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A Guide to The New York Times Games

Iced latte and The New York Times crossword puzzle in a cafe in Seattle, Washington.
Iced latte and The New York Times crossword puzzle in a cafe in Seattle, Washington. By Courtesy of Jacklee / Wikimedia Commons
By Emerson L. Giese, Contributing Writer

The New York Times is renowned for its games — from the infamous crossword puzzle or the game popularized during the pandemic, Wordle, there are enough daily games for everyone to enjoy. Here is an overview of each game and its strengths and weaknesses.

Spelling Bee

Invented in 2014, the Spelling Bee is a game in which the player must create as many words as possible using seven letters. The word must be at least four letters long, and any letter can be used any number of times, as long as the center letter is included at least once. Once finished, a player can achieve Queen Bee status. The best of the best call themselves “The Hivemind,” who dedicate time to helping others through the game. There is an avid following and excellent community for this game, which adds to its appeal.


Wordle is one of the more famous games in The New York Times, and has generated a large following. Within this game, the player must guess the daily five-letter word in six attempts. The game challenges even the best players. It is often sent to family and friends in competition and hence creates community.

The Crossword

The oldest and most famous game of The New York Times, the crossword puzzle, introduced in 1942, remains an important facet of The New York Times Games. The crossword puzzle increases in difficulty from Monday to Saturday, with a large mid-level difficulty puzzle on Sunday. This game requires a great amount of dedication to solve and thus may preclude beginners, who feel intimidated by the crossword’s sheer difficulty.


Sudoku is another popular game within the New York Times realm. It was introduced to the Times in 2014, and is very accessible, having three different skill levels for readers to play. This puzzle is challenging yet relaxing. The game allows players to compete against themselves by trying to solve the puzzle faster than before. Sudoku can become a staple puzzle for anyone looking for a challenge.

The Mini

This bite-sized crossword was introduced in 2014 and has been a favorite for the less intense crossword-doers. The mini crossword can be challenging in its own sense, but its smaller size and relatively easier clues make it far more doable by the average person. This game maintains many of the favorable qualities of the larger crossword, but does not include some of the clever wordplay and interesting hints that make the crossword so fun and rewarding.


Connections is a daily generated game in which players are instructed to make groups of four out of 16 words. Each word in a group has some sort of connection to the others, making it a challenging mind game. The groups range in difficulty, and often the answer is not fully discovered, rarely ever in the first attempt. The game encourages the player to create connections between seemingly unrelated words and ideas, which is a universally beneficial task.

Letter Boxed
Letter Boxed is a newer game that tasks the player with creating words out of nine letters, in which you have to incorporate each letter into at least one word in six tries. As it is a box that uses lines to connect the letters and form words, the player is not able to use the same letter twice in a row, nor are they able to use letters on the same side of the box. The game appears simple but can get quite challenging very quickly. It can induce an intrinsically competitive nature in the player as they try to complete the task in as few words as possible.


Tiles is a smaller, less time-consuming game in which the player must find similarities between tiles filled with designs and make pairs of the similarities between the designs. The game gets particularly tricky when the similarities aren’t as glaringly obvious. Some levels have complex shapes, while others are composed of simple shapes like flowers that are easy to differentiate. The only drawbacks of this game are that it can be too easy to complete, therefore lacking complexity.


Vertex is a relatively new game in which completion is almost guaranteed. The game is played by connecting dots in order to form a picture. The goal is to form triangles between dots and get them to fill with color, which means they are correct. The format of the game is satisfying in that the pictures generated are very colorful and the filling of the triangle by color is gratifying aesthetically.

The New York Times games can all be fun brain-teasers or ways to relax. They are all an enjoyable experience, and highly recommended. Try each one and see what your favorite is!

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