The NYT mini-games ranked

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“The New York Times” is best known for its quick turnaround of urgent news coupled with well-researched writing. However, students may be more familiar with the Times’ daily games they can play during their first period classes.

Although not encouraging students to play games while in class, I would like to share a ranked list of my top five (out of all eight) NYT games based on the following criteria: (1) difficulty, (2) entertainment and (3) originality. Each of these criteria will be assessed on a scale of one (worst) to five (best).


Slide to see the before and after of the game. (Photo/“The New York Times”)

In fifth place of all eight games available is Vertex. The goal of this game is to connect a seemingly jumbled mess of dots into an array of triangles which will form some type of  image. Vertex is a great relaxer for the brain as it’s minimally challenging and by the time you finish the game, you have a brand new creation to ogle at. 

As opposed to other similar games, Vertex only numbers its dots by the number of connections each one has, not by the order they are to be connected in. Therefore, the player is forced to think logically about which dots must be connected and which are not.

Difficulty: 1, Entertainment: 3, Originality: 3


With nearly 70 terms to fill in, the Crossword is one of the most challenging NYT games. (Photo/“The New York Times” from 7/20/23)

The most traditional of the group, Crossword is the old reliable, earning itself a fourth place ranking. 

To no one’s surprise, Crossword has been around for quite some time, however it never gets boring since it’s still challenging enough to make you want to race your friends on the mini version (an abbreviated version of the full crossword game) or work together with others to complete the full version. 

The Crossword hints cover a wide variety of topics from pop culture to classical music to NFL players, meaning people of all ages can enjoy playing. 

Difficulty: 4, Entertainment: 3, Originality 1


A personal preference, my go-to word is usually “crane.” (Photo/“The New York Times”)

The game that took the world by storm just last year, Wordle continues to be a fan-favorite today. With just six chances to guess, players must figure out what the five-letter “word of the day” is. I believe that it’s the game’s simplicity that really sparked its fame. 

With only a handful of guesses, players must make the most of their turns by strategizing. Some common strategies include testing several vowels at a time with words like “soare” or “adieu.” 

Difficulty: 2, Entertainment: 3, Originality: 3


Because Connections is such a new game, you can only find it by searching it up on a browser. It is not available on the NYT app. (Photo/”The New York Times”)

The newest game added to the collection, Connections, is in its beta version currently; however, it looks to be a lasting member of the NYT Games page.

As the name suggests, Connections is all about making connections between words. Players are given 16 words and must form four groups of four words that all relate to each other in some way. For instance, seal, manatee, otter and dolphin would all be grouped under the category “marine mammals.”

The main appeal of this game is that the categories are often simple enough for anyone to guess, but grouping the correct words together can be tricky. Therefore, ending the game on one big “A-HA” moment isn’t rare, making it satisfying to complete. 

Difficulty: 3, Entertainment: 4, Originality: 4

Spelling Bee:

Keeping with the “bee” theme, the seven letter tiles are in the shape of a honeycomb. (Photo/“The New York Times”)

If Spelling Bee isn’t already your favorite NYT game, listen up, because it’s about to be. In this mini-game, players are given seven letters to create as many words (consisting of at least four letters) as possible. However, the catch is that you must use the “center letter” that is chosen by the game. 

What makes Spelling Bee so addicting is the ranks you receive as you progress. Starting with “Beginner” status all the way to the glorified “Genius,” there are varying goals to reach for. Therefore, the game is challenging enough for overachievers but easy enough that anyone can participate. Also, there is always at least one pangram (a word using all seven letters) to every game which I like to call the “golden word” because of how satisfying it is to get. 

Along with Wordle, Spelling Bee also has a large following. Below the “More” tab, there is a Community forum in which hints are laid out for players and the comments are flooded with more helpful tips such as definitions and the letter count of specific words. 

Spelling Bee may seem like your typical run-of-the-mill pseudo-Scrabble game, but it is the perfect way to stretch your vocabulary and warm up your brain without totally breaking it.  

Difficulty: 3, Entertainment: 4, Originality: 3

What is your favorite New York Times game?

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This is Lauren’s second year on the staff. She enjoys playing Papa’s Sushiria, taking naps and writing whatever’s on her mind. She’s excited to make this year the best one yet and have an awesome entertainment section.