Some Wordle games are so difficult that they stick with you long after you’ve completed them. Well, today’s game is one of those – and it nearly did for me.
This was far from my first personal nightmare on Wordle. RUPEE, back in March 2022 was one that I screwed up royally, only escaping with a last-gasp 6/6. HOMER, a couple of months later, caused me similar problems.
The worst of all, for me, was GAMER – a puzzle that I agonized over for more than an hour. I was ultimately left with a choice of two words, GAMER or GAZER, and guessed correctly, heart pounding.
Along the way, I sailed through the likes of CAULK, SWILL, TACIT, WATCH, FEWER and EGRET with 3s, 4s or occasionally 5s – but no real jeopardy. My streak extended onwards to its current value of 415 and I began to wonder if I could complete the remainder of Wordle’s 2,309 puzzles without a failure. That hope almost ended today.
If you’ve not played game #613 yet then go away and do so before you return to read the rest of this – because obviously THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. You might well want a few Wordle clues along the way, too.
All done? Good. Then we can continue.
Wordle #613: A puzzle from hell
The best measure I have of a Wordle puzzle’s difficulty comes from WordleBot, the New York Times’ clever AI tool that analyzes each game.
As well as suggesting the best Wordle starting words to use and explaining where you screwed up (in a rather condescending manner), WordleBot reports an average score for the game across a sample of all those who have played it.
Today’s game achieves an average score of 5.4. Yes, an average score of 5.4. That’s the second highest I’ve ever seen, behind only PARER (6.3, game #454) and level with FOYER (game #304).
For context, most Wordles are in the range 3.5 to 4.5. That makes sense: many people score 3s, 4s or 5s most games, with a few outliers getting 2s, 6s or failures. But an average of 5.4 implies that many, many people will have failed.
In fact, I have a good idea of how many people lost their streaks today, because another thing that WordleBot reports is how many people solved it on each guess.
For today’s game, around 7% didn’t guess it on the final go. Given that’s from a sample size of nearly 400,000 people, we know that at least 32,000 people lost their streaks. I can almost feel the collective frustration.
A look at Twitter adds further evidence, with ‘Wordle 613 X’ trending worldwide and with plenty of people taking to the social media platform to bemoan their luck:
The end of an era. My first ever loss. 412 day streak broken.Wordle 613 X/6⬛🟨⬛⬛🟨⬛🟩⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛🟨⬛🟩🟩🟩🟩⬛🟩🟩🟩🟩 pic.twitter.com/0Zg6b0FyhjFebruary 22, 2023
Wordle 613 X/6⬛🟨⬛⬛🟨⬛🟩⬛🟩🟩⬛🟩⬛🟩🟩⬛🟩⬛🟩🟩⬛🟩⬛🟩🟩⬛🟩⬛🟩🟩all I can say is don’t try the 5 I did…February 21, 2023
Now this is bad luck. When strategy and luck collideWordle 613 X/6⬜🟨🟨⬜⬜🟩🟩⬜⬜⬜🟩🟩⬜🟩🟩🟩🟩⬜🟩🟩🟩🟩⬜🟩🟩🟩🟩⬜🟩🟩February 21, 2023
Why is Wordle #613 so difficult?
The answer to today’s Wordle is RIPER, and even an amateur Wordler can see why that might be a tricky one.
The repeated R is a problem right away, simply because all repeated letters are difficult to find. But the real issue is the fact that it ends in —ER and is therefore one of Wordle’s famous ‘Too Many Answers’ puzzles.
We’ve had plenty of them before, of course – and many have caused similar headaches. FOYER and PARER are two obvious examples but FEWER (average score: 4.9), HOMER (4.7) and RUDER (4.6) weren’t far behind in the difficulty stakes.
The bad news is that there are 141 of these answers in Wordle’s 2,309 games, and we’ve so far only had 31 of them – so expect plenty more over the next few months and years.
It’s actually pretty easy to spot an —ER Wordle, because many of the best start words include both of those letters. Once they’ve turned yellow (or green), you’ll have a good idea of how the game is going to develop.
That doesn’t make it easier to solve, though – as my own game demonstrates.
Despite playing three ‘throwaway’ words that I knew couldn’t be the answer, I still only scraped home on the final guess – there were just too many possible solutions along the way. In fact, WordleBot told me I had 181 after my first guess, and 44 after my second. Even after my fourth guess I still had four to choose from.
It would have been even worse if you were playing on Hard mode, where you have to include letters that are already green or yellow on subsequent guesses. That must have been nearly impossible today.
So, what could I have done differently? Well, WordleBot reckons RIDER would have been a better second guess than LONER, which is a little surprising. Guessing a repeated letter so early seems counterintuitive, after all.
Then again, lots of ER words do have a second R in either first or third position, so ruling that out (or in) as soon as possible could have helped here. Beyond that, I should just have been smarter with my subsequent guesses. For instance, guessing DEVIL wasted a letter, because I’d already used the L. I knew that at the time, but couldn’t see another way to include four other good letters. CUPID would have done a better job, according to WordleBot.
The key thing with an ER word is clearly to plan ahead. You know what trap is coming down the line, so you have to think two or three moves ahead and not just one. Easier said than done, of course.
Still, I got there in the end and kept my streak alive for at least one more day. Here’s hoping tomorrow is a little easier.
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