Wordle is one of the year's big success stories, going from nowhere to The New York Times in the space of a month. But if you're more of a numbers than words person, then you'll want to check out a new math-based game called Mathler.
It's an unashamed clone of Wordle, from its design to its color scheme to the way you share results on social media. In fact, it proudly proclaims "A daily math puzzle inspired by Wordle" at the top of the page.
But similar in concept though they may be, it's a bit harder than Wordle. Well, either that or we're just not great with numbers.
What is Mathler?
Like Wordle, Mathler is a simple game that can be played for free via its own website. There are no ads and it can only be played once per day (of course), with each new puzzle appearing at 7 p.m. ET (midnight GMT).
Unlike Wordle, you get the answer in advance — and in this case it's a number. The challenge is to work out the equation needed to arrive at the number, using the digits 0-9 and the +, -, * and / operations placed into the six boxes.
That's a lot harder than it sounds, though, because there are multiple ways you can arrive at the answer on a given day. For instance, if the answer is the 20 then the solution could be 1*5+15 or it could be 30-8-2; the tricky part lies in working out which path is the correct one.
As with Wordle, you get some clues: if a digit is correct and in the right place it will turn green, if it's correct but in the wrong place it will be yellow, and if incorrect it will be gray.
Get it right and you'll see a familiar pop-up listing your games played, success rate, longest streak and guess distribution. And of course there's also a Share button so you can tell the world how smart you are, with the solution cleverly hidden.
It was created by one Daniel Tait and appears to be a new game — so here's your chance to get in early before the rest of the world finds out about it.
What are the rules of Mathler?
As with Wordle (yes, we'll be saying that a lot), Mathler is light on rules and heavy on simplicity:
- You have to guess the solution in six goes or less
- Every equation you enter must be a valid answer. So if the answer is 20, your guess can't be 50+5-2 because that doesn't equal 20. Right away, this is one of the toughest things about it.
- The equations follow the PEDMAS rule, which means you do them in the order of parentheses, exponentials, division, multiplication, addition and then subtraction.
- A correct entry turns green
- A correct entry in the wrong place turns yellow
- An incorrect entry turns gray
- Digits and operations can be used more than once
What is a good Mathler strategy?
This bit won't take long, as we've only played one game so far, which we completed in 4/6 guesses.
Based on that, the best strategy seems to be to work backwards. What do I mean by that?
Well, if you know the answer is 50, then how could you arrive at that? One possible path would be 10*5, so let's go with that. Next step is to complete the first part of the equation, so you end with 10 — so maybe 18-8. Your equation would thus be: 18-8*5 = 50.
However, as has been pointed out to me by several readers, that doesn't follow PEDMAS, so it won't work.
Once you do settle on an equation that works but that (almost certainly) isn't the solution, your task will get slightly easier — you'll know that maybe it doesn't feature an 8 but it does feature a minus, for instance.
Of course that also makes it harder in one sense, as it narrows down the potential paths; by the time you've ruled out several digits and operations, finding an equation that works for your guess can be tricky. Either way, you'll need a combination of luck and logic to get the right solution — so again, just like Wordle.
There's no shortage of math-based puzzle games on the web, but Mathler seems like it gets the difficulty level just right and by using the now-familiar Wordle template it won't take people long to pick it up. But if you'd rather stick to word games, you can always check out our best Wordle alternatives instead.