Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Hello, welcome to Monederosmart UK! We've reserved a special space to talk all about dominoes, the timeless game that has the dexterity of a card game and the lightness of a board game. We challenge you to find a person who doesn't know dominoes. It is practically a cultural heritage, played in bars, parks and at dinner tables all over the world. No wonder it's an option for the whole family to enjoy.

Our goal in this guide is to help you find the right dominoes game for you, your gang, and your family. We'll show you the different sets, the different ways to play, and the main models on the market.




Summary

  • There is more than one way to play dominoes: the counting game, the blocking game, the wheel game and the auction.
  • There are also domino sets with very specific purposes, such as Mexican dominoes and domino effect kits.
  • Within these varieties of domino sets, you can find models ranging from $ 20 to $ 400, depending on the number of pieces and their material.

The Best Domino Games: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Don't let the simplicity of the pieces fool you. Dominoes is a complex game that unites strategy, mathematics and a touch of puzzle solving. Complex but not complicated, it's a game for young, old and old. Because of these characteristics, dominoes is present in many cultures, which approach the game in different ways, generating different sets (and models). In the Buying Guide, we take a look at these differences, and the advantages and disadvantages of dominoes.

Imagem mostra um jogo de dominó numa mesa de metal, mas apenas os braços dos jogadores são mostrados.

Complex, but not complicated: Dominoes is fun for everyone. (Source: Craig Adderley / Pexels)

What is dominoes?

Dominoes is, for all intents and purposes, a board game. The word can also be used to refer to the game pieces, also called stones, which are rectangular in shape - a parallelepiped, in fact -, with small dots on one of their surfaces, painted or perforated, the number of which equals their value. Each stone has two values, most commonly from zero to six, which divide its surface in half. The pieces make all possible combinations with these values, including two equal values, without repeating themselves, resulting in 28 pieces.

There are sets that go up to the number 18, that is, with 190 stones. Basically, the game consists in combining pieces starting from the points with equal values (zero with zero, one with one, and so on), differing in the way points are counted and even the number of participants, usually four. Dominoes is conventionally said to be a Sino-European game, as it originated in China but became popular in Europe. So much so that in Asia Mahjong, an even more complex variation of the game, is the most popular, while the name " dominoes " is said to have originated from the European priests who celebrated their victories with the Latin term "domino gratias " ("thanks to the Lord").

Imagem mostra a combinação de peças de dominó em cima de uma superfície branca.

The game is played by combining the ends of the pieces with equal values. (Source: Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of dominoes?

Any game has its advantages and disadvantages, even a millennial one like dominoes. Its advantages surround the richness of the game, and the disadvantages its inconvenient specifics. Starting with the advantages, one of them is that a game for all ages, for being easily understood, easily assembled and handled, and yet with a wealth of strategies to please those who play longer. Within this enormous age range are several cognitive benefits, such as stimulating logical-mathematical development for the youngest, strategic logic for adults and memory for the oldest. Finally, it is a practical game. All you need is a straight surface and at least two players and that's it.

Starting with the fact that it's only four players, at least in most modes. It's hard to entertain a large group, for example. Another drawback is the "delicate" way the game is assembled, just like most table games or even board games. The pieces are fitted together without any fixture. It's just a sudden bump on the table and that's it. The pieces, by the way, are an inconvenience in themselves, at least when they get lost, because they are small, or wear out, losing their visibility or even their value, in the sense of points.

Advantages
  • Ageless fun
  • Cognitive benefits
  • Easy assembly and handling
Disadvantages
  • Number of players
  • Delicate assembly
  • Lost and/or worn parts

Standard set, Mexican or domino effect?

Dominoes has a wide cultural reach, and consequently countless appropriations, with different rules and sets. There are official, and unofficial variations, universal rules and those that only that table in that square has. There are, however, more popular variations, at least market-wise. So, in your research, you will probably find three types of set: the standard, the Mexican, and the domino effect. The pattern, as we said, is the set called double six, which refers to the piece with the highest value, that is, with six points in each of the halves, twelve points in total. Recall, there are 28 pieces.

Imagem mostra peças de dominó amontoadas aleatoriamente, sendo a maioria com suas faces numéricas voltadas para cima.

The most common domino set is the one called "double six", and it contains 28 pieces... (Source: Pixabay / Pexels)

The Mexican, in turn, also known as Mexican train, has quite specific rules, being almost a separate game. Anyway, its set is called double twelve, with the largest piece having 12 points in each half, and with 91 pieces in total. The domino effect is definitely not for playing dominoes, it contains only the pieces in their traditional format, without necessarily following a numerical pattern, or even having numbers. These sets, in this case, are for lining up the pieces and knocking them all down in sequence, starting from knocking down the first piece of the row. There are videos and more videos with rows of the most diverse forms, which are knocked down in the most diverse sequences:

Standard Mexican Domino Effect
Maximum value (Points) 12 (6x6) 24 (12x12) No value
Number of pieces 28 91 Not defined
Usage Games of various kinds Games of various kinds Domino Effect

What are the ways to play dominoes?

There are many different ways to play dominoes, some based on local culture, others on official rules. In any case, it's hard to get away from this basic division: counting game, blocking game, wheel game and auction game. In counting games, the points of each player are recorded during and at the end of the game. A famous example is the Point of Five. The games are the opposite, with the points computed only at the end of the game, that is, when all the rounds are finished.

Imagem mostra o momento de um jogo de dominó, com quatro participantes e mais uma pessoa observando, em primeiro plano.

The "classic" dominoes game is essentially a counting game. (Source: Craig Adderley / Pexels)

The wheel game can have elements of the counting game or the blocking game. What sets it apart is that it, depending on the modality, can have up to 10 participants, unlike the traditional four. The auction game, finally, "transforms" the pieces into playing cards with numbers and suits. Just like the pack of cards, the possibilities of this type of game are quite numerous.

Counting Blocking Wheel Auction
Differential Counting of points Higher number of participants Analogous to the card game  
Popularity High High Low Medium

How much does it cost?

The price of a domino set can vary a lot depending on its material, number of pieces, its complements, such as a case or suitcase, or even its purpose. The most basic kits can be found starting at £20, while the more sophisticated ones, made of thinner materials or even to set up a domino effect can reach up to £400.

Purchase Criteria: What to notice about your dominoes game

We have put together a list of selection criteria just for you, to be noted and noted at the time of purchase. To compile the list, we evaluated product features and elements of its use:

  • Pieces
  • Case
  • Visibility
  • Size of pieces

Now, let's talk about each of these items, so that your choice is the best informed, and your purchase, the best possible.

Parts

The pieces are the items that will most influence the product experience with your domino set. Look for the pieces whose colour, details and finishes appeal to you the most. It's worth noting the material too, which also plays a part in the experience as well as, and most importantly, the durability of your set. Avoid paper and plastic pieces, and bet without fear in dark wood pieces, resin, metal or even the oldest, such as bone.

Imagem mostra dez peças de dominó feitas de metal, com suas faces numéricas voltadas para cima, repousando sob uma superfície escura.

Look for the domino set whose pieces you like, but that are made of minimally durable materials. (Source: Ogutier / Pixabay)

Case

The case of the set is just as important as the pieces. There are three most common types: the briefcase, the case, and the box. There is no best type, but there is one suitable for every situation. If you like to take your dominoes on your travels, a compact, resistant and nice case is worth it; if you take the game and your pieces more seriously, a professional case, with quality lining and closure, is the best choice. For children, or just to leave them at home, a set with a small wooden box is the best option.

Visibility

Even if there are pieces that you like more, try to give preference to sets whose pieces have good visibility, that is, where the points are easily identified in several situations. As a rule, look for pieces whose points are not actually perforated, and which have colours that make a strong contrast with the main colour of the stone, such as white and black, and red and white.

Imagem recorta o grupo de quatro peças de um dos jogadores, a “mão” dele. Uma das peças tem seus pontos um tanto apagados, e reforçados à base de caneta.

The visibility of the numbering of the pieces is essential for the game to run smoothly, without confusion or adaptations. (Source: Tatiana Rodriguez / Unsplash)

Size of the pieces

Another point worth your attention is the size of the pieces. Again, there is no correct size, there is, yes, an appropriate size for your situation, the people who will play to the place where it will be played. Large pieces, for example, for small tables, will not be very functional, and small pieces for elderly people may hinder the game a little.

(Image source: Wokandapix / Pixabay.com)

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