Civ4 AI Survivor Season 3: Playoff Game Three 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.

In our final playoff game before the Championship, the six AI leaders ended up being split into two groups along an east/west axis. Starting in the northwest was Julius Caesar, who made it into this game by thwarting Elizabeth's Cultural victory attempt in dramatic fashion five turns before she would have taken the win. He started next to Louis XIV, a leader who rode Justinian's coattailes into the playoffs with an uninspiring opening round performance. Kublai Khan was located down in the southwest, reaching this point by emerging as the winner of a marathon Wildcard game against ten other opponents. All of these leaders have low peace weights and tend to be pretty aggressive, if not quite so crazy as the Shakas and Montezumas of the world. They were facing off against three civs in the east, starting with Charlemagne in the north. The Holy Roman leader had managed to bungle away a certain victory to Wang Kon through a series of truly ridiculous circumstances, and he would be looking for redemption in this match. Hannibal had the middle spot in the east, following up on his impressive victory in the opening round, and as the only Financial leader he would likely have an economic edge in this matchup. Finally there was Ramesses in the southeast, a peaceful leader who generally prefers to build wonders and chase after a Cultural victory. As the only high peace weight leader in this group, he looked to have an uphill path ahead of him to reach the Championship.

Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Three Opening Round: Second Place
Total Kills: 2
Past Finishes: Season One (37), Season Two (44), Overall (46)

AI Summary from Season One: Charlemagne has one of the worst trait pairings in the game, combining Protective trait with Imperialistic trait. It's just as terrible as it sounds. His civilization is quite a bit better; as the only leader of the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne has access to the mediocre Landknecht and the amazing Rathaus unique building. That super courthouse is the main reason why the HRE civ ever gets played online, despite its atrocious starting techs (Mysticism and Hunting). Charlemagne the AI has military and religious flavors, and he can be quite the aggressor when provoked, with a rating of 7/10. Charlemagne quite commonly founds his own religion, and he feels very strongly about it, attaching a major penalty to the leaders who follow other faiths. His scores are otherwise average across the board, and Charlemagne can be an excellent ally if you share his faith. He's rated in the middle as a "Neutral" leader on peace weight. Charlemagne's fate in this game will likely be heavily tied to how the religious diplomacy shakes out.

Hannibal of Carthage
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Two Opening Round: Third Place
Season Two Wildcard: Eliminated
Season Three Opening Round: Winner of Game Three
Total Kills: 2
Past Finishes: Season One (26), Season Two (24), Overall (25)

AI Summary from Season One: Hannibal has one of the weaker Financial pairings, mixing the game's best trait along with Charismatic. It's... OK, I guess? None of the three extra traits added in the expansions have ever been that interesting, although I think we need to thank Firaxis for not doing the typical expansion thing and making all the new traits super overpowered. Hannibal is the only leader of the Carthaginians in Civ4, who have the Numidian Cavalry unique unit and the Cothon unique building. These ones are fairly average, not too weak or too strong. The Hannibal AI was apparently programmed from a Roman point of view, as Hannibal is clearly considered to be a villain with this setup. (I guess the winners do write the histories in this case.) Hannibal AI has military and gold flavors. He doesn't bother with wonders much (2/10), his unit emphasis is slightly above average (6/10), and Hannibal is notably above average in aggression rating (7/10). Hannibal AI gets rated as an "Evil" leader via peace weight, which is kind of unfair to him historically. In any case, he'll be a likely figure to stir up some trouble in this game, particularly since he starts near one of the leaders on the opposite end of the alignment scale.

Julius Caesar of Rome
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Two Opening Round: Winner of Game Seven
Season Two Playoffs: Third Place
Season Three Opening Round: Winner of Game Six
Total Kills: 7
Past Finishes: Season One (38), Season Two (7), Overall (22)

AI Summary from Season One: Now we finally get to a little bit more muscle. Julius Caesar has Imperialistic and Organized traits, a fairly weak pairing which ensures that he never appears in our Pitboss games. His Roman civilization features the Praetorian unique unit (and the "meh" Forum). Praetorians have often been used to good effect in past AI Survivor games, and watching for the location of the closest iron resource is always key with either Roman leader. Caesar the AI has military and production flavors, the only leader with this particular combination. Caesar AI doesn't have an especially high unit emphasis (only 6/10), but he's well above average in aggression rating at 7.6 out of 10. Caesar also demands tribute frequently (8/10), and he has a lower peace weight number. It's still well above Montezuma's peace weight of zero, but also a far cry from saintly leaders like Elizabeth. Overall, expect Caesar to be one of the leaders driving the action forward in this game. If he can get an early conquest with his praetorians, he may be able to snowball the game from there, and with seven kills now in his back pocket following his victory in the opening round, Caesar is a very dangerous customer.

Kublai Khan of the Mongols
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Two Opening Round: Second Place
Season Two Playoffs: Winner of Game Three
Season Two Championship: Eliminated
Season Three Opening Round: Third Place
Season Three Wildcard: Winner of Wildcard
Total Kills: 6
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 Ramesses. 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 the Egyptian leader. 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 someone like Ramesses. Kublai reached the Championship in Season Two and has collected half a dozen kills thus far, marking him as another leader to watch.

Louis XIV of France
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Three Opening Round: Second Place
Total Kills: 1
Past Finishes: Season One (52), Season Two (29), Overall (46)

AI Summary from Season One: Louis has a very distinct AI personality. He brings Creative and Industrious traits, along with the Musketeer and the Salon from the excellent French civilization. Louis is well known in the Civ4 community for being obsessed with wonders, as he has a 10/10 rating in that category. His AI flavors are culture and military, with more of a lean towards the former. Despite his wonder-whoring ways, Louis can be quite formidable in military endeavors as well, since he has a solid unit emphasis rating and above average aggression (6.3 out of 10). Louis has suffered in past years from this combination, which doesn't seem to work that well in practice. He spends too much production building wonders, then goes ahead and picks fights with his neighbors anyway despite being in no position to fight. His second place finish this year was not particularly inspiring, with Justinian finishing 4000 points ahead in score. This looks to be one of those leaders where we sit back and ask ourselves, "how did he reach the playoffs again?"

Ramesses of Egypt
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated
Season Three Opening Round: Second Place
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. Ramesses was another surprising entrant into the playoffs after two seasons of miserable failure in the inaugural AI Survivor competitions. 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.

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

The leaders in this game can be broken down into two major categories. Hannibal, Kublai Khan, and Julius Caesar are all popular picks to win this game and advance to the Championship. Only two of them can make it, however, and the community appears to be evenly split between this trio. At the other end of the spectrum are Louis and Ramesses, both of whom are marked for an early demise from the community. I can't recall another game where the First to Die category was so close between two different leaders... and with no one else even remotely close. Then there's Charlemagne who doesn't fit into either group and looks to have been mostly forgotten by all the submissions. We'll see if he manages to exceed expectations when the game is played. 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!

Ghostpants: Kublai has great land and starts next to the delicious Ramesses, so he should be able to get most of the spoils. Caesar's been a bit gimped on nearby land, starting next to the tundra, but if he goes straight east he has an amazing second city, and there's so much space between him and Charlie that I'm hoping he'll be able to put his imperialistic trait to good use, build out to 7 or 8 cities, then clobber someone with praetorians, basically like his opening game. Hannibal's been choked in jungle, and is going to attack Ramesses before catapults, wasting tons of time and hammers, Louis is going to build wonders and eventually get killed by someone stronger than him, and Charlemagne is going to not build any wonders and eventually get killed by someone stronger than him. Oh, and Ramesses (lol) is going to die before turn 150.

AutomatedTeller: Charismatic, ivory and stonehenge (from the stone) pushes Hannibal vertical. The rivers give him dominant teching.

Eauxps I. Fourgott: Caesar is one of my Leaders to Watch (TM) in the playoffs, the other two have made it to the finals, he has iron for his praetorians, and his neighbors are... Louis and Burger King. Yeah, he's going to the finals. Charlie is first to die because he sucks and gets double-teamed by JC and Hannibal. Julius will then take out Louis, and seal the Domination deal with a war against either Hannibal or Kublai. I'm picking Ramesses for second place because I gotta root for Egypt and he's in the best position to hide from JC's aggression. He probably won't do very much.

RefSteel: North of France, Rome has iron. South of France, Mongolia has horses. The question isn't whether Louis will be first to die: It's how many of his Wonders each of his neighbors will acquire, and how soon. Rome's ascendance will quickly erode after the Age of Praets is over, while Gers and Creative culture will help keep Kublai rolling, eventually assimilating Carthage by sheer weight of numbers and Holy Rome by sheer weight of not-being-terrible. Meanwhile, Ramesses ... is ... a leader I like? So I'm hoping he'll maybe survive bordering Kublai and Hannibal because of I dunno shared religion or something, and wind up in second place thanks to lots of points from Wonders and land. I'll say the latter stems from a culture push that will even threaten to give him a come-from-behind victory, keeping things interesting right up until Kublai's spaceship reaches Alpha Centauri.

shallow_thought: Hannibal has FIN, the rest don't; his capital's not great, but no-one else seems to have a super-cap this game.

Commodore: I am voting on this one based less on who seems like a winner, rather who seems like a loser. Ramesses and Louis both build more wonders than settlers, so I expect they're the easy meat. With his excellent capital and Creative, I expect Kublai to creatively capitalize on their downfalls more than Hannibal. Julius, unfortunately, will expend entirely too much energy on the tundra and tough Charlie. The whole game should be a slow one with this lot as not a one of these leaders loves science.

LinkMarioSamus: There are four particular reasons I'm not picking Ramsses first to die: first of all, Stalin and Kublai Khan doing so well this season makes me feel like he *has* to do well since they were all in the same opening round game. Second, Louis is BY FAR the least deserving of these leaders to make it here, which is why I have him FTD (that plus starting next to Caesar and Khan). Third, Ramses has a fairly isolated position (admittedly we saw how much this helped Gandhi). Fourth, Charlemagne is on the other side of Hannibal and Charlie has the same peace weight as Ramses, so Rams isn't a total quagmire diplomatically (admittedly Charlie and Rams will probably found different religions, but they're also far enough away that that shouldn't matter - both will be predisposed to like each other and think little of Hannibal. Actually come to think of it I don't think there's much of a difference in peace weight between these guys: we have Louis and Khan at 1, Hannibal at 2, Caesar at 4, and Rams/Charlie at 6. Basically peace weight might not play much of a role in this game). For similar reasons I like Khan to win, due to Stalin and Pacal making the championship (note: Stalin was my gut pick to win Playoff Game One before seeing the map because of Kublai Khan's victory in the Wildcard game and how well Industrious leaders have generally been doing this year - admittedly my gut pick for 2nd was Shaka so this wouldn't have helped me score more points), with Caesar tagging along helping Khan crush the builder AIs.

Axiis: Kublai has too many deserts to deal with, Hannibal is choked by jungle, Louis is Louis, Ramesses has hostile neighbors, Charlemagne more like Charlefluke (and he still managed to lose the game where he was the runaway AI, AND that was a Troll Kon game so reality was warped anyway). So I'm taking Caesar, but I don't think he'll take enough land to win by domination.

Tank Sinatra: Hannibal has a great setup: He can't send his settler into the tundra. He's got horses, elephants, and a couple also-rans for neighbors. If he stays aggressive, says his prayers, and pitches enough babies into the furnace for Moloch, there's no reason he can't pull this off.