Civ4 AI Survivor Season 6: 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:

Pool One Leader

Gilgamesh of Sumeria
Traits: Creative, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 3 First Place Finishes, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Five Championship Runner Up
Total Kills: 11
Overall Power Ranking: 30 points, tied 6th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Gilgamesh is a highly aggressive warmonger who finds himself bizarrely paired with defensive leader traits and an economic civilization. His trait combination of Creative + Protective is an odd grouping with no clear direction in mind. Faster border pops joined together with extra defensive promotions - huh? I suppose they're using for Pink Dotting a neighbor with a forward city plant but that's about it. The Sumerian civilization is quite a bit better, with excellent starting techs and a useful building in the Ziggurat. The Vulture doesn't grade out much better than a standard axe and definitely serves as the weakest part of this civilization's package. Gilgamesh has a strangely high wonder building preference (8/10) and an above average interest in religion. He's also one of the most likely leaders to launch new wars (8/10 aggression rating) and he emphasizes military techs in his research. He also has Culture as his other flavor alongside that Military preference, so again, this is kind of a confused individual. Gilgamesh can't seem to decide if he wants to be a culture/wonder leader or a military leader and often struggles to reconcile these competing impulses. He can be quite successful 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. This was reinforced in Season Five when Gilgamesh thoroughly dominated his opponents, coming out of the Wildcard game to take home two victories and a close second place in the Championship match. Gilgamesh amassed 30 points over Seasons Four and Five to rocket up the AI Survivor leaderboards and become one of the favorites in the competition. He's on everyone's radar screens now after a recent run of outstanding performances.

Pool Two Leader

Asoka of India
Traits: Spiritual, Organized
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish:Season Five Championship Game
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 16 points, tied 15th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Asoka plays with Spiritual and Organized for his traits, a decent pairing with strong economic benefit but of no use militarily. As an Indian leader, Asoka gets the above average Fast Worker and Mausoleum combo, and his starting techs are Mining and Mysticism, a pair good for chasing religions and not much else; Asoka can struggle with improving his land in the early game, though the Fast Worker at least helps him catch up. Asoka is a generally peaceful leader, but is less polarised than his counterpart Gandhi. He's got a pretty low aggression rating (3.7/10), unit build (2/10) and tribute demand (1/10) preferences, but a high wonder (8/10) build rate. With religion and science flavours, you can count on Asoka to consistently build up a strong economy as long as he's left alone. Asoka places a strong emphasis on faith, but unlike a lot of the other religious zealots, he's actually pretty easy to get along with, with a minor penalty for differing religion but a huge bonus for shared faith. In theory, Asoka should find it easy to make friends and he's unlikely to get involved in too many wars unless he finds himself in a particularly hostile world.

Past Performance: Asoka has given us a good depiction of a middle-tier economic leader. In Season One, Asoka was within a whisker of an underdog cultural victory despite being short on land, and was beaten to the punch by Mao's diplomatic victory a mere five turns before he would have won. In the two following seasons, Asoka has drawn largely weak, peaceful fields, and proved himself proficient enough economically to at least draw second place both times, behind Big Brother Gandhi. Both seasons though, Asoka found himself in far more aggressive playoff games and collapsed to the aggression in rapid fashion, being first or second to die each game. Asoka's appearance in Game Four of Season Four played out similarly, as Asoka made himself a bunch of religious enemies and was quickly wiped out. His best season by far was Season Five where Asoka won twice en route to making the Championship game. Overall, Asoka's middling power ranking likely places him about where he should be, as when playing amongst a weak field he's certainly competent enough to advance, but like many of the other peaceful leaders his main weakness is an inability to stand up for himself in conflicts. In an unfriendly environment, Asoka is historically very unlikely to make it out alive.

Unseeded Leaders

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.

Qin Shi Huang
Traits: Industrious, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Three Playoffs
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 6 points, tied 36th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Qin Shi Huang has the unfortunate penalty of being saddled with the worst trait combination in Civ4 for AI Survivor purposes. The Industrious trait seems to cause the AI leaders to tie up their cities on wonders in lieu of expanding out across the map, while the Protective trait is well-known for being the weakest of the bunch. Defensive promotions and cheaper walls can help string out a losing game but won't do much of anything to help win a game. Qin's saving grace is the Chinese civilization, with its amazing starting tech combination and powerful Cho-Ko-Nu unique unit. The extra promotions on this unit are about the only useful thing that Qin gets from his traits. Qin's AI personality is mostly that of a peaceful builder, as he has a low aggression rating (3.9/10) and a fairly high wonder emphasis (6/10). Qin generally won't pick a lot of fights as he doesn't make a lot of demands and he has a low train unit emphasis (2/10). This economic setup is oddly paired with a low peace weight and the ability to plot war at "Pleased" relations. This is likely the reason why Qin has outperformed his terrible trait combination, as low peace weight leaders who can successfully pull off economic development tend to be some of the strongest competitors in AI Survivor. It's too bad for Qin that he doesn't get more useful traits to pair with his otherwise promising setup.

Past Performance: Qin has consistently exceeded expectations in past seasons, managing a pair of trips to the playoffs despite often unpromising circumstances. He's made a living in the Wildcard game in particular, advancing to the playoffs in Season One by taking home a silver medal in that last chance effort. This wasn't enough to overcome a field of mostly high peace weight leaders in the playoffs, losing out to Mansa Musa and Elizabeth in a tight contest. Qin's best outing took place in Season Three, where he finished in second place behind Julius Caesar and nearly advanced to the Championship game before a late era stomping at the hands of Mansa Musa again intervened. On the other hand, Qin has also struggled mightily in other outings, suffering early eliminations in both Season Two and Season Four without accomplishing much of anything. While he's done a good job of punching above his weight, he also doesn't have that much weight to be punching with. There are other leaders who are much better at the economic side of the game and Qin often can't keep pace with them.

Ramesses II of Egypt
Traits: Industrious, Spiritual
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Three Playoffs
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 2 points, tied 45th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Ramesses is best summarized as a peaceful leader who loves to build wonders. His traits are well suited for this, with the Industrious trait granting additional production for wonders and Spiritual serving as a useful all-around development trait. The AI loves to waste turns in Anarchy flipping civics and it helps save them from their own follies. Ramesses is further helped by the presence of the powerful Egyptian civilization, which has excellent starting techs along with one of the game's best unique units in the form of the War Chariot. Unfortunately the whole is less than the sum of its parts as far as Ramesses is concerned, as his traits and AI personality contribute to one of the worst expansion rates in the competition. Ramesses is so busy building his wonders (10/10) that he forgets to train units (2/10) and struggles to get settlers out on the map to claim territory. He's helped here by a peace weight in the middle of the spectrum to prevent him from being quite as much of a sitting duck as Hatshepsut but the low aggression rating on Ramesses (3.7/10) makes it unlikely that he'll be able to snowball ahead from conquering territory. Ramesses also heavily emphasizes religion, strongly favoring his religious compatriots and disliking his rivals. With his Culture and Production tech flavors, he's another leader who's likely to found a religion despite not starting with Mysticism tech. Only in the rare situation where Ramesses is somehow able to acquire additional territory does he start to become a threat to win the game. His wonder-heavy gameplan simply doesn't work very well for AI Survivor purposes.

Past Performance: Ramesses has been one of the worst-performing leaders in AI Survivor, with zero kills to his name and frequent early eliminations. He was the First to Die in the first ever game of AI Survivor and things generally haven't improved a lot since then. Season Two was going a bit better for Ramesses until he picked a fight with Mansa Musa and was knocked out the competition for his impunity. Season Four's opening round game had an unfortunate field of mostly low peace weight leaders and that meant another First to Die outing for Ramesses. Only in Season Three did he have one solid game, stunning everyone who expected an early demise by triumphing over Ragnar and riding that conquest to a second place finish. This had less to do with Ramesses and more to do with Ragnar inexplicably deciding to attack his low peace weight neighbor Stalin, an invasion which was unusually suicidal even for Ragnar. Order was restored in the playoff round as Ramesses once again suffered an early exit. It was back to the usual grind in Season Five as Ramesses failed to expand properly and suffered another early defeat. He's appeared in six total matches and suffered five eliminations without ever managing a kill, not exactly a successful track record from past years.

Shaka of the Zulus
Traits: Aggressive, Expansive
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two, Three, and Four Playoffs
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 13 points, tied 21st place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Shaka gets the Aggressive and Expansive traits to play around with, two middling traits that create a roughly average combination, if well-fitted for conquest. He also has the below average (in AI hands) Impi, and the extremely strong Ikhanda for his unique items, an above average pairing that, again, works well for militaristic play. Lastly, Shaka has the Agriculture and Hunting pair for his starting techs, which allow him to get out to a fast start. If you haven't picked up on it yet, Shaka is all about the military. He's one of the "Crazies" who cross the threshold from "aggressive" to "nuts", and his aggression rating (9.2/10) is the fourth highest in the game. Like most of the other Crazies, Shaka's only flavour is Military, and he builds units at a frenetic pace (10/10) while ignoring wonders (2/10). Surprisingly, Shaka is quite unlikely to demand tribute (1/10), but other than that, he's a fairly standard hyper-aggressive leader. Shaka's traits, unique items and flavour are all pretty unhelpful in constructing an economy, and usually he doesn't even try. Expect Shaka to spend his entire game warring on the high peace weight pacifists (or anyone else, for that matter!), and his success to largely depend on whether those wars are successful or stall out.

Past Performance: So far, Shaka is undeniably the most successful of the Crazies in AI Survivor, ranked slightly above average as compared to the rest of the field (for reference, Ragnar, Temujin and Montezuma are all within the bottom third). Perhaps his lack of demands helps after all, making him less likely to become a global pariah, or maybe the Ikhanda is just that good. After a terrible first season, Shaka has made the playoffs three of the last four seasons. His most successful game was a Season Two romp in, admittedly, a below average field, but Shaka has achieved second place in two more games since. In Season Three, Shaka did this by largely staying out of the way of De Gaulle, but in Season Four he played another strong game, scoring himself three kills to boot, following an impressive zerg rush of Joao. Like many other middle-tier leaders however, Shaka has consistently struggled against the stiffer competition of the playoffs, where he typically gets outteched by more balanced (i.e less insane) leaders, probably best displayed in his Season Three Playoff Game, where he ballooned to an enormous size, but was so far behind in tech that he also popped like a balloon when confronted by Stalin and Justinian. Shaka is a complete lunatic but he was (temporarily) a seeded leader for Season Five - there must be a method to the madness.

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

This was the third game in a row where the community was picking a heavy favorite. Gilgamesh was the selection to win for approximately two thirds of the contest entrants - for his sake, I hope that Gilgamesh fared better than Caesar and Huayna Capac in the first two games! The AI Survivor hive mind wasn't having a stellar start to the opening of this season. For the second place spot, the community favored one of the two leaders at the southern end of the map, with a preference for Qin over Augustus. First to Die was another interesting category with three different leaders all attracting significant votes. Ramesses was a slight favorite over Asoka but Shaka also collected more than his share of picks. Almost everyone expected one of these three leaders to be the first to go but there was little consensus on which one it would be. Finally, this didn't feel like a Cultural map to most people and therefore the victory condition was split evenly between Spaceship and Domination.

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!

nabaxo: You know what? I'm done picking the "obvious" picks. I'm going crazy for this one. I think Shaka has the field set up for him to take home the game. I believe!

delan: Gilgamesh has some really nice territory near his capital for his first few cities, and I like the combination of his aggressive, warring personality with the Creative trait. I'd like Shaka a lot more if he didn't land the seafood start, so while I expect him to make Asoka's life difficult, I don't think he'll be able to roll Asoka over and snowball from there. I also don't trust Augustus Caesar to leverage his relatively isolated start into a strong economic game. Ultimately, calling for a later finish date, where Gilgamesh pieces together the win and Qin comes in second by virtue of his isolated start and his peace weight playing the diplomatic game for him.

Duizhang_Lu: Gilgabro has himself a nice start here and some juicy neighbors to munch on (as well as not starting near the tundra, preventing bad settling decisions) and seems shoo-in to win this barring laughable incompetence. Shaka also has a decent start, but he doesn't have copper and has a sea food start, which I think will make him too slow out of the gate to compete with Gilgabro. They may be best friends this game, or perhaps there can be only one.

ManiaMuse: Shaka goes Shaka and does Shaka things. First goes straight for Gilgamesh's throat and takes him out straight away. Then bounces around the other leaders taking them out one by one. End is a bit messy and later wars drag on for a while but has enough territory to win by sheer quantity of units.

Tristan Cox: Its hard not to pick Gligamesh with his gorgeous land surrounding him and he starts with agriculture for his wet corn. I think its a good chance that Ramesses’s religion could spread to him since Thebes and Uruk are on the same river and they could be friends in the game. Not a fan of Shaka’s position. He needs to tech to iron working for metal units while Asoka only needs bronze working so the window for the early rush for Shaka isnt very wide.

Bobchillingworth: What I think should happen this game: Gilgamesh devours a metal-less, wonder-obsessed Ramses and propels himself to an insurmountable lead. Shaka beats up Asoka, but doesn't make much headway until Qin or Gilgamesh intervenes. Augustus claims a good chunk of the map, but is otherwise inert and preoccupied with stuffing his cities with every available infrastructure build, until a late-game alliance of Gilgamesh, Qin, and possibly Shaka kicks over his sandcastle. What will probably actually happen: Shaka devotes himself with frenzied energy to dragging down Gilgamesh; the latter eventually prevails in a series of duels, but by then he's effectively crippled and too backwards to matter. Qin spends most of the game being isolated and irrelevant, until he is gradually obliterated by a coalition of his more peaceful neighbors. Everyone forgets Asoka exists, and he wins a backdoor culture victory.

ljubljana: qin to win because i have him in the fantasy draft and i also live in a fantasy. but i mean he does stand to benefit from an early asoka dogpile and has the peace weight to join in. gil is squeezed badly and next to shaka, ouch. and then augustus for second bc he is one step below charley on the second-place-itis scale. and bad leaders means late space lol

Amicalola: My pick (Ramesses 1st, Augustus 2nd) stem from three starting positions. The two most important are Shaka's (terrible for him tech-wise), and Ramesses (absurd). This means that Shaka can't rush anyone effectively, and Gilgamesh can't kill Ramesses 1v1. Qin and Augustus will stay out of things at the bottom, with Augustus getting the edge for 2nd as Qin will be the odd one out in peaceweight to who I expect to be the leader (Ramesses).

NotSpamBot: Now logically speaking I should have voted for Asoka First To Die and Gilgamesh for First Place... but I expect Asoka's plot armor to kick in and prompt Shaka to attack Gilgamesh first despite Asoka's peace weight, proximity, weak military, and cultural pressure waving a red cloth in the face of the mad man. I also expect this attack to flounder at which point Shaka will promptly attack and kill Ramses.

Mansa da man: Gilgamesh has some very good land with floodplains and gold, and Ramesses to the South does not usually expand well on what is a very cramped map. His Western neighbor is a bit more concerning but the similar peaceweights will probably save him here, plus Protective + Creative means he can probably hold out on a surprise early war before catapults. In addition, Gilgamesh is quite aggressive himself and will most likely add Ramesses's wonder filled lands to his own, share in the India conquest with Shaka or turn on Shaka himself who will probably have his armies away annoying someone else. The last two games have shown how unpredictable this competition can be but I certainly expect one of the two Northern leaders to snowball off a conquest. That leaves Qin as the second place pick for me with a similar peaceweight, he'll just hope to be left alone and build wonders in peace. Asoka is the most likely FTD as Shaka is just that bit more aggressive but Ramesses is a likely candidate too. Now for Shaka to declare first on Gilgamesh and torpedo both their chances :)

Isidora: I just want to see Shaka flip out at everyone for no reason.

Bernn: Here's how I see this one going: Gilgamesh wisely avoids sending his settler directly south into the jungle and instead moves southwest, putting early cultural pressure on Shaka. The Zulus try their best to dig themselves out of the hole they're in with that heavy seafood peninsula of a capital, but struggle massively and end up with a crashed economy and a scattershot set of cities until the border tension reaches a boiling point and the Sumerians roll over poor Shaka. Now in the driver's seat of the game, Gilg quickly eats up Asoka, grinds down Ramesses and begins biting into Augustus before he ticks over the land area threshold and takes home a decisive Domination victory. I've been very impressed with Gilgamesh's performance over the last few seasons, and I think everything is in place for him to do excellently here too.

Schmun: This is a low peace weight field, so unfortunately I think Asoka's chances of surviving the game undisturbed are slim. Out of the low peace weight leaders, Gilgamesh seems like the most likely candidate purely through being a stronger AI. Shaka will torpedo his game and someone elses with early wars and I don't think Qin will expand enough to have a chance. It's unlikely, but possible, that Augustus managed to sneak out a cultural victory in the south east if he doesn't get in too many wars. I think religion will have a lot of influence in how this game works out. I chose Ramesses FTD because there's a chance that Asoka's religion will reach Shaka and give them better relations, although it's a real toss-up between the two. Similarly, religion will influence whether Augustus gets mauled. My prediction is that the low peace weight leaders will take out the two high peace civs but then it will be fairly peaceful and end in a slow march to space.

Dark Savant: Shaka and especially Asoka have poor starts. Shaka has all clams and no copper; Asoka is between two low-peaceweight leaders and has a lot of jungle and mountains, and both of them are low on expansion space. Augustus has to be the clear choice for second, since he has a ton of space to do his usual "expand, then do nothing" shtick that's delivered him second place before. Ramesses I'm not sure is a great choice for first, but Gilgamesh is going to be squeezed on territory and has a good chance of being randomly attacked by Shaka.

Slashin': 3 high PW and 3 low PW leaders, but the direction of the game seems to ultimately favor the high PW leaders. The main reason is that Shaka is cramped on land and has drawn the misfortune of yet another difficult starting position for the second time in a row. Shaka either settles a mediocre second city choked by jungle or places it in a direction that crowds out Gilgamesh, who has great quality land but is crowded as well. The other 4 ais have great opportunities for expansion, and I believe Shaka loses the duel versus Asoka if he cannot pull qin in, who for a number of reasons, whether it be same religion, wonder whoring, or general inertness, may just sit back and let the two duel. Gilgamesh had a fast start, but it will be contested by both his neighbors, especially by the equally fast start of ramesses. The biggest risk to the high peaceweights is if ramesses founds the second religion and spreads it around to his opponents before Asoka gets the opportunity to, but I believe ramesses will ultimately stagnate in a war with Gilgamesh, leading to Augustus developing peacefully into space while one of the runner ups ends up being any of the other builders who can hold their own in the meantime.

bellarch: This is a hard one and I'm not confident at all about my answers (which probably means I'll get everything exactly right this time lol). The easiest is First to Die - Shaka is a dead man walking. His start is awful, especially given his starting techs, and he doesn't have the commercial or productive potential to do his usual gameplan of SHAKA SMASH. However, he settles towards Gilgamesh and eventually provokes war with him due to border tension, which messes up Gil's game, too. Gil does eventually crush Shaka, and subsequently eats Ramesses - but while he manages to be the score leader, he's unable to become dominant in time to stop Asoka's plucky underdog cultural victory, leaving Gil in second place. (Though you could tell me that literally any of these AIs not named Shaka comes in second or wins culture and I would believe it!)

Zigzagzone: On this map, there are three civs with much space, and three cramped ones. Qin definitely has land to expand into and maybe get more than he deserves towards Ramesses and Augustus. Then, he can take a few cities from doomed Asoka. This makes him the biggest dog with solid econ skills, enough for a victory (after helping in destroying Ramesses, probably).

Arnout: Shaka ruins ramsess and his own game, Augustus does nothing all game long, Gilgamesh and Qin take 1 and 2.

smithy: This is my favourite map this season, it could not be more perfectly set up for these 6 leaders- to lure them in with the chance of riches yet still taunting them all with the memory of past failure and tempting them to repeat these failures all over again for our amusement. Take Ramesses as the perfect example- oodles of lush green riverland, and food aplenty in the wide open space in the middle; with the added bonus that a holy city could claim so much land... and yet there is the marble... it's just sitting there- calling to him to once more stay at 3 cities and throw the game for one more Wonder. Asoka has also got green land, food, rivers and many vital resources. All that the best techer in the field could possibly need to run away with this game with ease. There is but one catch- its all covered in jungle. All he has to do is get to Iron Working to release all that potential before the neighbours pop over. How hard can it be? Give a man a fish, and he will feed himself for a day: give Shaka a fish and he will merrily slap Asoka with it. Now take away even his fish and watch him try to start a fight with clam shells and incense sticks See the lake in the middle? and the river running south? That river is Augy's Rubicon. So often before he has grown his civ well, and been poised to become a major player: then done precisely diddly squat until the game passed him by. Will he finally cross his Rubicon with an army before the Praetorian window closes and restore some Roman pride? Qin has a decision to make. He could move north to the luxurious Indian lands, but may have to fight for these. Or he could settle east to the open lands there and build a meaningful empire? Or he could just possibly turtle up in the SW peninsula and hang up a 'do not disturb until the wildcard' sign. Will Qin ever even make a decision? Finally the people's favourite: Gilgamesh. He has built his success with dominant early landgrabs- yet will find himself starved for space and deprived of iron by the Egyptian holy city and the encroaching Zulu's with their sharpened whelks. Can he overcome this and be the hero we need? or is Frederick truly the one we deserve.

Game Three Picking Contest Entry Form