I’m sorry if today's Wordle ended your streak, but it's your own fault

A Wordle grid showing the words TOUGH WORDS SILLY GUESS FAILS on a yellow background
(Image credit: Future)

Today's Wordle is difficult. Really, really difficult. 'Wordle 668 X' is the top trending topic on Twitter UK right now, and multiple people are losing their streaks.

However, that needn't have been the case. Yes, it's a tough one, and yes, I have all sympathy for those of you who failed to solve's today's puzzle – but unfortunately, you have only yourself to blame.

Or at least, that's the case if you play on normal mode; if you play on hard mode then it's a different matter. Although that said, if you play on hard mode then you should either have a strategy for this kind of answer, or you shouldn't be playing on hard mode in the first place.

Anyway, I'm not here to tell you why hard mode is stupid (I'll save that for a different day); I want to explain why nobody should have lost their streak on normal mode today. 

To do that, I'll need to include SPOILERS FOR TODAY'S WORDLE, GAME #668, ON TUESDAY, 18 APRIL 2023. So please don't read on if you haven't already completed it. Just bear in mind that you might want some Wordle hints before doing so.

The gray line of death

Tricky answers are nothing new in Wordle, but often the problem is the word itself. I wrote last week, for instance, about how one Wordle answer was not just difficult, but unfair.

That's not the case with today's game, though. Instead, a quick look at Twitter shows the problem with today's Wordle answer: it's one of the too-many-options variety.

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The problem, obviously, is that for today's answer – HOUND – there are seven alternative words that differ by just the first letter: ROUND, SOUND, MOUND, FOUND, POUND, BOUND and WOUND. 

So, if you played on hard mode and had the -OUND bit on the first guess, you'd still be relying on luck in order to get the correct one before running out of guesses. Fair enough – that's the way hard mode goes. 

I don't regularly play on hard mode, partly because I write a daily Wordle column that I want to be relevant to as many people as possible, and most people play on normal mode; but also because I fundamentally don't like the way hard mode reduces this kind of game to luck. Yes, I know, there are ways to plan for it – but they're not foolproof.

Anyway, on normal mode, there are no such restraints. It may have taken some people three to four guesses to establish that this was an -OUND word, but at that point there was a way to guarantee you didn't fail – and it was simply to narrow down the options.

In my case, I realized what the pattern was after the second guess. So, for my third guess, rather than going for BOUND or POUND or whatever, I guessed WHOMP. 

Wordle answer 668 on a yellow background

(Image credit: New York Times)

This guaranteed ruling in/out WOUND, HOUND, MOUND and POUND in one fell swoop. Plus, because my pick of the best Wordle starting words is STARE, I'd already discounted ROUND and SOUND too. 

Even if none of the letters in WHOMP had been correct, that would only have left me with FOUND and BOUND, and still with three guesses left. As it happens, I remembered that FOUND had been a past Wordle answer, so really I was certain to solve it in 4/6. (I didn't look at the previous answers list while playing, but if I had I'd have seen that ROUND, SOUND and POUND have also appeared before.) 

It's not exactly rocket science to take the 'narrowing-down' approach, but for whatever reason plenty of people today don't seem to be doing it. Instead, they're randomly guessing, despite the fact that they're dicing with danger. 

I get it – if you turned up -OUND on your second guess, as I did, the lure of a 3/6 would have been strong. And after that, you'd have been eyeing up a 4/6, and so on. But surely by the fifth go, you'd realize that you simply had to cut your losses and guarantee a 6/6.

But no. WordleBot, the New York Times' AI helper tool, records the number of people who solve the puzzle on each turn. In its sample of 266,164 people who have played at the time of writing, 28,148 failed to solve it – around 10%. 

I suspect that total will rise over the course of the day, because we've been here before with Wordle. As I said above, FOUND has been an earlier answer; it appeared on March 28, 2022 (game #282) and the excellent WordleStats Twitter account records that 14.6% of players lost their streaks on that day.

None of that will be any consolation if you're one of those who failed to solve today's Wordle, of course. But at the very least, you could try a different approach next time something like this happens. 

Of course, it's also possible that you're not remotely bothered by all of this; Wordle is just a silly internet game and if you lost your streak, so what. I can live with that idea. But if you are one of those people who wants to win each day, and you still just randomly guessed until you eventually failed, well then that's on you. Sorry!

Marc McLaren
Global Editor in Chief

Marc is TechRadar’s Global Editor in Chief, the latest in a long line of senior editorial roles he’s held in a career that started the week that Google launched (nice of them to mark the occasion). Prior to joining TR, he was UK Editor in Chief on Tom’s Guide, where he oversaw all gaming, streaming, audio, TV, entertainment, how-to and cameras coverage. He's also a former editor of the tech website Stuff and spent five years at the music magazine NME, where his duties mainly involved spoiling other people’s fun. He’s based in London, and has tested and written about phones, tablets, wearables, streaming boxes, smart home devices, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, games, TVs, cameras and pretty much every other type of gadget you can think of. An avid photographer, Marc likes nothing better than taking pictures of very small things (bugs, his daughters) or very big things (distant galaxies). He also enjoys live music, gaming, cycling, and beating Wordle (he authors the daily Wordle today page).