Try ‘Connections’ If You’re Bored With Wordle (2024)

Beth Skwarecki

Try ‘Connections’ If You’re Bored With Wordle (1)

Credit: New York Times

My first attempt at the game Connections did not get off to a good start. There was a grid of 16 words, and I’m supposed to pick out sets of four that each follow a theme. I went with rain, heat, snow, and sleet, only to be told that this was, somehow, wrong. Huh?

But a moment later that “Huh?” was replaced with an “Aha!” Heat matched up with Jazz, Bucks, and Nets to make a set of NBA teams. Hail was the proper partner for the wet-weather words. Race car, which seemed to be an outlier—there were no other vehicles—turned out to be part of a set of palindromes.

That’s how you play the new puzzle game from the New York Times. The four sets of words are each color-coded according to their difficulty, and you’re allowed four “mistakes” (like my initial guess) before you officially lose. I only made that one mistake my first time, and solved the next day’s puzzle perfectly.

Connections (Puzzle #2)🟨🟨🟨🟨🟩🟩🟩🟩🟪🟪🟪🟪🟦🟦🟦🟦Perfect!

Where to play Connections

The New York Times just took this brand-new game out of “beta” mode, and it’s now available in the NYT Crossword app and on the paper’s Games page. A new, numbered puzzle is available every day, much like the daily Wordles.

How to play Connections

The game presents you with 16 tiles that each have a word or short phrase on them. On each move, your job is to select four tiles that you think form a group. Groups are usually the same type of thing (like hail, rain, sleet, snow) but there’s usually at least one grouping that relies on wordplay. For example, one puzzle grouped doubt, shadow, movie, and vote—those are all things you can cast.

If you’re wrong, the tiles will shake and you’ll get a message telling you how far off you are (“one away...”). If you’re right, a colored bar will appear near the top of the board (showing the four words as well as revealing their theme) and your remaining tiles will rearrange into the bottom of the board.

You have four mistakes available. When you run out, the game is over, and you’ll get to see the answers you missed.

Even though there are four groups, you only need to figure out three of them. By the end, there will be four tiles remaining that have to be in the same group. For some extra puzzle-y fun, try to figure out the theme before you submit that last group for your gimme point.

How to win at Connections

As I discovered on my first play, the point isn’t to look for just any four-word grouping, but to try to discover the groupings that the puzzle makers had in mind. So don’t be too trigger-happy when you see your first possible connection. Look at the items you’ve identified; could any of them fit elsewhere?

It’s also strategic to mentally put a name to the thing your four potential matches have in common. The game’s help screen hints that the categories will never be as broad as “names” or “verbs,” so make sure you’ve pinned down something specific. Note that my initial guess was just “weather,” but the real grouping turned out to be “wet weather.” The game will name the theme after you correctly guess the grouping.

One Redditor suggests jotting down potential groupings on a piece of scratch paper, even if you end up with more or fewer than four words in each of those groups. Once you see them all written down, something might jump out at you.

I tried this on a Connections puzzle that had a bunch of words that might be cat names, and some religious words whose exact theme was unclear. The rest were a mystery to me. So I started writing down possible groups:

  • Cats: Sylvester, Chester, Felix, Garfield, Tom

  • Religious words: altar, reliquary, abbey, temple, shrine

  • ???: high

  • ???: rocky

  • ???: silk

  • Presidential first names: Grover, Calvin, Harry...and Chester!

As soon as I began writing that last group—the presidential first names—I realized that Chester could fit there too. Taking Chester off the cat list leaves me with only four cats, so I returned to my game board and guessed the presidents and then the cats. Both were correct.

All that was left to do was to figure out which of the religious words could fit with high, rocky, and silk. Those three are all (literal or metaphorical) roads, so their partner is Abbey Road. Get it?

Where can I play more Connections?

If you love Connections and want to play more, the game Red Herring is a good alternative. The main difference, though, is that Red Herring only contains three groupings, with the other four words thrown in to confuse you. (They’re red herrings, get it?)

There is also a fan-created archive of Connections puzzles here, listed by number and date. And if you’re enjoying the game enough that you want to create your own board, click “Create” to indulge your creativity. Just beware—as Wyna Liu, NYT’s Connections editor, has written, coming up with groupings that are tricky but not too tricky is harder than it looks.

This post was originally published in June when Connections was still in beta mode, and was updated with more tips, information, and links to alternatives on August 28, 2023 when the game joined the NYT’s official lineup.

Try ‘Connections’ If You’re Bored With Wordle (2024)

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