Civ4 AI Survivor Season 6: Playoff Game One Preview

This is a continuing feature for Season Six 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:

We've had requests in past seasons for an overview screenshot of the map with the resource icon turned on:

It's hard for me to see much of anything with all of those little icons but you guys asked for it, you've got it! Now for a look at our individual leaders; note that the leader previews were written before the season started and don't always capture what took place in the opening round.

Game One Winner

Frederick of Germany
Traits: Philosophical, Organized
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One Wildcard Game
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 0 points, tied 49th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)

Personality: Frederick is another peaceful AI leader, albeit one lacking most of the tools necessary to be effective. His trait pairing of Philosophical and Organized comes off as underwhelming for a builder game, lacking Financial or Expansive or Creative or even the likes of Spiritual. There's nothing here to help Frederick to get off to a fast start and also nothing to allow him to max out at a higher economic tier after the expansion portion of the game has finished. All of Germany's unique stuff comes far too late in the game to matter and the German starting tech pairing of Hunting + Mining is only mediocre. Frederick's AI ratings are generally average across the board, with scores of 4/10 in seemingly every category. He has a high peace weight, he doesn't train a lot of units (2/10), and he doesn't start many wars (4/10 aggression rating). Frederick is probably most notable for having only one research flavor, Production, a choice which hasn't fared particularly well in practice. He's generally a pretty boring AI overall, trying to pull off one of those pacifistic "sit in the corner and tech to a victory" strategies but without the traits or civ choice to pull it off.

Past Performance: Frederick is one of the unfortunate four leaders to remain completely locked out of the scoring after five seasons of competition. His best showing was in Season One where he managed to draw a game full of other high peace weight leaders and survived to reach the Wildcard game. Frederick didn't do anything particularly impressive in that game, mind you, and he was decisively outbuilt by Pericles and Elizabeth when it came down to a purely peaceful competition. However, this was far better than the other four seasons of AI Survivor that followed, as Frederick was eliminated in game after game, claiming the dubious First to Die distinction on multiple occasions. In his defense, Frederick has drawn a brutal set of low peace weight neighbors on multiple occasions, but he's also never shown any signs of contending for a victory even in the game where he had a friendlier starting environment. Eternally saddled with the weak German civilization, Frederick shows every sign of being one of the weakest AI leaders in the competition.

Game Four Winner

Catherine of the Russians
Traits: Creative, Imperialistic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Two Playoffs
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 15 points, tied 18th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Catherine has arguably the best traits for rapid expansion in the game, with Imperialistic for building settlers quickly, and Creative for popping borders of all her cities. She also gets the powerful Cossack, and the too-late-to-matter Research Institute for her unique items. Lastly, Catherine gets the weak combination of Hunting and Mining for her starting techs, meaning she'll have to research a few techs before she can get any of her food resources up and running. Catherine is one of the more unique personalities in the game. She has a unique change to her diplomacy in that refusing one of Cathy's demands will give a -2 malus as opposed to the usual -1. This applies to other AI leaders too, and Cathy often ends up hating nearly everybody else in the game because of it. Naturally, she has high likelihood to demand all kinds of tribute, with numbers like 8/10 and 10/10 for various types of demands. Catherine is the only AI leader in the game who can be bribed to join a war at "Friendly" relations. She is also moderately aggressive (6.7/10), and other than that most of her numbers are fairly average, including unit (4/10) and wonder build (6/10) ratings. She also has a fairly unusual flavour combination, with Cultural and Military flavours. Thanks to her traits, Catherine is one of the most likely AIs to claim a large portion of the map peacefully, and her moderate aggression rating means she can sometimes get the snowball rolling. However, the lack of economic benefit from her traits means that if she fails to do this, she will often fall behind technologically, the kiss of death in these games.

Past Performance: Catherine has played a couple of dominant games, and a few disappointing ones. Her opening game in Season One was a dominant romp, but she was beaten down by Justinian after a long duel in their playoff game. Then, in Season Two, Catherine came out on top of a host of aggressive AIs, leveraging her strong landgrab to slowly crush the rest of the competition (including a revenge kill on Justinian), before playing a mediocre playoff game, again staying alive without advancing. Season Three was Catherine's first year to not advance beyond the opening round, as she was killed by, you guessed it, Justinian, in another game where those two topped the scoreboard. Lastly, Catherine played a strong opening in her Season Four game, but played the diplomatic side horribly, declaring war on anyone and everyone before being deservedly crushed by Isabella. In her Season Two playoff game, Catherine didn't have a particularly strong landgrab, and she played a pretty average game. The reason that's noteworthy is that in every single other game that Catherine's appeared in, she's done the opposite. Win or lose, Catherine has consistently topped the scoreboard in the early and midgame, and it's clear by now that she puts her landgrab traits to effective use. The mark of a strong Cathy game is instead whether or not she can convert those early leads into tangible victories before her difficult personality catches up with her. Another feast-or-famine leader, Catherine's high-maintenance personality tends to make a lot of enemies, and her games usually end either when she kills all of them, or they kill her first.

Game Seven Winner

Mansa Musa of Mali
Traits: Financial, Spiritual
Starting Techs: Mining, Wheel
Peace Weight: 9
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 5 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Three Championship Game
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 31 points, 5th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Mansa Moneybags is the best AI leader in the game when it comes to pure economy and it's not a close comparison. He is an absolute fiend when it comes to research, even under our settings where Mansa's well known propensity to engage in tech trading gets disabled. Mansa Musa benefits from an amazing pair of economic traits, Financial for endless cottage cheese and Spiritual to avoid ever wasting turns with the AI's frequent civics shifts. The Malinese civ has an excellent unique unit in the Skirmisher and a passable unique building in the Mint. The biggest downside here comes from the poor starting techs, and if Mansa chooses to chase after an early religion, he can lock himself out of connecting early food bonuses for quite some time. On that note, Mansa has a surprisingly heavy religious preference including a lesser Religion tech preference paired along with his dominant Gold flavor. He's one of the most likely leaders to found a religion despite not starting with Mysticism tech. Mansa's strategy otherwise tends to be predictable: blanket the landscape in cottages and tech like a banshee. He's extraordinarily good at doing this even on a limited number of cities; we've repeatedly seen a Malinese empire with five cities still leading the pack in tech. If Mansa ever manages to amass a large amount of territory, may god have mercy on your soul, because he will plot war at "Pleased" and isn't afraid to lay the smack down despite his 1.6/10 aggression rating. Mansa Musa is always a dangerous opponent and will usually win the game if he doesn't get roughed up by his neighbors.

Past Performance: Mansa Musa has been dominant in game after game, repeatedly teching out in front of the rest of the field and then ruthlessly crushing all challengers. He's won five times in ten total matches, all of them first place finishes. Mansa won his opening round match each of the first three years before finally breaking his streak in Season Four with a poor showing. It was the rare game where Mansa failed to connect his resources and found himself caught off-guard by an enemy attack. Most of the time, however, Mansa has been able to secure enough breathing space to open up a tech lead and swat away his opponents. His performance in Season Three's opening round match is one of the most dominant that we've ever seen, winning by Spaceship as early as Turn 282 while also being within one or two cities of triggering Domination. Mansa has made it to the championship game twice at the end of Seasons One and Three, only to run into low peace weight fields of opponents and find himself the odd man out each time. All of the other AI leaders with extremely high peace weights have fared far worse in AI Survivor, a testament to the strength of Mansa. It is important to note that Mansa seems to have been hurt more than just about any other AI leader by removing the default Deity starting techs, as his Season Four and Five performances were notably worse than in the first three season. Mansa still crushed an AI Survivor friendly match that we ran, however, and he may just be biding his time until the next dominant showing.

Game Two Runner Up

Napoleon of France
Traits: Charismatic, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 0
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Three Wildcard Game
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 3 points, tied 43rd place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Napoleon is a deeply militaristic leader who will emphasize unit production over everything else. His traits are a bit of a mismatch for this setup, and it's unfortunate that he doesn't have the Aggresive trait given how many units that Napoleon churns out. Organized is a misplaced trait for this guy's personality. France is a great civ choice as usual, with excellent starting techs and a useful unique unit in the Musketeer. Napoleon himself has a one-track mind as an AI leader: he loves to start new wars (9.1/10 aggression rating), he will train oodles of units (10/10), and he has the lowest peace weight possible to cause him to hate the "Good" leaders. Napoleon doesn't care about religion and he doesn't waste time building wonders. He does make for an obnoxious neighbor since he will constantly be demanding tribute (10/10) and civics changes (8/10). It should come as no surprise that Napoleon has Military as his primary research flavor along with a lesser Gold emphasis, and of course he will plot war at "Pleased" relations. Overall then Napoleon is pretty similar to Shaka and Ragnar and Boudica, if somewhat less memorable than any of those rivals.

Past Performance: Napoleon has stirred up plenty of trouble in his prior AI Survivor appearances but without having much in the way of success. The best that can be said about Napoleon is that he's managed to score three kills without ever taking a first or second place finish, something that's pretty hard to accomplish. The winning leaders usually monopolize the eliminations in each game and for a weaker individual like Napoleon to score several kills is an impressive feat. On the other hand, Napoleon has appeared in six total games of AI Survivor and found himself getting eliminated in five of them without ever coming close to taking home a victory. He repeatedly crashes his economy with excessive warring only to be taken out by more advanced empires that have reached superior levels of military technology. Napoleon is therefore another example of the "suicidally aggressive" club that approaches every problem by hitting it with an axe. Like Genghis Khan and Montezuma, he's simply too militaristic for his own good. That's not to say that Napoleon can't have a successful game if he manages to snowball ahead off of an early conquest, only that he needs the right conditions to avoid flaming out with pointless invasions.

Game Five Runner Up

Suryavarman of the Khmer
Traits: Creative, Expansive
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 1
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 3 First Place Finishes, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season One Championship Game
Total Kills: 9
Overall Power Ranking: 26 points, tied 8th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Suryavarman has a lot of power packed into his kit even if it sometimes seems to be pulling in six different directions at once. He has the quintessential early game trait pairing of Creative and Expansive, two traits that help to drive expansion and to claim land quickly. This was a popular trait pairing for a long time in unmodded Civ4 Multiplayer games, often chosen ahead of Financial leaders to get off to a roaring start. Suryavarman's Khmer civ is a bit weaker, with decent starting techs and adequate unique features in the Ballista Elephant and Baray without having anything of game-breaking strength. As far as Suryavarman's AI personality goes, he has a surprisingly aggressive setup for someone with good economic traits. Suryavarman has a high aggression rating (7.6/10), a very low peace weight, and a fairly high emphasis on training units (6/10). However, Suryavarman also positively loves building wonders (8/10), an odd fit for someone with his militaristic bent and expansion-focused traits. He will heavily emphasize religion in his diplomacy and carries a special penalty for anyone who refuses his demands. Along with the Creative border pops, this is not an easy neighbor to live alongside. Suryavarman's tech preferences are Gold and Culture, and he will indeed plot war at "Pleased" relations. He can be a highly unpredictable leader, either charging into multiple wars or sitting back to construct wonders in peace.

Past Performance: Suryavarman's previous appearances have reflected his somewhat erratic nature as an AI leader. He was the winner of the first ever game of AI Survivor in Season One, via the United Nations of all things, and took second place in a very difficult field from a tough starting position in the playoffs. Suryavarman had a weaker performance in the following championship game, suffering elimination while still taking a respectable third place. Since then he's been all over the map, everything from an elimination at the hands of Pacal in Season Two to an elimination in the Wildcard game in Season Three to an outright victory in the Wildcard game in Season Four and an absolutely crushing victory in the opening round of Season Five. Those repeated trips to the Wildcard round mean that Suryavarman has shown up in a lot of games, eleven of them in total thus far. Any leader with the rare combination of low peace weight together with good economic development makes for a dangerous opponent, and even if Suryavarman has been somewhat scattershot in recent seasons, he always has that potential to become a major threat.

Game Eight Runner Up

Darius of Persia
Traits: Financial, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Four Championship Game
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 12 points, 24th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Darius has arguably the best pure economic traits in the game, with Financial and Organized. While he's stuck with the weak Immortal and Apothecary, he also gets fantastic starting techs in Agriculture and Hunting, allowing him to improve his food resources quickly. Darius has one of the better set-ups overall, and thanks to his traits and starting techs, begins the game already slightly ahead of the field. Darius is clearly an economic leader in most ways. He has Gold and Growth flavours, and those combined with his traits mean Darius should almost always be able to construct a good economy. He loves building wonders (8/10), and unlike many of the other peaceful leaders, he builds enough units to defend himself too (6/10). That's lucky, because he also has a high peace weight of 8, and will often be target for attack from the more aggressive leaders. Lastly, Darius himself isn't necessarily going to build in peace, he actually has an average aggression rating (5.2/10), and he can and will claim more land by the sword if necessary. On paper, Darius probably has one of the best setups in the game; he's a peaceful leader with amazing economic traits, but he's also willing to defend himself and fight for more land.

Past Performance: Alongside Victoria, Darius is one of the biggest puzzles of AI Survivor. Theoretically he's undoubtedly one of the strongest leaders in the vein of Mansa Musa or Huayna Capac, and yet the victories just haven't materialised for him in the same way. Darius made it to the Wildcard Game in Seasons One and Two, and came second in the latter year, but fell quickly in the playoffs afterwards. He was even worse in Season Three, failing to expand and quickly being dogpiled by the other AIs. Finally, in Season Four, we saw some success from Darius, as he outteched the competition for his first victory in his opening game, before nearly winning his playoff game as well, stupidly tossing Charlemagne the win after dominating the entire game. However, Darius then got an unlucky field in the Championship, being the only high peace weight leader, and was quickly torn apart. Season Five had another bad opening round game for Darius as he was the victim of Mongol aggression in the midgame. So why hasn't it all worked out for Darius like it has for Mansa? It seems like there is, at least, an easy answer. Time after time, Darius is slow to expand. His strong games come when there is lots of land around him, and it matters less, and his early losses come on the smaller maps where the other AIs claim it first. Darius' traits mean that with even land, he can out-research almost any other AI; he just struggles to get to that point! Look at the map carefully when evaluating Darius' performance; on the larger maps, he's got a pretty good chance of an upset victory thanks to his traits. On the smaller maps though, it seems Darius' starting techs aren't good enough to boost his expansion; he just doesn't build enough settlers, and gets outproduced (and eventually wiped out) by the AIs that do.

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

Mansa Musa emerged from the community vote as a strong favorite to win, no doubt insipired by his excellent performance in the opening round. Catherine was the only other leader who attracted a significant share of the vote to emerge victorious. For the second place spot, Catherine was the top choice followed by a relatively even split between Suryavarman, Darius, and Napoleon. Hardly anyone expected Mansa to finish in second place as he seemed likely to either win the game or face complete elimination. The most overwhelming vote was Frederick as First to Die, one of the most lopsided poll results that we had throughout the entirety of Season Six. There are no guarantees in AI Survivor but the German leader faced a bleak starting position on this map. As for the victory condition, Spaceship was a heavy favorite over Domination and even Mansa's Cultural victory in the opening round wasn't enough to induce much voting for a repeat ending.

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!

delan: Put simply, I predict this game will feature Catherine coming out victorious from the south but being unable to stop eras-ahead Mansa Musa before it's too late. Mansa Musa's starting territory plays right into his strengths, with cottages and river tiles galore. It's hard not to pick him, especially considering no one starts with Mysticism so he's likely to found an early religion and also that do-nothing Darius is one of his neighbours. I can see Surry attacking Mansa before he can shoot out ahead, but Surry doesn't have natural copper, and I am guessing that by the time he has iron online, it'll be too late. In the south, it certainly looks like Freddy will get picked apart by his neighbours, and I like Catherine's land, and especially the space she has, enough to pick her as the victor down there, and therefore the 2nd place finisher.

Amicalola: Frederick is going to be eaten faster than you can say 'sandwich.' Then Catherine and Napoleon just snowball out of control from there; nothing Mansa, Darius or Suryavarman will be able to do about it.

Duizhang_Lu: This is a game of extremes, and I think it plays into Nappy's hands oddly enough. Half the world is peaceniks, the other half evil bastards, and the peaceniks are for the most part incompetent. I doubt Mansa can hold out against all of the aggression he will receive, so it's a matter of which warmonger gets the ball rolling most successfully, and I think it's Nappy. Sury and Cathy both have poor access to strategic resources which will likely gimp their conquests. Viva la France!

Dp101: Main thoughts are that both Darius and Suryavarman suck at expansion due to being likely to get stuck on wonders, and Mansa is their neighbour with a huge amount of land to expand into if neither of them do well. Despite Darius's absurd starting position, I don't think that's going to be good enough to carry him into a good position this time. Beyond Mansa launching a spaceship, I don't have much confidence about the rest of the field. As I said, Mansa's neighbours are weak (though it's probably good for him if Darius is less weak), and out of the leaders in the bottom, Fredrick is likely to get gobbled up by his aggressive neighbours, and if either of them have a successful conquest (more likely to be Catherine imo), Mansa will probably be targeted afterwards due to peace weight + overall aggression. Essentially, I think Mansa will win, but I can't see any civ that I really trust to come in second. If he can make friends with whoever comes out of the south alive, that's who will come in second, but I can't see a reality where that occurs. As such, I think Suryavarman becomes a relatively nonawful candidate for second, relatively to start a war while also not having a peace weight that would lead to the southern leaders targeting him. In the end, I just hope that everyone *but* Mansa gets locked into long destructive wars, and Mansa is left alone in the vast north to tech to a win.

ForwardArrow: Catherine's got decent food to eliminate one of her bigger earlygame problems, and a pretty solid political setup with Frederick and Napoleon almost certainly hating each other and Frederick being somewhat incompetent. I think her propensity to expand very fast will be better for taking over Frederick than the fact that Napoleon seems more likely to attack first with his greater military resources and more aggressive AI. Sury by comparison isn't in a great position to expand with Mansa and Darius right there, so I suspect Frederick will end up bigger than him. At that point it comes down to whether or not they can kill Mansa Musa and Darius, and while Mansa's a great leader and Darius has some good stuff on paper, I feel they're a bit more boxed in than a Catherine who is in a great position to expand. I suspect she inflicts some heavy damage on Mansa if not outright killing him by virtue of just being bigger than him, especially if Frederick starts chipping into Darius(which seems fairly likely) to remove his biggest ally and Sury's poor relationship with Mansa also hurts him. I do feel there's an outside chance Napoleon gets a hard snowball off killing Frederick super early, or Catherine fails to capitalize on her position and Mansa/Darius get 1st/2nd, but I think she has a great chance to throw down a dominant game and Napoleon seems more likely to ride along with her to the Championship despite Sury being a generally better leader.

Mousey_Commander: Good lord Frederick is dead

Mansa da man: My man all the way! So the obvious first, if Mansa can be left alone he wins. Realistically though, that won't happen, so if he can get Rifling before he gets inevitably dogpiled from the South similar to the Mehmed/Isabella alliance he can still come out on top. There are a number of factors at play here though. Suryavarman will almost always attack him but he doesn't have copper. If Mansa can get cottages up and use his amazing floodplains/gold to go medieval before Surya gets to construction, Mansa should be able to deal with him fairly easily. But there's another variable at play. If Napoleon and Cathy both attack Freddy at the same time, not only will Freddy disintegrate but we will have the South dominated by just two civs, and the South has more land than the North too. Cathy doesn't have an easy copper access but she's good at expanding fast, has great land and will attack Freddy regardless with Iron. What Mansa wants is Napoleon to go after Darius first or a strong enough Darius to stall Napoleon after Freddy goes down. And he must get rid of Surya at some point because the peaceful civs will not last very long. Freddy's position is unfortunate and Darius is hamstrung by jungle and might even expand towards Mansa. Ultimately, a 3 v 3 is game over for Mansa.

Alhambram: Mansa is going do well with starting bronze and UU, it should fend off Sury. Meanwhile both Nappy and Cathy devours poor Freddy who starts between two warmongers. But at that point Mansa is advanced enough that he starts to conquer all of low peaceweight civs which push him over domination limit. What about Darius? He just sits upon Mansa's coat sliding towards championship.

Delta-07: I think Freddy is in big trouble between Napoleon and Cathy. One of them or even both will run over him. The peace weigth situation between him and his neighbours is so high that I have him for first to die. The land of Mansa is very good with lots of flood plains and green tiles. He will become an economic power house. The land of Cathy and especially Napoleon isn't that great with either lots of plains tiles or even tundra. So, I don't think they both can support a good economy here. Darius and Surry have kind of god land. Darius has the advantage that he is relatively far away from Napoleon. If Darius can survive long enough to tech ahead he might be a strong factor in this game. No leader starts with Mysticism, so the discovery of religions is completely RNG, but given their religous or cultural preferences, I think Surry and Mansa will have both their own religions. If Surry and Mansa end up in different religions this will be bead news for Mansa. Even though Mansa has good land I don't see him surviving against Napoleon, Cathy and/or Surry. This game will end with a domination victory by either Surry or Cathy, I think. Even though I got disappointed by him before I will pick Surry again for first place and Cathy as second.

T K: My money's on Mansa getting the uneventful early game he needs to settle enough of his gorgeous surrounding lands to set up his 1500 AD trip to space. Normally I don't like how open he is to getting stomped in early wars, but Freddy is more liable to getting dogpiled here, and Napoleon & Cathy will be too rabid afterwards to coordinate properly against Mansa (probably).

LinkMarioSamus: Frederick is almost certainly the weak link of this group, and his early demise will greatly benefit Napoleon and Catherine while at the same time dooming Mansa Musa and Darius. Mansa Musa will probably be occupied with Suryavarman the whole game while Darius is probably going to just be his usual inert self. Heh, poor Germany once again doomed to be partitioned between two powers, and it's even France and Russia to boot!

BigBadBen: I'm getting game some 4 flashbacks with Napoleon subbing in for Alex next to a leader who may very well build the Pyramids before researching mysticism (Frederick instead of Stalin this time). And with Cathy in the same game to boot! It's very possible that the French overrun the German leader with a billion axes despite capital copper for both leaders. Then Napoleon gets dragged into conflict with Cathy like Alex did. Unfortunately for those two leaders, this conflict will be much earlier than the game-deciding wars in game 4 (i.e. before its essentially just the two of them left on the map) and only serve to make sure neither of them are in any shape to provide Sury the help he needs to stop the (only? I think) pool one leader able to win an opening match-up this year. Mansa has capital copper, so he shouldn't die to a zerg rush from an opponent with only iron available. So, as long as Mansa doesn't hold off on rifling before assembly line, I think he can hold of Sury in a one-on-one. If Darius can figure out how to build settlers and Napoleon focuses on Frederick, he could do well, but I'd have to see it to believe it (especially with a seafood start). Mansa wins by culture since he's going to win and found just about all of the religions himself. Cathy in second, mostly because I don't trust Darius to build more than five cities, and Mansa will be too busy teching and building temples to care about wiping out anyone after Sury.

Bernn: Catherine's victory in the opening round this season was arguably the result of a handful of lucky breaks rather than any sort of brilliant play, but her knack for expanding well and bullying weak neighbors is undeniable and I think it'll serve her well this game. She's got that nice peninsula area to backfill in the east, a solid capital site and an easy nearby meal in Frederick. The poor guy is wedged right between Napoleon and Catherine and will almost assuredly take heat and fold early on. If Russia can win some prizes through Germany's almost inevitable downfall, Catherine will be in a great position. And if she can bite into Darius or Napoleon after he recklessly attacks her, she'll be even stronger. The big question of this match is, can she crack Mansa Musa before his tech edge grows too sharp? I'll go with yes, since I have a feeling Sury will attack Mansa at some point and slow him down, but it's gonna be a close one.

Fluffball: Frederick with copper at his capital sets a pick for Mansa/Darius. Sury only has iron while Mansa has copper, and by IW it's too late. Darius has gems and Mansa will likely have gold at his second city (and maybe even iron; that location is dynamite.) Both have rivers. It's a race against time for buffoons like Napoleon. Financial/alive for 1st and 2nd.

Greatmefisto: This game is going to end in 1 of 2 ways. First way is Mansa doing his Mansa things winning by culture/spaceship. Second way is Cathy/Napoleon duo rolling over the map. Mansa is by far the best leader in the field no question about that but does being the best is enough here? I am not sure because his diplo situation looks dire to me. He has 2 potential allies in form of Freddy and Darius. Freddy is locked between Cathy and Napoleon (yikes!) and is almost certanly a first to die. I can't see him surviving this. Next Mansas ally is Darius but he on the other hand rolled a Hannibal/Louis jungle heavy start and we saw in game 8 how he almost lost to heavily crippled Hannibal. If he plays this bad with an excellent starting postion and crippled neighboor than I can't see him play well with this start. He has very strong capital I'll give him that but nothing past it. This makes me feel like Mansa is playing 1 v 3 here and I don't know if he's capabale to build proper tech advantage before the rabid dogs will come after his head.

bellarch: I felt good about the high peaceweight leaders in this game - until I took a look at how close Freddy is to Nappy and Sury is to Mansa. This setup seems designed for them to come into conflict early, when they can easily be crushed. However, the real winner from all this fighting will be Cathy. She has more space than anyone on this map, and she'll expand while the others are busy fighting - likely vulturing a few cities from Frederick on his way out - and end up in the dominant position once Freddy and Mansa are dead. Knowing Napoleon, she'll also end up the beneficiary of an ill-advised war against her by France that ends up with her owning his territory, too. And then she wins, probably by spaceship but also quite possibly by domination! . . . okay admittedly I also just want her to win. Please?

rekenner: Mansa, show Darius how a real Financial leader does things.

Playoff Game One Picking Contest Entry Form