Civ4 AI Survivor Season 3: Game One Preview

This is a new feature for Season Three of Civ4 AI Survivor: a preview of each game before it begins, providing a quick summary of the leaders involved and how the community expects the game to shake out.

This is the overview map for the first game. We ended up with Ragnar in the northwest, Stalin in the southwest, Ramesses and Augustus in the middle, and then Willem in the northeast and Kublai Khan in the southeast. Here's a closer look at each AI participant.

Ragnar of the Vikings
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Five
Season Two Opening Round: Second Place in Game Four
Season Two Playoffs: Eliminated in Game Three
Total Kills: 2
Past Finishes: Season One (43), Season Two (15), Overall (29)

AI Summary from Season One: Ragnar is essentially the polar opposite of Lincoln. The Great Emancipator is the second most peaceful leader in the game; Ragnar is the second most warlike, behind Montezuma and only by a fingernail. Ragnar has Aggressive and Financial traits, which has often made him a popular pick in our Pitboss games. His Viking civ has the Berserker unique unit and the Trading Post unique building, both of which are extremely strong on water maps. They probably won't do too much on a Pangaea though. Anyway, Ragnar's traits and civilization are both above average, but what sets him apart is his AI personality. Ragnar AI is another leader in the Montezuma / Temujin / Shaka mold. He has only one flavor: MILITARY. He builds units at a ridiculous pace (10/10 rating). And as mentioned before, Ragnar is the second most likely leader to declare war in the game, with an aggression rating of 9.9 out of 10. That's a normalized score based off of Montezuma's AI, which shows that there's virtually no difference between Ragnar and Monty. Ragnar also sits at the bottom of the peace weight scale, ranked as low as it's possible to go as an "Evil" leader. He's going to be predisposed to hate these peaceful builders, and with such a gigantic focus on military, Ragnar will have a great opportunity to go conquering.

Stalin of Russia
Season One Opening Round: Second Place in Game Seven
Season One Playoffs: Eliminated in Game Three
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Two
Total Kills: 1
Past Finishes: Season One (17), Season Two (42), Overall (31)

AI Summary from Season One: Stalin's traits are Aggressive and Industrious, a bit of an odd pairing without too much in the way of obvious synergy. Stalin also employs the same Russian unique stuff as Catherine, with the Cossack and the Research Institute. As an AI, Stalin predictably has military and production flavors. He is unsurprisingly rated as a rather aggressive leader (7.6 out of 10) and as an "Evil" leader according to peace weight. Stalin and Ragnar might turn out to be good friends in this game via peace weight, and certainly neither one will be able to stand the sight of Augustus. Interestingly, Stalin AI doesn't care much about religion at all, as befitting a good Communist. He gets few benefits from shared faith and little in the way of penalty from differing religions. Otherwise, Stalin's numbers are pretty average across the board, except for his massive love of espionage spending (10/10!) It's a fairly well constructed AI personality based on the historical persona. In a game where so many other AI leaders will be battling over religion, Stalin will opt out of the race altogether and do his own thing.

Ramesses of Egypt
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game One
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Six
Total Kills: 0
Past Finishes: Season One (53), Season Two (35), Overall (49)

AI Summary from Season One: Ramesses has Spiritual and Industrious traits, the ones that used to belong to Gandhi in pre-expansion days. He has the good fortune to be playing as Egypt, with the strong War Chariot and Obelisk unique stuff. Unlike the rest of this bunch, Ramesses has a low aggression rating at 3.7 out of 10. His most prominent claim to fame is a very heavy emphasis on wonders, with a 10/10 rating for wonder construction and a culture emphasis to boot. Expect Ramesses to do a lot of wonder-whoring, that's what he's known for. He also places a lot of focus on religion as well, with a giant bonus for shared faith. How he'll do with this violent field of competitors is anyone's guess, probably the game winner or first one eliminated with little in between.

Augustus of Rome
Season One Opening Round: Second Place in Game Five
Seaon One Playoffs: Eliminated in Game One
Season Two Opening Round: Fourth Place in Game Six
Season Two Wildcard: Eliminated in Wildcard
Total Kills: 0
Past Finishes: Season One (18), Season Two (26), Overall (19)

AI Summary from Season One: Augustus has never attracted that much notoriety as a leader in Civ4, perhaps because of his late inclusion in the second expansion and generally mediocre traits. Augustus brings Imperialistic and Industrious traits, a pair that are generally anti-synergistic with one another. Imperialistic wants a widely spread out empire, while Industrious does better with fewer and smaller cities. As one of the Roman leaders, Augustus is noteworthy for bringing the mighty Praetorian unique unit, along with the unimpressive Forum building. Augustus the AI has production and military flavors, and is best known for heavily emphasizing wonders (8/10 rating). He's mostly average across the board otherwise, below average in aggression rating (4.3 out of 10), but expect to see Augustus focus on building those wonders. He's somewhat surprisingly considered to be a very "Good" leader in terms of peace weight alignment. Augustus will probably hope this game remains peaceful and he can try to win via wonders and culture.

Willem of the Dutch
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Two
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Five
Total Kills: 0
Past Finishes: Season One (49), Season Two (45), Overall (51)

AI Summary from Season One: Willem has Creative and Financial traits, making him a near-universal ban for our Multiplayer events. He's held back somewhat by being paired with the Netherlands as a civ, who should have limited success on a Pangaea map. Their East Indiaman ship and Dike unique building are far stronger on water maps. Willem AI has gold and science flavors for his programming, and moderate emphasis on building units and wonders. In an interesting quirk, Willem cares almost nothing for religion at all, with a very small penalty for different faiths and equally small bonus for shared faith. He also has a strangely high aggression rating at 6.7 out of 10, which was not what I expected at all. So while Willem is programmed to emphasize gold and science, he's also programmed to declare war at a fairly high rate. Very unusual mix.

Kublai Khan of the Mongols
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Five
Season Two Opening Round: Second Place in Game Seven
Season Two Playoffs: Winner of Game Three
Season Two Championship: Eliminated in Championship
Total Kills: 4
Past Finishes: Season One (36), Season Two (6), Overall (17)

AI Summary from Season One: Kublai Khan is another aggressive ruler and someone predisposed to dislike the "Good" leaders. Kublai has Aggressive and Creative traits, a combination that often works well on cramped Pangaea maps. Like Genghis Khan Temujin, he has the Keshik unique unit and the Ger unique building, both of which are above average. Kublai has military and cultural flavors, and at first glance looks very similar to Augustus. He even has a fondness for wonders (6/10) and an aggression rating that's only a little bit higher (6.4 out of 10). The difference lies in Kublai's peace weight, which ranks him as an "Evil" leader at the other end of the spectrum from Augustus. This will cause major tensions between the leaders, and make it very difficult for them to get along. So despite having a similar AI personality overall, Kublai may find himself on the other end of a war declaration from Augustus and Ramesses.

Here's what the community was thinking based on the prediction contest before the game took place:

Finally, here are some of the best/craziest written predictions about what would take place during the game. There were many other excellent entries but I had to pick and choose my favorites to keep this from running on too long. Thanks again for the submissions!

Eauxps I. Fourgott: I'm banking on Kublai attacking Augustus' praetorians and falling early. Ramesses is pretty good bet for first to die, based on being fairly weak previously and starting next to hyperaggressive Ragnar. Willem will fall at some point to a stronger rival. Stalin may or may not survive, but he ought to put up a good fight, because that's what Stalin does.

Packers5280: Ramesses build wonders, not units, and Ragnar eats Ramesses claiming said wonders, and snowballs to a domination.

RefSteel: If the game really plays out this way I'll probably eat my hat, but it's fun to guess! Also, it's fun for me to give all the AIs ludicrous nicknames, so apologies in advance for the confusion: Mr. Xanadu strikes against his close neighbor Gus early on, narrowly avoiding getting Praeted to death because his Keshik pillagers manage to disconnect Gus's iron just in time, causing both to stagnate into irrelevance before making peace. Meanwhile, Ragnarok threatens to out-stagnate them both with two billion useless units until his Fin trait finally gets him to Construction and we discover he's the only AI who can build elepults. At that point, he overruns Ram-Ram, stealing several key wonders and at least one holy city, and he snowballs from there. Willem techs away happily in his corner as long as he can, but ultimately doesn't assemble an adequate defense, and gets eaten from two sides by Mongol hordes and Viking raiders. Rags does the heavy lifting, but the Khan gets just enough cities to build the momentum (and increasingly-invincible "mutual military struggle" ally) he needs to finish Gussie off with help from both the Vikings and an opportunistic Russia. Ragnar ends up with the lion's share of basically everything, and is still sufficiently irritated by some kind of pointless early aggression I neglected to mention from the south that Russia is next on the menu and ends up in a state of collapse (but still alive and Wildcard-ready) when Old Hairy Pants and his Norsemen cross the threshold of domination, with Kubes as a distant second.

SilenceoftheClams: Stalin's moustache ftw.

Ichabod: Willem has more land to expand and he'll get the powerful coastal Wonders, due to being the only coastal Capital (TGLh and Colossus work wonders for the AI, especially a financial one). Ragnar has Ivory for WEs and will have great early tech due to riverside financial Ivory yield. A lot of low peaceweight leaders (I think Willem is one of them too) will lead to a lot of buddies, but Ramesses will be left out of it and quickly conquered (probably will get into religious trouble too). Augustus will also end up being eliminated, due to warmonger hate and central position. Willem and Ragnar will have more land and they have better AI traits than Kublai and Stalin, so they'll end up winning the game, with 4 leaders left.

Old Harry: Ragnar (AGG/FIN) has a nice start and good 2nd city options, as does Stalin (AGG/IND) who has the added bonus of some good backlines to fill. Ramesses (SPI/IND) has a nice capital and if the second city goes east should start strongly, but he's in the middle, which will be hard. Augustus (IND/IMP) has a horrible capital with two plains cows and he's similarly piggy-in-the-middle. Kublai (AGG/CRE) only has one plains cow (and a couple of flood plains) but has some good second city spots. Finally Willem (FIN/CRE) has a decent enough capital and good 2nd city spots. I think it'll be one of the eastern pair who come out on top, but the other will fall along the way leaving Willem to sneak through as well. I'll go for Ragnar just for how much better FIN is than IND.

Ghostpants: No idea if anyone actually reads this (watched/read the last two seasons but never did any of the prediction stuff), but I feel that it'll help me compile my thoughts somehow. Augustus and Ramesses will get crushed in the early game as they're in the minority peace weight and in the centre of the map. Although Augustus has praetorians and Ramesses only has chariots, he has both Stalin and Kublai next to him whereas Ramesses only has Ragnar (initially). Willem will probably tech well and get a bunch of wonders, however I'm expecting him to mostly sit off on his own and eventually either get killed by Kublai/Ragnar or just not expand enough to keep up in both tech and production late-game. Out of the three warmongers (who I predict to dominate this game) I'm expecting Kublai to win because he has seemingly equal quality land as Ragnar, but better expansion prospects in both neighbours and starting land. He is also a bit less crazy than Ragnar and will (hopefully for me) not war himself into technological ruin. Stalin appears to have the weakest land of the three (and starts next to crazy Ragnar), so I decided the other two would get first and second.

Fenn: Explain my answers? I can't even explain 'em to myself.