Posted on 10 mins read

Wordle took social media by storm in December 2021. The online word game, a spinoff of 1955’s Jotto, was addictive, social, and easy to play—perfectly positioned to become an object of mass obsession. By now it’s cemented itself as an all-star in a tradition of word games that have been popular across the world for centuries.

In the the year since Wordle’s rise to popularity, the simplicity of the game has inspired hundreds of copycats, lookalikes, and twists on the formula, which have blossomed into a new casual gaming culture based on short, daily games and friendly competition on iMessage groups.

Following are some of the most popular Wordle spinoffs and competitors you might not have heard of.

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10. 2dle, 4dle, 6dle, 8dle, who do we appreciatdle

Description: If one game of Wordle’s not enough for you, you can satisfy your addiction by playing several at once. You still submit one word at a time, but there are two or more Wordle boards on the screen and your guess is submitted to all of them simultaneously. Once you’ve solved a board it stops receiving guesses. You get extra guesses to account for the added difficulty.

Where to play: Dordle - 2 Wordles, Quordle - 4 Wordles, Hexordle - 6 Wordles, Octordle - 8 Wordles, Sedecordle - 16 Wordles, Sectordle - 32 Wordles, Sexaginta-quattuordle - 64 Wordles, Polydle - as many Wordles as you want.

Pro tips: Use your first few guesses to uncover as many letters as possible. RAISE and BOUND, for example, are good starting guesses because they uncover all five vowels and a few common consonants without repeating any letters. In the mid-game, don’t get too focused on one of the boards or you’ll run out of guesses—try to submit words that are useful on multiple boards at once.

The good: Guessing multiple words at once feels good because almost any guess will get you a few yellows or greens.

The bad: Zero points for originality. If Wordle didn’t keep your interest, there’s nothing here that will change your mind.

9. Fartsle

Description: Wordle, but the word is always FARTS.

Where to play:

Pro tips: Guess FARTS.

The good: The word is always FARTS. That’s kind of funny, right?

The bad: The word is always FARTS. What are we in, third grade?

8. Squardle

Description: Wordle, but with six words arranged as three rows and three columns that interlock like a crossword puzzle. You guess the first row and column simultaneously, then the second row and column, then the third, then back to the first. Clues are color-coded to indicate whether each letter belongs in same row, the same column, both, elsewhere in the grid, or nowhere. You start with 9 guesses, but you get a bonus guess every time you solve a word.

Where to play:

Pro tips: Before choosing a word, scan for clues outside the current row or column to see what letters you should try. Use the four empty squares to your advantage: a clue for their row or column can only indicate two possible squares as opposed to four.

The good: This game is more challenging than Wordle, but familiar enough that you can pick it up in an afternoon. There are a few power features at your disposal, like hiding clues and making notes on a square that you think you’ve solved.

The bad: At times Squardle feels like “Wordle, but slower.” There’s so much information to absorb that the snappiness of the original game can get lost.

7. Factle

Description: It looks like Wordle, but it’s more like Family Feud meets Our World in Data: a multiple-choice trivia game where you rank answers to a prompt. For example, today’s puzzle asks you to guess the top 5 countries in the world by fertility rate. Yellow and green clues work the way you’d expect.

Where to play:

Pro tips: Pay attention in geography class, as many of the puzzles have you rank countries. Try to keep up on sports news as well so you can nab the occasional tennis or polo question.

The good: The size of your vocabulary doesn’t matter here. If you’re good at trivia, you’ll excel. If not, you’ll learn something new.

The bad: Lots of ads.

6. Heardle

Description: Listen to the first second of a popular song, then try to guess the artist and song title. Every time you guess wrong, a little more of the song plays.

Where to play: If your style is more E Street than Billboard 100, try the Springsteen heardle, or scratch your synth-pop/hair-metal itch with the 80s heardle. Swiftie? Say no more.

Pro tips: You probably already know if you’re gonna be good at this one. There’s not much strategy to it.

The good: Finally, a way to prove you know music better than all your friends.

The bad: The social aspect is pretty thin, unless your friends listen to the same music you do.

5. Nerdle

Description: Wordle, but with a calculator instead of a keyboard. You’re trying to guess an equation. All your guesses have to be correct mathematical equations as well.

Where to play:

Pro tips: As with Wordle, you’ll want to uncover as many numbers and operators (add, multiply, etc.) as you can early on. Brush up on your basic number properties and don’t be afraid to pull up the calculator on your phone if you’re struggling.

The good: Nerdle is a fun way to improve your arithmetic skills, which is a lot more useful in everyday life than knowing every five-letter word that begins with “BE”. There’s a lot more variation, too—Nerdle will surprise you just when you think you’ve got it figured out. To top it all off, Nerdle is a charity project supporting Save The Children’s Numeracy Boost program.

The bad: It’s definitely not as catchy as Wordle, and may intimidate your less math-inclined friends.

4. Worldle

Description: Guess a country based on its silhouette. For every wrong guess, the game will tell you how far away you were and which direction you need to go (up = North).

Where to play:

Pro tips: Africa is a continent, not a country—don’t embarrass yourself! Maybe it’s time to revisit your childhood and watch that old Animaniacs video again. And if you don’t know what a kilometer is, visit the settings pane to change the units to miles.

The good: There are only 195 countries, versus a couple thousand Wordle words and nearly 18,000 Nerdle equations. This makes the game relatively conquerable. Even just a few months of daily play will give you a pretty strong grasp of world geography.

The bad: Catchier than Nerdle but still not as catchy as Wordle. Most of us are bad at geography.

3. Absurdle

Description: Wordle, but the computer is playing against you. The solution isn’t predetermined: when you submit a guess, the AI changes its secret word so as to give you the worst clues possible. That is, your first guess is almost guaranteed to be all wrong, no matter what it is, and it’s impossible to win in fewer than four guesses. The computer’s not allowed to invalidate any previous clues, so you can win by slowly backing it into a corner.

Where to play:

Pro tips: Make the computer its own worst enemy by guessing the most common letters and vowels right off the bat. Don’t worry about using every clue you’ve been given—that’s what it wants you to do. Instead, uncover as many letters as you can and try not to repeat yellow clues in the same position. (Psst: if you’re unhappy with a guess you can undo it.)

The good: It’s not just Wordle’s evil twin, it’s a case study in information theory. Who doesn’t love science?

The bad: If you put in the same guesses, you’ll get the same results every time. There’s no variation from day to day.

2. Contexto

Description: There are no rules about word length on this one—the right answer could be any English word of any length. When you submit a guess, you’ll get a single clue: a number representing how “similar” your guess is to the secret word. 1000 or higher means you’re not even close, whereas anything under 10 is probably a synonym. You get unlimited guesses, which is good because you may need 100 or more.

Where to play:

Pro tips: The “similarity” value has nothing to do with spelling or word length! It’s based on two things: whether your word could easily be substituted with the secret word, and whether they’re likely to appear next to the same other words in a sentence. For example, “cat” and “mat” aren’t similar, but “cat” and “dog” are, because nearly any sentence with “cat” could have “dog” inserted in its place and still make sense. For the best results, don’t waste your time riffing on words that score more than 500—keep branching out until you get something in the under-250 range.

The good: This one will keep your head spinning for a while, but when you finally figure it out you’ll facepalm for not getting it sooner. It’s absorbing and totally fair.

The bad: There are too many possibilities; a single numeric clue doesn’t always feel like enough to get you pointed in the right direction. Sometimes you’ll rack up tens of guesses without getting any good scores, which can be discouraging.

1. Sootly

Description: You’ve got seven chances to guess a six-letter word. Each guess nets you three clues: if you guess ARISEN, you’ll get a clue for AR, a clue for IS, and a clue for EN. The most common clue, a “half pair,” indicates that one of the letters is in the secret word and one isn’t—it’s up to you to figure out which is which. You’ll often end up with a few interconnected half pairs that resolve into four or five correct letters when you finally crack them.

Where to play: It’s on iPhone and Android. Not sure which one you’ve got? Click here.

Pro tips: Don’t let half pairs stress you out! Pick the most common letter of the two (a vowel, if there is one) and run with it. If you picked the wrong one, you’ll find out soon enough. The most common word endings are ES, ED, and ER, so lead with one of those. Clues are independent, so if you guess a letter twice in the same word, you’ll get the same clues as if you guessed it in two separate words.

The good: Sootly isn’t just a guessing game like Wordle; it challenges your deductive thinking and working memory as well, making every win feel more satisfying. Even so, it’s easier to learn than many of the games mentioned above (remember, you can always tap on a clue to see what it means). The app is also full of unique features: there are 16 earnable achievements, you can create and share your own puzzles on the Custom Puzzles page, and the app tracks statistics about your gameplay on the Stats page. If you’re sensitive to light, you can switch to Dark Mode or Grayscale Mode from the About screen.

The bad: You’ll have to forgive me for not criticizing my own app. I made Sootly and I think it’s the greatest, I play it every day.

Wordle you gonna play next?

The recent surge in word game popularity has been a delight. With so much variation and ingenuity in the space, I’m sure to have missed a few of your favorites—drop a comment and let me know what you’re playing.

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