Waffle is the new word

Three Waffle screenshots: early, mid and late game.

Until now, everything my prefer wordle variants have kept the same shape of the game board as the original: Five letters, each guess appearing as a new row in a grid. You can see what you guessed before, and you can see how many guesses you still have left. Waffle changes the game in an interesting way, and for that, it intrigues me.

How to play waffle

In Waffle, you solve six for words at a time, but you don’t have to guess the letters—the letters are already there. Just put the letters in the right places. It looks like a crossword, but behaves more like a Rubik’s cube: The only way to play is to swap squares from one place to another.

The green and yellow color code works the same way as in Wordle: green means a letter is in the right place, yellow means the letter belongs elsewhere in the word. But thanks to the intersecting grid, the yellows at the corners introduce ambiguity. Is the yellow letter in the vertical word or the horizontal word? It could be either, and you won’t know until you make a trade.

Each puzzle can be solved in 10 or fewer trades, or more promises the creator. A budget of 15 swaps is proposed to you. Your score is the number of budgeted exchanges you doesn’t use, so if it took you 11 rounds, you get four stars. Five stars is the maximum. You’ll also get a nifty grid to share on social media, with green squares for letters you’ve placed correctly. This way you always have something to show off even if you haven’t fully solved the puzzle before the time runs out.

How to Win at Waffle

Rremember, Yesour exchanges are limited. In some tile-swapping games, if you make a mistake, it’s often not too difficult for your score to put things back where they were. If you roll a 71 instead of a 70 in I love Hue, we do not care? HHere, a bad trade drops you from 15 to 14. If you choose to trade it again, you are up to 13. Budget carefully.

DDon’t jump to conclusions when you see a yellow letter. Remember that if it’s in a corner, the yellow could be a clue for one word or the other. You’ll probably have a moment where you think “aha, it’s in that horizontal word!” before I remembered it, it might actually be in the word vertical instead.

For this reason, squares that do not have intersections are strategically valuable. If a yellow is not in an intersection, you know exactly which word it belongs to. (However, I don’t know likes to play crosswords which do not have intersections for each letter; youit’s just a lazy puzzle.)

A twist thereor I’ll realize that you continue play: after you have exchanged a letter, you no longer have any visual trace of where it used be. I often solve Wordles with a pad of paper by my side, and it’s definitely helped here. But I also started take screenshots along the wayso when I find myself thinking “which letter was yellow in that top word a few turns ago?” I check my camera roll to be sure.

Is Waffle harder than Wordle?

All these complaints are a preface to saying: I missed my first Waffle. By the time I figured out what all the words were, I had two exchanges left and I needed Three. This left me with a score of 0/5, no stars. My grid was all green except for two black blocks.

THEOn my next try, I was more cautious. I hedged my bets on those yellow corners, and when I wanted to move a tile, I thought very carefully about what I wanted the other side of that trade to look like—nnot just “let’s get rid of the N so we can put an A here”, but “there are three A’s in the puzzle, let’s do the swap that puts the N in a useful place”.

Officially, this makes Waffle harder than Wordle; I have never lost a Wordle. (I’m sure it will happen someday. I’m smug, not arrogant.) But I’d bet once you get the hang of it, Waffle is easier in some ways. All the letters are right in front of you, so you’ll never be entirely surprised by a SQUAD or a FUZZY. Waffle is still new, so I’m going to have to play a lot more of it to form a deeper opinion. For now, it’s one of my favorite everyday puns. It might be one of yours also.