OBJECTIVE OF MALTESE CROSS: Be the first player to score 100 points




AUDIENCE: Kids, Adults


Maltese Cross is a draw domino game with an added layer of complexity.  Players will be challenged to form a Maltese Cross with doubles before freely adding tiles onto the lines.  This makes beginning the game with doubles in hand extremely crucial.


Put the dominoes pip side down on the playing area.  Mix them up and enjoy the pleasant clacking of tiles.  Players then take turns drawing a single domino at a time until they have the required amount.  Each player should have seven dominoes for a two player game.  In a game with three or four players, each  person should have five dominoes.

The remaining dominoes are pushed to the side and form the boneyard.  They are used as a draw pile.


The player with the highest double begins the game.  That player places that double in the center of the table.  This first double is called a spinner, and players are required to attempt to lay a domino on all four sides of the spinner before building on.  When this has been completed, the dominoes will form a cross.

If a player cannot play on the beginning double, they choose a tile from the boneyard.  If that tile can be added to the double, it has to be played.  If it cannot, the player passes their turn.

In standard Cross dominoes, players would be able to start building upon the individual branches once the cross has been formed.  In Maltese, there is an added layer of complexity.  Players are required to play the corresponding double on the ends of the cross.  These doubles are played perpindicularly, and they are not spinners

Once the Maltese cross has been formed, players can start building onto the branches.  From this point on, any doubles played are also not spinners.  Branches are formed in straight lines.  Players either play or draw from the boneyard.  Once the boneyard has two dominoes left, players can no longer draw. 

If the boneyard is reduced to two dominoes and the Maltese cross has not been formed, that branch of the cross is considered dead, and play may continue on the other three branches.

Play continues until one player is out of dominoes or the game is blocked.  The game becomes blocked if no one has run out of dominoes, and players can no longer draw.


If a player runs out of dominoes and wins the round, they earn points based on the total value of the remaining players’ dominoes.

If a game becomes blocked, the player with the lowest total domino value wins the round.  They earn points equal to the difference between their domino value and the total value of the remaining players’ dominoes.  For example, the winner has 18 points, and their opponents have a combined total of 40 points, the winning player gets 22 points for the round.

Continue playing until someone reaches 100 points.  The first person to earn 100 points wins the game.

Mark Ball
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