A group of ant scientists has used Age of Empires 2’s scenario editor as part of a study into the strength of complex battlefields in aiding stronger soldiers against larger armies in animal warfare, publishing the results in a well-respected scientific journal.
As it turns out, the trick that Spartan-led allied Greek states used against the Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae – that 300 film with Gerard Butler, if you’d prefer – works just as well for ants looking to defend themselves from others. That is, unless humans destroy their habitat.
As YouTuber Spirit of the Law sums up below, the scientists were keen to look into the conflict between two species of ants in Australia. The local meat ant – big, bold, the good gals – have been clashing with the invasive Argentine ant – small, annoying, and just everywhere – and losing despite their size.
There are several steps to the study. One had the researchers setting up scenarios in Age of Empires 2 where stronger units clash with weaker, more numerous ones. When fought out in the open, quantity wins the day; when the terrain is narrowed and made more complex, quality triumphs.
The scientists then recreated those scenarios with the ants themselves rather than pixel-y men and found much about the same. The problem with relating that to the real world, though, is that gentrification is flattening numerous battlefields these ant wars are playing out on. The effects of that aren’t great for the meat ant, and people, too, as relatively harmless wildlife species are replaced with more annoying sorts. Basically, Age of Empires 2 teaches us that we we'll all be okay if we just let the ants do the strategy from 300.
More? Here are 10 strategy games like Age of Empires to play today.