Wordle or Word-Don’t?

The New York Times online game category has taken off in the past couple of years, making a huge resurgence in the past few months. Accessibility, ease of play and shareability of results seem to correlate in the steady rise in popularity of games like Wordle, Connections and other staples that seem to have many people across the country hooked. 

As the games have become a huge phenomenon not just online, but through everyday interactions, we must ask ourselves the question—should I start? (Fair warning to the reader: once you start, you just may not be able to stop.)

The games are easy to access, take only a few minutes and are a great way to connect with family and friends who also participate in this online puzzling culture. So what exactly does it entail? Each puzzle is refreshed daily and is the same for each player. This means that every person who plays that day gets to play the same puzzle (super great if you’re like me and love a good competition). 

Personally, I always start my day with the Wordle. The Wordle gives you six chances to guess the five letter word of the day. As players guess, letters turn green, yellow or gray to indicate the position of the letter in the word. Green means the letter is in the right spot, yellow indicates that the letter is in the word, just not in that certain spot and gray means that letter is not in the word at all. As with most of the NYT games, when you are finished solving the puzzle, you can share how well you did with friends via text or social media. The sharing of progress, I think, has resulted in the ways the game has grown in popularity. You can see how many guesses it took and how many green, yellow and gray letters they had for each guess without knowing the word. This sharing would then prompt the receiver to play the game and try it for themselves. 

Next up on my typical puzzle rotation would be the Connections puzzle. This puzzle takes the form of a four-by-four grid of sixteen different words (or in the case of the April 1 puzzle, emojis). The goal is to match each in groups of four that have a common connection. Seems easy enough right? 

Oh, how I wish. 

The game ends when you get all of the connections, or if you use all four of your mistakes. The categories are never crazy obvious. They range from “types of birds” to “starts of US states” and everything in between. Each category when it has been solved is labeled yellow, green, blue or purple, depending on how straightforward the category is deemed. This puzzle is definitely a little more challenging and many times will leave you frustrated as you watch the guess you were so sure of be completely wrong. Personally, this is one of my favorite games NYT released, although many times it leaves me staring at my screen in anguish.

Third on the list would be the Mini Crossword (of course). A tiny version of the reputable NYT crossword puzzle, the Mini is a digestible way for players to get a quick crossword in. Players can strive to beat their times each day as they try to solve the puzzle as best as they can. I recently started incorporating this into my daily routine and have gotten strangely better at guessing actors names. 

Last but not least, the NYT recently released a beta version of a new game called Strands. Strands functions quite like a word search except every letter is part of a word that corresponds with the theme. There is a “Spangram” word that ties everything together within the search. Don’t worry, you won’t be without hints. Each word you find that is not part of the theme gets added to a hint bank. Three words in the bank gets you a hint. These hints allow you to progress with the game when stuck. The game is easy to learn, fun to play and a welcome challenge if you are looking for something to distract you from work. 

Some honorable mention games if you are looking for extra procrastination fuel: Sudoku (with easy, medium and hard levels each day), the Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed and Tiles. 

If you have always wondered what the hype has been about in the NYT games, now you know. I’d encourage you to check them out, they’re so worth it.

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