It has been a month since my last DeWordle post. In that time, I've given DeWordle a near-complete rewrite and redesign. I've refocused it on being a tool to think about Wordle games, instead of trying to be a game in itself. Like any tool, you can make up your own games to play with it, but using it as a tool to analyse gameplay is where I've had the most fun with it, and is what I'm going to do in the rest of this post.
I've played Wordle for two months now, and I've used two very different strategies in each of those months. While the internet is now full of endless posts telling you which word is the best one to start with to get the lowest score, what my experience seems to show is that there is no bad startword if your only goal is to guess the secret word before your guesses run out. Put another way, I think that a person with a large enough vocabulary should never lose at Wordle.
I'm making this assertion after trying two different starting word strategies, and never failing to guess the secret word. My strategy for the first month was to use the same start word every day: FOCUS. My strategy for the second month was to allow a program to chose a random start word for me.
My scores, as shown above, match what many have posited to be the "expected" distribution: mostly 4/6, with a few 3/6 and 5/6 mixed in. Of the other scores: 1/6 is obvious luck; 2/6 seems like half luck; 6/6 seems like a flaw in strategy.
Let's see if I can show why I think that via DeWordle. The following table is sorted by ascending score, with month 1's games on the left, and month 2's games on the right. The links in the "first word" columns will take you to a DeWordle showing the state after just that guess - most notably the number of secret answer words that match. The links in "score" columns will take you to a DeWordle showing the "full" game, with start and end words set, and all of the intermediate words I might have used to get the patterns in between.
|Month 1: same start||Month 2: random start|
|game #||first word||score (N/6)||game #||first word||score (N/6)|
I think the favorable interpretation of this data is that my February games were on average better than my January games. Mathematically, that's certainly the case, with a mean score of 3.86 in February, vs. 4.07 in January. I think it's pretty easy to see that I had a couple of score-3 games bump up to score-2 games, and several score-5 games bump up to score-4 (with no score-6 games).
Looking at the differences between the score-2 and score-3 games, it also seems like FOCUS was not a great start word. I hesitate to say this, because while it's easy to write of "not included" squares as useless, that's not actually the case. A considerable part of my final guesses is figuring out what word I could make, given what's left. It's also obvious from game 224, that even when I did get a bunch of letters initially, I didn't always convert that information to a great score.
A hint if you're trying to guess which of the possibilities I guessed between the first word and the answer: I've always played on hard mode, keeping letters in place as soon as they turn green. In the last week or two, I have started playing Dordle and Quordle, where this mode of play does not work (for me, at least) at all. I'm still not sure if I'll change my Wordle playing to do the same.
- ⤣ 228/MOIST was spoiled for me by reading Twitter before playing, and seeing references to a commonly hated word.
- ⤣ 204/GORGE is from memory, and could therefor be incorrect. Apparently I didn't tweet it. I sort of remember being annoyed at an early game, though, and the patterns I've punched into DeWordle for it fit that theme.
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