Civ4 AI Survivor Season 3: Championship Game Writeup

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After more than three months of running prior games, this was finally the big match: the Championship for Season Three of Civ4 AI Survivor. The dozen previous games produced an outstanding field of competitors, something that hadn't always looked likely when some of the favorites (Huayna Capac, Catherine, Cyrus, etc.) were knocked out in the opening round of competition. However, the wheat had been separated from the chaff during the playoff games, and the final six leaders were all highly accomplished individuals. Mansa Musa was the leader of the pack in this regard, with five previous first place finishes including both his opening round game and playoff game. This season's competition seemed to cement Mansa's place as the best economic leader in the game, and he was one of the favorites to emerge with the overall title. There were two other leaders who had also won both of their previous matches in Season Three, Julius Caesar of Rome and Stalin of Russia. Caesar was easier to understand here, with Praetorian-fueled conquests allowing him to snowball to dominant victories in multiple matches. Stalin had been the surprise candidate of Season Three, a leader who had done very little in past years before exploding this season with two gold medal finishes. Caesar and Stalin were also competing for the Golden Spear award, with each of them having a terrifying six kills in their pockets coming into this match. During the first two seasons Huayna Capac had the most kills with eight in total, and both of these leaders had nearly equalled that in two games! Scary stuff.

While the other three leaders couldn't boast of having gold/gold finishes like Mansa, Caesar, and Stalin, they were also dangerous and highly skilled individuals deserving careful scrutiny. Justinian was the Season One champion and had made it back to the final game once more. We've learned by now that his Spiritual/Imperialistic traits are some of the best for an AI leader to have in these events, and Justinian's pairing with the Cataphract unique unit makes for a very powerful combination. Pacal found himself in the Championship game for the second year in a row, and he hoped to use his Financial trait and low peace weight combo to good advantage. Pacal had slipped into this match in fairly unimpressive fashion with a series of second place finishes, but he was one of the most popular picks to win this game regardless. Finally, there was Kublai Khan of the Mongols, who was also making a repeat appearance in the Championship game for the second season in a row. Kublai eternally seems to be overlooked despite a strong track record with two previous gold medals and two more silver medals. The general community consensus seemed to be that Kublai fared well against weaker competition, but would struggle here on the biggest stage.

We returned to the same circular map for the Championship game from past seasons. This is a Donut map script that's been heavily customized to ensure that all of the starting positions are mirrored. All of the AIs have access to the strategic resources (including ivory) and luxuries are balanced to make sure that everyone has roughly the same amount. The entire map isn't mirrored, but the starting positions are equally distributed around the outer edge and there's a fair chance for everyone to push into the center with their land grab. The one element of randomness consisted of which leaders started next to each other, and the general perception was that Mansa Musa had been unlucky here, paired with Stalin and Pacal as neighbors. To be fair though, there wasn't really anywhere that Mansa could have been placed on this map that would have been a good spot. He badly needed another high peace weight leader to appear in this game and take some of the heat off of him. Without an economic partner, there was a very good chance that Mansa would be everyone's "worst enemy" and get dogpiled at an early stage of the game. He was both one of the favorites to win and the most popular choice in the First to Die category for this very reason.

Most of the AI leaders opened the game by expanding inwards towards the center of the continent. Caesar and Kublai expanded towards one another, while Mansa and Pacal did the same at the top of the map. This would create a little bit more space on the western side of the map in the early stages of the game. In the religious competition, almost every leader in the game surprisingly chose to start with Fishing research due to the seafood resources at each capital. This allowed Mansa Musa to slip into the pole position of the religious race, as he opened Mysticism into Meditation and founded Islam. Justinian won the sprint to Polytheism two turns and later and founded Christianity in his second city. This was playing out mostly as we had expected, with the general opinion being that Pacal would then pursue Monotheism and found the third religion, creating more tension with Mansa in the north. Instead, for whatever reason it was Caesar would would arrive at Monotheism first and establish Buddhism as his state religion, leaving Pacal locked out of a self-founded religion entirely. These would be the three major religions in this game: Islam in the north, Christianity in the west, and Caesar the only practitioner of Buddhism in the south.

The early turns of the match saw the AIs engaged in their normal expansion. Caesar was the first one to three cities, then the first one to four cities as his Imperialistic trait led the way. Justinian was not far behind, slowed only by a failed attempt at Stonehenge in his capital. Stalin was the leader who landed that wonder, and it would prove to be a major help for the culturally-challenged Russians in the early stages of this game. Mansa was pushing south as fast as he could go, and looked to be the first one into the center of the doughnut. He was slowed in expansion to his east and west though, largely due to the presence of a barbarian city that sprung up in an uncomfortable spot near the Malinese border. Pacal was doing his typical thing, pausing to build the Great Wall followed by the Oracle, but seemed to be getting enough settlers out to be competitive. The only one who was truly struggling was Kublai Khan. For whatever reason, he wasn't expanding very well and remained stuck on a limited number of cities.

This was the general state of the game after 50 turns. Pacal was actually leading the field with five cities at the moment, although Caesar had just finished double settlers and was about to reach six cities within the next few turns. Mansa Musa was leading in score, of course, and he was starting to rev up his economic engine with a series of cities along the northern river valley. Mansa had also caught a potential diplomatic break, with his Islamic religion spreading to Pacal and getting a conversion. If Pacal and Mansa could become fast friends, as they had in their playoff game together, that might be enough to keep the two of them alive long enough to tech into a position of military strength. That had to be the hope for Mali, since Stalin was unlikely to become a partner on the other side. As for Stalin, he had also been slowed by his Stonehenge build and sat in last place on the scoreboard for the moment. He wasn't helped by the fact that Justinian had been expanding to the north, and given Stalin's weak Aggressive/Industrious traits, this game didn't appear to be shaping up very well for him.

The next few dozen turns remained focused on expansion as the map kept filling up with cities. Pacal landed both the Great Wall and the Oracle, while continuing to settle mostly along the eastern coastline. Mansa pushed ever further to the south, effectively cutting off Pacal from the center of the map. Mansa landed another break when Islam spread to Kublai and picked up another conversion. With three leaders now part of the Islamic bloc, it might be enough for Mansa to survive the brutal diplomatic environment in which he found himself. Another object of contention was the barbarian cities, and particularly Mycenian near the center of the map. It looked like Rome would capture this location easily with Caesar's early praetorians, but one of the purple-clad legions walked right past without trying to attack. That was a serious mistake, as this would have been a nice addition to Rome's territory. Instead it was Stalin who took this location with a random archer situated in the right place at the right time. This helped out his flagging score by establishing a small Russian colony surrounded by Roman and Byzantine cities.

Soon thereafter we spotted Roman units heading to the north, and it became clear immediately who was the target:

This was the first visible sign of Mansa's uphill diplomatic situation, as religious differences combined with a large peace weight differential induced Caesar to attack Mansa. This was not the smartest target, and Caesar would have done better by going after Kublai on his eastern border. In fact, with the city of Awdaghost located on top of a hill and with skirmishers for defense, Mansa managed to hold off this initial strike without losing the city. However, Caesar had a much larger total military force, and this was the era in which praetorians were most dominant. Since the AI generally isn't proactive about defending its cities in the field, and instead fortifies inside the city itself to rely on cultural defenses, the AI is particularly vulnerable to praetorians promoted down the City Raider line. A bunch of them were enough for Caesar to force his way through the gates and capture the city when the second wave of units arrived on Turn 85. With Mansa in one war already and the "worst enemy" of Stalin and Justinian, he was in serious trouble.

These turns saw another significant development on the religious front, with Stalin adopting the Christianity of Justinian. The two of them would go on to become strong friends in this game in a very similar fashion to what had occurred in their earlier playoff game. Mansa Musa probably needed to spread his religion to Stalin as well to stave off the budding alliance against him, but he had his hands full with Caesar and couldn't spare more missionaries to convert Russia. At least Mansa did manage to capture the barbarian city to the west of his capital, at the same time that Justinian was taking the last remaining barbarian city near his core. The barbarians were cleaned up at an early date in this game, and the map was essentially all settled by Turn 100.

Of course, when the map fills up it's usually time for more wars to begin. With Caesar beginning to push deep into Mansa's territory, he was blindsided by an attack from Kublai Khan:

Ravenna fell on the second turn of the war to a swarm of keshiks. This was the salvation that Mansa Musa needed, and he signed peace with Caesar shortly thereafter. Mansa did not get his city back, however, which was a bit of a mistake on his part. If Mansa had kept the war going a little bit longer, he almost certainly could have recaptured Awdaghost since the Roman forces were focusing on their eastern neighbor. In any case, Mansa had survived for the moment, minus one city. This looked to have been a terrible mistake on Kublai's part, with the Romans now out of their northern war and in position to conquer Mongolia, potentially snowballing into dominant status. Instead Caesar against signed peace with Kublai on Turn 112, with no cities changing hand since Ravenna had been retaken fairly easily. The status quo around the world had been maintained, and the globe returned to a state of peace for the moment.

There were several crucial wonders built during this interval. Pacal began by constructing the Mausoleum, something that he seems to get in nearly every game due to his unique building leading him to research Calendar at an early date. Caesar followed with the Statue of Zeus, and then Pacal added the Apostolic Palace, attuned to Islam as a religion. That offered another potential path for Mansa to shut down aggression against him, if he could use the Apostolic Palace to end invasions or trigger one of those mass war declarations against one of his enemies. Of course, that could only happen so long as Mansa and Pacal remained good friends, and that expectation was shattered when the Mayans invaded on Turn 128:

This was a situation where building a wonder had ended up hurting Mansa Musa. He had constructed Shwedagon Paya and used it to adopt Free Religion civic, only to lose all of the shared faith bonuses with Pacal and suffer this invasion. The attack from Pacal was a diplomatic disaster for Mansa, who had been counting on friendship from his eastern neighbor to survive the certain hostile attentions of Caesar, Stalin, and Justinian. Now Mansa was left fending off this invasion from the Mayans, which to his credit Mansa handled with great skill, spanking Pacal's force of horse archers and swords with great prejudice. But Mansa had no time to enjoy this victory because the game was beginning to explode into action everywhere. Pacal's attack on Mansa had started things off, followed by Kublai Khan attacking Pacal on the very next turn. Then Caesar declared war on Kublai on Turn 131, followed by Justinian declaring war on Mansa two turns after that:

Justinian's attack against Mansa broke the chain; we almost had a situation where each leader in the game attacked their neighbor in a counterclockwise direction. Only Stalin refused to play along and stayed out of this round of wars for the time being, sitting back and working on tech and infrastructure in his own domains. The overall result of these quadruple wars was a very confusing situation as you might expect. Mansa fended off the attack from Pacal and then signed peace with the Mayans, which allowed him to concentrate on defending against Justinian. The city of Niani was the epicenter of that war, and despite Justinian's larger size and greater productive power, Mansa was able to hold the lines there and prevent any further advancement. In fact, Mansa was bunkered in so strongly along his southern border that he was caught completely off guard by Stalin's attack in the northwest on Turn 145. Poor Mansa. He was defending with great spirit but it didn't look like it was going to be enough.

The other major story at the moment was the fighting in the east involving Kublai Khan. The Mongol leader had taken his best shot agains Pacal only to fall short, and this left the bulk of his forces off in enemy territory when the Roman hordes attacked. The peace treaty signed between Pacal and Mansa freed up the Mayan forces to concentrate on Kublai, and that left the game's weakest leader in an impossible 2 vs 1 situation. Barely a dozen turns into this war, the collapse was on in full:

Rome had already taken New Sarai and Turfan and looked to be getting the bulk of the spoils. Pacal had captured Old Sarai and was heading for the Mongolian capital of Karakorum next. As it turned out, Pacal took too long to bombard down the defenses at Karakorum, leaving time for Caesar to take the remaining cities and still get over to the capital. It was Caesar who delivered the final blow for his seventh kill of the competition:

Kublai Khan never managed to get off the ground in this particular game. He had been placed in the exact same starting position in the Season Two Championship, and he had been the first to die in that game as well, albeit at a much later date and under very different circumstances. Perhaps Kublai was simply cursed when it came to having that particular start. In any case, Caesar had now absorbed nearly all of the Mongolian territory save the one city that went to Pacal, and he looked like he was shaping up to be one of the giants of this match.

The one thing stopping Caesar from runaway status was the success that Stalin had been enjoying against Mansa Musa. He began by taking Olmec, the former barbarian city in the northwest, and then went after the city of Walata. This was amusingly sniped away from Stalin by a single Byzantine cataphract that happened to be passing through, but of course Justinian couldn't hold the city with a single horse unit, and it was retaken by Mansa and then passed firmly into Stalin's hands. Meanwhile, in the south Justinian was still trying to capture Niani and failing to do so, with that city holding out as an impressive border fortress. Justinian finally sued for peace on Turn 166, having picked up nothing for his extended troubles. Now Stalin was left alone in this war, and that was shaping up to be perfect for him. The Russians had just discovered Rifling technology, and Mansa had nothing but medieval units to counter rifles and cossacks from Stalin. However, in a fit of inexplicable silliness, Stalin decided to sign peace right when he had Mansa up against the wall:

Why would he do that?! Silly AI. As a result, the entire world had returned back to peace again for the first time in many years. This was the opportunity that Mansa needed to tech up to rifles himself to prepare for the inevitable future conflicts down the road. Mansa had fought valiantly throughout this match, holding off invasions from all four of the remaining leaders in this game at one time or another. He had been battered and bruised but the core of his territory remained intact. If he would just research the right techs to defend himself... but no. Mansa chased after Constitution, Corporation, and Scientific Method while making little progress towards anything military. Typical Mansa. He was determined to remain on the economic path even if it killed him.

And, as it turned out, that's exactly what happened. We saw that both Caesar and Justinian were plotting a new war with "we have enough on our hands already", and there was little doubt about who the target was. Caesar declared war on Turn 188, followed by Stalin (who we had missed) declaring war on Turn 193, followed by Justinian declaring war on Turn 195. Mansa Musa had absolutely no chance against the rampaging forces of the First Rome, Second Rome, and Third Rome. They tore him apart like vultures devouring a carcass, including taking three cities simultaneously on the last turn to eliminate Mali:

I can't recall seeing that previously in an AI Survivor match, a leader losing three cities at once to suffer elimination. Djenne, Kumbi Saleh, and Gao all fell at the same time and caught everyone watching by surprise. We thought it would take a few more turns for Mansa to kick the bucket. Instead he was there and then gone in a flash. This was one of those situations where we had to look at the event logger to track which leader picked up the kill, and that allowed us to reconstruct the order of this fateful turn. Caesar had gone first and taken Djenne on his turn, then Justinian followed and took the other two cities for the actual kill credit. That brought Justinian up to five kills on the season; he was no slouch either in that department. As far as the spoils went, Caesar had picked up two cities in the far north, as he inexplicably attacked from that direction rather than pushing up out of his own territory. Stalin gained only one city, but it was the Malinese capital of Timbuktu and well worth having. Justinian had probably made out the best despite his late entry into the war, grabbing the two cities in the center of Malinese territory. All three of these leaders emerged from this conquest very close together in score, and all of them very much in the hunt for the overall victory.

Pacal had sat out the conquest of Mali and remained in the tech hunt as well due to his Financial trait, even if he couldn't compete from a production standpoint. Pacal also built a critical wonder during this period, landing the Statue of Liberty in his capital shortly after Mansa was defeated. On a map with a single huge continent, that would be a major prize for other leaders to target. The tech leader at this point was actually Stalin, who had mostly stayed out of wars in this game and therefore had more time to spend working on infrastructure. The wars that Stalin had engaged in thus far had generally been short and successful at obtaining territory, which is always the ideal goal in Civ4. Caesar was the largest in territory and population, yet despite this he was lagging somewhat in technology. Caesar had been fighting almost nonstop since his initial war with Mansa, and sure enough he was off and launching another war against Pacal barely a dozen turns after the Malinese leader was gone:

Pacal was a good target to go after, far behind in military power and with a treasure trove of useful wonders in his cities. For the moment, Caesar was at technological parity with Pacal and could face off with rifles and cavs against rifles and cavs. With Rome having so many more cities this wasn't a war that Pacal could win, and if Caesar could absorb all of the Mayan territories, he could snowball into a dominant position instead of the three-way standoff that existed at present. Despite his huge military lead, Caesar seemed to struggle when it came to making attacks in this war. He took a dozen turns to capture his first city, allowing Pacal time to research up to Assembly Line and deploy infantry for defense. Still, time was on Caesar's side here and Pacal would only be able to hold out for so long. That is, unless someone else decided to plunge the knife into Rome's back. Salvation came in the form of Russian intervention into the war:

Caesar and Stalin were not on good terms despite their mutual military struggle against Mansa earlier. Faced with the prospect of the Romans overrunning all of the Mayan cities and becoming an unstoppable juggernaut, Stalin picked another well timed moment to strike. Stalin focused on the two Roman cities that had been captured from Mansa Musa, the ones up in the extreme north of the continent. These were right on the Russian border but isolated from the rest of the Roman domains. Both of them fell to Stalin without Caesar able to put up much of a fight. We thought that Caesar would likely retaliate by taking the one isolated Russian colony along his border, the former barbarian city in the center of the map. However, Caesar looked to be somewhat overstretched here and never managed to put an offensive stack together. He signed peace with Pacal first, then fought inconclusively with Stalin for another dozen turns. They eventually signed peace on Turn 246 with no further territory changing hands. Those two cities northern cities going over to Russia were noteworthy though: Stalin had taken over the pole position on the scoreboard from Caesar.

With Caesar and Stalin spending two dozen turns at war, Justinian had now surged into a modest tech lead. He was the first one to reach Rocketry and build the Apollo Program, and the first one to tech to Industrialism for tanks. On this custom map, all of the oil was water-based and required Plastics tech which delayed tanks and modern ships a bit. Justinian might have been best served here by continuing to emphasize the space race by building Research in his cities. Instead, he decided to go after the resident punching bag of this continent by declaring war on Pacal:

The two Russian cities on the left side of that screenshot were the ones Stalin had wrestled away from Caesar in the previous war. Lakamha was the one city that Caesar had captured from Pacal, then was left uselessly crushed by Mayan culture on all sides. (Seriously, what was the deal with Caesar repeatedly invading his neighbors from such weird directions?) Justinian focused on the city of Mayapan, capturing that city a half dozen turns later and then turning south towards the rest of Pacal's holdings. Before Justinian could take anything else, Pacal was hit with further disaster: Caesar and Stalin both simultaneously launched their own invasions on the same turn. This was the conquest of Mali all over again, with Rome/Byzantium/Russia combining together to partition another civ. Poor Pacal. This wasn't even a fair fight.

Justinian and Stalin opened up tanks in time for them to take part in this war, and that helped speed along their invasions. Caesar had nothing of the sort and relied on infantry and cavalry for his war effort, yet still managed to pick up two more Mayan cities. That gave him three in total with Lakamha from the previous attack, more than anyone else pulled from this war. Stalin only took a single city, but it was the Mayan capital of Mutal. That was a hugely important target since it contained the Statue of Liberty, and that was likely more valuable than anything that Caesar or Justinian managed to capture. Finally, while Justinian only took two cities, he did get the last one for the kill credit:

Incredibly, the three remaining leaders were all within 250 points of one another on the scoreboard. They were also tightly matched in the space race, with Justinian having a small lead of about two techs over Stalin, and then Caesar four or five techs further back. With the United Nations built, we also checked to see if there was the possibility of a Diplomatic victory. Stalin might have been willing to vote for Justinian if the Byzantine leader had been nominated against Caesar, but since Stalin had taken over the top spot on population, he was now nominated against Justinian and the two of them would split the vote. Caesar didn't like either of the other two leaders enough to vote for them and would abstain with his ballot. As for other victory conditions, the land appeared to be too closely split for anyone to win via Domination, and none of these war-heavy leaders had done much in the way of cultural pursuits. Stalin was the closest to the Cultural victory due to building Sistine Chapel earlier in the game, and his three Legendary cities were each sitting around 20k culture. Once again, it appeared that this game was going to be decided by a space race.

Justinian was emphasizing the bottom portion of the tech tree in his research, and he ended up making a potentially brilliant move by building the Internet. For once, this was a game where there were two other highly advanced leaders that could potentially deliver him free technologies, and indeed Justinian would end up scoring Fission as a free tech via the wonder. In a very close space race, that might be enough to make the difference. It soon became clear that Stalin's larger territorial size - and possession of the Statue of Liberty for all those free specialists - was causing him to research slightly faster than Justinian. It was unclear if Stalin was fast enough to close the gap between himself and Justinian though, which was exceedingly close at about one tech. As for Caesar, he appeared to be too far behind to catch up if the game remained peaceful, but we spotted him building military units in every city, and sure enough, Caesar had launched himself into "we have enough on our hands" mode again. If Caesar couldn't win the space race himself, he certainly had the ability to wreck someone else's chances. So who would the unlucky target be? Well, Caesar was "Pleased" with Justinian and "Annoyed" with Stalin for attack him earlier, so naturally the answer was...

Justinian?! What the heck?!? This came out of nowhere. Everything had seemingly been lined up here for a Byzantine victory, with Justinian teching his way into space while Caesar and Stalin battered one another's brains out. Instead, it was Justinian who would have to defend himself, clearing the way for Stalin to win a Spaceship victory. As it turned out, Caesar had chosen poorly because Stalin declared war on him on the very next turn in what appeared to be a separately planned attack. This was reminiscent of the way Stalin and Justinian had worked together against Shaka in their playoff game earlier, taking down a huge rival empire in the later stages of the game. Caesar's aggressive tendencies were coming back to haunt him at the worst possible moment, as his bizarre decision to strike at Justinian had landed him on the wrong side of the 2 vs 1. By dint of cunning strategy or dumb luck, Stalin had once again picked the perfect time to strike. If he had attacked even one turn earlier, Caesar never would have launched this war against Justinian and the game's outcome would have been vastly different.

It quickly became apparent that Caesar was in no position to fight both of the other leaders at once. The brunt of the early fighting took place along the border between Rome and Byzantium, with savage losses on both sides. Stalin effectively used Justinian as a meat shield to absorb the initial Roman strike, leaving the Russian forces free to begin the counterattack. While Justinian defended his cities along the long border with Rome, Stalin was striking along the eastern coast in former Mayan territories. Caesar quickly lost all of his conquests there, and then Russian modern armor began to pour into the Roman holdings in ex-Mongolia. Stalin also built the Manhattan Project and began lobbing tactical nukes into the fray:

It was remarkable how one of the game giants collapsed in less than 20 turns. For all of his territorial size, Caesar was behind in technology and had some critical military gaps. He was still using infantry for defense at a time when his two rivals had access to mechs and modern armor, and that combined with the 2 vs 1 situation made for a very one-sided conflict indeed. After Justinian successfully took the initial blow without losing any cities, it was all downhill for Caesar from there. Stalin captured one city after another, including taking the last one for the final elimination:

That pulled Stalin even with Caesar at seven kills in total for the competition. They would end Season Three tied for the lead in eliminations, but since Stalin was the one responsible for destroying Caesar, we figured that gave him the tiebreaker as far as awarding the Golden Spear trophy. Stalin (7), Caesar (7), and Justinian (6) combined to eliminate nearly half the field of competitors between the three of them. It was a spectacular season for all three of them, even if only one of them could actually win the game.

With Justinian forced to fend off the brunt of Caesar's attack, Stalin was in pole position to launch the spaceship first. Stalin was making about 2500 beakers/turn when he devoted his full efforts to research, and Justinian was unable to get much past 1500 beakers at his best effort. To make matters even more one-sided, Stalin triggered a very late Golden Age that sent his production and research into the stratosphere. Stalin had even built Cristo Redentor to prevent him from losing any turns to Anarchy from ill-advised civic swaps. The only chance for Justinian would be if he avoided the poison pill Stealth technology and Stalin wasted several turns chasing after it. We kept watching Justinian to see what he would research next, and sure enough, he went after Stealth while still needing four more spaceship techs. The fact that Stalin also wasted his time researching Stealth made no difference; Justinian needed Stalin to go after the useless tech while he skipped it. When that didn't happen, it effectively sealed the race. Stalin launched his spaceship at the end of Turn 309 and won ten turns later on Turn 319:

Stalin wins the Season Three Championship of Civ4 AI Survivor!!!

Wow, we certainly didn't see that coming. He was the least-picked choice from the community in the Championship game, tied with Kublai Khan as the winning choice of only 7% of the entries. Stalin had achieved relatively little prior to Season Three, and his trait combination of Aggressive/Industrious can only be described as mediocre at best. However, Stalin consistently made smart alliances in all three of his matches and picked the right moment to launch wars of conquest. The Russian civ is one of the stronger ones available, and he leveraged the cossack unique unit quite well in these games. Stalin took home first place in all three of his games in Season Three and racked up seven kills in the process, meaning that this was anything but a lucky result. For this particular year, Stalin proved himself to be the strongest AI and a deserving champion as the last one left standing at the end.

That marked the end of the games for Season Three, but not the end of the reporting. Click here for the Conclusions page with more analysis of the competition and the final rankings of the 52 leaders after three years of this event.