Some Wordle games are so hard that they stay with you long after you finish them. Well, today’s game is one of these – and I almost made it.
This was far from my first personal nightmare on Wordle. RUPEE, in March 2022, was the one I screwed up royally, escaping with only my last breath 6/6. HOMER, a few months later, gave me similar problems.
The worst for me was GAMER – a puzzle that I was struggling with for over an hour. In the end, I had a choice of two words, GAMER or GAZER, and I guessed correctly, my heart was pounding.
On the way I swam through CAULK, SWILL, TACIT, WATCH, FEWER and EGRET with 3s, 4s or sometimes 5s – but no real danger. My streak lengthened to its current value of 415, and I began to wonder if I could complete the remaining 2309 Wordle puzzles without fail. That hope is almost over today.
If you haven’t played game #613 yet, go away and do so before you come back to read the rest – because of course THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. You might also want some Wordle tips along the way.
Everything is ready? Good. Then we can continue.
Wordle #613: A Riddle from Hell
The best Wordle puzzle difficulty measure I have is WordleBot, the New York Times’ nifty AI tool that analyzes each game.
In addition to suggesting the best Wordle opening words to use and explaining where you screwed up (in a rather condescending way), WordleBot gives you the average game score on a sample of everyone who has played it.
Today’s game has an average rating of 5.4. Yes, an average rating 5.4. This is the second highest score I’ve ever seen, behind PARER (6.3, game #454) and the FOYER level (game #304).
For context, most words range from 3.5 to 4.5. This makes sense: many people score 3, 4 or 5 in most games, and a few outliers get 2, 6 or a loss. But an average of 5.4 means many, many people will fail.
In fact, I have a good idea of how many people lost their passes today because the next thing WordleBot reports is the number of people who solved it for each guess.
For today’s game, about 7% did not guess it in the last round. Given that this comes from a sample of nearly 400,000 people, we know this at least 32,000 people lost their streak. I can almost feel the collective frustration.
A glance at Twitter provides further evidence that “Wordle 613 X” is gaining popularity around the world, with many using the social media platform to mourn their luck:
End of an era. My first failure in my life. 412-day streak broken.February 22, 2023
wordle 613 x/6February 21, 2023
Now that’s bad luck. When strategy and luck collideFebruary 21, 2023
Why is Wordle #613 so difficult?
The answer to today’s Wordle is RIPER, and even an amateur Wordler can understand why it can be difficult.
Repeated R’s are immediately a problem, simply because all repeated letters are hard to find. But the real problem is that it ends in —ER and is therefore one of Wordle’s famous “Too Many Answers” puzzles.
Of course, we’ve had plenty of them before – and many of them caused similar headaches. FOYER and PARER are two obvious examples, but FEWER (average rating: 4.9), HOMER (4.7) and RUDER (4.6) were not far behind in difficulty.
The bad news is that there are 141 such answers in 2309 Wordle Games, and we’ve only had 31 of them so far – so expect a lot more in the next few months and years.
In fact, it’s quite easy to spot the —ER wordle because many of the best starting words contain both of these letters. When they turn yellow (or green), you’ll have a good idea of how the game will develop.
This, however, does not make the solution any easier – as my own game shows.
Despite playing three “throwaway” words that I knew couldn’t be the answer, I was still just guessing home – there were just too many possible solutions along the way. In fact, WordleBot told me that I had 181 on my first guess and 44 on my second guess. Even on my fourth guess, I still had four to choose from.
It would be even worse if you were playing in hard mode, where you have to guess letters that are already green or yellow for subsequent guesses. It must have been almost impossible today.
So what could I have done differently? Well, WordleBot thinks RIDER would be a better second guess than LONER, which is a bit of a surprise. After all, guessing a repeating letter so early seems counterintuitive.
On the other hand, many ER words have a second R in the first or third position, so excluding it (or including it) as soon as possible could help here. Besides, I should have been smarter in my next guesses. For example, guessing DEVIL wasted a letter because I had already used the letter L. I knew that at the time, but I didn’t see any other way to add four other good letters. According to WordleBot, CUPID would do a better job.
The key thing with the word ER is, of course, planning ahead. You know what trap is coming, so you have to think two or three moves ahead, not just one. Easier said than done, of course.
Even so, I finally got to my goal and kept the streak going for at least one more day. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little easier.