how to win 2048

Illustration by Jason Reed

The definitive guide to winning 2048

How did I do it without going crazy? A little luck—and something called the Mancini technique.


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Posted on Mar 19, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 2:56 pm CDT


This morning, around 6:15 Eastern, I did what I had previously thought impossible. I beat 2048.

By now, you have probably heard of this charmingly simple and fiendishly addictive online puzzle, built by Gabriele Cirulli and originally hosted on Github. The game is also available as an equally addictive app for iOS and Android devices.

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So how did I do it? A little luck. But I also have something called the Mancini technique.


Build numbers side to side

Start each game by sliding left and right to build up some 4’s and 8’s along your sides. I tend go all one direction until I can’t anymore, then go the other way.

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Collapse upward

Once you’ve got a nice base along the side, swipe up and collapse some of that into some nice 8’s and 16’s. You want to keep this top row full of higher numbers that you can merge into the really big boys like 256, 512, and 1024. When you have your top row full, go back to the left- and right-swipe (this is the Mancini technique, named after my friend who came up with it).

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Focus on a corner

Now we’re setting up our base—that upper-right corner with the 64 and the 128.

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This is where we’re gonna focus attention for a while.

Build chains

In the screenshot below, see the two 16’s, 32, 64, and 128? We’re gonna make that a 256 by chaining them all together carefully.

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Boom. We’re a quarter of the way there (not really).

Now back to swiping and collapsing upwards. Another thing: When you have a nice big number that you want crunch into the top row, fill out the second row down as well, allowing you to swipe left and right in the bottom two rows to best line up your pieces.

Here’s another chain (same game):

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Don’t try and build up big numbers separately. Focus on turning small numbers into bigger ones.

In the game that I won, my chain started in the lower left with some 4’s becoming an 8, and slid it left and right and chained it all the way to a 256 in the top left that became a 512 next to a 512 next to the 1024 for the penultimate win.

Be lucky

This comes later in the game, when you’ve got the top two rows full of hard-to-crunch numbers. The 2’s and 4’s that were so helpful early on now get in the way of those 16’s you need to match the 32 to get the 64 to a 128 so you can… well, you get the idea. I don’t have a way around this. Sorry.

Never, ever, ever swipe down

This is another critical part of the Mancini technique. Don’t ever do it. Why? Because look at my pristine top row

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Now look at it.

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I can’t do anything with that 2. I can’t get another 2 in close enough to match it, and if I did, I’d need a 4, an 8, and probably a 16 to be able to un-clusterfuck that top right corner WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS.

Even after chaining together some 2’s and 4’s into something useful, I’m still stuck with a 128 in the second row (where it can block chains) and that miserable godforsaken 2 in the top row.

I did manage to build a chain to get it free, eventually. Later in the game, this would have been fatal.

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So that’s what I know. It’s not a fool-proof strategy, but by using the Mancini Technique of swiping side-to-side, collapsing upwards, and focusing on long chains, you can set yourself up for nice long chains that can lead to fame and glory.

Best of luck. Try to get some work done.

And if you’re finding this too tough, don’t worry—there’s a simpler way.

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*First Published: Mar 19, 2014, 2:19 pm CDT