Threes: A Simple and Addictive Grid-based Math Puzzle for iOS

Let’s be honest. One of the most dangerous things about trying new games every now and then on the iPhone or other iOS devices is that you risk finding something cheap and addictive that can seriously take away from your free time. And the fact that in most cases these games can be played using just one hand makes them even more fun.


This is exactly the case with Threes ($1.99), a recent entry into the App Store’s gaming section that cleverly mixes puzzle mechanics with math and that is sure to keep you glued to your iPhone for hours on end.

Here’s a more in-depth look at how Threes looks and plays.

Grid-based Math Puzzles

For starters, Threes plays on a 4×4 grid where you have three types of blocks: Blue ones, red ones and white ones. The blue blocks are always the number ’1′ and the red blocks are always the number ’2′. The white blocks though, can be any number that is ’3′ or a multiple of it.

Threes One and Two  Threes Three

The premise of the game is simple: You can add only ’1′ and ’2′, which will result in a while block with the number ’3′. Once you have white blocks, you can only add them if they are ‘twins’, which means they have to identical to one another.

Threes Add Rules

So, to sum up, you can only add:

  • ’1′ + ’2′
  • ’3′ + ’3′
  • ’6′ + ’6′
  • ’12′ + ’12′

and so on.

To play, you swipe the board in any direction and all the blocks on it will move on that direction. If any of them hits the ‘wall’ (the border of the grid) it then won’t be able to move further. If a block hits another block though, it will ‘merge’ with it if it follows one of the addition rules mentioned above. Otherwise, it won’t be able to move further.

Threes One and Two Wall


To add more strategy to the game, you are also shown the upcoming piece at the top of the screen. So if you see a blue, red or white block above, you’ll know a number ’1′, ’2′ or multiple of ’3′ is coming, respectively. This helps you plan your next move better, which in turn allows you to free more spaces, add more blocks together and increase your final score, which is the final goal of the game.

Threes Next 1  Threes Next 2

Threes Playing  Threes Score

Final Thoughts

If you like puzzles and math, which usually go hand on hand, then you will absolutely love Threes. In fact, once you start trying it, you risk becoming addicted to it. And that’s ok. The game is fun, challenging and simple, which makes it accessible to anyone, and the fact that you can play this game in short bursts makes it a great time killer as well.

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