Civ4 AI Survivor Season 6: Playoff Game Three 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 Three Winner

Augustus of Rome
Traits: Imperialistic, Industrious
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Five Playoffs
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 39th 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 one of the fastest eliminations in AI Survivor history (Turn 106). Augustus backdoored his way into a somewhat lucky second place finish in his opening round game of Season Five but couldn't manage to advance in the playoffs. 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.

Game Six Winner

Churchill of England
Traits: Charismatic, Protective
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Four Wildcard Game
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 1 point, tied 47th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Churchill has arguably the second-worst trait pairing in the game, with the below-average Charismatic and the terrible Protective. His English civilization is much nicer though, with the powerful Redcoat and Stock Exchange, which might help to make up for his traits. Lastly, he starts with Fishing and Mining, a weak pairing unless his capital is on the coast. Churchill is a little interesting in the sense that he has a low score in basically every category. He doesn't build a lot of wonders (2/10) or units (4/10). He doesn't demand tribute (1/10) and he has a pretty low aggression rating (4.3/10) too. In fact, the only thing this guy does is spend espionage (7/10); that's literally the only number above a 5/10 in his personality. He also has a neutral peace weight, so Churchill is fair game for attack from the good or evil leaders. Lastly, his flavours are Military and Gold. It all makes for an uninteresting personality that's more likely to sit in a corner plotting than anything else.

Past Performance: Churchill has so far been unable to overcome his weak traits and bland personality. Churchill died in his opening game during the first three seasons of AI Survivor, and was first-to-die twice to boot. Then in Season Four, Churchill played his best game yet: he hid in a corner and got his butt saved by the Apostolic Palace numerous times, until he got to the Wildcard Game and, err, died miserably. Yikes. Season Five was no better as Churchill was a brief speed bump on Alexander's path to world domination. Yeah, this guy hasn't just failed to score many points on the power rankings. He's also boring, and more than almost any other leader, you should probably expect Churchill to do nothing at all; he never has before.

Wildcard Game Winner

Huayna Capac of the Incas
Traits: Financial, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 6 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two Champion
Total Kills: 12
Overall Power Ranking: 42 points, 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 five seasons. He has appeared in ten total matches thus far and won six 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 multiple Cultural victories 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 dozen 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.

Game One Runner Up

Sitting Bull of the Native Americans
Traits: Philosophical, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: None, Eliminated in all five opening round games
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 0 points, tied 49th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)

Personality: Sitting Bull is stuck with the Philosophical and Protective traits; in other words, the two worst performing traits in the entirety of AI Survivor. This immediately puts him in a bit of a hole. Sitting Bull also gets the unimpressive Dog Soldier and Totem Pole for his unique items, neither of which help matters. His only redemptive feature is his starting techs of Agriculture and Fishing, yet even they are merely above average, meaning that Sitting Bull plays the game at a serious disadvantage. As a personality, Sitting Bull the AI is a series of contradictions. He builds a lot of units (8/10) and doesn't bother with wonders (0/10). He is the most likely leader in the game to demand tribute (10/10), and his flavours are Military and Growth. This all sounds like the makings of an aggressive leader in the vein of Ragnar or Alex, and yet, Sitting Bull has a lower than average aggression rating (4.3/10). He simply doesn't attack very often. He also has a high peace weight, preferring the likes of Gandhi and Elizabeth to Montezuma and Shaka. This, along with his traits, largely leads to an AI that constructs a strong military that he doesn't use, and a weak economy to boot, with Sitting Bull struggling to keep up in tech with even the rabid warmongers. It doesn't paint an impressive picture, and as a general rule Sitting Bull doesn't just start in a deep hole; he's unwilling to dig himself out.

Past Performance: Sitting Bull is one of four remaining leaders that have yet to claim a single point, either through kills or placements. In fact, Sitting Bull hasn't even made the Wildcard Game, dying in every single game he's played, and there is a strong argument to be made for him being the worst performing leader in AI Survivor history. Even Frederick made it to the Season One Wildcard Game! Sitting Bull's traits have done him no favours, and although he usually doesn't collapse fast like some of the other peaceniks, instead he always seems to die by a thousand cuts, as aggressive AIs slowly wear him down time after time. To paraphrase Sullla, Sitting Bull is certainly capable of sabotaging someone else's game through a determined defence, but he's probably the least likely leader to actually pull a victory from one of these games. Expect nothing from Sitting Bull, and you're unlikely to be surprised.

Game Four Runner Up

Alexander of the Greeks
Traits: Aggressive, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Fishing, Hunting
Peace Weight: 0
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season One and Season Five Playoffs
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 11 points, 25th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Alex is another of the warmongers in Civ 4. He plays with the Aggressive and Philosophical traits, a weak pairing that doesn't offer much in the way of synergy or individual power. He also gets the phalanx, a powerful unit in the hands of a human but not especially useful in that of the AI (Alex will build plenty of spears anyway), and the Odeon, a nice happiness boost for the midgame. Lastly, Alex has a pair of average starting techs in Fishing and Hunting, and like all Fishing leaders is much stronger when he starts on the coast. With one of the highest aggression ratings in the game (8.6/10), a high unit build preference (8/10) and the military/growth flavour pairing, Alex is likely to go to war early and often. He's also one of the leaders with the "demonic evil" peace weight of 0, which makes any cooperation with the "good" leaders essentially impossible. Like the other warmongers though, Alex is so aggressive that if there aren't any good leaders around, he's pretty likely to just attack one of his buddies anyway. Other than the key aggressive stats, Alex is a pretty generic leader. He has middling numbers in just about everything else, including tribute demands (4/10) and wonder building (4/10), and he cares an average amount about religion too. Look for Alex to be one of the driving forces of this game. He can't get off the warpath until everyone else - or himself - is dead.

Past Performance: Alexander has put together exactly one impressive game thus far, a crushing Domination victory in his opening round game of Season Five. He was able to eliminate Zara Yaqob at an early date and everything lined up perfect for Alex to the run the table over the rest of the field. Alex's only other notable placing so far was in Season One, where he placed an extremely distant - we're talking lightyears here - second to Boudica in Game Three after fighting a series of unsuccessful wars; it wasn't an impressive game. Otherwise Alex has struggled mightily, the first player to die in both his Season Two and Three games. The closest Alex has come to success so far was in his Season Four Opening Game, where he played a genuinely strong first 250 turns. Alex's downfall in that game was less his own incompetence and more Kublai's determined defence (and then Tokugawa's lethal invasion) and having played a major part in the death of nearly every other leader and topping the scoreboard for ages, Alex was unlucky not to score at least a kill point or two. Despite this, it's worth acknowledging that Alex has displayed incompetence more often than not, and his games are yet another pile of evidence that unadulterated aggression is just not the best strategy for this kind of setup.

Game Seven Runner Up

Mao Zedong of China
Traits: Expansive, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mining
Peace Weight: 1
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 4 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two Championship Game
Total Kills: 9
Overall Power Ranking: 22 points, tied 10th 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 four out of five 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. The Chinese leader had a certain win stolen away from him in the United Nations during the Season Five Wildcard game and then wound up First to Die in the following playoff round. 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.

* * * * * * * * *

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

After a run of games with dominant Financial leaders, the community once again selected Huayna Capac as the strong favorite going into this match. The Incan leader's share of the pie chart looked like a true Pac Man as it gobbled up more than 2/3rds of the votes. The other categories had less of a single favorite with the Runner Up selections mostly split between Mao Zedong and Augustus. Almost everyone was picking one of these two leaders to advance to the championship behind Huayna Capac. The First to Die category was much more split with Alexander and Churchill drawing the most predictions but no one truly emerging as a consensus choice. About the only thing that everyone could agree on was Mao Zedong not exiting the game first. When it came to the victory type, Spaceship was a clear choice with Cultural in second place and Domination distantly trailing. We hadn't seen a Domination ending since Game Five and the community was expecting another peaceful finish of some kind.

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!

Bobchillingworth: I would absolutely love to see Alex win, but by the time he gets iron online I think Huey will have had plenty of time to connect his own metals, and the civs to the south are too distant to run over any of them within a reasonable timeframe. Also, he's opening by building a workboat any seafood, which doesn't inspire confidence. Huey is the obvious pick to win, and Mao is much less likely to self-destruct and therefore will likely ride Incan coattails to runner-up status. Meanwhile, the southern civs are going to go mad with wonderlust, and they're all known for being slow-to-moderate techers whose standout characteristics are achieving drawn-out deaths.

NotSpamBot: ...this could be a repeat of Game 6. Augustus has Marble in his captial so he won't expand much, Sitting Bull is never going to attack Churchill, and it seems like Alexander would rather ruin Huayna Capac's chances than attack Churchill. Thus Churchill will get a lot of land settled and then likely be left alone. Mao might come calling, but I feel like he will piss away his game attacking Sitting Bull.

Dagoth Gares: Considering that five of these leaders are arriving at the match in one very packed clown car, the choice seems obvious.

Khnud: As much as I'd like not to vote for the overwhelming favourite, this game is just made for Huayna Capac, as he'll surely dominate the low peace weight north. Huayna settles towards Mao, and his second city will be a holy city, so Mao will get squeezed on territory and won't accomplish much. Alex is stuck with a weird start, he's a fishing civ who starts on a coast, but has no fish resources. Bah! This will hamper his progress and he'll pick a fight with someone stronger than him. In the south, Augustus' imperialistic settlers might snipe either Churchill's iron or his copper, as it appears like the Englishman will expand east, towards Sitting Bull. So Churchill will likely be weak, and thus a prime target for the northern warmongers. Chances are he'll get ganged up on, so Churchill's out first. The real question is who comes in second. Sitting Bull has arguably the best land among all the leaders, but his personality leaves a lot to be desired. Augustus, on the other hand, might run off to wonderland, having both marble and stone close to his capital. Still, I have to side with the Romans here, hoping Augustus can stay out of the early wars and perhaps get some mutual military struggle bonuses or make some religious pals. His isolated position will shelter him somewhat and allow him to sneak in second.


Amicalola: Augustus is actually going to pull an Asoka and luck his way into the championship. Sitting Bull is going to pull an even luckier Washington. Yuck, I'm going to be rooting against my own picks while watching this...

delan: Tough game to call. I don't like anyone's position completely. Part of the issue is the low peace-weight are bunched together and separated from the high peace-weight leaders by a lot of jungle. The odds that they start quarreling with each other and poison relations are high. Huayna Capac would probably be an easy favourite if it weren't for Alex next door, and Mao would be an easier call for 2nd if he weren't next door to the guy I'm picking to win the game. Augustus has a nice capitol that synergizes with his starting techs, yet I am suspicious of whether he can really convert that into a win, especially given his precarious metals situation. I don't think any of the other high peace-weight leaders in the south who fluked into this game have the personalities to leverage their fine capitols and terrain, but the way they win is if Alex throws Huayna Capac's game out of wack enough that he can't get ahead and stay ahead.

Tokudiploftw: Ok, so i dont care about getting points,never have. I look at favorites for first and second and then remove them as choices for me. So Capac first and Mao second is a no go for me. Therefor im going to go crazy here and say that Mao+Alex rolls over Capac. Sitting expands like always and gets into a very strong position while Augustus builds wonders and takes second place. All three highpeace leaders techs away from Mao and Alex to safety. Sitting wins a slow spacevictory:) Unlikely? Yes! Funny? Yes!

Slashin': It’s always a scary bet to bet against our boy, but I have hopes that some of the high peace weights come out of the game and lead to a more balanced championship game. Augustus has an ideal start for his techs, starting with work boats and a mined plains hill marble that effectively translates to a 10 production tile when he goes o to build those settlers (IF he decides to build them) Having both wonder resources means that when he inevitably goes for those shiny wonders, he’ll at least get them done in a reasonable amount of time, and his start is promising enough that he can manage to get a reasonably large empire alongside the coast. HC has a fertile river valley that’s amazing for his cottage cheese, but it is a slow start with 4f/1C tiles being the bests use of his agricultural trait. With early improvable resources being a bit scarce around his vicinity, I do think his slow start in combination with being flanked by Greek hoplites in the classical era slows him down enough for one of the other leaders to pull ahead, if not outright killed. SB has the most land to expand Into and he’ll probably get into long protracted wars with his Chinese nemesis, getting enough land to do well enough before Augustus launches into space at a late finishing date.

kcostell: Augustus may be first to die, but at least he'll make some other Civ very happy with all the wonders they capture.

Bernn: On paper, Huayna Capac should be able to utterly sweep this lineup, but I'm very uncertain about his odds. Not only is his capital pretty weak, his neighbors are uneasy allies at the best of times and there's a high backstab possibility here. If HC goes for a religion first, he'll be stuck with one of those awkward no food resources for the first 25 turns openings, and if Alexander or Mao comes charging in with an early war, the Incas will be sent into a tailspin even HC probably can't recover from. The southern leaders may be an extremely passive bunch, but by the time any aggression comes their way, they have a good chance of being too far ahead in tech to care. It sounds completely alien, but I actually like Sitting Bull the most here. He's the only one in the south with an immediately improvable food resource and his land in general is great with plenty of rivers and double gold resources within easy reach. He'll be able to get out in front of the pack early and stay there until (eventually) blasting into space. We saw in Game One this season how he can hold his own in certain diplomatic environments, and I think we'll get a repeat showing here. Against every instinct, I'm betting on the Native Americans this time.

T K: As strong as Huayna Capac is in a vacuum, his position here isn't all that good. Great land, sure, but his eastern neighbor won't care about his religion, his western neighbor is a rabid warmonger, and both can plot at pleased. There is a reasonable chance that the low peace weights, who will build considerable border tension before they even touch the southern nations, tear each other down while the high peace weights slowly build a lead and take them out. Granted, they all pretty much have to hope that happens for any of them to have a real shot of making the championship other than *maybe* Augustus, but it's enough to keep this from being an easy picking round.

Freberatz: The big question on this map is: What will Alexander do? My thinking is, not much. His capital is not on a river (so no commerce), only Corn as a food resource (doesn't start with agriculture), and the closest metal resource is iron (so he needs to tech up slowly to iron working before he can start plotting wars). The snowball just starts rolling too late. I don't see anyone else on the map who tends to conquer a lot of land in the early to mid game, so the advantage goes to long term financial leaders. Which means I'm rooting for Huayna Capac to win. Mao is close in peace weight to HC and will probably share a religion, so he'll be the runner up. Alexander will declare too many long distance wars, get coalitioned, and dies first.

Agni Neres: This game is Huayna's to win or lose. If he comes out of the opening with a solid core, he wins in 300 turns, space or culture. If not...then who? An Alex snowball is unlikely, as Greece cannot beat Rome. Churchill, Sitting Bull, and Mao are all usually lackluster. Augustus domination, perhaps? My chips are on HC.

Sir Colville of the Dale: Macedonian War Council, Babylon: "Your Majesty, we know you are the greatest and wisest commander. We still have a question. Why did you not attack Russia? They were ripe for the picking." "The oracle gave me a message. 'If Aphrodite returns to the stars, then the Invincible One will conquer the third world.' When I saw the launchpad, I knew. Hers was not the world to conquer." "But don't you seek to conquer all worlds?" "Not anymore. The only path to immortality is to conquer the final world. If we had conquered Russia, the path to that world was through the likes of Mansa and Sury. Even Darius had thwarted conquerors before. By fulfilling the prophecy, we are now facing men who don't know war: Augustus, Churchill, Sitting Bull. This is a two-horse race with Mao!" "But there are rumors that a leader has returned from Hades to take one last shot at glory." "The leaders in Asphodel got there by being pathetic leaders. Who knows? Maybe Gandhi got out and I'll finally conquer India! But I sent a scout just to be sure. Best to know whether the first world to conquer is east or south! Here he is now! What news?" "Your Majesty, I could not get close to the city, but I met one of their warriors. He had a wooden shield and a hammer. No armor. He called himself 'Kay-Ka' or something like that. Our phalanx will make quick work of him." Alexander's expression changed to one of fear, "Did you say QUECHUA?!?" "That's what it was. Your Majesty? Are you all right?" With a cynical look he said, "Of course the oracle would hedge her bets. Because the oracle didn't really know who would win." "What are you saying?" "Huayna Capac. The most dangerous commander we have ever faced. But get ready. It's time to show that Oracle who the Invincible One is!" "Might I offer a suggestion? Maybe we don't. Maybe we make like the oracle and keep it ambiguous. Let him lead the way to the final world and beat him there. That would still work, right?" "I don't like it, but we'll see..."

Playoff Game Three Picking Contest Entry Form