Wordle’s ‘Best’ Starting Word Has Been Found, And Ruined, By Maths

Wordle’s ‘Best’ Starting Word Has Been Found, And Ruined, By Maths

One of the cutest things about Wordle, and also one of the most important if you value having any kind of success with the game, is the selection of your starting word. For most players this has probably been their own favourite combination of vowels and consonants, but if you really want to get things done fast, maths now has the word you should be using instead.

As Grant “3Blue1Brown” Sanderson has worked out (via Polygon), that word in the vast majority of cases is: CRANE. Take that information and run with it if you want, but the actually interesting thing here is how Sanderson came up with that answer.

To get there, he built a bot that could crunch over 12,000 words, then run all of those findings through an algorithm which with each turn would spit out every single possible word that could follow. In his first attempt in the video below, for example, Sanderson starts with CRANE, then is told to follow that up with SHTIK, and after getting all that data the bot helps him get the correct answer — SHARD — on just his third attempt.

I’ll note here that Sanderson isn’t the first person to try this; coder Adam Kubaryk says SOARE and SAINE are the best, while strategist Rob Miller wrote a script that gave him “TARES, followed by LARES, RALES, RATES, and CARES”.

You should watch the whole video above, though, because the way Sanderson explains how he put this all together, and the maths underpinning it, is not only fascinating, but also provides a lot of supporting argument for his choice of CRANE over some of those other options (though, since we’re only talking about five letters here, they all might be just as good as each other in practical terms).

And yet, I would also beg you not to actually play Wordle — or many other games! — like this. From GameFAQs to YouTube to speedruns on the user’s end to the way games like WoW are developed, there’s a strong tendency in modern video games to continually strive to play in the most optimal way possible. That there’s always a faster, cleaner way to play something, and until you learn that path you’re somehow doing it wrong, or more accurately, aren’t doing it as right as you could be.

We don’t need to be playing everything like that. Destiny 2, maybe. But Wordle? Just fuck up and have fun with it!

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