Last summer I was introduced to Mexican Train Dominoes by my wife’s family. While I generally like other games that contain more strategy, I was happy to play some games during our vacation no matter what they were. However, I still longed to play games that relied less on luck and had more strategy. That’s why I took an interest when I heard about Double Double Dominoes, a game that combined dominoes with a more traditional game board.
Double Double Dominoes is a game for two to four players, but can be played with 5 or 6 players with the purchase of extra dominoes. Each player takes three dominoes for their hand and the player with the domino with the lowest number of total dots on it goes first. The rest of the dominoes are set aside in the boneyard.
On each turn the player takes a new domino from the boneyard. Out of those four dominoes, the player chooses one and places it on the board which looks a lot like a Scrabble board. The first player puts a domino on the star square in the middle. Each domino after that must be placed against one of the dominoes currently on the board, matching the number of pips. The other end can’t touch other dominoes unless it completes a line. You have to play a domino from your hand if you can, but you can’t place dominoes side by side or in a way that would cause the dominoes to fill in all four spaces in a two-by-two square. This means that certain squares on the board can eventually be blocked from allowing another domino to be placed on it.
If you have a double domino, then you can play that domino, as well as another one from your hand next to the one you just played. Once you have laid down the dominoes you can, you pick dominoes from the boneyard until you have three in your hand again.
To score points, you place a domino on one of the scoring squares marked on the board, each containing a number one through five. The shows the number of points scored when placing a domino on that square. The further out from the center square they are, the more points they are worth. When you score, you move your scoring piece along the scoring track on the outside of the board, cleverly made to look like rows of dominoes. If anyone plays a domino that scores points, if the scoring domino has the same number of dots on either end as a player’s current scoring space, that player gets three bonus points. This makes the domino you place more important, because it can make your opponents gain more points than you in your turn. It also helps the game move faster since everyone can score when a player scores points.
There is quite a bit of strategy in Double Double Dominoes. You not only have to consider which domino to play, but how to place it. Do you try to place a domino close to a scoring square to set you up for your next turn, or do you move it away in hopes you can build off of someone else’s domino later in the game? Do you put down the domino that you can build off of but scores points for other players, or do you play the one that just scores points for you? These decisions get tougher as the scoring gets higher and the end of the game nears.
The gameplay isn’t that difficult to learn, but because of the strategic choices it can be difficult to figure out which domino to play and which direction to play them. Some significant down time can happen if players don’t plan their moves ahead of time or they are prone to overthinking decisions. However, several age groups can play this game because the instructions are very easy to learn. It’s also good in a relaxed setting since you can generally talk during the turns.
The components for the game are impressive. The dominoes themselves have a good weight to them, making these dominoes easily usable by themselves. When bumped up against each other they give an impressive clacking noise like you’d find with other dominoes. The pips seem to be well colored, and it’s doubtful you will see any paint chipping inside the pips after extended playtime. The board itself is a standard quality, while the scoring pieces do an adequate job of scoring around the track.
The instruction booklet is short, but there aren’t that many rules to the game. It also provides plenty of examples to show how tiles can be laid down and the way some tiles can’t be laid down. While you won’t encounter this example often, the rule where you can’t complete a square can be tricky if you can’t see an example of it happening.
If you know people who like to play Dominoes, this is a great game to introduce to them. It’s also great for families. If you are looking for a new twist on a classic game, then Double Double Dominoes fits the bill nicely.