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Get past the 384 tile in Threes (or die trying)

Serenity Caldwell | March 21, 2014
Threes is the kind of game you can pick up almost instantly: It's cute, has great music, and a simple premise. Combine number pairs! Add one and two to make 3! What could be easier?

Threes is the kind of game you can pick up almost instantly: It's cute, has great music, and a simple premise. Combine number pairs! Add one and two to make 3! What could be easier?

Well, from the amount of times my gentleman friend has yelled "I hate this game!" in my general vicinity, probably a few things. I suspect that part of the reason he's been grumping in earshot is that my score is currently 61,000 points higher than his. Whoops.

Here's the thing: Like many strategy games, Threes has both rules and guidelines. The rules are the limits of the game: You can't combine 48 with 24, and 1s can only add with 2s. Guidelines, however, I compare to Blackjack's basic strategy — for every move you can make in Threes, there's an optimal way to do it.

I can't claim to have the most optimal way to play Threes, as I'm still missing the last two elusive Threes tiles: the 3072 and the 6144. But I think I'm on the right track. And maybe I can put you there, too.

Before we begin, some basic tips

Most Threes players know the game's basic tips, which are shown to you upon starting the tutorial. But just in case you don't, here are some things to think about when you're playing.

Always line up your 1s and 2s

1s and 2s are trickier than most, as they can only combine with each other. As such, you want to make sure that your board is balanced and you don't have a glut of all 1s in one corner. You also want to be careful that you don't get 1s or 2s trapped between 3s or higher. If you do, my best suggestion is to work vertically to combine numbers upward so that you can free them.

Pay attention to the "Next" tile preview

To avoid having a mix of 1s and 3s, I always pay attention to the "Next" tile preview and attempt to match up whatever's coming where it belongs.

New tiles appear from where you swipe

If you swipe from the right to the left, a new tile will appear in the rightmost column in any of the horizontal rows. If you swipe from the bottom, a new tile will appear in any of the columns on the bottom row.

The probability of a tile appearing in a certain row or column increases when you are only moving that row (i.e. the other rows/columns are stuck).

Always use the preview swipe

You can preview what a swipe will do to your board by slowly moving up, down, left, or right with your finger. This is essential for previewing combinations and finding the best move.

 

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