Civ4 AI Survivor Season 4: 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.

For Game Three, we found ourselves drawing a bunch of aggression-focused leaders with little in the way of economic traits. The top seeded AI in this bunch was Julius Caesar, who made a name for himself in Season Three by advancing to the championship game while racking up no less than seven kills along the way. If he could get his hands on an iron resource again, it could spell trouble for the rest of the field. The other protected seed drawn into this game was Suleiman, who just barely sneaked into Pool 2 with the lowest Power Ranking score (we seeded the top 16 AIs and Suleiman was rated 16th). The "Sillyman" was the only one of the seeded leaders who failed to score at least one first place victory in the past three seasons of AI Survivor, and he's always struck me as a fairly generic AI leader. Amongst the unseeded group was noted insane warmonger Shaka of the Zulus, a loose cannon certain to stir up trouble. We also had De Gaulle making an appearance, a total punching bag leader in the first two seasons who surprised everyone with a first place victory in the opening round of Season Three. Finally, we had Joao of Portugal, a generic leader known mostly for having a difficult to pronounce name, and Frederick of Germany, a pacifistic individual who seemed to be wildly out of place in this matchup. He had to hold out hope that his isolated starting position would allow him to survive. It's also worth noting that none of the leaders in this game start with Mysticism tech, which means that the religious side of the gameplay will be completely unpredictable.

Pool One Leader

Julius Caesar of the Romans
Traits: Imperialistic, Organized
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 4
Past Finishes: 3 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Championship Game in Season Three
Total Kills: 11
Overall Power Ranking: 26 points, 4th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Now we finally get to a little bit more muscle. 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.

Pool Two Leader

Suleiman of the Ottomans
Traits: Imperialistic, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Peace Weight: 4
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Championship Game in Season One
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 9 points, 16th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Suleiman is the other Ottoman leader that no one ever plays because Mehmed's traits are so much better. Suleiman gets Imperialistic and Philosophical traits, a far cry from the Expansive and Organized pair of Mehmed. They share the Janissary and Hamman unique stuff by virtue of having the same Ottoman civ. Suleiman AI has culture and military flavors and is otherwise fairly average across the board, with middle of the road numbers in virtually every category. His aggression rating is slightly above average at 7/10, and that's about it. Suleiman is one of the most bland AI leaders in the game, with nothing particularly making him stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, he's been surprisingly successful in past years and even made the Championship in Season One. As one of the unaligned leaders by peace weight in this game, he'll play a major role in shaping the diplomacy.

Unseeded Leaders

De Gaulle of France
Traits: Industrious, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Peace Weight: 0
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 8 points, tied 17th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: 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.

Season Three Addition: De Gaulle was the worst AI out of the 52 leaders over the first two years of the competition, and it hasn't been particularly close. He was the First to Die in both of the past games where he appeared, and he finished in 50th place in Season One and 52nd place, dead last, in Season Two. It's genuinely difficult to do that badly in two consecutive years in a row. De Gaulle's AI programming makes him into a total jerk who demands things incessantly from his neighbors, with traits that are suited for wonder-building and an AI who rarely chooses to build wonders. Pair that with a horribly low peace weight that causes all of the other economic AIs to hate him, and it's no surprise that he's fallen on his face so badly in past years. His opening round victory in Season Three was a total shock. Was that a fluke, or can he do it again?

Frederick of Germany
Traits: Philosophical, Organized
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Wildcard Game in Season One
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 0 points, tied 44th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)

AI Summary from Season One: Frederick is a leader similar to Gandhi, a peaceful builder who mostly wants to be left alone. 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). He has a high peace weight as another "Good" leader, the only such to be drawn into this game. Frederick AI has rarely done much of anything except sit back and build in past years, which allowed him to make the Wildcard game in a field of peaceful leaders in Season One... and got him killed quickly with a field of low peace weight leaders in Season Two and Season Three. This guy has been a total punching bag in past season, never coming close to winning and repeatedly being gobbled up by more aggressive neighbors.

Joao of Portugal
Traits: Expansive, Imperialistic
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Peace Weight: 6
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Two
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 6 points, tied 20th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Joao has the most expansion-focused trait pairing in the game, with Expansive and Imperialistic traits. This has made him a desirable pick in some of our Multiplayer games when the goal is to spread out across the map like the plague. I'm uncertain if Joao the AI will be able to do the same thing, this will largely determine his success or failure. Joao's Portuguese civ brings along the Carrack and Feitoria, water-based unique tools that have limited success on a Pangaea map. Joao AI gets science and military flavors, along with average numbers for virtually everything across the board. He has a 4, 5, or 6 out of 10 in almost every category, with the one exception that he likes to make a lot of tribute and religious demands in diplomacy. Joao is pretty much your average AI, rather bland in how he's set up. Not too much going on here. He's been most notable in past seasons for having a name that I find impossible to pronounce correctly on the Livestream.

Shaka of the Zulus
Traits: Aggressive, Expansive
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Seasons Two and Three
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 8 points, tied 17th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Shaka's in this game too, and he's probably the most effective of the insane warmongers since he has managed to reach the playoffs in two different seasons. Shaka has Aggressive and Expansive traits, a pairing that's caused him to see occasional use in some of our Pitboss games. Shaka's Zulu civ is often seen as one of the best in the game, packaging the fast-moving Impi along with the Ikhanda for a unique building. It's a shame that the AI doesn't know how to use these effectively, as Shaka was a universal ban on the Multiplayer ladder back in the days of the Warlords expansion. Shaka AI looks much like Temujin AI and Montezuma AI, with only a single flavor: MILITARY. He has a rating of 10/10 for unit emphasis, and an aggression rating of 9.2 out of 10, good enough for fourth place in the entire game. Like Temujin and Montezuma, he also has Police State as his favorite civic. If any of these leaders build or capture the Pyramids, they'll choose that civic for the rest of the game. Shaka's only real difference is that he doesn't make much in the way of demands. These guys are all totally nuts, and should be a sight to watch. Shaka's opening round victory in Season Two of AI Survivor remains one of the most shocking results we've ever seen in this competition.

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

This game turned out to have the biggest favorites yet in the picking contest. Julius Caesar was the overwhelming choice to win the game with more than half of the total entries expecting him to emerge victorious. Shaka, De Gaulle, and Suleiman were all distant trailers in the wake of the Roman leader. The runner up vote can often be the most difficult choice in the picking contest, and that seemed to be the case here with no particular favorite standing out. The community didn't seem to have any strong feelings about this category. First To Die was another overwhelming selection, with Joao picked to get crushed at an early date by more than half of the field. Frederick was the only other leader who registered here, far behind the Portuguese king. It also bears mentioning that Domination was even more of a massive favorite in the victory category, with almost 3/4ths of the contest entries choosing it, and with Spaceship eating up pretty much every other entry form. I'm not saying that these were bad choices either, and this definitely did not appear to be a game that would end in a Diplomatic or Cultural outcome.

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!

Warclam: Frederick is in big trouble, but I think Joćo is going to get nommed by Shaka before distant Freddy can fall to Rome. De Gaulle probably won't make it out either, leaving the pie to be shared between the warmongers and the Sillyman. I'm going to peg Shaka in third, with Julius taking the top spot and Sillyman by his side.

Faded_Outline: Ok, Joao must have bothered some higher power to get a starting spot between Caesar and Shaka. Religion might save him (and everyone else by extension, for neither one of those leaders will stop at one kill) but I can't see anything else that'd do it.

jarrebesetoert: Jules connects iron at the moment his Praetorians need it. He expands north and east until he runs into Sillyman. He can still expand east, maybe declares on Sillyman, but I'm hoping on Frederick, who has a very high peace weight (so Jules will hate him, while Sillyman has the same peace weight). The starting techs of Frederick also really don't match his starting position. So, I'm hoping he will be killed first. Meanwhile, Shaka will probably declare on Joao (having different peace weights), but Shaka is not in a very good starting position (not a lot of resources around), while Joao has all green lands, gems and not too much jungle. He'll expand like crazy (as usual) into the face of Shaka. They'll probably have a long inconclusive war, while Jules has more success with his Praets. De Gaule has some excelent land to start with, atuned to his starting techs. I think it all depends on which direction the Sillyman takes. If he goes towards Joao, he'll probably join the war with Shaka against him (also peace weight) and then Joao could be first to die. I'm hoping though that the Sillyman expands towards De Gaule and goes to war with him (because of all the tribute demands and peace weight). So: Jules vs Frederick, Shaka vs Joao, Sillyman vs De Gaule. Jules kills Frederick first with his Praets and snowballs from there. Shaka will suicide at some point as usual.

XpL: Hard to imagine Caesar not doing well with a triple sea food capital and already building a WB, however Suleiman has better position to consume the weaker leaders De Gaulle and Frederick. Joao more likely to be knocked out by Caesar than Shaka and the game will largely be decided whether the two clash for extended periods of time. Regardless, can't rule out the surprise De Gaulle culture/spaceship!

UnforcedError: Frederick to die first seems almost certain. Everyone but Joao will hate him on sight, he has a slow seafood start and won't build many units anyway. Another contender would be Joao, but I presume he will do his normal crazy rexing and last longer due to having more cities. Hard to predict who will like whom in this game. Neither of them cares too much about religions (except maybe Suli, with his culture flavor?) so it's impossible to see where the holy cities will end up. No Mysticism starts either. Shaka has impi readily available, but he also has a slower seafood start as does JC. I like De Gaulle's capital. He also seems to have a bit more expansion space than most. He might just be able to survive in this game. Shaka's a wildcard as always: he will either grow big or get killed. JC and De Gaulle have better traits and flavors in the long run. I don't dare to bet on Suli, he will probably behave like an idiot. Or win culture, who knows?

ZincAlloy: That's right, I'm voting for de Gaulle. Shaka's out for blood, and peace weight makes him attack Joao in an ineffective war that weakens them both, letting de Gaulle overrun them and thus the rest of the game. Julius is here too? I guess he can go beat up Frederick.

Takuan: Caesar will be boxed in early on and won't manage to succesfully kill an AI. He will waste his time attacking far away AIs, therefore he won't be able to do much. On the other hand, Shaka will expand just as well as Joao in the early stages of the game and then will attack and kill him off, taking his land and the lead. He will snowball from there, killing Suleiman while Caesar finally kills Frederick, but too late; Shaka will also kill him. De Gaulle will get second place due to the large chunk of land he can get for himself, and his luck of being ignored by Shaka for the majority of the game (due to Shaka having targets that he dislikes more).

Y3llowSheep: It seems like the top seed is a death sentence, so it's been nice knowing you JC

lightms: Caesar has a really good start, with three seafoods, two silvers, and a horse (in a pear tree) so... naturally I'm not picking him as AI's with really good starts wait around too long improving tiles to begin expanding (I'm serious, I think this is a thing as the AI just doesn't build enough workers). I picked the Ottomans last time and they let me down, so I'll pick them again as statistically they must have already used up all their bad luck, leaving them with only good luck. More seriously I do think that he has a good starting position and has a decent chance at founding a religion, staying peaceful with Caesar (same peaceweight), and taking out either Joao or Fredrick. I think Shaka also has a decent chance of doing OK, as he has lots of room to expand to the east and Degaul is probably (knock on wood) a three-cities-is-sufficient AI.

NotSpamBot: Preemptively sending my regards to Joao's next of kin due to his impending graphic mauling at the hands of Shaka. It is rather telling that I predict that he will die before Frederic, but at least there is wilderness and space between Germany and the inevitable Ottoman and/or Roman invasion(s).

Shpoko: Haven't been close yet, but here goes. With this group of leaders, I see religion being less important. No one starts with Mysticism and none seem very focused on it. Because of this peace weight takes center stage, and that's why I think Fred is first to die. He has the highest peace weight and only Joao is anywhere close. This gets him in trouble early. His only saving grace is distance, but with two Imp neighbors, that won't last long. Shaka and De Gaulle I see becoming buds and going after Joao, leaving them facing down a partnership of Julius and Suleiman. This I think will stall out until one wins by space.

Asselis: Caesar = Caesar ; Suleiman = Nicomedes IV ; De Gaule = Vercingetorix ; Frederick = Ariovistus ; Joao = Viriathus ; Shaka = Juba I ; HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

Game Three Picking Contest Entry Form