Imagine having to wait to watch a television show. Some might even say that that concept is so 2000s. Some millennials are experiencing waiting for content for the first time, and Gen Xers and Boomers are having flashbacks with shows like Yellowstone or Boba Fett, or now by playing Wordle.
It’s everywhere lately: “How many attempts did it take you to get the latest ‘Wordle’?” Last week, if you’d asked me that question, I wouldn’t have known what you were talking about, but now I am mildly addicted to the latest online word game craze.
Social media has been flooded with posts of green and yellow squares accompanied by a three-digit number and a fraction out of 6. Finally, I asked my friend Sean: “What is a Wordle and where do you find one?” He sent me this link: https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/
A quick trip to the game site showed me that the first number is the number of the puzzle that day. The numerator on the fraction is the number of moves that it took a player to complete the game. For example, 4/6 means that they completed the game in four out of a possible six moves.
For the game itself, you have six chances to guess a five-letter word. It is reminiscent of Mastermind, the game where you guess colour peg sequences; only in Wordle your guess has to be an actual word. When you enter your first guess, you are shown which letters are correct and in the right location (using the colour green), and which ones are correct but in the incorrect location (using the colour yellow).
I am a big fan of most wordplay, from Scrabble to Boggle, having played both online against friends, strangers and the computer. My interest in these games waned when life got busy and my opponent didn’t match my pace; or perhaps I played too much and got tired of it.
Wordle is rather unique, because it laughs in the face of the binging culture we are now in and only offers one puzzle per day. You have to WAIT for something good in life. (Imagine the audacity!)
Even though there is an app called Wordle on the Play Store, it is not the Wordle that has gone viral. (I made this mistake before I was sent the correct link.)
Whether you choose to post your results to social media or not is up to you, but I have seen people get quite cranky if you expose the answer to the day’s Wordle instead of just your results. (And you thought people who spoiled movies got marginalized!)
Wordle is serious business, with blogs dedicated to strategizing good starting words. One blogger recommended figuring out the bulk of the vowels first with a word like ADIEU. Others start with some of the most common letters in the alphabet, like ARISE.
I tried ADIEU as a starter, and then figured SNORT would help for the common letters of N-R-S-T as well as getting in the last vowel. Usually, and I say that jokingly as I’ve only been playing for less than a week, I’ve identified two or three of the five letters with this pair of moves, and am then able to complete the Wordle in around four guesses.
Note: If you are also new to the game, I learned in Thursday’s puzzle that you can use a letter twice. Another tip for serious etymologists, is that you can make the game even more challenging by going into the game settings and selecting ‘hard mode’ in which “any revealed hints must be used in subsequent guesses.” This stops the above strategy of covering off your vowels and then many common letters in two guesses to whittle down remaining letters. I like this twist and will definitely try it once I have at least a full week of puzzles under my belt.
As the new puzzle is released at midnight, Wordle has sadly given me one more reason to stay up late, with the excitement mounting like a child waiting to open presents on Christmas morning. Playing at midnight, though, means that I then don’t have a Wordle to look forward to during the day. That said, I appreciate that there is no instant gratification with Wordle, as it is impossible for me to binge more puzzles. I believe that the scarcity makes me want it more. I only wish that we could slow down other elements of our lives laden with technology so that we could appreciate them more as well.