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Ant

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Ants are a group of insectoid monsters in NetHack represented by the overall symbol a. Due to their high intrinsic speed, tendency to be generated in groups, and somewhat powerful attacks, they result in the deaths of many inexperienced players, leading to their proverbial nickname of Team Ant. They are the leading cause of death on nethack.alt.org, and it has become common practice in #nethack to exclaim "Go Team Ant!" whenever Rodney announces a death at the hands of an ant.

Team AntEdit

Team Ant is comprised of giant ants, soldier ants, and fire ants. Whether killer bees, queen bees, and giant beetles are a member of Team Ant is a point of contention; while they share the a glyph, they aren't actually ants. Furthermore, killer bees appear in huge swarms and are at least as formidable as giant ants, who are rarely seen in a group outside of an ant hole.

Giant antsEdit

The giant ant, a, is the weakest of the ants, but still a frequent cause of early deaths due to their high intrinsic speed and tendency to appear in groups.

Soldier antEdit

A soldier ant, a, is a fast, very deadly ant.

Soldier ants are a major cause of early death. In fact, soldier ants are the number one cause of death on the public server nethack.alt.org. This is because of their high intrinsic speed, dual attacks (the second attack being a poisonous sting, and therefore able to instakill players without poison resistance), and tendency to appear in packs. (Some players die to giant ants, but those deaths occur less often as soldier ants can do significantly more damage.)

Soldier ants are a nickname for army ants in real life. Although it is possible that humans have been killed by army or driver ants, it is extremely unlikely, as they are little bigger than ordinary ants. They do, however, travel in very large groups.

Soldier ants are poisonous to eat.

Fire antEdit

The fire ant, a, is a monster in NetHack. It is a member of the proverbial Team Ant and as such can result in the deaths of many an inexperienced player due to its high intrinsic speed and fire attacks (although not as deadly as the soldier ant). Its fire attacks can burn armor, scrolls, spellbooks, and potions, doing extra damage in the case of burning scrolls/spellbooks or blowing up potions.

"Go Team Ant" Edit

Since soldier ants are the highest single cause of death on nethack.alt.org, it has become something of a cliche to say "Go team a!" or "Go Team Ant!" on #nethack on irc.freenode.net, NAO's channel, whenever Rodney announces a death by the hands of a soldier ant.

Strategy with ants Edit

There are several strategies for players who encounter ant swarms early in the game:

  • Ants are much faster than most low-level characters, so try to get into a corridor as soon as possible so you don't get surrounded.
    • Use a long-range weapon (such as a wand of magic missile) because it has a chance of killing more than one of the now lined-up monsters.
    • If you are skilled enough with a ranged weapon, firing multiple projectiles also has a chance to kill multiple lined-up ants.
  • Run to the stairway (hopefully, the stairway up) as soon as the ant is spotted.
    • If possible, disable the ant (perhaps with a wand of sleep) before fleeing.
    • Since ants are very fast, use any escape items or spells that will help you get to the stairs more quickly.
    • Close doors to block the ants, if you are strong. Weak characters might not be able to close the door in time.
  • Another option is to engrave Elbereth. Ants are frightened by Elbereth.
    • A fleeing ant is less deadly than one attacking you.
    • With Elbereth, you can use the spare turns to attack the ant in melee, throw weapons, cast spells, or find an escape route.
  • If you must fight them, attack the ant with your best items or spells.
    • Now might be the time to use your offensive wands against the ant. (A wand of striking is likely to miss the ant; it is a poor choice.)
    • Zapping an unidentified wand at a monster can be risky, but might pay off if you can use it to attack or get away.
    • If you've exhausted all possible options, try reading an unknown scroll. It may be a scroll of teleportation or earth. This is even riskier. Cursed scrolls and spellbooks can sometimes cause teleportation, but cannot be relied upon to do so. Use this strategy only as a last resort.
  • If you get away, don't return to the area until you're confident you can survive the conflict.

Eating the corpses Edit

Giant ant corpses are edible and non-poisonous. Soldier ant corpses are poisonous and can grant poison resistance. Eating the corpse of a fire ant gives you a 20% chance to gain the fire resistance intrinsic, and is a common source in the absence of red dragons and fire giants.

Trivia Edit

Encyclopedia entry Edit

This giant variety of the ordinary ant will fight just as
fiercely as its small, distant cousin. Various varieties
exist, and they are known and feared for their relentless
persecution of their victims.


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