About Chainagram – A Daily Word Game That Isn't Wordle

how an article about Wordiply inspired a better* word puzzle

There's a lot of daily word puzzles out there, and an awful lot of them are very similar in game play to Wordle (Quordle, Octordle, Referdle, Woodle, the list goes on). The daily anagram word game Chainagram is a bit different. It wasn't inspired directly by Wordle, rather it was inspired by this article in the Guardian newspaper by David Shariatmadari about their word game Wordiply with the title "I was asked to invent the next Wordle. How hard could it be?". Quite hard as it turns out.

Play Chainagram

David's article is a good read, it recounts how he worked with the Guardian's online team and some outside experts such as gaming professor Clara Fernández-Vara to try and develop a daily word game that's as fun to play as Wordle. The result was Wordiply, a game where given a 3 letter starting word you need to come up with the longest word you can think of which contains it (e.g. given the starting word ERA you might come up with the word GENERATION). It sounds pretty good in concept so I gave it a try. Unfortunately, in tune with many of the commenters on the original article, I found the game play to be a little disappointing. The commenter PtolemyHanshaw3 summed things up well: "Wordiply would be great as a two-person game. ... Playing against a computer which already knows the longest words is no fun - you can never win!"

Putting my young son down to sleep is a bit of a trial at the minute, and involves lying next to him in the dark pretending to be asleep until he decides that looks like a fun game and joins in. While doing this I often play word games in my head. Lying in bed with my eyes closed next to him on the day I read the article I got to thinking what didn't work about Wordiply and what kind of puzzle might be a better single-player daily word game. "How about word ladders?", I thought. "Nah, a bit old hat. But what about if you added another element, like anagrams...".

After subjecting friends and family to the concept with a few test puzzles over the Christmas holiday I thought I might be on to something so I got to work producing Chainagram, releasing it to the world on the auspicious date of Friday 13th January 2023. Since then I've been gathering feedback and improving the game bit by bit. There's still a way to go but I think I might be on to something – it might not be Wordle but it definitely feels more puzzley than Wordiply.

Have you played Chainagram already? What do you think of it? I love to hear all feedback, good and bad. Details on how to contact me at the bottom of the page.

* other opinions are available

Play Chainagram

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