Civ4 AI Survivor Season 4: Game Two Preview

This is a continuing feature for Season Four 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 second game of Season Four rolled a group of leaders with an uncommonly economic bent: four different leaders with the Financial trait! There are only ten such leaders in the whole game and this particular map ended up with four of them. The group started with Pacal from the pool of protected leaders, one of the rare Financial leaders with a low peace weight. He's more comfortable hanging out with the likes of Montezuma than with Lincoln. Joining Pacal were a pair of Financial leaders with great traits (Willem and Victoria) who had experienced essentially no success to date in past seasons of AI Survivor. Was this the game for them to break through finally? Then there was also Wang Kon, the Troll King, winner of perhaps the most preposterous victory in Civ4 AI Survivor history last season. His trolling had advanced to the point of metagaming the humans watching the AI competition, and I genuinely feared for what he would do this year. We also drew Gandhi into this game, probably the best non-Financial AI leader from an economic perspective. Gandhi either runs away with a peaceful victory or gets crushed, one or the other. Finally we added two more aggressive, low peace weight civs in the last two slots, Mehmed and Louis. They had the potential to shake things up in what otherwise could be a big research lovefest.

Pool One Leader

Pacal of the Mayans
Traits: Financial, Expansive
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 3 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Third Place in Season Two Championship
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 16 points, 8th place (out of 52 leaders)

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.

Pool Two Leader

Gandhi of India
Traits: Philosophical, Spiritual
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Peace Weight: 10
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Two and Three
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 12 points, tied 13th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Gandhi is arguably the most unique leader in the entire game, and his AI personality differs in several respects from everyone else. Gandhi has Philosophical and Spiritual traits, a decent second-tier pairing with a pretty good economic boost. He gets the Indian civilization, with the single best unique unit in the entire game in the Fast Worker, although the AI doesn't know how to use them properly. India's unique building is the Mausoleum, a jail replacement which is rather good itself. Gandhi the AI plays the game as a hyper-pacifist, as befitting his historical personality. Gandhi is the AI leader least likely to declare war in the whole game, with a normalized aggression rating of zero out of ten. He's the benchmark upon which all other peacenicks are judged. Gandhi only has one flavor for his research: CULTURE. He can often ignore military techs to an alarming degree. Gandhi's other ratings are a similar story in contrasts. He places no emphasis upon building units (0/10 rating), or espionage spending (0/10), or demanding tribute (0/10). He will ask for help (8/10) and demand civic changes (10/10) at a high rate, but even in those cases, Gandhi has a unique diplomatic mechanic where refusing his demands does not lower his opinion of you. However, Gandhi also has a unique mechanic whereby he places a -2 diplo penalty on anyone who declares war against someone he regards with "Pleased" or "Friendly" ratings. He has the highest peace weight in the entire game, a perfect 10/10, indicating quasi-divine morality. No one else has the same peace weight in the whole game. Overall, Gandhi is about as extreme as it's possible to get on the pacifist scale. He's extremely good at pursuing Cultural victory... but he has to survive to get to that point, and that's quite often his problem.

Unseeded Leaders

Louis XIV of France
Traits: Creative, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Peace Weight: 1
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 3 points, tied 30rd place (out of 52 leaders)

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 in Season Three 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?"

Mehmed of the Ottoman Empire
Traits: Expansive, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: None, Eliminated in all three opening round games
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 3 points, tied 30th place (out of 52 leaders)

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 three seasons with underwhelming performances. Is this finally his time to shine?

Victoria of England
Traits: Financial, Imperialistic
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Wildcard Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 0 points, tied 44th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)

AI Summary from Season One: Victoria is the one of the few Financial leaders in this match, pairing that alongside Imperialistic trait. This is one of the weaker combos involving Financial, but you can't really go wrong with the game's strongest trait. As an English leader, Victoria has the Redcoat unique unit and the Stock Exchange unique building, both of them well above average. Victoria AI has gold and growth flavors for her research emphasis. Her numbers are middle of the table for virtually everything, including her aggression rating of 5.1 out of 10. Victoria AI doesn't appear to get too high or too low in any one category. She's another leader who doesn't care very much about religious issues, and she's considered to be a "Good" leader according to peace weight, if not so high as Gandhi. Victoria is a fairly bland AI, without much in the way of defining characteristics. There's not too much that can be said about her. She has done remarkably little in past seasons despite having some of the best traits in the game.

Wang Kon of Korea
Traits: Financial, Protective
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 20th place (out of 52 leaders)

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" in Season Two 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 met once again in the opening round of Season Three. Wang's subsequent victory over Charlemagne in that match was one of the craziest finishes we've ever seen, not just in AI Survivor, but in Civ4 period. Expect to see more baffling (and brilliant?!) decisions from the Korean leader.

Willem of the Dutch
Traits: Financial, Creative
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 4
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: None, Eliminated in all three opening round games
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 0 points, tied 44th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)

AI Summary from Season One: Willem has Creative and Financial traits, making him a near-universal ban for our Multiplayer events. He's held back somewhat by being paired with the Netherlands as a civ, who should have limited success on a Pangaea map. Their East Indiaman ship and Dike unique building are far stronger on water maps. Willem AI has gold and science flavors for his programming, and moderate emphasis on building units and wonders. In an interesting quirk, Willem cares almost nothing for religion at all, with a very small penalty for different faiths and equally small bonus for shared faith. He also has a strangely high aggression rating at 6.7 out of 10, which was not what I expected at all. So while Willem is programmed to emphasize gold and science, he's also programmed to declare war at a fairly high rate. Very unusual mix.

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

Unlike the situation in Game One, the picking contest was much more divided here about who was going to win. Mehmed was the favorite at about a third of the entrants, but after that there was no clear choice between Pacal, Gandhi, and Wang Kon. Victoria and Willem were long shots while Louis was the only one that no one seemed eager to back. The second place vote was even more divided, with the group consensus more or less "we have absolutely no idea". The First to Die category was more decisive, with Willem the popular choice to fall to either Mehmed or Pacal and continue his long losing streak. Louis and Gandhi were the other popular choices for a fast elimination. Spaceship was the somewhat surprising top victory condition coming on the heels of a Domination ending in Game One, and despite so many people choosing Mehmed as their horse in this race.

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!

Methoz: Louis will be first to declare war and it will be against Ganghi, but Pacal, Wang, and eventually Vicky will backstab him and Louis will be first to die. Willem will Peacfully tech away until he has a reasonable tech lead then gain territory through Mehmed or Pacal, whoever is fightin Wang at the time. There will be a few start and stop wars not accomplishing anything and Willem will edge out a space victory from Vicky.

Fatkid: Predictions are pointless except that Wang Kon will find some bizarre way to win the game.

JackDRB: In a world filled with boring and horribly underperforming "good" peaceniks, the "evil" warmongerer is king. Probably. Mehmed begins his reign of terror by running over his neighbour Willem and snowballs from there. Pacal gets a pass because peaceweight and he's more competent than the other tech-y civs. Late-ish finish because I expect most of the financial civs to be run over in one way or another.

Irismono: Both Pacal and Willem have terrible tundra starts, England, India, and France are fairly bunched up. Mehmed on the other hand is in a fantastic position. 3 gems? as soon as he get's mining he'll be able to keep up with the financials in tech pace. Victoria has a pretty good start, and will probably ally with Gandhi (Via religion?) but I think the most that will do is let her use India as a wall while she techs up. Wang is in a true wildcard location, middle of the map, no one really nearby (besides wonder boy Louis) not many resources, but plenty of room to expand. I think Pacal and Willem will end up fighting for territory, allowing Mehmed to expand and build up a giant of an economy, then steamroll anyone in his way. Wang would be his only real obstacle.

Eauxps I. Fourgott:We've seen this sort of setup twice before, and Gandhi won in a landslide both times. The only question is how that win will manifest itself this time, and I frankly don't know so I'm guessing Culture. For second place, I think Mehmed's in a pretty decent position, with good starting land and as far away from Gandhi as possible. Willem clinically sucks at this competition AND borders both Pacal and Mehmed, the two worst neighbors to have in this game, so I'm saying he'll be the first to go.

Jowy: Gems... Gems are truly outrageous. They are truly truly truly outrageous.

RefSteel: Completely surrounded by leaders predisposed to hate him, the Troll King will have to reach new levels of metagame manipulation and/or sheer hilarity just to outlive anyone else, but the question isn't so much IF as HOW! Perhaps he'll trick Louis into declaring a relentless war on Gandhi in which neither side takes the trouble to build any units in between wonders. Then Louis could pull ahead of Kon in the race to oblivion when Gandhi begs for help from Victoria! With Imperalistic expansion and ideal starting techs for her capital, she could by then have claimed the whole northeast of the map and be ready to roll - or so I'm hoping. Meanwhile, in the West, what will it take for the Mehmed to outperform his miserable record? I dunno - how about a triple gems start? Will that do?

NotSpamBot:Despite what I voted Victoria might just win this. She has a lot of land and her neighbors are Gandhi, Louis, neither of whom are going to be dangerous, and Wang Kon, who would totally screw with her given half the chance but is far enough away that he should be limited in his ability to troll Victoria. I am still not going to vote for her, as I have absolute faith in her ability to disapoint.

ZincAlloy: WAAAAAAANG KOOOOOON... does absolutely nothing all game, disappointing everyone. Pacal kills Louis and Wang while the two civs on the left get cut off and never settle enough to be a threat. Ghandi comes second due to having so much land to himself, but fails to grab a culture win.

Tank Sinatra: Willem and Mehmed have the hot starts - will one of them break out of his years-long slump? I say yes, and I say Willem. Pacal tries something aggressive and gets dog-piled. Mehmed chokes like usual. Willem gets rich, things are relatively peaceful (peaceful enough for Gandhi to be left alone), and eventually the Dutch Alpha Centauri Company sends an Alpha Centauriman to plant the orange flag and bring back some of them space spices.

LinkMarioSamus: Perhaps picking Pacal and Gandhi seems like tempting fate after the last match, but they aren't in much of a position to cannibalize each other like Cathy and Cyrus were previously. They seem to be in fairly safe positions and the battle between good and evil is largely pretty even this time around, if perhaps slightly slanted towards the latter. I'm honestly not entirely sure what to say here other than that Pacal winning, Gandhi in second, and Louis as first to die was my gut pick when I saw the game preview, and I'm sticking with it. Gandhi has Victoria as a close neighbor while Pacal's closest is Willem, so not much threat there. Isabella doing so well bodes well for Gandhi as they were in the same game last season, but between the slightly greater presence of lower-peace weight leaders in this match and Pacal having better econ traits, Gandhi seems to be a good bet for second. Also Louis might attack him and mess with Gandhi's early game, and this field seems slightly stronger than Gandhi's opening round competition in the last two seasons.

Louis dies first because his closest neighbors are Gandhi, Wang Kon, and Victoria. Also, as mentioned in Sullla's description Louis's AI personality is kind of self-destructive, hogging wonders and then pissing off stronger civs he's in no position to deal with, and Qin doing so badly last game does not bode well for Louis given their similarities (Industrious leaders who snuck into the playoffs last season on the backs of much stronger first place civs). Mehmed might attack Willem and drag them both down, which would only be further good news for Pacal (either he avoids war or dogpiles Willem), so the lower-peace weight leaders might lose their upper hand in this, but we could be gearing for a good vs. evil showdown of Mehmed and Pacal (and Willem if he survives) vs. Wang Kon, Victoria, and Gandhi.

Greatmefisto: Last time I gave detailed explenation of what will happen and nothing came out true. This time all predictions are made by my wife that has no clue what AI survivor is about

Game Two Picking Contest Entry Form