Civ4 AI Survivor Season 3: Game Eight 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.

Game Eight is the final game of the opening round containing our last seven entrants into the competition. I love the map that I ended up finding for this one, which distributed the seven civs in close proximity to one another along the edge of a big circle. Just about all of these leaders have some backline territory to expand into safely, but their neighbors are very close indeed on both sides. And that's not helped by having some of the game's most aggressive leaders appearing in this field, with Shaka and Boudica and Napoleon here to stir up lots of trouble. I dubbed this map the "Ring of Death" in my head, and some of the Livestream viewers were calling it the "Thunderdome" in the old Mad Max reference. In either case, it looks like it will make for a very entertaining game.

Boudica of the Celts
Season One Opening Round: Winner of Game Three
Season One Playoffs: Eliminated in Game Three
Season Two Opening Round: Second Place in Game Two
Season Two Playoffs: Eliminated in Game One
Total Kills: 3
Past Finishes: Season One (12), Season Two (18), Overall (9)

AI Summary from Season One: Boudica is one of the rare female leaders. Did you know that only 6 of the 52 leaders in Civ4 are women? It's not very inspiring, we definitely could have done a better job here. (The original Civ4 was notably better, with 5 out of 26 female leaders, but Boudica is literally the only woman included in either expansion, 1 out of the 26 leaders added. Bit of a sausage fest.) Anyway, Boudica has the game's most offensively oriented trait pairing with Aggressive and Charismatic traits. I hope the AI Boudica uses them better than poor Spanish Apolyton did in the Intersite Game. Boudica also brings along the Gallic Warrior and Dun from her Celtic civ. Boudica AI has military and growth flavors, with an aggression rating of 8.8 out of 10. She's very similar to Shaka AI in nearly every way, with slightly less focus on building units. If the two of them share a religion, it could be a match made in heaven. Boudica has somewhat surprisingly done well in past seasons, making the playoffs in both years of AI Survivor. She seems to be slightly less insane about her aggression than the Shaka/Monty/Ragnar trio.

De Gaulle of France
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Six
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Two
Total Kills: 0
Past Finishes: Season One (50), Season Two (52), Overall (52)

AI Summary from Season One: De Gaulle has a number of oddities in the way that his AI is programmed. He brings Industrious and Charismatic traits, making him unpopular for everyone other than Parkin in our Multiplayer events. De Gaulle's French civilization, on the other hand, is an outstanding choice, easily one of the best in the game with the Musketeer and Salon unique items. De Gaulle the AI has production and growth flavors. You'd think that he would have a wonder focus with his Industrious trait, but no, De Gaulle AI barely looks to build them at all. Only 2/10 rating for wonder construction. Instead, De Gaulle AI will make lots of tribute demands (10/10) and civic demands (8/10) on other leaders. While his aggression rating is only average at 5.7 out of 10, De Gaulle gets classified as an "Evil" leader via peace weight. He's actually as low as it's possible to go on the scale, sitting in the same position as leaders like Ragnar and Shaka. This suggests that someone at Firaxis was having some fun at De Gaulle's expense, especially when you consider how De Gaulle gets a rating of 0/10 in the "Resists Capitulating" category. Anyway, De Gaulle AI will be seriously unpopular with many of these other leaders, and that should produce some weird stuff before we're done.

Season Three Addition: De Gaulle has been the worst AI out of the 52 leaders over the first two years of the competition, and it hasn't been particularly close. He was the First to Die in both of the past games where he appeared, and he finished in 50th place in Season One and 52nd place, dead last, in Season Two. It's genuinely difficult to do that badly in two consecutive years in a row. De Gaulle's AI programming makes him into a total jerk who demands things incessantly from his neighbors, with traits that are suited for wonder-building and an AI who rarely chooses to build wonders. Pair that with a horribly low peace weight that causes all of the other economic AIs to hate him, and it's no surprise that he's fallen on his face so badly in past years. He *HAS* to do better this year - right?

Frederick of Germany
Season One Opening Round: Third Place in Game Six
Season One Wildcard: Fifth Place in Wildcard
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Five
Total Kills: 0
Past Finishes: Season One (21), Season Two (50), Overall (41)

AI Summary from Season One: Frederick is a leader similar to Hatshepsut in this game, a peaceful builder who mostly wants to be left alone. His trait pairing of Philosophical and Organized makes him another leader with strong economic abilities. Frederick's German civilization has a lategame focus, with the Panzer unique unit and the Assembly Plant unique building, which rarely have much of an impact. In all of the Civilization games, it's better to have unique things that come earlier on the tech tree. Frederick AI has only one flavor: PRODUCTION. That's kind of an oddity, and it will be interesting to see how that affects his tech choices. Frederick AI is very average across the board, with middling scores in most everything. His aggression rating is below average at 4/10, and he can sometimes get himself into trouble with his low unit emphasis (only 2/10). Like Hatshepsut, he has a high peace weight as another "Good" leader. Frederick AI has rarely done much of anything except sit back and build in past years, which allowed him to make the Wildcard game in a field of peaceful leaders in Season One... and got him killed quickly with a field of low peace weight leaders in Season Two.

Hatshepsut of Egypt
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Two
Season Two Opening Round: Fifth Place in Game Six
Season Two Wildcard: Sixth Place in Wildcard
Total Kills: 0
Past Finishes: Season One (40), Season Two (22), Overall (34)

AI Summary from Season One: Hatshepsut reminds me of Suryavarman, in the sense that it's a very tough name to spell that I nonetheless have down by heart given her popularity for our Multiplayer events. Hatty is Spiritual and Creative for traits, and brings along the strong Egyptian package of the War Chariot and Obelisk. When using Restricted leaders, this is a very powerful combination. Hatshepsut the AI has a strong focus on culture, religion, and building wonders. Her low unit emphasis (only rated 2/10) can get her into trouble with the more aggressive AIs. Hatshepsut is below average in aggression rating at 3.7 out of 10, and makes for an excellent neighbor in Single Player games. She's a tough competitor if left unmolested by foreign attack. Hatshepsut has performed poorly in past seasons, dying in Season One and avoiding elimination in Season Two only because of a single city that couldn't be reached by her attackers due to a lack of Open Borders. Then she put on an epic troll job by defying every UN Resoution for no particular reason. Aside from pretending to be North Korea, Hatty has done very little in past seasons.

Napoleon of France
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game One
Season Two Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Eight
Total Kills: 2
Past Finishes: Season One (32), Season Two (38), Overall (40)

AI Summary from Season One: Napoleon is Organized and Charismatic for traits, with the amazing Musketeer unique unit and the completely not-amazing Salon unique building by virtue of being France. He is one of the most aggressive leaders in the entire game, with a heavy military emphasis and an aggression rating of 9.1 out of 10. Napoleon is also one of the most likely leaders in the game to demand tribute and demand civic changes. He doesn't care about religion though, and he's one of the easiest AIs to keep on good terms when having a different faith. Nevertheless, Napoleon is a scary leader. He builds tons of units and he isn't afraid to use them. Only a couple of leaders are more likely to go to war. He's also managed to pick up two kills in past seasons despite being never making it out of the opening round. Napoleon is a simple AI: he's going to build up an army and then attack, attack, attack.

Pacal of the Mayans
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Six
Season Two Opening Round: Winner of Game Eight
Season Two Playoffs: Second Place in Game Two
Season Two Championship: Third Place in Championship
Total Kills: 3
Past Finishes: Season One (33), Season Two (3), Overall (11)

AI Summary from Season One: Pacal's trait pairing of Financial and Expansive is widely viewed as the strongest for any leader in Civ4. Pacal is therefore a universal ban for our Multiplayer events, at least the ones played without any mods. He is the only leader for the Mayans, who feature the Holkan unique unit and the Ball Court unique building. This is a rare case where the unique building is the better of the pair, as it adds a nice boost to happiness. Pacal the AI has culture and growth flavors. He places a high priority on religion, with a huge penalty for leaders of rival faiths. Pacal will likely found his own religion in this game, with the Mayans being the one of the few civilizations in this game to start with Mysticism tech. Pacal the AI also likes to build wonders (8/10 rating), and otherwise has mostly average numbers. Pacal has the strange combination of a low aggression rating (2.8 out of 10) along with an "Evil" rating in peace weight. Pacal AI will be predisposed to like the aggressive leaders, and he won't fit in with the other economic leaders in this game. If Pacal can get an early conquest, his traits will probably make him unstoppable.

Shaka of the Zulus
Season One Opening Round: Eliminated in Game Four
Season Two Opening Round: Winner of Game Five
Season Two Playoffs: Eliminated in Game Two
Total Kills: 1
Past Finishes: Season One (31), Season Two (11), Overall (17)

AI Summary from Season One: Oh yeah, Shaka's in this game too. Because Boudica and Napoleon weren't enough.That makes for three of the most aggressive leaders in this game, missing only Ragnar and Montezuma for the full set. Shaka has Aggressive and Expansive traits, a pairing that's caused him to see occasional use in some of our Pitboss games. Shaka's Zulu civ is often seen as one of the best in the game, packaging the fast-moving Impi along with the Ikhanda for a unique building. It's a shame that the AI doesn't know how to use these effectively, as Shaka was a universal ban on the Multiplayer ladder back in the days of the Warlords expansion. Shaka AI looks much like Temujin AI and Montezuma AI, with only a single flavor: MILITARY. He has a rating of 10/10 for unit emphasis, and an aggression rating of 9.2 out of 10, good enough for fourth place in the entire game. Like Temujin and Montezuma, he also has Police State as his favorite civic. If any of these leaders build or capture the Pyramids, they'll choose that civic for the rest of the game. Shaka's only real difference is that he doesn't make much in the way of demands. These guys are all totally nuts, and should be a sight to watch. Shaka's opening round victory in Season Two of AI Survivor remains one of the most shocking results we've ever seen in this competition.

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

Pacal and Boudica seem to be the early favorites to win this game, while De Gaulle not surprisingly leads the polling in the First to Die category. We also have a lot of people expecting a Domination victory, much more than normal for one of these games. 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!

RefSteel: This game is going to be terrifically fun and chaotic, and that calls for some fun and improbable picks: Hatty plants her second city, founding the second religion there to go with her CRE culture, straight toward the center of the map, while Pacal settles into the tundra where the game's first holy city spreads it powerful cultural presence across basically ice and ocean. The Egyptian faith ends up spreading to Celtic lands, leading to a southeastern friendship that lasts through the end of the game, and an endless series of wars breaks out across the rest of the continent, in which Egypt and Celtia benefit from sharing the world's only safe border. Pacal gets slowly ground down by (mostly) Shaka, but De Gaulle keeps up his perfect record of futility by dying long before that, after making about five too many demands at just the wrong times: He is ironically overrun by hordes of Gallic Warriors (and lots of cats). The successful conclusion of that war leads Boudica to turn her sights on Germany, splitting Freddy like a wishbone with Napoleon. The wars go on from there, with Celtia clearly leading in land and score, until Hatty - largely uninvolved, with no conquests, all this time - turns on the culture slider and achieves a peaceful victory in the midst of all the violence.

Smosism: Boudica let's go gurl

LinkMarioSamus: I don't really know how to explain why I think Boudica will win without writing a LONG explanation, but, uh, I think she has the best position on this map to snowball from. The game's three aggressive leaders will raise hell, and past that Pacal and Hatshepsut are sure to get along poorly with each other. Hatty might suicidally send her forces off into Mayan lands and then subsequently get gobbled up by Boudica. Meanwhile, both French leaders carve up Germany and Pacal gets dragged down fending off attacks from Shaka. So it will be a game with loads of warfare and no real allies, which will probably benefit the warlike leaders. I'm picking Napoleon for second because he's the furthest away from Boudica and could get himself into a strong position from conquering Germany. Let's hope he doesn't have to deal with another Russian winter after that!

Japper007: Busa Shaka iyo!!! (translated: Rule Shaka!)

Commodore: This game is 100% guaranteed to be a bloodbath. Which, let's be honest, means literally nothing else is guaranteed. I think you'll see the three northern civs and the four southern ones play two different games for a while, but with these nuts I also wouldn't be shocked to see a Franco-Celtic war first off either. That being said, I like Napoleon to snowball off of Fred and then the inept Chuck Dugal, while Shaka exerts his energies mostly in slowing Pacal down. Bodacious Boudica makes a hat out of Hatty, but I think slowly.

Marasai: Fredrick gets eaten by shaka and/or napolean. Hashy fpinds her own religion spreads it to boudeca who kills de gaulle. Eventually one of the girls votes the other to UN victory while shaka an napolean turn on each other. Pacal is teching away to space but UN comes first. GIRL POWER

Ghostpants: One summer a few years ago I got really bored and did 3 of my own AI survivor seasons. THE most surprising thing about them was that while second and third place changed each time, Pacal came first in all three seasons. All. Three. Albeit a small sample size, I don't think that can entirely be a coincidence, and I've come to the conclusion that Pacal is a fantastic AI, because he has great economic traits (like Lizzie and Mansa), and a low peace weight, combining to make a fast-teching AI that doesn't get attacked with his pants down (unlike Lizzie and Mansa). This is what I believe sets Pacal apart from the pack, and hopefully we'll get to see it in action this Friday. As for the other leaders, Hattie and Freddie are somewhat unfortunate with this field, and should get carved up by four ravenous warmongers pretty quickly. Shaka, Napoleon and Boudica will probably be the contenders for second place, and I'm giving the edge to Boudica based on past performance and the hope that she'll get most of Egypt following it's inevitable destruction. De Gaulle (lol) is just appalling, and will probably also get killed off at some point by the second place triumvirate.

Axiis: Freddy and Hatty are so screwed. So, so, so screwed. DeGaulle will actually manage to not completely embarass himself until either Boudica or Napoleon puts him out of his misery. Pacal partitions Egypt, then beats a metal-less Shaka, then techs to space.

Shpoko: With their high peace weight and low unit emphasis, Hatty and Fred are both DOOMED on this map, it's only a question of who dies first. I'm gonna pick Hatty, since I think she'll go after a religion, which gets both Pacal and Bodi to declare on her. Up north, Fred gets taken out by Napolean, with an assist from Shaka. Nap then continues on to take out his French successor, while shaka jumps into a Pacal/Boda war, allowing them to grind her down to the point an AP cheese war brings Nappy in to claim the spoils. Once she's gone, Nappy decides to pick on Shaka until he reaches domination.

LSCY: It is entirely seemly for a young Freddie killed in battle to lie mangled by the bronze axes. In his death, neighbors acquire land. Pacal has the power to both destroy and build (wonders). When Pacal is both militarily strong and technologically advance, he can win the game.