Civ4 AI Survivor Season 6: Game Four 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

Stalin of Russia
Traits: Aggressive, Industrious
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 4 First Place Finishes, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Three Champion
Total Kills: 10
Overall Power Ranking: 34 points, 4th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Stalin has unexpectedly been one of the most dominant leaders in AI Survivor history, compiling a staggering track record of success that we're still not entirely sure how to explain. His traits are nothing special, with the Industrious trait largely acting as a detriment to AI performance and Aggressive never grading out as anything better than average. Stalin has undoubtedly been helped by his Russian civilization, with its decent starting techs and powerful Cossack unique unit. Understanding why Stalin has repeatedly crushed his opponents requires a deeper dive into his AI personality. He has a low peace weight and an above average aggression rating (7.6/10) while avoiding the truly nutty behavior of someone like Montezuma or Genghis Khan. Aside from a somewhat high build wonder rating (6/10), most of Stalin's AI ratings are in the middle of the spectrum and don't stand out one way or another. He loves espionage spending (10/10) but that's about it. What's unusual about Stalin is the fact that he doesn't care about religion at all, showing as little interest as Mao with miniscule shared faith bonuses and differing religion penalties. This may be a factor in his repeated victories as Stalin doesn't get hung up on the religious diplomacy and can act as he sees fit. He otherwise has Military and Production tech flavors and, of course, can plot war at "Pleased" relations. For whatever reason, this overall package has been extremely successful in prior seasons of AI Survivor.

Past Performance: Stalin didn't accomplish much during the first two seasons of AI Survivor, then exploded out of nowhere during the following two seasons and completely owned the competition. He scored 31 of his 34 points in Seasons Three and Four, taking home four first place finishes, nine kills, two repeat appearances in the championship game, and the overall title of Season Three Champion. No one was more successful over those two seasons, and Stalin's Season Three outing was a total stomp from start to finish. He took part in three games, all of them first place finishes, and also set the record for most kills in a single season with seven. Stalin has furthermore shown the ability to win in multiple different fashions, scoring Domination and Spaceship victories and even one Cultural victory. He has been completely ruthless at destroying his rivals, pouncing again and again on moments of weakness in the other leaders. At times it's felt as though a human was playing as Stalin against a bunch of AI turkeys. Thanks to making the championship game two seasons in a row, we went two full seasons without Stalin ever suffering an elimination! Stalin wasn't able to keep that streak alive with an opening round exit in Season Five but it's still been a wild ride over the previous few years.

Pool Two Leader

Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire
Traits: Imperialistic, Protective
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes, 4 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Four Champion
Total Kills: 8
Overall Power Ranking: 26 points, 8th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Charlemagne (aka The Burger King) gets Imperialistic and Protective, the best and worst trait respectively in AI Survivor. He also gets the mediocre Landsknecht and the amazing Rathaus, and starts with Hunting and Mysticism techs. He's able to found a religion straight away, if not much else. Charlemagne is a pretty good template of the average aggression/religion focused leader. He gets military and religion flavours, like the rest of his bunch. He has a higher than average aggression rating (7/10) and a neutral peace weight of 6, so his diplomacy tends to fall along the line of religious spread. His unit build preference (6/10) is slightly above average, while his wonder build preference (3/10) is below average. Other than that, Charlemagne has average numbers in basically every other category, and he's actually a fairly bland AI.

Past Performance: While Charlemagne has one of the shorter personality sections, the past performance of the Season Four Champion is a real doozy. Charlie achieved literally nothing in the first two Seasons of AI Survivor, and looked to be just another stupid religious leader. In Season Three, that didn't change much, as his only real achievement was throwing away a certain victory in the last minute of Game Seven, before dying quickly in the playoffs. However, everything changed in Season Four. In his opening game, Charlemagne played a solid, if not spectacular, game which largely involved him riding Justinian's coattails on the right side of a religious coalition. The playoff game was the closest thing Charlemagne had to an actual dominant game, where he scored three kills following an extremely early conquest of Suryavarman. Even then, he only won because game-leader Darius decided to pursue a faraway cultural victory instead of, you know, win the game. Then, in the Championship, Charlemagne won even less deservedly, as he spent most of the game in third or fourth place before runaway Kublai Khan did the exact same thing as Darius! That's right, both of Charlie's victories, including the Championship, weren't from actually playing the game well; they were from other, better AIs screwing up even worse! Needless to say, Charlemagne has been one of the less popular leaders among the viewers. Sullla thought that this guy was a total fraud and doubted that he would be able to repeat his flukish Season Four result... only for Charlemagne to have a pair of strong second place finishes and return to the Season Five Championship game. The Holy Roman leader has had too many good outings at this point to dismiss his performance as pure coincidence; Charlemagne has to be considered an above-average leader for AI Survivor purposes even if he has been one the lucky side in many of these games.

Unseeded Leaders

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.

Brennus of the Celts
Traits: Spiritual, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 0
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Two Playoffs
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 9 points, tied 26th place (out of 52 leaders)

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

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

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.

Elizabeth of England
Traits: Financial, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 9
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One Championship Game
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 33rd place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Elizabeth is an easy AI personality to understand, a pacifistic economic leader who will always seek out some kind of non-military victory condition. Elizabeth has one of the best trait combinations for teching in the Financial/Philosophical pairing, and while it's true that there's some anti-synergy there between running cottages and running specialists, there's little doubt that this setup will output a lot of beakers. If Elizabeth ends up getting a solid portion of the map under her control, she's one of the toughest leaders in the game to stop. She ranks no better than a mediocre leader for AI Survivor purposes precisely because this happens so rarely; Elizabeth has an exceedingly low aggression rating (1.9/10) and a low build unit preference (2/10). Surprisingly, she will indeed plot war at "Pleased" relations, but in most games you're more likely to see someone else invading England as Elizabeth frantically researches everything except the military technology which would save her. Elizabeth's Gold and Culture research preferences often cause her to ignore the Redcoats that she desperately needs for safety. In summary, Elizabeth performs far better in games with other high peace weight leaders where she's left alone to build in peace. She's a better version of Frederick and a weaker version of Mansa Musa.

Past Performance: Elizabeth had her most successful outing in the first season of AI Survivor, where she took two second place finishes and made it all the way to the Season One Championship before being eliminated. Her opening round performance was especially strong that year, narrowly losing to Pericles in the United Nations shortly before taking a victory via Spaceship or Culture. She was also the score leader when Mansa Musa won by Culture in her playoff game, reflecting another excellent showing. Elizabeth has hit a rough patch since then, however, eliminated in the opening round of Seasons Two, Three, Four, and Five. Her loss was particularly cruel in Season Three, as Elizabeth was drawn into the "group of death" match and she was less than ten turns away from a Cultural win when Caesar captured one of her three Legendary cities. The Romans kept right on marching until they conquered Elizabeth completely, handing her a defeat which did not reflect how strong her performance had been. This is another leader who can be dangerous if she draws the right neighbors, or alternately wind up as a helpless victim if surrounded by low peace weight aggressors.

Hammurabi of Babylon
Traits: Aggressive, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Three Playoffs
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 3 points, tied 43rd place (out of 52 leaders)

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

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

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Community predictions coming soon - check back later to see what the AI Survivor community thinks about this game!