Some Hole.io strategy tips

Lately I’ve been spending way too much time playing the iOS game Hole.io. I’ve reached the point where I can consistently score 200+ points, and frequently 400+, and often get first place in a round; a couple of times, I’ve reached max size. My highest score so far is 1,601 points. So I thought it might be fun to write up some strategy notes.

(Updated a few hours after original post.)

My most important recommendations are:

  • Be efficient. Whenever possible, eat a lot of stuff quickly, without traveling far.
  • Don’t try to compete if you can avoid it.
    • In particular, don’t spend time chasing another hole; in most cases, you won’t be able to catch it, and all you’ll do is reduce its final score and your own. (If you happen to be able to easily eat another hole, though, that can be worth a lot of points.)
    • Also, if you happen across another hole that’s trying to eat the same things you’re trying to eat, it’s generally best to just go elsewhere; there’s lots of stuff to eat, and competing with another hole in one particular region just means less for both of you. (Exception: if you find the park, eat stuff there even if others are there; there’s enough stuff there to be worth it.)

Some other general recommendations:

  • Don’t bother trying to eat items that are slightly too big for you; generally not worth the time.
  • If you happen across a cluster of items that are smaller than the biggest thing you can currently eat, eat them anyway. Points are points, and clusters are good.
  • If you knock down a tall vertical thing, then just move on. You’ll likely be able to easily tip it in after you’ve grown a couple more sizes.
  • Learn the general layout of the city. (As far as I can tell, what’s where in the city varies, but the big-picture layout stays the same.) Usually stay away from the edges of the city; there’s not as much to eat there. Except that there are often a lot of cars to eat on the roads into and out of the city.
  • Learn the various types of things that can appear in the city, to get a general sense of what you can eat at each size.
  • If you get eaten, then move elsewhere (you can move while you’re waiting to come back) to avoid getting eaten again immediately on your return. You can even take the opportunity to center your ghost circle under something, so that when you come back you’ll immediately eat something.
  • Sometimes you’ll just have a bad game—you can’t find anything to eat, or you get chased around the board by others for most of the game. Don’t worry about it; just play again.

Below are recommendations for what to do at each size.

I’ve written this in terms of numbered sizes, starting at size number 1; but within the game, there’s no indicator to tell you what size you are. So I’m also noting the number of points it takes to get to a given size.

Early game (size 1; 0–9 points)

  • General strategy: Try to eat ten small items as quickly as possible, to size up to size 2.
  • At the beginning, pick a direction and head that way along the sidewalk; ideally not the same direction as everyone else.
  • Look for clusters of items. In particular, a group of yellow poles (with an item or two next to it) is a great way to pick up five or six points fast, and a construction area (with orange construction cones) is almost as good.
  • Also eat any other small items that you happen across: humans, manhole covers, etc. But don’t go far out of your way for those.
  • Trees are good; they take a bit of extra time, but there are usually several of them near each other. But at this size, you can’t eat the trees in a median strip, so ignore those.
  • I enjoy eating lampposts, but they take extra time because you have to sit still while you swallow them, or they fall over. They’re probably not really worth your time, but usually nobody else is going for them at this stage, so if you see a bunch of lampposts, then eat them. Also, the thicker/sturdier ones are easier to eat.
  • Don’t go out of your way to eat benches; they’re only worth 1 point, and they’re a little hard to swallow. In particular, don’t take the time to run up the west side of the city eating all the benches there.
  • If you find a park, then eat the short vertical posts in the fence. (I think there are generally a couple of parks per city, but I’m not certain of that.)
  • At 10 points, you grow to size 2.

Getting bigger (size 2; 10–26 points)

  • At this size or larger, if you run across a park, eat all of it; everything in it is edible at this size (though the fence segments are a little unwieldy), and it’s the fastest way to get bigger quickly. But never go looking for a park; finding one takes too long, and it may already be gone by the time you get there.
  • If you can find a median strip down the middle of a street, take the time to eat all the segments; that will usually get you to size 3.
  • At this size, you can easily eat things like benches and dumpsters and kiosks, but those items are usually scattered, not clustered, so only eat them if you happen across them.
  • You can eat the smaller cars at this size, but only slowly; it’s generally not worth the hassle unless you can’t easily find anything else to eat.
  • At 27 points, you grow to size 3.

Cars! (sizes 3–4; 27–81 points)

  • As soon as you get to size 3, start eating all the cars in sight. (Each is worth 3 points, so if you eat nothing but cars, then you need to eat 18 of them to get to building-eating size.)
  • If you happen to be near a road leading out of town, that’s generally an excellent place to get a steady stream of cars.
  • Don’t chase cars; if you miss one, another will usually be along shortly.
  • Parking lots are great, but one parking lot alone is usually insufficient to take you all the way to building-eating size, and parking lots are often not near where heavy traffic is.
  • Start keeping an eye out for apartment buildings; it’s best if you don’t have to go looking for one when you’re ready.
  • Keep eating cars until you go up two sizes.
  • At 51 points, you grow to size 4; at 82 points, you grow to size 5.

Apartment buildings! (sizes 5–8; 82–245 points)

  • As soon you reach size 5 (two increases after being able to easily eat cars), you’re ready to start eating buildings.
  • Apartment buildings consist of multiple sub-units. Some are one column wide (worth 4 points); you can eat those at sizes 5 and up. Some are two columns wide; you can’t easily eat those until you’ve gone up to size 8, three sizes up from being able to eat the one-column units.
  • If you just plow into an apartment building, you’ll waste a certain amount of time as units get stuck going down, and knock each other over. Instead, carefully (but quickly) move to center yourself under each unit until it’s gone, then move to the next unit.
  • As you eat an apartment complex, keep an eye out for other complexes nearby; you may need to eat two or three complexes before you can move on to bigger buildings.
  • At 120 points, you grow to size 6; at 165 points, you grow to size 7; at 217, you grow to size 8; at 246, you grow to size 9.
  • I’m not yet sure of the exact number of points to size up after that, but it’s on the order of 40–50 points per size.

Big buildings! (size 9 and up; 246+ points)

  • This is the part of the game that I’m not so great at; I haven’t yet got a strong sense of which buildings are edible at which sizes.
  • The tall thin towers are edible sooner than most of the other big buildings.
  • The shorter cylindrical buildings are super-tempting, but you have to be bigger than you might think to eat them. I waste too much time hovering under them.
  • Some of the bigger buildings with horizontal layouts break into smaller parts.
  • A couple of the bigger buildings are surrounded by clusters of lower-point items. For example, one building has a bunch of ambulances parked outside; may as well eat those while you’re there. Likewise with a building that’s sometimes near the northwest corner of the city that has a big parking lot full of cars.
  • In the last five seconds or so of the game, don’t be picky; eat whatever’s nearby.
  • At these large sizes, you can devour entire apartment complexes or parking lots very quickly (or a park, if it’s still around); that’s worth doing, as it’s a lot of points for little effort.

14 Responses to “Some Hole.io strategy tips”

  1. nj

    I think eating other holes tends to be more valuable in the endgame, especially if you’re in tight competition for first place, because you get a lot more points for holes than for individual items, and edible items tend to be scarce at the end, especially if you haven’t hit max size yet.

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    • nj

      (And if you are in first place and second place is nearby, eating them reduces the chances that they’ll overtake you.)

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      • Jed

        Good points. I think in general eating other holes is a fine idea; it’s just that it’s very easy to get distracted into chasing one, and that’s generally not worth it. (I may also be biased by how annoyed I get when another one chases me halfway across the board, costing both of us a lot of points. I’m not sure whether that’s bot behavior or human behavior, or both; I vaguely think that when I get sufficiently close to a (probably-)bot that’s sufficiently bigger than me, it engages chase mode and won’t stop until we go a certain (long) distance from the start of the chase.)

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        • Vardibidian

          I have found, since I spend a lot of time in fourth place or below, that the quick way to escape a player that’s chasing me is to duck through a building that the other player is big enough (or nearly big enough) to eat. Even if they want to keep chasing, it tends to slow them down enough to escape without my having to cross half a barren city.

          Thanks,
          -V.

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          • Sleepy

            So I’m nearly always first when I play with scores generaly over 1K and my goal is to break 2k, (made it to 1950) and the trick is to follow the yellow sticks in straight lines along the side of the road. Then look for familiar landmarks that indicate there is a park near by(the town houses and EMS buildings are always near by) then consume the entire park which will get you large enough to consume the entire set of town houses that are always near by.

  2. nj

    Yeah, I think the bots will usually chase for a bit and then disengage. Sometimes being chased is ok, because I’m ahead and gobbling stuff up while the other hole isn’t getting anything. But that’s only true if I happen to run across appropriate stuff.

    My guess is that most of the random-seeming two-word names are bots. I wonder about some of the one-word-named players.

    One other thing I noted: if you get a park all to yourself, that’s pretty much a guaranteed win, since you’ll grow something like three or four sizes, and can then pretty much snarf down apartment complexes instantly. I wonder whether they should rebalance this.

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  3. Vardibidian

    Thanks for the tips; I’m pretty sure I would not have enjoyed the game at all if I hadn’t gone into it knowing that stuff.

    It’s an interesting game from an MFQ point of view, for me, because it seems to me to have a lot of flaws—and those flaws are mitigated by other parts of the design.

    The biggest flaw is that if you do poorly in the first thirty seconds or so, you are at a substantial disadvantage for the last ninety seconds. I have often found myself thinking ‘OK, this one’s over’—so much of the good eating is gone by the time I get big enough to swallow it, my guy is vulnerable to all the others, and each time I’m eaten it just makes the disparity worse. On the other hand, the strict 120-second time limit means that in a lousy game, by the time I think ‘this one’s over’ it nearly is. It’s an interesting loop around the general problem: players should be penalized for poor play at the beginning, but shouldn’t be miserable for the bulk of the game even if they played poorly at the beginning.

    Another aspect is the ‘competition’ part—you can play to hose, of course, and chase down other players, but as you say it’s not a really efficient use of time. And the competition for scarce-ish resources adds a certain strategic element to the game, for me, where if I am slower-growing than usual, I head for (f’r’ex) the waterfront with the benches and the parked cars, which are usually ignored by the other ‘players’ early in the game.

    The other thing that strikes me as a design flaw is that the city is always made of the same stuff in the same quantities (I think it’s mostly in the same places, but I’m not sure—is it?) so even plunked down in a different place, there are a fairly narrow range of good tactical paths. On the other hand, that could turn to its advantage if they come out with updates that are not just cosmetically different but have the different sizes of things in different ratios—I could easily imagine getting bored with this version, but then replaying it a lot each time they bring out a new map.

    Now the real thing holding me back from big scores is that I’m not very good at controlling my guy, but that’s probably not the game’s fault.

    Thanks,
    -V.

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    • Vardibidian

      My scores have now improved a lot, because I have played too much. But I have a couple of things to add, if anybody at some point reads this for insight:

      1) Jed’s tips are extremely good.

      2) As far as competition, my experience at this point is that slightly-bigger competitors have difficulty swallowing moving holes that are slightly smaller (as do I) so if a slightly-bigger competitor shows up while you are chowing on a thing, you probably don’t need to panic. You can finish what you’re up to and then move on. If the antagonist is a lot bigger, then I flee, but then it doesn’t help.

      3) While obviously getting big as quickly as possible is the point, in my games the big thing about going from second to third size is that I can see much more—I can see a park, f’r’ex, from further away, and the waterfront, and so on. This focuses me on getting to 10 and then to 27 points as quickly as possible, which, as I say, I pretty much would do anyway, so I’m not sure why that helps, but it seems to.

      Thanks,
      -V.

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  4. Sunrise

    By following all these tips, I’ve already reached up to the “MAX” (as the APP says), so that’s it? 🙁
    I got a 3-stars yellowish medal and it says MAX next to the score.
    I thought it had more levels :O , kind of a candy crush thing 😛

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  5. WinnerWinner

    Pretty sure there are no real players in this game. I have not played against any competitors that act like real people at all. I spend all my time now just testing the other holes and watching them. Not one of them acts like a human player, in any mode.

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  6. Ayy

    The competitors arent real players, something i hope they can work out, because the game is far to easy when playing against bots. but i have some pretty good tips, i basically cant lose a game anymore. (top score 2400)
    The map is always the same, it just rotates, so learn the layout.
    There are two parks, and your goal should be to take both parks as quickly as possible.
    They are always located next to the appartment buildings, so from your spawn, always move towards the road, away from any large buildings, since they are at the very edge of the map.
    1. Try to find some rows of the yellow trafic sticks to quickly grow to size 3 before taking a park. They aren’t far from the parks, the small park is surrounded by them.
    2. At lvl 3 you can eat a park and quickly grow to lvl 5,6,7 also eat any surrounding parked cars.
    3. Learn where the parks are located, because you want to quickly move to the next one as sone as all small items are devoured.
    3. After taking both parks, you are probably arouns size 11-13, now you should try to take on the appartment buildings, you can now eat them fast enough that it will actually help.
    4. In the default gamemode, try to eat as many players as possible now, while taking on the large buildings , its the best way to get points. always chase unless you can take a park.
    Park>players
    Players<everything else

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    • Agster

      How much of the map have you managed to eat in % mode? I’m stuck at around 96.8 with the main problem being that if I plough into the big buildings it can knock some into the sea or the skyscrapers on their side. Do you know if some holes are faster or better eaters? The fire hole seems the best (along with the rainbow) but the smoke it gives off gets in the way of seeing where you’re positioned. I just wanna eat 100% and end the addiction 🙂

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      • Bliss

        The best I have done in solo is 99.10. Its frustrating. I am not sure it’s possible. I can’t stop playing. I want 100% too!

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  7. Nd

    If it’s not all bots I’d be amazed. Seeing the entire group away the beginning heading exactly the same way in the beginning, no pauses to get their bearings is the first clue.

    After that having one almost eating you and making identical turns is impossible if it’s not a bot.

    Either that or i somehow manage to play against entire groups that have memorized the map and can also see into the future to mimic my moves.

    Which is fine but stop advertising it as pvp when it’s strictly single player.

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