Civ4 AI Survivor Season 5: Game Six Preview

This is a continuing feature for Season Five 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. We start as always with an overview of the map:

Game Six drew a field of low peace weight militaristic personalities. The seeded leaders for this game were the formidable duo of Huayna Capac and Mao Zedong, both of them with plenty of successes in their past histories. Huayna Capac in particular was on the short list of the best AI personalities for our competition based on his repeated first place finishes. They were joined by three other aggressive individuals: Boudica, Gilgamesh, and of course Montezuma. All of them ranked among the half dozen biggest warmongers in the game and Montezuma was infamous from past seasons for engaging in completely insane behavior. The last two leaders seemed out of place in this group, with the wonder-loving Augustus spawning in the southwest and the pacifistic Lincoln appearing in the north. The Americans were unlucky enough to appear with low peace weight aggressors as neighbors in five different directions - uh, good luck Lincoln?

Pool One Leader

Huayna Capac of the Incas
Traits: Financial, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 5 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two Champion
Total Kills: 10
Overall Power Ranking: 35 points, tied 1st place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Huyna Capac is one of the strongest leaders in Civ4 and brings a frighteningly powerful total package to the competition. He has the always-excellent Financial trait and hasn't seemed to suffer overmuch despite having to pair it with the typically weak Industious trait. More importantly, Huayna Capac is the only leader who gets to take advantage of the overpowered Incan civilization, with the single best building in the game coming in the form of the "granary that also produces culture" Terrace. The unique unit Quechua is also surprisingly useful for AI Survivor purposes, as the AI leaders often struggle with barbarian archers and this unit allows Huayna Capac to roll over them without issue. Huyna is one of the rare AI leaders who joins together outstanding economic abilities with an aggressive streak, and that tends to be the most dangerous setup possible for these games. Huayna has a fairly high aggression rating (6.7/10), a low peace weight, and he's willing to plot war at "Pleased" relations. His weaknesses are an excessive love of wonder-building (8/10), although he's better able to afford this thanks to the Industrious trait, and a heavy emphasis on religion. On the rare occasions where Huayna falters, it's due to tieing up too many cities on wonders and getting stuck in destructive religious conflicts. More often than not though, Huayna Capac will found his own religion and use it to dominate the diplomacy while scoring every wonder on the map and running over a series of poor fools who can't keep up with his teching prowess.

Past Performance: There's a strong argument to be made that Huayna Capac has been the most consistent and overall best performing AI leader over the first four seasons. He has appeared in eight total matches thus far and won five of them, also scoring at least one victory in every season other than Season Three. Huayna Capac has shown the capability of winning in multiple different fashions, with Spaceship, Domination, and even a Cultural victory under his belt. He was also the overall winner of the whole competition in Season Two, and while it's true that this was somewhat of a flukish result, the victory was dramatic in the extreme and an impressive way of pulling out a win despite being far behind in land and technology. Huayna Capac has also scored an impressive ten kills to date and remains one of the most ruthless individuals in the competition. There's basically nothing that Huayna Capac has failed to accomplish at this point, smashing his rivals again and again with seeming ease. He will be a favorite to win in every single match in which he appears.

Pool Two Leader

Mao Zedong of China
Traits: Expansive, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mining
Peace Weight: 1
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 3 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two Championship Game
Total Kills: 7
Overall Power Ranking: 18 points, 9th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Mao Zedong has been surprisingly successful at AI Survivor despite working with relatively few resources. His trait combination is simply bad, with the terrible Protective trait combined together with the AI's poor handling of the Expansive trait. Mao does get to take advantage of the Chinese civilization though, with the best starting techs in the game (Agriculture/Mining) and the strong Cho-Ko-Nu unique crossbow. Mao's AI personality is best known for placing very little emphasis on religion. He doesn't gain much of a benefit from shared religion and attaches little penalty to practicing a different faith. Mao will almost never demand that someone convert to his religion (0/10) but he will make civics-based demands on a frequent basis (10/10). Most of Mao's ratings are fairly average aside from his hefty emphasis on espionage spending (8/10). He's only average in terms of aggression but has a low peace weight and will happily plot war at "Pleased" relations. Mao's middle-of-the-road ratings reflect a leader who often seems to lurk under the radar until catching others by surprise.

Past Performance: Mao Zedong has been a sneaky-good AI leader, reaching the playoffs in three out of four seasons and making it to the championship game at the end of Season Two. He only has a single first place finish to his name but has stuck around to score a series of runner-up finishes. Mao's single best result was his opening round match in Season One, where he won a Diplomatic victory at the ridiculously late date of Turn 433. That's one of the slowest-finishing games that we've ever had and it reflected the fact that Mao isn't much of a researcher. He managed to sneak into the championship the next season with a pair of runner-up finishes, only to find that he couldn't keep pace with Huayna Capac and Pacal and Cyrus in the finals. Mao then suckered everyone into overrating him in Season Three, when he was heavily favored to win his opening round match and instead found himself taken out by Hannibal. Mao isn't one of the best leaders but he's good at hanging around and finding a way to make something out of nothing.

Unseeded Leaders

Augustus of Rome
Traits: Imperialistic, Industrious
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season One Playoffs
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 2 points, tied 40th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Augustus is one of the less noteworthy AIs in the game. His traits are Imperialistic and Industrious, which is a combination seriously lacking in synergy: Imperialistic wants you to get out there and claim the map, while Industrious wants to build wonders instead of settlers. He also gets the uber-swordsmen in praetorians and the less powerful forum, though the increased great people points do synergise with Industrious wonders. Lastly, Augustus starts with Fishing and Mining, a generally poor pair unless he starts on the coast. Augustus has a personality full of synergies and anti-synergies. To start with his synergies, the most notable thing about the Roman Emperor is his love of wonders (8/10), which works well with Industrious. He also gets the forum, which isn’t fantastic but does allow him to generate more great people with those wonders. Lastly, his low aggression rating (4.6/10) means he is generally in a position where tying up his cities on large projects isn’t a total disaster. However, because of that low aggression rating, Augustus typically doesn’t make use of the biggest reason to play the Romans: Praetorians. Sure, they can stabilise a defence if he’s attacked early, but Augustus is pretty unlikely to go on the offensive. He tends to ignore the Imperialistic half of his trait combination, and Augustus is unlikely to claim the lion’s share on the map. Other than that, Augustus’ numbers are in about the middle of the scale, and he has production and military flavours. He’s a generally run-of-the-mill AI with a particular penchant for wonders. Augustus has a strong and mediocre trait, and a strong and mediocre unique item. Unfortunately, he focuses on the wrong half of both.

Past Performance: Augustus has been less than successful in past years of AI Survivor. He tends not to settle very much of the map despite being Imperialistic, and generally sits in the corner not doing much until someone stronger comes along and bops him, as in Seasons Two (Roosevelt), Three (Stalin) and Four (Huayna Capac). The exception to this rule was in Season One Game Five, the only time Augustus was able to use praetorians to full effect. In that game, he first used them to stabilise an attack from Ragnar, then counterattack when the Viking leader foolishly returned for round two. From there, Augustus was able to coast to second place using his incorporated Viking lands, but it wasn’t a dominant showing, merely a competent one, and he was immediately torn apart in the playoffs for what is still the second fastest elimination as of Season Four (Turn 106). Suffice to say, Augustus has not been particularly impressive thus far, and he will have an uphill battle to make something of himself this season.

Boudica of the Celts
Traits: Aggressive, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One, Two, and Four Playoffs
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 13 points, tied 16th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Boudica has the second most combat oriented trait combination in the game, with Aggressive and Charismatic. Her units will acquire promotions faster than any other AI’s in the game, and it’s a good thing too, because Boudica means to use them. A lot. She gets the mediocre Gallic Warrior and Dun for unique items, and lastly starts with Hunting and Mysticism. Boudica is one of the serious warmongers in Civ 4. She has an extremely high aggression rating (8.8/10), and Boudica is one of the AIs that uses their traits to full effect. She has a middling build unit preference (6/10) and a low wonder build rate (2/10), and Boudica will often build a more balanced mix of units and buildings than most of the warlike AIs. Her flavours are also a little more balanced, with military and growth, and for one of the serious aggressors, Boudica can build a surprisingly competent economy in her downtime. Lastly, Boudica is less likely to waste her time on a religion than a lot of the other Mysticism-start leaders; it happens sometimes, but usually she’ll move straight onto the key worker techs thanks to not having a religious flavour.

Past Performance: Alongside Shaka, Boudica is the other best-performing warmonger, with the two of them sitting in the top third of leaders. Boudica scored a dominant win in her opening game of Season One (admittedly, the weakest opening game that season) after crushing game-rival Isabella. She’s also scored two strong second-place finishes in Seasons Two and Four, interestingly both behind Huayna Capac. Boudica’s often been successful at running over her early neighbours in a way that most of the warmongers seem unable to do (see Season One Louis or Season Four Napoleon), probably as a result of her extremely aggressive traits. Both of her second-place finishes have been far from distant, and Boudica has performed consistently well in the opening round. However, she’s struggled far more in the playoff games, dying in all three seasons she’s got there. Again like Shaka, Boudica seems unable to compete against the stiffer competition of more balanced leaders. Expect her to attack early and often, and don’t be surprised if those early attacks succeed where most would fail.

Gilgamesh of Sumeria
Traits: Creative, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 0
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Four Championship Game
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 12 points, tied 18th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Gilgamesh is a highly aggressive warmonger who finds himself bizarrely paired with defensive leader traits and an economic civilization. His trait combination of Creative + Protective is an odd grouping with no clear direction in mind. Faster border pops joined together with extra defensive promotions - huh? I suppose they're using for Pink Dotting a neighbor with a forward city plant but that's about it. The Sumerian civilization is quite a bit better, with excellent starting techs and a useful building in the Ziggurat. The Vulture doesn't grade out much better than a standard axe and definitely serves as the weakest part of this civilization's package. Gilgamesh has a strangely high wonder building preference (8/10) and an above average interest in religion. He's also one of the most likely leaders to launch new wars (8/10 aggression rating) and he emphasizes military techs in his research. He also has Culture as his other flavor alongside that Military preference, so again, this is kind of a confused individual. Gilgamesh can't seem to decide if he wants to be a culture/wonder leader or a military leader and often struggles to reconcile these competing impulses. He can be quite successful sometimes when it all comes together but we've also seen a lot of helpless flailing in multiple directions at once.

Past Performance: Gilgamesh struggled for the first three years of AI Survivor before finally assembling a strong run to the Championship game in Season Four. Gilgamesh had a genuinely unfair starting position in Season One, the sort that we wouldn't use in our current setup, and he was predictably eliminated in that contest. He also had the bad luck to draw a field of exclusively high peace weight leaders in Season Two, and then found himself the victim of an Apostolic Palace mass war declaration in Season Three. But in his opening round match of Season Four Gilgamesh finished in a strong second place behind Darius, and then he had his best performance to date with a wire-to-wire stomping of his playoff opponents. Overaggression foiled Gilgamesh in the Season Four Championship but he's shown that he can put up a good showing when given a fair opportunity to compete.

Lincoln of the Americans
Traits: Charismatic, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 9
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Season One Playoffs
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 27th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Lincoln can essentially be thought of as a slightly less extreme clone of Gandhi. He's almost as pacifistic in nature without taking things to quite as ridiculous of a degree. Lincoln's trait combination is pretty lackluster, depriving this peaceful leader of much of an economic foundation to work with. Philosophical in particular doesn't seem to do much for AI leaders who always run a gazillion specialists at all times. Lincoln is not helped either by his American civ with all of its uselessly-late unique features. Lincoln as a leader is extremely peaceful in nature with an exceedingly low aggression rating (0.8/10). He won't declare war at "Pleased" either so Lincoln rarely winds up initiating much in the way of conflict. Unlike Gandhi, he will at least train an average number of units (4/10) and therefore doesn't collapse instantly when attacked. Lincoln's an easy neighbor to get along with, as he rarely makes demands and doesn't hold much interest in religion. Unfortunately he also doesn't have any clear path to winning a victory, as his traits aren't great for pure economy and he doesn't have anything beyond half-cost universities to help with culture. It all adds up to a mixed bag, a nice guy leader who's too friendly to attack anyone while also lacking the tools to run the Mansa Musa or Darius playbook.

Past Performance: Lincoln won his very first game in the debut season of AI Survivor and has done essentially nothing since then. His Season One match held an atypical field of mostly high peace weight leaders, and once Ragnar + Kublai Khan were gone, Lincoln was able to sit back and win a big peaceful lovefest. All seven of Lincoln's points were scored in this initial game and he's been unable to muster anything since. He did come close to making the Season One Championship in another high peace weight playoff grouping but mostly it's been a series of early exits at the hands of more militaristic neighbors. Lincoln was First to Die in his opening round match in Season Two and saw another early exit in Season Four. The best he's managed was a Wildcard appearance in Season Three, where he again suffered a quick defeat. It's become clear that Lincoln's win in Season One was an unlikely result and he's an underwhelming choice for AI Survivor. Only in very specific circumstances can he emerge on top and claim a victory.

Montezuma of the Aztecs
Traits: Aggressive, Spiritual
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 0
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Three Wildcard Game
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 1 point, tied 44th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Anyone who’s played much Civ 4 probably already has a pretty good idea of the Montezuma AI. He tends to... stand out. To start with, Montezuma gets the Aggressive and Spiritual traits, a strong, if not top-tier, combination for these games. His unique items are the Jaguar Warrior and the Sacrificial Altar, both useful in the hands of a human, but relatively worthless in those of the AI. Lastly, Montezuma starts with Hunting and Mysticism, which allows him to found a religion right off the bat. Make no mistake, Montezuma likes himself some religion. But it’s not the traits or unique stuff that makes Montezuma so well-known in Civ 4; it’s the man himself. Sullla described Montezuma as a “rabid dog let loose in the streets to cause as much trouble as possible before being put down,” and considering that Montezuma is still a strategy game AI, that’s surprisingly accurate. Montezuma has polarizing numbers all over the place. He has the highest aggression rating in the game (10/10), and Montezuma is actually the benchmark for the normalized system we use to judge the rest of this bunch. His unit build (8/10) and tribute demand (10/10) ratings are both very high, which is lucky because there is rarely a time when Montezuma isn’t fighting at least one other player. Montezuma won’t bother with building wonders (0/10); he takes them instead. He doesn’t ask other AIs for help either (0/10); he wants to do all the fighting himself. Monty’s peace weight (0) is also the lowest possible in the game, and any cooperation between him and a "good" AI should be virtually impossible. Montezuma’s flavours are Military and Religion, and his "strategy" is almost universally to found a religion, and then psychotically defend it to the death. Or just attack the other true believers anyway during his downtime. There’s no way that could possibly go wrong...

Past Performance: Well, it turns out that pure insanity tends not to work so well for these games, and it’s a sad sign that while Gandhi the ultra-pacifist has picked up two kills, Monty’s only scored one. Montezuma has yet to win a game or place second so far, and his most successful game was the Wildcard Round in Season Three. That’s the game where he picked up his only kill, on a weak, barbarian-infested America, and then celebrated the only way Montezuma knows how: attacking a friendly Mongolian Empire larger and stronger than himself. That ended his short, sweet chance of victory on the spot, and the fact that it’s his best game is kind of hilarious. Montezuma’s appearances in AI Survivor usually go one of two ways. The first is that he stupidly attacks someone far larger and stronger than himself, in which case he promptly gets himself killed, as in that Wildcard Game. The second and more common way that Montezuma screws himself has been to indiscriminately (and unsuccessfully) attack anyone and everyone, until the entire world dogpiles him in a collective fury (for examples of this, see Monty’s opening games in Seasons One, Two and Four). While Montezuma’s absurd playstyle makes him unlikely to win a game, he’s one of the AIs most likely to shake things up, and the Aztec leader has become a fan favourite. Any game featuring Montezuma is likely to see some fun twists and turns before its end.

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

The community picked out Huayna Capac as their preferred favorite for this game with approximately half of the submissions taking the Incans to win. Mao Zedong and Boudica were distant trailing choices with roughly 18% of the vote apiece and none of the other leaders were able to secure much in the way of support. The Runner Up category was its usual grabbag although enough people picked Mao to make him the most common choice in that category. There was little ambiguity when it came to First to Die, as almost everyone favored Lincoln to be the first to exit the scene. His position appeared to be hopeless but in a game with Montezuma any outcome was in play. For the victory conditions, this didn't appear to be a likely Cultural game and opinion leaned slightly in favor of Domination over Spaceship.

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!

Eauxps I. Fourgott: Well, this doesn't look good for poor Lincoln. Even though Auggie's been screwed out of having iron for Praetorians, he's only got two neighbors to deal with and no Monty. While I think Lincoln can be a solid leader, it will take a game of pure insanity for him to last long at all. As for the rest, I'm sure HC is going to be a popular pick, but I don't like his starting position much - no backlines and he could get squeezed pretty badly. I'm predisposed to root for Boudica and she's got a nice central position with plenty of land, guaranteed copper, and a good shot at getting spoils from Lincoln, Auggie, AND the ticking time bomb that is Monty, so I think she's a pretty good pick here to go on a romp. You can do it Boudy! Gilgamesh for second place since he has decent land to start with, has been competent in the past, and should get some nice American land.

Fluffball:: Even though financial HC looks super cramped, all but 2 tiles at his capital are riverside, including a gem. His early tech rate is going to be ridiculous and he doesn't even have a choice in that. Between Monty being crazy and a weak Lincoln nearby, he has some mid game expansion options.

MirrorG: Like Shaka last game, I've decided to give peace a chance for a while. With so many rabid warmongers on this map, I don't think the high peace weights have much of a chance. As far as the low peace weights are concerned, Huayna Capac is too choked in by Monty, both will get different religions from each other and be too distracted fighting each other to amount to much. HC will ultimately come out on top thanks to Monty having no proper metals near his start, but it will be too late by then when combined with how penned in he is by the other civs in the east. I think Mao has the best shot at sneaking his way into a spaceship win this game, as he's far away from the rest of the pack except for Augustus, who is without friends and without iron (which Mao has in his capitol), and will likely draw the ire of Monty at some point due to the fact that he has a pulse and a high peace weight. That will, again, leave Mao just isolated enough to not get distracted by warfare and tech up to spaceship.

Amicalola: Huayna and Boudica are about as close to a Dynamic Duo as we have in AI Survivor, so honestly rooting for them is too much fun to do anything else. It also does have some merit, though. Huayna has a great start, and his only issue is small amount of territory relative to the western leaders. Hopefully, that shouldn't matter if he backstabs Monte or Gilgamesh while they're off having fun in America. Boudica meanwhile has a lot of space, and her closest neighbour Augustus is pretty certain to die at some point, with Boudica getting the lion's share. From there, the two of them consolidate and edge out the competition. Gilgamesh doesn't have the economy to keep up, I think, while Montezuma is going to get himself killed at some point. Mao is too peaceful for this field, and is likely to get wiped out in the late game by someone that's expanded better. Oh, I guess there's Lincoln. He, uh. Um. He's not going to have a good time this game. I reckon this could be the easiest first-to-die we've ever had.

Bobchillingworth: Lincoln's got this, for sure.

ZincAlloy: Welcome to the angry continent, population six civs and a smudge on the ground that used to be Lincoln. This is a huge mess, with four warlike civs that are competent or better and also Monty. Huayna's very crushed on space, but Gilgamesh and Monty aren't likely to do much better for land, so he's got a shot. (Those culture granaries can clear some room!) Meanwhile, Boudica and Mao have lots of room, but none of that land is actually very good. My thought is the winner's whoever gets to vulture Monty and the unlucky civ that gets stuck in a war with him, which could actually be Huayna, as long as he's not the victim himself.

Alhambram: Eventually Monty has to shine once and his shiny gold in his city should help him for once. Mao comes in 2nd simply because he is fartherst from crazy Aztec leader. Lincoln is invited as frist by Monty to make a tour of sacrificial altars with other neighbors of Monty joining in line behind the Great Emancipator.

Art Deco: Gilgamesh is clearly second best AI in this game after Huayna Capac. No discussion needed. And about traits. Game developpers are imbeciles who fucked things up again, just like Nefertiti picture of Hatshepsut, or Kublai Khan-Qin Shi Huang image confusion before expansion packs. And they happen to mix Hammurabi and Gilgamesh's traits. This way Gilgamesh has Creative and Protective traits instead of Aggressive and Organized. Which ironiclly boosts Gilgamesh's economy and helps him out in land grab considering he would skip mysticism with those preferences while it screws Hammurabi. And since Huayna Capac isn't great when it comes to wars and expansion, with a visit from Montezuma he is likely to delay and just be an average dude in the game.

Vergilou: We have two high peace weight leaders separated and two religious zealots right next to each other. This game will be a total mess diplomatically. I went for Boudica first and Mao second because Huayna has what we can call now a "Cathy start". Poor Lincoln by the way... But this will be entertaining. Monty declares on Lincolm too early to conquer him but weaken him enough for someone else to finish the job. During this time Boudica, Mao and Caesar divide the gigantic land and then the two aggressive take on the pacifistic one. Huyana makes ennemies on founding a no one practice religion and dies because of his start. After absorbing a part of Caesar, Boudica conquers the east and Mao will not backstab her because of military alliance. With no ennemies left they will tech to space. Wait I didn't mention Gilgamesh? Because he will do nothing aside maybe jumping on half dead targets.

Schmun: I think Mao vs Capac is a tough choice on this one. Mao definitely have a better start: Capac starts buried in forest, with most of his options for expansion also heavily in the jungle, plus crowded by two very aggressive leaders. Mao, by contrast, has much more room to expand. Both favourites have high food starts and Capac has some tasty gems. Of course, early war declarations from Gilgamesh of Monty might not be bad for Capac, he could roll up his neighbours early on and keep going from there. On the other hand, if Capac gets attacked before he can properly unlock his start then that might torpedo his game. I think a lot depends on where those first settlers from Gilgamesh and Monty go. Of course, they are much more likely to attack Lincoln first, who is obviously FTD. If Capac picks up Monty's religion then that's a big deal. Hmmm, I think ultimately Capac can still clinch it, he's such a good AI.

BluesyCobalt: Boudica snipes the Meditation religion, gobbles up land in the direction of Mao and Augustus, starves them of iron, goes ham on the entire Western part of the map while Monty turns the Eastern side of the map into a clown fiesta, and Huayna Capac doesn't get things under control until Boudica is Too Damn Big(tm) and on her way over with rifles and cavs if she hasn't already taken a bite out of Monty.

Greeny: I'm taking a huge risk by picking the Inca as first to die. The scenario I'm imagining is him and Monty founding opposing religions in the beginning, thus putting a big target on Huyana's back that will make him Monty's first victim. Given that the Inca has no copper near his start and that his surrounding land is poor in general, I think that an early attack by Monty will punch through, taking 1 or 2 cities and weakening the other pre-colombian leader just enough to allow the Aztecs to eventually wipe him off the map. The game will be won by Boudia who has lots of room for expansion and a soft target in Augustus to her west. I'm not as confident about my pick for Gilgamesh as 2nd place but do think he has it in him to overtake Lincoln and get his share of a inevitably collapsing Aztec empire.

Isidora: This is going to be a pure murderbowl. Poor Lincoln.

eyser24: I am taking a risk and am choosing Mao to win. The resources around Inca look good, but I don't like his neighbors, and these neighbors are also really close to him. I think Inca's fate depends on whether his neighbors expand towards him immediately and block him in or not. Gilgamesh is the most likely leader to benefit from Lincoln's demise and will balloon in power from that, and a Sumeria-Inca conflict will come in play down the road. Gilgamesh is a wild card and I am depending on both him having a good expansion and also Inca getting bogged down either in early conflict with Monty or having a poor expansion to where he is crippled. Mao and Augustus are likely to expand towards each other and allow Mao to gain a ton of land from their inevitable conflict. He seems isolated compared to the other warmongers and I think he could viably win by either space or domination.

Takuan: I'm giving up on trying to score points; from now on, i'll just vote with my heart. My favourite leader in this game is by far Boudica. She doesn't have the best territory, so that's going to be rough for her. The way i can see her winning is if she gets a religion early and get some friends, then expands towards the west. There are some luxury resources to grab to help her compete with the rest of the AIs. Then if she attacks and defeats August Caesar, she can have a shot at winning. For that to happen, i need Lincoln to be ignored, which is far fetched but eh. Maybe Monty will be the mad man we love him to be, and will attack his closest neighbour not named Boudica, aka Huayna Capac. His double gold will make him a very decent threat even for the beast HC is. That will stall that beast, and allow Boudica to rampage to the West. Then she can either develop and snowball, or turn her attention to more juicy targets - Lincoln, backstab Monty, or give Mao a try. In any case, that's my wish, Boudica to win. By using logic though, Huayna and Mao have the best chance, especially the former, but again, maybe Monty will make my wish come true. Please Boudica, please, i want at least ONE of my picks to do well, especially if it's a leader i like. Stomp them all Boudica !!

Commodore: Okay, Huayna starts with double rice and riverside grassland gems, I'm not going to bet against him for the win. But the rest of the results are much harder to predict; who will be in second place? Giggles who can buddy up with the juggernaught Inca and eat America? Mao, who pairs general competence with a roomy start? Boudica, who has a buffet in all directions? I went with Mao but I could see it any way. I feel like I'll be in a tiny slice of the prediction pie, but I'm actually going to say Monty gets first to die. Sure, Lincoln will be hated by literally every other active leader on the map, but Monty is between two good warmongers who really want their own religions...I think Monty dies to Monty's hand, first.

pindicator: Monty is going to decide this whole game. Does he go after Lincoln or does the religious difference + border conflict with Huayna Capac cause him to go that way? Does he do something unpredictable and attack the Celts? I think he's going to go after HC - and with a good starting position he may even have some initial success. But eventually he'll do something stupid and lose. Even so, Lincoln is still FTD just because he's also go Boudica and Gilgamesh to kill him. So who wins? Not Huayna Capac. He does not have good land and is cramped in his corner, so unless Monty suicides against him early and loses quickly HC will not win this game. I think Boudica has the best position with the most opportunities to win. As long as she doesn't attack Monty. 2nd place is harder: who gets to live in a corner? Does Mao become BFFs with Boudica? Gilgamesh far enough away to carve out a strong empire? Or does HC recover from early Monty enough to get a chunk of the east? I think Mao is most likely - i just don't like HC's land, and Gilgamesh is a little too unpredictable.

smithy: I'm gonna hold on to the dream of a Monty/Lincoln religious partnership sweeping through the land like an unstoppable tide. Unfortunately both will be dead long before I wake up. Monty will butt holy city heads with HC, and Lincoln has 5 aggressive evil neighbours and may not get any metals- T104 elimination is the record and this could be close. The others civs are going to view this as a gold rush- Monty and Lincs caps have it and they want it. Winner may well be the one who makes the best early rush. Smart money has to be on HC as always, and i'm going for Boadicea to snag second due to having more land out west. Hopefully Mao and Gilg can hang around without doing anything too silly and raise the quality of the wildcard round. Alternatively we could just save a lot of time and just ask Kjotleik?

Faded_Outline: ...and here is that hypothetical "More Doomed" scenario alluded to last week. Beyond Lincoln's re-assassination, Huayna Capac might just be next on the chopping block... he's hemmed in a little too much by two bad neighbours and unlikely to get all that much support from beyond. Doesn't matter what AIs are involved, 2v1s are bad news. Monty gets the blood, Gilgamesh gets the buildings, and from there I see a violent but reasonably solid path to victory for the latter.

Wyatan: "Cuzco delenda est." - Missive from King Gilgamesh of Sumer to Emperor Augustus Caesar of Rome. (According to the Chinese scholar who donated the document, it was found by one of his ancestors, a captain in the army which liberated the barbarian city of Zhou. It is a fair assumption that the messenger never reached his destination.)

Willem: I have no idea what I am doing *insert picture of dog in chemistry lab*

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