Civ4 AI Survivor Season 3: Playoff Game Two Writeup

The second playoff game of Season Three seemed to have collected together a number of the best economic leaders in Civ4. Mansa Musa was perhaps the best example of this, a leader who has used his Financial/Spiritual combination to out-research his opponets in game after game of AI Survivor. Mansa has won every single game where he wasn't ganged up on and outright eliminated; it's been first place or bust for him in the past. We've seen a similar pattern with Gandhi, the hyper-pacifist who can often ignore his military to a dangerous degree. This combination gives Gandhi a major advantage in pursuing a peaceful victory condition, especially a Cultural win, but leaves him inherently vulnerable to aggression from other leaders. Mansa and Gandhi both have extremely high peace weight scores, and they faced a game of potentially difficult diplomacy in a world where the other four leaders all had low peace weight values. Pacal was the leader in this group with the best economic setup, and his trait pairing of Financial/Expansive is often the best in Civ4 in the hands of a human. It doesn't seem to be quite as good for the AI for whatever reason. Pacal's odd combination of low peace weight score together with a low aggression rating and great research capacity makes him one of the more unique leaders in the game. Most of the other remaining leaders were less complicated; Peter is a straightforward aggressive leader, while Qin likes to build wonders and doesn't attack very often. Finally we also had De Gaulle, the surprising winner of his opening round game after a disastrous showing in the first two seasons of AI Survivor. De Gaulle's peace weight of zero would make him the mortal enemy of Gandhi (who has a peace weight of ten), and promised fireworks to come down the road. I was skeptical that De Gaulle could turn in another strong performance, but this seemed to be a game where he was set up to do well.

The map distributed the AI leaders around the edges of the continent, with the two high peace weight leaders clustered in the southeast. This was a lucky break for them, as Gandhi appeared to be sheltered from early attacks. He was about as far away from Peter and De Gaulle as it was possible to get on this map. Mansa was more centrally located, but he had an excellent starting position with double food bonuses in a river valley with multiple floodplains. It was about as good a place to begin as a Financial leader could want. Further to the west, De Gaulle had rolled a capital with five food resources: two fish, clams, pigs, and cows. With his Charismatic trait, he would even have enough happiness at the start of the game to make some use of all that extra food. The other three low peace weight leaders were spaced out across the top side of the map. Qin looked to be in the most difficult spot, on a small peninsula with jungle located not far to his south. If Gandhi and Mansa were able to cut off his expansion, he had the potential to get bottled up on a limited amount of territory. As for Pacal and Peter, their success would be contingent upon pushing towards the center of the map and securing a fair share of the land for themselves.

Gandhi and Pacal both started with Mysticism tech in this game, and the most likely outcome would have been the two of them splitting the initial religions. Instead both of them chased after Polytheism and set up an immediate race for the first religion. The two of them tied and reached Polytheism on the same turn, which delivered Hinduism over to Gandhi. Meanwhile, Mansa Musa opened with Mysticism into Meditation, and he founded Islam as the second early religion a few turns later. Pacal would end up being locked out of the early religion race completely. In the west, Peter had also opened with Mysticism into Meditation, and would also end up getting nothing for his troubles. That was especially bad because the Russian leader had sunk a good chunk of early beakers into techs that weren't achieving anything instead of pursuing Animal Husbandry and Bronze Working. This would be a consistent pattern for Peter throughout the game: chasing after targets that he failed to reach before someone else scored the goal. Later on, Gandhi would found the Monotheism religion (a random Taoism) as well, which never spread to any significant extent. We would only see two major religions in this game: Hinduism out of Gandhi and Islam from Mansa Musa.

Both Gandhi and Mansa expanded to the northwest with their initial settlers, and when both of their settlements became Holy Cities, the resulting free culture wound up securing sizable portions of the map for their respective civs. These leaders continued their strong starts when BOTH of them popped Bronze Working from goody huts. This allowed them to have their cake and eat it too, getting the benefits of self-founded religions while also landing early Slavery civic without needing to invest beakers into researching it. Gandhi had a copper resource at his second city, and he would connect this quickly and take the early game lead in power as a result of access to axes. The other leaders weren't quite as explosive out of the gate, with the northern leaders all pushing south with their initial settlers, except De Gaulle who somewhat foolishly picked a spot in the southern tundra for his second city. He would do better with his future settlers, as they pushed north and east from De Gaulle's corner of the map.

Qin settled his second city directly on top of a plains hill stone resource, and the resulting 3 production center tile accelerated the early development of that city. The Chinese would build a very early Great Wall as a result of that stone, which wasn't especially needed given Qin's well protected start. There was a more serious competition for Stonehenge, which Pacal managed to build just before Gandhi and Peter could nab it. This was another blow to Peter, who had put his second city in a jungle-choken spot and then spent 20 turns slowly building a settler in it at size 1. Losing out on the wonder he had been chasing left him even further behind. Meanwhile, Mansa was tearing it up in the center of the map, consistently the first one to three cities, then four, then five. He was claiming a lot of territory and setting up to be a monster down the road if left alone.

Here's a picture of Mansa's impressive landgrab 50 turns into the game. He was leading the field with six cities and had made impressive strides to the north, with the Walata location representing territory that could have been taken by Pacal or Qin. De Gaulle was in second place with five cities, but the French leader still didn't have Mysticism tech yet, and none of his cities had any culture to pop their borders. He would have benefitted enormously from Stonehenge, although De Gaulle didn't make a play for it in this game. Gandhi had cooled off a bit after his fast start, and planting his third city in the extreme southern tundra wasn't helping his cause in the expansion race. Still, Gandhi seemed likely to claim that little peninsula in the east where the barb city had popped up, and that would get up him to nine or ten cities and put him in great shape. Gandhi was still neck and neck with Mansa Musa for the score lead at this point, and he would complete the Oracle to slingshot Code of Laws (for his third religion of the game) a dozen turns later. Gandhi was very much on pace for a Cultural victory attempt, between his numerous domestic religions and his early wonders.

Qin was also doing better than expected. He used that stone resource to build a heavily discounted Pyramids with the Industrious + stone combo, and he was also placing cities in key locations on the map. Nanjing was a major reach that established control over territory that likely should have gone to Pacal, and Qin would follow that up with another "Pink Dot" location about six tiles to the south of Shanghai. This effectively cut off Gandhi's expansion to the north and allowed Qin to backfill several cities later on down the road. The Chinese could have found themselves getting boxed into their starting peninsula very easily but that hadn't come to pass. Pacal ended up getting a bit stunted on land, and yet his Financial trait and wonder-building ways continued to make him an economic power nonetheless. The leader who was struggling the most was Peter, who had done a poor job of expanding and found himself presiding over a terrible domestic economy. He would soon drop to the bottom of the scoreboard and remain there, well below the rest of the pack.

Another major question had been who would capture the barbarian city of Aryan, which had spawned in a critical location in the middle of the map. De Gaulle did most of the work in killing the defenders only for Gandhi to claim the prize with a random wandering archer. This was probably bad news for the Indian leader, who was the "worst enemy" of everyone not named Mansa Musa. Now Peter and De Gaulle could reach at least one of his cities if they wanted to get aggressive. Diplomatically, the two major religions in this game began to spread outwards, spurred by a combination of missionaries and natural exchange. Qin picked up Gandhi's Hindu faith and converted, while the game's other three leaders all adopted Mansa's Islam. This was helpful in ticking up relations slightly with these leaders, and in particular Mansa and Pacal rose to "Pleased" with one another, but it only made De Gaulle and Peter that much unhappier with Gandhi.

It also made this fellow displeased with Mali:

Qin launched the first war of the game on the same turn that Mansa completed his Islamic shrine. The Chinese almost seemed caught by surprise by their own war declaration, as there was no army that crossed the border on the first turn of the conflict. Qin was noticeably weaker than Mansa Musa on the scoreboard, and if Mansa was a more aggressive leader, this might have posed a dire threat to the territorial integrity of China. However, Mansa seemed more interested in continuing his research and replacing the nearby jungle tiles with cottages. With neither leader in this war having the technology to build catapults, this conflict would stall out for long turns on end, mostly when Chinese forces would unsuccessfully try to attack Malinese cities and be repelled with major losses.

Elsewhere on the map, the big question was where the aggressive leaders in the west would choose to strike. While Pacal and Qin have relatively low aggression ratings, De Gaulle and especially Peter are much more willing to engage in combat. If one or both of them were to join Qin in his war against Mansa Musa, it could start a snowball rolling downhill that would sweep the high peace weight leaders out of the playoffs. Instead, the first strike came against Gandhi, with De Gaulle declaring war against him on Turn 98:

This may have been due to the massive peace weight difference between the two leaders; De Gaulle was "Furious" with Gandhi earlier in the game despite a diplomatic score of zero, with no pluses or minuses either way. Or it may have been caused by religious differences, since De Gaulle had adopted Islam to Gandhi's native Hinduism. In any case, the first strike came against Gandhi and not Mansa, which would have major consequences for this game. De Gaulle quickly took the former barbarian city of Aryan away and then became stuck, with no other Indian cities anywhere nearby. He would begin slowly walking his armies off to the east, detouring through Mayan and Chinese territory since Malinese borders were closed for the moment. Gandhi remained safe for the time being, and stayed level in territory as he picked up another barbarian city in the southern tundra. He didn't appear to be in any serious danger given the enormous logstical challenges that De Gaulle would face when launching an attack against the Indian core cities.

While the Mansa/Qin war continued with no discernible progress for either side, and De Gaulle was in the process of slowly walking his units towards the east, we noticed that Peter was moving his own units across the map in a clearly not-friendly way. A big stack of swords and axes could only have malicious intentions, and it soon became obvious that Gandhi was his target as well. They crossed the border and declared war on Turn 115, moving next to one of Gandhi's cities with heavy cultural defenses. Gandhi had built Chichen Itza a little bit earlier, and his city had 65% total defensive bonus. Yeah yeah yeah, we've all seen this before, Peter's stack was about to suicide itself...

Whoa! We did not see that coming ahead of time. Somehow Gandhi had been unable to protect himself despite being far ahead in technology, and with Peter walking completely across the map. This knocked Gandhi down out of first place on the scoreboard, where he had been ahead of Mansa on the previous turn. It appeared as though these cross-map invasions were going to cause some problems for Gandhi after all. Now with that said, it was one thing to capture the city of Pataliputra, another thing to hold it. When Peter moved his stack elsewhere, Gandhi was able to bring a force of his own up to the city and recapture it. This pattern was then repeated about ten turns later at Bombay, with De Gaulle capturing the city temporarily but not being able to hold it for very long. Gandhi's possession of Feudalism for longbows and his massive cultural defenses were enough to stymie these attacks. Eventually Peter tapped out of the war by signing peace on Turn 135. De Gaulle soldiered onwards, although it was difficult to see him making much more progress by himself.

The other war between Mansa Musa and Qin had eventually come to a close with its own peace treaty a little earlier. Mansa took advantage of this reprieve to begin surging forward on tech. Up until this point he had been mostly comparable with Gandhi and Pacal on research, but now the Mansa Moneybags cottage cheese would be accelerating into high gear, and he would begin to open up a gap with his closest competitors. We also saw an important wonder claimed by Pacal, as the Apostolic Palace was built by the Mayans and attuned to Islam as a religion. This kept Gandhi from building the wonder and using it to shut down any aggression against his civ, something that we had seen in past years of AI Survivor. Perhaps if he hadn't been dragged into wars by De Gaulle and Peter he might have become the AP Resident, but it wasn't to be in this particular game.

The next major development in this match was a new invasion launched by Qin, and this time it was Gandhi who was the target:

Note that Gandhi had founded yet another religion on this same turn, his fourth of the game, this time claiming the Theology religion. The poor guy is just too culturally-inclined for his own good. Gandhi would have been better served here to focus on researching additional military units to defend himself, not pursue even more religions than he couldn't even use. Now it was back to a 2 vs 1 scenario again, and this war immediately began taking a different path than the previous fighting. Qin's nearby territory meant that he could actually capture and hold cities, not just take them away from Gandhi and then be crushed by culture on every side. Calcutta was the first Indian city to fall, and there would be no opportunity for Gandhi to recapture this settlement. If you look closely on the minimap above, there was one Chinese city (in yellow) off on the eastern corner of the map. That was a former barbarian city that Qin had somehow managed to capture, and we had suspected it would culturally flip away to Gandhi at some point. Instead, it was Qin who was now pushing to link up that isolated colony with the rest of his territory. With the Chinese armies continuing to march forwards, this looked more and more likely to take place.

De Gaulle remained a participant in this war as well, with the French forces he continued to send across the continent sucking up valuable resources that Gandhi could ill afford to divert. Eventually Qin's invasion attracted enough forces that De Gaulle was able to break through and take the city of Pataliputra. Then De Gaulle advanced further, taking the city of Bombay - the very valuable Hindu Holy City - as Qin was in the process of conquering the whole eastern peninsula and moving further to the south:

This was a disastrous turn of events for Gandhi. Qin's entry into the war appeared to have been the straw that broke the camel's back, adding a new weight that tipped the scales from a successful defense into a collaping civ. Qin looked poised to acquire most of the spoils from this war and emerge as a major power in the game. Leaving aside Gandhi for the moment, this ongoing conquest of India also represented a dire threat to Mansa Musa. The Malinese leader would be a marked man once the Indians were gone from this world, and it was in his best interests to intervene in this conflict to save Gandhi from destruction. Tech leader or no tech leader, Mansa would be hard pressed to stop a potential 3 vs 1 from De Gaulle, Peter, and Qin once Gandhi was eliminated. We waited to see if Mansa would jump into the war, and turn after turn he continued to sit back and do nothing. Sure, Gandhi was serving as an admirable meatshield for the moment, but that meat had an expiration date that was rapidly arriving.

Pacal had mostly been the forgetten man of this playoff game, staying out of wars and doing his best to tech along on his modest territory. He had been the one to claim the Liberalism prize (and then burned it on Divine Right, heh) as well as building the Mausoleum earlier to deny it to Mansa Musa. Pacal was caught off guard when Peter attacked him on Turn 171, with Peter sniping one of the cities on their mutual border. Much to our surprise, Pacal was unable to recapture the city despite it being surrounded on all sides by Mayan culture, and it would remain in Peter's hands when the two of them signed peace. The main effect of this war was to embitter relations between Peter and Pacal. The two of them would focus their future aggression against one another, therefore keeping this part of the world out of the wider struggles raging elsewhere. The Mansa/Gandhi pairing would have to overcome the budding alliance between Qin and De Gaulle, but Pacal and Peter wouldn't take part on either side due to their own squabbling.

Mansa and Gandhi weren't exactly singing in unison, however. Mansa was building the Taj Mahal, then following that up with a very early Statue of Liberty during the resulting Golden Age. With Gandhi collapsing and Pacal stuck in an unproductive war, Mansa was starting to open up a major tech lead. He continued to do nothing to help Gandhi, refusing to lift a finger in the defense of the Indians. Was that due to their religious differences? Hard to say. Gandhi did reach Engineering tech and built castles in his remaining cities, which combined with Chichen Itza made the ongoing invasions a slow process. There was no changing the outcome of the war, however, with Gandhi slowly growing weaker as he lost cities and his opponents gaining in strength. Qin in particular was now the territorial leader in the game and was starting to stack up an impressive amount of military power. Gandhi rallied briefly at his capital of Delhi, holding off several large stacks from his two attackers and looking for a moment like he would be able to hold out a while longer. It was not to be though; Qin took Delhi on Turn 187 and the remaining Indian cities fell shortly thereafter, with De Gaulle delivering the killing blow ten turns later:

The large expanse of space separating Gandhi from De Gaulle on the map wasn't enough to save him in the end. In this particular case, peace weight had indeed been destiny, with Gandhi attacked by three of the four other "Evil" leaders in the game. De Gaulle wound up with four cities in the east, a small French colony sandwiched between Mansa Musa and the new Chinese cities. The biggest winner in this round of wars had been Qin, who effectively doubled the size of his empire by absorbing most of Gandhi's territory. Given the previous conflict between Mansa and Qin, the Malinese leader looked like he would be the next one up on the chopping block. I wondered if we were about to see a repeat of the first playoff game, where the low peace weight leaders picked off the high peace weight ones following the death of Asoka. Would the elimination of an Indian leader in this game produce the same result?

There was one key difference in this game, however. Mansa Musa had executed a strong landgrab in the early game, and he had faced only a brief war against Qin, with nothing really stopping him from developing his internal economy over the first 200 turns. Meanwhile, all of Mansa's rivals had spent lengthy periods engaged in warfare, spending their production on units instead of infrastructure, often seeing their cottages pillaged by invading enemy armies. Mansa had therefore opened up a huge lead in research:

Like I said, a HUGE lead in technology. That was one scary GNP bar graph. Mansa in this game is like the Psilons in Master of Orion. If you leave either one alone and don't take steps to stop their teching, they'll eventually become so advanced that they become virtually unstoppable. Mansa was half a dozen techs ahead of Pacal and more like fifteen techs ahead of De Gaulle and Qin. Perhaps the most important thing that Gandhi had done in this game was take a long time to die. By the time that the Indians were eliminated just before Turn 200, Mansa Musa had already made his way to Rifling tech, and the window to launch a successful invasion of Mali had mostly closed. In other words, when De Gaulle inevitably decided to attack Mansa, it was already too late:

Mansa's armies of rifles and cavalry were not very impressed by the musketeers, cuirassiers, and maces that De Gaulle was packing. If you look closely at that screenshot, Pataliputra was being garrisoned by French longbows... and it didn't even control most of its own first ring of tiles. Not a recipe for success against cavs. De Gaulle's main invasion stack started out with about 50 units in it, and it briefly managed to take control of Awlil, the city to the west of Varanasi in the above screenshot. The occupation of Malinese territory was short-lived. Mansa had recently researched Steel and unlocked cannons; he hit the main French stack with those cannons and followed up with cavalry, which turned the clash into a one-sided slaughter. Within a few turns De Gaulle's stack was completely gone, and Mansa began advancing deep into France's eastern colonies. They were completely cut off from the rest of De Gaulle's territory and stood no chance to survive. Half a dozen turns after this war began, the power bar graph looked like this and it was clear that De Gaulle had made a terrible, terrible mistake.

While Mansa Musa was beating the living daylights out of De Gaulle, Peter was renewing his war with Pacal a second time. We immediately thought that this might be a blessing for Pacal as it would allow him to conquer territory from the backwards Russians. Instead, Pacal lost another city on his border to Peter. Oh come on, man! Peter was invading with elephants, horse archers, and maces! Pacal had access to cuirassiers and was building a HOSPITAL in his capital at the time that Peter snagged his border city. Somehow he was still managing to lose this war to a smaller, technologically backwards civ on his western border. Eventually Pacal would tech his way to Rifling and reclaim his lost city with cavalry, but there was no further incursion into Russia. These two would once again sign peace without any significant change in their respective standings. Pacal wasn't exactly covering himself in glory here, and it remained a mystery as to why he was struggling so much against Peter.

In the larger war taking place, Mansa quickly overran the French colonies in the east. This allowed him to swing his armies off to the main French empire in the west, and it didn't take long before some of De Gaulle's core cities began to fall. First the former barbarian city of Aryan was taken, then the next border city to the south (Marseilles). It was becoming clear that De Gaulle was headed for an elimination if he didn't find something to change this situation soon. Salvation came in the former of Qin's intervention into the war:

This was the big showdown that we had been waiting for, the top two leaders on the scoreboard duking it out for supremacy and a trip into the Championship game. If anything was going to take down Mansa Musa, this would be it: a two-front war on either side of his empire, facing off against Qin's larger territorial empire with De Gaulle lurking in the wings as a second threat. And yet for all that this sounded good on paper, it was already far too late. Mansa had achieved critical mass with his research and there would be no looking back. Note the respective research goals of the top two leaders on the scoreboard: Qin was researching Education while Mansa was pursuing Rocketry. That was a pretty accurate indicator of where they stood on the tech tree. Qin lacked Rifling and was about halfway through the Renaissance, whereas Mansa Musa had nearly all of the Industrial techs, including Assembly Line for factory and power plant production, and was beginning to enter the Modern era. Mansa would shortly research Industrialsim tech and unlock tanks at a time when Qin still lacked Rifling. It was literally tanks against longbows, something that I've rarely seen since I stopped playing on Prince difficulty. This... wasn't going to end well for Qin.

The Chinese briefly took control of two Malinese cities in ex-Indian territory. That would last only for a handful of turns before Mansa took them both back and began carving a path into the Chinese domains. Even worse, De Gaulle cravenly took this opportunity to sign a separate peace treaty with Mansa on Turn 242, ensuring his own survival at the cost of exposing Qin to the full force of Mansa's armies. We were tracking their respective power ratings on the bar graphs, and although Qin began this struggle with a military rating equal to Mansa's, the Chinese line on the graph was soon sent plummeting down below Pacal's considerably lower standing. We did note one oddity in Mansa's performance: starting on Turn 253, he switched off research and went to 100% culture. That likely delayed his potential victory, as Mansa was down to roughly fifteen spaceship techs remaining and likely could have knocked them out faster than he could get three cities to Legendary culture. Sometimes that AI can be really weird when deciding which victory condition to chase after in these games.

Swapping over to 100% culture didn't do anything to stop Mansa's military advance, however. His tanks moved a lot slower than they probably could have pushed forward, but Mansa's continued territorial conquest was relentless. He started with the Chinese cities on his northeast border and rolled forward until reaching the sea, neatly dividing Qin's empire into three sections. Then he swung to the north, into the original Chinese core, heading for the capital city of Beijing. By Turn 278, Mansa had enough population to block a United Nations peacekeeping resolution all on his own:

Mansa had built the United Nations but had earlier lost the Secretary-General vote to Qin, with the Chinese leader drawing votes from everyone else. Unfortunately for his sake, Qin wasn't popular enough to draw the same number of votes for the Diplomatic victory. For that matter, Mansa likely had conquered enough Chinese cities by now to block any such election outright. There would be no easy escape from this game for Qin. The pace of conquest accelerated during the last few turns as Qin lost the production capacity to keep up with Mansa's relentless assault. The Chinese capital fell on Turn 282 and it was all over a dozen turns later at Ligurian, the former barb city in the extreme east:

This might be one of the most extreme examples of "Chosen Unwisely" that we've seen in AI Survivor. Qin was all set to join Mansa Musa in the Championship game, and if he had simply sat around doing nothing, it was very likely that Mansa would have left him alone. Instead, Qin made a bold play for first place and saw it blow up in his face in the worst possible way. From the largest civ in the game in territory to out of the competition completely in fifty turns of war. What a spectacular collapse. Mansa was now the unstoppable runaway civ, and with his empire running 100% culture and his borders ballooning out in all directions, it was enough to raise the question of a potential Domination victory. It turned out that he was just short of that, topping out at 62% land area when all was said and done, with 64% needed to win the game. Regardless, this has still been a spectacular display on Mansa's part. He completely destroyed De Gaulle's army before France managed to escape with a peace treaty, then eviscerated Qin and didn't stop until China had been eliminated. Mansa had simply gotten too far ahead in technology and become completely unstoppable. Runaway Psilons indeed.

Unlike Mansa and his bizarre cultural pursuits, Pacal had been researching the whole time and had almost managed to catch Mansa Musa on the tech tree by Turn 300. Of course, that was after roughly 50 turns of Mansa doing no research at all, and the other surviving civs remained far behind either of the Financial leaders. With tanks now in hand, Pacal decided that he wanted to get revenge on Peter for the multiple invasions that had taken place earlier. The resulting war was short and ugly for the Russians; Peter did not have Rifling tech and there were more of those horrifying "tank versus longbow" battles where the defender didn't even scratch the paint of the attacker. (This was kind of a weird game from a technology perspective, since we almost never see individual AIs get quite that far ahead of behind one another. Tank versus longbow is an extreme rarity and we had it twice in one game!) In just over a dozen turns, it was all over with Peter's elimination:

Peter never managed to get off the ground in this game, struggling from the outset with poor expansion and failed wonder builds. His attempted wars of conquest never amounted to anything either, with a lot of time wasted against Gandhi to no effect and the later wars versus Pacal only enraging a much more advanced neighbor. Every time Peter tried to pull something off, it fell apart and backfired on him. This hadn't been his game. As for Pacal, the conquest of Russia served to lock down the second place position and a berth into the Championship game. Some of the viewers were unhappy with that and felt that Pacal didn't deserve to advance onwards. While I agree that Pacal had been largely inert in this game, he hadn't been a completely useless presence either. Pacal managed to achieve two major objectives in this game: researching very well (if not so well as Mansa), and maintaining strong relations with Mansa. That was enough in this particular match. And besides, who else would it have been if not Pacal? Three of the other leaders were completely eliminated. De Gaulle achieved even less than Pacal, and he was a fortuitous peace deal away from suffering elimination as well. At least Pacal conquered his neighbor and scored a kill for himself, which is better than some of the second place leaders in past games can say.

There was very little drama as the final turns ticked down. Mansa was overwhelmingly dominant and the other leaders had no desire to pick a fight with him. The Malinese capital actually went over 100k culture before the finish - the AI's not the best at planning around the 50k requirement. Soon enough it was over when two other cities went Legendary, with the Cultural victory arriving on Turn 314:

That was slightly annoying for me, as I had a predicted finish date of Turn 315 and missed it by one turn. Couldn't you have been a little bit slower Mansa? In any case, Mansa would return to the Championship game for a second time, joining Justinian as the first two repeat performers in the final match. This stat bears repeating: Mansa Musa has now appeared in seven total games and won FIVE of them outright. That's an amazing pattern of success for an AI leader, only equalled by Huayna Capac among the rest of the field. He'll take his best shot to win the outright championship in a few weeks. In the next game though, we'll find out which two remaining leaders will be joining Mansa and Pacal. Stay tuned: the third and final playoff game is next.