I am not a gamer in any sense of the word. My phones, my iPad, my iMac, my Pixelbook, my Nvidia Shield and other Android TV devices, they’re all living a game-less existence. But for the last few days, I’ve been sucked into the 🟩 🟨 ⬛️ Wordle craze. The 5-letter word-guessing game is sweet, simple, and perfectly suited for a non-gamer like me.
The reason I don’t play any games isn’t that I don’t like them, it’s because I know I have zero self-control and I’m easily sucked in. I have lost countless hours playing games in the past, so I decided many years ago not to install them on my devices in order to remain a functioning human. Solution by avoidance. It’s cowardly, but it works for me.
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Wordle managed to break through this barrier thanks to three very important characteristics. But before I get to those, let me introduce you to the game.
What is Wordle exactly?
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
Every day, there’s a new five-letter word to guess and you only get six tries. Considering there are thousands of potential answers, this is brutal. The game helps you by highlighting each letter in your guess:
- Grey means the letter is simply not in the word.
- Yellow means the letter is there but in a different spot.
- Green means the letter is there and in the correct spot.
With each try, you should learn something new about the secret word. Be it by eliminating possibilities or cementing letters in the correct place, you’ll slowly progress towards the right answer. The game is simple in principle but a head-scratcher in reality.
The game is simple in principle but a head-scratcher in reality.
There are different ways to play Wordle. Some people might attack a new riddle without any strategy, others might have go-to first words that include the most common letters (mine is stare). Some might force themselves to apply the hints they learned from the previous guess in the next one, others might try completely new letters to get more information about other potential letters. I’m a big word nerd, so I go for the former approach.
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Wordle tips and tricks for new players
There’s no sure-fire way to guarantee you win every day, but these tips have helped me get every riddle right so far, so make of that what you will.
- Always start with an optimal word. You can go for one that contains a lot of commonly-used letters like an A and E plus a few frequent consonants like S, T, R, L, or D. I mentioned earlier that my go-to first guess is stare, you’re welcome to steal that idea. Speaking of, steal is also a good first word.
- If you’d rather know more about the vowel situation from the get-go, you can start the first guess with ouija or adieu, either of which basically eliminates or confirms four of the five possible vowels.
- If you see a yellow letter, don’t stubbornly try it again in the same spot the next round. You want to optimize your chances with every guess, and that’s two bits of information you’re losing by not attempting to move it to another spot: you still don’t know which spot it’s in, and you’ve not allowed another letter to go green in its spot.
- Don’t forget that letters can repeat. So if you get a green S, there’s still a chance that there might be another S there. Any green or yellow letter can appear multiple times. You might lose your time trying other consonants when the word you’re looking for is sassy.
- With every guess, maximize your chances by picking letters that could fit in other places too, or that eliminate/confirm other guesses. For example, if you know there’s an I, E, and R, in your word, trying pride could also tell you whether the word might be drive, weird, or wired because you’ll know whether the letter D is there.
- If you reach round four and you feel stuck, like in the CRA– screenshot below, change strategies at round five. Instead of trying another word with the letters you’ve learned from the hints, try a word with five completely unused letters so far. This will give you a lot more information for the sixth and final guess.
- In my experience so far, the game doesn’t seem to pick obscure words. Try focusing on obvious guesses instead of really weird ones no one has heard of. The most complex solution I’ve come across is query, which was certainly fun but definitely not obscure as a word.
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
And if you really feel stuck, you can try UnWordle, a site put together by a friend of mine that helps you see all the potential answers. It’s still on you to pick the right strategy, though. Personally, I think part of the game’s appeal is to rack your brain until you solve it yourself, but eh, to each their own.
Finally, if you don’t want to litter your main Twitter feed with your Wordle bragging, you can mention @WordleQuarant at the beginning of your tweet. That way only people who follow this Wordle Quarantine account see your prowess.
What makes the game special?
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
Word games are a dime a dozen, so why did this one suddenly become so popular? The game shot up in popularity once players started sharing their results on Twitter. To avoid spoiling the word of the day, the game only publishes green, yellow, and black emoji squares for each of your guesses. That way other players can see how fast or slowly you progressed and marvel at your word mastery.
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And yes, you read that right: There’s only one new word per day, and it’s the same for everyone. This is part of Wordle’s worldwide appeal. Everyone is playing the same game, so we can all compare how well we got on with it.
Wordle is a perfect game for non-gamers
Going back to my personal plight with games, Wordle solves all of my issues in one fell swoop. It’s a web-based game, so I don’t need to install anything. I have to remember to open it every day, and if I don’t, that’s fine too. I don’t get badgered by ten notifications that remind me to play the daily riddle.
Only one riddle per day means there’s no way to get sucked in or lose hours playing.
There’s also a satisfying sense of finality and accomplishment with Wordle. Only one riddle per day means there’s no way to get sucked in or lose hours playing. I load the site when I have a few free minutes, I guess the word, and that’s it. There’s no ‘one more round’ or ‘one more level’ internal debate. Wordle literally makes no effort to keep me glued to my screen. It lacks all the tactics mobile game developers have used in the last years. The only reason I come back every day is because I choose to and because I know it’ll only be a few minutes. It’s addictive but in a fun, non-abusive way.
Are you playing Wordle?
There’s also the fact that Wordle feels like a riddle more than a game. It’s fun, sure, but it’s not exactly filled with graphics, sounds, and too many things happening at the same time. As someone who hasn’t played any games in a few years, simply looking at a screenshot or video of a game nowadays overwhelms me with too much information. Wordle keeps it simple. Boxes and letters and three colors. That’s it, and it works.