How many dominoes do you need for 2 players in Mexican Train?

Mexican Train is a fun and strategic domino game that can be played with 2 to 8 players. When playing with just 2 players, you will need a reduced number of dominoes compared to a full game with more players. So how many dominoes do you need for 2 players in Mexican Train?

Quick Answer

For 2 players in Mexican Train, you will need 28 dominoes to play the game properly.

How Mexican Train is Played

Mexican Train is played with a set of double twelve dominoes, meaning the dominoes have all combinations of dots from 0 to 12. In a full game with 4+ players, all 91 dominoes from the double twelve set are used.

The object of the game is to be the first player to play all your dominoes, or at least have the lowest number of dominoes left if no one can go out. You take turns drawing dominoes, matching them to trains on the table, and building new trains from doubles played.

There are a few key rules and gameplay elements in Mexican Train:

  • Each player starts with an initial hand of 15 dominoes
  • The starting “Mexican train” double is played in the center
  • Players take turns drawing dominoes and playing if they can match
  • New trains can be started from doubles played
  • If you can’t play, you must draw until you get a playable domino
  • The first player to play all dominoes wins

So in a full 4+ player Mexican Train game, you will use all 91 dominoes in the double twelve set. But for just 2 players, you don’t need nearly that many dominoes.

Number of Dominoes for 2 Players

When there are only 2 players in Mexican Train, you use a reduced set of 28 dominoes instead of the full 91 dominoes.

Here is why you use fewer dominoes with 2 players:

  • Less dominoes per player – With 2 players you want around 12-15 dominoes per player, versus 15 in a full game.
  • Fewer ends to match against – With fewer players, there are fewer open ends on trains to match dominoes, so you need less variety.
  • Gameplay moves faster – The game progresses quicker with 2 players, so you don’t need as many dominoes to extend it.

Using the full set of 91 dominoes would make for a very long and slow game with just 2 players. The 28 domino set provides the right amount of dominoes for a good playing time and challenge.

Composition of the 28 Domino Set

A 28 domino set for 2 players in Mexican Train will contain:

  • All 14 unique double dominoes (0-0, 1-1 etc up to 12-12)
  • 2 copies of each domino with different pip counts (0-1, 0-2 etc)

Having 2 copies of each different pip count domino is important for increasing the variety and options for play in a smaller 2 player game.

The 28 dominoes in the set will have the following composition:

Domino Quantity
Double 0 1
Double 1 1
Double 2 1
Double 3 1
Double 4 1
Double 5 1
Double 6 1
Double 7 1
Double 8 1
Double 9 1
Double 10 1
Double 11 1
Double 12 1
0-1 2
0-2 2
0-3 2
0-4 2
0-5 2
0-6 2
1-2 2
1-3 2
1-4 2
1-5 2
1-6 2
2-3 2
2-4 2
2-5 2
2-6 2
3-4 2
3-5 2
3-6 2
4-5 2
4-6 2
5-6 2

This set of 28 dominoes provides a good variety and balance for 2 players. Each player can have an initial hand of around 15 dominoes, while still leaving enough dominoes in the boneyard to draw from.

Why You Don’t Use a Double Nine Set

A common domino set that people already have at home is a double nine set with 55 dominoes. But this double nine set is not ideal for playing Mexican Train with just 2 players.

Here are the reasons why a double nine set is not the best choice:

  • Too many dominoes – 55 is far more than needed for 2 players and will make for a long, drawn out game.
  • Not enough doubles – A double nine set only has 9 doubles, versus the 14 in a 28 domino set.
  • Limited variety – Most pip counts only appear once, rather than twice like in the 28 domino set.

While a double nine set may be handy to have around for other domino games, it doesn’t work as well for a fast paced game of Mexican Train with 2 players. The 28 domino set is tailored specifically for that number of players.

Playing Strategies with 28 Dominoes

When playing Mexican Train with only 28 dominoes, the strategy changes slightly compared to a full game.

Here are some tips for playing strategically with 2 players and 28 dominoes:

  • Coordinate trains – With fewer trains in play, you need to be careful not to block yourself or your opponent too much.
  • Watch double dominoes – Since doubles are more limited, you have to take care to use them to start new trains at the right time.
  • Know the boneyard status – With fewer dominoes in the boneyard, you need to keep track of what’s been played to anticipate what remains.
  • Balance your hand – Try not to get stuck with only high pip dominoes in your hand as there are fewer to draw from.
  • Block judiciously – Be selective when blocking your opponent, as you don’t want to block yourself too.

Balancing offense and defense is key when there are fewer dominoes in play. You need to closely track what dominoes have been played and coordinate trains with your opponent to ensure you can both keep playing.

Transitioning to More Players

If you start playing Mexican Train with 2 players but then want to add more people, you’ll need to expand to the full set of 91 dominoes.

To transition to more players with 91 dominoes:

  • Add dominoes – Integrate the additional 63 dominoes into the boneyard.
  • Adjust hand size – Increase each player’s starting hand from 15 up to around 20 dominoes.
  • Expect more trains – With more players will come more branches and trains started.
  • Faster pace – The gameplay will likely move faster with more players taking turns.
  • New strategies – More dominoes and open ends will allow for new strategies and greater blocking.

The great thing about Mexican Train is that it adapts well to different player counts. Just be sure to use the appropriate domino sets to match the number of players.

Final Tips

Here are some final tips for dominoes in 2 player Mexican Train:

  • Stick to 28 dominoes – This provides the right balance for 2 players.
  • Use a double twelve set – Ensure it has the doubles and 2 copies of each pip count.
  • Resist the double nine set – While handy for other games, it’s not ideal for Mexican Train with 2.
  • Play strategically – Coordinate trains and track dominoes carefully with fewer in play.
  • Add dominoes for more players – Transition to the full 91 domino set if adding more people.

The Bottom Line

When playing Mexican Train with 2 players, you’ll need 28 dominoes for the optimal gameplay experience. This 28 domino set has all 14 doubles as well as 2 copies of each pip count domino to provide good variety. While a double nine set may be readily available, it’s not the best choice and tailored 28 domino sets are ideal for Mexican Train with just 2 players. So grab 28 dominoes and enjoy this fun domino game with a friend!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I remove dominoes with higher values?

No, you should keep all the dominoes from 0 to 12 when playing Mexican Train with 2 players. Removing high value dominoes like 9-10 or 11-12 would limit the variety too much. The 28 domino set keeps all the doubles and 2 copies of each pip count, which is important for good gameplay.

How do you adapt strategies playing with 28 dominoes?

With fewer dominoes in play, you have to balance offense and defense more carefully. Coordinate trains with your opponent, watch what’s been played closely to know what’s left in the boneyard, and be judicious when blocking so you don’t get stuck yourself. Having fewer dominoes means you need to use them strategically.

Can you use a double six set instead of double twelve?

It’s not recommended. A double six set would limit the variety too much. You want dominoes with all pip counts from 0 to 12 for the best game. A double six set would also have fewer doubles, which are key for starting new branches in Mexican Train.

How do you know if you have a full 28 domino set?

A 28 domino set for 2 player Mexican Train should have all 14 unique double dominoes (0-0 to 12-12). It should also have 2 copies each of dominoes with different pip counts on either side (0-1, 0-2, 0-3 etc). If you have those 14 doubles and 2 sets of each of the other 14 dominoes, you have a complete 28 domino set.

Can you use a double fifteen set instead with 2 players?

No, a double fifteen set would actually have too many dominoes for just 2 players. A double fifteen set would have 120 dominoes, many of which would not even get played. Stick to the 28 domino set specifically tailored for 2 players. The double fifteen set is best for 4+ players.


When it comes to Mexican Train, a little domino adaptation goes a long way. While the standard game is played with 91 dominoes, just 28 dominoes is the ideal amount for 2 players. This pared down set gives each player over a dozen dominoes in hand, while still providing variety and options for good strategic gameplay. With the right number of dominoes, you can enjoy all the fun train building and blocking of Mexican Train, even with just a friend or two. So grab 28 dominoes and get ready for an engaging game night!

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