My Wordle Strategy

Wordle is a game that is a cross between Mastermind and Scrabble. I heard about it because it is really trendy. But I tried it out because Mastermind is one of the games I introduced to my nieces in August. It seemed hard for them, so I always played on the side of the person guessing, and showed them how to reason through any game (like thinking up a series of unit tests, without saying so, haha!) in order to win reliably.

One early game that frustrated a niece was when she initially laid down red, green, blue, and white and none were the correct color, and she interpreted that as a complete failure. I told her that mistakes teach you a lot, and showed that in this case, it was a huge help. Because there are only 6 colors in total, the only possible colors in the solution are black and yellow. In order to figure out how many of each, I suggested the next round be all of one color. So our next guess was all black, which was the solution – we got it in 2 guesses!

So my strategy for Wordle is basically just like that story – choose words with distinct letters so you know which are in and which aren’t. Because Wheel of Fortune teaches that the most common consonants and vowel are R S T L N E, followed by C D M A, the words I now start off with are RENTS PLAID COUGH. That takes up 3 turns but leaves 3 remaining guesses with a lot of intel on what letters are in and out. So far, I’ve gotten all the puzzles solved, and in 4 or 5 turns.

A few times, I have played it in the style of hard mode, where you must incorporate the knowledge of previous turns in your next guess. That once actually led to only needing 3 turns because the first 2 words gave enough info, but it is otherwise trickier. I don’t want to spend all that much time right now, so I don’t feel compelled to actually turn on hard mode in the settings, and instead I’m sticking with RENTS PLAID COUGH. I don’t know what expert puzzlers and linguists have to say, nor am I curious to find out.

Now my nieces like Mastermind and are better at it than me – it’s a 6-color game, but they’ve played an 8-color version online and gotten good at it. They showed me ways of eliminating dead ends that I didn’t realize were possible. I might hold off on introducing Wordle until they feel more comfortable with crosswords/Scrabble and have enough patience to think through a harder, more open-ended game without giving up so easily, and/or have a large enough vocab to solve it quickly so that they don’t spend so much screen time.

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