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From Nerdle to Absurdle: What to play when you’ve solved the daily Wordle

The viral game has spawned a number of new variations based on everything from mathematics to different languages. Users also have the option of creating their own puzzle

Wordle
Wordle, the web-based word game is seen played on a cellphone.ANDREW BOYERS (REUTERS)
Isabel Rubio

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In October, Josh Wardle, a Brooklyn-based software engineer, launched Wordle. The game, which involves guessing a hidden five-letter word, has hooked millions of users in just a few months and bombarded Twitter with gray, yellow and green squares. But it has a major drawback which ironically is also one of the keys to its success: it can only be played once a day. For those who are hungry for more, there are many similar games, that have also hooked thousands.

Wordle in other languages

Wordle is available in Spanish, as well as many regional languages, such as Catalan, Galician and Basque. And for those who know or want to learn other languages as well, there is plenty to choose from, including Japanese, Italian, German, Portuguese, Chinese and French.

A screenshot of Wordle in Galician.
A screenshot of Wordle in Galician.

If Wordle is too easy for you, an interesting alternative is Absurdle. Its creator defines it as the “Machiavellian version” of Wordle. The objective is the same: to guess a five-letter word, but in this case, the system does not want the user to win under any circumstances, so it changes the word with each attempt.

“Wordle chooses a single secret word at the start of the game and then you have to guess it,” explains Absurdle creator who goes by the alias qntm. “Absurdle gives the impression of choosing a single secret word, but what it actually does is consider the entire list of all possible secret words that fit your guesses so far.” Unlike Wordle, the attempts are infinite. The best possible score is four guesses: “And, yes, this has been achieved by many different people,” adds qntm.

For math lovers

There is also a version of Wordle for those who prefer numbers to letters. Nerdle is a game inspired by Wordle that consists of guessing a mathematical operation in six tries. This time there are eight gaps to fill with numbers from 0 to 9 and symbols – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. If in Wordle you have to guess a word from the dictionary, in Nerdle you have to enter a correct mathematical operation.

A screenshot of the game Nerdle.
A screenshot of the game Nerdle.

The color of the squares indicates whether the numbers are present in the solution and correctly placed. The website also has a version for color-blind people. Once the puzzle has been solved, it is also possible to share the results. If at first, this game seems a bit complicated, there is a simpler option: just click on settings and then on mini Nerdle, which has six columns instead of eight.

Mastermind

Wordle will have reminded many people of Mastermind, a two-person board game released in the 1970s, with the aim of guessing a sequence of four colors. After each attempt, the user is told how many colors they got right and how many are present in the combination, but not correctly placed. As in Wordle, the number of attempts is limited. It is currently possible to play Mastermind online or with cellphone applications.

Mastermind can also be played online.
Mastermind can also be played online.

Like Wordle, Mastermind has spawned other versions, such as the Electronic Master Mind or Guess the Code apps. Instead of guessing color combinations, both alternatives consist of guessing a numerical code. For example, in the case of Guess the Code, the combination can be between four and eight digits, depending on the level selected. The application indicates with a green tick how many numbers are placed in a correct position and with a yellow exclamation mark how many are part of the secret code, but are incorrectly placed.

Make your own Wordle

There are infinite alternatives to Wordle: from applications designed to guess a word based on several images to more classic games such as Hangman, word search and Scrabble. But if all these options fall short, you can also create your own game. Some websites allow you to choose a word and share your game with friends. This can, of course, be done in a much more rudimentary way: just find a friend, take some paper, a pen and some green and yellow highlighters, and draw the table and the letters.

“In the 2020 lockdown, my mother and I were already playing Wordle. We called it ‘little words’ and it was much more difficult because we didn’t indicate which letter was in the right position. I feel as if all the internet has suddenly robbed me of something.”

Perhaps new versions will emerge as we play. In fact, before Wordle existed, some had devised similar games. “In the 2020 lockdown, my mother and I were already playing Wordle,” tweeted Macarena Gil de la Puerta, a linguistics teacher and creator of the podcast Con la lengua fuera (With your tongue out). “We called it ‘little words’ and it was much more difficult because we didn’t indicate which letter was correct.” In her game, only emojis in two colors are used: white to indicate that some letters are in the word, but badly placed, and black when the letters are both present and correctly placed.

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