Civ4 AI Survivor Season 6: Wildcard Game 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! For the Wildcard game, there's one other important piece of information to remember: this is the only game that we play with Raging Barbarians turned on. This has a major effect on the gameplay so please keep it in mind when making picks! Now for a look at our individual leaders:

Pericles of Greece
Traits: Creative, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Fishing, Hunting
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Two Championship Game
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 14 points, 20th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Pericles is one of the best leaders at pursuing a Cultural victory and he's had a good bit of success with that strategy in past seasons. Pericles has the ideal trait combination for chasing after cultural pursuits with the Creative + Philosophical pairing, providing cheap libraries and universities and theatres. The Greek civ doesn't offer too much in this regard, with subpar starting techs and an unrelated Phalanx unique unit, although I suppose that the Odeon unique building comes at half cost and can provide more Artist specialist slots. Pericles the AI leader has a peaceful bent in general, with a low aggression rating (3.3/10) and a modest build unit preference (4/10). Pericles would clearly much rather spend his time building wonders instead (8/10), which he'll do with great frequency in each game. Unlike many of the other peaceful leaders, Pericles doesn't place much of an emphasis on religion and rarely founds one of his own faiths. His research flavors are Production and Science, which also makes him a bit of a strange bird since he doesn't have a Culture or Religion tech preference in there. Overall Pericles is an easy neighbor to live with, as he almost never makes demands and has a middling peace weight that avoids either end of the spectrum. He's a leader who wants to be left alone and can become very dangerous if he gets that wish.

Past Performance: Pericles has typically done well when he's managed to roll a field of high peace weight AIs and not so well when he hasn't. In Season One, Pericles found himself sharing a game with Elizabeth and Frederick and Darius, and once the low peace weight leaders were gone, it turned into a lovefest where he took home a Diplomatic victory via the United Nations. The playoff round was another story entirely, as Pericles was boxed in by a hostile Suleiman and ruthlessly eliminated in the midgame. He had his best outing in Season Two, with a Cultural victory in the opening round thanks to another group of high peace weight opponents, followed by a surprising second place finish in the playoffs despite starting next to Catherine and Tokugawa. Everyone expected Pericles to die quickly in that one and instead he survived and propsered. It wasn't enough to avoid elimination in the Season Two Championship game, however, as Pericles faced some very tough competition from a group of low peace weight opponents. Pericles has been unable to advance in the most recent seasons of AI Survivor, falling afoul of the "group of death" in Season Three and then sabotaging his chances in Season Four by launching a war against Lincoln (!) instead of a militaristic neighbor. That went as poorly as expected and resulted in another elimination. He was unable to handle Hannibal in Season Five's opening game and found himself suffering an ignominious First to Die fate. Anyway, Pericles plays the cultural game well enough to have a real short of victory if he can draw a suitable field of opponents and avoid obviously destructive moves.

Gandhi of India
Traits: Spiritual, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Peace Weight: 10
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 4 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two, Three, Four, and Five Playoffs
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 22 points, tied 10th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Gandhi is without a doubt one of the most unique leaders in Civ4. For traits, he plays with the powerful Spiritual, and the terrible (for AI Survivor) Philosophical, an overall unremarkable pair that lands at about average, the most important point being that Gandhi gets several half-cost cultural buildings. He also has access to the above average Fast Worker and Mausoleum. Lastly, his starting techs are Mysticism and Mining, a generally weak pair useful for pursuing an early religion and not much else; like many religious leaders, Gandhi often takes a long time to improve his tiles and connect his resources. Gandhi is the leader least likely to declare war in the entire game, with an aggression rating of 0/10. He also has the lowest possible rating for building units (0/10) and demanding tribute (0/10), essentially making Gandhi a hyper pacifist who entirely neglects his military and prays it won't come back to bite him in the rear. Surprisingly, Gandhi is also quite unlikely to build wonders (2/10); he doesn't waste time with those either. Rather than units and wonders, Gandhi spends the entire game laser-focused on one thing: cultural buildings. Gandhi is a rare leader with only one flavour in Civ 4: CULTURE. He pursues religions like a man possessed and puts his production bonuses to extremely effective use. It's not uncommon to see Gandhi desperately fighting wars of survival whilst simultaneously building his third or fourth temple in each city. It usually doesn't end well. Gandhi is probably the most feast-or-famine type leader in AI Survivor. If he is not attacked by his neighbours, he can rush out a cultural victory like nobody's business, but if he is, he collapses faster than any other leader in the game. An early war declaration from a neighbour can often ruin any chance of a Gandhi victory on the spot.

Past Performance: Gandhi's all-or-nothing playstyle has been surprisingly effective, and Gandhi has won almost every opening round he's played in thus far. Season One showed the nothing side, as Gandhi rolled a hostile group of neighbours and was devoured early on, attacked by 4/5 of the other players. However, in Seasons Two, Three, and Four, Gandhi has rolled low-skilled, high peaceweight games; in other words, his perfect field. Gandhi won all of these games and it usually wasn't very close. He's even scored a couple of kills! Gandhi has struggled in the playoffs so far, always drawing aggressive fields and being savaged early on, being First to Die in three of his four losses. He drew arguably the most hopeless starting position in playoff history in Season Five and was predictably eliminated despite a game effort at survival. Gandhi's success thus far should likely be viewed skeptically, as three of his wins have been against some of the weakest fields in AI Survivor history, and when he goes up against stronger competitors Gandhi has been thoroughly unable to keep up. Pay particular attention to which other leaders are in Gandhi's games when predicting his performance; it's especially important for him.

Louis XIV of France
Traits: Creative, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 1
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Three and Five Playoffs
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 33rd place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Louis XIV has a strange AI personality that mixes together a heavy emphasis on wonders together with military aggression. It's not a winning combination. Louis has the Creative and Industrious pairing of traits, a setup that's good for claiming land and then developing cities upwards with additional infrastructure. He also gets to benefit from the strong French civilization, with its excellent starting techs and the useful Musketeer unique unit. However, Louis largely wastes these positive features with a destructive AI personality that pulls in too many directions at once. He's obsessed with building wonders, sporting the rare 10/10 rating in that category, and too often ties up his cities on world wonders with questionable benefits. Louis also has a Culture flavor for his research and tends to spend a lot of time at the top of the tech tree grabbing stuff along the Aesthetics line. These are poor choices for a leader who also has a Military tech flavor, a fairly high aggression rating (6.3/10), and a very low peace weight. Louis tends to make for a bad neighbor as his borders are always intruding on the other empires and he demands tribute constantly (8/10). Needless to say, the guy who likes to pick fights with his rivals while simultaneously locking up his cities on long wonder builds hasn't had a ton of success to date.

Past Performance: Louis has managed a pair of second place finishes thus far while being surprisingly competitive in many of his appearances. His true performance level is likely stronger than what these numbers suggest. With that said, Louis was quickly eliminated in each of the first two seasons of AI Survivor without serving as much more than a speedbump. And in both of his runner-up finishes, he was an extremely distant finisher with less than half of the score of a runaway Justinian (Season Three) and Suryavarman (Season Five). However, Louis was leading his Season Three playoff game for much of the match before running afoul of a distastrous two-front war against Caesar and Kublai, and he was similarly the leader for the first 200 turns of his opening round game in Season Four. Louis probably would have won that contest if Wang Kon hadn't built the Statue of Zeus to troll him in their lengthy war. In other words, it's clear that there's some potential here even if Louis has a bizarre personality pulling at culture + military cross-purposes.

Huayna Capac of the Incas
Traits: Financial, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 6 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two Champion
Total Kills: 12
Overall Power Ranking: 42 points, 1st place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Huyna Capac is one of the strongest leaders in Civ4 and brings a frighteningly powerful total package to the competition. He has the always-excellent Financial trait and hasn't seemed to suffer overmuch despite having to pair it with the typically weak Industious trait. More importantly, Huayna Capac is the only leader who gets to take advantage of the overpowered Incan civilization, with the single best building in the game coming in the form of the "granary that also produces culture" Terrace. The unique unit Quechua is also surprisingly useful for AI Survivor purposes, as the AI leaders often struggle with barbarian archers and this unit allows Huayna Capac to roll over them without issue. Huyna is one of the rare AI leaders who joins together outstanding economic abilities with an aggressive streak, and that tends to be the most dangerous setup possible for these games. Huayna has a fairly high aggression rating (6.7/10), a low peace weight, and he's willing to plot war at "Pleased" relations. His weaknesses are an excessive love of wonder-building (8/10), although he's better able to afford this thanks to the Industrious trait, and a heavy emphasis on religion. On the rare occasions where Huayna falters, it's due to tieing up too many cities on wonders and getting stuck in destructive religious conflicts. More often than not though, Huayna Capac will found his own religion and use it to dominate the diplomacy while scoring every wonder on the map and running over a series of poor fools who can't keep up with his teching prowess.

Past Performance: There's a strong argument to be made that Huayna Capac has been the most consistent and overall best performing AI leader over the first five seasons. He has appeared in ten total matches thus far and won six of them, also scoring at least one victory in every season other than Season Three. Huayna Capac has shown the capability of winning in multiple different fashions, with Spaceship, Domination, and multiple Cultural victories under his belt. He was also the overall winner of the whole competition in Season Two, and while it's true that this was somewhat of a flukish result, the victory was dramatic in the extreme and an impressive way of pulling out a win despite being far behind in land and technology. Huayna Capac has also scored an impressive dozen kills to date and remains one of the most ruthless individuals in the competition. There's basically nothing that Huayna Capac has failed to accomplish at this point, smashing his rivals again and again with seeming ease. He will be a favorite to win in every single match in which he appears.

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.

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.

Roosevelt of America
Traits: Industrious, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Four Playoffs
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 39th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Roosevelt is a classic example of a peaceful builder that largely wants to stay out of conflicts. He has a solid economic trait pairing with Industrious and Organized, although lacking any of the top-tier grouping of Financial or Creative or Expansive. Roosevelt often tends to struggle with expansion since he lacks any traits or abilities to speed up his early game. The American civilization is doing him no favors here, with decent starting techs but unique features that both come far too late to make a difference. Roosevelt the AI is not very militaristic at all, with an aggression rating of 2.6/10 and a dangerously low train unit emphasis (2/10). Despite his Industrious trait, Roosevelt doesn't particularly emphasize wonder building (4/10) and prefers to focus on espionage spending (7/10). He also has little interest in religion and doesn't stack up much of a shared faith bonus or differing faiths penalty. Roosevelt has unusual tech preferences for his research, emphasizing Production and Gold flavors, and the expected high peace weight for a "good" leader. He will plot war at "Pleased" relations though in a bit of a twist. Generally speaking what you see is what you get with Roosevelt. He's going to try and play the builder game but he lacks the traits and the civ to make him a top competitor for that gameplan.

Past Performance: Roosevelt has been mediocre to poor overall, managing one trip to the playoffs without achieving anything too memorable or interesting. His theoretical best game took place in the opening round of Season Four, where he had a difficult corner start and was widely expected to be the First to Die. Instead, he managed to slip into the playoffs in second place behind Isabella. It wasn't a very impressive finish, mind you, as Roosevelt was 6000 points behind on the scoreboard, but he did survive and that was more than the rest of the field could say. Outside of that single game, Roosevelt has typically been a speed bump on the road to victory for other stronger leaders. He was eliminated in the opening round of Season One, then survived to the Wildcard game in Season Two without accomplishing much. Roosevelt made a truly bad decision in Season Three by converting to a self-founded religion that put him outside Justinian's religious alliance, resulting in a deserved elimination. His playoff game in Season Four also ended in self-inflicted disaster, committing suicide with an invasion of a much stronger Darius (an example of the "plot war at Pleased relations" backfiring). Roosevelt warred endlessly with Louis in Season Five to little effect before finally getting eliminated in the lategame. While Roosevelt is a decent enough leader in overall terms, he's demonstrated some truly awful decision-making in recent years of the competition.

Zara Yacob of Ethiopia
Traits: Creative, Organized
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season One Championship Runner Up
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 15 points, tied 18th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Zara plays with the Creative and Organized traits, combining to push a landgrab style of play and giving production discounts on a huge variety of buildings. For his unique items Zara plays with the Oromo Warrior, a slightly better musketman, and the Stele, useful for a cultural victory and not much else. Lastly, Zara gets the Hunting/Mining combo for his starting techs, which means he can be slow to connect his food resources, especially if he goes for a religion. Zara's numbers tend to be in roughly the middle of the board, including his aggression rating (5.6/10), unit build preference (6/10), wonder build preference (4/10) and even his peace weight, at a neutral 6. His flavours are Growth and Religion, an unusual combination that could lead to healthy and happy cities, while the last unusual thing about Zara is the huge diplomatic emphasis he places on faith. The diplomatic bonus for sharing a religion with Zara can go up to +8, and the penalty for religious differences is nothing to sneeze at either. Expect Zara's diplomacy to follow religious alignment to a tee, and when he finds himself on the wrong side of a coalition, Zara had better watch out.

Past Performance: Zara is one of the AIs with a pile of laurels for one season and literally nothing to show for himself since. All 15 of Zara's points were scored in Season One, as he clawed his way from the Wildcard Game all the way to second place in the Championship, in true underdog fashion. His path to victory usually involved staying out of fights pre-catapults, gobbling up a religious rival or two once they were unlocked, and then using the extra land to launch a spaceship (or straight up claim domination) before his allies. It proved to be a very effective strategy. However, since then Zara has struggled to make anything of himself. He played a weak opening game in Season Two and was unable to advance in another Wildcard game, and then in Seasons Three and Four Zara was outright eliminated by more aggressive AIs, first Caesar, then Kublai Khan. Each of these games displayed the downside of a heavily religious gameplan, as Zara threw away a midgame lead with a few unsuccessful cross-map crusades in Season Three, and in Season Four he ardently practiced a minority Christianity in a very angry, very Buddhist world. You can probably guess how that ended. Zara also suffered a shockingly early exit in Season Five, with Alexander setting a record by killing him on Turn 80! To find more success and repeat his Season One magic, Zara will need to be a lot smarter about both which faith he chooses to follow, and also which religious enemies he decides to attack. The writing is really on the wall by now that Zara is not an especially good AI and with each additional season his initial outing looks more like luck than skill.

Wang Kon of Korea
Traits: Financial, Protective
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
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: Wang Kon is infamous in AI Survivor circles for acting as the "Troll King", the one leader who will do the most obnoxious thing possible to screw with the rest of the field as well as the viewers watching the game. He has one amazing trait in the form of Financial and one terrible trait in the form of Protective, the two polar opposite traits in terms of overall usefulness in Civ4. Wang Kon's Korean civilization has a subpar set of starting techs combined together with the decent Hwacha and the excellent (if late-arriving) Seowon. As far as AI personalities run, Wang Kon is a pretty basic peaceful builder. While he has a somewhat high aggression rating (6.1/10), his build unit rating is low (4/10) and he doesn't make a lot of demands on his neighbors. With Gold and Science research flavor, a high peace weight, and an inability to declare war at "Pleased" relations, this would seem to be a standard economic leader in the Elizabeth or Frederick or Roosevelt mold, someone who's mostly going to stay out of the way and tech away in peace.

Past Performance: Appearances can be deceiving. Wang Kon has acted in bizarre patterns again and again, defying all logic with both brilliant and braindead actions that trolled everyone in sight. It started in Season One, where Wang Kon spent the latter turns of the game hiding from Mao Zedong's armies behind Asoka's closed borders before the Chinese leader finally found a pathway through and eliminated Korea. Wang Kon's single appearance in Season Two was played out as if controlled by a drunken sailor, pointlessly marched his army halfway across the map to Russia again and again to troll Stalin. Two foolish civic switches by Wang Kon removed his shared religion and shared civic bonus with Huayna Capac, resulting in a stomping by the great yellow Incan menace. The trolling reached its height in Season Three, however, as Wang Kon lost his capital and half his empire to Mehmed, only to rally back after being saved by Charlemagne. He slowly re-acquired most of his territory via the "liberation" mechanic, and then won an extreme lategame Spaceship victory by virtue of Charlemagne stupidly launching without a full set of engines in place and tying on the victory date. A tie apparently goes to the leader who has a more complete spaceship - unbelievable. Korea's following appearances were less memorable, with a fast elimination in the Season Three playoffs followed by a Wildcard appearance in Season Four where Wang Kon was again the First to Die. He did thoroughly ruin the game of Louis in the opening match of Season Four though, fighting an endless war that saved Gandhi and allowed the Indians to take home a Cultural victory. For better or for worse, Wang Kon was eliminated in the opening round of Season Five without doing anything particularly trollish or memorable. Long story short, Wang Kon should be a pretty unremarkable leader but has proven to be nothing of the sort. He will do something weird just to screw around with everyone else, the AI Survivor equivalent of the Twitch Plays Pokemon livestream chat.

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

The Wildcard game can be a tough one to predict given the larger than normal size of the field and the unpredictability of the Raging Barbarians. Despite this potential issue, the community settled on two strong favorites in the form of Huayna Capac and Gandhi. Most of the field believed that one of these two leaders would emerge victorious thanks to their economic and cultural strengths. The second place position had less clarity but there was a lot of support for Gilgamesh to escape the Wildcard round as the other playoff-bound leader. Gilgamesh had more than double the votes of the next-closest leaders in Pericles and Wang Kon. The First to Die category had a similar level of support for Louis in the top spot, likely because of the barbarian-heavy jungles surrounding his capital, followed by Lincoln and then Zara Yaqob. This felt like a tough category to pick since it was unclear how the barbarian threat would play out ahead of time. For the victory condition, the presence of so many leaders meant that Domination was unlikely as an outcome leading to a split in the vote between Spaceship and Culture. Both of the favorites in Gandhi and Huayna Capac are culture-heavy leaders and it was an open question how they would opt to finish things off should they get ahead.

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!

Dagoth Gares: The first leader to throw off the trappings of civilization and join the barbarians will be the winner.

delan: Too many variables to compress into a prediction that suits all. If I had more space, I'd write a piece titled "Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Wild Card Game," because I can see the potential for so many things, and Raging Barbs obviously up the chaos factor. High likelihood of cultural victory in this field of peaceniks and culturally sensitive, low peace-weight types like Huayna Capac. I like HC's land, his easy access to ivory, and the juicy conga line of prey along the south. Lincoln looks like a candidate for first to die simply because of Louis and HC nearby promising to antagonize and push west. It's really hard to forecast a peacenik cultural victory and not pick Gandhi, who myopically focuses on culture in a way that Pericles, Lincoln, and the like simply cannot, for they fear death, and Gandhi does not fear death. Yet death may come for Gandhi, and I find it unlikely that he'll be able to push culture unmolested, despite his insulated position, because of Raging Barbs and the eventual threat of HC and Louis. Gilgamesh in the north is also a factor. He has good traits for the wild card game, as he showed last year, and I like his starting position enough, although there's some risk that he derails his game and throws units at Wang Kon, who also has second place potential given the high quality of his capital and the possibility he might snag a religion, although I am not brave enough to pick him. Gonna pick the all star and let it ride. Go, Huayna Capac, go!

rachel: Next week, on U62, he's back; and he's mad. GANDHI II

NotSpamBot: Gandhi only has peacenick neighbors. He has to get truely screwed by barbs to lose this. Louis FTD because that traitorous viper has it coming. I do feel that Gilgamesh might be FTD because his luck is that bad, but I don't like Louis and I like Gilly, so there. And uhhh Wang Kon 2nd I guess? I want more The Wang so that's what I'll cheer for.

Amicalola: I remember I said (in a very rare correct guess) for Mansa’s game last year: "it doesn’t matter how many cottages mansa has by T100; by T150 he’ll be dead." It’s a real shame this game ended up being mostly high peaceweight leaders, because a similar sentiment is true for Huayna Capac and Gilgamesh this game; being outnumbered 2:1 is really bad. So even though they’re the strongest here in a vacuum, I like the high peace weight leaders overall. Of those, I like Pericles with his sheltered start to win, and Roosevelt with his zero enemies to come second. But it could honestly be nearly any of them for either; there isn’t even that much to distinguish these guys. Hopefully it’s not a boring lovefest and I’m wrong!

Delta-07: This wet-corn-stone start a dream for Huayana Capac. Either he or Louis will build the great wall. If Huayana builds it all the barbs from the south-east tundra will search another target and they will find Lincoln. Thus, I expect Lincoln and Gandhi to have a hard time against the barbs. But, Ghandi is already so close to the tundra that his capitol will fog-bust some tiles. The peace weight difference between Lincoln and Huayana might also be an issue, so I think Lincoln is first to die just because he is in the way of Huayana. Gandhi has a good position. He is right between the two wimps Lincoln and Roosevelt who will not hurt each other. If Lincoln dies, Gandhi might be in trouble too. But if Lincoln stays alive for long enough and Gandhi survives the raging barbs, he can have chance at winning a culture victory. Zara wil not do anything, except founding a religion. His land is too deep into the jungle and he might end up without metal. Gilgamesh is the strongest competitor of Huayana. Gilgamesh should not have any big troubles against the barbs because of his protective trait, his unique unit and the little aount of tundra in the north. I hope he wil roll over Wang Kon because I want revenge for messing with my picks in the last game. For Louis it depends on the location of his first city. If he settles close to the stone in the south, he might get the great wall especially if Huayana is chasing after religions. But if Louis settles in the jungles and builds a settler for 90 turns, that will ruin his game. In general I think a domination victory is very unlikely. The map is too large and it would take a lot of time for a single AI to conquer that much land. During that time another AI might already be in space or have a culture victory. If the high peace weigth leaders dogpile on the three low peace weigth leaders, there is a chance for a diplo victory. If the low peace weigth leaders are gone, the diplomatic situation between the high peace weight leaders will be a love-fest. But I think space or culture is the most likely victory type. I pick Huayna for first and Gilgamesh for second place. A very conservative pick, but the weak AIs like Linconln and Pericles have to get weeded out against the strong ones at some point, don't they?

Sir Colville of the Dale: The three most celebrated Cultural Victory winners are all here. Two of them have at least one meat shield, and the third is Huayna. Cultural win. So which one? Gandhi can actually win the land grab. Huayna will have to eat Lincoln just to match it. Pericles could make up a lot of ground eating Louis, but that might drag him into war with Huayna, and that's assuming Troll Kon survives. Assuming Louis' barbarian-infested jungle stymies him, Gandhi has no natural enemies. That's about all he can ask for. And I swear if Gilgamesh attacks Zara first letting Wang Kon tech to space in peace...

bellarch: I am honestly stumped by this game. Huayna Capac has a good start, but the peaceweight situation looks very bad for him, and it looks like he'll have a hard time spreading his religion. Gandhi is the best high peaceweight leader, but he's right next to the tundra wasteland where the barbs spawn, and he'll be fending off their incursions with his puny military for the entire early game. Gilgamesh is in a corner, boxed in by highish-peaceweight leaders and next to the tundra. Pericles is in a similar situation, albeit with a higher peaceweight but a lower overall level of competence. I think my pick is going to have to go chalky for this week - Huayna wins, not so much by dominating the competition but by outlasting them to a late-ish space victory. And for second? I feel like Roosevelt, with his relatively safe coastal-ish start and copper at the capital, is in the best place to do decently enough to squeak out a second-place finish. The real shocker is Gandhi - who will fail to get a religion or wonders given his commerce-poor and production-poor start and lack of willingness to build military, and subsequently die first at the hands of the barbs! (An unlikely outcome, sure, but a fun one, and I think somewhat plausible.) But hey, I could very well be wrong about literally anything here - I think anyone who tells you they feel confident about this map is lying to you.

Bobchillingworth: All that is needed for Evil to triumph is for the Good to do nothing. Unfortunately for the forces of Evil, they're outnumbered two-to-one, stuck with Iron for metal while all of Team Good have nearby or capital copper, and Gandhi is safe in a corner of the map. Gilgamesh will likely focus on Wang early on, but between capital copper and ivory, Protective, and Financial teching the Koreans aren't necessarily going to be pushovers. Huey meanwhile desperately needs Louis to collaborate with him to split Blue America and open a path to India, but how much coordinated military action can you expect from two Industrious leaders with nearby stone and no copper?

Pariakso: I think Huayna Capac will get The Great Wall with the stone making the early game easy. From there, it won't be so difficult to stay ahead. Zara had a decent start in terms of food once he can get the tech, so getting settlers out will be not too hard. I put him second because of this and the fact that he has a lot of space. Plus he's a good techer. Usually Ghandi would be my pick for first two die, but his neighbors are peaceful, and I think they will end up in the same religion, so any civ that attacks him may have to deal to others too. I put Louis since he's close to the center where barbarians will be and sandwiched between civs. Very likely to neighbor someone of a different religion too. Other than that, I don't have much reason to pick these.

Zigzagzone: This game is gonna be so fun. Back-stabbers, troll kings, a barb jungle in the middle with hordes coming from both north and south, tons of leaders cramped together, and the three competent players far from each other. And all of them love culture victories, too! So it has to be Gandhi by culture after a Louis backstab on Huayna saves him, right?

Blindeli: Huayna Capac and Louis XIV should work together to conquer Lincoln and then Ghandi and maybe more. I expect those peaceful leaders to suffer from barbarians early, leaving them easy prey. After finishing some conquests, HC proceeds to tech to space while Louis tries to grab the rest of the world. Meanwhile in the north, Wang Kon ruins Gilgamesh's chances at winning and maybe his own too. Zara, Roosevelt, and Pericles do nothing of importance whatsoever.

LinkMarioSamus: Do I have any idea what's going to happen? Obviously not. I'm just thinking Gandhi wins because he tends to do well in fields stacked with high-peace weight leaders, Wang Kon 2nd because he has the most potential after the rest, and Louis FTD because his tentative diplomatic situation is so bad? I dunno. I considered picking Huayna Capac and he could do it if he kills Lincoln quickly enough but, uh, he doesn't tend to kill quick and diplomacy could get the better of him if Louis gets taken out. Gilgamesh should be held in check by diplomacy and his lack of useful attributes past the early game, Zara Yaqob and Pericles tend to be passive, Lincoln has Huayna Capac and Gandhi next door to him, and Roosevelt is just not very strong. How do you predict a game like this, anyway?

BigBadBen: Nothing would seem more fitting to me than one of the 'has-beens' winning a game with HC, Giggles, and Gandhi in it. I'm not brave enough to pick out which one it would be though. Pieceweight levels as a whole are maybe lower than what Gandhi would prefer, but he did get arguably his two favorite leaders to border him in the Americans. I don't think Ghandi will get crushed by the barbs with his insane culture. HC could have been my pick too, but I'm not a big fan of his start and Lincoln has a gold mine at his capital and better land, so even if Lincoln does die to HC, it'll be bloody and set him too far behind the field to snowball to victory. I've got Giggles for second since he should be able to overcome his neighbors (and the barbs) without too much issue. There's too many leaders for a fast domination though, and with a Gandhi that doesn't get dog-piled immediately, an average victory date isn't likely to be good enough to come out on top.

ThreeLeggedChicken: One of the maps that could develop in many orthogonal directions. The best in-paper leaders (Incas, Sumerians, maybe even the Frenchies) start at a diplomatic disadvantage by means of peace-weight distribution. This will be a factor for Louis, whose central position is unlikely to do him favors, and I feel kinda ambivalent towards Gilgamesh - he borders potential religious ally (or crusader) Zara, and Wang out of all people. Huayna, on the other hand, has his south and east protected by water, his north protected by wonder, and his west occupied by two leaders who cannot be counted upon as defenders. His victory path goes westwards, through consolidating an early powerful core, capturing rich, wonder-filled and potentially holy cities from Lincoln and Gandhi, thwarting thus their attempts to win by Culture and then making them his own. Second is, for me at least, a toss between Zara and Pericles - I am going with the second, under the assumption he will gain the most from Louis falling and then building in peace.

BohemianSpoonyBard: When the Raging Barbarians are turned on but you are Protective and Financial:

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