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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?

Your ideal move is the one that will provide you with the most future moves

This sounds common-sense, but I mean it. Here's an example. Say you have two 6s next to each other, in a packed row surrounded by white tiles, and you have a 2 coming up next. You can either combine the sixes, or move one of the sixes down one row and line up a 2 and a 1 vertically.

Even though making the bigger number seems like the smartest idea, you can actually have both if you drop the six and line up the 2 and the 1 — because when you combine the 2 and 1, the sixes will line up together again. There are lots of scenarios like this where looking one additional move ahead can help you get a much higher score.

Starting a new game

When you start Threes, you're presented with a mix of blue 1s, red 2s, and white 3s. You can start sliding pretty much anywhere, from any direction, but I have a specific path I like to take: the Corner Strategy.

I'm not quite sure who invented the Threes corner strategy, as I've seen it mentioned in a bunch of differentblogs since the game's launch, but it's my go-to starting point. I'll admit, I pooh-poohed it when I was first starting to play. "But it takes away all my horizontal movement!" I grumbled. That's true, but after playing for several weeks, and using the corner for most of them, I think vertical movement is much more important to the flow of the game.

So, what is the corner strategy? In short, you put your highest number in a corner, and build around that. For me, I've had the most luck putting my tile in the top-left corner, and building vertically upwards from the first and second columns.

When I first started playing Threes, it was fairly easy to get a 12 or a 24 into that top-left spot, but I think the game's engine has been slightly rejiggered since then. As such, I don't worry too much if I can't get my top number immediately into that corner; I just focus on that being my eventual goal.

So how do you put the most successful corner strategy into play?

If you have a bunch of unpaired 1s and 2s floating around in the top and left side of the board, focus first on pairing them off

It's going to be really tricky to get your highest number into the corner if you have a 2 or 1 stuck in that spot surrounded by 3s and 6s. At the beginning of the game, I'm happy to move in all directions and try and combine any 1s and 2s from that side of the board.


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