Civ4 AI Survivor Season 5: Wildcard Game 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:

This was the Wildcard game for Season Five, the last chance for the remaining leaders who avoided elimination in their opening round matches but didn't manage to qualify for the playoffs. The Wildcard game traditionally has a field of weaker leaders and that seemed to be mostly the case again. Mao Zedong was the only one of the seeded leaders to find his way into this match and the other two top leaders by our power rankings were Gilgamesh and Tokugawa. A lot of Protective leaders seemed to find their way into this game, and that made a lot of sense since the Protective trait doesn't seem to help win games but does drag out a losing game to the point where survival becomes more likely. The biggest variable in this game would be the barbarians, as the Wildcard game is the only time that we turn on the Raging Barbarians option in the competition. Who would do the best job of surviving the enemies at the gates and securing the last two spots into the playoff field?

Bismarck of Germany
Traits: Expansive, Industrious
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 6
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: None, Eliminated in all four opening round games
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 0 points, tied 47th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)

Season Five Performance: No First or Second Place Finishes, 1 kill

Personality: Bismarck has the Expansive and Industrious traits, a below average combination probably most useful for the half-cost granaries and forges. As a German leader he gets the Panzer and Assembly Plant unique items, both of which are fairly strong on paper but come so late in the game that they may as well not exist, excluding very fringe circumstances. Lastly, Bismarck gets Hunting and Mining, which can make him slow to improve his food resources early in the game. Bismarck's main quirk is that he's a rare leader with only a single flavour: Military. Unlike most of the other leaders with just one flavour though, Bismarck's other preferences aren't particularly geared around it; he's otherwise a pretty standard AI. Bismarck has an average aggression rating (5.6/10), unit (6/10) and wonder (6/10) build preference, and a neutral peaceweight at 6. He's basically a generic AI that's more likely to be ahead instead of behind in military tech, but a little slower on the economic front.

Past Performance: Bismarck, along with Sitting Bull, shares the honour of statistically being the worst performing leader in AI Survivor history. At least the other leaders with zero points have made the Wildcard Game, and the German leader hasn't just died in all his games; he's been first or second to die in every single appearance! While it's easy to deduce Sitting Bull's weaknesses, Bismarck is a little more inexplicable on the surface. Part of it is likely due to a high preference on military; while Bismarck is often ahead in military tech early on, he tends to fall behind in most other areas in the game. For example, Bismarck is a rare leader that will sometimes research archery tech first, despite being unable to connect any food resources, putting him in the same slow-start category as religious leaders without the upside of founding a religion. He's also been surprisingly feeble in military conflict, usually rolling up to die underneath a stronger neighbour. For whatever reason, Bismarck has been utterly incapable thus far in AI Survivor, and even optimistically he'd be described as "only the second-worst leader." Try to expect nothing from the Chancellor; you're likely to be disappointed.

Brennus of the Celts
Traits: Spiritual, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 0
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Two Playoffs
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 27th place (out of 52 leaders)

Season Five Performance: No First or Second Place Finishes, 2 kills

Personality: Brennus gets the Charismatic and Spiritual traits, a middle-tier economic pairing. He gets the less decent Gallic Warrior and Dun unique items, both well below average, and starts with Hunting and Mysticism techs, one of the "religion-or-bust" combinations. Brennus is less suicidally aggressive than his female counterpart, with only a moderately high aggression rating (7/10). Other than that, his preferences are pretty similar, with a moderate unit build rating (6/10) and a low wonder build rating (2/10), and Brennus is also highly unlikely to demand tribute (1/10). The other noteworthy difference between the two are their flavours, with Brennus' being military and religion. The male Celtic leader is far more likely to actually use his Mysticism start and research a religion out of the gate. He also cares a lot more about religion, with a high bonus and malus for sharing or not sharing faith with his neighbours. Brennus is basically one of the moderately aggressive, religious AIs, with an extremely low peace weight to boot (0/10).

Past Performance: Brennus is a middle-tier leader as far as past performance goes. He's scored two distant second-place finishes in the first two seasons, though neither were particularly impressive, and has never performed well in the playoffs, dying in his first game and coming very close to death in his second game. Otherwise, he played an unimpressive opening game and Wildcard game in Season Three, failing to advance further, and while he opened strongly in his Season Four game, he failed to keep up the momentum, throwing away a significant lead to a Darius/Gilgamesh combination later on. Brennus has so far been a substantially average leader, sometimes able to get a kill or two, sometimes falling flat on his face, but at this point it seems safe to say he's unlikely to run away with a game without some serious luck on his side.

Genghis Khan Temujin of the Mongols
Traits: Aggressive, Imperialistic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Wheel
Peace Weight: 0
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One Wildcard Game
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 2 points, tied 40th place (out of 52 leaders)

Season Five Performance: No First or Second Place Finishes, 2 kills

Personality: Temujin is a comically over-aggressive leader who routinely self-destructs with ill-advised military ventures. His Imperialistic trait is good for expansion but the pairing with Aggressive carries no economic benefits at all, leaving Temujin to crash his economy in game after game. The great khan is routinely one of the most technologically backwards leaders, inevitably causing him to flame out and lose to more advanced neighbors in the later stages of each match. The Mongolian civ is well above average thanks to the Keshik and Ger unique items, and Kublai Khan has been able to use them to good effect in his appearances. However, Genghis Khan is fatally undercut by his obsession with all things involving war. He has an exceedingly high aggression rating (9.5/10), he builds tons of units (8/10), he will demand tribute constantly (10/10), and he has the lowest peace weight in the game. Temujin only has a single flavor for his tech research, Military, and he'll go to great lengths to beeline Military Science for his grenadiers while still lacking Aesthetics. This is not a complicated leader to understand: Temujin is going to attack his neighbors early and often.

Past Performance: Like many of the other obsessive warmongers, Temujin has also struggled in his AI Survivor history. His most impressive performance came in Season One where he was handed an unfairly weak starting position and managed to survive against adversity into the Wildcard game. This was the Mongol leader at his best, churning out endless units to keep himself alive in the wake of repeated invasions. However, Temujin was never close to competing for a win in that game, and he's never been in contention in any of his other games either. The Wildcard game from Season One served as a perfect example of Temujin's self-destructive tendencies, as he picked a fight with a much stronger Zara Yacob and found himself booted out of the competition. The same result played out repeatedly in the following seasons, with Temujin attacking his neighbors again and again, stunting his economic development through endless wars, only to be rolled up and eliminated sometime towards the end of each game. Mindless aggression rarely works well in the long run, and Temujin only has two kills to his name despite all of those many invasions.

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)

Season Five Performance: No First or Second Place Finishes, 0 kills

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.

Hammurabi of Babylon
Traits: Aggressive, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Three Playoffs
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 3 points, tied 37th place (out of 52 leaders)

Season Five Performance: No First or Second Place Finishes, 0 kills

Personality: Hammurabi is another leader who has traits pulling him in multiple different directions. His profile includes the ill-fitting Aggressive trait paired together with a setup that otherwise leans heavily in the peaceful builder direction with Organized. This Aggressive trait is largely wasted on a leader who loves to build wonders (8/10), features a defensive archer unique unit in the Bowman, and has only one research flavor: Culture. Hammurabi will obsess over anything associated with cultural output and stands a good chance of founding an early religion despite not starting with Mysticism tech. His own Agriculture/Wheel starting techs are excellent and that's one of the best things that he has going for him. Generally speaking though, Hammurabi ends up having a wasted leader trait as he sits in a corner of the map trying to develop his culture. He has a high peace weight, a low aggression rating (5.5), and won't plot war at "Pleased" relations. Unless Hammurabi gets involved in a religious dispute, he tends to be somewhat of an inert AI leader. Not one of the more interesting AI personalities in the competition.

Past Performance: Hammurabi has achieved little to date in past seasons of AI Survivor. He was First to Die in his initial match in Season One after starting in the middle of the map and running afoul of Kublai Khan. A peaceful field in Season Two led to an appearance in the Wildcard game but nothing else of particular note. Hammurabi's most successful appearance took place in Season Three where he found himself in another high peace weight group of leaders and took a distant second place finish behind Mansa Musa before getting steamrolled in his playoff match. Season Four saw another quick elimination in a game where Hammurabi was never one of the leaders. All indications are that Hammurabi is a third or fourth tier leader for AI Survivor purposes, an unlikely candidate to emerge as a top contender unless conditions line up just right.

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)

Season Five Performance: No First or Second Place Finishes, 1 kill

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.

Tokugawa of Japan
Traits: Aggressive, Protective
Starting Techs: Fishing, Wheel
Peace Weight: 1
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Two and Four Playoffs
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 11 points, 21st place (out of 52 leaders)

Season Five Performance: No First or Second Place Finishes, 2 kills

Personality: Tokugawa is infamous for being the most isolationist leader in Civ4. He won't sign Open Borders with anyone else unless relations warm up to "Pleased", and he generally refuses to trade or interact with anyone else unless they share a mutual military struggle. Tokugawa suffers from one of the worst leader trait combinations in the game, with lots of unit promotions but little else to recommend it. He's also saddled with a weak civilization in Japan, which suffers from poor starting techs and the uselessly-late Shale Plant. Unfortunately the Samurai unit is nothing special in Civ4. Tokugawa's AI personality reflects his generally militaristic bent, with an above average aggression rating (7.3/10) and train unit emphasis. He makes it clear that he wants to be left alone by never asking for help (0/10) or demanding tribute (1/10) or making religious conversion demands (2/10). Tokugawa's best feature is probably his tech flavor, where he has the rare Science preference to go along with a lesser Military emphasis. This is likely the reason why Tokugawa has been somewhat decent at building an economy despite his atrocious leader traits. Long story short, this guy is basically an old man telling everyone to stay out of his yard while shaking a rolled-up newspaper.

Past Performance: Tokugawa is widely viewed as one of the worst possible choices for a Single Player game of Civ4, and he's exceeded expectations to date with two different trips to the playoffs. Tokugawa scored a runner up finish behind Shaka back in Season Two, and when we did some repeated playthroughs of that same setup, it emerged that he was clearly a top pick in that specific circumstance. In a very weak field of competitors, Tokugawa and Shaka repeatedly proved to be stronger than their peers. Tokugawa's best performance took place in Season Four where he stunned everyone by winning a dominant runaway victory. Again, this was another group of generally weak opponents but Tokugawa nonetheless smoked them well and good. Of course this doesn't mean that Tokugawa is one of the better AI leaders, as he's also had multiple opening round games where he stewed around not achieving anything with his isolationist ways, and Tokugawa actually managed to die to the Apostolic Palace (!) during his second playoff appearance. Still, this is a leader that has shown at least basic competency in past seasons, which is more than many of the other AI leaders can claim.

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

The Wildcard game seemed to be another situation without a true favorite in the picking contest. Gilgamesh held a slight edge over Tokugawa, Mao, and Genghis Khan without anyone running away in terms of community preferences. Runner Up was split so evenly that the submitted predictions might as well have been drawn randomly out of a bag. The only leader that the community seemed to agree upon was Bismarck, the overwhelmingly most popular choice as First to Die and without more than trace support to score a top two finish. Based on how poorly the German leader had performed in past seasons, and his disastrous tech choices in the opening round of this season, it was hard to see him coming out of this game in first place. For the victory condition, the community anticipated a Domination ending by a wide margin from this group of poor economic leaders.

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!

ZincAlloy: In the east we have Bismark and Hammurabi, the champions of sitting around and doing nothing. On the rest of the continent, we have five leaders with a combined peace weight of 2. This game's going to be a bloodbath, and the winner is the only leader I trust to do both expansion and research vaguely competently: Gilgamesh. Not that he's great at it, but the competition's worse. His low peace weight neighbours will be too busy throwing axes at walls to challenge him, while the high peace weights are walled off by Tokugawa and forced to suffer constant attacks from Genghis Khan. Speaking of Tokugawa, he comes second, through the power of minding his own business. That's very different from sitting around and doing nothing, I assure you.

Duizhang_Lu: Huh, I feel like there's two surprisingly strong competitors down here in the Wildcard game: Mao and Gil. Anyways, there are a lot of evil faces in this game, so Biz is definitely a deadman walking. As for which one of these yahoos wins, Gil actually has metals at his start and isn't quite as dumb as Genghis or Toku, so I wager he'd the best bet to conquer somebody and snowball.

Alhambram: Bismarck, Brennus and Mao are going be roughed up by barbs due lack of nearby copper. Bismarck might save himself with Great Wall, but Tokuwaga might get it instead with nearby stone and make Bismarck pay for it. Brennus is going found religion, no question but who is going get 2nd religion? It is going be cointoss between Hammurabi and Gilgamesh. Hammurabi is going defend well against Keshiks with copper and UU, but Bismarck who lacks copper is going be crushed by Tokuwaga, after it Japanese snowball starts with taking weared out Hammurabi and Temujin afterwards. Meanwhile Gilgamesh eats up Brennus and attacks Mao who is hampered by barbs and 100 turn lack of Mysticism. Ultimately Tokuwaga achieves domination by attacking Mao or Gilgamesh while Gilgamesh still get 2nd place due combined size of his core and former Celt lands.

Mousey_Commander: Who knows oh my god this line up is bad

LinkMarioSamus: Trying something A LITTLE different for once and picking a fast domination victory with fewer wars! Not only is Khan probably one of the most deserving leaders to advance, but he has pathetic Hammurabi for a neighbor, and Tokugawa has the diplomatically-isolated Bismarck nearby. Most everyone else strikes me as having gotten to where they are through a series of lucky breaks: the ONLY leader Mao faced in Season 2 before the championship to make the playoffs this season is Gandhi, and he basically made the playoffs last season by staying out of Suryavarman's way in the wildcard game and then did diddly squat in the actual playoffs. Come on, we need to get two leaders in to kick Catherine and Zara out of Pool 2!

BohemianSpoonyBard: Two peacniks (Babylon+Germany) against warmongers, this cannot end well for them. While I think Brennus is competent AI he is cornered by TWO protective civs and there is a great risk of him wasting his resources. My bet is on Tokugawa I think that he has iron and copper avaiable and can make good economy and outperform for example Temujin and conquer Bismrack. Meanwhile Mao would quietly survive.

Fluffball: Gilgamesh is one of -- if not the strongest AI in this game, he has copper in first ring at his capital, he's creative/protective to help with barbs, and he's relatively likely to get the Great Wall. It's hard to see him having trouble in the early game, and the early game is even more important than normal here.

Slashin': If there's any setup for Hammurabi to be successful, this is it. Hammurabi has always struggled because of his poor landgrab, but that doesn't matter when everyone is confined to their initial two cities and struggling just to stay afloat. He's pulled the perfect start against raging barbarians, a corner position with few avenues for invasion whilst his neighbors take the brunt of the barbarian horde. I can't overstate just how powerful his UU will be this game, as Bowman are huge for dealing with raging barbarians by allowing hammurabi to offensively engage barbarian spears and axes before any metals are connected. Hammurabi starting with 4 of them will make it substantially easier to deal with the relative few barbarians that do reach his borders. This season has taught us the importance of starting positions and the ability to improve and connect early resources; a strong early start can often overcome peaceweight differences and ai tech preferences. Hammurabi has wheat to farm and roads to place for his bowman to protect. Compare that to the starts of his neighbors, who have wildly mismatched starting techs with their territory or straight up bad land (looking at you genghis). These poor fellows won't be able to keep a single improvement up for the first 40 turns, and by then, Hammurabi will have consolidated his portion of the map and set up for a culture win. Gilgamesh comes in second for having the least dificulty besides hammurabi thanks to protective and creative pushing fog of war. He'll tank a lot of barbarians, but he'll be well equipped for it with protective archers and a copper resource within his first ring capital thanks to a preference for bronze working. Bismarck is FTD being neutered by his starting position. Having no improved starting units, the largest fog of war, and no chance to push borders might even lead to an early kill from the barbarians! This game will also go long, thanks to barbarians impeding everyone's early economic development, as well as Hammurabi not being quite as efficient at chasing victory as his fellow builder buddies. Thankfully, none of them are in this game to one up him.

T K: Hammurabi has been an effective turtle even under constrained starts and Bismarck is the most distant from strategic resources, so I see Tokugawa in a prime position to eat Germany while GK stagnates on Hammur. Mao can then take advantage of GK's situation while Brennus & Gilgamesh squabble. No this mosh pit is not all that likely to actually turn out that way but I haven't had any successful picks since like game 2 so it's not like I'm an authority on the matter.

dreamyeyed: Hammurabi looks very dead to me with barely any resources or space. I suspect Genghis Khan will launch a suicide attack against him early in the game. I don't particularly like any of the starts here, but Mao has a ton of happiness resources and Tokugawa has both copper and iron to defend himself against the barbarian hordes so I'll vote for them. Bismarck and Gilgamesh will get eaten by barbarians while Brennus will be destroyed by religious tensions.

Bernn: Leaders without a source of copper are in an extremely perilous spot this game, thanks to the cramped map, a field of mostly warmongers and Raging Barbarians. And in this game, that's Bismarck, Brennus and Mao. All three are going to fold incredibly easy if early pressure comes their way, and in a game like this how could it not? Bismarck especially is without copper or iron, making him an absolute sitting duck and my choice of First To Die. For the winner, I really like Gilgamesh's placement - because he's Creative, he won't be stuck in the never-research-Mysticism hole, and he's neighboring two copperless civs which should be easy pickings when he's ready to attack. He might have flubbed his opening game, but I'm confident he'll do very well here.

BluesyCobalt: Glorious Nippon destroys all the barbarians whether they wave flags or not.

luddite: I'm picking Mao. Not because I particularly like him as a leader or his starting position, but I just think everyone else is worse. The bottom 4 all have to contend with raging barbs from that massive tundra. No thanks. Genghis will most likely declare war early and often on Hammurabi, thanks to peaceweight. But Hammurabi has copper and bowmen, so he can defend himself and drag Genghis down with him. That leaves Mao as the least-crippled leader.

eyser24: I think Tokugawa is underestimated. He definitely is not a top AI, but he has had multiple competent performances in the past to where its not just luck. Against a field like this he can prosper. Gilgamesh is simply overrated and while I think he lacks the killer instinct that Tokugawa has, I do think he can also do well here and is most likely to win if Tokugawa fails. Second place is tough. I don't trust Mao as he has a similar start to his opening round game where he did absolutely terrible and heavily disappointed me. I expect him to basically do nothing the entire game. I am taking a risk choosing Gilgamesh for second place since he is Tokugawa's neighbor, but I can easily see Brennus being blocked in expansion wise by Gilgamesh, which will cause early conflict between the two where Gilgamesh has the advantage. Genghis doesn't have the economic skills to do good even if he conquers Babylon, which is not guaranteed, and will find a way to collapse like the last game. Also, Bismarck's start is laughably bad. He has no metal, is right next to Tokugawa, and will be overran with barbarians. If he somehow survives this he deserves the championship.

Warclam: Getting the obvious out of the way: Bismarck and Hammurabi are doomed by peace weight. No first or second for them, and they're the obvious picks for FTD. Of the rest, who looks to be in trouble? Let's go over the big factors. First, there's a horrible mismatch between food and techs for almost all leaders! Only poor doomed Hammurabi is able to hook up his starting food. Not many hints here, though Mao's fishing-start-with-no-fishing is especially bad. Well fine, but what about metals? Brennus and Mao are missing copper, and Mao needs to expand for iron. Bad news for both of them. How about land in general? Mao looks pretty squeezed, and so does Brennus. However, Gilgamesh, Temujin, and Tokugawa have plenty of nearby food, and all have Protective or Aggressive to defend it from the raging barbarians. So. We've got two dead men walking in the East, and the West coast boys are squished and deprived of copper. That leaves the civs in the middle looking like they've got the best chances. That's our 1st-2nd-3rd, but in what order? I have to throw my vote behind Gilgamesh. Creative/Protective is great against the raging barbarians, and Creative/Wheel will make sure he can connect resources and expand borders. He's got no natural peacenik to hate on his East, which could stop him warring until he's got catapults to make it count, and he has a good chance of picking up a religion from Brennus. Second place is tough to pick. Tokugawa's less foolish than Temujin, but I think the odds are too high that Gilgamesh and Tokugawa get into a scrap and the bad blood just never goes away. Temujin might be able to use his amazing land to conquer Hammurabi, and maybe even no-fishing no-copper Mao, becoming a very strong runner up. As for first to dieā€¦ let's look at our factors again, this time for the Easterners. The right techs for their food? Copper? Shelter from barbarians? Hammurabi's got them, and Bismarck doesn't. I think the implication is clear.

Faded_Outline: Wildcard, wild barbs, wild results. As analysis is largely pointless in these conditions, may as well pick with the heart rather than the head... and I want to see Tokugawa fight back against his dire reputation with another win! In seriousness though, protective is a good trait (and personality) to have with lunatic warmongers like Brennus and Temujin in play, Mao should do quite well along similar lines.

Brian Shanahan: I think Mao will win this one. Despite the fact that he's got a fishy start which goes against his techs, he's got plenty of flood plains to farm in that capital and is guaranteed plenty of happy resources unless he fails to build any settlers. If he can box Chinggis in early he's the obvious choice for winner. I went for Toku second because these kinds of game suit him and he's got an early war victim to beat up in Bismarck who I've picked as first to die. I see domination as the likely win condition here because I don't think there'll be much religious harmony on this world. C'mon RNG, don't fail me now! Baby needs a new pair of shoes!

Commodore: I... have to say I think Tokugawa is going to do really well here. He's got copper and a tasty Bismark right there. Toku won't bother with Gilgamesh, so I think this could actually be a Sumer/Japan trot, despite the high prevalence of hyperviolent loons in this field. Mao has a great start location and he should manage well enough early on, but unless he manages a dogpile I don't think he'll have an easy time profiting from Genghis or Brennus. There is a good 63% chance that everyone actually forgets that Hammurabi exists this game.

Schmun: I'm going with Gilgamesh to win. Mao has drawn the dreaded sea food start, which doesn't mesh with his starting techs, and I think slow starts will be compounded in this game by the raging barbs. Brennus is also in with a chance, as is Hammurabi although the diplomatic tide is clearly against him with this setup. Still, it's quite possible if Hammurabi is undisturbed for long enough that he could just sneak in a culture victory while the other AIs war. Ultimately though, on such a low peace weight map I think Gilgamesh is both the strongest AI amongst the low peace weights and also has a good starting position (hopefully that capital on a hill will help defend against the barbs). Second is a much more difficult choice though - if Gilgamesh picks up Brennus' religion then I can easily see the two of them stomping across the map. Or, again, Hammurabi could remain undisturbed and get end up second (or even first) in score while one of the warmongers takes domination. I'm going with Brennus for second, hoping for the religious alliance (and also because I can see the game going Brennus first and Gilgamesh second, in which case I could still get half points). FTD is tricky - I actually think Bismarck may be partially protected as Tokugawa won't let anyone march across his borders to fight Bismarck, so he may actually persist for a surprising length of time. I'm going with Mao as I think that unsuitable sea food start will doom him. Total numbers of wars I think will remain fairly low - it's been my observation that in games with high numbers of low peace weight AIs the wars tend to last much longer, resulting in fewer war declarations overall (you really want a minority of strong low peace weight AIs for those high war count games). I've had good luck predicting early domination victories these past couple of games, so I'm tempting fate a bit by predicting an early finish date.

Wyatan: Observer Civ wins a Conquest victory on turn 59, without a single war.

bellarch: The winner has to be Gilgamesh. He played by far the most competent game in the opening round, Creative/Protective and early copper provide protection from Raging Barbs, and copper+pigs+floodplains makes for a great capital. Plus he has Brennus, King of Mediocrity, right next to him . . . For second place, though, since I'm already far behind in the picking contest, I'll go big or go home and pick Temujin! Yes, really. This season has been kind to the overly aggressive AIs and he has weak, higher-peaceweight neighbors in The Hammer and The Marck. Speaking of which, The Marck is a dead man walking (hence the name) - he has no copper, and if The Hammer is aggressive enough about southern expansion he could be locked out of metals entirely. Temujin kills him and snowballs. And of course, since Temujin is a top AI in my hypothetical, the victory condition must be domination - this is a highly protective and non-techy field with raging barbs, so I'll go with T300 instead of an earlier domination date I guess.

pindicator: I see Tokugawa doing 1 of 2 things: getting pissed off at Gilgamesh's culture on his borders and fighting a losing war, or going after a Bismarck who doesn't know what a wheel is and therefore won't be able to do anything with his horses (and doesn't have metal). Because I feel like rooting for the underdog, I'm going to go with scenario #2 and say that Toku takes an early war to Bismarck and rolls him over to catapult towards a victory. Genghis will flail against Hammurabi's bowmen early on and then come to his doom when he attacks a stronger opponent. I don't see this becoming a perfect-storm Alex type of win, but I think Tokugawa uses that to then absorb Hammurabi and then eventually grind out a domination victory.

Dark Savant: If ever there was a time to gamble on Bismarck to actually do something of note, this looks like it, even with his lack of easy copper. He's got a lot of space to expand, and things like his military focus and enthusiasm for building the Great Wall are actually a good idea at Raging Barbarians. In all likelihood, this will still end poorly (he will not have enough high-peaceweight allies either), but I need to swing for the fences for a better finish here anyway.

smithy: Welcome, everyone; to the civ4 re-enactment of the Bronze Age collapse- during this brief but tumultous period the early civilizations of the world are destroyed or left scattered in isolated settlements by waves of invaders known to history only as the sea peoples (possibly a mistranslation of Sid's ice people?). What will our great leaders do to save their cities from this terrible fate? The two great powers of ancient Mesopotamia have faced this scourge before, and they know that only weapons of bronze can protect them. They have thus founded their homes near the means to forge these anew. Proud Tokugawa has confidence in the extraordinary prowess of his soldiers, all of whom are far more skilled and deadly than a mere barbarian. The nomadic Celtic folk have put their faith in the mystic powers of their gods- and their prayers have been answered by a terrifying vision of an ancient armoured behemoth bellowing at them to "build city walls". Scholars and artisans of ancient China have an even bolder vision: to surround not a city but all their lands with a great curtain wall. Surely if this dream is realized then they will be safe forever. The Great Khan has no fear for his safety- he will gather his tumens to ride out and meet them. No quarter will be given and all the lands will be soaked in the blood of fallen warriors. This pleases the great Temujin. Yet perhaps the most cunning plan of all is that of the chancellor from the northern lands- for why should he dread the pillaging of his lands and the destruction of his roads? He has no intention of building any of these.

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