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2048 is an addictive puzzle game that's simple, intuitive, and memorable. It takes a few seconds to understand the rules of 2048, but once you understand the basics, your brain will love coming up with new strategies and techniques that you can employ to raise your high score.

2048 is a simple browser and mobile game that was released in 2014 by Italian developer Gabriele Cirulli. 2048 is hosted for free on the internet for desktop web browsers. Native apps are available for free on iOS and Android.

The goal of 2048 is to combine numbers until they're as large as possible. At the start of a game of 2048, two numbers appear on a four-by-four grid in different locations. You play the game by swiping in a direction (or using an arrow key on the desktop version), which sends all of the numbers sliding in the direction that you swiped. Just like Tetris tiles, these numbers fall until they collide with something, whether it's a wall or another number. When two numbers that are the same hit each other, they combine and form a single number equal to their sum. Each time you combine two numbers, your score goes up.

Each time the player moves the tiles on the board, a number is added to a random empty tile. This number is either a 2 or a 4. You can then move the tiles again to combine this new number with your existing tiles, which adds another 2 or 4, adding more move possibilities. This basic cycle of making a move, getting a new tile, and then having the opportunity to make another move repeats until you either win or lose.

There's one important caveat to the rules here: you can't make a move if it doesn't move any tiles. In other words, if you've got all of your numbers stacked up at the bottom of the screen, swiping down won't do anything. If you want to change the board state and add a new tile, you'll have to swipe left, right, or up.

At first, it's easy to combine your tiles together. The first two tiles are usually both 2, so when a new 2 is added you can simply combine any two tiles to make a 4. When the tiles start getting bigger, however, it's harder to combine them. A 64 requires 32 2 tiles, so it can be tricky to get a second 64 to combine with your first. This means that your larger tiles will hang around on the game board for a while, serving as obstacles that you'll have to work around.

If you're not careful, you might wind up in a situation where all of the tiles are filled. If you can't combine any tiles on a board like this, the game ends. Your score still counts, but you'll need to start a new game if you want to beat your high score.

If you manage to get one of the tiles on your board all the way to 2048 (by making two 1024s and combining them), you'll get a victory screen. You can keep playing (for a big score) or restart and try to do it again! Many people enjoy trying to see how quickly and reliably they can make a 2048 tile, while others like trying to beat their previous scores and make the biggest numbers possible. 2048 is far from the biggest number you can make in 2048. Two 2048 tiles combine to make a 4096 tile, which in turn combines to an 8192 tile. The biggest tile possible in the game is 131,072.


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How to play

2048 is very simple to start. You can look at the board, search for matching tiles, and then swipe to combine them. If you don't see any matching tiles, you can swipe to shift the numbers around and make a new tile on an empty square. With any luck, this will give you the opportunity to combine more numbers.

The key to success in 2048 is planning ahead. While it can be satisfying to quickly match numbers up without thinking, playing without forethought will quickly lead to a full board without any big tiles. If you want to make a 2048 tile, you'll need to spend some time before each move to ensure that your tiles end up the way you want them.

The first thing to consider when making a move is which way you should swipe. If there are two 2 tiles next to each other, you can swipe in either direction to make them combine. Think about both what a swipe would do to the rest of your board and where you want a new tile to show up. By managing where your empty space is after every move, you can control where new 2 and 4 tiles show up, giving you a lot of control over the randomness involved.

The second thing to consider is your long-term strategy. Most players try to cluster their big tiles in one corner of the board, with the biggest tiles living the closest to the corner. Big tiles are hard to find partners for and get in the way of combining your smaller tiles, making it difficult to win games where you've got a big tile in the middle. By clumping your big numbers up in a corner, you'll have plenty of space to combine your small tiles and keep the game going.

A simple starter strategy is to just try to jam all of your tiles into one corner. If you pick two directions at right angles to each other (like down and right) and spam those two directions, you'll quickly wind up with a pyramid-like structure with your biggest number in the bottom corner. This keeps your tiles organized and ensures that you've got plenty of space for planning moves. 

When you can't make a move by hitting either down or right (or whatever directions you chose), you'll have to stop and think a bit. Carefully moving in a different direction will be necessary to make your board bigger, but doing it hastily can quickly lead to a messy and difficult board. Try to move in a direction where your biggest number is anchored by a full set of 4 tiles. If you've got 4 tiles along the bottom, for example, with a 512 in the bottom right corner, you're free to move left without shaking the 512 tile loose. If there are only 3 tiles along the bottom but there are 3 tiles on top of the 512 block, you're probably better off moving your tiles up.

Once you've made your move against your normal pattern, spend some time analyzing the board. Think about what moves you have available and which will help you rebuild your pyramid structure quickly. Your goal is to make the values in the pyramid go up as they get closer to the corner. If you have a 2 or a 4 in the heart of your chosen corner, you'll have trouble getting a partner for that number past the 8s, 16s, and 32s that likely live all around it. 

After you've chosen your move, continue your pattern of evaluating the board and swiping. If you've got room, you can go back to spamming towards your chosen corner. If not, try to favor moves in those directions, but spend some time thinking about each move. Continue until you fill up the board or make a 2048!

There's some randomness involved in 2048, so don't worry about getting a 2048 tile every game. Instead, focus on having fun, perfecting your strategy, and improving a little bit with each game. You'll be making big boards in no time!

What's your 2048 high score? You can share your best games, stories, and strategies with other users in the comments below. We'd love to hear any improvements you have on the basic plan presented above and what the biggest tiles you've seen are. 2048 is a fun game to play alone, but it's even more fun when you can talk about it with other people and be part of a larger community experiencing this viral phenomenon.






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