Strands NYT – Game Rules And How To Play

Blending together different elements from some of the most popular word games, Strands is the latest addition to the NYT Games Section for you to try out! Providing fans of word games with a fresh new challenge, the goal of the game is to uncover words related to a given theme before the end of the day.

How to play Strands NYT

To play Strands, players will need to find a number of words hidden within a 6×8 grid containing 48 letters. Each solution word will be related to a theme that is provided to the player at the start of the game, while the total number of words found will also be listed. 

As Strands is a daily game like Wordle, a new grid of letters, a new theme and solution words will be released every 24 hours. Players must find all of the hidden answers within the grid to win the game. The letters themselves will stay in the same position throughout the duration of the puzzle.

Game interface showing the letter grid, the day’s theme and the number of theme words found.

To solve words, letters can be joined together horizontally, vertically or diagonally by one space to its immediate side. Players can combine as many unselected letters together as needed but only dictionary words of more than 3 letters will be accepted as answers. 

Selecting letters can be done by clicking on each letter in sequence or alternatively by clicking and dragging over the intended letters. Players may opt to enter themed or non-themed words at any point during the game.

Connecting a non-themed word together on the grid.

Once an accepted non-theme word has been found, its letters will revert to normal (unhighlighted) and the hint bar will increase by a third. Each time 3 non-theme words are found, the player will earn a hint. Players can enter as many non-theme words as needed but they must use the hint button before they can begin earning additional hints. 

Note: Players will not receive an added bonus for creating non-theme words of 5 letters or more.

How the hint bar increases as non-theme words are found.

After earning the possibility to gain a hint, the player can click on the hint button to reveal the letters of a themed word which will be circled. However, the player will still have to solve an anagram from the circled letters to find the themed words. All of the letters circled will be present in the anagram, so it is just a case of getting them in the correct letter order.

The letters of the hint are revealed to the player to be solved.

Once solved, the dotted circles around each letter of the hint will be filled with the color blue to reveal the themed word. Themed words will eventually cover every letter on the grid without any words overlapping each other at the end of the game.

The most important and often the hardest term in the game is called the spangram, which describes the puzzle’s theme in more detail. In addition, it will touch two opposite sides of the board (top and bottom or left and right) and may even be made up of two separate words. An example of a spangram could be the word METAL, when surrounded by theme words such as ROBOT, ARMOR and SCREWS.

Note: As the spangram is the difficult term to find, it will always be the last hint revealed to the player.

A solved Strands level has no overlapping words.

When the level has been completed, every letter will be colored blue or yellow and a results screen will appear to show how you performed. On the results page, a lightbulb is displayed for each hint used, blue circles indicate when themed words were found and a yellow circle is used to indicate when the spangram was found. The order of the guesses goes from left to right on the top row and continues in the same fashion in the next row(s).

The results screen allows players to see an overview of their performance.

To beat Strands, it doesn’t matter how many non-themed words are guessed or how many hints are used. Despite this, experienced players may look to complete the game using no hints (which will display a “Perfect!” message) or in as few hints as possible to give themselves a greater challenge.

What’s more, a button for results sharing is provided at the end of that game so that each player can show and compare their game overview to other players. This can add a more competitive element for those who want more than to solely defeat the day’s puzzle.

NYT Strands tips, tricks and strategy

Whether you are entirely new to Strands or have played through various levels, it can be of great benefit to look at the game’s best practices. To help you out, WordsRated has put together some key strategies for you to think about and implement. 

Look between solved letters

After identifying 2 or more themed words on the grid, you may sometimes find a stream of unidentified letters that pass in-between that can only be connected in one way. If you encounter this situation on the grid, you may be able to identify another themed word. 

The trick will be to work out which of the given letters will start or end the solution. This can usually be quite straightforward as word endings are often identifiable, helping you figure out the rest of the word.

Earn and use hints

Players of Strands should always remember that they will earn a third of a hint for each non-themed word of 4 letters or more they can find. This means that finding three will allow the player to click on the hint button and reveal the letters to one of the themed words.

Once the hint bar is filled, any additional non-themed words you find will not contribute further to the bar. Due to this, it is good practice to reveal hints as soon as it is available to do so. 

Remember the theme

Although it can always be tempting to dive straight in and find words, try to consider the theme of the day. Contemplate the theme given and see if you can think of some words to look out for on the grid.

The main benefits of finding themed terms early on in the game is that you will be one step closer to completing the game and you will also reduce the number of playable letters. Each time this happens, it should be easier to find the remaining answers.

Moreover, themed terms are likely to be longer in length than non-themed terms as they will eventually fill all 48 squares on the grid. As a result of this, finding words of a longer length is likely to increase your chances of finding a solution. 

Take your time

As Strands is a daily game, it is important to recognize that players have a large amount of time to identify the themed words. Knowing this, many players like to use their downtime before or after work to have a go at solving a new level. 

For those who like to play at various points throughout the day, Strands will remember your current game progress upon each login. This means you can come back to the game as much as you like, which will give your mind some time to contemplate possible solutions in the background as you switch to other tasks.

Games like Strands NYT

If you are a regular player of Strands and are looking for a new gaming challenge, there are a number of other free games you can try out. Below, WordsRated has included some other popular options that share varying similarities with its gameplay style.

  • Wordle – In this popular game, players must guess the mystery 5-letter word using a maximum of 6 attempts. Each time a word is guessed, its letters will change color to gray (incorrect), yellow (correct – unplaced) and green (correct – place) to provide more information to the player.
  • The Mini – Offers players the opportunity to play daily bite-sized crossword puzzles against the clock. Players must use various hints and the placement of letters they have already placed on the grid to find each of the missing words.
  • Connections – Players are shown a 4×4 grid of 16 terms that need to be separated into groups of an equal size, based upon their hidden association. Strong deduction skills are needed to find the solution to each level within a limited number of turns.
  • Wordiply – Find the longest words possible that include the provided letter combination in the exact sequence it is shown. Players have a total of five turns to use up and are ranked according to their length score (as a percentage of the longest possible word) and their letter score (the total number of letters used).

When will Strands be on the NYT app?

As of April 2024, Strands is only available as a beta game through the New York Times website, rather than through their official games app. Although further information is not yet available, players should expect the mobile version to become available once the game passes its beta phase and becomes fully recognized as part of the NYT games collection.