Cold Blood on Hard with Workers Only

WaffleGuy

Queen
Hello all, welcome to the second major workers only challenge of the ICS, which may or may not be even harder than QotH on hard with workers only. Completing this challenge will not only be a huge advancement in the field of 4.1, but will also lay the foundation for doing the level on insane. Currently only Heolx and me are working on this, and we began recently, but we are making research efforts via playthroughs and coming up with the best foundation strategy, which is listed below.

Note that this is not final; this post will be updated whenever the strategy has been modified or if there is any news to share.

Standard Strategy
Once again, ICS has formulated a basic, foundation strategy if you will, for the challenge.

Contributors
- Heolx
- Incand
- john W

Day One - The Great Aphid Snatch & Scavenging Ground Food
  1. On the level loading screen, hover your cursor over the left dot below the Pheidole ant's antennae. When the level starts, click once, then excavate the two tiles to the left of that tile, create one worker to the southeast, and excavate a path to the eastern food. Excavate a path to the entrance, launch the group of seven to the southern food. Your first objective should be to gather a patch of seven aphids.
  2. Make sure the worker tile you made has an egg on it and create seven more workers WITH EGGS before immediately sending the crown workers with attack and gather off to the Southern Pheidole. Note that this is highly luck dependent, so if an idiot tiger beetle/magnolia jumping spider attack, you can restart. Meanwhile, send the other batch of workers to gather the Northern Pheidole.
  3. Begin slowly making more workers as the seven ants are still gathering the aphids. Be sure to have the worker place eggs as a priority, rather than gather more food/build tiles. In a short period of time you should have built two groups, one of nine workers and one of three, and you can now send group two (of nine ants) to gather the Eastern LBA aphids. Then, send them to gather honeydew.
  4. Once the first group of seven ants arrive, set them on your plant. Then, send group two out to gather the Western LBA. If needed, hold your workers to the left of that tiny plant above their trails until the soldiers pass (making sure to spam the pheromone so none of them retreat back to the nest). This is also luck dependent, so be sure they first send their army to the magnolias.
  5. Meanwhile, expand the group of one worker to five, which will serve as the primary set of nest workers for the duration of the level. Keep group three on the milkweed, merge group three with group two and put them in pheromone one (we will now also call them group one), move the crown workers into group two, create a group of seven workers for group three, and set them on both ends of your plateau.
  6. Use both groups two and three to scavenge for any food near the nest. This can be seedlings or dead carcasses. If any enemies kill them, you can always send more workers to gather them. Afterwards, keep scavenging for seedlings/carcasses until the path is clear to the corner magnolia. When it is, gather the magnolia. Keep building up worker forces and you should be ready to kill the beetles.
Progress Check
  • 29 Aphids on the Milkweed Plant
  • 45 Workers, None Upgraded
  • 60 Reserve Food In Stock
Night One - Baiting Bombardiers & Harvesting Pinecone
  1. Begin clearing the area surrounding the pinecone and the path to said pinecone of bombardier beetles using groups two and three. Make sure to bait out their sprays with the attack switch before surrounding them with workers, and before long you can now loot the pinecone before the toads come in. Meanwhile, use a group of workers to camp outside of the path to the Northern Pheidole.
  2. When the path is clear of Pheidole, snatch the aphids with attack and gather off and keep harvesting the pinecone. At this point you should begin making more ants, specifically another group to replace with group two (move the crown group into the nest) and expanding the aphid group. Each group should end up with 19 ants, which separates them efficiently in order to move around quickly.
  3. Keep gathering throughout the night. There is no need to handle the toad as it is not a positive food trade. Once this is done, you can now begin unlocking a few underground chambers. You should start with the surrounding grub ones before moving onto adults. Any patch of grub should be killable with only 45 ants. If not, then the arena surrounding the battle isn't effective, excavate it more.
  4. Start work on another group, this time the fourth pheromone. Once all groups have 19 ants, you can build extra groups until you have six. Then start upgrading workers. And of course the nest workers shouldn't be upgraded, but be sure you get about 15 of them for now. Keep excavating chambers until daytime passes, including the ones with a couple adult checkered beetles.
Progress Check
  • 29 Aphids on the Milkweed Plant
  • 80 Ants, Some Upgraded
  • 100 Reserve Food in Stock
Day Two - Wiping the Floor with Underground Beetles
  1. Clear every checkered beetle group you can except for the southwest one. When you stock up 300 food and all your ants are upgraded, only then can you unlock the southwest one. But before, make sure the LBA have just been driven off from your aphid plants, or they could ruin everything by stealing them while you're in the middle of the fight. MAKE SURE your nest group has attack and gather OFF.
  2. After a minute or two, the entire group of checkered beetles will be dead. Prepare workers for scavenging, kill enemies which give a positive food trade, and make sure to defend the aphids from the LBA if they invade your aphids while all this is going on. Use the food to upgrade much more ants (except for the nest ones and aphid ones as usual), and then you can prepare your workers above the Bridge LBA.
  3. Night will soon come in. Gather from the magnolias, make even more workers (while maintaining a stock of 300 food), and expand the food chamber to 1000. As fast as possible, while making sure the LBA aren't invading your nest or attacking the aphids, bridge to the Bridge LBA aphids. The mantidfly should have already been killed from the previous step. Take all the aphids before night and swoop back to the nest.
Progress Check
  • 100 Ants, Almost All Upgraded
  • 150 Reserve Food in Stock
  • 36 Aphids on the Milkweed Plant
Night Two - Bridge-Aphid Gathering & Scraps of Food
  1. Ramp up food gathering, scavenging for any caterpillars, bombardier beetles, or any other piece of food you can find. Produce a whole ton of workers (all upgraded) as much as possible while maintaining a store of 200 food. Make sure you've collected all you can from the underground and keep gathering honeydew from the aphids with group one for the entire level.
  2. As soon as possible, retreat back to the nest to defend the mass of toads. This will not at all a challenge, as the entirety of the southern portion of your underground is still full of dirt for the toads. Please make sure you've significantly excavated the northern portion of your underground. Send two separate groups of workers to the northeast and northwest points, handling all toads there as they come out.
  3. When two total toads have spawned there, you can now rest in peace. Excavate ALL underground chambers you didn't previously, as well as ALL dirt pieces there. Loot ALL the food and keep upgrading tons upon tons of ants, of which there should be exactly six groups of. Finally, go north to defeat the mantidfly guarding the fire ant bridge aphids, which should be easy. as long as you have enough ants/
  4. Bridge to the milkweed with gather off, then steal all the aphids. This should be successful if you have enough upgraded ants, and then finally, you can return to the classic scavenging strategy, farming magnolias, killing bombardiers, and looting any scraps of food on the floor. You should have all of the aphids except for the seven Pheidole Bridge aphids that aren't obtainable because of the wasp mantidfly position.
Progress Check
  • 120 Ants, Almost All Upgraded
  • 250 Reserve Food in Stock
  • 43 Aphids on the Milkweed Plant
Day Three - Defending, Scavenging, and Daving???
  1. Create two Dave chambers. Allocate the Daves into groups four and five, and move the groups originally there into groups two and three. Yes, that's all the pheromone command you'll be needing for this entire day. The Daves should be upgraded fully, and once they've been hatched, send them to Dave Velvet ants to the spot where enemy colonies invade. You can fight the LBA normally.
  2. The Pheidole Morrisii colony should begin invading soon, and this is where the velvet ants come in. Detach them when the Pheidole pass the ramp so the creature can attach to their trail, and the Pheidole will struggle trying to kill it. Meanwhile, Dave more velvet ants to the area, preparing them whenever needed if the Pheidole destroy that velvet ant. This should be done without activating majors.
  3. Meanwhile, with group three, you can scavenge for any food you find. Magnolias, dead beetles/spiders, etc. Expand your food store to 1500 and begin storing up that much food to prepare for both the toad waves and the bullfrog. If there are any velvet ants on the way to the magnolia, just rush workers past it. It would take way too much food to kill, so it's not a positive trade.
Progress Check
  • 120 Ants, Almost All Upgraded
  • 600 Reserve Food in Stock
  • 43 Aphids on the Milkweed Plant
Night Three - Defeating the Massive Army of Toads
  1. Before the toad invasion starts, be as quick as you can gathering any other scrap of food left, this will most likely be the corner magnolia. Then, send all fighting workers south and wait for the invasion to spawn in. Once it does, dispatch all the toads there to death. Your ants will get eaten pretty quickly though, so after this happens, send your force up north to deal with those toads.
  2. Once these toads have been dealt with, camp at your queen until the rest of the toads invade. Meanwhile, with the Daves, start Daving a couple toads away from the battle to minimize the area damage. This allows you to deal with other toads separately, and if you stall the toads long enough, you will win without any question. This requires plenty of food though, so make sure you have it in stock.
  3. This shouldn't take up the whole night, so after you've killed all invaders, you can begin scavenging for food on the surface. Kill bombardier beetles, making sure to bait out ALL attacks to minimize losses. Before long it will be daytime, so also make sure you've gathered both the Pheidole and Corner Magnolias. Prepare your Daves at both poles of your plateau and prepare the fighting ants before the bullfrog.
Progress Check
  • 120 Ants, Almost All Upgraded
  • 1200 Reserve Food in Stock
  • 43 Aphids on the Milkweed Plant
Day Four - Killing the Bullfrog and Smashing the Invasion!
  1. Attack the bullfrog, making sure to constantly attack switch in order to minimize area damage attacks as much as possible. Send your workers to the two sides of the bullfrogs, which will separate its attacks, consequently allowing more of your workers to attack in the front without getting eaten to death. If needed, you can pull back your army to defend ONLY massive forces of LBA entering your nest.
  2. Frequent attacks from both the Pheidole and LBA should be taking place at this point of time. This is why you have your daves; dave velvet ants to the field of battle to stop any of the opposers from stealing your aphids. Also set your aphid group up closer to the spot where they attack, this prevents any of their workers with attack off from sneaking out any aphids instead of handling the velvet ants.
  3. Soon the bullfrog should be dead without any net food loss thanks to the aphids, and prepare for the amphibian wave. The bullfrog, thanks to the inabilty of workers to do anything, will always end up jumping away. So to support food value, gather the corner magnolia and any scrap of food. Gather any food you can before the 30 second mark hits. Make sure to setup your daves beside both amphibian caverns.
  4. Send half your workers to one amphibian cavern and half to the other. Turn attack off for them and begin letting them conga line every amphibians. With the help of your trusty daves, kite some amphibians away to reduce the load on the conga lines. Wait exactly two minutes from when the wave starts, and the level will end due to a bug. Now you can celebrate your achievement.
Progress Check
  • You have just completed something very very hard to do. Give your self a high-five.
Working On
This section explains what the team is currently working on regarding the challenge itself.
  • Incandescent - Completing the Challenge
Gallery
The plan shown below is one created by Incandescent, called the yemsDesign4.1 v1.0. It shows what paths you should excavate, specifically before night three. The full view is shown at the end of this post.
  • Underground.PNG

To conclude this post, I'd like to declare that these new collaborated ICS efforts are now a driving force in actually making what was previously thought to be impossible possible, and it's extremely amazing to watch all of this play out. I hope more people can get involved in the challenge, especially since I will now be doing streams whenever I play it. Thanks for reading, and I believe this challenge WILL be completed, easier or harder than QotH.
 

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WaffleGuy

Queen
So, news update: Heolx has since lost motivation in this challenge after reaching the amphibian wave and losing to the massive swarm that emerges. It's clear now that this IS harder than QotH on hard with workers only, and will therefore, if completed, be the new most difficult challenge the ICS has ever done. I still believe it's possible, and KILLERDEATH has begun attempting the challenge. Mark my words, we will do this. As for how, I'm currently doing research to formulate a perfect nest design - one that can defeat both night three and the amphibian waves.
 

WaffleGuy

Queen
More news: I am taking a break from this challenge and instead focusing on 4.2, which Heolx is also focusing on. Though I am SURE this challenge is possible, even if I haven't proven it yet (most recent attempt to prove it was off by 45 seconds from activating the amphibian bug, but that was a cheated run which is why I call it "proving" instead of "completing"). I may or may not create another thread about that, it all depends on the significance of it.
 

WaffleGuy

Queen
Final news update: Heolx has now deemed 4.x impossible on hard with workers only, and due to stress from these two challenges, has decided to take a long break from EotU. His contributions to these two challenges will not be ignored, as he started them and has done huge pieces of work testing the strategy. His work will not be for nothing though. We now have a specialized plan revolving around a recent discovery with the amphibian wave, and I'm sure this will give us the win.
 
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