I first found out about Wordle in early January when Daniel Victor wrote about it in The New York Times. My interest was piqued immediately. After all, who doesn’t need another online word game (answer: no one), much less a word game with such romantic origins (definitely no one)? It’s an expression of love truly befitting the 21st century.
Chances are you are already on the Wordle train and completely besotted, as I am. At the very least, your Facebook feed is awash with tiny squares – posts by friends and acquaintances boasting their latest scores.
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If you have not joined the Wordle bandwagon, you ought to. It’s a simple, ad-free once-per-day word game created by Brooklyn software engineer Josh Wardle as a gift for his partner, a lover of word games. You don’t need to download an app, provide an email address, or be subjected to a-million-and-one annoying pop-ups to play; all you need is an internet browser. The web address is www.powerlanguage.co.uk.
The ultimate goal of the game is to correctly determine a five-letter mystery word. You guess what the word is by spelling out any five-letter word of your choosing. The game will reveal which of your letters in your word are present in the mystery word: a green box means that a letter is present in the mystery word and it’s in the right position; a mustard-colored box indicates that a letter is in the mystery word, but in a different spot; a gray box means that a letter is not in the mystery word.
You have six chances to guess the correct word. As you hone your strategy, you’ll be able to get the word in fewer and fewer attempts. So far, I have resisted the impulse to “humble-brag” about my scores on social media, but I may have to gloat when the day comes I guess the word in two – or one! – turn(s).
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Wordle is a perfect game of words and logic, but it has one flaw: only one single game is made available to play each day. It is a blessing for those short on time but a curse for word game gluttons like myself. So what to do when you’re waiting for the next round?
In high school, my mother taught me a game called “Jotto” that is similar to Wordle. In my experience, not a lot of people have heard of Jotto; if you have, here is your reminder that it exists. If not, here is your introduction. You’ll need a friend, a pen, a decent sized pad of paper, and the most obscure five-letter word you can think of (with no repeating letters). Take turns guessing each other’s word by saying any word with five letters; your opponent will respond by telling you the number of letters in the word that are also present in their own secret word. Write down the words guessed each turn, otherwise you will get lost very quickly. I also write the alphabet across the top of the page and cross off letters when I’ve eliminated them.
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Jotto can also be played with more than two players: Person A guesses Person B’s word, B guesses C’s, and C guesses A’s.
I am sure a more thorough explanation of Jotto exists online, but that is the gist. For now, explore the wonder that is Wordle, and then, the wonder that is Jotto.
For Valentine’s Day, I want a word game. Husband, take note.
Jane Siviski Hoffman, Development and Marketing Coordinator at the York Public Library
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Wordle a curse for word game gluttons. Play this while waiting.