Civ4 AI Survivor Season 6: Game Six 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

Kublai Khan of the Mongols
Traits: Aggressive, Creative
Starting Techs: Hunting, Wheel
Peace Weight: 1
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes, 5 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Four Championship Runner Up
Total Kills: 10
Overall Power Ranking: 30 points, tied 6th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Kublai Khan is a much more successful version of a Mongolian leader. His warmongering benefits from the Aggressive trait while the Creative trait helps to push out early game borders and provide at least some degree of research support with cheap libraries. This is an early game setup but those are the most important turns in any Civilization game. Kublai's Mongolian civ is well above average, with strong unique features in the Keshik and Ger paired with subpar starting techs. As an AI leader Kublai Khan tries to balance cultural and military goals, generally doing a pretty good job at both of them. He has average ratings for training units, building wonders, and an average aggression rating (6.4/10). Kublai does have a low peace weight and he has an additional diplomatic penalty for anyone who refuses his demands. He doesn't make those demands very often though, and he doesn't care very much about religion in general. Kublai's tech preferences are expectedly Military and Culture in nature, and he lives up to his Mongol heritage by plotting war at "Pleased" relations. Long story short, Kublai Khan is the military + culture leader done correctly, unlike several others who try and fail at this combination.

Past Performance: Kublai Khan is the unquestioned winner of the runner-up award, taking home five different second place finishes including coming in second place in all three of his Season Four appearances. There's a reason for this, as Kublai often isn't dominant enough to win outright but successfully manages to ride the coattails of a low peace weight ally. Kublai has appeared in twelve different games in all, the most of anyone in AI Survivor, and has taken home a medal of some kind in seven of them. He's also been a scrappy fighter that rarely gets eliminated outright, including battling back from the Wildcard game in Season Three. Kublai's most impressive achievement has been making the championship game on three separate occasions in Seasons Two, Three, and Four, the only AI leader to pull off that accomplishment. He had an overall victory in hand in Season Four and should have been the season's champion before bizarrely throwing away his win by chasing after a longshot Cultural victory. While Kublai tends to sneak under the radar a bit, he has a consistent track record of success that exceeds almost everyone else in the field.

Pool Two Leader

Cyrus of Persia
Traits: Charismatic, Imperialistic
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Peace Weight: 3
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 3 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two Championship Runner Up
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 17 points, 14th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Cyrus has Charismatic and Imperialistic for his traits, with Imperialistic being so good that it makes this a pretty good combination. There's also some synergy there, as Charismatic happiness is a bigger deal with more cities to use it in. He gets the notably less useful Immortal and Apothecary unique items, but he has very good starting techs with Agriculture and Hunting; Cyrus will quickly be able to improve basically any food resource he has. Cyrus has a pretty high aggression rating (7/10), builds a fair number of units (6/10) and loves wonders (8/10); this guy does it all. He cares an average amount about religion (big bonus for sharing, small malus for difference), and his flavours are Military and Growth. It creates the image of another of the snowball leaders, and Cyrus' game plan seems to be building a lot of cities with Imperialistic, getting them tall with Charismatic and his Growth flavour, and then crushing a neighbour or two once he has an advantage in food and production.

Past Performance: Well, if that's Cyrus' game plan, it worked out pretty well for the first two seasons... and not so well since then. Cyrus has only won a single game, but he's placed a strong second three times as well, never too far from the game's victor. Cyrus was runner-up to Mao in his Season One opening game, and was almost able to pull away from his neighbours before getting dogpiled in Playoff Game One. Then, in Season Two, Cyrus had his best year, again getting a strong second in his opening match, before a deserved first place in his playoff game. He was even nearly crowned champion that year; stupid Huayna Capac and his upset Cultural Victory. Several longtime AI Survivor fans still refer to Cyrus as the "True Season Two Champion." Still, the point remains that Cyrus tore up the competition in his first two years, and we were expecting big things from him in the following seasons. Unfortunately, Cyrus repeatedly failed to deliver on those expectations. He hasn't survived an opening game since Season Two, though he's been pretty unlucky. In Season Three, Cyrus was afflicted with constant attacks from both sides, first in sensible wars by Brennus, then nonsensical sabotage from across the map by Zara, in a game any leader would have struggled in. Then, in Season Four, Cyrus expanded out to a strong size and was one of the "Big Three" in the midgame, before a couple of unlikely attacks by fellow Big Three member Catherine set both of them back. This resulted in both of their eventual deaths at the hands of Isabella, who they should have been working together against in the first place! In Season Five, Cyrus was undone by a failure to settle for metal resources in the face of an aggressive Genghis Khan. When he's allowed to actually play the game, Cyrus has put out some very consistent results, and he's definitely not a leader to underestimate if he can get rolling.

Unseeded Leaders

Boudica of the Celts
Traits: Aggressive, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One, Two, and Four Playoffs
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 13 points, tied 21st place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Boudica has the second most combat oriented trait combination in the game, with Aggressive and Charismatic. Her units will acquire promotions faster than any other AIs in the game, and it's a good thing too, because Boudica means to use them. A lot. She gets the mediocre Gallic Warrior and Dun for unique items, and lastly starts with Hunting and Mysticism. Boudica is one of the serious warmongers in Civ 4. She has an extremely high aggression rating (8.8/10), and Boudica is one of the AIs that uses their traits to full effect. She will not declare war at "Pleased" relations though, one of the stranger aspects of Boudica's AI personality. She has a middling build unit preference (6/10) and a low wonder build rate (2/10), and Boudica will often build a more balanced mix of units and buildings than most of the warlike AIs. Her flavours are also a little more balanced, with military and growth, and for one of the serious aggressors, Boudica can build a surprisingly competent economy in her downtime. Lastly, Boudica is less likely to waste her time on a religion than a lot of the other Mysticism-start leaders; it happens sometimes, but usually she'll move straight onto the key worker techs thanks to not having a religious flavour.

Past Performance: Alongside Shaka, Boudica is the other best-performing warmonger, with the two of them sitting in the top third of leaders. Boudica scored a dominant win in her opening game of Season One (admittedly, the weakest opening game that season) after crushing game-rival Isabella. She's also scored two strong second-place finishes in Seasons Two and Four, interestingly both behind Huayna Capac. The Celts fared poorly in the opening round of Season Five, however the alternate histories of that map revealed that Boudica was actually the leader most likely to win and had simply gotten unlucky. Boudica's often been successful at running over her early neighbours in a way that most of the warmongers seem unable to do (see Season One Louis or Season Four Napoleon), probably as a result of her extremely aggressive traits. Both of her second-place finishes have been far from distant, and Boudica has performed consistently well in the opening round. However, she's struggled far more in the playoff games, dying in all three seasons she's got there. Again like Shaka, Boudica seems unable to compete against the stiffer competition of more balanced leaders. Expect her to attack early and often, and don't be surprised if those early attacks succeed where most would fail.

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.

De Gaulle of France
Traits: Charismatic, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 0
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Three Playoffs
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 9 points, tied 26th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: De Gaulle's AI personality seems to have been created by a designer who was poking fun at various different French sterotypes. De Gaulle's trait combination of Charismatic and Industrious is underwhelming for AI Survivor purposes and doesn't appear to have much in the way of synergy. He does get to take advantage of France's excellent starting techs and solid Musketeer unique unit but that's about all that this leader has working in his favor. De Gaulle has a very low wonder-building preference (2/10), which largely serves to waste his Industrious trait, and mixes this together with obnoxious behavior towards his neighbors. He will make constant tribute demands (10/10) and civic change requests (8/10) that tend to make him unpopular with the other AI leaders. De Gaulle also infamously has the lowest resistance to capitulation in the game (0/10), and while that doesn't matter as much in a game without vassal states, he still makes few friends thanks to his peace weight score of zero. It's a confusing and incoherent AI personality that combines annoying behavior with a lack of the requisite ruthlessness needed to be a true conquerer.

Past Performance: De Gaulle had a terrible performance over the first two seasons of AI Survivor, suffering a quick elimination as First to Die in both of his opening round matches. He was ranked dead last, 52nd out of 52 leaders, following the conclusion of Season Two. Thus it was a gigantic shock to everyone when De Gaulle played a dominant match in the opening round of Season Three, scoring a first place finish and racking up three kills in the process. It was a game where De Gaulle devoured perennial doormat Frederick and then snowballed into runaway AI status with no one else even close at the end. He had no such luck in the playoff round as De Gaulle ended up being a speedbump to another impressive Mansa Musa win, and then in Season Four he couldn't manage to overcome stronger, better warmongers in the form of Caesar and Shaka. Season Five was another dud performance as De Gaulle was overrun in the midgame by Tokugawa and Pacal. De Gaulle has therefore been outright eliminated in four of his five opening round games, scoring 7 of his 9 total points in his one strong performance. De Gaulle is far from the worst AI but he's pretty much had one good game and otherwise been terrible.

Genghis Khan Temujin of the Mongols
Traits: Aggressive, Imperialistic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Wheel
Peace Weight: 0
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Five Wildcard Game
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 39th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Temujin is a comically over-aggressive leader who routinely self-destructs with ill-advised military ventures. His Imperialistic trait is good for expansion but the pairing with Aggressive carries no economic benefits at all, leaving Temujin to crash his economy in game after game. The great khan is routinely one of the most technologically backwards leaders, inevitably causing him to flame out and lose to more advanced neighbors in the later stages of each match. The Mongolian civ is well above average thanks to the Keshik and Ger unique items, and Kublai Khan has been able to use them to good effect in his appearances. However, Genghis Khan is fatally undercut by his obsession with all things involving war. He has an exceedingly high aggression rating (9.5/10), he builds tons of units (8/10), he will demand tribute constantly (10/10), and he has the lowest peace weight in the game. Temujin only has a single flavor for his tech research, Military, and he'll go to great lengths to beeline Military Science for his grenadiers while still lacking Aesthetics. This is not a complicated leader to understand: Temujin is going to attack his neighbors early and often.

Past Performance: Like many of the other obsessive warmongers, Temujin has also struggled in his AI Survivor history. His most impressive performance came in Season One where he was handed an unfairly weak starting position and managed to survive against adversity into the Wildcard game. This was the Mongol leader at his best, churning out endless units to keep himself alive in the wake of repeated invasions. However, Temujin was never close to competing for a win in that game, and he's never been in contention in any of his other games either. The Wildcard game from Season One served as a perfect example of Temujin's self-destructive tendencies, as he picked a fight with a much stronger Zara Yacob and found himself booted out of the competition. The same result played out repeatedly in the following seasons, with Temujin attacking his neighbors again and again, stunting his economic development through endless wars, only to be rolled up and eliminated sometime towards the end of each game. The Mongol leader amusingly killed both Persias in his opening round game of Season Five but still couldn't do better than another Wildcard appearance. Mindless aggression rarely works well in the long run, and Temujin only has four kills to his name despite all of those many invasions.

Tokugawa of Japan
Traits: Aggressive, Protective
Starting Techs: Fishing, Wheel
Peace Weight: 1
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Two and Four Playoffs
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 13 points, tied 21st place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Tokugawa is infamous for being the most isolationist leader in Civ4. He won't sign Open Borders with anyone else unless relations warm up to "Pleased", and he generally refuses to trade or interact with anyone else unless they share a mutual military struggle. Tokugawa suffers from one of the worst leader trait combinations in the game, with lots of unit promotions but little else to recommend it. He's also saddled with a weak civilization in Japan, which suffers from poor starting techs and the uselessly-late Shale Plant. Unfortunately the Samurai unit is nothing special in Civ4. Tokugawa's AI personality reflects his generally militaristic bent, with an above average aggression rating (7.3/10) and train unit emphasis. He makes it clear that he wants to be left alone by never asking for help (0/10) or demanding tribute (1/10) or making religious conversion demands (2/10). Tokugawa's best feature is probably his tech flavor, where he has the rare Science preference to go along with a lesser Military emphasis. This is likely the reason why Tokugawa has been somewhat decent at building an economy despite his atrocious leader traits. Long story short, this guy is basically an old man telling everyone to stay out of his yard while shaking a rolled-up newspaper.

Past Performance: Tokugawa is widely viewed as one of the worst possible choices for a Single Player game of Civ4, and he's exceeded expectations to date with two different trips to the playoffs. Tokugawa scored a runner up finish behind Shaka back in Season Two, and when we did some repeated playthroughs of that same setup, it emerged that he was clearly a top pick in that specific circumstance. In a very weak field of competitors, Tokugawa and Shaka repeatedly proved to be stronger than their peers. Tokugawa's best performance took place in Season Four where he stunned everyone by winning a dominant runaway victory. Again, this was another group of generally weak opponents but Tokugawa nonetheless smoked them well and good. Of course this doesn't mean that Tokugawa is one of the better AI leaders, as he's also had multiple opening round games where he stewed around not achieving anything with his isolationist ways, and Tokugawa actually managed to die to the Apostolic Palace (!) during his second playoff appearance. Still, this is a leader that has shown at least basic competency in past seasons, which is more than many of the other AI leaders can claim.

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