Dominoes are flat, thumb-sized rectangular blocks with a blank or identically patterned face and an arrangement of small dots, called pips, on one side. There are usually 28 dominoes in a standard set. They are also known as bones, cards, tiles, stones, spinners, or tickets. Regardless of their names, they are a fun way for children and adults to spend time playing games or creating elaborate domino art.
The most common material used for domino is polymer (either plastic or resin). Polymer dominoes are generally brightly colored and have a smooth, polished surface. They are very durable and have a long life span, even in harsh conditions such as sunlight or moisture. In addition, they can withstand the rigors of play and do not require any special storage or handling.
Some sets of dominoes are made from natural materials, such as bone or silver lip oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on the faces. These sets have a more unique and attractive look, and the natural materials can be heavier and feel more substantial in the hand than polymer sets. Some sets are also available in alternative materials such as ceramic clay or frosted glass, which can provide a more novel and interesting appearance and feel than the traditional polymer sets.
Most domino games are played by placing a domino edge to edge against another, in a line or a curved pattern. Each domino has a number on it, and the rules of the game dictate whether the number shown must be the last or first to be played. The players then compete to make the most accurate chains of dominoes.
The way that dominoes are joined to form a chain also determines part of the rules for each game. In most games, the ends of a chain are counted in order to determine the winner. In the case of a game where there is a runner, this runner is the player whose chain contains the least number of total pips at its ends.
In addition, many players like to make the finishing touches to their domino creations, such as laying matching color or design elements across the bottom of each piece, or constructing a 3D structure such as a tower or pyramid. This is also a fun activity to do with friends or family members, and can be used as an opportunity to discuss strategy and tactics.