Civ4 AI Survivor Season 7: Wildcard 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:

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; there are no seeded leaders of any kind in the Wildcard game, only surviving leaders who failed to qualify for the playoffs:

Shaka of the Zulus
Traits: Aggressive, Expansive
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 3 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Seasons Two, Three, Four, and Six
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 16 points, tied 18th place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Shaka gets the Aggressive and Expansive traits to play around with, two middling traits that create a roughly average combination, if well-fitted for conquest. He also has the below average (in AI hands) Impi, and the extremely strong Ikhanda for his unique items, an above average pairing that, again, works well for militaristic play. Lastly, Shaka has the Agriculture and Hunting pair for his starting techs, which allow him to get out to a fast start. If you haven't picked up on it yet, Shaka is all about the military. He's one of the "Crazies" who cross the threshold from "aggressive" to "nuts", and his aggression rating (9.2/10) is the fourth highest in the game. Like most of the other Crazies, Shaka's only flavour is Military, and he builds units at a frenetic pace (10/10) while ignoring wonders (2/10). Surprisingly, Shaka is quite unlikely to demand tribute (1/10), but other than that, he's a fairly standard hyper-aggressive leader. Shaka's traits, unique items and flavour are all pretty unhelpful in constructing an economy, and usually he doesn't even try. Expect Shaka to spend his entire game warring on the high peace weight pacifists (or anyone else, for that matter!), and his success to largely depend on whether those wars are successful or stall out.

Past Performance: So far, Shaka is undeniably the most successful of the Crazies in AI Survivor, ranked slightly above average as compared to the rest of the field (for reference, Ragnar, Temujin and Montezuma are all within the bottom third). Perhaps his lack of demands helps after all, making him less likely to become a global pariah, or maybe the Ikhanda is just that good. After a terrible first season, Shaka has made the playoffs four of the last five seasons. His most successful game was a Season Two romp in, admittedly, a below average field, but Shaka has achieved second place in two more games since. In Season Three, Shaka did this by largely staying out of the way of De Gaulle, but in Season Four he played another strong game, scoring himself three kills to boot, following an impressive zerg rush of Joao. Like many other middle-tier leaders however, Shaka has consistently struggled against the stiffer competition of the playoffs, where he typically gets outteched by more balanced (i.e less insane) leaders, probably best displayed in his Season Three Playoff Game, where he ballooned to an enormous size, but was so far behind in tech that he also popped like a balloon when confronted by Stalin and Justinian. Shaka is a complete lunatic but he was (temporarily) a seeded leader for Season Five - there must be a method to the madness.

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.

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.

Boudica of the Celts
Traits: Aggressive, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? NO
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Seasons One, Two, and Four
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 15 points, tied 21st place (out of 52 leaders)

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

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

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.

Tokugawa of Japan
Traits: Aggressive, Protective
Starting Techs: Fishing, Wheel
Peace Weight: 1
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Seasons Two and Four
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 13 points, 25th place (out of 52 leaders)

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

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

Julius Caesar of the Romans
Traits: Imperialistic, Organized
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 4
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 4 First Place Finishes, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Championship Game: Season Three
Total Kills: 15
Overall Power Ranking: 37 points, 3rd place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Caesar gets access to the Imperialistic and Organized traits, the former being top-tier and the latter being below average. Imperialistic is so strong that it makes this pair powerful, however, as more land = more everything in AI Survivor. His unique items are the busted Praetorian unique unit, as well as the significantly less useful Forum, again the praetorian being so good that this pair is still well above average. Lastly, Caesar has the Fishing and Mining starting techs, a generally weak pair that becomes significantly stronger with seafood at the capital, as with all fishing starts. Caesar, more than most leaders, depends on having the right starting resources, as seafood, iron, and metal luxuries all greatly speed up his snowball, as in his dominant opening game of Season Four. And make no mistake, Caesar's game plan is to snowball. With an above average aggression rating (7.6/10), unit preference (6/10) and military/production flavours, Caesar is far more likely than not to start an early war, and with a neutral peaceweight (4), all opponents are fair game for an attack. However, in early wars Caesar has a serious ace up his sleeve: praetorians. These guys are so strong that they almost break the game, often barging their way through city walls like no other unit can. Caesar depends heavily on an extremely successful landgrab using Imperialistic, an early conquest using praetorians, or both. From there, Caesar's gameplay looks similar to many other militaristic AIs, using his extra land to out-produce everyone else. If Caesar is unable to get his snowball rolling, his poor economic traits and aggressive personality usually mean he will fall behind and get himself killed, making him another feast-or-famine type leader.

Past Performance: Caesar has achieved a high level of success thus far in AI Survivor. In Season One, he successfully managed to murder De Gaulle, but instead of pausing for breath, immediately declared war on a stronger and more advanced Pericles. He did not make it out alive. This was the first of a series of displays of Caesar's biggest weakness: he is bad at building an economy. Like, really bad. In Season Two, Caesar was able to come out on top of an extremely close game, before floundering in the playoffs in an unremarkable performance. Season Three was Caesar's big year, as he won an opening "game of death" and displayed his ideal game, using praetorians to outmuscle Pericles early in the game (vengeance for Season One?), fighting a series of wars to annex Ethiopia, and preventing Elizabeth's cultural win in an extremely climactic showdown. He was also able to win his playoff game in similar snowball fashion, before finally placing third in the championship. In Season Four, Caesar was able to repeat the magic in his opening game, but performed miserably in his playoff game, stuck in a jungle heavy start and eliminated by Charlemagne. He somehow managed to achieve a second place finish in a very difficult opening round game of Season Five and then couldn't quite make the top two in his playoff match. It's also noteworthy that Caesar has repeatedly bathed in the blood of his enemies and currently stands tied atop the leaderboard with 15 kills. Overall, Caesar is another leader likely to either win a game or perform miserably. Thus far, Caesar has been one of the leaders most likely to feast rather than starve.

Huayna Capac of the Incas
Traits: Financial, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 2
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 8 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season Two Champion
Total Kills: 15
Overall Power Ranking: 55 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. If we needed any more proof of his superior talent, Huayna Capac charged out of the Wildcard round in Season Six with two more victories and was the best-scoring leader in the alternate histories for the Season Six Championship. Huayna Capac has also scored an impressive 15 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.

Napoleon of France
Traits: Charismatic, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 0
Declares War at Pleased Relations? YES
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round: Season Six
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 8 points, tied 33rd place (out of 52 leaders)

Personality: Napoleon is a deeply militaristic leader who will emphasize unit production over everything else. His traits are a bit of a mismatch for this setup, and it's unfortunate that he doesn't have the Aggresive trait given how many units that Napoleon churns out. Organized is a misplaced trait for this guy's personality. France is a great civ choice as usual, with excellent starting techs and a useful unique unit in the Musketeer. Napoleon himself has a one-track mind as an AI leader: he loves to start new wars (9.1/10 aggression rating), he will train oodles of units (10/10), and he has the lowest peace weight possible to cause him to hate the "Good" leaders. Napoleon doesn't care about religion and he doesn't waste time building wonders. He does make for an obnoxious neighbor since he will constantly be demanding tribute (10/10) and civics changes (8/10). It should come as no surprise that Napoleon has Military as his primary research flavor along with a lesser Gold emphasis, and of course he will plot war at "Pleased" relations. Overall then Napoleon is pretty similar to Shaka and Ragnar and Boudica, if somewhat less memorable than any of those rivals.

Past Performance: Napoleon has stirred up plenty of trouble in his prior AI Survivor appearances but without having much in the way of success. Prior to Season Six, Napoleon had the most kills without ever taking a first or second place finish, something that's pretty hard to accomplish. The winning leaders usually monopolize the eliminations in each game and for a weaker individual like Napoleon to score several kills is an impressive feat. On the other hand, Napoleon has appeared in eight total games of AI Survivor and found himself getting eliminated in five of them without ever coming close to taking home a victory. He repeatedly crashes his economy with excessive warring only to be taken out by more advanced empires that have reached superior levels of military technology. Napoleon is therefore another example of the "suicidally aggressive" club that approaches every problem by hitting it with an axe. Like Genghis Khan and Montezuma, he's simply too militaristic for his own good. That's not to say that Napoleon can't have a successful game if he manages to snowball ahead off of an early conquest, only that he needs the right conditions to avoid flaming out with pointless invasions. He was honestly unlucky in Season Six, crushing the alternate histories for his opening round games before submitting a less-impressive second place finish in the actual tournament. Most of the time, however, Napoleon remains far too aggressive for his own good.

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

The Wildcard game is always hard to predict given that it has more than our usual number of competing AI leaders. And as expected, there wasn't much agreement in the community picks when it came to the Runner Up or First to Die slots. However, one place where there was agreement was in the overall winner category where Huayna Capac drew a whopping 67% of the votes in a 9 leader field. The Incan ruler was a complete runaway in this category and no one else was even remotely close. Therefore it was again somewhat odd to see Cultural as the least-popular of the main victory categories given how often Huayna Capac chooses to pursue that condition. Spaceship was the clear winner amongst the community here.

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: Nine leaders (~17% of the field) accounting for 70 of Survivor's 259 kills (~27%) in S1-6, including our two kill leaders in Huayna and Gaius Julius. Only two of the nine WON'T declare at pleased, and we had a pair of raging barbarians in Napoleon and Shaka before the option was ever enabled. In short, the only thing anyone can reliably predict is utter chaos.

Mooaddict: Would be Boudicas game, but she won't beat HC in commerce and her expansion dies as soon as she runs out of people she hates which I believe stops at north being hers and part of Shaka at south, rest is HC territory. I'm betting HC eating Saladin and getting his bazillion flood plains which makes him unrivaled tech leader, then getting relatively peace against Boudica late in the game and going for culture which she can't stop because can't declare when pleased. Boudica and Toku have copper relatively near in north, so she has relatively safe position to be. Toku might be problem for her (as we saw Julius-Toku war, Toku troops are tough). If not then entire north is Boudicas. Napoleon-Julius war is interesting, that has to happen quite fast because Julius doesn't have space to expand so border tension is guaranteed. Might get Napoleon in two-front war which is impossible to win. OTOH if Napoleon runs over Julius which is actually quite likely before attacking Boudica he can get quite strong. Might be hard with Julius having praetorians though, but Julius space is tiny, which means low production of troops.

Tatsucrow: HC is gonna be the favorite in the picking contest but I won't pick him to win, his position is far too precarious here. Instead I'm going with a sleeper pick, namely Tokugawa. As long as he doesn't die to barbs or crash his economy he's a solid contender. His start is good, he's got room to expand, his neighbors aren't that close, and he is rather unlikely to draw too much aggro. If he expands peacefully for a while and develops his empire he can then barrel through someone. From what we've seen in Toku's opening game against Mehmed, Toku's armies can be rather scary with a lot of promotions. However there's so much to cut through on this map so Domination would be tricky, so I think he'll get to space before that happens. Runner-up is Napoleon, he should get off to a fast start due to a plains hill capital as well as France having good starting techs. HC will be FTD, a copper-laden Gilgamesh is breathing down his neck and others will probably pile in. This is the game where Toku shows the entire field the spirit of the samurai. Banzai!

jukesey: ok so hyuna first to die, a lot of this is down to his traist gold and research does not a strong army make unless given time. Giggles has copper in his capital, and as such can plot early. Saladin has loads of flood planes to make up for his poor econ, between them they chew up hyuna. in the north nepoleons high unit build mitigate a boxed in roman civs pretorians budica and toko end up in a series of inconclusive wars, and post hyuna, giggles starts taking chunks out of peter, But saladin with a bigger base empire starts rolling over the smaller northern civs

Amicalola: I have no idea what will happen otherwise (too much barb variance), but I'm willing to bet that Huayna Capac wins the AH for this game something like 90% of the time.

Klaus Westerbro: Shaka will target Peter or Huayna early on for their gold. Gilgamesh will attack Shaka and slowly begin to dominate that part of the continent. By the mid game the dominant powers will be Tokugawa, Julius Caesar and Gilgamesh. A series of wars will be fought where Tokugawa is partitioned between Julius and Gilgamesh. After that a cold war develops, which eventually becomes hot. After this either Julius or Gilgamesh emerges victorious.

Sir Colville of the Dale: Peter and Shaka are destined to collide, as are Caesar and Napoleon. Boudicca and Huayna will found opposing religions and drag each other down. That leaves Gilgamesh, Tokugawa, and Saladin as the movers and shakers. I like Gilgamesh to better leverage the 2v1s into territorial gains and Saladin to keep his head down. Shaka has an excellent start, but I see two paths to a 3v1 in his future. Space because the size of the map overcomes the grinding tech pace.

Smeggie: Considering that raging barbs is on, Huayna Capac will get harrassed forever by the barbs and his gold mines will constantly be targeted for plundering, and hills are tough to attack. Saladin starts with stone so if he builds the great wall first, Huayna Capac will get his load of the barbs. Rome starts off in a corner therefore will be less the target of barbs, and the Praetorians are great. Gilgamesh is just good.

dankok8: So many warmongers on this map, raging barbs and 9 AI's with no peaceniks. This will be a freaking bloodbath. I think picking HC to win is the highest percentage play. Fin with 3 golds and while he will be attacked others will be busy as well and his economy is just levels above. If he doesn't get dogpiled he wins whereas we can't really say that about anyone else. Second place is anyone's guess but I took Saladin because he and Huayna could end up not fighting each other and I like his start. Not really confident about 2nd place! Shaka first to die with no soft targets to attack. One or more of Toku, Gilga, Boudica or Peter kills him.

Cyneheard: Huyana Capac with a TRIPLE GOLD start? And some room to breathe, and a soft Saladin nearby? Yeah this feels like a Huyana romp. Saladin FTD is a natural consequence of this. Domination is going to be hard on a big map, and Huyana is a great Spaceship AI.


Mansa da man: I made a brave decision to not back Huayna Capac last game, who is back and.... whoa! El Dorado is real! But wait... where's all the food? And that is the one big problem for the Incans. Even the capital has no high food resources. Atleast he can immediately farm the floodplains thanks to starting with Agriculture but where do the rest of his cities go? Saladin already has two scouts to his West who have spotted the Rice and if his second city goes there, it will absorb the surrounding fertile region with it's Holy City culture. On the other side, there's Gilgamesh who has Bronze and not very high quality land around which might make him aggressive. With no food, Huayna can't even get his cottage economy up and running. I'm sure he still has good odds to win but I'm going with Saladin. For a civ lacking worker techs, he's blessed with a very fertile region in a food scarce world and considering barbs will be running around pillaging everyone, 3 food and 1 gold are great neutral yields. And a corner start helps to some extent. He also has rivers running up to Napoleon, close to JC and to HC as well, provided he doesn't get his own religion. That plus Stone in the capital, possibly making him go Masonry -> TGW could help him out. Toku is another good candidate with similar strengths but having Shaka on your border is never great. I'm super excited for this game, can't wait!

Willow Arkan: So that is a lot of gold, like a lot of gold. The surrounding terrain is great too. Saladin will give HC his religion by river. HC will bond with Hammurabi about how great wonders are and Saladin will get to use those Incan roads to spread Islam to Hammurabi to boot. France and maybe even Rome pick up Islam as well, the former by river and the latter because fate and Romans hate Boudica. Shared religion won't stop Julius Caesar of all people from not conquering Gaul, but it will give him the extra motivation to put down the Celtic revolt in Britannia. In the meantime a good 8-10 city Incan juggernaut has built some wonders, maybe even got a religion, if Boudica, Saladin and Toku leave him any. Toku will of course found a religion so he doesn't have to share with the people outside of Japan. Sharing wonders with Hammurabi means HC either takes them or just focuses on truly becoming the son of the sun god Inti, by conquering space. Either way he doesn't have enough culture to waste time not building modern armor to keep Rome at bay. Russia is also in this game, he probably kills Shaka eventually, maybe splitting the Zulu with Rome. Records don't mention what ultimately happens to Tokugawa, historian speculate he might have succumbed to the appeal of the Pax Romana

Chad: The ancients spoke to Shaka in a vision and tasked him with destroying the heathen scum. So it was written so it willl be done.

CymbalXL: Saladin's start is not as flashy as the triple gold that was granted to Huayna Capac, but it is absolutely insane due to all the rivers and floodplains. I see Saladin getting out to a good start, raging barbs aside, while his neighbor to the west struggles to expand due to low food and production. I think Boudica will get second because this game is packed full of warmongers and that is the one area where she has an advantage. The western side of the map won't amount to much except massive amounts of fighting. I also noticed the huge mountain range northeast of Shaka. I think he will be rather boxed in and be forced to slam his head against the protective leaders, Tokugawa and Gilgamesh. Assuming that Huayna Capac does not go crazy, I think it will be a late spaceship victory with a ton of wars. Should be a blast!

Bernn: This is gonna be one violent game. When the average aggression rating is 7.8 and every leader except two can declare at pleased, you know it's going to be a bloodbath. Could we genuinely see 25+ wars? As far as individual leaders, Huayna Capac is the top dog, has a triple(!) gold start and Quechuas for the barbs, though the way he neighbors both of the other religious leaders is an unfortunate twist of fate. Could easily see him getting drawn into a stalled out early war with Saladin due to different religions + huge border tension. Gilgamesh has great traits for Wildcard games and is one of the few leaders to start with copper, and then there's Caesar snuggled up in the top corner with a guaranteed source of iron. Plenty of major players. It's actually difficult to identify the WEAK leaders here - between the barbs slowing down development across the board and how plain aggressive everyone is, even second or third tier nations can jump up the scoreboard after a successful backstab or 2v1. Very excited to see this one unfold.

Zigzagzone: A lot of lush riverland, less neighbors than most civs, and the chance to dodge aggression by shared faith? Saladin is bringing religion to space!

Guanidine: I'm really looking forward to this game, as this wildcard game is filled with dynamic if nutty leaders that will take their shot even against horrible odds! Unfortunately, my boy Gilgamesh is poisoned with marble and is the most obvious target for a relentless barb rush. If he had stone for the Great Wall, he might have a chance, but so I see him as first to die. If HC can profit from his death, we might see an early win - and less wars than anticipated if HC also founds one of the first religions and spreads it both in east and west.

Agni Neres: The Wildcard game is always extremely difficult to analyze. This year, it's all military warmongers, so Domination seems the obvious win condition. HC doesn't have the food to work all his gold, unless he nerfs his Financial trait by farming the floodplains. JC is in a tight corner, but thanks to all the jungle has only Napolean as a real neighbor, and history knows what happens when Rome faces France. Saladin and Boudica get the first two religions, and both should have good if not winning games. Peter is my choice for FTD, cramped by Sumerian culture and Zulu force of arms -- though Boudica could end up squeezed from all sides as Elizabeth did not so long ago. Toku will last a long time and could pull a second place in his usual turtle way. Thanks to the worldview of resources screenshot, we can see that Gilgamesh does indeed have iron to his south, all his no contest, which makes it conceivable he pulls this one out.

Plains-Cow: Huayna Capac's most likely to win. Why's that, you ask? Is it the triple gold start? No. Is it the floodplains tiles? No. Is it his previous track record? No. It's because he's secured the best resource in the game. Additionally, the +1 health (WITH PASTURE) will grow his cities larger faster. Make sure that is considered when evaluating the spread. Saladin also has a plains-cow tile in his starting ring, but it isn't the GOLDEN CALF like Huayna's. Sally has to settle for a STONE-cold second long as he leverages his resources, of course. Shaka FTD because he's the furthest away from any plains-cow tile.

SirSystemError: I predict there's going to be a lot of people mindlessly picking Huayna Capac who are going to be very upset. Given this season so far, that start seems like a glorious disaster waiting to happen. And when and if he does go down in flames, I'll be there with marshmallows.

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