Being Bold in Word Games & The One Letter Curse
The first time my friend told me about Wordle, I didn’t fully understand how it worked and texted her back asking why they wouldn’t accept “A-E-I-O-U” as my first guess. It has to be a word… she kindly replied. Ever since, I’ve been hooked. A few weeks later, another friend introduced me to Quordle, which is essentially 4 Wordle boards at the same time. You have 9 guesses to solve all 4.
The first time we played it, I immediately told him it was the worst thing I’ve ever done and I would never play it again. It’s now one of my favorite parts of the day. My friend and I spend a lot of time comparing Quordle scores and strategies and we’ve noticed a pattern we call “the one letter curse.”
Take for example a word like GRA_S. What goes in the blank? Grads? Grams? Grans? Grabs? Grass?
Sometimes, before too many letters have been ruled out, I’ll see a set-up like this and want to just take a lucky guess that it will be Grads. When it’s not, there are two avenues I split between. One is doubling down and guessing Grams, Grans, and Grabs next. The other is trying to eliminate D, M, N, or B through another guess so I can be 100% certain that my next guess will be correct. That I won’t fall for the one letter curse.
Having played months and months of the daily game now, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no perfect answer. Sometimes the guess pays off and you solve a word in 2 or 3 guesses. Sometimes, you burn through guesses 5, 6, and 7 trying iterations of Cover, Hover, Mover, Lover.
Some days, as we’re sharing scores and specifically on days I’ve “won,” I’ll feel justified in my safe manner of playing. Oh, you got one letter cursed! Other times, I’ll get the worst score possible when really one of my original guesses was right.
So what is the ultimate strategy for a game like Quordle? Is it to be bold? Cautious? Strategic?
Or is it to learn? To course correct? To come up with new ways of thinking and to foster some bit of creativity on sleepy mornings? Is it to connect with an out-of-state friend as we laugh at bad guesses and disagree on starting words?
I wanted to be able to write a piece that praised bold guessing in Quordle and tied it into bold living in the real world. But perhaps word games imitate life more than we expect. Because just as slow strategy sometimes wins out over bold action in “Quo,” the same can be said for some of my favorite life decisions.
Sometimes it pays to eliminate other options and be really sure before you commit to a thing.
And sometimes, the best decision you can make is to dive in, headfirst, and find out