Civ4 AI Survivor Season 3: Game Seven 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.

The map for this game threw out an unusual pattern with three pairs of civs stacked in rows from north to south. At the top of the continent were Charlemagne and Wang Kon, two religiously-focused leaders who haven't had much past success in AI Survivor. The middle of the continent featured Tokuagawa and Bismarck, a strange mixture of isolationism and realpolitik planted square in the middle of this arena. Finally, down in the deep south were Huayna Capac of the Incans and Mehmed of the Ottomans. Huayna was the winner of Season Two and the #1 ranked leader in the standings after two years of competition. He looked to be a huge favorite going by past history, but as we had already seen with several other leaders, that was still no guarantee of success on this particular map.

Bismarck of Germany
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Eight
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Four
Total Kills: 0
Past Finishes: Season One (30), Season Two (46), Overall (44)

AI Summary from Season One: Bismarck has been played quite a bit in our Multiplayer events, especially in smaller Play By Email games, when he can be paired in an unrestricted combination with civs like India or Mali. Bismarck has Expansive and Industrious traits, meaning that he's virtually guaranteed an early wonder of his choice if played correctly. The combination of cheap granaries and cheap forges can also be very strong. Bismarck is unfortunately tied in this game to the German civilization, which has two very late unique items in the Panzer and the Assembly Plant. They usually arrive too late to matter. Bismarck the AI only has one research flavor: MILITARY. Unlike some of the other suicidally aggressive AI leaders with this flavor, however, Bismarck is much more balanced in his preferences. His aggression rating is just a touch below average at 5.6 out of 10, and he's right in the middle of the peace weight scale. Bismarck AI also has middle of the road ratings for wonders and units, both of them sitting at 6/10. In other words, Bismarck will heavily emphasize military techs, but he won't be as crazy in declaring war as someone like Shaka or Montezuma. While in theory this setup might suit him well, it hasn't led to much success in the first two seasons.

Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Seven
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Four
Total Kills: 0
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. Chalemagne's fate in this game will likely be heavily tied to how the religious diplomacy shakes out.

Huayna Capac of the Incans
Season One Opening Round: Winner of Game Four
Season One Playoffs: Eliminated in Game One
Season Two Opening Round: Winner of Game Two
Season Two Playoffs: Winner of Game Two
Season Two Championship: Winner of Season Two Championship
Total Kills: 8
Past Finishes: Season One (10), Season Two (1), Overall (1)

AI Summary from Season One: Huayna Capac is the rare economic leader in this game of thugs. Huayna is often viewed as the strongest pick for Single Player games with restricted leaders, due to his excellent Financial and Industrious traits, alongside the Incan civ. The Quechua is very good at abusing the AI love of early game archers, especially on Marathon speed, while the Terrace is the best unique building in the entire game. A granary that also provides culture is simply broken from a design standpoint. Huayna the AI comes off as less formidable though; he has gold and production flavors, and likes to construct wonders (8/10 rating). Everything else is average across the board, right in the middle of the rating system. Predicting Huayna's performance is a bit tricky. He has the best economic setup amongst this group by far, but he needs to be alive to take advantage of it. With this collection of nut cases, that's an open question.

Season Three Addition: Well, we certainly got our answer about the formidability of Huayna Capac the AI. This guy has absolutely torched the competition over the last two years, winning four out of the five games in which he's appeared, culminating in a miraculous Cultural victory in the Season Two Championship. Huayna Capac has also managed to amass EIGHT kills across the two years of AI Survivor, lapping the field in that category as well. Let me put it this way: Huayna Capac has eight kills in his six games... and the other 51 leaders combined only managed 75 kills in the first two seasons. Huayna alone was almost ten percent of the total. His AI personality seems to combine aggressiveness with economic muscle in just about the right amounts, and the Incan unique unit/building are both very powerful for these games. (The quechua helps Huayna a lot against barbarian archers, which tend to give the AI lots of problems.) Huayna seems to have drawn the weakest start amongst the six on this map, but given the generally weak field around him, will that even matter?

Mehmed of the Ottoman Empire
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Two
Season Two Opening Round: Third Place in Game Six
Season Two Wildcard: Eliminated in Wildcard
Total Kills: 2
Past Finishes: Season One (28), Season Two (25), Overall (26)

AI Summary from Season One: Mehmed is another excellent leader who has long been popular in our events. His trait pairing of Expansive and Organized gets him out to a fast start, and then keeps the surge going with cheap lighthouses, couthouses, and eventual factories. Mehmed's Ottoman civ brings along the Janissary unique unit and Hamman unique building, which is above average for a restricted leader pairing. As an AI, Mehmed is not what you would expect at all: he's actually very militaristic! Mehmed AI has military and culture flavors, along with the highest possible build unit emphasis (10/10) and an aggression rating of 7.8 out of 10. Don't be fooled by those builder traits, in other words. Mehmed will pump out a lot of units, and he's one of the most likely leaders in this particular game to declare war. All of that sounds great on paper, yet Mehmed has repeatedly disappointed us in the past two seasons with underwhelming performances. Is this finally his time to shine?

Tokugawa of Japan
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game One
Season Two Opening Round: Second Place in Game Five
Season Two Playoffs: Eliminated in Game One
Total Kills: 2
Past Finishes: Season One (45), Season Two (12), Overall (27)

AI Summary from Season One: Next we have Tokugawa of Japan, with the horribly non-economic trait pairing of Aggressive and Protective. These are excellent combat traits, of course, but there's a reason why humans stay away from these ones. Japan also gets access to the Samurai and Shale Plants, which are fairly weak unique items. Tokugawa is infamous in the Civ4 community for having the "loser" profile, the isolationist leader who refuses to work with anyone and eventually gets out-teched and dogpiled. Turning off tech trading should actually help poor Tokugawa, who inevitably gets left out of the loop when tech trading is on. He's yet another leader with a high aggression rating (7.3 out of 10, and trust me, they aren't normally this high!) and Tokugawa is almost pathologically unable to get along with his neighbors. It would be a true shock to see him do well. His second place finish in the Opening Round of Season Two was one of the strangest results we've ever seen in almost three dozen AI Survivor games.

Wang Kon of Korea
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Eight
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Two
Total Kills: 1
Past Finishes: Season One (25), Season Two (33), Overall (29)

AI Summary from Season One: Wang Kon is the other Protective leader with a second good trait, in this case pairing it with the Financial trait. This is almost enough to make Wang Kon a viable leader in our events. Almost, but not quite. (Side note: the way that Firaxis gave the Protective trait to a bunch of Asian leaders is arguably racist, and at the very least in rather bad taste. We've got Churchill and Charlemagne as Protective leaders, and then Gilgamesh, Mao, Qin, Saladin, Sitting Bull, Tokugawa, and Wang Kon. This deserved a little bit more tact.) Wang Kon is the only Korean leader, and has the Hwacha and Seowon unique items. These both work rather well in the hands of the AI, especially the hwacha since the AI loves to build catapults in vast numbers. Wang Kon AI has gold and science flavors, a clear economic emphasis for his research. He is very average in all of his ratings, although Wang's aggression rating is higher than you might expect at 6.1 out of 10. In every other way he's a peaceful economic guy, but not that one. Wang Kon has a high peace rating as "Good" leader. He could develop and become a major force in this game if he's able to avoid some of the more testy leaders at the other end of the peace weight scale. Wang Kon earned the nickname "Troll Kon" last season for his head-scratching performance in Game Two, wherein he essentially became leader of North Korea and engaged in wildly self-destructive behavior while trolling everyone else on the map. That led to an elimination at the hands of Huayna Capac, and the two leaders meet once again in the opening round this year. Expect to see more baffling decisions from the Korean leader.

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

Huayna Capac is a huge favorite to win this game, and then no one has a clue who will come in second place after that. I wonder if we're all getting set up for another big disappointment in this game; aside from Mansa Musa, past favorites have not fared very well in this competition. Everyone also seems to think Tokugawa will be the First to Die, and that seems like a pretty smart pick to me as well. It's hard to underestimate the self-destructiveness of Tokugawa in Civ4. 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!

Kuro: I don't care about logic here, I have to side with the beloved Troll Kong against his long hated enemy, the Incans (Stalin isn't here after all). Wang Kon wins the religious war at the top and takes out Charlemagne. Huanya gets dogpiled early by Tokugawa, because he's Toku, and Mehmed who is surprisingly aggressive, and kills everyone's brackets by dying. Bismarck I feel is an underrated AI who is better than his record indicates and he'll show it off here, feasting on Toku because it is Toku and he inevitably falls behind, especially because he fails to tech up or make friends, possibly due to a religious alliance with Wang Kon? And then Wang Kon trolls by declaring the 16th war on Mehmed the same turn he launches the spaceship.

ArtDeco: What a mess! Everybody will hate each other and DoW [declare war on] each other. It'll be a huge surprise. As Charlemagne and Huayna Capac seems to be first two religion finders, chances are there'll be someone else to get Monotheism and convert to that. Charlemagne will get 1 Wang Kon kill no matter what, same religion won't save our cute troll. (Note: Huayna Capac>Charlemagne>Bismarck=Mehmed II>Wang Kon>Tokugawa)

JackDRB: Capac is just too good of an AI to not pick to win. I genuinely think despite his poor starting location, and past upsets this season, that his chances of winning are above 50% making him an autopick. The much more difficult question is who comes 2nd. I personally am thinking Wang/Troll Kon, because if he doesn't act like North Korea this game, he has a good shot of potentially keeping Charly/Bismarck at bay via diplomacy/peaceweight, leaving potential threats either benign by pure stupidity (Toku) or too far away (Mehmed/Capac). A game where Capac doesn't win is just a game I cannot envisage happening. First to Die is probably one of the central leaders, neither Toku nor Bismark have played well enough to prove their ability to play a tough central start, but I think Toku has the edge early game to not die by building way more units? Hard to tell. Victory Condition is kind of contentious for those who are more economically strong than militaristic (i.e. leaders that get into dominant positions that aren't Montezuma/Shaka/Temujin) so the safe option is probably Spaceship although Capac has a good record for Domination victories in past seasons (3 Dominations vs. 1 Spaceship vs. 1 Cultural) so gonna go out and say he does Domination again (an pretty early domination imo) to make up for Caesar's tease last game.

Japper007: Toku is going to self-destruct, Huanya is going to win, and Bismarck is going to sit back, build wonders and roll into the playoffs by a comfortable second place of his amazing start.

LinkMarioSamus: At first I was thinking Huayna might be killed off because four of the other overall top five leaders (Mao, Cyrus, Pericles, and Catherine) are dead already. However, if we get a crazy game where everyone fights each other, just like our last game, it's probably Huayna's to lose. The only way he could really lose is if he gets isolated diplomatically and there is a major alliance somewhere, which is not likely. I was thinking the most likely scenario for that would be Tokugawa and Mehmed joining forces to kill Bismarck (which I do think will happen, hence my Bismarck for FTD pick) and then becoming good enough friends to kill Huayna Capac, but A) I imagine Charlemagne and Wang might make for juicier targets, and B) LOL Tokugawa becoming good friends with anyone. Also, this has been a good season for Industrious leaders (Stalin, Ramses and Louis all making the playoffs!), Tokugawa of all people is the only one of these other leaders to ever make the playoffs, and if Huayna wins he gets a re-match against Justinian in the playoffs - this has been a sweet season for revenge with Hannibal vs. Mao, Justinian vs. Cathy, Caesar vs. Pericles, and Qin vs. Elizabeth. I'm picking Mehmed for second because he's the second strongest of these guys according to overall rankings. Flawless logic!

Eauxps I. Fourgott: Let's go with something crazy since I have pretty much no chance of winning the contest anyway at this point. If Mao and Cathy got taken out in their games, why can't HC as well? Toku is also just what the doctor ordered for a troll-tastic win like this would have to be. I'm predicting that HC gets gradually done in by Toku and Mehmed, who will go on to take the top two spots, although Wang Kon will make his own contribution in trademark fashion. Burger King dies first because he sucks. Bismark kind of doesn't do much and may or may not eventually die. I'm taking Diplomatic as the victory condition since I have a hard time actually envisioning Toku winning Domination.

Fenn: This lot could well be described as "Huayna Capac and the Five Dunces", but I think Bismarck might have his breakout game - he's got a very good capital, nice prospects for expansion and a sane AI personality. Who knows? He might pull it off. Still, I'm not crazy enough to place Huayna below second place..! Charlie I expect to spin his wheels aimlessly before some combination of Toku, Bismarck and (of course) Wang Kon take offense to his existence and wipe him off the map.

Ghostpants: My God, the food situation on this map is horrific! I've ended up picking Bismark to win simply because he's the only person on this map with an above average level of food (even if he starts a little jungle choked). Huayna is the only strong performing leader in this group of jokers, and he has a decent start when it comes to the all important food (that is, around his capital, not at it), but Charlemagne? Mehmed? There's virtually nothing when it comes to food outside their capitals. I don;t think they're really going to do much at all this game except flounder and be generally mediocre, as in their past performances. Wang has some really nice spots close to him (particularly for production), however I'm worried he'll either settle on the coast at the start (as that's where the food is) or settle in the middle with all the production but no food, with both results leaving him lackluster. Lastly, Toku actually has a decent start but... not only is he jungle choked initially but, well.. He's Tokugawa, the worst AI in the game! This man simply cannot progress to the playoffs two years in a row, I refuse to believe it.

Vunterslaush1: Everybody Wang Kon tonight!