What Is The Password Game? Rules, Answers and How To Win

Shortcuts, tips and tricks for beating the soul sapping web password puzzler

There are robust passwords, and then there’s what you get before you’re even halfway through The Password Game. If you haven’t heard, it’s the internet sensation from coder Neal Agarwal and very possibly your undoing. To call it a game would be accurate, albeit one that wants to break you like an overzealous high school football coach. If challenges that end in tears, cussing at your pets, or both are what makes you tick, then here are some tips, tricks and answers to help you survive The Password Game and its craziest rules, which range from algebraic chess to keeping a chicken emoji alive. We’ll even tell you how to win The Password Game, if you think you’ve got what it takes – which is a whole lot of time, mostly, but also a more resilient spirit than most.

It looks innocent enough to start with. Just a box that asks you to a suggest a password, then reminds you of good password hygiene if you forget things like capital letters, numbers or special characters. Then you get to rule 5 and things start to get funky. It’s still pretty straightforward, sure, but when was the last time a website or password manager wanted you to brush up on your grade school math?

Having lulled you into a false sense of security, The Password Game is only just getting started and before you know it you’re being asked for today’s Wordle answer (rule 10), a symbol from the Periodic table (rule 12) and an emoji of the current moon phase (rule 13). All of which can be answered with a bit of help from Google, but when you’re asked to identify a country based on a random Street Maps image in rule 14? Read on for all The Password Game tips we learned spending way too much time trying to beat it.

Know Your Roman Numerals (Rule 9)

Roman numerals aren’t just reserved for boring class lessons and Rocky sequels. They are also an essential component of The Password Game, where you’ll be asked to add them to your ever-expanding password.

Rule 9 demands that players add roman numerals to the password that ‘multiply to 35.’

If you’re struggling, then the good news is that there aren’t many options of which numbers to use, and even better, we’ve listed them below for you:

  • I – 1
  • V – 5
  • VII – 7
  • XXXV – 35

There are only actually two ways to multiply to 35 for this rule – either XXXV (35) x I (1), or V (5) x VII (7).

By the way, make sure you use capital letters for your roman numerals, otherwise they won’t count.

Password Game Moon Phase Emoji List (Rule 13)

Before you reach the heady heights of rule 16, you’ll need to get past one of The Password Game’s earlier challenges, rule 13, which is perhaps better known as the moon phase emoji rule. Don’t yet know your waxing gibbous from your waning crescent? Fear not, neither did we before the Password Game took over our lives and we’re here to help.

To answer this Password Game rule correctly, it’s helpful to gave a list of all the moon phase emoji handy for cutting and pasting purposes. Here’s what you need:

  • New Moon: 🌑
  • Waxing Crescent Moon: 🌒
  • First Quarter Moon: 🌓
  • Waxing Gibbous Moon: 🌔
  • Full Moon: 🌕
  • Waning Gibbous Moon: 🌖
  • Last Quarter Moon: 🌗
  • Waning Crescent Moon: 🌘

Other than that, it’s simply a matter of identifying the current moon phase by Googling it or consulting a website such as Moon Giant, then adding it to your password.

Our bonus tip here is that you can paste them all into your password, saving you the precious few seconds it takes to Google today’s moon phase. Just slap in 🌑🌒🌓🌔🌕🌖🌗🌘 and our tests suggest you’ll be moving on to rule 14 in no time.

Password Game Rule 14 Tips

Rule 14 is the first point you’re likely to think beating The Password Game is impossible and just quit. But there are ways to get the right answer. Unfortunately, none of these are as easy as just asking Google, at least not initially. Each image in rule 14 that’s generated is unique to the session, rather than being a daily rotating image, similar to how Wordle works.

This means that everyone playing The Password Game is theoretically being shown a different, totally random place on earth to try to identify.

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Look for clues

Many of the images served up will feature clues, however small, that you can use to find out what country is featured.

The easiest way is if you get dropped near or next to a road, in which case a quick drive around the map may yield you a street name. In the example below, we managed to figure out that we were looking at a road called “Karmelicka” by moving around and zooming in. Google then obligingly told us this was in Krakow, Poland and our march to Password Game glory continued!

The Password Game rule 14 shown correctly answered

It’s not always that easy, but use the 360-degree view offered by Street Maps to the full and look for something that gives you an idea of where you might be. Signs written in a certain language, website addresses, telephone numbers… literally anything that can help educate your guesses or be plugged in to Google for professional help.

Save Your Password, Then Refresh

A bit like CAPTCHA tests don’t always scan correctly for everyone, your final way to beat The Password Game rule 14 is to refresh it in the hope of getting a more friendly image. Before you do this, make sure you copy your existing Password Game password somewhere safe, as it’ll save you a whole lot of time getting back to rule 14. You’ll need to quickly change some of the math based on a new CAPTCHA, but other than that, you’ll be right back where you started, hopefully not just staring at a random desert this time.

If the game has got you thinking about the strength of your real word passwords, check out our Essential Password Guide.

The Password Game Rule 16, aka the Chess Rule

The next point The Password Game is likely to defeat you is in rule 16, otherwise known as the chess notation rule. It shows you a random in-play chess game and asks you not only for the best next move, but to add the algebraic chess notation for that move to your password. Suddenly Wordle seems like a walk in the park.

Rather than think you have to go out and become a Grandmaster, the rule 16 workaround is actually pretty simple once you know about it. If it wasn’t already one of the most popular sites on the internet, Next Chess Move certainly is now and all you have to do is tweak the board to match what’s being shown in The Password Game, then let its fancypants algorithm work its magic. We’ve tried this a couple of times and can confirm it’s worked perfectly.

A chess board on the Next Chess Move website

Password Game Rules 17, 20 and 23: How To Keep Paul Alive

Rule 17 in the Password Game introduces you to Paul, a chicken who you must keep alive for the rest of the game in order to win. When we first meet Paul, he’s a simple egg emoji (🥚) that you must paste into your password. However, Paul soon hatches and requires your attention in order to survive.

First, in rule 20 your password catches fire. You have to put the fire out before it hurts Paul, which in this case involves deleting the fire emoji (🔥) from your password as quickly as possible. Paul is still in egg form at this stage, but if the fire reaches him, he’s fried and you’ll be informed by the game that “Paul is slain.” If you see this, unfortunately your bid for Password Game glory is over and you’ll have to start over.

This is why we suggest pasting the egg emoji, aka Paul, at the start of your password, as it hopefully gives you more time to react and put out the fire. If you can remember, saving your password somewhere is once again a great idea at this stage, as while there are parts of it that will be void when you start over, it will speed up getting back to where you were.

Put out the fire successfully and in rule 23 Paul will hatch. Now, he’ll need feeding in order to survive. In the Password Game, Paul’s diet is three caterpillar emoji (🐛) every minute. Forget to feed him and he’ll starve, but overfeed him and he’ll burst. In both cases, your game will be over, so this part of the Password Game is essential to beating it. The tough bit is remembering on top of trying to navigate the other remaining. We wish you luck!

How Many Rules are in the Password Game?

In total, there are 35 rules in the password game, each one fiendishly difficult and guaranteed to have to hammering away at the keyboard in a mixture of rage and frustration, turning to absolute joy when you crack a rule.

We’ve given you clues to some of the hardest puzzles here, but on your journey you’ll also need to know the chemical elements and their atomic numbers (or at least look them up on a periodic table), as well as do some firefighting – literally.

We won’t give away what happens at the end, but we do suggest that before you enter your final password, you make a note of it. Just trust us on this one.

So, Can You Actually Beat The Password Game?

Yes you can. Neal Agarwal tweeted confirmation of this fact, along with his surprise that people had persevered: “I can’t believe people are actually beating the password game, the human spirit is strong.”

Have we? That’s another matter entirely. We’ve stuttered out at rule 17 on multiple occasions, scrambled Paul on others, and gotten chewed out by our boss and told to get back to work on a near daily basis. In other words, no. However, we have done our research and can tell you what you need to do if you reach the ultimate stage of The Password Game.

How To Win The Password Game and Rule 35

You’ve added up your Periodic table elements to 200, changed font sizes, revisited your grade school knowledge of prime numbers and even kept that damn chicken alive. As your reward, you’ll eventually reach The Password Game’s final rule, number 35. At which point, if you’re not clever, the sadistic game will wipe your precious password off the face of the internet.

In rule 35, you’ll be asked if what you’ve now got is your final password. The obvious answer is: “YES! This is my final password, now take me to the promised land!” Except, instead of eternal glory, the game will delete your password and give you two minutes to retype it, exactly as it was before (emoji and all).

Copying and pasting is out, as the game as built-in a defense against this and you’ll lose if you try. Fail to put in the password and you’ll also fall at the final hurdle. The only thing you can do is, before clicking confirm, to write out manually the password and then put it back in as quickly and accurately as you can.

Then, and only then, will you achieve true Password Game immortality.

Think The Password Game was a headache and reluctantly gave up like us? At least you can use a password manager for your real-life passwords, removing all the pain of remembering complex series of letters and numbers. The top ones will even alert you if any of your online accounts suffer a breach, though sadly we don’t think they’ll help you with rule 35.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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