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Eight ways Wordle can be improved (and making it more difficult is not one)

The New York Times has taken over Wordle after buying the rights from creator Josh Wardle. Can the perfect word puzzle be improved?

Millions of us play Wordle. Every day, we have six guesses (I prefer ‘deductions’) to identify a five-letter word. So simple yet so challenging. So infuriating yet so addictive. And so manageable, even on the busiest days, because we can only play once per day.

Developed by Josh Wardle, a Welshman based in Brooklyn, to entertain his puzzle-fan partner in October 2021, it is now a global phenomenon played by three million people per day.

In January 2022, Wardle sold the game to the New York Times for a seven-figure sum – safeguarding its future, ensuring it will remain free to play. Some suggest the words are already getting more dastardly.

Wordle has a seemingly perfect puzzle format. But, whisper it, there may be ways to improve it now it is played by millions, rather than the original audience of, erm one…

Less ‘humor’ please, we’re British

A UK-English spelling option is surely a must. We have played along with good humor, but do us a favor – these American spellings must end now. Would an option for UK spellings be so difficult? Almost certainly not.

The question remains whether the occasional day of alternative words in different parts of the Wordle world would wreck the puzzle’s simple and elegant, same-for-everyone format.

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Stats entertainment

A deep love of statistics and a fondness for word games are not mutually exclusive. Otherwise Countdown would not currently be in its 40th year. So, while it is nice to have the length of our streak and the number of times we have completed Wordle broken down by guesses (deductions, please) updated daily, there are many more statistics that could add to our enjoyment.

Most importantly – to stop my daily, time-wasting calculation – how about a simple average score? That way, Wordlers could compare vital statistics with friends, family and colleagues, bringing a conclusive end to rows over who is the best. Adding, say, 10 points for each fail would enable the average to go beyond the current streak.

At the end of each day, Wordle could also share with players what the average score was for that day’s puzzle.

These statistical additions would be simple, in keeping with the spirit of the game, and enable families, friendship groups, and folk of the internet to compare and contrast their Wordlability.

Just browsing

Unless I’m a techno-dunce, which is entirely possible, at present Wordle does not make it possible to move between devices and browsers. This opens up a world of stress for Wordlers. What if a Wordler started Wordle on a work computer but wants to go on holiday, or fears being fired for playing word games on the company dime? Similarly, there is the fear of losing a streak by losing a phone or that a new computer might mean starting a new streak.

Our writer Adrian Lobb’s precious, precious Wordle streak at 9.52am, 16 Feb 2022

Archive access

Wow your workmates! Impress the internet! Dazzle friends and family! Want to prove that you once managed a one-guess finish to your, probably diminishing, band of pals in the pub? Go right ahead.

Just imagine the joys of delving into our own personal Wordle archives to relive the triumphs and traumas of this puzzling phenomenon. This addition would also enable keen students of the game to calculate which of their opening gambits achieves the best outcomes.

Sign me up

Additional stats and multi-device play would require an ability to sign in. On the one hand, this might remove some of the simple charm of Wordle. But it would ease woes and anxieties about losing a precious, precious streak. It might also make it harder for Wordlers to cheat. 

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‘Deductions’ not ‘guesses’!

Even our first five letter word is not a guess. It is based on skill and experience. So please, Wordle, stop describing them as guesses. Yes, it is pedantic. No, it is not necessary. But could we not call them deductions? For further explanation, readThe Sign of Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

ORDER! ORDER!

Visualising the letters before deducing our next Wordle word helps many Wordlers hugely. So being able to put correct letters in first – eg we might only know letters three and five – could help some deduce the word of the day more quickly. But would it harm the simple game play?

Fantasy Wordle League

A controversial idea. And one unlikely to meet with universal approval. But some people love a work league, a family competition, a friendly bet – and online competitions a la Fantasy Football League might bring more players into the game. Whether Wordle can ever be cheat proofed is moot (you’re only cheating yourself, etc). And competitions and leagues might also ruin the collective joy of one world looking for one word on Wordle on any one day.

Play Wordlehere

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