Wordle Postgame Report, Special Spoiler Edition
GAMES OF SKILL AND CHANCE DEP'T.
September 16, [REDACTED], 5/6
The Wordle Postgame Report is usually a brief analysis of a game of Wordle, the five-letter-word guessing game now owned by the New York Times. Today, we interrupt our usual format—and break our standard policy of not discussing Wordle answers the day they are published—to present a WORDLE POSTGAME REPORT SPECIAL EDITION, addressing a raging crisis that surrounds today’s Wordle. As always, the existence of the Wordle Postgame Report does not constitute an endorsement of playing Wordle, not playing Wordle, or of the New York Times.
THE WORDLE INTERNET erupted in fury today, as the majority of Wordle players failed to solve the puzzle within the required six turns, according to the Times—or more accurately, as Wordle failed them. Stabbed them in the back, one might say, with a small, sharp knife.
The official Wordle game of the Wordle Postgame Report got the answer in five rounds, by the scoreboard. The score doesn't capture the experience, though. I opened with MERIT, and got the solid but not exciting result of a yellow E and green R. Then I played BORED, which placed the E correctly.
Here, from that normal-seeming start, was where the progress of the game started going sour. The partial answer, at this point, was _ _ R E _ . Not especially informative on its own, but the eliminated letters helped. It couldn't be SHRED or HAREM. But it could, I noted, be PARER.
It could have been, that is, but obviously it shouldn't have. PARER would be just about as weak and dissatisfying as an answer could get. It has an uninteresting letter pattern, and it's barely even a real word. I don't know if I'd ever written it or said it aloud; who doesn't just say "paring knife"?
No, to use PARER on the third round would be sloppy, generic word-puzzle-y gameplay. A crucial element of the Wordle experience is that the list of answers is relatively restricted. It's not a crossword or a Scrabble situation, where the choice of words is constrained by the surounding words or by the scoring rules, and weird or arbitrary answers go with the territory. Like the syndicated daily-newspaper Jumble, the Wordle owes its mass appeal to the "Eureka!" moment when a normal, recognizable, everyday sort of word emerges from the confusion.
PARER simply wasn't good enough to use, by the Wordle standard. What could be a less embarrassing move? SCREE would at least present a more clever arrangement of letters, but it was still too esoteric to be a proper Wordle result. Then I saw it. AGREE. Elegant. An absoutely normal word with an unsual structure. A perfectly rewarding Wordle answer. And...yellow on the A, gray on the other two new letters.
No dice. Unless I could somehow stretch UREA to five letters, the answer would have to fit the boring _ A R E _ frame after all. Not PARER, though. Anything but PARER. How about WARES?
It wasn't WARES.
Elsewhere, it was going much worse for other players. Some people had hit on four green letters right away, with only the middle letter missing, and were now sliding off the board with less and less appealing attempts to fill in that one blank. Even without falling into a chute, anyone other than a soulless, robotic Easy Mode player—the kind who mechanically sifts through all the letters without even trying to find patterns—was in trouble.
The official Wordle game of the Wordle Postgame Report was down to the last two guesses, and running low on likely letters. Fine, it was time to get PARER in there, even with that wasteful second R, if only to clear it out of the way so the real, good answer could emerge.
PARER came up all green. All that careful whittling away at it, to get stuck with this flavorless fruit of my labors.
Incredibly, it could have been worse. The Wordlebot, which solved the game in six, didn't guess PARER until it had tried its preferred word, RARER. That would have been the stupidest of Wordle's stupid comparitives. Either way, a low point in Wordle history.
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