A few weeks ago, Wordle started popping up in my social media feed and whatsapp groups. I'm not usually one to follow the latest fad, but I do love word games and eventually gave in. I've played it every day si
nce. What is it, that makes it so addictive? I think because everyone is playing the same game, and there's only one to play each day. It creates a kind of level playing field. Unlike most games, you can't play for hours and hours and get really good at it - even the busiest person can manage a couple of minutes each day.
Last week, it was announced that Wordle's creator, Josh Wardle, had sold the game to the New York Times for an undisclosed sum, thought to be several million dollars. Good on him! While the game's new owners have promised it will stay free 'for now', people are already looking for - and developing - alternatives. Here's a few.
Dordle - Double Wordle
If you ascribe to the view that more is better, you'll like Dordle. It is a Double Wordle - same gameplay, but you've got two grids to complete rather than one, however you still only get to guess one five letter word each try. You do get an extra turn, 7 rather than 6 attempts, but it is still tough. Do you try and solve one first, then hope you've got enough tries left to get the other, or try and complete both at the same time? It takes some extra brainpower, but you do lose some of the simplicity.
Dordle has a daily game, but you also have a 'free play' practice version which you can play as much as you like. So if one is not enough for you, you can have an all you can play option!
Continuing the theme of more is better, if you like the original Wordle but don't want to be restricted to playing just once a day, then try this clone, Wordle Unlimited. It is good for a practice, but isn't quite the same if you are not all doing the same puzzle each day, plus because the words are randomly generated, you may get some unusual words - I did on my first go, and while I had heard of it, I wouldn't have easily guessed it!
If you want to make Wordle even harder, this will do that for you because you can increase the length of words even as far as 11 letters, though I really wouldn't recommend it, and as it still only gives you six tries, anything beyond 6 letters must surely be nigh on impossible!
Of all the Wordle variants I've come across so far, I think I like this one the best because rather than just trying to copy Wordle, the folks behind Nerdle are doing something different. They took the concept of Nerdle, and wondered whether they could do something similar just with numbers - Wordle for people who like maths rather than words. At the same time, they also came up with quite a cool name!
Nerdle is essentially Wordle, but instead of finding a word, you need to find a mathematical calculation. Before you stop reading and skip this section entirely, hang on a moment, because the actual maths is really easy stuff - basically it is one and two digit numbers with the +, -, * (multiply) and / (divide) along with an equals sign. There's eight boxes on each line, but you know one near the end will be '=', and you also know there'll be a two or three sets of numbers and at least one plus, minus, multiply or divide symbol. So you start off with a basic calculation like:
25 + 18 = 43
Just like in Wordle, it will colour code the boxes if you're right, green if the number or symbol is in the right place, purple if the number/symbol is there somewhere but you've got it in the right place, and black if it isn't there at all. As well as filling in the colours on the grid, there's a keypad at the bottom with all the numbers and symbols so you can easily see which one's you've already tried, which ones are wrong etc.
Just like in Wordle, there's a daily puzzle, you can see your stats, share to social media etc. It also gives you the option of a 'mini nerdle' with just six boxes if you want to start off easy.
Never was a game so aptly named as Absurdle. Someone took the concept of Wordle and though, what if the game doesn't just start with one secret word to solve, but thousands of possibilities? Absurd right? Well yes, but it does sort of work. You have the same grid as Wordle, you've got to guess a five letter word, green if a letter's in the right place, yellow if a letter is there but in the wrong place and so on... This time though, the computer starts with 2,315 possible words (this is the same list as Wordle uses) and basically cheats, it changes its answer each time to try and keep you guessing longer. So the first attempt will all be grey because it will change its answer, however it then can't use any of those letters, so the list of possibilities becomes smaller. You have to keep guessing, as you gradually whittle down the list of possible words until you trap the AI into only one possible word left and you've solved the game. Fortunately, you can have as many goes as you need - it took me nine attempts on the first go to solve it. Absurd it may be, but quite fun to play, in a challenging sort of way!
Make Your Own Wordle
Okay so this isn't a game you can play by yourself, but if you have a friend or family member to play with, you can set each other a Wordle challenge. All you need is paper, pen and a couple of different colour highlighter pens - green and yellow if you are going for the traditional look.
If you want to challenge someone over the internet, then you can use the Make Your Own Wordle site. Just think of a word, and the site will create the puzzle and give you a link to share with friends so they can have a go.
A few of the rest...
Wordle isn't that hard to do, and it is apparently easy to grab the source code and adapt it, so that's why gazillions of clones are springing up. The ones I've talked about above are the best I've found, but there are tonnes more, many of them quite niche and gimmicky. Here's just a few.
A Greener Wordle - Kudos for whoever came up with this, I applaud linking the important environmental and climate concerns with a fun game like Wordle. This is your basic Wordle, but all the words are themed around climate change and the environment. It is made by the International Institute for the Environment & Development which works with partners to build a fairer and more sustainable world. Like Wordle, you get a new one to do each day.
Sweardle - Okay perhaps rather less commendable theming than climate change, but if you're that way inclined, a Wordle based on swear words could be worth a look at. This one only gets you to guess four letter words though (I suppose most swear words are 4 letters?) so not the most intellectually challenge, but it never really was going to be was it?
Starwordle - A Star Wars themed Wordle.
Which of these is your favourite, or are you just going to stick to the original?