Mexican Train is an incredibly fun board game best enjoyed with family or friends. The unique rules make it exciting and competitive, brutal even. The game can certainly invoke bitter feelings towards your foes – in a playful context of course.
I’ll begin the review by introducing the rules, which are simple but might sound complex. The flow of the game consists of multiple sessions, of which number players will decide – the maximum number of sessions is 12. At the beginning of every session, players get X amount of Domino tiles. The objective is to build a connected tile ’train’ of Dominos. Players put one tile per round to the train. If the player can’t build their train, there’s a universal train – Mexican Train – that all the players can build if they have matching Dominos. If the player can’t build their train nor the others, they must pick up an additional tile and place a locomotive looking chip on top of their Domino train. The chip indicates that now other players can also build your train. To close the train from others, the player simply puts a matching tile to the train. A player wins the session when they use all their tiles. Others must then combine the spots of the tiles left in their hand and add the amount to the previous sessions’ spot totals. After the last session, the player who has the least total of spots wins the game.
The rules are simple enough for kids to play the game but at the same time, there are enough different mechanics that every session feels competitive, fresh and new. There’s high replay value which is a huge upside since, after 6 years of occasional playing, I’m still not bored of the game. Mexican Train may feel like a game of chance but surprisingly, the game can be played with multiple tactics. You can only focus on your train and build others if there aren’t other options currently. You can balance between your, the universal and others’ train. You can also be an infuriating foe and sabotage others’ trains by knowingly withholding tiles. All these add a pleasant variation to each session. Luckily tactics aren’t too complicated, so be ready to get humiliated by children. There’s also a special rule regarding the rare tiles which hold equal spots in both heads. By adding those to the train, the game briefly changes. Now the players next in turn must place the correct tile next to the rare one. If they can’t, they must pick additional tile and the next player tries to match the rare tile. This adds another tactical aspect which makes the game truly exciting as it can suddenly change drastically. In one moment, you are a couple of tiles away from winning the session and in the next one you’re forced to pick new tiles. Tactical aspects rise the thrilling rivalry of the game on a par with other classics such as Monopoly or Carcassone.
A little warning is that Mexican Train is super time-consuming. Being an exciting experience, by picking the 12-session route you can easily sink 4 hours in a single game. The game also occasionally evokes a bit negative emotions since as the hours go by and there are mischiefs in the air, it certainly can be nerve-wracking, vexatious even. Hence, I advise that the playmates are close ones that you know well.
Mexican Train is a competitive, top-notch board game and endless guaranteed fun suitable for players of all types and ages. I recommend it to everyone.
Photos are acquired from Shutterstock.
Release year: 1994
Playing time: 30 min. +
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