Civ4 AI Survivor Season 2: Championship Summary

When the championship game was played for AI Survivor Season 2, I asked if anyone would like to write a summary describing the action. I thought that the game was interesting enough to deserve a writeup, but I did not have the time to put one together myself. About 18 months after the game itself was played, Eauxps I. Fourgott kindly sent me an excellent summary of the championship match, which I have converted into HTML and illustrated with some screenshots. Thanks very much!

It had started with 52 different AI leaders, all eager to prove their mettle in a grand competition. After nine opening-round games, many of them had been humiliated and removed from the competition, and most of the remaining leaders suffered the same fate during the three semifinal games. Now, there were only six leaders remaining: Cyrus of Persia, Huayna Capac of the Inca, Pericles of Greece, Mao Zedong of China, Kublai Khan of Mongolia, and Pacal II of the Maya. It was time for these six to vie in one last game, to determine who would be the winner of Civ IV AI Survivor Season 2. The championship game had arrived!

As with the previous year, a special map was tailor-made for the championship, featuring one large, circular continent with the six leaders evenly spaced around the outside. This put all six on even ground at the start of the game, and then the game began.

At the start, Kublai and Pericles looked like they were in the best shape as they both executed excellent landgrabs. While Mao was holding his own, Huayna and Pacal were simply not building settlers – Huayna because he was too busy spamming wonders, and Pacal because – well, we didn’t know why he wasn’t. Cyrus was having his fair share of problems too, as a barb city popped up right next to his territory, messing with his thinking and causing him to move his settlers in and out of his capital, rather than building cities with them. However, as a bit more time passed, Cyrus started to regain control of the situation, getting a couple more cities founded and sending a stack of archers to capture the barb city at a fairly early date. As the landgrab phase started nearing its end, Cyrus and Kublai seemed to be the frontrunners. Kublai had simply been spamming settlers the entire time, which, combined with his Creative trait, helped him to grab a significant amount of land. Cyrus’s Imperialistic trait allowed him to churn out the settlers quickly once he started thinking straight, and he started taking a good amount of land moving towards the center of the map, where the barbs ruled at the moment. At the end, Huayna also started building a bunch more cities, getting his empire up to a decent size. Pretty soon, the landgrab phase’s end was marked by the capturing of the barb cities at the center of the map. The most notable of these was one that Pericles stole on the opposite side of the center from him, by Mao and Huayna.

At the end of the landgrab phase, Cyrus was still last in score due to his cities’ small size at the moment, but it looked like he, Pericles, and Kublai had achieved the best landgrabs. Huayna had a decent sized empire and was blowing the others away in GNP, giving him a strong position as well, to the delight of the many people who had predicted him to win the championship. Mao and Pacal seemed to be the weaker leaders at the moment. As far as religions went, the prominent religions were Judaism, which Huayna had founded and which had spread to Cyrus and Pericles, and Taoism, which Pacal founded and Mao and Kublai also converted to. Huayna built an early Apostolic Palace for Judaism, putting his production bonuses from a forge, Organized Relgion civic, and his Industrious trait to good use.

No sooner did this phase of the game end then we got our first war horns blaring, as Kublai decided to invade Pericles – the Greek leader had been predicted by many to be First to Die because his peace weight difference from the other leaders left him open to invasions such as this one. However, the war mainly consisted of lots of units being traded on both sides, without much in the way of actual progress made. Kublai was able to capture the border city of Mycenae (which ended up largely crushed by Greek culture), but that was all that happened before the two signed peace. However, this war did send Pericles from a second-place position in score to second-to-last, ahead of only Mao. Meanwhile, Huayna went crazy on wonders, whipping the Statue of Zeus to steal it from Pacal and building pretty much every other wonder as well. At this point, he, Cyrus, and Kublai were in a tight race for first place. The tech pace in this game was blistering as well, probably because of the lack of warring, which allowed the leaders to focus on economy, with the result that not a lot of interesting stuff was going on. Pacal was managing to get himself a fair pocket of territory via culture, especially with the help of a culture bomb in his northern former barb city of Angle, achieved by the Music Great Artist. Elsewhere, Kublai decided that it would be a good idea to give the only city that he had captured from Pericles, Mycenae, BACK to Pericles!!!

The next big action of the game came as Mao decided it was time to make his move, declaring war on Huayna Capac. On the surface, this seemed like an idiotic move, as Huayna had the tech lead – even discovering Liberalism first one or two turns into the war – and was one of the game’s frontrunners. However, on closer examination, Mao was actual equal in military tech – and ranked significantly ahead of Huayna on the power graph! It soon became clear that Mao had caught Huayna with his – whatever it is the Inca wore – down, as just a couple turns in, Mao captured the city of Huamanga, and didn’t appear to be ready to stop anytime soon. Huayna managed to hold back a small force at the city of Corihuayrachina (yes, I had to look that up), but meanwhile, Mao was sending his main Stack of Doom™ up to the major city of Machu Picchu, which among other things included the Mausoleum and the Apostolic Palace. After a couple turns’ struggle, with the help of the massive collateral damage caused by his myriads of Cho-Ku-Nus, Mao emerged victorious, and Huayna had been dealt a critical blow.

In the middle of all this, Pericles decided it was time for revenge and moved a stack of 50 or so units into Mongolia for Round 2. However, the very next turn, they all moved back out as the Apostolic Palace forced peace on the two. Meanwhile, Mao also captured the city of Corihuayrachina before signing peace with Huayna, which was not the best move for him. Mao’s problem was that most of his conquests were crushed by Incan culture, meaning he didn’t actually gain that much from the war. However, he had made his power move, and his mark on the game, managing to cripple Huayna by taking one of the Incan leader’s best cities while knocking him into a distant last place. Huayna was done – even though he wasn’t getting knocked out, the loss of Machu Picchu was simply too much for him. The real winner of this conflict was Cyrus, who was now in a definite first place, and was only growing stronger. He was successfully duplicating his strategy from his first two games – peacefully build up to a dominant position while biding his time, waiting for the moment when he would come in like a wrecking ball. At this point, he also was once again at Pleased relations or better with every other ruler, so he would not be declaring war on anybody unless the situation changed.

The next while passed by with little of interest happening. Mao gifted Huamanga over to Pericles, essentially erasing all of his war gains other than the wrecking of Huayna, but other than that, everybody seemed content to just sit back and build research. The techs continued to whizz by, but not very much was actually happening. Cyrus continued to pull in front of the pack – it was looking like if nothing else happened, he’d take the win. He had the best military tech of anybody, but his relations prevented him from actually declaring war. The next event of interest was Huayna Capac signing a defensive pact with Cyrus – that would help make sure that nobody picked off the Incan leader. Still, this did not translate to actual action, and the game went on.

Finally, something actually happened as Kublai attacked Pericles for Round 3, grabbing Mycenae back in the first turn of the war. However, despite the Khan’s tech edge, the two leaders were dead even in the power graphs, and Pericles quickly sent his big stack to successfully capture the former barb city of Assyrian and retake Mycenae once again. However, in the midst of this, the two big stacks clashed, and when it was all done, both sides got totally wrecked. A glance at the power graphs showed that the two had plummeted, from a strong second and third place to right in the middle of everybody else (except Cyrus, who was running around with cavs). In the meantime, Kublai’s war declaration had set his relations with Cyrus down to Cautious – although the Persian leader was currently content to continue sitting back and teching away. Pacal had also snuck his way from his former second-to-last place into second place, taking advantage of Kublai’s weakening from fruitless warring.

Pericles sent the rest of his stack deeper into Mongolian territory, but its progress was halted as Kublai discovered Rifling and upgraded his military. Not much else happened as that war progressed – eventually Kublai made his way up and recaptured Assyrian, then they immediately signed peace (as Cyrus was, of course, finishing Assembly Line tech). The world returned to a watchful peace. Pericles revolted to free religion, lowering Cyrus’s opinion of him to just Cautious, but Cyrus still was not preparing for war. Kublai, on the other hand, was churning out dozens of cavalry, and seemed like he would soon be back in war mode. Pacal continued to pull ahead of the rest of the pack sans Cyrus, while Mao and Huayna did nothing much. Mao’s war had wrecked Huayna’s game but had failed to advance his own, and he seemed doomed to be a non-entity other than that one move. Finally, we had another move – one that would prove to be THE move that changed the game completely:

“Kublai Khan has declared war on Cyrus!”

This prompted an immediate facepalm from Sullla, and this did indeed seem to be a move of pure suicide. Kublai had built a lot of cavs, yes, but Cyrus was also far ahead in tech by this point, and had a military that had been unweathered since the long-forgotten days of the barbarians. Waves of Mongolian cavalry swept into Persia… and were wiped out on the interturn. Within just a few turns, Cyrus had completely cleaned up the attacking force and had moved into Mongolia. His infantry were completely slaughtering the Khan’s obsolete junk, and now that he was finally in war mode, he was 1-turning cavs and infantry in every city. Kublai seemed set to be First to Die. Assyrian quickly fell, and soon Cyrus’s units were advancing further in. Kublai was still churning out the military, but they were simply outclassed. In the meantime, Pacal appeared to be preparing for his first war – and it wasn’t going to be against Kublai, since he was friendly with him.

More news came, as Mao decided to take action again, this time declaring war on Pericles. He quickly took Huamanga back, obviously regretting gifting it to Pericles, and moved in on that isolated barb city of Libyan, as Cyrus pushed into Mongolian territory to take the city of Tabriz. Mao quickly took Libyan to reduce Pericles back to his starting position, as Cyrus finished the Apollo Program and Pacal neared completion of the UN. While some of Cyrus’s forces sniped a Mongolian border city (which was quickly enveloped by Mayan culture), the main army started trickling deep into Mongolia, forming a long purple conga line through the Khan’s territory. Mao sent a couple of attack forces to Greece, but they failed to accomplish much, mainly because they decided to attack a city at 80% defenses without stopping to bombard.

After a long lull in activity, this game had become exciting! Pacal completed the UN, but it was Cyrus who won the vote for Secretary-General, albeit without enough votes to win a diplo victory. As the Persian hordes continued to gobble up Mongol cities, including the capital of Karakorum, Huayna came and declared war on Mao, determined to get revenge for Mao’s earlier blow. Unfortunately for the Incan leader, his army was weaker and less advanced than Mao’s. He managed to retake Machu Picchu, but as Mao hastily signed peace with Pericles and moved his units back toward the home front, it seemed unlikely that Huayna would accomplish much. Cyrus’s army was now aimlessly wandering around Mongolia – they were winning, but not being particularly fast about it. In the meantime, Cyrus neared completion of Plastics research, which would mean that he could finally connect oil for tanks (Sullla had created the map so that there were only offshore oil sources). While all this warring was going on, Pacal peacefully prospered as his culture allowed him to take a good portion of all the territory that was being captured. He had done a great job, growing from his early cramped start to a goodly-sized second-place empire.

Cyrus decided to use his Secretary-General status to call an end to the war between Huayna and Mao – but not before Mao had retaken Machu Picchu, meaning that the Inca had failed to accomplish anything at all in the war other than slowing down Mao enough to keep him out of real contention. It was definitely Cyrus and Pacal’s game now, as Pacal completed his own Apollo Program to compete for space. In the meantime, Mongolia continued to fall to pieces, as Cyrus was now sending tanks and gunships to enhance the assault. Five cities left… four… three… two… one… Finally, the Khan’s last fortress, at the city of Old Sarai, fell, and Kublai Khan exited the match, finishing the tournament in sixth place.

Kublai’s championship game went very much like his opening round game – he did well in the landgrab phase (the best of anybody in this match!), but then failed to accomplish anything of note with what he had. As Joao had in the past, Pericles held off his assaults, and then Kublai made one of the dumbest decisions possible by triggering Cyrus’s wrecking ball. With that move, he deserved what he got. Frankly, in my opinion, Kublai was the least deserving of the six finalists due to his pathetic opening performance, and so – similar to Suleiman last season – the least deserving leader went home first.

In the wake of Kublai’s elimination, we all wondered what would happen next. Having been aroused, Cyrus might keep going – he was only Cautious with both Pericles and Pacal, and barely pleased with Mao and Huayna. In the space race, Pacal and Cyrus were dead even as far as tech went, although Cyrus did have a higher beaker rate. Cyrus had picked up some lands in Mongolia, but those cities that had been on the border with Pacal were overwhelmed by his culture and would soon flip, if they had not done so already.

We didn’t have to wait for long for more to happen though, as Mao decided to declare war on Pacal. While Mao did have infantry to stand up to Pacal’s, he was still behind in tech and power, and Pacal was quickly increasing in the latter. This seemed like a bad move for the Chinese leader. On the other hand, this did cast huge doubt on Pacal’s chances of winning the tournament by space – so perhaps Mao simply had the goal of wrecking the game for another rival leader. At any rate, on the first turn of the war, Guangzhou fell – which meant that Mao had lost a city on the first turn – of A WAR THAT HE DECLARED! Mao was definitely not as well-equipped for this war as he had appeared at first glance – Pacal also had oil connected, so he could send out his tanks and gunships.

While this was happening, we were alerted that a city had reached Legendary culture. Sullla went to check who had gotten it, which led to a startling revelation:


Tiwanaku had just reached Legendary. Cuzco was about to hit the mark as well. That left just one city – Vilcabamba, which was due to hit Legendary in just 50 turns. After being ignored as a non-entity for most of the game, Huayna was all of the sudden a contender to win it all! Interestingly enough, he probably would already have won culture with Machu Picchu if Mao hadn’t stolen it much, much earlier. The game was on!

As Pacal pushed into Mao’s territory, Mao’s attacking stack finished bombarding a Mayan city and attacked – and totally vanished. The Chinese leader was definitely on his way out. He wasn’t the only one though – Cyrus decided he was tired of having a blue neighbor, and declared war on Pericles. There wasn’t much to say about this one – Cyrus had mechs at this point and was the power leader by a LONG shot. Pericles was doomed from the start.

Cyrus quickly pushed into Greek territory and cities started falling, as Cyrus augmented his assault by launching some tactical nukes at Thebes. China was also in full collapse mode, as Pacal gobbled up cities right and left and Huayna got a revenge punch, declaring war and finally retaking Machu Picchu for good, as his culture victory timer ticked down to 40 turns. Pericles was already down to just 3 cities, but Mao had fallen to 2, and as Pacal took the capital of Beijing, Huayna snagged Shanghai – stealing the kill to increase his tournament count to 5! Mao was done, finishing the competition in a respectable 5th place.

Mao struggled to get much done in this game. He made his big move and mostly wrecked Huayna’s game, but then he failed to press his advantage and gained almost nothing for himself in the process. From that point on, he seemed relegated to a spoiler role, slowing down Pericles and then trying to distract Pacal from a space victory. Unfortunately for him, he dug his own grave the same way Kublai did, declaring war on a far superior power, and his doom came swiftly thereafter, as he was wiped out for the first time in his AI Survivor career. Mao has proven himself in these competitions as a strong leader, but this was not his game.

Huayna now decided that it was business time and turned on the culture slider, putting Vilcabamba’s timer down to just 24 turns. However, it stalled out for a few turns, as Huayna ran all specialists, starving the city down a few sizes, and switched back, and also stubbornly refused to work the gold tile in the city radius. Cyrus and Pacal were now also adding spaceship parts right and left, making their own bids for victory. Meanwhile, Cyrus was continuing to nuke Pericles into oblivion, which was really working against him at this point since those would all be his cities anyway soon. Turn 292 saw an amusing situation as Pericles’s final city had its defensive force reduced to just a single caravel, but not captured, since the defenders had all been killed by gunships, which can’t capture cities. However, the next turn, Cyrus’s units marched into the city, ending Pericles’s bid as the Greek finished the tournament in fourth place.

Pericles had the deck stacked against him from the beginning, but he managed to do pretty well for himself at the beginning, executing a good landgrab, holding off Kublai’s initial assault, and then preparing a good-sized strike force to get back at the Khan. Unfortunately for him, the Apostolic Palace ended his war attempt before it really started, and Pericles never seemed to be able to regain that momentum. He held out for a while, but it was game over when Cyrus decided to attack him. Overall, Pericles has proven himself to be a solid leader, if not a particularly spectacular one. But for this tournament, his bid was finished.

And then there were three… Huayna, Pacal, and Cyrus were all still in the running to win, in a close endgame fitting for the season championship. Cyrus was now Pleased with both of his rivals and so would not declare war, but Huayna and Pacal were both wild cards in this respect, both perfectly willing to declare on either rival. Huayna was now only 20 turns from victory… but not secure by any means. He could turn off the culture slider, or he could be attacked, which at this point would mean that he’d get completely rolled over. He also decided to build an Industrial Park in the already unhealthy Vilcabamba, causing it to starve down further. Meanwhile, Cyrus was continuing to build soldiers, despite being Pleased with both rivals… he was also stockpiling an ungodly number of nukes. He had the edge in the space race over Pacal, but that was increasingly seeming irrelevant, as Huayna now had only 15 turns to go on the culture victory!

Pacal had a spy caught in Persian territory, causing Cyrus to drop to Cautious with him and opening up the possibility of another lategame war, but the focus was still on Huayna, as he got closer and closer to a cultural victory. Would the other two just sit back and let him take the championship, like Zara Yaqob did to Justinian last season?

No, no they wouldn’t! With three turns left on Vilcabamba, Pacal declared war on Huayna – even as Cyrus launched his spaceship, meaning he would win in ten turns if the Incan was stopped! The only problem was that Vilcabamba was on the opposite end of the Incan empire from Pacal, but he could still take one of the other two cities… An amazing finish to the season!

Pacal’s armies swept into Incan territory, quickly taking some cities. The nukes were flying…

But ultimately, it was too late. Pacal couldn’t get after any of the Legendary cities in time. Vilcabamba ticked over the 50,000 mark to hit Legendary, and…


An amazing finish by the Incan leader. We all knew that he was one of the strongest leaders, and he seemed set to be one of the major powers in this game, until Mao kicked him into the dirt. At that point, he seemed finished, and Sullla even outright dismissed the possibility of a stealth cultural victory. But all of Huayna’s early-game wonder spam paid off, and he did manage to sneak in that victory at the end, despite being in the process of getting destroyed by Pacal – proving that all that really matters in the end is who gets the win!

Cyrus finished the tournament in a solid second place, himself only turns away from a spaceship victory. The Persian leader had been a real revelation for many this season. All three games he was able to successfully build up peacefully to a strong position, to come in like a wrecking ball at the opportune time and assert himself as one of the dominant powers. He didn’t get the win in the end, but he did prove that he is one of the top AIs – and in fact, last season, he also did quite well for himself before getting dogpiled on and eliminated. In future, it seems unlikely that he will be underestimated again.

As for Pacal, after a rather unimpressive outing last season, he finished this season with the bronze medal and the pride of having escaped elimination. Last season’s performance had certainly dulled expectations for him, but he showed what he can really do this time. The championship especially was an impressive display by him, as he started with a poor landgrab as one of the bottom civs, but managed to climb into a definite second place as the game went on thanks to staying at peace, teching well, and culturally expanding his empire. He was dangerously close to launching his spaceship as well by the end of the game, and nearly succeeded in knocking Huayna below him in the final standings. If only he had been a bit quicker! Nevertheless, Pacal ended the season with an impressive display.

And thus ended Civ 4 AI Survivor, Season 2, with an appropriately exciting finale. Go on to the conclusions page to see a detailed statistical breakdown and analysis of all of the leaders’ performances…


6. Kublai Khan
5. Mao Zedong
4. Pericles
3. Pacal II
2. Cyrus
1. Huayna Capac