Civ4 AI Survivor Season 4: Game One Preview

This is a continuing feature for Season Four 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.

For our first game of Season Four, we have a typical mixed group of AI leaders duking it out for supremacy. Cyrus likes to focus on expansion and has done an excellent job in past seasons of balancing land acqusition against peaceful development. Catherine is completely crazy, making demands of everyone and yet somehow winning more than her fair share of games in past years. Elizabeth is your standard peaceful AI, someone who loves to be left alone and will likely run away with the game economically if allowed to blanket the landscape with Financial cottages. She is the only Financial or Philosophical leader in this game. Isabella is a religious zealot, a fanatic who will love anyone who shares her faith and detest anyone who dares to practice something else. Qin Shi Huang and Roosevelt both love to construct wonders, and by pure coincidence, both of the game's Industrous leaders managed to roll marble resources at their starting positions. That could help them markedly, or it could result in both of them overbuilding wonders while losing out to their rivals. As usual, it should make for a fun group of contrasting styles between the different AI personalities.

Pool One Leader

Cyrus of Persia
Traits: Imperialistic, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Peace Weight: 3
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 3 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Second Place in Season Two Championship
Total Kills: 6
Overall Power Ranking: 17 points, 7th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Cyrus finds himself in the role of another leader who had his traits changed in Civ4's expanions, and not for the better. Cyrus now has Charismatic and Imperialistic traits, a weak pairing that doesn't offer too much in the way of economy. It does let him get off to a decently fast start, but there are other leaders who fulfill the same role and do it better. Cyrus brings along the Persian civilization's Immortal unique unit and Apothecary unique building. Neither one has ever impressed me very much, not unless you're abusing AI archers on Marathon game speed with immortals. Cyrus AI has military and growth flavors for his research. He's a surprisingly aggressive leader (rating 7/10), although this is tempered somewhat by Cyrus' love of wonders (8/10). This mixture doesn't really make that much sense, and we saw earlier how Gilgamesh AI struggled with a similar setup. Cyrus has a low peace weight, one point above leaders like Catherine and Stalin. He will be predisposed to dislike someone with high peace weight, such as Elizabeth. I honestly don't have a whole lot more to say about Cyrus, he's somewhat aggressive but not enough to be interesting like Ragnar or Temujin.

Season Three Addition: Wow, were we wrong about this guy. Cyrus has been a stone cold killer in the competition over the past two years. He's only won a single game outright but has managed to finish second three different times, including in the Championship of Season Two. He was also only a couple of turns away from winning the Championship outright before Huayna Capac pulled off a miracle Cultural victory at the last minute. I have no idea why Cyrus would be an effective AI leader, and perhaps this is simply the result of a small sample size of games. In any case, those six kills should be a flashing warning light for the rest of the field. Only four other AI leaders have claimed more scalps.

Pool Two Leader

Catherine of Russia
Traits: Imperialistic, Creative
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season One and Two
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 15 points, tied 9th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Catherine has one of the most recognizable AI personalities in Civ4. She is the flirt, the tease, the constantly-demanding-something high maintenance girlfriend. Catherine's traits are Creative and Imperialistic, one of the best pairs at claiming land and spreading out rapidly across the map. Her Russian civilization brings the Cossack unique unit and the Research Institute unique building. Catherine was significantly stronger back in pre-expansion days (when she was Financial / Creative and before the cossack nerfs), but she's still a reasonably strong leader to this date. Catherine the AI has culture and military flavors, as well as the "flirty" personality that I mentioned above. Catherine loves to ask for help (10/10 rating) and issue demands for tribute (8/10), and if you refuse any of these things, you receive a special -2 diplo penalty not present for any other leader. She's always badgering her neighbors about something. Catherine AI otherwise has mostly middling scores, although her aggression rating is slightly higher than average at 6.7 out of 10. She's considered an "Evil" leader in peace weight, the goodly AIs will not like Catherine. Finally, there's one other thing that makes her unique: Catherine AI is the only leader in the game who can be bought into a war against someone with whom she has "Friendly" relations. She can be bribed into a war against anyone, regardless of diplomatic rating. All in all, she's quite the package.

Unseeded Leaders

Elizabeth of England
Traits: Financial, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 9
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Championship Game in Season One
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 6 points, tied 23rd place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: 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 at Realms Beyond, 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. The English 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 (although this appears to be about as good of a draw as possible with the fish resource). 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. She wants to be left alone in peace to tech up the tree, and when left alone in Season One, she did very well indeed. That didn't happen in Season Two and she was an early elimination instead. She missed winning her Season Three game when Julius Caesar razed one of her near-Legendary cities five turns before it hit 50k culture, a photo finish loss.

Isabella of Spain
Traits: Spiritual, Expansive
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 6
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: None, Eliminated in all three opening round games
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 0 points, tied 44th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)

AI Summary from Season One: One of the other scarce female leaders, Isabella is infamous for being one of the game's most fanatical religious zealots. Isabella has a solid pairing of Spiritual and Expansive traits, and brings the Conquistador and Citadel for unique items. She's better known for starting with Mysticism tech by virtue of playing as Spain, however. Isabella will likely grab a religion of her choice at the start of the game and then defend it to the death against all comers. Unlike nearly every other AI, Isabella only has one flavor: RELIGION. She is obsessed with the true faith, and hates all those who fail to convert. Isabella also has the highest possible rating for "demand that you convert to her religion" (10/10), and her favorite civic is Theocracy. She's one of the easiest AIs to understand, the crusader obsessed with religion above everything else. This has proven to be horribly ineffective in past years of AI Survivor, with Isabella quickly eliminated in every previous appearance.

Qin Shi Huang of China
Traits: Industrious, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoffs in Season One and Season Three
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 6 points, tied 23rd place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Qin was one of the mightiest leaders in the original version of Civ4, back when he paired Financial and Industrious traits with the Chinese civilization. Sadly the expansions were not kind to him, as Qin was changed to the vastly inferior Protective and Industrious pairing instead. Swapping the best trait in the game for the worst, ouch. Qin does still have the Chu Ko Nu and the Pavilion unique items from the Chinese civ, and gains a lot of power this year due to the civ's starting techs. (China is the only civ in the game to start with Agriculture and Mining techs, widely considered the best pairing.) Qin the AI has production and growth flavors, along with an emphasis on building wonders (6/10). He's pretty average across the board otherwise, with a modest aggression rating of 3.9 out of 10. Qin is another AI without much in the way of a defining feature. He's done reasonably well in the past, notably better than his mediocre civ traits would have suggested. China is a great civ and that seems to have helped Qin out.

Franklin Roosevelt of America
Traits: Industrious, Organized
Starting Techs: Fishing, Agriculture
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Wildcard Game in Season Two
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 1 point, tied 39th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Roosevelt brings along Industrious and Organized traits, another pair geared more towards economic development. He is unfortunately chained to the American civilization, which means the Navy SEAL and Mall unique items. Still, this game may go long enough for those to come into play at some point. Roosevelt AI has production and gold flavors. Despite his traits, he's not programmed to emphasize wonders that much (only 4/10), which is somewhat of a surprise. Roosevelt AI is quite peaceful overall, with a low focus on training units and an aggression rating of only 2.6 out of 10. He's even easy to get along with when sharing a different religion, as Roosevelt places little emphasis on faith. This guy is fairly uninteresting, I don't quite know what to make of him. He has done very little in past years of Civ4 AI Survivor, routinely building wonders only to have them taken away by larger, stronger neighbors.

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

Cyrus holds a narrow lead over Catherine in the predictions to win, with everyone else trailing far behind. Only a handful of individuals favor Elizabeth, and the rest of the leaders barely even registered on the chart. There doesn't seem to be any clear frontrunner for the second place category, with opinion split fairly evenly between Catherine, Cyrus, Qin, and Elizabeth. In the First to Die category, Roosevelt and Isabella are the heavy favorites; the community seems to have zeroed in on the two of them as the sitting ducks for this game. We also had one vote for the "None" category in First to Die, which would be the most shocking result of all if it took place.

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!

NotSpamBot: Roosevelt has a peaceweight of 8 and Elizabeth has a peaceweight of 9. The rest of the leaders have an average peaceweight of 3.25 and that is with Isabella's peaceweight of 6 dragging them up. The two high peaceweight leaders are literarily separated by the entire continent and so can't team up. One of them are going to be first to die, and I say it is going to be Elizabeth primarily because she has more neighbors. Who get's the kill? No idea, but I hope it is Qin solely because of his performance in game 6 of season 3.

Fluffball: Seems like a TON of crap land. Whoever gets the first conquest will win, thus I pick Catherine. Roosevelt is toast.

Eauxps I. Fourgott: Having established last season that playing solely based on my head will accomplish nothing, this time I'm playing with my heart (with a little head mixed in). I'm rooting for Cyrus to win the game; his central position is likely a boom-or-bust result, but I'm banking on him playing it well and taking advantage of having Roosevelt and Lizzy as close neighbors. Lizzy is my pick for second, as her good start and relatively sheltered position should allow her to tech away to a good lead, although I'm well aware that there are PLENTY of ways that the other leaders could mess her game up all too quickly. I know that Cathy is a force, but I'm banking on having Izzy attack her enough in the early game to mess up her timing and give Cyrus an opening. For First to Die, the two logical options are Izzy (due to craziness) and Roosevelt (due to general weakness), and I'm going with Roosevelt since I think he'll fold quickly once Cyrus or Cathy chooses to attack him. As for the rest, lucky number 13 is going to be my default war declaration count prediction, and I will likely never change it throughout the season. Given that I expect Lizzy to prosper, her healthy tech rate should ensure a nice early finish date, likely with space as the victory condition. CIV 4 SURVIVOR 4 HYPE!!!

Myth: Cathy needs a #2, Qin is far enough away. Poor Elizabeth is gonna get murdered by Qin + Cyrus, but Isabella drew the short straw of being next to Catherine, Cyrus, AND Qin, all people she'll likely piss off with religion and all want to go to war early and often. Roosevelt and Elizabeth are also contenders, but Elizabeth might go crazy and get second. No way she's beating my girl Cathy though.

RefSteel: With strong starting techs, Imperialistic, his track record, and good land for expansion, including horses nearby for Immortals and gold for Instant Economy, Cyrus has to be the favorite. His central position should allow him to capitalize on every war that starts without waking halfway across the map through somebody else's territory, which makes him more likely to keep and materially benefit from his war of course I'm voting Catherine. My excuse is basically that she's Roosevelt's nearest neighbor, and with FDR locked in behind tundra and desert with a double seafood start, Cathy will be able to expand like the madwoman she is and then conquer all the wonders Roosy builds in his virtual OCC. Then it's possible Liz could come in second just by dint of starting furthest away from the juggernaut I hope Cathy turns out to be! (Also of note: Spain on a Lake with Gold Next Door may set a new record for number of religions founded by any AI Survivor civ in one game.)

scretchy: spain ruined a lot of games for me when i first started playing civ4 :)

Faded_Outline: Fish gonna swim, Birds gonna fly, Izzy gonna holy war and very likely die. Calling a win for Cyrus because he's got two different flavours of Anglophone fodder to devour while his competition fend off the zealot. (this all presupposes that they don't form a northern Catholic bloc, of course >.>)

Y3llowSheep: Either Cyrus or Catherine will run over the game. Cyrus's central position is a little tenuous, hence why Catherine is my first pick. Isabella is first to die because she'll pick a fight with one of the two top dogs and get run over. Everyone else probably dies too (even Lizzy, poor woman goes out of her way to ignore military tech), because both Cyrus and Catherine enjoy their heads on pikes.

lightms: Wow, Catherine and Izzy, the two craziest AI's in the game, starting right next to each other? Do you think that might lead to some conflict? Yeah, I thought so too. Elsewhere I'm guessing Cyprus eats Lizzie (two leaders with nicknames that have two z's. Huh) and then he and Cathy team up to kill Qin. I'm not sure about Roosevelt. He's got a ton of room to expand east assuming Cyprus goes north and Cathy goes east (as they probably should). He might get a third good third of the map without really fighting albeit with a lot of tundra cities. Alternatively he could get totally boxed in. Alternatively, if Cathy get's Izzy's religion, she might end up giving Cathy give in to a lot of Cathy's requests for help leading to... an interesting partnership. I kind of hope this happens even though it would wreck my prediction. Team Crazy Girls FTW!

scooter: Feels like a chalky game to me

Dantski: I forgot how many turns these games take. Anyway Catherine is the obvious favourite with map positioning and Isabella is going to be eliminated first or second. I decided to go with a riskier prediction of Elizabeth winning though, I think her work boat start should help her lever her Financial trait early and make her powerful later in the game providing she doesn't lose out in the expansion race. Cyrus as first to perish was the other obvious option after Isabella, a central position is always dangerous but there's also plenty of good land around him so he could well end up dominating just as easily.

Shpoko: Looking at the map, Cyrus has probably the best start, has tech to use it well, and the Imperialistic bonus to spread like a weed. It just feels to me that this is his game to lose. On the flip side, Izzy has poor techs for her start, and will almost certainly go religious, compounding her problems, hence she's most likely 1st to die. Too many low peace weight leaders to let Liz tech or Roosevelt to wonder it up in peace. That leaves Cathy or Qin for second. I choose Cathy 'cause she does have financial, and will be more willing to take land from others.

Azoth: Cyrus has a dream start. Good mix of food and production at the capital with fertile land on all sides. Five happiness and all the strategic resources. He shoud do well. Roosevelt is crammed into the tundra and will quickly butt borders Catherine, who will eat him. Elizabeth and Isabella are also doomed. But Cyrus won't declare war on his friends Catherine and Qin, so it'll be a Spaceship win.

ArchGhost: Cyrus is very expansive, and positionally, in a great spot to claim a lot of land especially near Elizabeth or Rosie. While Cathy should be able to win on her land-grabbing front with him, Cyrus can snag land in multiple other directions due to him expanding faster than all the other AIs and his central position, which includes more of the largely "free" backline tundra cities (Rosie and Liz are in corners, and have less). I forsee Izzy and Liz founding the 2 major early religions; Cathy (Monotheism tech) or Qin (Code of Laws tech) may found an outlier religion, but Liz and especially Izzy's will be dominant. Qin is actually very fond of doing this kind of thing and tends to sit in his own founded religion when he does it, leading me to believe he'll be the ignition point of any powder keg situation by attacking anybody (DoWs at Pleased and in a differing religion) or being attacked by an unhinged Izzy/unaligned Cathy.

These religious alignments will affect two major areas of contention:
1.) Whether Cyrus gets involved in war earlier than usually (he makes friends easily so tend to stay peaceful for a while)
2.) Whether Cyrus and Cathy are opposed to one another.

If Cyrus aligns with say, Liz, he'll be poised to punish Qin or Izzy should they pick on her. The opposite is also possible with Izzy, though Liz/Rosie shouldn't really try to attack her instead of the other way around. The story of Cathy and Cyrus is the important one, I feel. If Cathy and Cyrus are buddy-buddy, Cathy will thrive and go on to the late game as major contender where her excellent Cossack unit will give he an edge in any tech-advantage warring, and lead her onward towards trying a Culture or Space victory, without having to worry about Cyrus looming. Cyrus will be big but fight no major wars of consequence and will slowly head towards space himself while Qin/Izzy bicker with Liz/Rosie. Of this field, only Cathy is really the AI that can get big enough and maintain tech speed to challenge Cyrus when he starts to fall off in tech speed later (something he always does). Liz can't/won't be big enough, Qin won't be big enough, Izzy is a question mark but should be behind in tech, Rosie is likely already dead, etc.

If Cyrus is instead influenced by religion to oppose Cathy, he may actually be inclined to attack her on his own (she shouldn't attack him as she tends to be cowardly and bribing is hindered in NTT) and cripple her early. As she can't then vassal to him or anyone else, her contributions to the game should be over, and the story will instead switch to "Is anybody foolhardy enough to attack giant Cyrus?" while he will still sit, similarly to before, without major warring and slowly head toward space. Rosie as first to die. He is totally screwed, being fenced in by two IMP AIs, one of them CRE too, is very likely. Being as weak as he normally is with that disadvantage on top means he'll be inconsequential, while his peaceweight will make him a target for Cathy/Izzy/Qin

Patcdr: I have no idea what I'm doing.

Game One Picking Contest Entry Form