Build Up Domino Rules

How To Play Build Up Dominoes

Build Up is a dominoes game designed by David Vander Ark. The rules are posted here with permission of the author.

Number Of Players: 2
Domino Set Required: Uses two double-six sets. Each player uses his own set, and each set should be of a different color so that they can be differentiated. Dominoes with "spinners" cannot be used because the tiles are stacked.


Each player turns his tiles upside down on the table, mixes them, and draws six tiles. These twelve tiles are laid out face up in two lines of six tiles each. How these are placed is not important, although it is easiest if the tiles are not touching each other and are oriented so the long axis of the tiles are on the line between the two players. The remaining tiles form the boneyards, and should be kept separate by color.

The first hand begins with each player drawing one tile from his boneyard. The player who draws the domino with the most total pips will play first. Players then draw five more tiles so each has a total of six tiles for the first hand. When this hand has been played, there follow three more hands of six, six and four tiles each. This should exhaust the boneyards.


In turn, players place a tile from their hand on top of any domino stack already in line on the table, following these rules for building. Stacks of tiles can be any height, but they are built up according to these rules:

  1. A non-double tile may be placed on any tile as long as the total number of pips on the tile played is equal to or greater than the tile being covered.
  2. A double may cover any non-double tile, even if the covered tile has more pips.
  3. A double may cover another double only if the covered tile has fewer total pips. Any tile may cover a double tile if it has more total pips.
  4. A hand ends when both players have emptied their hands, or when both players can no longer make any plays and the hand blocks.
  5. When one player cannot play in his turn he passes and the other player may then continue.
  6. When the first hand of six tiles is played and scored, a second hand of six tiles is drawn, played and scored the same way. Then the final hand of four tiles is drawn, played and scored the same way.


At the end of each hand, each player scores the total number of pips on the tiles of his own color that are on top of the stacks. A player may have tiles left at the end of a hand that he is unable to play. These tiles are set aside and not returned to the boneyard, nor do they count either for or against his score.

The highest score after the third hand is the winner.



Build Up can be played by more than two players as long as each player has a distinctive dominoes set. > Domino Rules > Build Up

Home Search Site Map About This Site