Civ4 AI Survivor Season 7: Game Four 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:

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

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: 12
Overall Power Ranking: 31 points, 7th 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.

Pool Two Leader

Mao Zedong of China
Traits: Expansive, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mining
Peace Weight: 1
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 5 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish:Championship Game: Season Two
Total Kills: 10
Overall Power Ranking: 25 points, 11th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Mao Zedong has been surprisingly successful at AI Survivor despite working with relatively few resources. His trait combination is simply bad, with the terrible Protective trait combined together with the AI's poor handling of the Expansive trait. Mao does get to take advantage of the Chinese civilization though, with the best starting techs in the game (Agriculture/Mining) and the strong Cho-Ko-Nu unique crossbow. Mao's AI personality is best known for placing very little emphasis on religion. He doesn't gain much of a benefit from shared religion and attaches little penalty to practicing a different faith. Mao will almost never demand that someone convert to his religion (0/10) but he will make civics-based demands on a frequent basis (10/10). Most of Mao's ratings are fairly average aside from his hefty emphasis on espionage spending (8/10). He's only average in terms of aggression but has a low peace weight and will happily plot war at "Pleased" relations. Mao's middle-of-the-road ratings reflect a leader who often seems to lurk under the radar until catching others by surprise.

Past Performance: Mao Zedong has been a sneaky-good AI leader, reaching the playoffs in five out of six seasons and making it to the championship game at the end of Season Two. He only has a single first place finish to his name but has stuck around to score a series of runner-up finishes. Mao's single best result was his opening round match in Season One, where he won a Diplomatic victory at the ridiculously late date of Turn 433. That's one of the slowest-finishing games that we've ever had and it reflected the fact that Mao isn't much of a researcher. He managed to sneak into the championship the next season with a pair of runner-up finishes, only to find that he couldn't keep pace with Huayna Capac and Pacal and Cyrus in the finals. Mao then suckered everyone into overrating him in Season Three, when he was heavily favored to win his opening round match and instead found himself taken out by Hannibal. The Chinese leader had a certain win stolen away from him in the United Nations during the Season Five Wildcard game and then wound up First to Die in the following playoff round. Mao isn't one of the best leaders but he's good at hanging around and finding a way to make something out of nothing.

Unseeded Leaders

Joao of Portugal
Traits: Expansive, Imperialistic
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 6
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Season Two
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 6 points, tied 36th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Joao is supposed to be the best leader at rapid expansion in the game, with his combination of Expansive (cheap workers) and Imperialistic (cheap settlers) traits. However, in practice the Deity AIs tend to be more limited by their economies as opposed to their capacity to train more settlers, and Joao hasn't stood out as being especially good at expansion. He hasn't really stood out at all, aside from having a name that's difficult for non-Portuguese speakers to pronounce, and Joao mostly sits in the middling portion of the AI category ratings. He trains units at an average rate, builds wonders at an average rate, cares about religion at an average rate, declares wars at an average rate, and so on. He even has a peace weight right in the middle of the scale. About the only semi-interesting thing about Joao is that he makes a lot of demands, both for tribute (8/10) and to switch to his religion (10/10). This is a boring leader overall with little in the way of a distinct personality.

Past Performance: Joao has similarly failed to distinguish himself as either a strong performer or a memorably bad leader. He was eliminated in a notably weak field in his Season One match, then went on to score his only victory in Season Two with an uninspired effort in the Wildcard game. It was an unusual 11 player setup where Joao didn't pull off any particularly impressive moves, instead largely teching along in a corner of the map until reaching the end of the tree. He made a repeat showing in the Wildcard game in Season Three with less successful results and suffered the fate of being First to Die in his only Season Four appearance. Joao's single kill in nine overall matches is a sign of his passive and generally unsuccessful gameplay style. He's never emerged as a dominant force in any of his games and it's easy to forget that he's even present sometimes. Out of all of the leaders who have won a game, Joao is potentially the most uninteresting.

Peter of Russia
Traits: Expansive, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
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: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 6 points, tied 40th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Peter the Great is an AI leader who seems to be pulling in six different directions at once, leaving a bit of a confusing mess as the result. Peter has two traits that lack any clear synergy, with Expansive theoretically being useful for growing outwards while Philosophical develops upwards. Neither of these traits is particularly strong in the hands of the AI and Peter ends up weaker in this setup as compared to when played by a skillful human. Fortunately the Russian civilization is a good choice to have available, with decent starting techs and a powerful unique unit in the form of the Cossack. As for the leader himself, Peter's AI personality is all over the place in terms of what it emphasizes. He has a higher than average unit training preference (6/10) but also an above average desire to build wonders (6/10) and spend on espionage (7/10). This is a leader who doesn't care too much about religion, for whatever that's worth. Peter would appear to be your standard militaristic AI, with a high aggression rating (8/10) and low peace weight and willingness to declare war at "Pleased" relations. However, Peter has tech preference that don't match a conquest gameplan at all, instead using Science and Growth flavors for his research. He also rarely if ever makes any demands of his neighbors: no tribute demands (2/10), no civics changes (1/10), no asking other AI leaders to convert religions (2/10). It's not particularly clear what goal Peter has in mind for any particular game and the AI often seems confused as well.

Past Performance: Peter's performance has been somewhere between mediocre and poor in past seasons of AI Survivor. He's frequently been a popular pick in the viewer contest only to disappoint his backers with aimless, lackluster showings. Peter appeared in the first ever game of AI Survivor and couldn't manage a result better than a third place finish followed by a near-elimination in the subsequent Wildcard game. Peter found his way back to the Wildcard game again in Season Two after another distant last place finish only to suffer the humiliation of being the first leader eliminated in an eleven-nation field. Ouch. Peter's best result was a second-place finish in the opening round of Season Three, although he was again nowhere close to first place as he trailed a long distance behind the winning Hannibal. Peter was similarly a distant second in his Season Five showing, although it must be mentioned that the alternate histories revealed that he was actually the top leader on that map. Peter was killed in both his playoff round matches without having any realistic chance at a top finish. Along with his paltry two kills, Peter has a clear track record of mostly ineffective performances.

Qin Shi Huang
Traits: Industrious, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Seasons One and Three
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 6 points, tied 40th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Qin Shi Huang has the unfortunate penalty of being saddled with the worst trait combination in Civ4 for AI Survivor purposes. The Industrious trait seems to cause the AI leaders to tie up their cities on wonders in lieu of expanding out across the map, while the Protective trait is well-known for being the weakest of the bunch. Defensive promotions and cheaper walls can help string out a losing game but won't do much of anything to help win a game. Qin's saving grace is the Chinese civilization, with its amazing starting tech combination and powerful Cho-Ko-Nu unique unit. The extra promotions on this unit are about the only useful thing that Qin gets from his traits. Qin's AI personality is mostly that of a peaceful builder, as he has a low aggression rating (3.9/10) and a fairly high wonder emphasis (6/10). Qin generally won't pick a lot of fights as he doesn't make a lot of demands and he has a low train unit emphasis (2/10). This economic setup is oddly paired with a low peace weight and the ability to plot war at "Pleased" relations. This is likely the reason why Qin has outperformed his terrible trait combination, as low peace weight leaders who can successfully pull off economic development tend to be some of the strongest competitors in AI Survivor. It's too bad for Qin that he doesn't get more useful traits to pair with his otherwise promising setup.

Past Performance: Qin has consistently exceeded expectations in past seasons, managing a pair of trips to the playoffs despite often unpromising circumstances. He's made a living in the Wildcard game in particular, advancing to the playoffs in Season One by taking home a silver medal in that last chance effort. This wasn't enough to overcome a field of mostly high peace weight leaders in the playoffs, losing out to Mansa Musa and Elizabeth in a tight contest. Qin's best outing took place in Season Three, where he finished in second place behind Julius Caesar and nearly advanced to the Championship game before a late era stomping at the hands of Mansa Musa again intervened. On the other hand, Qin has also struggled mightily in other outings, suffering early eliminations in both Season Two and Season Four without accomplishing much of anything. While he's done a good job of punching above his weight, he also doesn't have that much weight to be punching with. There are other leaders who are much better at the economic side of the game and Qin often can't keep pace with them.

Sitting Bull of the Native Americans
Traits: Philosophical, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 8
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Season Six
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 2 points, tied 49th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Sitting Bull is stuck with the Philosophical and Protective traits; in other words, the two worst performing traits in the entirety of AI Survivor. This immediately puts him in a bit of a hole. Sitting Bull also gets the unimpressive Dog Soldier and Totem Pole for his unique items, neither of which help matters. His only redemptive feature is his starting techs of Agriculture and Fishing, yet even they are merely above average, meaning that Sitting Bull plays the game at a serious disadvantage. As a personality, Sitting Bull the AI is a series of contradictions. He builds a lot of units (8/10) and doesn't bother with wonders (0/10). He is the most likely leader in the game to demand tribute (10/10), and his flavours are Military and Growth. This all sounds like the makings of an aggressive leader in the vein of Ragnar or Alex, and yet, Sitting Bull has a lower than average aggression rating (4.3/10). He simply doesn't attack very often. He also has a high peace weight, preferring the likes of Gandhi and Elizabeth to Montezuma and Shaka. This, along with his traits, largely leads to an AI that constructs a strong military that he doesn't use, and a weak economy to boot, with Sitting Bull struggling to keep up in tech with even the rabid warmongers. It doesn't paint an impressive picture, and as a general rule Sitting Bull doesn't just start in a deep hole; he's unwilling to dig himself out.

Past Performance: Sitting Bull was one of the handful of leaders who had no points before finally scoring a second place finish in his opening round game of Season Six. This was a somewhat unlikely result according to the alternate histories, however, and it came against an uninspiring field of high peace weight opponents. The Native American leader has consistently been undermined by his contradictory AI personality, building military units that he's too peaceful to use for conquest. Sitting Bull's traits have done him no favours either, and although he usually doesn't collapse fast like some of the other peaceniks, instead he always seems to die by a thousand cuts, as aggressive AIs slowly wear him down time after time. To paraphrase Sullla, Sitting Bull is certainly capable of sabotaging someone else's game through a determined defence, but he's probably the least likely leader to actually pull a victory from one of these games. Expect nothing from Sitting Bull, and you're unlikely to be surprised.

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: Playoff Round: Season Three
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 11 points, 27th 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 marching 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:

What the community was thinking was that Gilgamesh was an overwhelming favorite to win. There was a strong consensus that the Sumerian leader would claim victory thanks to his luxurious starting position; were we setting up for another disappointing result from the Pool 1 leader in this game as well? It's rare to see one leader with this many picks to win especially in a larger 7 AI field. Mao and Qin were the most popular picks for the runner up spot and then the First to Die sentiment was split between Sitting Bull, Joao, and Wang Kon in that order. The choice of victory condition was divided mostly evenly between Spaceship and Domination without much support for a Cultural finish thus far.

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: This is the first game that feels pretty straightforward to predict. Gilgamesh's capitol is cracked, with the gold, 2 elephants, and flood plains. I expect him to get off to an explosive start and not look behind. 2nd place is a toss up between Mao, Qin, and Peter; rolled a d6 and went with Peter. For FTD, it's one of the two protective PW 8 leaders near Gilligan. I'm picking Wang Kon because his terrain is slightly worse and one of the few things Sitting Bull will do is build units to forestall his death.

SkipperXIV: Gilgamesh is probably the strongest leader on the field, in terms of his track record. No-one else seems like a solid contender for victory but we've been surprised twice already. Mao probably has the best chance of coming in second; he's made a habit of it throughout the series and is farthest away from Gilgamesh so will likely be his last target. While Joao is also fairly far from Gilgamesh and probably won't be his first target, he is the most boxed in and doesn't have either a solid eco or metal resources to save himself if any of his neighbors decide to gobble him up for lunch.

ZincAlloy: It's time for Wang Kon's greatest troll yet: having no copper, never researching the tech to connect that iron in his capital, and thus managing to die to Qin of all people, giving him his first win. And then Mao for second because he's always second.

Alpha 26: What a weird combination of leaders. Joao has very good land: lots of river tiles and flood plains. Additionally he has a medium peace weight. All the other leader have either high or low peace weights. The high and low peace weight leaders have better targets than Joao and leave him alone. So, Joao may be able fly under the radar of the other leaders and then pull ahead with his good land into space. Gilgamesh has good land too but he has Sitting Bull as a neighbor. They will have border tensions and a high difference in peace weight. Gilgamesh will suicide his stacks into hilled super-archers and longbows which will delay him too much to win. I expect the same between Qin and Peter. Wang Kong literally starts with a fishing village surrounded by tundra and desert. He won't be a big factor this game, and perhaps he will be the first to die. There are some many protective leaders, so I don't expect many wars but they will last long because of their defense bonus.

Max: Gilgamesh has food and gold, and a solid backline to expand into, so he's unlikely to fall behind on settling cities. From there, he is likely to attack Wang Kon or Sitting Bull, and expand further out. J-man and Sitting Bull feel like two likely candidates for first elimination - going to play the odds and say J-man is first to die, as he's more likely to be 2-v-1'ed by Mao, Peter or Qin, who are all likely going to have border tension with him, and hate him due to peace weight. Once high peace weight leaders - Sitting Bull, Wang Kon and J-man - are out of the game, who benefits? Sure, Gilgamesh gets first place, with a slow, painful spaceship finish. So who's going to be second, then? Gut feeling says Peter has a shot - he's got better land to start the play with, isn't going to get culturally crushed by Gilgamesh, and his tech flavours should be conducive to keeping the score relatively high.

Madmandoc: I didn't want to pick Gilgamesh because everyone is going to pick him. But i think you have to. Everyone else is just a weak AI or has other obvious problems in this game. Wang has bad land and is not likely to conquer more, which will limit the value of financial. I want to pick Joao for 2nd, but he is the only AI that is surrounded by 3 other civs. He could get forward settled or dogpiled. Mao is the safe and boring choice for 2nd, but with a good defensive situation I feel obligated to go with it. Should be a spaceship game with lower than average war count and greater than average turn count.

Dagoth Gares: Screw it, Wang Kon and Sitting Bull partition Giggles. I don't even know anymore.

Plains-Cow: Joao’s the only leader with a plains-cow tile in his capital, and it’s in his first ring to boot. Not only that, there’s ANOTHER one close by! However, will he build a pasture and work the tile so as to harness its power? After reviewing the previous game, I verified that Alexander developed his plains-cow tile in Corinth before Justinian developed his own in Adrianople. As Sullla noted when Alex settled Corinth, this gave him the power he needed to rampage across the world and take the plains-cows from other civilizations that failed to make adequate use of them. Time will tell if Joao’s worthy of this RNG blessing or not. Sumeria for second place for also having a plains-cow nearby. Geez, my head’s in the stars over the possibilities. It’s gonna take a SPACESHIP to reach it! ...Peter dies first.

jarrebesetoert: Gilgamesh will fight fruitlessly against Wang Kon/Sitting Bull (protective), Joao is screwed (peace weight) next to Peter and Mao. Peter will gain most of the spoils and continue on with Wang Kon. When all peacefull leaders eventually die out, it will be diplo Peter against Qin and Peter will get the vote of Mao, who will have the same religion (Wang Kon's), while the east has Gilgamesh' religion.

Schmun: I know that the Pool One leader has been the favourite in every game so far and they've all lost, but how about Gilgamesh this time? His start is really good! Double happiness resources definitely a big plus for the AI. I think the major hurdle for Gilgs is the possibility of getting stuck in an early stalemate war with Sitting Bull. Qin has a really nice start but he could get stuck building wonders and not bother to expand. Mao is also a real possibility for first or second, and Wang Kon could always surprise us. It's a really tough field! Going to go with my gut and pick Gilgs for 1st, mainly because I know that if I picked anyone else then we'd finally have a game where the Pool One leader ran away with it. Going to go with Qin for second as I think his start position is great. FTD is Joao for me, a combo of just being a mediocre leader and also being a bit far away from metals - he does have iron fairly close but that firslty means no metal units until iron working and also if he expands in the wrong direction he could be easily locked out of metals. Victory type is more likely to be spaceship I think and, with a bunch of aggressive AIs, it'll be a fairly late finish.

Still Eternity: One of the most aggressive leaders in the game plopped right next to poor Sitting Bull and Wan Kong: GilgaStomp

Tincuradan: Hard one to call. 4 Protective leaders means aggression is unlikely to snowball, so I have my doubts about Gilgamesh, let alone Peter. Sitting Bull is a write-off. Kong's land is terrible. Neither Chinese leader has anything exceptional going on so will likely just sit and build. I think Joao has the second best land, and four directions of it as well. I'm crossing my fingers that he will rise above his usual mediocrity, and that Peter will also pick other targets to bother.

NotSpamBot: Sorry Gilgamesh but in a game this turtly being an aggressive AI is not going to work out. Especially with The Wang on your flank. Now Qin might struggle against better commercial AIs but... there's none in this game. So he could take the medal. Mao 2nd because he is a good AI who just... keeps getting second. Having to deal with J-Man settling in his face isn't going to help with that but I can totally see my prediction to be switched.

Bluesy Cobalt: Wang Kon, Wang Koff

Gaffer: Despite the recent trend of Pool 1 leaders doing horribly, I still reckon Gilgamesh looks to be in a good position in this game; good starting position, some chump neighbours, and should lock down a lot of territory with his Creative trait. Picking Qin over Mao to come second due to his much better starting position, with two corn and gold nearby meshing well with China's excellent starting traits. Harder for me to pick first to die; kind of don't want to pick Sitting Bull as he seems good at not dying (and not much else), but I think he gets squeezed on territory (and land not as good as the Troll King). Not sure about victory type either, but I don't think Gilgamesh is likely to make friends with anyone, so I am picking Domination.

Agni Neres: Confucius say, this is Wang Kon's game to lose. He is the only Financial leader, and also the only one who starts with Mysticism, thus guaranteeing him the first religion. He will clash with the only Creative leader, Gilgamesh, who starts in the cursed northeast corner of the map. Joao, usually a competent domestic builder, has a nice start, mid-center with two river systems to exploit, but also three dangerous neighbors in Mao, Peter, and Qin. Sitting Bull is likely to sit in his corner until eliminated, unless he and Wang can tag-team the Sumerians. Qin is the wild card here; if he heads east then the Native Americans are toast, if west then it is Joao in the soup. One of these seven will reach space. Should be an interesting contest this week.

Colors: Given how this season has gone, I fully expect Sitting Bull to roll to a domination victory in 215. Nevertheless, I will pick Gilgamesh, for having a lot of a room, a very nice start with river gold, a very weak neighbor in Sitting Duck, and plenty of low peace weight leaders to spread the hate around. I have Qin for second because I like his start, I hate Mao's start, I do not trust Peter to be competent for a second, and I think the low peace weight leaders will come out on top on this map. So Gil and Qin for the win.

the_lord_admiral: Gilgamesh has space and a gold start, and is matched up against what looks like a very weak set of opponents. As long as grinding down his protective neighbors doesn't take an eternity I think he'll run away with this game.

Zigzagzone: The day of the Qin is near! The starting position with fitting resources, good settling spots and the most space to expand to will give him a stron start. Later, his super friendly diplo situation after a shared river religion and a dogpile on the J-man will allow him to use the most cities and a solid econ to cruise to space. He will reach Alpha Centauri just turns after Giggles has finally been able to finish off his two protective neighbours.

Guanidine: Don't overthink it: Giggles got this! Yes, there are ways to throw this game by fighting endlessly with Turtling Bull and then be shut out of a religious river land that turns against him. But much more likely he will be able to settle without haste with his sluggish neighbors and get rolling over Wang Kon's corpse. Seriously, Wang Kon has really strong FTD energy - were there not the doomed J-man with enemies and backstabbers all around him (and a serious chance to miss all metals). Some more predictions: Giggles gets an early religion after the Wang goes to fishing first instead, Peter underwhelms even low expectations, and Mao cuts into second place late in the game. This game will see more dogpiles than solo conquest, going against the season trend, and Giggles dithers in a war for no reason before becoming terrifyingly ruthless later on.

Mansa da man: Gilgamesh, you have been handed this game on a gold and ivory platter, don't disappoint! I have to say, that is some sweet sweet land he has full of flood plains and luxuries, and his Creative trait will ensure he expands his borders to gobble most of it, particularly squeezing poor Sitting Bull who has a start that even Huayna Capac would struggle on except.... this is Sitting Bull. Oof. The real competition seems to be for second place. We have the Troll King in the North with his Financial trait but the poor guy is almost certainly fodder for Gilgamesh due to peaceweight, not to mention surrounded by Desert and Tundra on many sides! Mao has similar land problems with his only real expansion prospects being to the South East because of terrible land. Joao has good lands and expansion traits but his peaceweight means I expect one of Peter, Mao or both to attack him early on and then Gilgamesh gobbles him up ultimately in his run for Domination. That leaves just Peter and Qin and while I believe Qin has better land, he's really too passive to seal that second place spot that probably goes to Peter who has copper and a chance to catch Joao off-guard without metals. Also, Qin is a bit too close to a likely dominant Gilgamesh for comfort. It's still a toss-up though and should be a cracking game regardless!

ManiaMuse: This game will be a mess and impossible to predict. Only thing for certain is that there will be a lot of trolling.

Game Four Picking Contest Entry Form