In a perfect world, playing with random teammates on the public lobby is an advantage. In this brutal world, it usually isn’t. Some teammates can not be helpful at all.
Therefore, your two best options are:
- play with a team of known players, preferably with some sort of external communication
- play solo and smash dat lock team button
Take note of how many teams and players are initially present – this may change without any notice to you during the round, but it’s important to have a rough estimate of this during early-mid game to form your strategy.
The rest of this guide is written with the solo player in mind; if you have a team, you can divide the tasks among yourselves. Be sure to communicate!
Picking a nest location Edit
Assuming you spawn as the queen, pick a location that fits the following criteria:
- 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. The dark dots represent moist soil, where your eggs can survive and grow. Find an area that has decent patches of both nearby. Bonus points if it has some food nearby, but that’s not absolutely necessary.
- Isn’t close to another nest (could be an advantage if they are not advanced, but generally is too risky.) Do a quick circle to look for nests / other queens on the move.)
- Isn’t too close to a corner of the map – makes your nest very easy to locate and find again once players start hunting. 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 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.
Early Game – 3 to 7 or 8 AI ants Edit
After picking your nest location:
- Ensure you have at least one moist (dark brown) and dry (light tan, cracked) tile 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.
- Hunt: If you have 6-8 food in your nest already, disregard this step and begin the next. If you have atleast 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 (antae or Goliath beetles,) set bring your ants close and dismiss them – they’ll automatically begin attacking the prey, and will gather one food each once it’s dropped. At this point, take food back with them, as every bit will count. Do a second trip if you need to get the rest. 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. You’re gonna need to dig out a semi-secluded area of moist soil (ideally 6+ tiles) where you can place your queen, and the workers can feed eggs. 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…
Midgame – 7/8 to 20 AI ants Edit
In my opinion, midgame 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’ve got enough food to sustain your queen and larva for a few minutes. Take a hunting party of 5 (4 at bare minimum.)
At this point, your ideal prey is a spider. To kill one, corral your hunting party, aggro 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 aggro. If you’re without a hunting party you can also aggro the spider, lead it back to your hive, summon your ants and dismiss them at the spider (who will still be nearby) for easy food collection.
Blue food and U: blue food, a.k.a. super food is dropped by spiders, along with some boring regular food. When this is fed to the queen, it increases her egg laying rate for some time. When fed to a hungry larva, it will create a soldier ant which has slower movement but far superior combat abilities. If you eat it, it’ll give you a speed boost for a short time – this isn’t worth it, make sure that stuff gets fed to the queen or larvae. This is necessary to build a solid late-game military.
If you’ve got atleast 5 ants to spare, you can potentially also harass/rob any weak hives. 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 midgame, 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 midgame, it’s crucial to keep many ants around to defend from raiders.
Late game – >20 AI ants Edit
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.