Tug of War (originally entitled "Jason Smith") is a game dreamed up (literally: he awoke with it in his head) by Rusty Spell which was later altered by him and Noby Nobriga into the game we have today. It is called Tug of War because the players are always pulling and being pulled, from one side of the zero to the other, in both positive and negative scores. It follows most of the basic rules of a regular domino game, though at the same time extremely different.
Each player draws and places one domino face-up in front of them on the table. This is referred to as the players' "trains."
Each player draws seven dominos for their "hand." The rest of the dominos are placed in the "boneyard."
Whoever has the highest number of "spots" showing on one side of the starter domino begins the game (if there is a tie, the first player is determined by the number of spots on the other side of that domino). This is done at the beginning of each round, and play rotates clockwise during the round.
If a player plays on his own train (by matching up the spots on the domino), then the two ends of that train are added up to give the player points on the score sheet. A player may play on either end of the train.
If a player plays on one of his opponents' trains, then the two ends of that train are added up to give the opponent negative points. There can be both positive and negative points in Tug of War. A player may play on either train.
The score sheet should always be available to the person playing his domino so that he may better decide which choice to make.
If a player is unable to play on any of the trains, he must draw one domino from the boneyard. He will either play that domino (if he can), or put it in his hand and pass his turn.
The round ends when a player gets rid of his hand, or "dominos." When this happens, the spots left in the losers hand are counted up. The winner may then add those points to his score or subtract the points from his opponent's score. The winner may also split this up if there are more than two players in the game (e.g. giving Player 2 negative points while taking Player 3's positive points).
Ending the Game
There are several variations of how to end Tug of War, which should be determined by the players before the game begins.
1. True Tug of War Variation -- In this variation, if a player has 50 points at the end of a round, he wins. If a player has negative fifty points at the end of a round, he is out of the game. Note that these wins and losses are determined at the end of rounds, not as soon as someone reaches 50 or negative 50 within a round.
For a long game, if a player goes out of the game by obtaining negative 50 points, then play can continue until someone wins by reaching 50 points or until all the players are out of the game by obtaining negative 50 points. For a shorter game, when a player goes out at negative 50 points, the player left with the highest score wins. Players may also choose to change the number from 50 to anything they wish.
2. Rounds Variation #1 -- In this variation, players choose a pre-determined number of rounds (usually ten). After these round are over, the player with the highest score wins. If there is a tie, all players (or tied players only, players' choice) play another round until the tie is broken.
3. Rounds Variation #2 -- In this variation, players choose pre-determined number of rounds (usually ten). After each round, the player with the highest score is given one "Round Point" (different from regular score). The player with the highest number of Round Points at the end of all the rounds wins. Another round may be played to break a tie.
4. Other -- Since Tug of War has both positive and negative points always in play, there are dozens of variations on when the game might end (e.g. winning only by obtaining a positive score, winning only by forcing losers into negative scores, etc.). Players are encouraged to invent their own objectives for when the game ends.
The basic strategy of this simple game is to keep your points up and your opponents points down, which means that you have to decide when you need more points and when they need points taken away.
The strategy is largely determined by the variation you are playing. For example, if you are playing the "True Tug of War" variation, you might decide if it is best to win the game by scoring high, or to make your opponent lose by taking their points away (e.g. if you are at 10 points and your opponent is at negative 48, it would be wiser to push them down to negative 50 rather than trying to build up your points, since they are closer to losing than you are to winning). In a Round variation, since you are trying to win the round, your strategy will differ.
Copyright (c) Sep 2001 - Apr 2007 by Noby and Rusty's Games