I tried out 2048 Numberwang and I can't figure out if there is a strategy to it. Unlike 2048, the numbers keep changing every time you press a key. I just kept randomly pressing the arrow keys until I got to the point where the game ended. Is there a strategy to actually playing?

  • 1
    That's numberwang!
    – Fishcake
    Apr 10, 2018 at 7:23

4 Answers 4


Yes, it's like regular 2048 but a bit silly.

If you ignore the randomly changing numbers, the occasional shinty-six, and "that's numberwang", it actually plays just like 2048. You can and should ignore the numbers on the pieces- use the colour of the backgrounds instead.

There are a few differences. Most notably, tiles have a 2.5% chance of merging even if their value is not the same. This makes the game significantly easier than real 2048.

  • 1
    Wow, I've never actually won normal 2048, so I guess I just got incredibly lucky to win 2048 Numberwang by randomly pressing keys! Apr 9, 2018 at 0:56
  • 12
    There's a 2.5% chance of tiles merging even if their (real) value isn't the same. That would make it much easier overall. Apr 9, 2018 at 6:07
  • 14
    Since it hasn't been stated here explicitly: Numberwang is a fake game show from Mitchell and Webb, where the actual rules of what is Numberwang are arbitrary or just very complicated: youtube.com/watch?v=zJDu5D_IXbc
    – Sentry
    Apr 9, 2018 at 7:45
  • 3
    @curiousdannii it's also worth noting that this chance of random merging isn't enforced per-move, but per-keypress. So if the desired tiles don't merge, just tap a few more times and they generally will. I didn't look at any code to verify the probability or any other rules involved, but after a few minutes of play the only merging rule that appeared to be enforced consistently was matching colors. The shades of color for each value level are close enough to make this confusing sometimes, but it's basically just randomized color matching.
    – brichins
    Apr 9, 2018 at 18:10
  • 2
    @Sentry Numberwang is not arbitrary, it is simply very complicated, as shown in the board game representation where the rulebook is absurdly huge. Apr 9, 2018 at 20:48

All you need to do is to use the same space management strategy that you'd use in 2048. I pick a corner (usually upper-right), and take turns alternating a bunch of right keys followed by a bunch of up keys, letting the large values accumulate in the upper-right corner. If you get "stuck", then usually a down-up, left-right, or down-right-up button combination usually gets things flowing again; once you practice a bit, you'll get a feel for which to use.

I've already gotten a score of over 200,000 points, which was actually my first run, even. If you were to watch me play, it'd appear largely random, but it's not--I'm corralling the larger-colored squares to one corner to make room for the others. Every once in a while, you'll need to slow down and merge some colored blocks together, but that's more an exception than a rule.

This is what it should look like most of the time:

numberwang stacking values top-right


The numbers seem to be meaningless, Blocks match and merge based on the colors but they also have a probability of merging even if they don't match. It seems that darkening colors serve a similar purpose to the rising numbers in regular 2048.

This probability is per keypress. Even if you press a key in a direction where nothing would normally move there is still a probability of mismatched tiles merging.

New tiles only spawn if something moves.

Black tiles do not seem to want to merge under regular merge rules but it seems they will merge as part of the random merging.

So play like regular 2048 using colors instead of numnbers but when you get in a bind repeatedly hit an arrow key in a direction that will normally cause no movement until the random merging kicks in.

Do not let all the squares fill up, if you do then you are very likely to lose.

In this way you should be able to go on playing for ever.


This game is just like 2048, except with the following differences.

  1. all numbers are changed with every move. But colors aren't, and they are what matter for merge tests.
  2. There is a 2.5% change of any given merge test having it's result inverted. So not only can two pieces of different color merge, two of the same will sometimes fail.
  3. every so often you get a "That's Numberwang!" message.
  4. rarely it will say "Let's rotate the board" and will do just that.

When a merge that's not supposed to work happens, the piece that crashes into the other one is the one that sets the color. So you can LOSE progress! But you keep the points.

Given this, a reasonable strategy is to pick two directions only that aren't opposites, and only make moves in them period. if you see a match, take it. if not, try to set up a match for the next move. if one of the moves does nothing, and the other doesn't match, keep pressing the move that does nothing until something happens, then resume the strategy.

Moves that do nothing can never leave you with more tiles on the board, so if there's a move that does nothing, and one that leaves you with more tiles, repeat the move that does nothing until it merges something.

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