The following is a community-generated index of strategies used when playing Antwar.io.
Communication and Team Limits
There is one important principle in antwar.io that stands far above the rest--some teammates can not be helpful at all and may be a waste of food, space, and combat strength. Your best two options are to play with a team of known players with external communication, then locking the team; or to play on your own team and locking the team. Note how many teams and players are present. This factor may change without notice during a round, however, it is crucial to have a rough estimate.
Make sure to focus primarily on communication (within a nest can work, but it is best if you play with other people externally and talk about the game before actually entering to figure out "what actions mean what" so no chat or verbal communication is needed). For example, a the leader plays as the queen and places dirt near the entrance, so that another player should to take it to the surface to be discarded.
Hatch eggs as fast as the Queen's stomach will possibly allow. Dig out for moist dirt patches and find food, preferably any of the three food sources that are not honeydew, to support the brood and queen. Keep in mind of where you place aphids. Make sure no players take them underground where they cannot generate food, and make sure they leave them in the closest foliage feature to harvest a seasonal food supply from them. Remember that these will become valuable later in the game, when prey is scarcer and food is desperate.
Compartmentalization of Roles
Divide roles amongst yourselves. There are many tasks to handle and little time to get them done. There are five pillars of work that can be done.
- Foraging is done by those that find loose food, harvest food from aphids, and kill prey or predators for sustenance to bring back to the nest for feeding. Those that forage underground should work with tunnelers so that pre-existing plant material and grubs can be found most easily. Those that forage for loose food should bring workers, while those that hunt should bring workers and soldiers.
- Nest work is done by nanitic ants. These protect the nest with their lives while feeding the queen and brood and moving items to different locations in the colony. At some point in time, a colony will most likely have to move deeper inside a tunnel system to improve defenses. Without Nestkeepers, this is near impossible.
- Excavation is to be done by workers and nanitics, who can move quickly and are not necessarily needed in combat. They create dead-end tunnels, expand the nest size, and build protective borders underground.
- Combat is done by soldiers and supermajors to ward off trespassing enemies or to engage in raids, create defense systems underground and outside of the nests, and lead AI into battles on the surface.
- Exploration is done by fast-moving workers and nanitics to look for unattended aphids, giant spider carcasses, find enemy nests, and search for other landmarks. Exploration preferably should be in a radius close to the colony, but slowly moving away to optimize and get a lay of the land.
Group raiding is difficult, especially since it is suggested that at least two other players remain within the team's nest for protection and that two players should always raid together and with AI followers. There are multiple ways to raid and multiple purposes for raiding enemy nests. If you find an empty nest with nothing remaining, and if the nest is located near another nest being used by an enemy, make sure to close it up as fast as possible as not to be used by an enemy team. If you raid a functional nest, there are a few ways you could do so in a group. Utilize a nearby abandoned nest to dig out into the enemy's. Find yourself in trouble with the other enemy ants? Use this as an escape area as not to run by the enemy's entrance where most will be contained.
If your nest is near theirs, you can go underground and dig a winding path to their nest. Only you would be prepared for the difficult run back, so they make take longer to get back to you and raid on your own. In early-game, entering directly into their nest with many ally ants to take them down is good. However, your side may be too weak to take them on just yet. Also remember that ants will sometimes be positioned near or on the entrance, making this strategy harder. Other key points and actions should be taken beforehand. Wait until you are hungry. Quickly consume a piece of food and gather your provisions. Track enemy pheromones. Make sure that some hunting parties are away for food while you raid them.
Be prepared to fight and gather resources. Many enemies may be about, and while at it, the remaining ally ants should take away developing ants and food to raise as the nest's own. Gather the possible aphids near their entrance and bring back to your own nearby bush.
When an enemy party brings over hordes of their AI goons for the goal of killing your queen, there are several ways a group can defend themselves.
Hide the queen(s)! The queen is the most important ant in the entire group. Make sure to leave her in a chamber with moist soil, other ally ants, a few pellets of food, and to have her protected with several layers of dirt around her.
Sacrifice the queen(s)! If the enemy greatly outnumbers or kills off all remaining allies, the best action to take is a swift yet painful death. Switch to the queen ant player and direct her into the enemy's mandibles where she is to face a, quite literally, crushing defeat.
Run with the queen(s)! if you really want to live we advise you to run for your life
Make corridors narrow and winding. It will take more time for a raid to navigate through and give the allies several seconds to make a hasty escape. Put narrow "dead end" trails along the corridors. To use the full power and skill of subterranean architecture, add these to confuse enemies and make them take even more time to find your nest.
Send strong battalions both directly outside nests and surrounding the entrances underground. This will provide a large buffer against enemies and may help catch stray mobs that wander into the nearby area.
Optimal Defense Strategy
Have your nursery equal to or less than 8 blocks (experiment with this number) away from your entrance. This slows down attacks from alates that can burrow straight into your nursery and kill your queens, especially if they are undefended. Preferably, you should choose an area where there are no existing caverns where the alates can flank your queen. With this style of defense, you are able to leave ants inside your nest at the entrance which will allow any incoming ants to be attacked from all sides at the same time creating the best case scenario for base defense.
Landing the Queen
Assuming you spawn as the queen (and the team leader) in a multiplayer game, pick a location that fits the following criteria:
- Dry patches: See those brown/white specks on the ground in this image? They aren’t just there to look pretty. The light dots represent dry soil where your nest will be able to store food without spoiling.
- Moist patches: The dark dots represent moist soil, where your eggs can survive and grow. Find an area that has decent patches of both nearby.
- Food sources: It is great to dig a nest with some food nearby, but that’s not absolutely necessary. As long as at least one aphid and/or giant spider carcass is around, enough food material can be found to start the colony's population growth quickly. This, again, should be secondary to finding an ideal location with wet and dry patches.
- Shelter: Does the area have a bush/grass in it? Take cover underneath to provide lasting protection and a possible external Aphid Farm. The most popular are found near the edges of rocks and in foliage. The best areas come in places with two or more leaf coverings, giving you more aphid farm area and better camouflage.
- Evasion from enemies: The new colony should not be close to an enemy's nest. Do a quick circle to look for nests and other queens on the move.
- Avoiding the corners: Digging a nest close to the map borders makes your nest very easy to locate and find again once players start hunting. This is because an extremely common strategy when exploring is tracing the boundary edges. This also makes your hunting and food hauling more time-consuming as less prey will end up within a decent range of you.
This entire process of landing the queen should be done as quickly as possible. Generally speaking, you’ll be in a much better situation if you can get ants hatching as soon as possible. Additionally, taking over 30 seconds to land the queen will automatically kill them--this feature was implemented to avoid team leaders from taking too long to start a colony.
Queen ants are unable to leave the nest. They cannot fight as strong as other ants and must be fed often. A queen cannot:
- Discard dirt outside the nest.
- Be left hungry for over 2 minutes once the "queen is hungry."
- Be placed in a vulnerable position where easily accessed by enemies. I:e, near the entrance or far from wet patches.
However, a player using the queen is able to:
- Gain high attention by AI ants. They will follow the player queen around to feed her, care for her brood, bring the brood nearby, or simply stick by her side without being summoned via "follow."
- Use her reproductive ability to take care of her brood.
- Possess the power to move quickly about the nest. When as the queen and placing brood members on near plots of moist dirt, other AI ants will move the brood to the same location.
Raiding Techniques and Strategies
After you've made your nest and collected at least 3 - 5 pieces of food, send scouts to look for as many enemy nests as possible. Most raiding strategies depend on mapping out the terrain, looking for key locations and nests. Most other players will be just gathering food, and this gives you time to steal larvae due to the lack of enemy ants in the nest. But it also may be tempting to kill the queen, but don't. You want to keep as many queens as you can alive early game, aiming to steal their larvae, and thus getting more larvae in shorter amounts of time. One of the main strategies is to target one or two nests, preferably the closest ones, and NEVER let closest nests free from larvae raids. This lets them gear up for what I call a revolution, in which they become too powerful that they start killing off AI food gatherers and aphid scouters, until they eventually overthrow the ruling party (kill your queen).
This strategy can be referred to as SLAVE-RAIDING, a real world phenomenon employed by red Amazon ants. Attempting to connect the two nests by a trail is not needed but can help with containment. Make the area as inhospitable and small as possible, and any workers that spawn should be killed. This is an extreme version of regular raiding, and creates an empire of sorts. These nests should be checked at least twice ever day and night cycle, with a nanitic and soldier there at times. Remember to offer the colonized queen food. If the queen does mint cooperate, threaten with death. However, violence should be a last resort.
Continuing this strategy; blood ants (ants born from the original colony) can now be optimized for foraging and scouting, while ants from colonies that have been colonized can be used for nest work.
Note that the less ants nests have, the more larvae they start pumping out. While it may seem like the downfall of you by letting other players catch up, you can actually use this to your advantage. While targeting nests, always keep skirmishes and get as much larvae as possible without killing the queen. Only leave little food, barely enough to feed the larvae and queen, so you can steal the larvae once they're about to be hatched. This is basically like ant slavery, forcing the nests to work against themselves. However, DO NOT let people find your nest. If people see any of your ants or you venturing back in a certain direction which happens to be the direction of your nest, they may send their own scouts to raid and skirmish against you, starting what I call a civil war, in which there are two ruling parties (nests) which are both fighting each other. Starting any civil war will exhaust the ammunition (ants, mostly workers) and lead to no progress whatsoever. This leads to complete failure in keeping up with other parties.
Here is a list of warfare:
- Raid: Where one party attacks another for recourses and brood. This is not caused by defensive action, only offensive. One-sided.
- Skirmish: Where two scouting groups meet above ground at food sights/nest entrances, or digging underground in trails. Not an all out war.
- Diplomatic\Civil War: Where one party becomes concerned about another’s, decides to attack. Very rarely do these last only one battle, they can last multiple as both parties become dedicated to their war.
- Quick Raid: Where one party brings a small group (3-5 ants) to A(steal aphids, or B(Steal food near the entrance.
- Political War: Where two parties are manipulated into a war by a third party.
However, this can easily be used to your advantage. Once you've stolen at least one larvae (preferably two) from an enemy nest, wait for it to grow, as it will become the same color as the enemy team, but still be on your side. Now switch to that ant, intentionally cause a civil war between the enemy nest, and another opposing or targeted nest. This can be started by stealing larvae from a random nest while making sure the other nest follows you, and intentionally put it in the main enemy nest. Make sure your own ant dies, the reason for this is that the random nest that you stole larvae from and placed in the enemy nest doesn't follow you again, back to your own base. This will cause the random nest to keep trying to fight and skirmish the other enemy nest, exhausting the supply of it, letting your nest steal all the larvae. Once you've sucked a good amount of larvae out of nests, that's when you start killing queens.
Early Game (3 to 10 AI)
After picking your nest location:
Ensure you have at least two moist (dark brown) and dry (light tan, cracked) tiles available to your ants and queen.
Look for easy food: look to see if there’s any pre-generated caverns available, there will often be dry soil spots with small amounts of food on them; dig to these if possible.
There also might have been some food on the surface already available – get your ants to follow you and dismiss them when they’re close to the food, and they’ll automatically take it back and place it on dry soil in your nest. Hint: If you have 6-8 food in your nest already, disregard this step and begin the next. If you have at least some food, take two of your ants with you, leaving one to feed the larva and queen. If you have none, take all of your ants by clicking +5 follow. Look for prey, bring your ants close and dismiss them – they’ll automatically begin attacking the prey, and will gather one food each once the creature is killed.
At this point, take food back with them, as every bit will count. Do more trips to the corpse if you need to harvest the rest of the food. While hunting, take mental notes of any enemy ants or hives you see.
Do NOT lose any ants to combat or spiders during this stage – this could lose you the game as you’ll fall behind enemy nests in progress.
Dig: This is where your nest placement choices will shine. Dig out a semi-secluded area of moist soil (ideally 6+ tiles) where you can place your queen, and the workers can feed eggs. Such a large area makes it so the queen can lay eggs immediately on wet soil and not have your 3-10 workers waste time on placing them in the right place.
An ideal nest area also has a dry soil area nearby for easily accessible food storage. Extra space around this area will benefit your colony. Install a choke point (1 tile space) between the entrance and this nursery area; if you’re attacked, this will mitigate damage by limiting the amount of ants that can fit through at once, and allowing your recently hatched ants to gang up on the ants that make it through. Keep digging until you begin to get low on food – hopefully by this point you’ve got 5 AI ants or more, and you’re ready for the next stage of the colony.
Mid Game (11 to 20 AI)
Middle game starts after you’ve got enough AI ants to kill a spider (5) and a few to leave behind to feed/defend the queen and larva - it ends when you’ve got enough ants to attack an enemy hive without suffering severe losses to your population. During this phase, you must balance hunting and nest management. Ensure you have enough food to sustain your queen and larva for a several in-game days and nights. Take a hunting party of 5, 10, or 15. Now, getting a fully-fledged army instead of a ragtag group of workers is key. Focus on developing soldiers and workers, with only a few nanitics dotted once and awhile.
At this point, your ideal prey is a spider. To kill one, corral your hunting party, engage the spider by getting close to it, and dismiss your ants. 5 ants is enough to take down a spider with only one or two casualties, assuming all of your ants fully fight. If you’re without a hunting party you can also engage the spider, lead it back to your nest, summon your ants and dismiss them at the spider (who will still be nearby) for easy food collection.
Both spiders and centipedes drop super-food, which is the key component to creating soldiers and later, majors. These two prey animals are the only source of blue food.
If you have at least 5 ants to spare, you can potentially also rob any weaker nests. When attempting this, try to immediately lead your horde to their food/larva supply if it isn’t well defended and dismiss them – they’ll steal food/larva and run instead of pointless fighting. Doing this is a gamble, don’t risk any ant population you can’t afford to lose. It might be worth solo scouting out the enemy colony quickly before sending your own troops down.
As ant population sharply rises across the map during middle game, you’ll notice that there’s much less food/prey available, but your means of hunting are far better than they were. Don’t be afraid to skirmish over large food piles, especially if they contain blue food. One or two ants lost is no big deal when you can raise 3 new soldier ants to replace it. If there’s an enemy colony nearby that’s beginning to harass you, food deprivation can be a solid strategy – look for their tracks and kill their slow, helpless AI ants returning with food, and steal their hard work before they can make it back.
Keep mental notes of your nest’s levels of ants, eggs/larva and food. Never allow the food to become dangerously low. Assuming you’re doing well, your population will begin to rise quickly. In late middle game, it’s crucial to keep many ants around to defend from raiders.
Late Game (Over 20 AI)
This will ultimately be a lot like midgame, except the pace will increase and combat between colonies will turn from skirmishes and robberies into battles with many casualties.
Hopefully, you’ve fortified your nest, egg zone and queen. You might notice some moist/dry tiles are disappearing – this is called tile degradation. If you picked out a good area at the start, you’ll be able to quickly tunnel your way over to fresh soil tiles.
At this stage, keep your unit out of combat as there will be nobody to prevent the AI from making dumb decisions if you fall.
Play your strategy smart – if there’s several large/competent hives, it’s not worth it taking a heavy loss and leaving your defense forces vulnerable to enemy attack, especially if your attack fails and you gain few resources from it.
Late-game can last a long time, so don't stop periodically hunting/fortifying unless you're in imminent danger or see an obvious opportunity for ill-gotten gains or victory.
- If you spot other enemy ants chasing you, try not to head to your nest and instead lure them far away, you might be lucky if hostile animals or other ants starting to attack your pursuer.
- You can also bring aphids near your nest hidden to make sure to get a reliable source of food without having to hunt too much. Sometimes, these aphids could even have super foods nearby them.
- To make the dry tile to store the food, you can bring leaves in to the anthill and put it on the normal dirt tiles, they will convert to the dry tiles, enabling to give you more place to storage your food.
- Dig some tunnels (Preferably 4) so that when enemies raid your nest, they will wonder which tunnel leads to the queen, enabling you to buy some time to change into defensive position, and even let your friends bring some ants from the hunts to help you.
- Try to make your anthill near a food source like aphids and the random green pellets on the ground, this will give a bonus to your colony to breed ants earlier than your enemies.
- If you are playing with 4 people, you can send 2 hunters to collect food, 1 nurse to keep your nest safe (Preferably the Team Leader) and 1 scout to spot food sources and enemy nests.
- If your nest is near to the enemies, you could ambush from underground as most players defend the front, but this tactic could fall if your enemy have soldier ants and major ants as fighting underground makes movement doesn't matter.
- Try not to attack you enemies that are hunting because it will decrease the number of your ants and spend time just to kill them when your suppose to hunt.
- Worker and nanitic ants are best to take care the queen in the nest because of their speed so that they could carry foods and eggs here and there faster.
- Make sure your food storage is near your queen and larvae because it will let you feed them faster and lets you defend only in one place.
- Don't underestimate enemies as they could catch you off guard and kill the queen without you knowing.
- Don't raid enemies if your aren't confident about winning or you have only a couple of ants.
- Try to find food underground, even though there is only little food, but it is a safe way to collect food for early game.
- Try to make a one tile-path only, especially with sharp turns, this will slow down your enemies a lot when they are raiding.
- When battling, always put your major and soldier ants in front, you can use your nanitic or worker ants to flank your enemies, as your enemies is already preoccupied with the major and soldier ants. When defending, make sure your enemy attacks from a one tile-path, and use wider position for your ants, this will let you attack with many ants one by one at the enemy.
- Luring your enemies to hostile insects is a very good strategy, this will occupy your enemy and sometimes their ants could succumb to them.
- Make sure you let AI ally ants to take care of your enemies, they will save you time when you are doing something else in your nest.
- Expanding your base is a good idea, but it will be harder to defend, please note that.
- Make sure to cover any unnecessary tiles with dirt, this will make your base look more clean.
- Try to make sure that your larvae storage is walled of with dirt, so that enemies won't be able to raid your larvae.
- Sometimes, tunnels can be a food storage instead of path, so if your storage are is full, try to find the dry tiles along your path, this will let you save some space in food storage for your own ideas.
- If you have a second queen, try to make sure it is beside your original nest as this will let you defend only in one place.
- If you are foraging food underground, note to close them if you won't use them anymore anytime.
- Some players neglecting cover their paths when not used, but this will buy you a lot of time if there is an ambush.
- The game is to survive the longest, not to destroy the most hives.
- Always let the AI ally ants to collect foods from hunts, they are more efficient in doing it than player because of their tendency to choose the shortest path possible.
- If an enemy scouting party meets you, run away from your nest or preferably to another nest to act a Political War (see above). The rule of thumb: “don’t let Enemies find your anthill.”
Real World Strategies
Here, we’ll be taking a look in depth at strategies applied in the real world by actual ants, some of such are useful tactics in this game. I have already covered slave-raiding above, so I won’t consider it here.
Swarming (Army Ants); While players can’t enact a real army ant swarm, we can replicate it. By cutting down on soldiers and replacing them with soldiers and nanitics, we can create a colony with massive numbers. By getting all the ai ants to follow you, you can literally suffocate an enemy with pure numbers. Be warned that while this offensive strategy is nearly unbearable, it makes defense considerably harder.
Aphid Farming (Carpenter Ants): Going a much different route than conventional strategies, aphid farming makes Antwar.io a political game. By finding an area with great vegetation, we can prioritize defense (majors, soldiers) while having many farm-workers (nanitics, because of their speed) enact in alliances and become a industrialized state, before stockpiling your soldiers and majors for a final raid when all your opponents are weakened from war.