Solo Play, Couples, & Groups: Fun Games To Play With Dominoes

by Mike Jones

With a simple, quality set of dominoes, your potential game repertoire can really soar into the dozens. That's because there are scores of different games you can play with these simple block tiles, from games like Block Dominoes and Tiddly Wink to favorites like Concentration and Castle Rock dominoes.

In this article we will explain some of the rules, game play and styles of each of these games as we explore the many games to play with a set of dominoes.

Our Favorite Games to Play with Dominoes

Our Favorite Games to Play with Dominoes
Our Favorite Games to Play with Dominoes

Block Dominoes

A game that is designed for two to four players, the game of Block Dominoes typically requires just a double-six set of the tiles, although larger sets can be used to support more players in the game. Also known as the "Block Game," Block Dominoes is the easiest to learn and play of all the domino games and the most familiar game to most people. Because of this, many other forms of dominoes, including "Draw," have been created using this game as the foundation.

To begin a game of Block Dominoes, the tiles are shuffled very well and each player in the game will draw tiles to make up their hand. The exact number of tiles each player will draw will depend on the number of players in the game. When playing this game one-on-one (between 2 players), each player will draw seven tiles to begin the game. However, when playing among three or four players, each player will draw five tiles. After the tiles have been drawn, the remaining dominoes are left off to the side face down. These make up what is known as the boneyard in Block Dominoes (although they will not be used in this particular version of the game).

In Block Dominoes, the player with the highest double places the first domino. Play then proceeds to the next player in a clockwise direction. If possible, each player then adds a domino to one of the open ends of the layout by matching the number on the tile. The layout may flow in any direction, turning as necessary. A player that cannot make a move must pass. In the block game, players may not draw tiles from the boneyard. The game ends when one player uses the last domino in his hand, or when no more plays can be made. If all players still have tiles in their hand, but no moves can be made, then the game is said to be "blocked."

Just as in many card games, the player with the lightest hand (the lowest number of dots on their remaining dominoes-if any) is declared the winner of that round. He/she wins the total number of points on their opponent's dominoes, minus the points in their own hand. For instance, if a player uses all his dominoes, he will win the total number of points that his opponents are holding. If the game is blocked, and each player has one domino left in their hand, the person with the lowest point total on that domino is the winner. Let's say the winner has a domino with the numbers 2-0, and his opponent has the 5-3 domino, the winner would win 8 points minus the 2 points on his domino, for a total of 6 points. Play can continue in Block Dominoes until a pre-determined score, usually 100 is attained by one of the players.

Tiddly Wink Dominoes

Tiddly Wink Dominoes is a game that is best played with a lot of participants, usually 6-9. The game requires one double-six set of dominoes.

Tiddly-Wink is a variation of Block Dominoes, and plays the same except that a player playing a double may play another tile before ending his turn. It is also very similar to the domino game Tiddle-a-Wink, which characteristically uses a double-nine domino set. The game starts after the dominoes have been shuffled and after each player draws three tiles to make up their hand. The remainder of the tiles remains in the boneyard and is not used, just as in Block Dominoes.

As with the last game we reviewed, in Tiddly Wink Dominoes the player holding the highest double places the first domino. From there, each player must either play or pass in the same way described earlier, and tiles may not be drawn from the boneyard.

There is only one open end in Tiddly Wink, the end on the last tile played. Anyone playing a double (including the first tile of the hand), may play again if they are able. Playing a tile after a double is not mandatory - the player may pass if he wishes. As with Block Dominoes, game play proceeds in a clockwise (left) direction. A "hand" of Tiddly Wink Dominoes ends either when a player plays all of his tiles, or when a game is blocked, at which time the lightest hand wins. The game is often played as a wagering-style game, one in which each player places a bet before the start of a hand; and the winner gets to take the pot (like in poker).

Concentration Dominoes

Do you remember playing the game called Concentration or Memory Match when you were a child? If so, Concentration Dominoes should sound very familiar to you. Concentration Dominoes is played among 2 or more players. It can be played with a double-six set of dominoes, but larger sets can be used when playing with a large number of participants.

As we mentioned, Concentration Dominoes is very similar to the Concentration card game of yore. It's a very simple domino game, and requires little planning or strategy, but a good memory definitely helps.

To start a game of Concentration Dominoes, shuffle the tiles thoroughly and then arrange them into a 4 x 7 grid-four columns, seven rows. In this game, the players do not have hands, but play from the tiles on the table. In turns, each player turns over two dominoes. If the dots on the two tiles add up to 12, the player who uncovered them will remove them from the grid, set them aside, and take another turn. If the two dominoes do not add up to 12, that player must turn them back over, and play passes to the next player. The game continues until all the tiles have been matched, or until one player reaches 50 points (tiles).

Castle Rock Solitaire

Castle Rock Solitaire is a one-player game that is played in much the same way as the card game solitaire, only with tiles instead of cards. To begin the game, start by turning all the tiles face-down and shuffle them thoroughly. Next, draw three tiles and place them face-up, in a row. If the first and third tiles share a common number, then remove the middle tile, consolidate the existing tiles, and draw another tile and place it at the right end of the row.

With each new turn, you will repeat this process, and whenever a single tile is surrounded by two tiles sharing the same number, remove it. If you end up with three tiles in a row containing the same number, you have the option of either removing the center one, or removing all three. If you work your way thru the deck and manage to remove all the tiles from the tableau, you win. The game is very similar to the card solitaire game known as "Accordion."


Draw is another game that is very similar to Block Dominoes, the first game we reviewed in this article. The difference between Block Dominoes and Draw, however, is that instead of using just the tiles in your hand (seven tiles for a 2-player game and five tiles for 3 or more players), players may draw from the boneyard if they do not have a tile to play from their hand. In all other respects, the game proceeds just like Block Dominoes, with the winner being the first player to get rid of all their dominoes.

Scoring in Draw dominoes is also the same as with Block dominoes, with the player having the lightest hand being the winner. The winning player receives the sum of the total of all the other players' dominoes minus the total he is holding. The score is recorded and the game continues until one player has amassed a pre-determined score, usually 100.

Other Domino Games

The games explained above are just some of the great games you can play with dominoes. Others include games like Cross-a game played like draw in which tiles must be played on both ends and both sides so that it forms a five-domino cross before any other dominoes can be played; Muggins-a unique form of dominoes in which a player can score off of an opponent who misses a score simply by calling out "muggins"; Bingo Dominoes, in which the object of the game is to be the first player to score seven sets; Chicken Foot, in which the goal of the game is to get the least possible amount of points-All Fives, Mexican Train Dominoes, Pai Gow Dominoes and more.

About Mike Jones

As a child of the 80's, my fondest gaming memories are playing Pitfall, Frogger, Kaboom! and Chopper Command on our old Atari 8600. These days I've been rocking the Nintendo Classic and learning some new card and board games with the family."

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