Civ4 AI Survivor Season 7: Championship Game Preview

This is a continuing feature for Season Seven 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:

The Championship map is mirrored such that all AI leaders have the same terrain available. 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 (note that all stats are from before the start of Season Seven):

Playoff Game One Winner

Ramesses II of Egypt
Traits: Industrious, Spiritual
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Season Three
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 2 points, tied 49th place (out of 52 leaders)

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

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

Playoff Game One Runner Up

Churchill of England
Traits: Charismatic, Protective
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Six Championship Runner Up
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 12 points, 26th 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: This was a section that had to be completely rewritten following Season Six. 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. Coming into Season Six, Churchill had scored exactly 1 point from a random kill and was rated as one of the worst leaders in the field. Then he made it all the way to the Championship game in Season Six with a victory in the opening round and two more runner up finishes, with a close miss on the overall victory in the title game itself! Churchill fans should be careful not to get too carried away, however: Churchill had a starting position heavily titled in his favor in his sole victory while the alternate histories for his two runner up games showed that they had been exceedingly unlikely results. This is more likely to be a case of a weak leader who randomly got lucky instead of the start of a newfound competitor.

Playoff Game Two Winner

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: Playoff Round: Seasons Three and Five
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 8 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. He was also extremely strong in the alternate histories for his Season Six games without experiencing the same results in the actual matches. 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.

Playoff Game Two Runner Up

Mehmed of the Ottomans
Traits: Expansive, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Five Champion
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 15 points, tied 21st place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Mehmed is a typical member from the group of militaristic AI leaders. He's not quite as crazy as some of his shared rivals in the Montezuma or Shaka mold, but he still acts predictably and starts a lot of trouble for his neighbors. Mehmed does have a pair of good economic traits in the Expansive/Organized combo, albeit both of them traits that the AI doesn't leverage particularly well. His Ottoman civilization also benefits from having excellent starting techs and decent unique features in the Janissary and Hamman. Mehmed's biggest problem is that he's too militaristic for his own good, endlessly picking wars and failing to leverage those economic traits to good effect. He has a maxed out preference for training units (10/10) and a high aggression rating (7.8/10) to go along with his low peace weight. And yet Mehmed also won't plot war at "Pleased" relations for some reason, often causing him to stack up units endlessly to no effect whatsoever. His research flavors are Military and an odd Culture, once again reinforcing how Mehmed tends to neglect economy in favor of more and more units. Mehmed has often been a popular pick from the community because he looks like he should be strong on paper, and yet he traditionally let everyone down over and over again.

Past Performance: At least until Season Five, that is. Mehmed initiated a lot of fighting through the first four seasons but without translating those conflicts into a top two finish. He was often a leading figure at various points in time before falling apart and collapsing in the later stages of the gameplay. Mehmed's experience in Season One was typical, as he conquered multiple rivals before getting chopped to bits by a more advanced Mansa Musa. He came close to taking second place in his Season Two match, and eliminated Bismarck in Season Three only to fall apart in a two front war afterwards. Everything changed in Season Five though, as Mehmed finished in second place twice in the opening round and playoffs followed by stunning everyone by winning the outright championship. He was in the right place at the right time and took advantage of his one shining moment to bring home the trophy. Season Six suggested that this was more luck than skill but Mehmed will always have that shocking victory to look back upon. While Mehmed clearly isn't one of the best AI leaders, he's a competent military leader who can win games if the conditions break in his favor.

Playoff Game Three Winner

Darius of Persia
Traits: Financial, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 3 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish:Championship Game: Season Four
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 15 points, 21st place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Darius has arguably the best pure economic traits in the game, with Financial and Organized. While he's stuck with the weak Immortal and Apothecary, he also gets fantastic starting techs in Agriculture and Hunting, allowing him to improve his food resources quickly. Darius has one of the better set-ups overall, and thanks to his traits and starting techs, begins the game already slightly ahead of the field. Darius is clearly an economic leader in most ways. He has Gold and Growth flavours, and those combined with his traits mean Darius should almost always be able to construct a good economy. He loves building wonders (8/10), and unlike many of the other peaceful leaders, he builds enough units to defend himself too (6/10). That's lucky, because he also has a high peace weight of 8, and will often be target for attack from the more aggressive leaders. Lastly, Darius himself isn't necessarily going to build in peace, he actually has an average aggression rating (5.2/10), and he can and will claim more land by the sword if necessary. On paper, Darius probably has one of the best setups in the game; he's a peaceful leader with amazing economic traits, but he's also willing to defend himself and fight for more land.

Past Performance: Alongside Victoria, Darius is one of the biggest puzzles of AI Survivor. Theoretically he's undoubtedly one of the strongest leaders in the vein of Mansa Musa or Huayna Capac, and yet the victories just haven't materialised for him in the same way. Darius made it to the Wildcard Game in Seasons One and Two, and came second in the latter year, but fell quickly in the playoffs afterwards. He was even worse in Season Three, failing to expand and quickly being dogpiled by the other AIs. Finally, in Season Four, we saw some success from Darius, as he outteched the competition for his first victory in his opening game, before nearly winning his playoff game as well, stupidly tossing Charlemagne the win after dominating the entire game. However, Darius then got an unlucky field in the Championship, being the only high peace weight leader, and was quickly torn apart. Season Five had another bad opening round game for Darius as he was the victim of Mongol aggression in the midgame. Darius had his favorite thing in Season Six, a quiet corner where he could build in his sandbox, which translated into a second place finish. So why hasn't it all worked out for Darius like it has for Mansa? It seems like there is, at least, an easy answer. Time after time, Darius is slow to expand. His strong games come when there is lots of land around him, and it matters less, and his early losses come on the smaller maps where the other AIs claim it first. Darius' traits mean that with even land, he can out-research almost any other AI; he just struggles to get to that point! Look at the map carefully when evaluating Darius' performance; on the larger maps, he's got a pretty good chance of an upset victory thanks to his traits. On the smaller maps though, it seems Darius' starting techs aren't good enough to boost his expansion; he just doesn't build enough settlers, and gets outproduced (and eventually wiped out) by the AIs that do.

Playoff Game Three Runner Up

Saladin of Arabia
Traits: Spiritual, Protective
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Wheel
Peace Weight: 4
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Season Five
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 8 points, tied 33rd place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Saladin is one of several leaders that focuses on religion and military; unlike most of the other leaders with this combination, he's only middle of the spectrum in terms of aggression and peace weight. Saladin is hurt badly by his leader traits and Arabian civilization, with the useless Protective trait handicapping his performance. He is also penalized by having to start with arguably the worst starting tech pairing in the game in Mysticism and Wheel. Saladin's free starting Deity worker cannot hook up any food resources or build mines, while being stuck two techs away from both Bronze Working and Animal Husbandry. Saladin heavily emphasizes religion and he will therefore always try to found one of the Meditation/Polytheism faiths, leaving him even further in the hole compared to his rivals. This poor starting situation typically leaves Saladin significantly behind the other leaders and makes it hard for him to keep pace with their expansion. Most of his AI ratings are in the middle of the range of available values, such as his aggression rating (5.5/10) and peace weight. Saladin rarely makes demands of his neighbors and will be a good friend when sharing the same faith, though his preferred civic of Theocracy makes it almost impossible for rival religions to get any kind of footing. This is a straightforward AI personality: he's going to try to found a religion and then attack those who don't share it, although not nearly to the same degree as someone like Montezuma or Isabella.

Past Performance: Saladin was somewhat unfortunate in his past games before managing to break through with a first place finish in Season Five. For all of his weaknesses at the start of the game, Saladin has been in a solid position on multiple occasions coming out of the landgrab phase. Unfortunately he has often found himself on the wrong side of the religious diplomacy and suffered as a result. This was the problem in Season One, as Saladin had a self-founded Hinduism that no one else practiced and it led to his eventual elimination by Catherine. He hung on to the Wildcard game in a very peaceful Season Two opening round match only to finish in the middle of the pack in a large field. Season Three was a replay of Season One for Saladin, with his own self-founded religion that Justinian opposed and eventually stomped out. And in Season Four, Saladin clung to life in both his opening round game and the Wildcard match without ever coming close to a victory. Everything came together in the opening round game of Season Five though, where Saladin took advantage of multiple nearby gold resources and some idiotic neighbors to win a very late Spaceship victory. To his credit, Saladin has been in eight total matches thus far and was only eliminated twice. On the other hand, his sole victory came at the absurdly late date of Turn 421 and the Arabian economy has never been much to write home about. This is the Protective trait at its finest: stalling out losing games while doing nothing to help achieve a win.

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

The community identified a clear favorite in the form of Darius who attracted nearly half of all predictions to win the overall title. Louis, Mehmed, and Ramesses trailed in the Persian leader's wake as alternate options while there was little support for Saladin or Churchill. By way of contrast, the Runner Up category was split more evenly than any previous prediction that I can recall for AI Survivor, with no one getting more than 23% or less than 11% of the vote. First to Die was almost as evenly split although Ramesses had a slight lead with 30% of the submissions; you might as well flip a coin for these picks since the community had no idea who to choose. At least the victory category had a clear preference in the form of a Spaceship outcome with the other options being notably less popular.

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!

riverrunpast: The comeback starts now. First place may have double my points, but I have you all right where I want you.

Diplomatic Toku: So this is what happens when pool1 and 2 leaders go out early. We get 3 playoffs that are painfully tame. Not 1 game with double-digit wars!! (sigh). And now we have Ramses, Churchill, Saladin and Darius in the championship game...... That leaves me with only Mehmed or Louis to vote for, since they are the only ai:s left that could create some fun times. If they fail, i fear we get playoff game1 all over again. So im going Mehmed first and Louis second, with Darius ftd. Not even going to bother looking at placements on the map.

Dagoth Gares: Mehmed becomes our first repeat champion. Not because I find it particularly likely, but because it would cause the most anguish.

Schmun: A very middle eastern themed championship game! With a little Europe thrown in. I'm picking Darius for the financial/alive traits and also because I'll always back the Persians of course. I'm actually predicting a replay of the playoff game 3 results as I think Saladin will be the strongest of the lower peaceweight leaders and hang around for a second place finish. I think that, for one of the low peaceweight leaders to win, they will have to get lucky and pull off an early conquest and snowball from there, which is always unpredictable. I'd say the most likely outcome of the game is either Darius wins by spaceship or Rameses by culture, they're the two ticking timebombs of this game and I'm not sure any of the aggressive AIs will be able to diffuse both of them (in the majority of games). FTD is wide open, I'm choosing Churchill purely because he's my least favourite, although I don't think there will be any early eliminations this game, another reason why I think the high peaceweights will carry it.

lkendter: With mirrored starts, I can't picked based on strong city. I really don't like any of the leaders in this game.

ZincAlloy: It's the championship round, and you know what that means: Darius can't have a large, safe area of the map to himself this time. In this symmetrical world, there's nowhere to hide. But does he need to? With all these peaceful(ish) AIs around, Louis is the odd man out. He's the only one on this map who can declare at pleased! It won't help him, since the diplomacy makes him very likely to get destroyed in a 4v1 war. And then Darius can just go to space without any risk of even being attacked by anyone.

Madmandoc: Here is how i think about it. The best starting techs on this map are agriculture and hunting. Darius starts with these and is the only leader with financial. He even gets some added trait benefits from the coastal start. Financial coast and a cheap early lighthouse are decent little advantages here. He has to be the massive favorite. But what are his liabilities? It is really just the high peace weight. How bad of a liability is this? Well not too bad. He is next close to Churchill who is also a high peace weight leader. There are many moderate and peaceful leaders here. Only Mehmed is very low peace weight, but i don't see a major early game risk. Everyone will have copper, stone, and some space to expand. So an early 1v1 war probably would not produce a decisive outcome. I also think that Saladin might be able to spread his religion all over the place, leading to a 3000 year love fest. Of all these leaders, only Louis can declare at pleased. All of this is advantage to Darius. I'm taking Saladin for 2nd place. He has protective, builds units, and makes religious allies. It is a good recipe for survival. Mehmed is another decent choice for 2nd place , but he might end up as the victim of a 2v1 if he starts the wrong war. FTD goes to Ramesses. He doesn't have much going for him here. He will probably adopt a minority religion and build wonders rather than cities and units. That is danger. I'm going with a low war count of 8. Again based on the potential for a religious love fest and many leaders who can't declare at pleased. Win turn of 306 via a fast Darius spaceship.

Here comes the Sun King
Here comes the Sun King
Everybody’s laughing
Everybody’s happy
Except those who said
Darius to win

the_lord_admiral: How do you pick when everyone has the same start? Well, to start with the obvious, Saladin is getting one of the religions. Who gets the other? Probably Ramesses or Louis based on tech preferences, so 2/3 of the leaders in the north are going to be tied up in a bunch of pointless early wars that probably go nowhere unless the southern leaders pick up one of those two religions and join in the fighting. I don't trust Darius to expand enough to do the thing he did the last two games (although if he does he should be scary good), so I'm going to go with the underwhelming Churchill/Mehmed combination in a late-game victory because that's what season 7 wants to give us.

Agni Neres: And here we are at the end of the season. Six leaders, mostly middle peace-weight; only Louis declares war at pleased. Three begin with the powerful Agriculture/Wheel techs; Churchill's Fishing is useful on this map - and indeed, he is opening with a work boat. Given the wrap-around world, no one is in the middle, or in the corner, and combined with the mirrored resources there is not much map analysis to do. It may be worth noting that everyone starts on a hill tile for extra production, which could shave a few turns off the game. Saladin gets one of the first two religions, no telling who gets the other. Looks unlikely to be a Domination game; we may see at least four survive to the finale, with Louis and Saladin most likely to die. Removing those two also removes any serious chance of a Cultural victory, though Ramesses could go that route if he benefits from their absence. Financial Darius has to be the favorite again, with both the wheat and deer improved immediately out of the gate, and reasonable land for cottages. Second place, as always anyone's guess. Thanks to Sullla for producing this show, and hoping to see a season eight next year.

zoogzoog: Thanks for the season Sulla. So hard to predict this game. Let's see What a hell! My numbers are giving me Churchill and Saladin. Good bye my top ten scoring, let's see next season.

Colors: In perhaps the most baffling, unlikely, underwhelming field ever assembled in the history of AI survivor, I'll take financial + alive. Darius has enough medium weight meat puppets to take the heat off of him. If (that is to say, when) he gets double teamed by Mehmed and Louis he will surely fold, but pretty much any other set of wars gives him a very strong chance to come out on top of a weak field - unless he pulls a Willem and ignores rifling. I'll take spaceship given that Darius will have plenty of cultural/wonder competition from Louis and Ramesses. Seriously though, this is our championship round??

BluesyCobalt: Thank you for putting this on again Sullla. Civ IV AI Survivor is one of the staples of Summer for me whenever you put it on. I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say we appreciate the hard work and effort it takes to run everything on the back end. The result is clearly well worth it.

LinkMarioSamus: You know, maybe this map works really well for more aggressive leaders like Mehmed and (in Seasons 4 and 5) Gilgamesh? Here me out: Louis and Darius may have both won twice to get here, but both leaders have arguably more difficult assignments this time around, Louis having peace weight issues he didn't have in his two victories and Darius no longer having the luxury of being able to build up in a corner. Had it not been for the presence of Churchill as a likely spoiler, I think Mehmed would be able to successfully overrun Darius early the way he did to Mansa Musa in Season 5 and the way Kublai Khan did to Darius in Season 4. As is, this map is likely to end up as a tangled mess of wars just like the real-life Middle East for much of the past millennium or so! On this map there's no such thing as a corner starting position and thus no safe backlines. I have to believe this would benefit a leader like Mehmed who typically either has a corner start with limited opportunities for conquest or a central starting position with potential rivals on all sides, now that everyone is going to be in the latter situation. Furthermore, Mehmed is the only really big warmonger here, since the next-most aggressive leader is big time wonder whore Louis and the only other two leaders who have a higher preference for units over wonders are...Churchill and Saladin? Yawn. Also I have to believe Mehmed gets out to one of the best starts of this group, since Saladin might slow his growth curve pursuing a religion (or Archery, heh), Louis and Ramses might tie up their top cities on wonders, and then Darius and especially Churchill are typically slow to get going. So Mehmed might be able to snowball effectively and then make best buds with Louis so he takes second. Plus I think Louis is just generally better than Saladin anyways. Ramses dies first because he gets caught up in war with Louis after the initial round of wonder construction, doesn't get as many wonders as he ordinarily would due to having to compete with Louis, and possibly runs into trouble with Saladin (hoping Saladin and Ramses split the initial two religions), and I think Darius just generally researches and fights better and gets enough assistance from Churchill to outlive Ramses. But I think both Ramses and Darius are the most likely FTD candidates, which means the low-peace weight crew would be looking good from there, and I think Louis might instigate too many wars to peacefully build up to the cultural victory he got his last two games.

GreenJacket: Considering the two most religious leaders, Saladin and Rameses, are next to each other, I expect this will result in the first conflict, one which I predict Saladin will win; however, Louis can be a kingmaker in this regard if he converts to Rameses' religion, but I do not count on this. Darius has Louis and Mehmed, the two most warlike, as his neighbors, so I doubt he will be as fortunate as he was in the playoffs. Saladin and Mehmed have been phenomenally entertaining this season, but I will have to pick Saladin as the runner-up.

Amicalola: All aboard the Ramesses train! Honestly, I just like him, and he's underrated. SHould have a good shot here, with Darius serving as bait and not neighbouring Mehmed. Of course, if Mehmed/Louis/Darius wanted to win instead, I'd be ok with that. :)

Bernn: I just gotta support Louis here. Creative is a really solid landgrab trait, he's aggressive enough to pounce when he smells blood in the water and he's the only one here who can declare at pleased, giving him a lot more flexibility. I don't think Domination is in the cards, but a France-Egypt war seems pretty likely given their proximity and if Louis comes out on top he'll be sitting pretty. I was a big Darius backer this season, but he was blessed with great capitals in both his appearances. On this symmetrical map where he doesn't have an explosive start, I think we'll see a return of the wishy-washy, sluggish Darius who gets like 4 cities down and barely expands further. And for a second place, it's gotta be Mehmed. He's shown again and again that he's a scrappy fighter who can usually make something happen from just scraps, and his starting techs are way better than Saladin's. This lineup is full of historically underperforming leaders, so we're in for an exciting game no matter what.

kcostell: Darius really wants to sit off in a corner. Too bad for him the Championship map doesn't have any corners.

SirSystemError: Just when you think you've seen it all, THE PHARAOH PLAYS EXODIA THE FORBIDDEN! Thus instantly winning the game (with culture) and sending his opponents and your bracket to the shadow realm. Okay, everyone's brackets were sent there a long time ago this season. But with the way this season is going, it's totally your fault if you don't anticipate this as a capstone.

Plains-Cow: In a world with no plains-cow TILES, let alone starts, what can one do? I would at least hope that the observer civ has a plains-cow tile nearby so that they might relax and enjoy the show after having performed as the best asset in the game, but the icy cold is no open plains. No doubt the other AIs will be scrambling to settle the maps other cow tiles, thinking, "Surely ONE must be the plains-cow tile I need to win!" Alas, forlorn, forgotten...or are they? Yes, I can be their plains-cow, their bestowed cud-chewing champion grown lean on the harsh plains of Earth, placed from the sky above the lands of the Chosen to win Victory against the uncowed masses...and I choose...Darius to win, Ramses for second, Mehmed FTD, 300 turns, 10 wars, and SPACE!

Championship Game Picking Contest Entry Form