In these frigid, fraught days of early 2022, a singular bright spot has emerged: Wordle. The simple online game, in which you have six chances to guess a 5-letter word, has exploded in popularity in recent months, helped along this week by a sparkly story in the New York Times.
Its viral load was juiced by the fact that the game makes it easy to copy your score for sharing on social media. Doing so looks like this:
By Tuesday morning, when everyone had emerged from their Omicron-filled holiday holes, my Twitter timeline was slathered in tweets like that one. And I get it—it’s a fun game! And here I am, about to ruin it for everyone.
On the Wordle website. (It’s not an app.)
The instructions for the game appear when you first load it, so you don’t really need to read this bit. But for those who, like me, see instructions and immediately ignore them then go back and read them after you fail, here’s the gist.
You guess a 5-letter word—it can be any word—in the hopes of guessing the correct word that day. The letters that don’t appear in the correct word will be highlighted in black, letters that are present in the word of the day but not in the right spot are in yellow, and the letters that meet all the correct criteria are in green.
How you proceed from here is up to you, but a basic strategy is to look at the letters you got right and then put them in a logical order for common words. You want to make sure you are only selecting words that exclude the letters that you already know aren’t in there based on your first guess. You just keep doing that until you get it right or run out of tries.
The catch is, you can only play Wordle once a day, which is how I discovered how to cheat the system and win on the first try.
Spoilers follow. Stop reading now if you don’t want ruined fun.
Here’s the thing I don’t know that many players—or at least new players—have realized: The correct word each day is apparently the same for everyone. (This is based on people tweeting out the word and me asking everyone I know who’s played it what they had for today’s word.) Spoiler: For Wednesday, Jan. 5, it’s “tiger.”
Because of this, there are two ways to cheat: The boring way and the fun way.
The boring way is to simply search for “wordle” on Twitter and see what people are saying, and eventually, you’ll find some party-pooper like me tweet out “siege” or whatever the Wordle word of the day is. Just use that as your first guess and bang, 1/6 score. Tweet that shit out and show the world just how
shady smart you are.
Okay, so I’m overselling this because this isn’t really much better than the boring way, but it at least seems more clever—and has the added bonus of allowing you to play the game more than once a day. It’s also the way I discovered this afternoon just how easy it is to cheat at Wordle.
Simply refreshing the URL for Wordle won’t let you start a new game. To do that, you need to open a new browser window in incognito mode, which will let you start a new game. If you still get 6/6, just close the private browser window and open a new one. Once you figured out the word for that day, just do this one final time, enter the correct word on the first try, and there ya go, you’re a flipping “genius” as the game declares.
Okay, so just because it’s stupidly easy to cheat at Wordle doesn’t mean you should—honestly, just writing this has bummed me out, and actually playing the game is way more fun.
I’m sure people far smarter than I have better strategies, but here’s how I play. For my first guess, I pick a word with a bunch of vowels, like “adieu.” (Your guess has to be a word.) That will give you a good first start, and (with a lot of dumb luck) is how I managed to get a 2/6 score once. Next, pick a word with a lot of common consonants (I go for one with the letters “o” or “y” as well, since those aren’t in “adieu”) such as “stick,” “stork,” or “story.” After that, it’s just a matter of making a great guess based on the letters you know are in the word while excluding words with the ones you know aren’t.
Anyway, if you’re mad that I ruined Wordle, just remember, none of us will remember this game in two weeks, so I hope you’ll have it in your heart to forgive me.