A Beginner’s Guide to Threes, the Numbers Game You Won’t Be Able to Stop Playing
This weekend, I discovered the new iOS game called Threes and fell down a deep, dark, black hole. Forget Flappy Bird: Forty hours and over 100 games later, I can say with confidence that this is your new addiction.
The $2 puzzle game was released earlier this month by Asher Vollmer, Greg Wohlwend and Jimmy Hinson. It’s so simple, yet difficult, it’ll make you go insane. Your goal: Combine the numbers in a 16-card grid to make larger numbers. You may only combine 1’s and 2’s to make 3. But for numbers 3 and up, every match may be combined to create a larger sum. The larger the number, the more points you get.
Seems easy enough, right? But when you swipe one direction, the entire board moves that way, and with it comes a new tile. If the board fills up with tiles and you can no longer combine any of them, the game is over. This creates a problem that reminds me of that famous chocolate conveyer belt scene in I Love Lucy: Every time you eliminate a tile with a combination, a new one pops up. You know what type of tile is coming at you, based on a preview at the top, but that doesn’t mean you know where to put it. Pretty soon you’re panicking to make room for them all, and your grid gets all stuffed up, just like Lucille Ball’s mouth.
Though it is similar to the addictive game Candy Crush Saga, Threes sets itself apart in design and strategy. Rather than establishing a cast of characters who trek through a Gobstopper-strewn terrain, each tile is assigned its own weird face and greeting. If the tiles match, the faces interact with one another on the board — a sophisticated hint that you may combine them if you so desire.
In games like Candy Crush, where chaos on the board or a bad draw can ruin a perfectly good turn and luck always trumps strategy, Threes actually lets you tackle a board with a few great tactics.
Here’s a quick run-through of how to play.
First, download the app here. It’s worth the $2, I swear. When you open the app, it’ll immediately bring you into its own tutorial. If you ever need to revisit it, you can always tap the tutorial icon in the upper-right corner of the screen.
Each tile has a color that signifies what it can do on the board. 1’s are blue, 2’s are pink, and all other tiles are white (with cute yellow faces at the bottoms of their cards). Above the board, you can see the color of the tile that will appear on the board after your next move.
You can swipe one of four directions: up, down, right or left. In this case, I will eliminate the most tiles by swiping left. This is the result: