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Old 08-10-2019, 05:35 AM
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Domino Games of Skill


Recently, I've been killing some time by playing dominoes against various apps/sites. The two games that've been sapping the most time are Texas 42 and Mexican Train. So a few questiosn come to mind.

42:
  1. How would you weight it for skill vs luck?
  2. What do you consider the best variations?
  3. How do I determine the value of a hand and thus what bid to make?
  4. Are there any bidding conventions as in Bridge?

Mexican Train:
  1. The standard game is with a double 12 set; however, I've seen special sets with more pips. Have you ever played the game with a set with a higher double than 12-12? If so, what value and how many people?
  2. How do you decide the best move to make?
  3. I've heard really good, very observant players can determine to a great deal of accuracy what bones you have in your hand by how you organize them when you have to draw and from where you pulled the bone you're playing on your turn, so it's best to keep your tiles "as dealt". Are you one such master observer or have you tried the "as dealt" method?
  4. Finally, how would you weight it for skill vs luck?

I prefer games that require more skill than luck. That's one of the reasons I'm addicted to Chess and its recognized variants (Xiangqi/Janggi/Shogi). I know a fair number of card games, including trick-taking games, and I think I have a feel for which games are more skill than luck. For games using Western dominoes and games using Chinese domines, I really don't know. So, a few more questions
  1. Western Dominoes
    1. Which games do you play?
    2. Of those, which do you prefer?
    3. Which game do you consider to require the most skill/least luck?
    4. Is there a good Android app for the game?
  2. Chinese Dominoes
    1. Which games do you play?
    2. Of those, which do you prefer?
    3. Which game do you consider to require the most skill/least luck?
    4. Is there a good Android app for the game?

Thanks for any answers!
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Old 08-16-2019, 06:15 AM
Novelty Bobble is online now
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The classic pub and club dominoes game in the UK (particularly the north.....my own backyard) is Fives and Threes.
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Old 08-18-2019, 10:04 PM
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Thanks, Novelty Bobble! That looks like a fun game. I've gone to the Pagat site for a number of other games; the site is very good.

Doing more research into Mexican Train, I notice that a number of sites state the game is partically based on Pai Gow. I'm not seeing that. How did they make that determination?
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Old 08-18-2019, 10:36 PM
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Chicken Foot is another game I've seen at the pub, not past 12-12 but no reason why not, especially with more players. I suppose it counts as a member of the Mexican Train family. I'm no super expert, but in basic play you do need to work out and remember what dominos the other players are holding, and block them from playing high-value tiles.

There seem to be a number of apps, but you'd have to try them to see how good they are (I figure a human ought to consistently lose against any decent computer app)

ETA pai gow is popular at casinos, but don't see how it's related

Last edited by DPRK; 08-18-2019 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 08-19-2019, 01:49 AM
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For those of us who just play "dominó", do y'all have links to all those different types, preferably a site with multiple listings? It's the kind of thing for which Google isn't terribly helpful unless you already know specific search terms which in this case I do not. I guess I can search for each name given plus domino, but it's a drag.


It appears to be a fundamental difference between English and Spanish names of games: in Spanish we just say "domino" and clarify the specific rules before starting the game, in English each variant gets its own name.

(I don't even understand the questions in the OP.)

Last edited by Nava; 08-19-2019 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 08-19-2019, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
For those of us who just play "dominó", do y'all have links to all those different types, preferably a site with multiple listings? It's the kind of thing for which Google isn't terribly helpful unless you already know specific search terms which in this case I do not. I guess I can search for each name given plus domino, but it's a drag.

I agree with you there about the googling. It's a pain trying to narrow down something in the googols of results. Sometimes I feel like screaming at the universe, "What? If I could narrow down the search that much, I would already know the damn answer!" But, yes, there are a few "go-to" sites for these things.

Here are three good ones:

www.pagat.com
www.domino-play.com
www.boardgamegeek.com

The last one is odd because it includes plenty of games that absolutely are not board games, such as cards and dominoes.

Quote:
It appears to be a fundamental difference between English and Spanish names of games: in Spanish we just say "domino" and clarify the specific rules before starting the game, in English each variant gets its own name.

In my experience, it's the same in English. Where I grew up, when someone said "Let's play dominoes", everyone understood it to mean the basic draw game. When I was a kid, the Black community in the Tri-State area (Washington, DC and the nearby parts of Virginia and Maryland) mostly played the basic draw game for the kids and one of the variations of Muggins (aka Fives) for the adults. The other communities tended to go for the basic draw.

Quote:
(I don't even understand the questions in the OP.)

Let me elucidate: 42 is a domino game some people say is like Spades, but think it's more like Rook/Bridge/500. It's basically a card game using the dominoes instead of playing cards. The cool thing is that each domino belongs to two suits at the same time. That's what makes it challenging even though the "deck" is so small.

Mexican Train has already been discussed, but there are variations, one of which includes letting the trains "chicken foot". I prefer the basic one, but I might change my mind with more experience.

As to the questions I put in the OP for 42:

Quote:
How would you weight it for skill vs luck?

Would you consider the game to require more skill than luck or the othr way around?

Quote:
What do you consider the best variations?

Just like any other human endeavor, games tend to change based on whose house they're played in ("house rules"). Some of those house rules end up being popular and creating a brand new variation.

Quote:
How do I determine the value of a hand and thus what bid to make?
Are there any bidding conventions as in Bridge?

There are bidding systems in Bridge. All I remember is that you count the number of 10s, face cards, and the length of each suit to determine if your hand is likely a good hand by itself. And then you gauge, by what you and your partner bid, if your hand coupled with your partner's hand, is really good to make the contract.

So, are there any similar systems in 42? I would think it might be a bit more complicated, given the nature of the "2 suits at 1 tme" of the dominoes.

For Mexican Train:
Quote:
The standard game is with a double 12 set; however, I've seen special sets with more pips. Have you ever played the game with a set with a higher double than 12-12? If so, what value and how many people?

Most of the time, I see double six sets (the highest {heaviest} domino in the set is 6-6). That's what I learned to play the basic draw game with as a kid. When we moved into the big city, double 12 sets were all the rage. Now, even here in Beijing, I see a few sets higher. I think double 18 is the killer version. With more dominoes, the set can support more than four people to play Mexican Train. You know how with some card games, you deal a different number of cards based on the number of players? Well, with the larger sets (heavier than 12-12), you determine which set to use based on the number of players in the game.

Quote:
How do you decide the best move to make?
I've heard really good, very observant players can determine to a great deal of accuracy what bones you have in your hand by how you organize them when you have to draw and from where you pulled the bone you're playing on your turn, so it's best to keep your tiles "as dealt". Are you one such master observer or have you tried the "as dealt" method?

Way back in my freshman year of college, I personally knew a douple of Mahong players who would never rearrange their tiles to see how good the hand was; they processed it in their mind. I've heard some domino players can do that, but I've never seen any. For me, I have to organize the hand by the heaviest end of the dominoes. I'm sure that gives away some important information about my hand to an expert observer, but otherwise, the hand is meaningless to me.

Both Western and Chinese domino sets have plenty of games that can be played using them. As this message board has a large number of subscribers from all over the world, I'd be surprised if the only domino games played amongst this board's posters are the basic draw and Pai Gow.

Of course I'm always looking for a good android app.
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