Have you seen daily posts from people you follow on social media that look like a bar graph made up of green squares? Welcome to Wordle, the everyday game that is taking the nerd world by storm. But what is Wordle and how do you play it? What strategies will help you decipher the word of the day when you are immediately faced with five gray squares? Let’s dive in.
Developed by Josh Wardle, a software engineer, Wordle is a daily word game originally developed for his partner. The two loved and kept word games to themselves, but because of their appreciation and the reaction they received from the family who tried it, Wardle released the game on the internet in October. Wordle is, of course, a smart game on Wardle’s behalf.
According to the New York Times, on November 1, 2021, 90 people played the word game once a day. By Sunday, January 2, 2022, more than 300,000 had played.
This is an untimed low stakes word challenge that adopts a setup similar to Mastermind. Its simplicity makes it attractive, as does the ability for anyone who plays to share their scores on social media.
You can access Wordle online. It’s not an app and you don’t have to do anything other than click on it. Wordle offers one game a day, but since it’s not timed, you can take as much time as you want throughout the day to try yourself out.
The game has six rows of five blank spaces, and to start just select a five letter word and type it in. the correct spelling of a word will let you know and you can try this trick again.
If you guessed a letter correctly and it is in the right place for the word of the day, you will get a green box. If you guessed a letter correctly but it is not in the right place, it will turn yellow. Letters that do not appear in the word at all are grayed out.
You have six opportunities to try out a whole word using information gathered from previous guesswork. That’s what those green social media bars indicate. In the above shared, I didn’t guess any letters correctly on my first try. On the second try, I had a correct letter in the wrong place, followed by two correct letters and placements, and on the third try, a correct letter with incorrect placement.
The fourth attempt was a complete success.
There are as many strategies to play as there are words, so where do you start? You can keep it simple and guess which word comes to mind first. You can opt for the wheel of fortune and start with R S T L N E. Or, you can try one of the strategies outlined in Mark M. Read’s Medium article. Note that if you click it, you may inadvertently come up with ideas that will affect the way you play in the future. For some it can be good. For me, I can’t help but think about one of them and the need not to consciously try it out.
Danielle Tcholakian tweeted a poll on People’s Strategy this week, and the responses – both spun and tweeted – are fascinating to read as well.
One of the best and probably most frustrating things about Wordle is that it is limited to one word per day. This reduces impulse control, but it also means waiting for the game the next day.
When you’re in the mood for more, why not take a look at the following, which includes both digital and physical fun:
- Great games for word nerds
- The best word game apps
- Even more games for word nerds
- The best puzzle books for adults