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It’s possible to beat Threes!, because someone just did it

That’s a lot of commas

Threes! - Xbox One version black
The Xbox One version of Threes.

Threes!, the addictive and maddening puzzle game from Sirvo, has been available for more than three years. For all that time, people wondered if the game had an endpoint — some mythical card to strive for — or if it would just go on forever.

Now we have an answer, thanks to the dedicated Threes! players at ThreesPorn: Yes, it’s possible to beat the game. And the fanfare when you do so is glorious.

As you can see in the first tweet above, the ThreesPorn folks were happily bewildered when they swiped one last time and saw wild visual flourishes. Then, the game tallied up their board to calculate the final score: 1,594,498. The bulk of that came from one card — a card that was theoretically possible, but had been unseen until this point.

Here’s how Threes! works: You start with a 1 and a 2 on the board, and combine them by pushing them against one of the board’s four walls. Once you have two 3 cards, you can add them together to make a 6. From there, it’s off to the races of doubling cards: 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, etc. The game ends when you fill up the board and can’t make any more moves — or when you pull off what ThreesPorn did yesterday.

Threes! players have known since shortly after the game’s release that there’s a 6144 card, which is called “Volleo.” (The two highest cards in Threes!, according to its achievements, are that one and 3072, “Whalend” — they’re named after the game’s illustrator, Greg Wohlwend, and its writer, Asher Vollmer.)

But as far as we know, nobody had successfully doubled a Volleo until now. ThreesPorn managed to do it, creating a card that would bear the number 12288; when the game totaled up the score, the 12288 card was worth a whopping 1,594,323 points. (The other 135 points came from the other cards left on the board.)

Wohlwend retweeted the happy news with a lot of exclamation points. Then he confirmed that this card does indeed mean ThreesPorn “beat Threes,” and added that it has been three and one-third years since the game launched:

(Not to put a damper on this special moment, but technically, Wohlwend’s calculation doesn’t represent an “exact figure.” Threes! debuted Feb. 6, 2014, and ThreesPorn appears to have beaten it yesterday, June 19, 2017. That’s a span of 1,229 days, which translates to three years, four months and 13 days — or 3.36 years.) Either way, it’s an incredible achievement for ThreesPorn, which has been spreading the gospel of Threes! for more than three years.

It also serves as a validation of the developers’ philosophy when it comes to crafting a fine-tuned, eminently replayable puzzle game. As is common in the mobile gaming market, many imitators sprung up shortly after the release of Threes! — most notably Gabriele Cirulli’s 2048, which was itself a clone of Veewo Studios’ 1024. (Wohlwend had already been through an awful instance of cloning, as one of the developers of Vlambeer’s Ridiculous Fishing.)

At the time, the developers of Threes! expressed frustration at the cloning situation and compared their game to 2048, calling the rip-off a “broken game.”

“We wanted players to be able to play Threes over many months, if not years,” Vollmer and Wohlwend said. “We both beat 2048 on our first tries.”

Three and one-third years later, they were proven correct. Accept no substitutes: Threes! is available to purchase on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Xbox One, and a free version can be played in a browser.

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