.

Roll on to the present day and I was able to teach my 4-year-old so quickly and they easily understood what they had to do. Like me as a child, understanding the odds and chance element was a bit beyond their ability. However, it does amaze me how quick children get to grips with things and can plan their own strategy. This will come out again in our home in the very near future, to which I hope my children feel the same nostalgia to the game the way I do with it in 30 years time.

Final thoughts

The perfect family friendly game appropriate for all. It is drenched in history as a classic board game that is timeless in its appearance. I’d forgotten how good a game it is and will be playing a lot more of it in the near future.