Civ4 AI Survivor Season 3: 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.

This is the overview map for the third game. The collected leaders include Suryavarman and Genghis Khan Temujin in the west, Hannibal and Peter in the center of the map in the north and south respectively, and then Sitting Bull and Mao on the eastern edge of the continent. Unlike the last game featuring a group of high peace weight leaders, this match has a bunch of very aggressive personalities. Let's look at their individual bios.

Genghis Khan of the Mongols
Season One Opening Round: Third Place in Game Four
Season One Wildcard: Eliminated in Wildcard
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Eight
Total Kills: 1
Past Finishes: Season One (23), Season Two (37), Overall (32)

AI Summary from Season One: Oh boy. Right out of the gate, we're starting with the great khan himself. Temujin has Aggressive and Imperialistic traits in Civ4, well suited to rapid expansion and military conquest. His Mongol civilization has the Keshik as a unique horseman replacement, and the Ger as a unique building. Both of them are above average, and the Ger in particular could have a long shelf life in one of these games. Temujin the AI has exactly one flavor: MILITARY. He will heavily emphasize techs that add heavier swords and bigger guns. Temujin also has a strong preference for building units (8/10), he demands tribute constantly, and brings an aggression rating of 9.5 to the table. That's the 3rd highest out of the 52 leaders in this game, and can often lead the khan into picking wars he can't win. In addition to the rest, Temujin also has Police State as his favorite civic. This guy is infamous for his warring ways, expect him to stir up plenty of trouble.

Hannibal of Carthage
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Eight
Season Two Opening Round: Third Place in Game Five
Season Two Wildcard: Eliminated in Wildcard
Total Kills: 0
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.

Mao Zedong of China
Season One Opening Round: Winner of Game Eight
Season One Playoff Round: Third Place in Game Two
Season Two Opening Round: Second Place in Game One
Season Two Playoff Round: Second Place in Game Three
Season Two Championship: Eliminated in Championship
Total Kills: 5
Past Finishes: Season One (7), Season Two (5), Overall (2)

AI Summary from Season One: Mao is one of the best leaders in the game to be saddled with the Protective trait. He pairs it alongside Expansive, so at least Mao gets one excellent trait to play around with. His Chinese civilization has the Cho-Ko-Nu unique unit and the Pavilion unique building. The AI probably doesn't build enough crossbows to make this too useful, although they will get the free Protective promotions if they show up. As an AI, Mao has the unusual distinction of being the leader who cares the least about religion in the whole game. He attaches almost no benefit or malus to shared/separate religion, and Mao has a rating of 0/10 for "Demand You Convert to His Religion." He simply doesn't care. Mao has growth and production research flavors, a very unusual combination. I'm curious to see what kind of route through the tech tree that produces. Mao AI doesn't focus too much on wonders either (2/10), but he does have a soft spot for espionage (8/10). He is slightly below average in aggression rating (5.7 out of 10), and Mao is considered to be an "Evil" leader by peace weight. It's actually a very low number, only one tick above Montezuma (and De Gaulle, heh) for the lowest spot possible. Someone at Firaxis was not a fan of the Cultural Revolution, and probably with good reason. In any case, Mao is made rather unique by his disdain for religion, his unusual research flavors, and his extremely low peace weight.

Season Three Addition: Whether due to a better than expected AI personality or an excellent series of lucky games, Mao has absoutely torn up the competition over the past two years. He's finished in first place (1 out of 7), third place (3/6), second place (2/6), and second place (2/6) before finally being eliminated in last year's championship. That adds up to an overall ranking of second place in the entire field of all 52 leaders. We're still working with too small of a sample size here to draw any huge conclusions, but there's no questioning the success of Mao thus far.

Peter of Russia
Season One Opening Round: Third Place in Game One
Season One Wildcard: Fourth Place in Wildcard
Season Two Opening Round: Third Place in Game Four
Season Two Wildcard: Eliminated in Wildcard
Total Kills: 1
Past Finishes: Season One (20), Season Two (27), Overall (23)

AI Summary from Season One: Peter is Expansive and Philosophical in Civ4, with the Cossack and Research Institute as befitting his Russian civ. Despite his peaceful traits, Peter is actually a fairly aggressive leader, with an 8/10 aggression rating. He's very willing to go to war with his enemies. At the same time, however, Peter also rarely makes demands of other civs, and has science and growth flavors for his AI programming. It's all kind of a weird package. Peter AI could focus on peaceful teching, or he could just as easily go into a murderous rage and spend the whole game fighting his neighbors. Impossible to tell. He's been fairly good at avoiding elimination in past years, but not so great at actually winning games. Perhaps this is his time to imitate the other Russian leaders and finally have some success.

Sitting Bull of the Native Americans
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Four
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Seven
Total Kills: 0
Past Finishes: Season One (46), Season Two (32), Overall (45)

AI Summary from Season One: Sitting Bull is wildly out of place in this group of leaders, as a mostly peaceful figure who generally wants to be left alone. He has Philosophical and Protective traits, that second one again being the reason why we never see Sitting Bull played in Multiplayer stuff. The Native American civ has the Dog Soldier and Totem Pole unique items, neither of which has ever impressed me very much. Then again, given the AI's love of archers, Sitting Bull AI might get something out of his Protective + totem pole combination. As an AI, Sitting Bull has military and growth flavors. He's odd in the sense that his aggression rating is well below average (4.3 out of 10), but Sitting Bull trains a lot of units and tends to go after military techs. He doesn't start wars, but at the same time he doesn't like to be conquered. The other odd feature of Sitting Bull AI is his love of espionage spending and tribute demands, both of which he does all the time. I expect Sitting Bull to lose to one of our highly aggressive leaders, but to put up a good fight before he goes down.

Suryavarman of the Khmer
Season One Opening Round: Winner of Game One
Season One Playoffs: Second Place in Game One
Season One Championship: Eliminated in Championship
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Eight
Total Kills: 3
Past Finishes: Season One (3), Season Two (34), Overall (12)

AI Summary from Season One: As anyone who's played Civ4 Multiplayer games at Realms Beyond likely already knows, Suryavarman has Creative and Expansive traits. (It's a testament to his popularity that I can spell that name without looking at it!) These are extremely strong traits that favor early expansion and growth. He also gets the Ballista Elephant and Baray to play around with, which are fairly average. Suryavarman AI has gold and culture flavors, along with a high wonder emphasis (8/10). Yet he also builds a decent amount of units, and has a high aggression rating of 7.6 out of 10. His AI performance is another one that's a mixed bag, hard to figure out. Still, Suryavarman is one of the most likely leaders to expand out to a large size and start snowballing from there. Sury has had one outstanding season of AI Survivor and one disastrous season. Which path will he follow this year?

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

Very different from Game Two, which didn't have any clear favorite in the leader categories. Most of the house money right now appears to be on Mao - and against Sitting Bull. 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!

Xandhi: The West is tough to predict, so I went for both Eastern Leaders to go and do well. Whoever kills Sitting Bull will have the upper hand most likely. I went with Mao to win because he is doing very well. Hannibal was my pick to second because he can also do very well. This game will likely end in Domination as I can easily see an AI running away with the game after killing a lot of other civs.

lightms1729: Mao has lots of room to expand. I expect Gengis Khan will pull a Ragnar and expand into that little peninsula in the bottom left corner and Survayarman get his land; Gengis suicides into him. Sitting bull sits on his hands, not expanding properly, as does Hannibal. Peter does decently. I picked Space as I don't particularly like Domination as a victory type. After picking Pi to be my victory date twice, I chose something a little earlier, going with Napier's constant (e)

Nirps82: Sitting Duck gets shot by Hannibal and i hope Mao uses his space

Smosism: Looking for a bloodbath on the west with the sneaky peter getting a good chunk of ghengis and expanding north. Mao and hannibal eventually munching Bull and late game hannibal will be dumb and declare war on mao and sury will survive for the wildcard, sad he had an unfortunate start. If he comes second I would be very pleasant too.

RefSteel: I really want to root for Temujin here, even though with starting techs that every deity AI gets for free, and no source of horses for miles around his start, he's basically playing a blank civ. One possible narrative that at least gets him to the winner's podium, and that could well play out: Peter's only real choice is to expand toward Mongolia, so Russia will be the target of the first war, and will also be first to die because Mao - the leader with the best expansion opportunities - will eventually swoop to the "aid" of Temujin and take most of the spoils. Meanwhile Suryavarman, by far the strongest AI in this game, with an excellent trait pairing to go with it, has such a nightmare of a start position that he'll get exactly nowhere, and get eaten for dessert by Genghis Khan almost as soon as Peter is gone, just as Sury's finally getting some of the jungles cleared. Hannibal, in the meantime, will fight a totally fruitless war against Sitting Bull, leaving both of them just exhausted enough for Mao to play vulture again and overrun the Natives for a commanding lead in land. The three survivors at that point would have no good reason to go to war, but Temujin never needs a good reason, nor indeed a reason of any kind, and Carthage, as the smallest remaining civ, will begin to crumble after Mao's third opportunistic declaration of war. At that point the only question will be whether Mao hits domination before or after Hannibal is gone.

Fenn: My mind says Suryavarman or Mao will take it; Russia has a pretty good starting position with plenty of room and could be a dark horse too. But I have to follow my heart on this one - go Temujin!

Psillycyber: Hannibal will get a tech edge over Sitting Bull and then steamroller the Native Americans in the early renaissance. There will be some inconclusive wars between Mao and Peter. Temujin will be cramped by Sury's expansion and culture, and will lag, but will jump in against Peter with a bit of success. I predict that all AIs will survive to the end except for Sitting Bull. Hannibal will conquer to obtain a comfortable lead and then settle into peaceful relations and tech up to space for the rest of the game.

Ruff: Typical start with civs pushing out cities until Genghis Khan gets out of bed on the right side and declares on Suryavarman. That will go exactly no where with the single result of taking both Khan and Sury out of the early running. Meanwhile, Mao and Peter are pushing out cities like crazy with Mao getting the advantage due to his land opportunity. The second Khan war will also involve Sury ... but this time Peter will come in on one side and either Khan (if Peter joins Sury) or Sury (if Peter joins Khan) will be the first eliminated. I've picked Sury. Hannibal will take a few shots at Sitting Bull and stall due to his protective trait. Expect multiple wars during the knight up to tank times resulting in some pretty silly looking borders. In the end, Mao will win by space. However, some stupid war declarations by Khan, Hannibal and / or Sitting Bull against the score (and power leader) Peter will see Peter 'win' by domination about 10 turns after Mao's spaceship has arrived.

Smartguy96: Watch for Temujin to settle into the AI magnet that is the tundra peninsula then pick a fight he can't win. In other news, Sitting Bull gets crushed by the low peace weight civs around him, Hannibal disappoints again despite a strong starting location, Peter comes up a little short yet again, Sury averages his way to second, and Mao turns in another solid performance to take victory.

For what it's worth, Smartguy's prediction is more or less how I expect the game to go as well. We'll find out who is correct soon enough...