I’ve played every Wordle and lost only once — here are my tips

Wordle on a smartphone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for Wordle tips and tricks then you’re in the right place. I’ve played every single game of Wordle — all 366 of them — and have only lost once. So I can help you preserve your streak on a bad day, or avoid the need to search for today’s Wordle answer

Like most of the world I was a late arrival to Wordle, playing for the first time on Christmas Eve, December 24. I got the answer, WEARY, in 3/6 guesses, then largely forgot about the game until early January, when I wrote about it just before it went viral.

Five months on and I’m obsessed. Wordle is either the last thing I do each night or the first thing I do each morning and I’ve completed all the games I missed via the brilliant — and now sadly shut down — Wordle Archive. I'm a real hit at parties, too.

So what does playing 366 games of Wordle teach you? Quite a lot, including how not to lose your streak, what the best starting words are, why you shouldn’t play on hard mode and lots more. 

Read on and I’ll share my Wordle tips and tricks to help you beat the game that everyone’s playing. You might also want to see what I found when I analyzed every Wordle answer to look for patterns, and my thoughts on the 5 ways Wordle needs to improve to keep us playing for another year (and beyond).

Wordle tips and tricks to help you beat the game

The game Wordle displayed on two smartphones

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

1. There’s nothing more important than your Wordle start word

Seriously — if you get this one wrong you might as well give up. While some people like to use a different Wordle start word each game, that’s like running a marathon with your legs tied together: needlessly masochistic.

Wordle only gives you six goes to guess the answer, and if you mess up the start word you’re entering a world of letter-based pain. We have a separate article about the best Wordle start words, so all I'll say here is that it should contain at least two vowels and a couple of the most common consonants.

I use STARE, which is close to being the most statistically ideal Wordle start word and which I’m now used to. Some people prefer SOARE or ADIEU based on the number of vowels, but the important thing is to choose one and stick to it. The NYT's brilliant WordleBot tool recognizes the importance of a good start word, but it prefers CRANE.

As well as giving you a better chance of scoring green and yellow letters on the first go, a good Wordle start word will familiarize you with the patterns that tend to develop from those letters. If you change it each time, you’ll be blundering around in the darkness when you could be using a flashlight.

2. Your streak is more important than your score — so protect it

So many people get this one wrong. I don’t think I’m particularly good at Wordle (my average from those 363 games is just under 4), but my official streak is currently at 167, which I imagine is pretty high. And if you also consider the games I played on the Wordle Archive, then my unofficial streak is currently at 288.

In short, I’ve protected my streak as carefully as Link protects Zelda and I’ve done that by being ultra-cautious whenever faced with a tricky word. The second I suspect that there might be a WATCH situation (see below), I play it safe and use a throwaway guess to narrow down the options, even though it potentially worsens my score.

Yeah, it’s a thrill to get a 3/6 or even 2/6, but is that high worth chasing compared to the low you’d get from losing a 60-game streak? No way. Speaking of which…

3. Hard mode is annoying mode

(Image credit: Wordle)

I know, I know: some people will say winning 365 games of Wordle counts for nothing if you’re not on hard mode. And maybe they’re right. But in another (more accurate) way, they're wrong.

A brainteaser should reward strategy or knowledge, not just luck. Of course luck plays its part in every game of Wordle, but on hard mode it can guarantee that you lose your streak, and that’s just frustrating.

Why? Well consider a word like WATCH, the answer to game 265 above. Even if you played CATCH as your first guess, giving you four out of five letters from the start, you couldn’t be sure that you’d win purely through your own genius. That’s because there are more than five more possible answers: HATCH, BATCH, PATCH, LATCH and MATCH, as well as WATCH itself. On hard mode, there would be absolutely nothing you could do to increase your chances of winning; no clever strategy or inspired thinking. You’d just be left guessing and hoping.

On standard mode, meanwhile, you could do what I described above, and play a throwaway word that narrows down the options. That’s strategy rather than luck — and surely more in keeping with the spirit of the game.

4. Play your vowels early

While your start word should contain at least two vowels, you’ll sometimes luck out on that first guess and see them all turn gray. If that happens, make sure you play at least two more on the second go. Vowels are crucial to working out what the structure of the word is, so turning them yellow (or ruling them out) early is key.

E is the most common vowel in Wordle, followed by A, O, I and then U. Use them in that order for the best chance of success.

5. Play common consonants early

Yeah, there might be a J or an X in the Wordle answer — but there probably isn’t. Instead, play R, T, L, S and N early, because they’re the most common consonants in Wordle and most answers will include at least one of them.

6. Think about combinations

A good Wordle start word will get you part of the way to solving the day’s puzzle, but using combinations cleverly will help you win consistently.

That’s because certain letters regularly go together in English, but others don’t. For instance, CH, ST and ER are way more likely to be next to each other than MP or GH and much, much more likely than FJ or VY.

There’s a list of the most common two-letter combinations in English here, although you have to bear in mind that this is based on all common words, rather than Wordle answers. But it’s definitely useful to get you thinking about possible forms your word might take.

For instance, if you get a yellow C and a yellow H in a word, but not together, try putting them together next guess — chances are you’ll turn them both green.

7. Think about positioning of letters

Similar to above, certain letters are far more likely to appear at the start or end of a word than others.

S is the most common starting letter among Wordle answers, appearing there in 365 of the total of 2,309 solutions, while E is the most common ending letter (422 answers). Play a word with those two in the right positions and you’re increasing your chances of winning right away. In fact, that’s why my starting word is STARE.

You can get much more complex with this of course. For instance, vowels are far more common in the three middle positions than at the start or end. Vowels are also much more likely to be next to a consonant than another vowel. So if you’ve got a green vowel in the middle of a word, and a yellow consonant somewhere else, try putting them next to each other if you can.

These rules won’t always work, but if you keep them in mind you’ll increase your success rate.

8. Take your time

If I had a dollar for each time I’d accidentally played a letter in a place where I already knew it couldn’t be, I’d be as rich as Wordle creator Josh Wardle now is. It’s sloppiness pure and simple and usually indicates I’m playing too quickly. Always check each row before pressing enter and you’ll be far less likely to make this mistake.

And while I’m at it, just slow down in general. There’s no time limit on Wordle beyond the need to complete it before midnight, so if you’re stuck, have a break and give it another go a little later.

9. Don’t repeat letters… until you do

Repeated letters feature in plenty of Wordle answers, but you should hold off playing any until you’re pretty sure the answer contains some. 

Information is one of the keys to beating Wordle and each letter you play will tell you something about the day’s puzzle. Repeated letters don’t give you as much information as ones you’ve not yet tried, so don’t use them until you have to.

That said, some repeated letters are more common than others, and it's important to bear that in mind. For instance, there are two Es in 172 of Wordle's 2,309 answers, which means they occur in 7% of the total. That makes it more likely that you'll see two Es than one V, Z, X, Q or J. Indeed, it's also more common to see two Os, Ls, As, Ts, Rs or Ss than all of those other than V.

10. Try out multiple solutions

Wordle 129

(Image credit: Wordle/NYT)

It can be tempting to play a possible answer as soon as your brain stumbles upon it, but you should never do that. 

Instead, work through the options first. Use a piece of paper, or type letters into Wordle then delete them, or do it in your head. You could even use an online Wordle solver tool.

Just don’t do what I did in game 129. I was on my third guess and struggling a bit, when I realized DOYEN was a possible answer and gleefully pressed enter. Simultaneously, some other part of my brain screamed “No! You could also play DOZEN” but by then it was too late. So that was a 4/6 rather than a 3/6 purely because I didn’t work through the options first.

So there you go — 10 Wordle tips and tricks to help you beat the game. Maybe once you've mastered it, you can move on to Quordle, Octordle, Worldle, Heardle or one of the other best Wordle alternatives. Or maybe give yourself a break and just watch one of the best Netflix shows instead.

Marc McLaren

Formerly Editor in Chief (U.K.) on Tom’s Guide, Marc oversaw all gaming, streaming, audio, TV, entertainment, how-to and cameras coverage, and was also responsible for the site’s U.K.-focused output. He is now U.K. Editor in Chief on TechRadar. Marc previously edited the tech website Stuff and has tested and written about phones, tablets, wearables, streaming boxes, smart home devices, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, games, TVs, cameras and much more. He also spent years on a music magazine, where his duties mainly involved spoiling other people’s fun, and on a car magazine. An avid photographer, he likes nothing better than taking pictures of very small things (bugs, his daughters) or very big things (distant galaxies). When he gets time, he also enjoys gaming (console and mobile), cycling and attempting to watch as much sport as any human can. He's also fallen in love with Wordle over the past six months and is the author of our today's Wordle answer column, in which he supplies hints and strategy tips for the mega-popular word game. Given he's completed every single Wordle so far and only lost once, and analyzed every Wordle answer in search of patterns, he's well qualified to help you safeguard your streak.

  • Dr. Ormand von Kleigstadt
    I've played since December and only lost once as well. FYI you can still play the whole archived series at the Web Archive here:

    It's highly unlikely that the NYT will be able to get them to remove it, but play while you can.
  • saaaah
    Strongly disagree with point #3 about Hard mode.
    What your example shows is that starting with xATCH is a weak play, not that Hard mode is "stupid."
    Hard mode is more complex. It's more than just lighting up the board with the same old strategy based on word and letter frequencies. A fine result for your first guess is 5 black squares. Narrow the field safely with eliminated letters before making a play at the word to avoid getting entrapped.
  • ViciousGame
    Once you mentioned your steak was in easy mode, you lost all credibility. A word like WATCH can burn anyone in both modes. Easy mode bails you out. Using a throwaway word IS easier; hence, the name. You can rationalize all you want, but you’re easy mode streak is pretty weak in comparison.

    Like the saying goes: “I’d rather be lucky than good”. Besides, fortune favors the well prepared.
  • Jeannie567
    I use most of your guidelines, but when I played the games you listed as difficult, I solved most of them in 3 guesses (though also lost 78). One difference in our strategies is that I’ve observed that Wordle seems to preferentially choose words with duplicate letters; thus I prioritize rather than delay ruling these in or out. I also generally start with the same TWO words, unless I feel emboldened by enough hits from my first word to go for it. The only words I’ve failed to solve are those with way too many possible solutions (thus I wouldn’t dream of so-called hard mode; where’s the fun in that?!). I could do better by expanding my repertoire of multi-consonant “throwaway” words, which I dubbed “probe words” before I learned the web’s term for them. Like you, PLUMB and its near relations are favorites, but often I’m down to such obscure consonants that I can rarely fit 3 of them into a word, let alone 4. Do you have access to a resource for these? Enjoyed your piece.
  • Marc McLaren
    Dr. Ormand von Kleigstadt said:
    I've played since December and only lost once as well. FYI you can still play the whole archived series at the Web Archive here:

    It's highly unlikely that the NYT will be able to get them to remove it, but play while you can.

    Thanks for the tip — definitely worth knowing and I'll update the article with that info.
  • Kentix
    I'm at 56 games today in hard mode so that's how long ago I discovered the game. I haven't missed one so far.

    I start with a different word every time. The way I look at it is I play for fun and using the same word every time wouldn't be much fun. I go with inspiration. One of my best opening words ever was f l i c k. It probably violates every first guess rule but I got it in 2. To me, that's fun. So far, at least, having five more guesses has always been sufficient (with one or two close calls). Most of my first guesses are probably closer to the type you talked about but I mix it up.

    I tried 78 and got it in 4. It definitely was unusual, though.

    I tend to play quickly. The first guess and the second don't need much thinking about since there are so many possibilities. If you're lucky, by the third guess, things are coming into focus. If I can get it in 3, it doesn't take much time at all (< 1 min). But I have made that DOYEN kind of mistake, of too quickly picking a less common word, once or twice.