Wordle, the guess a 5 letter word in 6 tries game, is a really good game. Any good game deserves a competition.
I thought about how to design a proper competitive Wordle, and wanted to share my ideas with the world so that people could use them to organize Wordle tournaments. I have no connection to the creators of Wordle or the New York Times; these are just my ideas that I am offering as an add-on to enhance the existing Wordle experience. I offer them freely for anyone to use or modify to suit, under the Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 license.
Csanyk’s Competitive Wordle Rules
Version 1.0, Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 license.
Level Playing Field
- Consistency is Fairness. All participants will play the same list of solution words, presented in the same order. All players will either play in hard mode (where any revealed hints must be used in subsequent guesses) or normal mode.
- No cheating. Players may not have advance knowledge of the solutions at any time, and may not consult a dictionary.
- Players may not receive outside help to come up with the solution, in any form.
- Players may use scratch paper if they desire, but the sheets must be blank before the start of the competition.
- To keep tournaments from running indefinitely, a finite time bank will be used.
- Each player will have their own time bank which they will be allowed to use during the period in which the competition is ongoing. Eg, the overall competition might be slated for a specific date and time window of, say, 2 hours, with each player granted a time bank of 1 hour to play their games, to be used within that 2 hour window, affording them up to an hour of break time, if they wish to use it, however they wish to use it.
- The amount of time given can be determined arbitrarily by the organizing body, but a suggested length of 1 hour or less would be reasonable for most tournaments. For larger tournaments, more time may be needed, or more rounds of competition, each with their own time bank. For ultra brief or high speed play, time banks of 5 or 10 minutes might be appropriate.
- For precise timekeeping, the clock start and stop can be coded into the Wordle program itself, but if such a feature is not present in the software being used, time may be kept externally, using a stopwatch or pauseable countdown timer.
- The timebank clock starts when the player submits their first guess for the current puzzle, and stops when they solve the puzzle.
- The player can take breaks between puzzles as often and as long as they wish, subject to any other rules governing breaks which may limit their number or duration or how often.
- There are no timeouts once a puzzle has been started.
- Players will play successive rounds of Wordle until they either fail to solve a round, or run out of time in their personal time bank.
- Players score points each round, based on how many guesses were needed to solve the Wordle.
- A solved puzzle will score base value of 100 points. The exact number used for the Base Points is somewhat arbitrary, and doesn’t matter a whole lot. The Base Points value will be modified by multipliers, as follows:
- 1/6 Solve: * 1. Solving in 1 is pure luck, and shouldn’t be rewarded with a special bonus.
- 2/6 Solve: * 4. Solving in 2 guesses involves skill as well as some luck (to get enough clues from the first guess) so should count for more.
- 3/6 Solve: * 2. Solving in 3 guesses isn’t easy, so deserves a bonus.
- 4/6 Solve: * 1. Solving in 4 guesses is par.
- 5/6 Solve: * 0.5. Solving in 5 guesses is good, but just isn’t as impressive.
- 6/6: * 0.25. Solving in 6 guesses deserves points, just the least number of them.
- X/6: * 0. No points awarded if you fail to solve.
- The above scoring system rewards fast play, in terms of guesses used, but also rewards cautious play, since solving each puzzle unlocks future scoring opportunities without limit other than that imposed by the time bank.
- Players can score more points per round if they solve in fewer guesses, but they can score more points overall if they play many rounds. But players can play the most rounds if they don’t take risky strategies that are more likely to solve early but increase the risk of busting, and they can play more rounds if they solve each round quickly.
- Optionally, solving each Wordle may afford opportunity to gain bonus time. This is a double reward, since solving in fewer guesses typically consumes less time already. To prevent limitless time, the structure will need to be carefully considered, and calibrated to the speed of the players. It’s forseeable that future players could become faster than we can imagine at solving puzzles, so to avoid infinite play, this will need to be adjusted.
- Suggested values for timebank bonuses are a starting point only, and are subject to revision.
- 1/6: + 30 seconds
- 2/6: + 20 seconds
- 3/6: + 10 seconds
- 4/6: + 0 seconds
- 5/6: + 0 seconds
- X/6: Timebank * 0; player is busted, their remaining timebank is zero per the normal rules.
- Typically the bonus possible in a single round should not afford a player more bonus time than it typically takes to play a single round; it should therefore only extend the player’s time bank to allow for multiple additional rounds of possible play if they accrue bonus time over several rounds of play.
- Micro points are an optional way to increase nuance with the scoring system. This is intended to help avoid ties.
- Micro points scored as follows:
- Grey letter (Each letter used in a guess but is not found in the solution: 1 point.)
- Yellow letter (Letter found in word, but used in the wrong position: 2 points.)
- Green letter (Letter found in word, used in the correct position: 5 points.)
- Micro points are tallied over successive plays in the round, so if the same letter is used in multiple positions as a Yellow, each unique position in the word that the letter is used counts for score. But if the yellow letter is played in the same position in multiple guesses, only the first time that letter appeared Yellow in that position scores points. For example, if the solution contains the letter T in the 2nd position, and the player guesses a word that uses T in the 1st position and in the 3rd position, in both guesses the T will score 2 points. But if the player played a word with the letter T in the 1st position in two guesses, only the first guess that yields the clue that T is in the word, but not in the 1st position should count for points, and any subsequent guesses using T in the 1st position will not score additional points.
- Likewise, only the first time the green letter is discovered for each position counts for points. Thus if the solution is YEAST, and the player guesses: 1. STATE; 2.STEAK; 3. MEATS; 4. BEAST; 5. FEAST; 6. LEAST, and fails to solve, the micro point scored for the round would be:
2+2+5+2+0 = 11
0+0+2+2+1 = 5
1+5+5+0+2 = 12
1+0+0+5+5 = 11
1+0+0+0+0 = 1
1+0+0+0+0 = 1
= 41 micro points.
The micro points then are divided by 10 and added to the regular points, so in this case the 4.1 micro points would add 4.1 points to the player’s tournament score.
- On an X/6 solve or unsolved round where the player ran out of time but still had remaining guesses, we can optionally score the “micro points” to reward whatever progress the player made in their final round, or we can simply award 0 points for the round since it was not solved.
- Micro points are normally scored for every round played. This could aid in making tie situations more unlikely, while de-emphasizing the final round’s micro points.
Tournament ranking and winners
- At the end of the tournament, players points are tallied over all rounds of play, and then ranked in descending order. The player with the more points holds a higher rank in the standings.