Cubs: WARdle is here to give Wordle-loving baseball fans a new outlet

(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) /

Wordle, the little five-letter word game that took the world by storm, inspired a rash of Twitter mutes, and was purchased by the New York Times at the end of January, has inspired a number of other puzzle games.  There’s Worldle, where you have to guess the country, Heardle, a song guessing game with a tenuous link to the actual mechanics of Wordle, and Poeltl, an NBA inspired version named after the San Antonio Spurs center.  If you haven’t had your guessing game fix from those and the number of other variants that exist in the far reaches of the internet, you’re in luck.  A new Wordle has launched, and this time, you’ve got to guess the baseball player, Cubs fans.  It’s WARdle!

Jeremy Frank, the Purdue University student who runs the @MLBRandomStats Twitter account that ESPN sometimes takes “inspiration” from, created the game alongside Zach Ellis.

"“There have been so many knockoffs of the original Wordle that I feel like baseball was the logical next step,” Frank said. “After Poeltl came out, it just made sense that there would be a baseball equivalent.”"

Ellis, who had a front end design created, reached out to Frank, who created the logic behind the game.

"“I hadn’t played Wordle much, and I didn’t even know about Poeltl initially.  But @GiraffeNeckMarc tweeted about wanting an MLB version of Wordle,” Ellis said, “I saw the appeal for a game like that and decided it would be fun to give something like that to the fans, just a fun little game they could play to test their MLB player knowledge.”"

According to Ellis, development of the game went well, but the actual launch didn’t go quite as expected.

"“I chose a free server level that allows 500 people to request data from the server at a time.  I thought this would be enough,” he said, “Well, as the MLB and MLBPA were coming to an agreement we saw an opportunity to publish… excitement around baseball skyrocketed, and immediately the server had somewhere around 1.4K requests.”"

In other terms, WARdle was hit with the “hug of death”.

Chicago Cubs: The initial reaction to WARdle has been predominantly positive

Upon release, the game immediately became a hit.  Within the day, #WARdle began trending worldwide, becoming, at one point, the eighth-highest trending topic in the United States.

The gameplay is simple.  You have eight guesses to figure out the mystery player of the day, with hints given to you along the way the closer you get.  “A player won’t be included unless they play very often or are very well known, or usually both,” explains Frank.  For example, if the hypothetical answer that day is Marcus Stroman, guessing Joey Votto would put you in the correct League, Division, Country of Origin, and Throwing Arm categories.  You’ve got to Mastermind your way from there to get the correct answer.

What makes these sort of games so popular?  According to Frank, the appeal is two-fold.  “Combined with showing your friends how smart you are every day, it’s that you can only do it once per day.”  In writing for Psychology Today, Bence Nanay, Ph.D. says something similar about Wordle.  “…it’s not possible to overindulge and get bored with it,” Nance writes, adding “It’s not about sharing intellectual experiences; it is about trying to feel superior to others.”  It’s true, people like showing off.

As of now, WARdle is just in is early stages.  “I’m working on lifetime stats right now,” said Ellis, “So it will hold your current streak, max streak, a distribution of how many guesses it takes when you win, and win percentage.”  If there’s anything that makes baseball fans giddy with excitement, it’s statistics.

Some people may be wondering, why name the game WARdle instead of basing it off of a player’s name, like Poeltl?  “We were between WARdle and Wendle, but we kind of crowd sourced the name and people liked WARdle more,” Frank explained.  Tough luck, Marlins second baseman Joey Wendle.  There actually is a Wordle-like game called Wendle, but it’s exclusively a spelling game, with no player information involved in guessing.

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With the MLB season finally getting underway next month, there’s no better time to brush up on your player knowledge with WARdle.  You even get to lord your score over your friends, and psychologically, what could be better than that?