I'm obsessed with The New York Times' Tiles game (2024)

I'm not typically a big mobile game person. Part of that is because I have a military-grade iPhone case, designed to protect my screen from a cat bent on proving the universe's trend toward disorder, but which doesn't register rapid responses for time-sensitive games. I'm also easily distracted, swiping out of apps every few minutes to check push notifications and emails. Plus I generally seek to satisfy my competitive streak in more unhealthy ways, like caring far more than any self-respecting person should about the outcome of Seattle Mariners games.

All that being said, in the past few days I've become hopelessly addicted to Tiles.

I'm obsessed with The New York Times' Tiles game (1)

(Screenshot of Tiles | The New York Times)

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Unless you happen to frequent The New York Times' crossword puzzle page, you might have missed the rollout of Tiles earlier this week. Still, the launch is noteworthy in part because it is the Times' first original game that doesn't involve words. (Although Tiles doesn't have a stand-alone app, it can easily be played in a browser window on a computer or phone, and it's free even if you aren't a subscriber.)

On the surface, Tiles is a simple matching game in which you try to get the shortest "combo" possible while still achieving a "perfect game," which requires never breaking a matching streak. The Times' television critic and Tiles proselytizer Margaret Lyons reports that the lowest achievable combo is theoretically 15, although that would require every tile to be an exact match — unlikely, since the pattern shuffles are randomized.

At risk of saying too much, though, let me add that Tiles is best enjoyed by embracing its learning curve. In my excitement to play after seeing rave reviews on Twitter, I completely (and accidentally) blew past the tab that explained the rules. After some unstrategic clicking around the five-by-six board, I noticed I'd start to rack up a "current combo," while other times I'd be informed I'd done something wrong by a stern, sans-serif "no match" and my combo being reset to zero. After further exploration, I began to see the patterns, piecing together — albeit rather clumsily — what the game wanted me to do with the mess it had provided.

For The New York Times, this is the entire point. In its press release, the Times specifically noted that "one additional strategy around launching Tiles is to reach users who may not be native English-language speakers." But the game's accessibility doesn't mean it's boring; you get a flush of satisfaction (and dopamine) each time you start to piece the puzzle together. After several dozen rounds, I've gotten so fast now that when I crash headlong into an optical illusion or hidden pattern, messing up my score, I involuntarily throw my hands up in what must only be, to my colleagues, a humorous display of full-body frustration.

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I'm obsessed with The New York Times' Tiles game (3)

(Screenshot of Tiles | The New York Times)

There is no reason to rush Tiles, though. The single best aspect of the game is that there is no clock, and nothing external ever pressures you into making hasty, incorrect pairings. While many other matching games induce a sense of panic, or encourage competitiveness through global rankings, I find the unhurried pace of Tiles to be its greatest asset. It fits neatly into the trend of "slow games" — like the succulent-growing Viridi or my beloved cat-rearing Neko Atsume — that can be enjoyed in fits and starts throughout a busy workday. Tiles even offers a "zen mode" to crossword subscribers, in which you can play one infinite, hypnotizing round. Tellingly, Adweek writes that Tiles was the result of the Times' Games Expansions Team noticing "that users were writing in late at night asking the company for a game that would help them zone out."

The more you become obsessed with Tiles, though, the more intense its chess-like qualities become. You start to find yourself plotting several moves ahead in order to get a lower score. The game, in that way, is especially conducive to sparking creativity, the same way a shower might, supplying a winning combination of relaxation, distraction, and dopamine. I've found that when I pause during my day to play Tiles — perhaps after getting stuck on work, or while waiting for a reply to a Slack message — a few rounds get the juices flowing again. I've taken to keeping a game perpetually open in a tab to revisit during my downtime, rather than using stray moments to scroll through Twitter or make another vending machine run.

Tiles keeps you hooked by being just hard enough to never feel truly easy. Certain patterns can "hide" beneath other elements, and optical illusions in modes like "Austin" and "New Haven" (a different tileset is available each day for free, or you can toggle between them if have a subscription) can trip you up if you get going too fast. Only Hong Kong (the blue and white pattern above) is without the distraction of different colors, although its dizzying lines make it a beast when you get on too quick of a roll. I expect that, as users flock to the game, Tiles will add additional patterns for enthusiasts to get stumped by.

Really, though, there is no need to over-complicate things. Tiles proves that you don't need a leaderboard, countdown clock, or levels to make a great puzzle game. Sometimes all it takes is a premise so basic that you can forgo a rule book — at least so long as you have patience, time to kill, and a desire, even in this smallest of ways, to find some harmony in chaos.

I'm obsessed with The New York Times' Tiles game (2024)


What is the point of the New York Times tiles game? ›

Although the standard goal of the game is to clear all the tiles in any way you can, some players look to achieve the smallest unbroken combo (by matching multiple layers) or the largest unbroken combo (by matching single layers) in order to give themselves a bigger challenge.

What is the goal in nyt tiles? ›

Tiles is a color and pattern matching game where, using patterned squares, players are challenged to create the longest possible sequence of tile pairings with matching components.

What's the highest combo on tiles nyt? ›

Each tile looks similar with a couple of layers of defining patterns on each one which help you match them. By continuously matching tiles and working through every layer you can reach the coveted maximum combo of 45.

What is the highest score you can get on tiles? ›

For most tile sets, this is 90, or 3 times 30. Since you're matching two tiles with each move, the highest possible combo on a three-layer set would be 45. Palettes that have more layers, like Brighton and Utrecht, have a higher possible maximum.

What is the number game using tiles? ›

Rummikub (/ˈrʌmikjuːb/, "rummy cube") is a tile-based game for 2 to 4 players, combining elements of the card game rummy and mahjong. There are 106 tiles in the game, including 104 numbered tiles (valued 1 to 13 in four different colors, two copies of each) and two jokers.

What is the most famous New York Times crossword puzzle? ›

Perhaps the most famous is the November 5, 1996, puzzle by Jeremiah Farrell, published on the day of the U.S. presidential election, which has been featured in the movie Wordplay and the book The Crossword Obsession by Coral Amende, as well as discussed by Peter Jennings on ABC News, featured on CNN, and elsewhere.

Why are digits going away in nyt? ›

If you get the exact number, you get three stars, but you can get one or two stars depending on how close to the number you are. It was a fun concept, but it seems the game didn't get the traction it needed to turn into a full-fledged NYT Games offering.

What is the meaning of tiling puzzle? ›

Tiling puzzles are puzzles involving two-dimensional packing problems in which a number of flat shapes have to be assembled into a larger given shape without overlaps (and often without gaps). Some tiling puzzles ask players to dissect a given shape first and then rearrange the pieces into another shape.

How many levels are in tile match? ›

Tile Club features include: - Over 10 000 tile matching levels with increasing difficulty, providing endless hours of gameplay. - Join clubs, chat and help each other to solve challenging puzzles and match tiles.

In what game can you get 50 extra points for using all of your tiles? ›

If you form multiple words on one play using the same Premium Square, you get the bonus for each word formed. Playing all seven of your tiles on a turn is known as a “bingo” or a “bonus.” You receive 50 bonus points in addition to the regular score of your word!

What is the highest possible tile in 2048? ›

Beyond this primary goal, however, players may continue play so as to achieve higher scores and tiles with higher powers as well. The highest possible tile would be 131,072 (217), although this would be improbable to achieve.

What is the point of Nytimes tiles? ›

For those unfamiliar, Tiles is a matching game where players are tasked with selecting tiles that contain one or more matching layers with each other to eliminate them until they clear the whole board. The tilesets are gorgeous and it is so satisfying to match the elements together and watch them disappear.

What is the hardest tile in the world? ›

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are some of the hardest and most durable tiles available. These tiles are made from a mixture of clay and other natural materials, which are fired at high temperatures to create a hard, dense, and non-porous surface.

How do you get streak free tiles? ›

For a spotless streak free finish, here's what to do.
  1. First, opt for a microfibre mop. Avoid sponge and string mops for tiled floors. ...
  2. Second, choose the right cleaning product (or stick with water) It is super important to choose the right cleaning product here. ...
  3. Third, don't leave to air dry. ...
  4. Ready to mop?
Sep 14, 2020

What is the game tiles hop about? ›

As you guide the ball across the music tiles, you'll be treated to an array of popular piano songs and high-energy EDM tracks. Each level is meticulously crafted to match the beat, ensuring a seamless blend of ball games and song games that will keep you coming back for more.

What are the rules for the New York Times puzzle? ›

Basic Rules
  • Crosswords must have black square symmetry, which typically comes in the form of 180-degree rotational symmetry;
  • Crosswords must have all-over interlock;
  • Crosswords must not have unchecked squares (i.e., all letters must be found in both Across and Down answers);
  • All answers must be at least 3 letters long;
Jun 18, 2024

What does tiles mean in games? ›

A tile-based video game, or grid-based video game, is a type of video game where the playing area consists of small square (or, much less often, rectangular, parallelogram, or hexagonal) graphic images referred to as tiles laid out in a grid.

What is the gambling game played with tiles? ›

About Mahjong

Mah-Jongg (Chinese 麻將/麻将 Májiàng [game of the] sparrow) is a traditional Chinese game using illustrated tiles, with game play similarities to rummy. It is a popular gambling game, but wagering real stakes is by no means necessary to have fun playing.

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