Civ4 AI Survivor Season 4: Playoff Game Three 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.

The third and final playoff game of Season Four was made up of leaders with stark contrasts in overall game strategy. Over on the eastern side of the map this match featured Julius Caesar and Boudica, aggressive conquest-heavy leaders who would be looking to dominate their opponents. Neither one of these leaders would have much chance in an extended tech race, but they both brought early game unique unit swordsmen with a lot of smashing power. At the other end of the spectrum were Darius and Roosevelt in the south, leaders with good economic traits who wanted to be left alone to develop their cities in peace. Darius won his opening round game by virtue of simply out-teching everyone else and becoming effectively invincible. The remaining two leaders had their own differing strategies, with Suryavarman being heavily expansion-focused and Charlemagne concentrating on religion. Their potential duel in the northwest corner of the map would go a long way towards determining whether we would see a peaceful or militaristic ending to this game.

Opening Round Winners

Julius Caesar of the Romans
Traits: Imperialistic, Organized
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 4
Past Finishes: 4 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Championship Game in Season Three
Total Kills: 11
Overall Power Ranking: 31 points, 4th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Julius Caesar has Imperialistic and Organized traits, a pairing that we used to overlook in Pitboss game but has since caught on as surprisingly strong. Imperialistic is a very powerful trait in these AI Survivor games and not to be underestimated. His Roman civilization features the Praetorian unique unit (and the "meh" Forum). Praetorians have often been used to good effect in past AI Survivor games, and watching for the location of the closest iron resource is always key with either Roman leader. Caesar the AI has military and production flavors, the only leader with this particular combination. 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. Caesar also demands tribute frequently (8/10), and he has a lower peace weight number. It's still well above Montezuma's peace weight of zero, but also a far cry from saintly leaders like Mansa Musa. 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, and with a ridiculous eleven kills now in his back pocket following his previous victories in Season Three, Caesar is a very dangerous customer.

Darius of Persia
Traits: Financial, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Two
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 9 points, tied 19th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: 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.

Season Four Addition: No leader let us down more times in the first three seasons of AI Survivor than Darius. Again and again he rolled a beautiful starting position only to fritter away his opening and achieve nothing of significance. Darius has probably been responsible for more busted picking contest entries than any other leader. Then he finally managed to put everything together by winning his opening round game in Season Four. Once again, it seems as though he's landed an advantageous starting position on the map. Will this finally be the time that he breaks through, or is the football going to yanked away at the last minute once more?

Suryavarman of the Khmer
Traits: Creative, Expansive
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 1
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Third Place in Season One Championship
Total Kills: 7
Overall Power Ranking: 19 points, 7th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: As anyone who's played Civ4 Multiplayer games at Realms Beyond likely already knows, Suryavarman has Creative and Expansive traits. (It's a testament to his popularity that I can spell that name without looking at it!) These are extremely strong traits that favor early expansion and growth. He also gets the Ballista Elephant and Baray to play around with, which are fairly average. Suryavarman AI has gold and culture flavors, along with a high wonder emphasis (8/10). Yet he also builds a decent amount of units, and has a high aggression rating of 7.6 out of 10. His AI performance is another one that's a mixed bag, hard to figure out. Still, Suryavarman is one of the most likely leaders to expand out to a large size and start snowballing from there. Sury has had one outstanding season of AI Survivor and two disastrous seasons. Which path will he follow this year?

Opening Round Runner-Ups

Franklin Roosevelt of America
Traits: Industrious, Organized
Starting Techs: Fishing, Agriculture
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Four
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 31st 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.

Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire
Traits: Imperialistic, Protective
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Hunting
Peace Weight: 6
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Three and Four
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 24th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Charlemagne has one of the worst trait pairings in the game, combining Protective trait with Imperialistic trait. It's just as terrible as it sounds. His civilization is quite a bit better; as the only leader of the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne has access to the mediocre Landknecht and the amazing Rathaus unique building. That super courthouse is the main reason why the HRE civ ever gets played online, despite its atrocious starting techs (Mysticism and Hunting). Charlemagne the AI has military and religious flavors, and he can be quite the aggressor when provoked, with a rating of 7/10. Charlemagne quite commonly founds his own religion, and he feels very strongly about it, attaching a major penalty to the leaders who follow other faiths. His scores are otherwise average across the board, and Charlemagne can be an excellent ally if you share his faith. He's rated in the middle as a "Neutral" leader on peace weight. Charlemagne's fate in this game will likely be heavily tied to how the religious diplomacy shakes out.

Boudica of the Celts
Traits: Aggressive, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Hunting
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Seasons One and Two and Four
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 13 points, tied 15th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Boudica is one of the rare female leaders. Did you know that only 6 of the 52 leaders in Civ4 are women? It's not very inspiring, we definitely could have done a better job here. (The original Civ4 was notably better, with 5 out of 26 female leaders, but Boudica is literally the only woman included in either expansion, 1 out of the 26 leaders added. Bit of a sausage fest.) Anyway, Boudica has the game's most offensively oriented trait pairing with Aggressive and Charismatic traits. I hope the AI Boudica uses them better than poor Spanish Apolyton did in the Intersite Game. Boudica also brings along the Gallic Warrior and Dun from her Celtic civ. Boudica AI has military and growth flavors, with an aggression rating of 8.8 out of 10. She's very similar to Julius Caesar AI in nearly every way, with slightly more focus on building units. If the two of them share a religion, it could be a match made in heaven. Boudica has somewhat surprisingly done well in past seasons, making the playoffs in both years of AI Survivor. She seems to be slightly less insane about her aggression than the Shaka/Monty/Ragnar trio.

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

The prediction contest was split fairly evenly for this game, with two potential outcomes reflected in the community predictions. Some of the contest entries saw Julius Caesar as the favorite to win the game, with a Domination victory therefore as the most likely result. The Roman leader had about half of the winning votes and there was a decent chance that he would pull off another smashing performance as he had done in the opening round. The contrasting option seemed to involve picking Darius to win the game, with about a third of the contest entries favoring Persia to emerge on top. These contest entries were also emphasizing a Spaceship victory, and opinion was almost exactly split between these two victory types. Meanwhile, second place was the typical toss up with no clear favorites, while the First to Die category had two high peace weight leaders in the form of Charlemagne and Roosevelt. (Amusingly, only one person picked Julius Caesar as the first to be eliminated.) This game looked like it would turn on whether or not the low peace weight civs could take out the high peace weight civs before their superior economies could pull away.

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!

salt: Caesar has so much land AND iron in capital, which makes it possible for him to crush his peaceful Southern neighbor Roosevelt. Suryarvarman doesn't have metal but if he teams up with Boudica, he would still possibly outsurvive Charlemagne. It's then just a matter of time when one of the aggressive leaders decides to take out Darius.

Alhambram: Very diffcult choices here, Charly and Boudica shall found religions and hate each other. Charly got best chance to spread to Sury, but border tensions and peace difference might cause strain between them resulting in quick elimination for Charly if Boudica comes for Charly. I assume that Charly somehow convince Sury to become his friend and Sury goes bothering Darius instead. Then Charly using protective trait to prevent him getting FTD status. Meanwhile Caesar expands rapidly and kills off wonder building Roosevelt as FTD. Midgame Darius founds his own religion and get ganged up by Caesar, Boudica and Sury before he becomes too advanced to kill. Then game ends with Caesar invading Sury to trigger domination win, maybe earlier already if Caesar completely eats up Roosevelt and Darius.

Fluffball: Roosevelt is a fraud! Ceasar eats him effortlessly and wins the game.

Keler (artdeco): I expect Roosevelt to dominate the game with expanding huge although he is the worst AI here with best starting place for expansion and dominating. Let's just hope there won't be Boudica&Julius dogpile on him early on, although he should be ok to be in 1v1 war with them. He must defend until teching Feudalism then he beats them. So these wars must put him behind wonder race with Darius so Persians can win culture victory easily even though America tops the leaderboard.

Latif: I don't see Julius doing all that well this game - his starting area is pretty rough with the only good second city site at the pigs / wet rice spot 7-8 tiles away. His initial scout heads south so I guess he'll probably settle his second city there in the jungly coast. That should slow him down a LOT. Meanwhile Darius has a great capital and tons of land to expand into peacefully. He's almost certain to get attacked at some point by at least one (if not all) of the low peaceweight leaders, but he should have a military tech advantage going into any fights. Boudica / Sury will probably carve up Charlemagne (first to die) who almost surely gets off to a very slow start. Roosevelt has arguably the 2nd best starting area with lots of nice land to expand into peacefully. He hopefully settles north with his initial settler to block Julius. Most other leaders with this starting area would likely make it to the Championship, but his low unit build prob and high peaceweight probably gets him into trouble at some point. Darius to win by space with Boudica coming second due to having a nice floodplains area to her SW which should help her keep afloat in tech.

shallow_thought: Backing Darius got me one of my better results this season - but this time, it's got to be Julius. Decent start for his techs, iron, Roosevelt to eat. Done.

Aus prof: Julius Caesar is, in my opinion, a fairly average AI with an absolutely ridiculous ace up his sleeve: Praetorians. One of the cardinal rules of AI Survivor is that core city captures before walls are possible, but extremely rare and requiring unusual circumstances; see Pacals death in Game Two. Praetorians are the only unit in the game that break this rule, see Pericles’ demise last season, and Caesar is the only Roman leader aggressive enough to consistently use them. While hilariously unbalanced, Caesar has become my personal favourite leader in this competition, because his praetorian fueled conquests are unique and thus always entertaining. With all that said, unfortunately Caesar is my ‘first to die’ pick for this game. While he has iron, which is the most important thing for his game plan, he lacks something critical: early-game luxuries. Meanwhile, FDR and Darius have Gold and Ivory, two of the best resources. When Caesar inevitably attacks one of them, even with praetorians, I don’t think it’s a war he can win. Luxuries help the AI economically so much that I think even early on Caesar is going to fall behind. Think about how much that desert gold would’ve helped Mansa in his game. Once Darius and/or FDR kills him, I think the killer wins the game, while the other comes second, in a peace-weight fueled alliance. Boudica and Sury might attack, but to be honest with Darius’ start I can’t see a world where he doesn’t build a huge tech lead and become invincible. Heh, famous last words, given his history.

JackDRB: Can't really bet against a JC with iron at his capital and starting next to a tasty target in Roosy. He's most likely to snowball, and so likely to win. Sury also has an excellent position, although I do not forse him snowballing quite as hard hence 2nd. Charlemagne has one of the worst starts in this whole season, stuck between a rock (Boudica) and a hard place (Sury), there's no way he isn't FtD.

Zalson: How can it be anything but Caesar? He's got a lot of free space and *has* to expand toward his opponents. Sury gets runner up because he's the furthest away from Caesar. Boudica gives Caesar her religion so she survives in a rump state status. Everyone else wilts like basil planted in the same place for 4 years running (garden joke!). Rosie dies first.

LinkMarioSamus: Going by peace weight, Suryavarman is the leader with the most to fear in this match, his 1 contrasting with his neighbors' 6 and 8. Additionally, none of the leaders he has gone against this season have done well elsewhere. Mao was largely a non-factor in the previous playoff game, and Justinian was lucky to survive the one before that. Charlemagne already out-played him in the opening round anyway. To make matters worse, the leaders Suryavarman has faced in previous seasons have collectively performed pretty awful this time around, with Tokugawa, Justinian, and Kublai Khan being the only ones to do much of anything. This guy has been in six matches in prior seasons, you'd think he'd run into stronger leaders sometime. On the map location, it's all but inevitable Boudica and Julius Caesar will attack their neighbors with the most diametrically-opposed peace weights early in the game, which will distract Charlemagne from finishing off Suryavarman, but Charlemagne's Protective trait should be able to minimize the damage in the early game. I imagine Darius will get more from Suryavarman's collapse than Charlemagne, between his more isolated start and much better economic attributes. I'm largely picking him to win outright for those reasons as well, with Caesar to come in 2nd due to his strong past performances to keep the trend of a newcomer to the championship dragging a veteran along with them.

Faded_Outline: Darius has the Gandhi dilemma; capable if he's left alone long enough to develop a lead, worthless until that point. He doesn't have Mansa Musa or Hatshepsut around to be even-more-hated by the world's warmongers this time around... Roosevelt is his only natural friend by peace-weight and an inert ally isn't particularly valuable. As for defending himself? Not a chance given the low unit preference and that marble in the cap circle. Maybe Suryavarman destroys him outright, maybe Boudica sneaks across the map to snipe his cities out, maybe Caesar rolls him up as an encore to his campaign against America, but one way or another he's toast. At least the cities he builds up will be the most profitable land of the eventual victor's empire.

ZincAlloy: I'm voting Boudica. Why? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Also Darius dies first because he's very good at disappointing everyone.

Playoff Game Three Picking Contest Entry Form