QotH on Hard with Workers Only

WaffleGuy

Queen
This post will serve as a hub for the strategy of 2.2 on hard with workers only, mainly because you can't edit images into discord messages.

Standard Strategy
This is what ICS has come up with for doing the challenge stated above.

Contributors
- KILLER
- Heolx
- Incandescent

Day One - Starting Nest Development & Harvesting Aphids
  1. On the loading cutscene, hold your cursor over the edge of the tile to the right to the fish fin. When the level starts, click once, and then excavate the nearby food. Create seven extra workers to the south as well as two workers in the space where the food is. Create a food store, tunnel to the entrance, and send both groups of seven ants out to harvest from both rosemaries.
  2. Create more nest workers until you have seven, and then conduct major excavations. Expand the worker chamber, leaving a store of at least 15 food to hatch eggs, and start planning out the tunnel to adult DCHB. Said tunnel will start from the entrance and lead to every DCHB without having any extra entrances. Be sure to expand the food store to keep up with the honeydew being deposited.
  3. Turn attack back on but off for the nest group and move the crown group to the nest. Do not excavate the DCHB yet, instead keep stocking and defending aphids until the first group of fusca ants emerge. Then, create two more groups of ants. One should have 30 ants and the other, 19 ants. Expand the first group to 30 ants, and move that major group to the eastern aphids, and the other to the western aphids.
  4. As soon as the fusca come, allocate both groups of 30 ants to fight them. Send group three to defend the eastern aphids, and create 10 extra nest workers. Once this is over, move the groups of 30 back to their own aphid plants, and wait for the rufa. Meanwhile, use group three (the one of 19) to harvest the tiger beetle carcasses above the entrance. You can then kill the eastern DCHB with your nest workers.
  5. Make sure the DCHB tunnels are completely dug out. When the rufa arrive, surround them on the surface with all groups. Finally, harvest eight pieces of fish using the minor group. Using the path you created, you can then kill the two groups of the rest of the DCHB larvae with group three. Loot the food in time for group three to help any job, like defending aphids or finishing up the nest.
Progress Check
  • 100 Total Ants, Some Upgraded
  • 100 Food to Spare
Night One - Defending Aphids & Looting Food
  1. Keep both groups one and two on the aphids. They will defend them the entire night, from both ladybugs and DCHB. Gather any underground food you didn't gather, like the tiger beetle carcasses, with group three. This food can be used to upgrade more ants, but don't build any more to increase numbers. Make sure to prioritize group three for now in terms of upgrades.
  2. As soon as this is done, start picking off wandering small wolf spiders on the lower ground, or even medium ones if all your ants are upgraded. These wolf spiders are worth the fight, as they drop enough food to give you a lot more extra. Use this food to start upgrading group three ants and making more nest workers, you should have a total of 20 for jobs.
  3. Start creating your first Daves next to the entrance, groups of solo level three workers. Make two Daves, and you should be allocating these Daves into groups four and five, one Dave each. Make sure they are all level three, as only level three Daves can outrun black ants during the second day. You will need to use Daves to kite the black ants at the midway point to separate them.
  4. At this point you should now begin scaling up the size of group two so its power is the same as group one, and keep focusing on killing ladybugs and assassinating DCHB, both adult and larvae. Make sure major chambers of the nest have already been excavated, as well as everything else like the winding tunnels mentioned at the start of the strategy.
  5. Keep killing wolf spiders, defending aphids, and looting food. Make sure that groups four and five have attack and gather off. Begin saving up 100 food for morning, while making sure that each group is modest for their roles, attacking and defending. You can use the rest of the food on upgrades until morning, in which you'll need to start piling up 500 food.
Progress Check
  • 110 Total Ants
  • 100 Food
Day Two - Staving Off Attacks & Ladybugs
  1. Keep defending and gathering the aphids. The hermit crabs should be going back inside now, but the AI colonies will kill a few. The AI doesn't completely gather the carcasses however, so you can swoop in with group three and sneak a few food out of there. Then you can divert group three to the aphids as well.
  2. Once the fusca wave comes, you can easily fight them outside with both groups. Just place group three on the eastern aphids. It is important to keep up the 500 food after this. Once the rufa come, also fight them outside, just make sure you surround them. Group three can be on the western aphids in this case. Place your workers on the aphids, and wait for the doom that is the next two waves.
  3. Make sure to prepare one Dave to the left of the ramp of fusca, and the other on the aphid plant. As soon as the fusca cross the ramp, start splitting them up with the Daves. Once the fusca enter the nest, send both Daves to the rufa to split up those ants. You'll need to fight the fusca underground. To do this successfully, you'll have to send both major groups on the surface south of your nest.
  4. When the fusca do arrive in your nest, send all those workers back in to the right of the entrance to surround them and kill so many more ants at once than would originally be possible. Hopefully they will all die when the rufa arrive. If not, you haven't upgraded your ants enough. Remember to turn attack off and rush to the aphids if you have less than 50 food.
  5. Once the rufa cross the aphids, the fusca should hopefully be dead by now, or at least have such a small force that it doesn't matter. Perform the same strategy you did with the fusca, sending both major groups outside to then flank the rufa. The second day should be successful without invoking any DCHB if done correctly. Luck with the amount of melee the rufa have should not be an issue.
  6. This should conclude day two, but more is to follow. You can now use food again, but instead of using it to upgrade ants, instead use it to create two groups of conga lines, preferably 20 ants each. Switch back to defending the aphids, and prepare to kill more wolf spiders and handle the amount of enemies that spawn on the aphid plants at night with 100 extra food.
Progress Check
  • Both Major Groups Should Still Have 30 Ants, and Basically All Should Be Upgraded
  • 100 Food to Spare
  • 115 Total Ants
Night Two - Spiders, Hermit Crabs, and DCHB
  1. You should be killing small/medium wolf spiders again. This time, wait until two adult DCHB spawn on one side. If any hermit crabs spawn, the run has been thrown, quit immediately, you have no other hope. Both groups should be gaining upgrades to combat with the amount of enemies. If you can not kill the DCHB fast enough, you most likely don't have enough upgrades.
  2. While fighting the wolf spiders, you could actually employ the help of Daves in order to kite hermit crabs away and stop potential fights. Once all the wolf spiders are killed, or however many you can kill are killed, you can send group three to help gather from the aphids, while also defending them from more DCHB larvae.
  3. Since group three is helping to defend, you can now fight any hermit crab that spawns on the aphid patches. These may be costly but provide a good amount of food to support that, plus you need to kill them anyway. Now all that's left is to wait for day, remember to save up 100 food for the assaults of the third day.
Progress Check
  • 130 Total Ants, All Upgraded Except for the Nest Workers
  • 100 Total Food
Day Three - Releasing the Underground Cages
  1. Keep harvesting the new aphid secretions. Remember to, once again, loot the dead hermit crabs after the AI colony kills them, as they provide enough food along with the aphids for 500 total, which will definitely keep you going through the daunting waves that happen today. Without 500 food, you won't be powerful enough.
  2. As soon as the fusca wave emerges, handle them outside. No Daving is needed in this case. Kill the rufa with this strategy too, fighting and surrounding them outside of the nest. Once the first joint attack arrives, target the rufa first then Dave the black ants outside, and perform the flanking strategy. Immediately excavate two DCHB to the southwest as soon as one fusca ant enters the nest.
  3. The next joint attack is another can of beans though. This one is incredibly difficult to kill with just workers, even as level three. You'll need to employ the help of the DCHB adults, as their sprays deal a lot of damage to ants. You should have not excavated the two tiles right southeast of the entrance. If you did, good. Contain the DCHB away from those two tiles until the second joint attack enters.
  4. Once it does, all that is left to do now is to kill the joint attack. The DCHB will then stay in a specific choke point just east of where the joint attack's ants enters. If they too close to where the enemy ants enter though, then they will die and the whole run is screwed. But if it is in that sweet spot, the entire attack will be held off by just those sprays, and you can clean up afterwards.
  5. Once that wave has been completely staved off, you can now resume aphid operations up until night. Begin expanding your food store a lot, to include 1500 food, and begin collecting the leftover underground food with group three. Make sure you get as muchfood as possible out of the aphids before nighttime, the food will be extremely useful later on.
Progress Check
  • 141 Ants By Now, All Upgraded, Except for the Nest Workers
  • 200 Total Food
Night Three - Final Collection and Upgrades
  1. Completely abandon one side, controlling both won't be ideal anymore due to the amount of DCHB. Keep killing DCHB on the eastern aphids, all you can find and gather all the food from them to support for later on. Once you have stored 1000 food, you can then upgrade ants. Remember to use Daving here to keep some DCHB away from your army until others are killed.
  2. You should start excavating every single dirt block you can without breaking through the windy tunnels used to tunnel DCHB toward the entrance, of which there still should be five chambers of. Place workers wherever you can if you have any sort of extra food without going under the 1500 food limit for food that's stored.
  3. Prioritize upgrading more than quantity, unless you're handling nest workers. Nest workers will generally perform better when you spend more resources into quantity rather than quality, as they will never engage with the enemy ants unless they reach down to your queen, which won't ever happen if the strategy works.
  4. Make sure you have a good amount of nest workers, especially if a too strong force breaks through on the final wave, whether it be ants or DCHB. I prefer about 20 or so, this makes sure that 20 ants respawn in one egg drop, which is sufficient enough to support a powerful sustained flow to support the DCHB in battle. Do not fight any western enemies throughout the night.
Progress Check
  • You Should Have 150 Ants, All Upgraded, Except for the Nest Workers
  • You Should Have at Least 1000 Food.
Day Four - The Culminating Trial
  1. After you have done everything your can to improve your nest while still keeping 1500 food, make sure everything else is ready. The entrance should still be as narrow as it was at the start of the level, this is to make sure that the fusca and rufa ants target the DCHB instead of going straight for your queen and making you lose.
  2. Wait for the first wave of fusca to arrive. Use Daving to split them up, and fight them outside of the nest. Their puny force should easily be killed before the rufa arrive. Kill the rufa by also fighting them outside, and as the first rufa ants cross the eastern aphids, release all DCHB in the entire underground, they will aid you so much in the last two waves.
  3. What really matters is the last two waves - when they emerge, the DCHB should still be contained at that special sweet spot just a pinch southeast of the nest entrance. When the first wave enters the nest, all of the DCHB will spray on them and kill them easily. This is also the case for the last wave, but only if you keep the DCHB east of the nest, not letting them get any closer.
  4. When the last wave does arrive, kill them with help from the DCHB, who should still be a bit southeast from the entrance, just above those two tiles. They will spray any ants coming into the nest and finish off the force with your ants. Once all the force is defeated, including the queens, you can now finish off the DCHB and wait for the level to end.
Progress Check
  • You Just Completed Something That ICS Has Deemed Very Hard to Do.
  • Give Yourself a Pat on the Back.
Working On
This section explains what the team is currently doing to complete the level.
  • All Members - Completed.
What's Next
After this challenge has been completed, the main objective will be to upload it.
  • I will post a video to my channel whenever I complete it, the video will feature a full playthrough of the challenge.
  • This will by far be the greatest achievement the ICS has ever done, and it probably will stay like that for a long time.
Gallery
This is Heolx's modified chamber progression for the challenge. The purple is the nest worker chamber, the green is what's taken out during the first night for food, the red is what's used for day four, the yellow is what's used for day three, adn the blue is the basic system of tunnels and chambers.

  • IMG_1183.jpg

This is my own nest design, which is called the yemsDesign v1.7. You can see the entire underground as well as how the chambers have been placed. This is just an example of how the strategy actually will work.
  • Capture.PNG
 
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WaffleGuy

Queen
This challenge has now been completed by a Senior ICS, KILLERDEATH503. This is truly a praiseworthy accomplishment, we had to sacrifice the whole fighting concept of the level in order to make this possible. I hope this opens the path to more challenges, like Front Line on hard with workers only.

Here's the winning run:
 
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