How to not suck at 2048

I have met a number of people that are terrible at 2048 and I want to briefly document how to help you. The answer is “the snake”. The way you win is to build a big number in one corner and then build a snake of incrementally smaller numbers leading to it. For me, that means going up and to the left basically every turn – I swipe left and up, left and up, left and up, over and over again until I have build something reasonable large, then I start to target the lower left corner and building the number I need to increase the number above that, all the way up to grow the top left number.

The snake is good for a few reasons:

  1. To build a 2048, you need a 1024 next to it, then next to that, you need a 512, next to that a 256, then a 128, 64, 32, 16, 8, 4, and another 4. That is 10 spots out of the 16 available. It will be crowded. You need to be organized.
  2. Equally important, to build increasingly large numbers, you need room to work. That means you do not want to be building that chain in the middle.
  3. Finally, you cannot control where the next number will appear, so the more space in one area you create, the more resilient your board state will be to where the next number will appear.

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You can see here how my build did not rely on where any of the numbers on the right appeared: I could easily move them into position by making a snaking up and down chain and simply targeting the tail of my snake with increasingly large targets.

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