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:
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.
Willem of the Dutch
Traits: Financial, Creative
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 4
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Four and Five Championship Game
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 18 points, 13th place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Willem has one of the strongest economic setups in the game and he's been held back thus far only by his poorly-chosen set of research priorities. Willem has one of the best possible combinations of leader traits in the Financial + Creative pairing. Not only does Willem benefit from the free border pops and the Financial commerce bonus, there's even some basic synergy between the two in the form of cheap libraries. Willem's Dutch civilization is significantly less powerful, though it does have decent starting techs and can become strong if the Dikes ever show up in time to matter. As an AI leader Willem has middling scores in almost every category, lots of 4/10 and 5/10 ratings across the board. His aggression rating is about average at 6.7/10 and his peace weight also sits in the middle of the scale. Willem has a very low religious emphasis and he won't found his own faith very often despite his strong economic abilities. The single biggest weakness for Willem comes in the form of his tech preferences: he has Gold and Science flavors, which turn out to be one of the worst possible combinations for military tech. Willem has repeatedly refused to research Rifling technology to a ludicrous degree, in some games finishing Assembly Line and Flight (!) techs before picking up Rifling. This has led to his elimination at the hands of much less advanced civilizations as he needlessly fights with muskets against rifles. We have a general rule for Willem: if he makes it to Rifling tech then he wins the game; otherwise, he finds himself getting eliminated.
Past Performance: Willem has everything needed to be a strong leader for AI Survivor purposes and it was perplexing why his performance was so bad during the first few seasons. He successfully combines together great economic traits with a low peace weight and willingness to declare war at "Pleased" relations - this guy should be the second coming of Huayna Capac! Instead, he suffered early eliminations again and again during the first few seasons. Some of this was bad luck, as he drew a tough field of opponents in Season One and then a starting position crammed between Hannibal and Tokugawa in Season Two. Still, there's no avoiding the fact that Willem was underperforming his fundamentals, and when he was eliminated again in the opening round of Season Three, everyone was ready to write him off as a failure. This narrative flipped around in Season Four, however, with Willem finally living up to his potential by taking second place in the opening round (a game where he finished with the highest score) followed by a Cultural victory in the playoffs. He was on track to win the outright title in the Season Four Championship before a stubborn refusal to research Rifling tech doomed his efforts. Then in Season Five Willem marched back to the Championship once again with another pair of first and second place finishes. Along with Gilgamesh, he's been charging up the AI Survivor leaderboard over the past two seasons. It's clear by now that Willem is a serious threat to win any game in which he appears if he actually bothers to research military techs. It's his constant Achilles Heel and it will dictate how far he makes it in any match.
Bismarck of Germany
Traits: Expansive, Industrious
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Five Wildcard Game
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 2 points, tied 45th place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Bismarck has the Expansive and Industrious traits, a below average combination probably most useful for the half-cost granaries and forges. As a German leader he gets the Panzer and Assembly Plant unique items, both of which are fairly strong on paper but come so late in the game that they may as well not exist, excluding very fringe circumstances. Lastly, Bismarck gets Hunting and Mining, which can make him slow to improve his food resources early in the game. Bismarck's main quirk is that he's a rare leader with only a single flavour: Military. Unlike most of the other leaders with just one flavour though, Bismarck's other preferences aren't particularly geared around it; he's otherwise a pretty standard AI. Bismarck has an average aggression rating (5.6/10), unit (6/10) and wonder (6/10) build preference, and a neutral peaceweight at 6. He's basically a generic AI that's more likely to be ahead instead of behind in military tech, but a little slower on the economic front.
Past Performance: Bismarck has historically been among the worst performing leaders in AI Survivor. Prior to his appearance in the Season Five Wildcard game, the German leader hadn't just died in all his games; he'd been first or second to die in every single appearance! The poor performance of Bismarck has been somewhat inexplicable on the surface. Part of it is likely due to a high preference on military; while Bismarck is often ahead in military tech early on, he tends to fall behind in most other areas in the game. For example, Bismarck is a rare leader that will sometimes research Archery tech first, despite being unable to connect any food resources, putting him in the same slow-start category as religious leaders without the upside of founding a religion. He's also been surprisingly feeble in military conflict, usually rolling up to die underneath a stronger neighbour. For whatever reason, Bismarck has been utterly incapable thus far in AI Survivor, and even optimistically he'd be described as one of the worst leaders. While he did score a pair of kills in Season Five, Bismarck has still been eliminated five times in six games and never sniffed a top two finish. Try to expect nothing from the Chancellor; you're likely to be disappointed.
Lincoln of the Americans
Traits: Charismatic, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 9
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Season One Playoffs
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 33rd place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Lincoln can essentially be thought of as a slightly less extreme clone of Gandhi. He's almost as pacifistic in nature without taking things to quite as ridiculous of a degree. Lincoln's trait combination is pretty lackluster, depriving this peaceful leader of much of an economic foundation to work with. Philosophical in particular doesn't seem to do much for AI leaders who always run a gazillion specialists at all times. Lincoln is not helped either by his American civ with all of its uselessly-late unique features. Lincoln as a leader is extremely peaceful in nature with an exceedingly low aggression rating (0.8/10). He won't declare war at "Pleased" either so Lincoln rarely winds up initiating much in the way of conflict. Unlike Gandhi, he will at least train an average number of units (4/10) and therefore doesn't collapse instantly when attacked. Lincoln's an easy neighbor to get along with, as he rarely makes demands and doesn't hold much interest in religion. Unfortunately he also doesn't have any clear path to winning a victory, as his traits aren't great for pure economy and he doesn't have anything beyond half-cost universities to help with culture. It all adds up to a mixed bag, a nice guy leader who's too friendly to attack anyone while also lacking the tools to run the Mansa Musa or Darius playbook.
Past Performance: Lincoln won his very first game in the debut season of AI Survivor and has done essentially nothing since then. His Season One match held an atypical field of mostly high peace weight leaders, and once Ragnar + Kublai Khan were gone, Lincoln was able to sit back and win a big peaceful lovefest. All seven of Lincoln's points were scored in this initial game and he's been unable to muster anything since. He did come close to making the Season One Championship in another high peace weight playoff grouping but mostly it's been a series of early exits at the hands of more militaristic neighbors. Lincoln was First to Die in his opening round match in Season Two and saw another early exit in Season Four. The best he's managed was a Wildcard appearance in Season Three, where he again suffered a quick defeat. It's become clear that Lincoln's win in Season One was an unlikely result and he's an underwhelming choice for AI Survivor. Only in very specific circumstances can he emerge on top and claim a victory.
Ragnar of the Vikings
Traits: Financial, Aggressive
Starting Techs: Fishing, Hunting
Peace Weight: 0
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Two Playoffs
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 39th place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: If you like insane seaborne invaders with funny hats, Ragnar is the guy for you! This lunatic has never met a war that he didn't like and any game with Ragnar present is sure to have some spicy moments. Ragnar combines together the Financial and Aggressive traits, which theoretically should make him better than the average warmonger in terms of managing his economy. That largely doesn't happen in practice though, as Ragnar takes every single lever available for managing his civ and turns it to the military setting, then dials the strength up to 11. His Viking civilization is pretty decent between its starting techs and Berserker unique unit and Trading Post unique building, although a lot of the benefits get wasted on the Pangaea maps used for AI Survivor. Ragnar's AI personality is a complete one-hit wonder: all military all the time. His aggression rating is absurdly overtuned (9.9/10), his train unit emphasis is maxed out (10/10), and he only has one tech flavor which, of course, is Military. Ragnar will fight war after war after war and neglect the building of infrastructure in his cities, which typically leaves him far behind in tech by the latter stages of each match. This often causes him to get eliminated at the hands of more advanced rivals, although sometimes he can ride the coattails of other low peace weight leaders and survive to the finish. Perhaps someday we'll see Ragnar snowball out in front of the rest of the field and then ride his Financial trait to a position of tech dominance but that hasn't happened thus far. Instead, Ragnar has mostly been a ticking time bomb that's gone off and ruined someone else's game... along with his own game at the same time.
Past Performance: Like most of the other crazed warmongers, Ragnar has been too aggressive for his own good and achieved little of substance. He has failed to win a single game and scored only two kills despite stirring up repeated conflicts in game after game. Ragnar's single runner-up finish is similarly deceptive, as he finished extremely far behind a dominant Catherine and made it to the playoffs by virtue of the fact that almost everyone else was dead. Sometimes an AI leader can luck into a second place spot without doing much of anything to deserve it. Far more often have been performances like Ragnar's outing in Season Three, where he inexplicably picked a fight with low peace weight neighbor Stalin only to be taken apart by Ramesses (!) of all people. Or alternately Ragnar has wasted golden opportunities, such as in Season Four where he drew a field of mostly low peace weight opponents and couldn't capitalize on easy prey neighbors in Lincoln and Pericles. This is a self-destructive leader who obsesses far too much over his army and fails to balance the economic, cultural, and diplomatic aspects of nation-building required to be successful in Civ4.
Washington of America
Traits: Charismatic, Expansive
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Five Championship Game
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 8 points, tied 30th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)
Personality: Washington has a pacifistic AI personality combined with traits that lend themselves towards combat, leaving him stuck in an ineffectual spot that has achieved little to date. He has the combination of Expansive and Charismatic leader traits, a setup that theoretically leads to highly promoted units and faster expansion through cheap workers and granaries. Unfortunately Washington's personality is designed to play a peaceful builder game, and these traits simply aren't as useful as what other economy-focused leaders get to play around with. Extra happiness and health in each city is OK and all that but they're nowhere near as good as being Financial or getting the free culture from Creative or the free civic swaps from Spiritual. Washington certainly isn't helped by hauling around the American civilization, with its incredibly late-arriving unique features and only decent starting techs. Washington the AI has a low aggression rating (4.3/10), a high peace weight, and won't declare war at "Pleased" relations. He doesn't make many demands and typically acts as a great neighbor aside from a penchant for espionage spending (7/10). However, Washington inexplicably has Military and Growth tech preferences, causing him to prioritize military techs that he won't use and ignore development-focused research. It's a bizarre tech prioritization system that badly undercuts his performance. When combined with mediocre traits and the weak American civilization, it's easy to understand why Washington has struggled in past seasons.
Past Performance: Washington has a record of failure in AI Survivor, much like the early stages of his real-life military career. Washington was repeatedly eliminated without ever scoring a single kill or coming close to taking home a victory... right up until he found the perfect starting position in the playoffs of Season Five. His previous best showings were two appearances in the Wildcard game during Season One and Season Three, both times following sluggish "sit in the corner and do nothing" opening round games. Washington was eliminated in both of those Wildcard matches despite the generally low level of competition that prevails in them, as well as being eliminated in his opening round matches in Season Two and Season Four. Washington's Season Four appearance was typical of his past showings, with a decent early game but with no efforts to increase American territory by snowballing ahead through conquest, leading inevitably to being swallowed up by a rampaging Huayna Capac later on. Washington's breakthrough in Season Five involved a distant second place finish in the opening round followed by a shocking win in the playoffs, largely thanks to having a beautiful capital city and lots of good fortune in terms of how the diplomacy shook out. He was First to Die in the Season Five Championship though, a sign of what happened when Washington's luck ran out. This leader favors a passive style of gameplay and his associated leader traits and civilization simply aren't strong enough to win via that route unless everything lines up perfectly.
Here's what the community was thinking based on the prediction contest before the game took place:
The community was strongly in favor of the two seeded leaders on this map, Willem and Suryavarman. They combined for well over 90% of the votes to win the game (with Willem taking the lion's share) while simultaneously also being the most popular picks to finish in second place. Most of the contest entrants had these two leaders in both of the top two spots in some form. Unsurprisingly, the First to Die category had the two leaders stuck between them as the favorites to exit the game first. There was a modest preference for Ragnar to be eliminated first with Bismarck hot on his heels. Finally, this was our first game of the season where one victory type was an overwhelming favorite as most of the community members were picking Spaceship as the ending condition. Cultural was almost as popular as Domination which was certainly not the case on some of our other maps.
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!
Khnud: Oh my, the crystal ball is cloudy on this one. It all depends on where the early religions pop up, and with no leader starting with mysticism - this feels like somewhat of a coin flip. I predict quite varied alternate history matches. Regardless, I like Sury's somewhat isolated start and he's bound to do well if he can stay away from Ragnar in the early/mid game. Washington will have trouble getting to his iron resource, so he's likely to be targeted early by one of his low peace weight neighbours.
NotSpamBot: Okay Willem, it is very simple. You are a smart guy, so I know that you understand me: research Rifling. Do not swing by Laser or something first, you beline Rifling as soon as you have Gunpowder. Oh who am I kidding, who am I betting on this?
delan: My read on this game is that Ragnar stinks. He'll probably go after Bismarck, who has nice land and will pro-actively build military, and will fail at it and die because he's bad at developing his economy and has no river to accidentally get Financial commerce from. Surry, Ragnar's only low peace-weight friend, doesn't have great land, but he'll certainly have a lot of it, given his only competition in the landgrab is Ragnar. He'll also have lots of time to develop, similar to Augustus in Game 3, and can play the aggro game and mount a campaign against the peaceniks when he chooses. I am calling second place for Willem, who is unlikely to get punished for avoiding Rifling in this field, although I'm sure he'll find a way to disappoint me again.
Cyneheard: Willem might not take Rifling early, but he won't have to - the American leaders aren't scary and Willem's got a better start than they do. Bismarck isn't scary either - I'm expecting Sury to vulture Ragnar after Ragnar makes a bad war or two, but it won't do Sury enough good to win against Willem powering through the tech tree and getting Rifling just in time to fight off the Khmer and coast to a space win.
Tristan Cox: I don’t really like Suryavarman’s coastal start in the corner with his scout facing towards his backfill area. I worry he will send his settler to the little peninsula instead of claiming more valuable land. Nonetheless, I just think his traits, civilization, and AI is really solid. I was very tempted to pick Willem with his spawn next to two of the more pacifistic leaders, but Sury’s dominance from previous games I’ve seen prompted me to go with him.
LinkMarioSamus: Willem seems like he should win this, what with having the best diplomatic situation and being arguably undervalued by his current Power Ranking, but after Stalin's early exit I guess you never know. That being said, Willem's closest neighbors are nowhere near as aggressive so the chances of him pulling a Stalin aren't very high and I still feel comfortable picking him to win - at least moreso than anyone else here! Surely Washington won't attack him early right? For 2nd however, I'm going with Washington. It comes down to him vs. Bismarck to me, with Bismarck having the slightly stronger diplomatic situation and Ragnar as a potential next-door neighbor to snack on, while Washington is overall stronger and has gone against a number of leaders in past seasons who have done well this time around like Augustus, Pacal, and Napoleon. Both are fairly rated in terms of their Power Ranking IMO, with Washington maybe being a touch overvalued after his championship run last season but it's purely academic.
Commodore: This time, we have two contenders and four of the worst screw-ups in the competition. I suspect a lot of us will vote for Sury/Willem. I've actually put Willem in first not because he's got amazing land (he doesn't) but because between Washington and Bismarck I don't see how he's ever under serious threat. Ignore your rifles all you want, buddy, just hope that Ragnar slows down Sury's landgrab just enough for you to do that economy thing you do.
bellarch: My picks this time are honestly just hedging a bunch of outcomes, so I'll just generally say some things about my read on this game. I feel like a lot of things are up in the air - I picked Sury to win, which seems pretty chalky, but the fact that I almost picked Bismarck (!) of all people says a lot about this game. Willem has a very good start but seems likely to only end up with a few cities because of Washington's and Bismarck's expansion. Washington and Bismarck both have very good starts, but they haven't been very good in the past and they start next to Ragnar. Bismarck specifically has a gem resource to mitigate the economic impact of his "roads? what roads?" tendencies. Ragnar is, of course, a surprisingly bad AI for someone who has Financial benefits. His overall position is good, but his capital is not great for his starting techs, and his overly-aggressive tendencies make him likely to sabatoge what should be a good game for him. (If Sury was in this position -- or someone like Huayna or Cathy -- they'd be the obvious favorite!). Lincoln has a decent starting position, but he's likely to be cramped and eventually murdered by Sury, and Washington's do-nothing-attitude won't help him. I have him as First to Die, anticipating that whatever wars Ragnar starts in the west will stall out. Sury himself has a bad starting position, but lots of land to expand into and potentially a very good position on this map provided that he doesn't send all his initial settlers into the eastern peninsula. Overall, this game feels like it'll go long no matter what happens - unless WIlly pulls out a repeat of Huayna Capac's Season Two Championship cultural-victory-from-behind from his isolated corner - and Spaceship is probably the most likely outcome between all these leaders. But as I've said on previous games this season, you could tell me any number of outcomes happened on this map and I wouldn't be surprised.
Zigzagzone: How important is your starting land and the space to expand into? Willem and Ragnar are both limited in that, and have every chance to be squeezed by their neighbors also. When they are kicked out of the game, Suryavarman will be the last low peace-weight leader. Unfortunately, all the high peace weights are rather incompetent, so it could be a slow finish to the game.
Greatmefisto: I like Surys isolated start with 2 happiness resources near him. If barb city won't spawn next door I can see him claiming alot of land and emerge as early/mid-game powerhouse. My other fear is that since we don't have a Mysticism AI in the field he'll try to chase after one of the religions and that stone at his capital might be a wonder poison pill. But I like his chances the most. Willem has a little cramped start but we all know that Financial civs don't need that much land. I expect Ragnar and Bismarck go to early warring and the biggest question in this case is: does Bismarck will make an impression of himself from last year when he refused to research wheel till like turn 80. If he does then he's in for a lot of trouble. If he doesn't then he survives and Ragnar is FTD and that's what I am counting on. I don't like Lincolns position with his weak capital and I don't think this map has a setup from last years play-off game for Washington. I even expect some wars between the Dutch and America. Now watch me getting screwed like in any other game this year.
Dagoth Gares: A game of have-nots: Willem has no rifles, Bismarck has no roads, Ragnar has no economy, Lincoln has no military, Washington has no motivation. Willem wins because no one calls him on the inevitable Willem Special, Sury takes second with a much larger empire but far less research.
Slashin': Im really digging Washington’s start here. It’s not too dissimilar from his playoff start last year, and this time, he has a friendlier environment and opportunity to get big with neighbors who will let him build up that critical mass. I’m gonna go with a Washington/Bismarck ticket here, And I think if it comes to blows, Washington will be able to beat back willem. Bismarck isn’t the best ai but that grassland immediately improvable gems resource is tantalizing and his scuffle with Ragnar will hold him back from winning outright, while sury falls later in the game due to a miserable peace weight situation once Ragnar is out.
T K: Okay, so the seeded leaders have had an awful run this season, but here me out. Ragnar's suicidal tendencies see little tolerance on everyone else's part and he kills himself before half the competition even consider going to war. Bismarck stagnates and dies as usual while Suryavarman benefits the most, getting him the high score while America 1 & 2 do nothing to impede Willem as he sends the Dutch Space Macemen to Alpha Centauri. Now, what will probably happen is Bismarck wrecks Ragnar, then Willem, then a Suryavarman that got stuck fighting both Americas, and goes on to win on turn 450 by Diplomacy, but the moment I make that much of an oddball guess is the moment things go back to normal. That's probably a fallacy of some sort but it's the excuse I'm going with for an "obvious" Willem pick.
Keler: If Ragnar ends up first to die, Bismarck will actually have a chance to win by domination. But I'm going to be safe and say space race instead. Washington looks more promising when it comes to expansion than Lincoln but after all he has the middle start and Lincoln always techs faster than him.And there is Willem who sucks with stupid aggressions with aggressive AI on and slow expansion. I don't see him winning culture at all, especially after Ragnar and Suryavarman dies he is the next target and Bismarck techs rifling&military science and also assembly line earlier no matter what.
Bernn: Major props to anyone bold enough to back a leader other than Willem or Suryavarman here. Outside of the seeded two, this may just be the the blandest lineup of the entire season. I'm sure Willem will get an enormous amount of attention here and I've been burned before by not backing him, but I'm betting on the Khmer this time. Sury's awkward tundra village of a capital is far worse than Willem's nice wet corn and plains, but I think his potential to grow is far stronger. Willem has the high peaceweight Americans up top to act as natural rivals, and while Washington is usually pretty inert, Creative Dutch borders could genuinely cause conflict. Willem's also going to be tight on space and mostly has jungle to settle, while Sury has plenty of room to his north and a pathetic copperless Ragnar as his only real neighbor. If Sury gets even one successful conquest off, likely by either pouncing on the backwards Vikings or tearing into Lincoln, he'll be able to neatly roll up the rest of the field or just sit back and build wonders while lapping everyone economically. Willem's amazing teching won't matter if Sury has twice his territory!
Beau: willem dafoe <3