Another larger field of leaders are back to challenge for supremacy in Game Six of the competition. We're rapidly running out of leaders still left unselected at this point! The group picked for this game lean towards the peaceful side, but with enough troublemakers to stir up some interesting situations. Make your choices for first and second place from the following collection of leaders.
This game is heavy on leaders with the Financial trait, and Darius is the first of the bunch. Darius has Financial and Organized traits, possibly the best pure economic traits in the game. This pairing is one of the most popular for our Multiplayer games, and is reigned in only by having no advantages in the early game. As a leader of the Persians, Darius brings the Immortal unique unit and the Apothecary unique building, neither one considered to be especially good. Then again, the immortal might actually be useful here given the number of archers that the AI likes to train. Darius the AI has gold and growth flavors for his research. He has a heavy wonder focus for a non-Industrious leader (8/10), along with an above average preference given to units. Darius AI is otherwise fairly average across the board, with an aggression rating in the middle of the scale (5.2 out of 10). He's considered to be a "Good" leader in peace weight. Darius is pretty easy to keep on good terms as a neighbor, and generally wants to be left alone to tech in peace. If he would manage to acquire a lot of land somehow, his traits make him a serious danger to run away with the game.
De Gaulle has a number of oddities in the way that his AI is programmed. He brings Industrious and Charismatic traits, making him unpopular for everyone other than Parkin in our Multiplayer events. De Gaulle's French civilization, on the other hand, is an outstanding choice, easily one of the best in the game with the Musketeer and Salon unique items. De Gaulle the AI has production and growth flavors. You'd think that he would have a wonder focus with his Industrious trait, but no, De Gaulle AI barely looks to build them at all. Only 2/10 rating for wonder construction. Instead, De Gaulle AI will make lots of tribute demands (10/10) and civic demands (8/10) on other leaders. While his aggression rating is only average at 5.7 out of 10, De Gaulle gets classified as an "Evil" leader via peace weight. He's actually as low as it's possible to go on the scale, sitting in the same position as leaders like Ragnar and Shaka. This suggests that someone at Firaxis was having some fun at De Gaulle's expense, especially when you consider how De Gaulle gets a rating of 0/10 in the "Resists Capitulating" category. Anyway, De Gaulle AI will be seriously unpopular with many of these other leaders, and that should produce some weird stuff before we're done.
Elizabeth is another Financial leader, one who leans towards peaceful tendencies. She has Financial and Philosophical traits, a pairing that was more popular in the past for our group, only to fall into some disuse of late. Financial and Philosophical are traits that are seen as having some anti-synergy, between working cottages and working specialists. This is the first time that we've seen any of the three English leaders; the civilization has the Redcoat for a unique unit and the Stock Exchange for a unique building. Both are well above average, and the one weakness of the English civ is the starting techs, which won't be a factor here. Elizabeth AI has gold and culture flavors, befitting her peaceful nature. She has a very low unit emphasis (2/10), an extremely high peace weight as a "Good" leader, and one of the lowest aggression ratings in the game (1.9 out of 10). That's 49th out of the 52 leaders in likeliness to declare war. Elizabeth AI is another leader who's easy to befriend as a neighbor, and she rarely even makes demands. Even more so than Darius, she wants to be left alone in peace.
Frederick is another leader similar to Darius and Elizabeth, only without the advantage of being Financial. His trait pairing of Philosophical and Organized makes him another leader with strong economic abilities. Frederick's German civilization has a lategame focus, with the Panzer unique unit and the Assembly Plant unique building, which rarely have much of an impact. In all of the Civilization games, it's better to have unique things that come earlier on the tech tree. Frederick AI has only one flavor: PRODUCTION. That's kind of an oddity, and it will be interesting to see how that affects his tech choices. Frederick AI is very average across the board, with middling scores in most everything. His aggression rating is below average at 4/10, and he can sometimes get himself into trouble with his low unit emphasis (only 2/10). Like Darius and Elizabeth, he has a high peace weight as another "Good" leader. In short, Frederick AI looks very similar to Darius AI and Elizabeth AI, only with slightly weaker traits.
Now we finally get to a little bit more muscle. Julius Caesar has Imperialistic and Organized traits, a fairly weak pairing which ensures that he never appears in our Pitboss games. His Roman civilization features the Praetorian unique unit (and the "meh" Forum). Caesar's other Roman counterpart Augustus used praetorians to excellent effect in the previous game, we'll see if he can do the same here. Caesar the AI has military and production flavors, the only leader in this particular game with a military flavor. Caesar AI doesn't have an especially high unit emphasis (only 6/10), but he's well above average in aggression rating at 7.6 out of 10. This is the highest by a good margin for this particular match. Caesar also demands tribute frequently (8/10), and he has a lower peace weight number. It's still well above De Gaulle's peace weight of zero, but also a far cry from saintly leaders like Elizabeth. Overall, expect Caesar to be one of the leaders driving the action forward in this game. If he can get an early conquest with his praetorians, he may be able to snowball the game from there.
Pacal's trait pairing of Financial and Expansive is widely viewed as the strongest for any leader in Civ4. Pacal is therefore a universal ban for our Multiplayer events, at least the ones played without any mods. He is the only leader for the Mayans, who feature the Holkan unique unit and the Ball Court unique building. This is a rare case where the unique building is the better of the pair, as it adds a nice boost to happiness. Pacal the AI has culture and growth flavors. He places a high priority on religion, with a huge penalty for leaders of rival faiths. Pacal will likely found his own religion in this game, with the Mayans being the only one of these civilizations to start with Mysticism tech. Pacal the AI also likes to build wonders (8/10 rating), and otherwise has mostly average numbers. Pacal has the strange combination of a low aggression rating (2.8 out of 10) along with an "Evil" rating in peace weight. Pacal AI will be predisposed to like De Gaulle, and he won't fit in with the other economic leaders in this game. If Pacal can get an early conquest, his traits will probably make him unstoppable.
Pericles is yet another generally peaceful leader with an economic focus. He has perhaps the best trait pairing in the game for pure culture, with Creative and Philosophical traits. That means cheap libraries, universities, theatres, and colosseums. As the other Greek leader paired with Alexander, Pericles has acccess to the Phalanx unique unit and Odeon unique building. There's some nice synergy between Pericles' Creative trait and that odeon, perhaps helpful in pursuing a cultural gameplan. As an AI, Pericles has production and science flavors. He's another AI leader who loves him some wonders, with an 8/10 rating in that category. The other numbers are mostly average across the board, right in the middle. Pericles AI desires peace with his neighbors, having a low aggression rating of 3.3 out of 10. His peace weight sits in the middle of the scale, halfway between the "Good" and "Evil" leaders. Pericles won't be drawn naturally to either side of the alignment scale. Pericles the AI likes to go for Cultural victories, and he'll have a decent chance to pull one off here in a crowd of mostly peaceful competitors.
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This game looks unpredictable to me. There are a lot of economic leaders, and several of them (Elizabeth, Frederick, Pericles) will often attempt a Cultural victory if they get left unmolested. With three different Financial leaders, along with a lot of strong trait combinations, we might have the chance to see an accelerated tech pace. However, we also have some major divisions along the spectrum of peace weight, and a couple of aggressive leaders who might like to stir up some mischief. Caesar's praetorians in particular could be a nightmare for one of the more docile AI leaders. Like the previous games, it's hard to know what the AI is going to do. I'm about to hit the half dozen mark on these games, and I still have no clue what's going to happen.
The map for this game was one of the most intriguing that we'd seen to date. I made almost no changes at all, aside from moving my observer civ into the ice and deleting a couple of tiny offshore islands. The map naturally placed six of the seven leaders in a huge semicircle along the edges of the continent. The one exception was Pacal, who found himself just slightly west of the continent's dead center position. This seemed reasonably fair to me - close enough for our purposes here. I was genuinely curious about this setup, and I admit that I picked this map at least partly because I wanted to see how it played out. Was that central location an advantage for Pacal, or a disadvantage? I had no idea. It was going to put a microscope on his performance here, and that seemed like it would be fun to watch.
Some of these city locations chosen for the free Deity starting settler were bizarre. Darius and Elizabeth made intelligent choices in the far west, not much to comment on there. De Gaulle also went for a solid spot, if one where all of the resources were in the second ring. That's par for the course with the AI. Everyone else though... Pericles chose to ignore the middle of the map in favor of an icy location down in the southern tundra. That was certainly not the best way to use his Creative trait in the early stages of the game. Pacal got a nice location to his northeast, but then Caesar settled right next door, and Frederick couldn't help himself from joining the party too. They were clustered together in a tight bunch up there, very strange to see with so much of the map unclaimed. Frederick looked like he might get squeezed on land.
None of the AI capitals were that bad in this game. They were all solid locations capable of supporting good expansion. When it came to early research, I was surprised to see Pacal forgo a guaranteed religion in favor of early Animal Husbandry tech. I mean, he needed the tech for the pigs at his capital and all, it's just that you don't expect the AI to make an intelligent decision like that! It was left for Elizabeth and Frederick to race to Meditation tech, which they both finished on the exact same turn. Elizabeth won the coin flip for Buddhism, which was absolutely huge as Frederick would have had the religion appear in his heavily overlapped border city. Caesar and Pacal dodged a bullet there. Instead, just a few turns later it was Pacal who went on to become the Hindu founder:
Lakamha became the Hindu holy city, and began spewing out its culture into this disputed region. Can you imagine if Hamburg had won the coin flip and become the Buddhist holy city? That would have made for an interesting cultural battle. In any case, Pacal now had his own religion, and a great deal more control over the north side of the map.
Caesar finished an early Stonehenge a few turns later, narrowly beating out Frederick. The German leader was having a rough game here, already heavily boxed into his starting position. Pacal's third city had gone to his north as well, and Darius had settled his own third city to the east. Not much room for Frederick. Many of these city placements look completely insane at first glance, but you have to understand the logic that the AI uses. Their cities are designed to claim resources. That's it, that's how they pick their locations for cities. For them, wet corn = desert incense. They pay no attention to food resources, whether they can connect the resources in question, first ring versus second ring resources, and so on. The AI just tries to settle resources. Once you understand that, it begins to make a little bit more sense - even though it's still thoroughly terrible Civ4 gameplay!
Elizabeth would go on to found Judaism, the odd pairing of Buddhism with Judaism instead of with Hinduism. This made it likely that Judaism would never emerge as a major world religion in this game, especially since it popped up in Elizabeth's backline city in the extreme southwest of the continent. Elizabeth was tops in score and expanding nicely, she was someone to watch in this game. Pericles built the Great Wall, and that seemed like a good pickup for him since there were a lot of barbarians swarming around Greece. Frederick had also made a play for the wonder, and was again denied, this time by two turns. It didn't seem to be his game. Pacal would build the Oracle and turn it into Metal Casting tech, another strong move coming out from the central civ.
This was an overview shot of Elizabeth's territory, our early game leader. She was claiming a nice amount of land, she had her own religion, and she seemed to be in good shape. One thing worth noting was the fact that Elizabeth and Pacal hated one another, due to differing religions along with highly separate peace weights. When their borders eventually met, it seemed likely the sparks would fly. Up to the north, Darius was stuck on three cities and seemingly had nowhere to go. He was stacking up some immortals, and I guessed that he was preparing for war to fight his way out of this corner position.
However, the first invasion would pop up in a totally different part of the world:
Caesar declared war on De Gaulle and immediately sniped the border city of Lyons. This had been set up through Stonehenge culture; Lyons was actually settled first, but De Gaulle strangely didn't get any culture in there. Ravenna's borders eventually expanded, and that set up this extremely easy attack. Once again, a Roman leader was putting Praetorians to good use here in the early game. City Raider praetorians are simply unfair when used against the AI. Now could Caesar continue to snowball this initial attack into a general conquest, or was he going to slow down and flame out the way that Ragnar had done in the previous game?
This was too funny not to screenshot. Note that Dortmund here is a German city, not an English one. Frederick walked this settler and spear all the way down from his territory, circling around Mayan territory since he didn't have Open Borders with Pacal. Poor Darius also wanted to settle this spot, and you can see his settler highlighted off to the northwest. However, Darius didn't have Open Borders with any of his neighbors, which meant that this settler was completely stuck, unable to move through. Poor Darius! No matter what he tried to do in this game, it kept ending up in failure.
Ah, there it is. Darius had to make an aggressive play if he was going to amount to anything in this game, and he chose to strike against Pacal. You might have noticed that Darius was heavy on immortals here. That's not a mistake, he actually didn't have any copper or iron in his territory. I felt kind of bad for Darius, that was one place where the map generator had not been particularly fair. Immortals it was going to have to be. Darius sent five of them against the city of Chichen Itza, defended by a trio of holkan (unique unit spear), archer, and axe. Darius must have gotten a sweet dice roll against the holkan, because he captured the city with the loss of only a single immortal. Pacal was suddenly in a great deal of trouble, caught here with his pants down. It didn't look like the Mayans were prepared to fight a war at all.
The world after 75 turns of action. Elizabeth remained the leader to this point in time, and she'd been pushing further east aggressively with more cities. Her eight cities were tied with Caesar for the most in the game, and she had a lot more room for expansion still to go. On the other side of the map, Pericles was expanding quite well himself, and he would land the Great Lighthouse a few turns later. Darius had just taken the city of Chichen Itza from Pacal, and Frederick stood to benefit if the Mayans began to collapse. Finally, in the northeast, Caesar was winning the war against De Gaulle. Although the Romans had only picked up the single city thus far, they were researching Construction tech next, and the combination of praetorians and catapults was likely to cause further headaches for De Gaulle. The game still had room to evolve in a plethora of different directions, and the action remained wide open to all leaders.
De Gaulle made an attempt to recapture Lyons, only to be turned away with serious losses. Two praetorians on defense in that captured city again appeared to be the difference. Caesar's own attack against Orleans similarly was cut to pieces, praetorians or no praetorians. De Gaulle had city walls up everywhere, and Caesar was going to need catapults to make any further progress at this point. Darius seemed to be stalling out in his war against Pacal, his immortals unable to make any further progress. It was hard to tell though, watching the turquoise vs. turquoise borders of their respective nations. Darius somehow found the time to build the Pyramids while all this was going on. Not sure how much that helped, but he did have it.
What was this Mayan city doing down here, off by itself surrounded by Greek cities? Your guess is as good as mine.
Code of Laws / Confucianism was taken by Elizabeth, and Theology / Christianity was founded by Pacal. It looked like we had another game where the two original religions of Buddhism and Hinduism would be the only ones that had any real impact on this game. Elizabeth was the clear GNP and tech leader, with Pericles, Frederick, and Pacal trailing not too far behind. Warmongering Caesar and De Gaulle were sitting at the bottom of the pack in research rate. Caesar was still tops in power, with Pericles climbing fast. Amusingly enough, Pacal and Darius were both tied for last in power, despite their ongoing war. Neither one likes to build units! More Persian attacks against Pacal continued to go nowhere, although Darius did have catapults now. Perhaps that would help turn the tide there.
This was the first successful attack on the map in some time. Caesar's catapults slowly dropped the walled defenses of Orleans, and then the praetorians did the rest from there. This border city had been heavily fought over by both sides, and its capture now cleared the path to De Gaulle's capital. France had only four cities remaining, and needed another leader to intervene in this war to take away some of the pressure. Barring a turnaround of that sort, it looked like De Gaulle might be the first leader to be eliminated from the game.
Considering the seven leaders present in this game, it continued to be quite peaceful overall. Pacal kept on building wonders during his war (first Statue of Zeus, then Shwedagon Paya) while Darius still lacked metals of any kind. Finally he was able to get iron from Frederick and begin training some swords. Caesar took another French city right as the BC years rolled over into the AD years; this was what De Gaulle had remaining:
Three cities and a rapidly shrinking pocket of French culture. De Gaulle hadn't fought this conflict that badly, he simply didn't have enough resources left to win this war of attrition. And it was undeniable that Caesar had access to a strength 8 unit in a way that De Gaulle simply did not. Caesar's biggest problem was his economy, where he had fallen quite a ways behind the game's other top leaders. If Elizabeth or Pericles ever chose to attack one of the backwards leaders, it would get ugly in a real hurry.
Darius and Pacal finally made peace on Turn 115. The initial capture of Chichen Itza was the only city that changed hands, despite their long years of fighting. They would both have to rebuild as best they could at this point. De Gaulle's capital of Paris fell about ten turns later, and unfortuantely for the French leader, that wasn't the only piece of bad news in his inbox:
Pericles jumped into the mix, trying to poach a city or two of his own from the decaying remnants of France. That was a smart move, I wondered if Pericles would get one or both of the remaining French cities. Pericles would get the city of Tours on Turn 131, and Caesar finished things off at Rheims on Turn 134.
With De Gaulle's early removal from the game, that meant none of the three French leaders would be moving on to the playoff round. Napoleon, Louis, and De Gaulle had all been killed off during their respective matches, the last two even suffering the indignity of being the first to die. It hadn't been a great showing from the bunch. As for Caesar, he was now in possession of five former De Gaulle cities, most importantly the capital of Paris. That city had an Academy and two merged Great General super specialists. If Caesar could ever get his economy in order, his huge size could make him one of the major competitors.
Here at 500AD, a number of game trends had started to become apparent. Elizabeth remained the game leader, second overall with 10 cities (to the 11 of Caesar after his French conquest) and leading the GNP and Food bar graphs. Pericles wasn't far behind, the undoubted second place leader at the time of this snapshot. What was surprising was how well Frederick was doing. I'd been making fun of him earlier for how he'd been constrained to his starting peninsula, only to see Frederick make me eat my words. The German leader had his civilization in good shape, strong on GNP, if somewhat middling in the other categories. Caesar was another figure to watch, his position on the rise after devouring De Gaulle and picking up several high quality cities. Pacal and Darius were the two in the bottom spots, far behind the rest both in score and in the various Demographics categories. Both had a mere five cities (well Pacal had a sixth iceball with literally no food at all), and both were in serious danger of being eliminated. Darius looked like he might be OK, as he enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations with Elizabeth and Frederick. Pacal, on the other hand, was not especially popular due to his low peace weight. If anyone was the next to be voted off the island, Pacal seemed like the most likely target.
The conquest of De Gaulle had brought the world back to complete peace for the first time in ages. While all that had been going on, Elizabeth and Frederick had been splitting most of the wonders. Frederick's possession of both stone and marble resources were fueling his wonder habit, and that was a major reason why his score looked so good. Elizabeth had claimed the Parthenon, the Colossus, the Hagia Sophia, and the Great Library, while Frederick built the Mausoleum, Chichen Itza, and Notre Dame. Honestly, Frederick had gotten the better set of wonders from that group. I thought we might be in for a long round of peace while Elizabeth raced for the Liberalism prize.
Apparently not! Having just completed one successful war, Caesar immediately began a second one. The choice of targets was very strange though - Pericles was tops in power, and actually ahead of Caesar. He'd have done much better to go after Frederick or Pacal, but I guess that religious differences (Pericles being a heathen Buddhist instead of Hindu) explained this rash action. In any case, Caesar had a tough battle ahead of him. Pericles not only had a larger army, he was also ahead in technology too. The Greeks had Civil Service and Engineering techs, while the Romans were only finishing Machinery. This war declaration had the possibility of backfiring horribly.
In the opening turns of the war, Pericles used his cultural pressure on the border to attack and capture the Roman city of Rheims with ease. The Roman cities of Paris, Marseilles, and Arretium quickly followed in subsequent turns. Maybe Caesar had wanted to declare war because several of his French conquests were under that cultural pressure? It was a bad idea for a war, if that were the case! Meanwhile, Caesar's own offensive move against the Greek city of Pharsalos stalled out as Pericles immediately built castle walls, forcing a long and tedious siege. By the time Caesar was ready to attack, it was already too late and his entire war effort had fallen apart. Check out the power graph:
Yeah, not the finest plan I've ever seen. By Turn 150, Caesar had lost all of his French conquests, and Pericles was beginning to push deep into the Roman core. What were you THINKING, Caesar?!
While the boys were off playing with their toy soldiers in the east, Elizabeth used this time to reach Liberalism first and take Nationalism with the free tech. She pushed on to Constitution and then the free Economics Great Merchant from there. She would of course also build the Taj Mahal and claim the free Golden Age. Pacal was wasting his precious few resouces on teching to Divine Right and founding Islam. I take back the praise I wrote about Pacal before: this guy is pretty dumb when played as an AI. He deserves to die with moves like that. Then Pacal made news by declaring war against Darius on Turn 150. Would he be able to retake the city of Chichen Itza, captured away from the Mayans centuries earlier?
Whoops. As it turned out, Darius had some friends. Powerful friends. It probably wasn't such a good idea to declare war on Darius when Elizabeth was right next door, and also hated Pacal with a fiery passion. Kinda likely that Darius might sign up his big sis and get her involved in this conflict too. Once the English knights started rolling across the border, I figured that Pacal wouldn't be much longer for this world. Oh, except that Pacal somehow signed peace with Elizabeth the next turn. What the heck?! Don't fake me out like that, game! I later saw on the diplo screen that Darius had indeed bought Elizabeth into this war, and she slipped out of the conflict at the first opportunity possible. Not the most honorable move there, Lizzy...
With the defenders having castle walls up in essentially all cities, the offensives were slow across the map. Darius and Pacal traded units to no purpose that I could see, neither one having anywhere near enough military strength to crack the cities of the other. Much of their fighting was done in Frederick's territory, as both of them had Open Borders with the Germans and could run their units around on the roads up there. In the other war, Pericles had the tech edge on Caesar, and his use of knights and maces was slowly grinding up the Roman cities one at a time, in sluggish fashion. Still they did fall, one by one. I knew time was running out for Caesar when Orleans and Lyons fell on back to back turns:
These were border cities that Caesar simply could not afford to lose. With them down, he was reduced to his original core of Roman cities, only five of them remaining. Caesar needed a peace treaty, or some kind of miracle reprieve. It seemed unlikely that he would get either.
All of these wars may have been fun to watch, but it was Elizabeth who was running away with the game. She had picked up multiple Golden Ages (from Taj, free Great people, etc.) in the crucial midgame period during the Renaissance, and that had snowballed her even further ahead. Elizabeth was cleaning up all of the modern wonders, and her tech lead was ballooning to a ridiculous extent. She was approaching a full era ahead of everyone else. The only one even remotely close was Frederick, of all AI leaders - Frederick! And even he was still far behind. Elizabeth had mature cottages all over her territory now, and her GNP was simply massive. She could choose to pursue a victory through Space, Culture, or even Domination if she wanted to get aggressive.
Pacal and Darius eventually signed peace, and Pacal managed to secure the return of Chichen Itza in the peace treaty. "Alright!" Pacal must have been thinking, "The ancient wrongs have been righted! Our eternal foe is in retreat! Victory is ours!" Then he looked at that city he just picked up:
Unfortunately, Frederick's culture had expanded a wee bit since the ancient BC years. Chichen Itza was completely crushed by the surrounding German cities, rendered utterly useless. The war between Darius and Pacal had been fought for untold centuries over a strategically worthless piece of land! Unbelievable. At least Pacal had Open Borders with Frederick, and could move units into and out of the city.
The city of Rome was finally captured on Turn 195. Pericles had been sieging the thing for over a dozen turns at that point, slowly reducing the defenses by a few percentage points each turn. He'd lost all of his siege units except for a single trebuchet in the previous attack, and that one unit was plinking away reducing 2-3% of Rome's defenses each turn. None of the melee units would attack until the city's defenses hit zero, of course, Finally Pericles brought up some more catapults and trebuchets, and mercifully finished off the defenses. Caesar was essentially finished at this point, it only remained for Pericles to walk his stack from city to city and capture them all. (Then Pericles did the same thing with a single trebuchet at Cumae, the next city. Two percent defensive reduction per turn. Argh, just freaking attack already!!!!!)
WHAT. THE. HELL. I swear, this was the strangest game yet for AI declarations of war. Pacal decided to attack Frederick for some insane reason, despite Frederick having more cities, more tech, and possessing about triple his military strength. Seriously, it wasn't even close. Frederick dwarfed Pacal on the bar graphs, plus the Germans had rifles running around everywhere. Pacal's army was entirely medieval. This made no sense whatsoever, not even close to making sense. Pacal's AI must have been drinking bleach before this game began, maybe that's why he's always so angry looking on the diplo screen. Pacal had certainly managed to throw away a strong start and the best trait pairing in Civ4 during this game.
It took about three turns for Frederick's rifles to slaughter the Mayan knights and crossbows running around on the battlefield. Then Frederick happily took away the city of Chichen Itza from Pacal. After all, it was entirely surrounded by German culture at this point. Now the counter offensive against Pacal could begin. Meanwhile, Pericles was taking so long to finish off Caesar that Darius - DARIUS! - walked a stack of units all the way across the map and declared war. Nor was this a waste of time, as Darius actually captured the city of Neapolis from Caesar, giving him a distant colony on the other side of the world. These AIs do the most incredible stuff.
Pacal did manage to outlive Caesar, who died on Turn 215. Look how long it took Pericles to take those final cities though - 20 turns to capture three cities! Actually, only two cities, since Darius grabbed one of them for himself. That's just pathetic. I swear he sat outside Cumae for 15 straight turns bombarding with a single trebuchet. Battlefield tactics are not this AI's strong suit. As for Caesar, I thought that he had a chance to emerge as one of the game leaders in this one. His attack on De Gaulle had been reasonably successful, and gave him a lot of territory and quality cities. If only Caesar had paused to recover his economy before making another move. Instead, Caesar went after the strongest military power in the game, and that backfired horribly in every way imaginable. This whole game has been a clinic in poorly chosen wars of aggression.
Frederick would sign peace with Pacal shortly thereafter, and the world was back to peace again. Frederick picked up the city of Lakamha in the treaty, which was not only a size 15 city with tons of infrastructure intact, it also came with the Hindu shrine. 32 gold/turn right now, a fantastic prize. Amazingly, Frederick was now the one with the little star next to his name as the controller of the Hindu holy city. I still couldn't believe how he could turn things around from the early game when he was crushed by the culture of Pacal. Now it was the Germans who were culturally dominant everywhere! Pacal had five cities remaining, and surely couldn't survive much longer if he came under further attack. He would be dead in minutes if Elizabeth chose to make a move.
In the wake of the Roman defeat, we were left with five leaders still standing. Elizabeth remained in the dominant position, tops in every category other than Food on the bar graphs, running about a full era ahead in tech. She was entering the Modern Age right now, and most everyone else was in the early stages of the Industrial period, or not even there yet. There were English infantry and artillery pieces running around in Elizabeth's territory, scary stuff. Frederick was the next closest in tech, he'd finished Assembly Line and built his unique building Assembly Plants in his cities. That was the first time I'd ever seen them in action, shows how often Germany gets played in our games. Pericles was quite a bit behind in technology, but he had the most cities and the most Food, so he was slowly catching up in the wake of his Roman conquest. Those three leaders each had at least some chance to win the game, depending on how the endgame shook out. Pacal and Darius were at the other end of the spectrum, weak leaders with no chance to accomplish much of anything. I continued to wonder how much longer Pacal could survive. He had made enemies of everyone else, and his power was a tiny fraction of the top leaders. He seemed marked for certain doom.
I clicked through turns for a bit. Elizabeth built her Apollo Program, then turned and headed towads Mass Media. Thing were going to get a lot more interesting when she built the United Nations. All of the four leaders surrounding Pacal continued to walk huge militaries around their respective borders. Eventually, one of them decided to launch an attack:
Darius. Not the invasion I was expecting. This was poor timing for Darius, as Pacal had literally finished Rifling tech the same turn. The Mayans would be able to upgrade all of their medieval garbage to rifles now, and Darius was still working with his own army of knights and maces and trebuchets. Predictably, the Persian army was cut to smithereens when they attempted to attack. Pacal was unable to counterattack, of course, seeing as how he didn't have Open Borders with Frederick and couldn't reach any of Darius' cities. Another war that was a total farce.
While Pacal and Darius continued their slap fight, Elizabeth was pushing deep into the modern era. She founded Civ Jewelers, Creative Construction, AND Sid's Sushi, and began spreading the three of them around to all of her cities. That was a lot of culture from those three corporations! (Pericles would later found Mining Inc. in his capital as well.) Elizabeth naturally cleaned up all of the lategame wonders, although she chose to build the United Nations in one of her tundra cities for some reason, resulting in the wonder taking about 25 turns to complete. More brilliant AI prioritizing. I was still waiting on the wonder to finish, when Frederick decided to make a move:
Oh thank goodness. I had reached the opinion by now that Pacal's immense stupidity meant that he deserved to die. Someone please finish this joker off before the end of the game. In this game of "Survivor", Pacal had done just about everything possible to ensure his own demise. Now he was up against someone with factories/power plants for immense production, and a mixture of infantry, cavalry, and cannons for units. (Darius was actually running around with horse archers, as his trade for iron had run out and he therefore couldn't build more knights. What a game.) Pacal's capital of Mutal fell on Turn 249, a city that had five Great General merged inside as military instructors. Yes, a full +10 XP for all units trained in that city. If only the AI had any idea how to use promotions effectively! Mayapan went down two turns later, and Pacal seemed to be finally on his way out for good. It was a miracle he'd survived this long.
The United Nations did finally complete on Turn 252, and the Secretary General election had some interesting results:
Despite being behind in tech, Pericles was quite popular with the other leaders. Elizabeth had made a bit of a tactical error here building the UN, since a diplo vote was basically the only possible way that she could lose the game. Would Pericles call for a victory vote? We'd have to see. Oh, and by the way, check out the stack of English mechanized infantry moving next to Uxmal in that screenshot. Elizabeth finally declared war on Pacal as well, coming in at the last minute to take part in the mopping up phase. Why now, Lizzie? Why not 50 turns earlier?
The English tanks and mechs made short work of Pacal. Elizabeth took the three remaining cities over the next six turns, and that was that:
Pacal finished the game as the third leader to exit. He'd been given a wide open position in the middle of the map, with a pair of amazing traits, and all the opportunity in the world to emerge in one of the top two positions. Instead, Pacal did a poor job of spreading out across the map, and found himself in an endless series of pointless wars with Darius that did nothing other than drag both of them down to the bottom of the scoreboard. Pacal's low peace weight as an "Evil" leader also didn't help him here, as he found himself running afoul of the higher alignment of leaders like Elizabeth, Darius, and Frederick. It certainly didn't help Pacal to have the other leaders with low peace weight (like De Gaulle) wiped off the board so early on in the game. Still, with all that said, Pacal was more than responsible for his own demise. His attack against Frederick was arguably the single worst decision in the six AI Survivor games to date. (The only competition would be Gilgamesh's ill-fated attack on Suleiman in Game Four.) The biggest surprise was that the Mayans weren't eliminated from the game centuries earlier. Good riddance.
You may have noticed in the above screenshot that the observer civ was changing civics to Universal Suffrage. That was the result of the first UN vote, which Pericles chose to waste on those foolish civics resolutions instead of going for a possible victory. Elizabeth AI may have somehow sensed danger from this, because she switched gears and began pursuing a different victory:
Cultural victory! All of those corporations were helping quite a bit here, as Elizabeth hadn't set up her cathedrals in a very optimal fashion. The timing was a bit strange though, as Elizabeth only needed about nine more techs to finish a spaceship. She really could have started her pursuit of cultural victory about 30 or 40 turns sooner with little danger. In any case, now the game was on the clock. Elizabeth was going to win eventually barring a United Nations diplo vote. No one had any chance to finish a spaceship before she could win via culture.
Then after about five turns of running 100% culture, Elizabeth changed her strategy and went back to research again. I swear, the AI in this game makes no sense sometimes...
As far as potential conflicts went, Darius and Frederick and Pericles will not plot war at "Pleased" relations. They wouldn't start anything unless relations dropped somehow with one of the other leaders. Elizabeth AI will plot war at "Pleased" relations, however, and she'd further seen relations with Pericles fall to only "Cautious" due to some Greek spying. She was the one to watch at this point. Now if this were Shaka or Montezuma, we'd almost certainly see some modern era combat. However, this was Elizabeth that we were talking about, one of the most pacifistic AIs in the game. I doubted that she would try to attack any of her neighbors, and we'd likely see a peaceful ending to this one.
UN votes kept passing without Pericles calling for a Diplomatic victory vote. Eventually we cycled around for a second Secretary General election, which Pericles again won. He'd almost certainly win the game if he just held the diplo vote! Elizabeth was approaching the end of the tech tree, and building lots of the parts for her spaceship. She even had the Space Elevator completed, due to her very early push for Robotics. It looked like nothing interesting was going to happen here.
Then on Turn 288, Pericles called for the Diplomatic victory vote in the United Nations. Interesting time, finally! Elizabeth needed only one more tech to finish the spaceship, lacking only Genetics for the SS Stasis Chamber. (Of course she chose to research the completely pointless Stealth tech first, the only other tech she hadn't finished on the entire tech tree.) Was Pericles going to snatch away victory at the last minute from Elizabeth?
Yes he did! Diplomatic victory on Turn 289. That Hindu partnership between Pericles and Frederick was the difference maker in the end. That and Elizabeth not taking over Pacal when she had the opportunity earlier. Landing another three or four Mayan cities would have been enough to give Elizabeth a veto block in the UN vote and prevent Pericles from taking the win. (Or Elizabeth could have simply not built the darn thing, heh.) A great twist ending to this game!
Pericles preserved our streak of the highest score AI winning each game in the series. It certainly didn't look very likely for most of the last 100 turns, as Elizabeth's tech lead was simply massive for that whole stretch. She was roughly 20 techs ahead of Pericles when the final Diplomatic victory vote took place, and Frederick was only just beginning his spaceship. The three of them completely dominated the continent at the end, with the land fairly evenly split between them. I couldn't believe how much land Frederick had managed to claim for himself, with only very minimal fighting against Pacal. Most the German land had been picked up through cultural pressure. Little Dortmund had originally been isolated and surrounded by foreign culture on all sides. By the end of the game, all of the Mayan land to the north had been absorbed into Frederick's empire. I never would have seen that coming. As for Darius, he accomplished very little in this game beyond avoiding death. The starting position (with its lack of copper and iron) certainly hadn't done him any favors here. At least he'd done better than Pacal.
The Demographics highlighted how much closer this game was compared to some of its predecessors. Pericles was not a runaway, and he still remained behind Elizabeth in several categories, especially GNP. It would have been a very interesting war if they had ever fought, I'd have given the edge to the English with their lategame military weapons. Frederick wasn't far behind these two either, he was probably the strongest third place finisher that we've had thus far. I wonder if Elizabeth would have done better to continue the cultural gameplan, as opposed to dropping that in favor of space. If she'd kept the culture slider at 100% and built a few more cathedrals in the right cities, she may have been able to win faster that way. It's hard to say for sure, since I don't know how much she would have been able to increase her cultural output. (The win would have taken roughly 40-50 turns if she'd done nothing.) One thing that Elizabeth definitely should have avoided was building the United Nations. That was literally the only possible way that she could have lost this game! Kudos to the AI for sniffing out the one avenue to defeat. They're quite good at that.
6) Julius Caesar
7) De Gaulle
Pericles and Elizabeth will move on to the playoff round by virtue of taking the top two spots. Frederick certainly advances to the wildcard game with a strong performance, he deserves a shot to make it into the knockout stage with his excellent third place showing. As for Darius... I guess we'll wait and see what happens in the last two games. The Persian leader didn't do very much in this one, but the same could be said for leaders like Qin and Temujin in past games. And he did have a very tough starting position in this game, a rough patch to hoe. We'll see what happens. A large wildcard game with all of the surviving leaders who couldn't crack the top two positions in their respective matches would probably be too much fun to pass up. I'm leaning in that direction. (But no dead leaders, stop asking me about this! When your civilization gets completely eliminated, you're out of the running!)
Thanks again for reading, only two more games yet to go.