Civ4 AI Survivor Season 4: Game Four 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.

We had a clear theme for Game Four of AI Survivor: religion, religion, and more religion. Five of the seven leaders in this game started with Mysticism tech and would have an opportunity to found one of the game's opening two religions. This was a stark contrast from Game Three, where none of the six leaders began the game with Mysticism and we had no idea where the religions were going to fall. Heading the group as the protected Pool 1 leader was Justinian, the champion of Season One of AI Survivor, and one of the most consistently dangerous competitors in this event. We wondered where the removal of the free Deity starting techs would hurt him due to Byzantium's poor default combination of Mysticism/Wheel. The other protected Pool 2 leader was Suryavarman, one of those rare leaders with low peace weight and good economic traits. His best showing had also been in Season One, and the Khmer had been a bit underachievers since then. As for the rest of the group, almost everyone wanted to get their hands on a religion in some way. Asoka, Charlemagne, and Saladin were all likely to chase after the opening faiths regardless of the consequences and quite likely to their own detriment. Finally, we also had an aggressive leader in the form of Peter to shake things up... and the game's most insane warmonger in Montezuma to boot. What lunacy would Monty get himself into in this game?

Pool One Leader

Justinian of the Byzantines
Traits: Financial, Expansive
Starting Techs: Mysticism, The Wheel
Peace Weight: 4
Past Finishes: 3 First Place Finishes, 3 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One Champion
Total Kills: 8
Overall Power Ranking: 29 points, 2nd place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Here's the wildcard player for this particular round. Justinian has Spiritual and Imperialistic traits, and as the only Byzantine leader is renowned for bringing the mighty Cataphract as his unique unit. (He also has the unimpressive Hippodrome unique building.) We generally don't favor the Byzantines anymore due to their awful starting techs of Mysticism and The Wheel, but this doesn't matter for the Deity AIs, who all start with Agriculture, Wheel, Hunting, and Archery. Justinian AI has religious and military flavors, and heavily emphasizes building units (8/10 rating). He's well above average on the aggression rating at 7.6 out of 10, which is modest only in comparison with his eastern neighbors. Justinian also has Theocracy as his favorite civic, which means he will never go to Free Religion. In short, Justinian is likely to found his own religion, and then hate everyone else who doesn't have it for the rest of the game. Expect him to dominate the game or get swiftly crushed depending on how diplomacy shakes out.

Season Three Addition: Justinian was our champion from Season One with a very impressive showing. He was unable to follow up that performance in Season Two, eliminated immediately in his first game. Justinian then won a crushing victory in his opening round match of Season Three, followed by a narrow second place finish behind Stalin in the playoffs, and then a second place finish in the Season Three championship. Justinian's combination of Imperialistic trait and the mighty cataphracts have made him an elite competitor thus far. His only weakness is a refusal to declare war at "Pleased" relations.

Pool Two Leader

Suryavarman of the Khmer
Traits: Creative, Expansive
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 1
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Third Place in Season One Championship
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 12 points, tied 13th 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?

Unseeded Leaders

Asoka of India
Traits: Spiritual, Organized
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Seasons Two and Three
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 5 points, 26th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Asoka is the less famous of the two Indian leaders, also probably the leader most commonly thought to be a member of the opposite sex. I can't even remember how many people on the CivFanatics forums thought that Asoka was a woman, it must be the long hair. Anyway, Asoka has Spiritual and Organized traits, a pretty nice pairing with good economic benefit. He has the Fast Worker unique unit and the Mausoleum unique building, both of them well above average for unique replacements. When played as an AI, Asoka heavily favors religion and culture. He has religion and science flavors for his research, and with Mysticism as a starting tech, Asoka will very commonly found his own faith at the start of the game. Asoka AI also likes to demand that others convert to his religion (8/10 rating), loves to build wonders (8/10), and doesn't hold much interest in units (2/10). Asoka has a low aggression rating at 3.7 out of 10, and he's considered to be a "Good" leader on the peace weight alignment scale. Asoka is another one of those AIs who will do very well if left alone, but has a tendency to get run over by more militaristic leaders when he focuses too much on religions and wonders. Either case could play out here.

Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire
Traits: Imperialistic, Protective
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Hunting
Peace Weight: 6
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 27th 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.

Montezuma of the Aztecs
Traits: Aggressive, Spiritual
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 0
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Wildcard Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 1 point, tied 39th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: If you've played Civ4 for any length of time, then you probably already know that Montezuma AI is completely and utterly insane. He's like a rabid dog let loose in the streets to cause as much trouble as possible before being put down. Montezuma has Aggressive and Spiritual traits, a pair that often seems to work well for the AI. His Aztec civilization has the Jaguar Warrior and the Sacrificial Altar, neither of which comes off as overly scary. It's not the traits or the civ that makes Montezuma dangerous - it's the man himself. Monty the AI has polarizing numbers all over the place. His flavors are military and religious, and along with the Mysticism starting tech of the Aztecs, this usually causes Montezuma to found his own religion and defend it to the death. Monty has a 0/10 rating for wonders - he won't waste time building them. Instead, he'll concentrate on training units (8/10), demanding tribute (10/10), and fighting wars of conquest. Montezuma's aggression rating sits at a perfect 10/10: he is the leader most likely to declare war in the entire game. With Monty around, life is always an adventure. Sure, he often falls behind technologically and gets dogpiled, but it's never a dull game with Montezuma in the field. This guy basically sucks but he'll cause no end of trouble before he gets eliminated.

Peter of Russia
Traits: Expansive, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 1
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 3 points, tied 30th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Peter is Expansive and Philosophical in Civ4, with the Cossack and Research Institute as befitting his Russian civ. Despite his peaceful traits, Peter is actually a fairly aggressive leader, with an 8/10 aggression rating. He's very willing to go to war with his enemies. At the same time, however, Peter also rarely makes demands of other civs, and has science and growth flavors for his AI programming. It's all kind of a weird package. Peter AI could focus on peaceful teching, or he could just as easily go into a murderous rage and spend the whole game fighting his neighbors. Impossible to tell. He's been fairly good at avoiding elimination in past years, but not so great at actually winning games. Peter has been the least successful of the three Russian leaders; perhaps this is his time to imitate his compatriots and finally win a game.

Saladin of Arabia
Traits: Spiritual, Protective
Starting Techs: Mysticism, The Wheel
Peace Weight: 4
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Wildcard Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 1
Overall Power Ranking: 1 point, tied 39th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Saladin was another leader who was gutted by the Civ4 expansions, when his traits were changed to their current pairing of Spiritual and Protective. That Protective trait is the kiss of death for leaders. He is the only Arabian leader, and brings the Camel Archer and Madrassa unique items. Arabia has arguably the worst pair of starting techs in the game, the combination of Mysticism and The Wheel, neither of which are tied to improving any food resources. Needless to say, Arabia isn't exactly a popular civilization for our Multiplayer events. Saladin the AI has military and religious flavors, and he's another personality who places a lot of focus on religion. Saladin likes to demand that other leaders convert to his religion (8/10), and he places a major penalty on leaders with rival faiths. His favorite civic is also Theocracy. Saladin is otherwise average in aggression rating (5.5 out of 10) and in the middle of the peace weight scales as a "Neutral" figure in alignment. He'll try to found his own religion, then like anyone who has it, and hate anyone who doesn't. Pretty easy to understand.

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

Game Four had the most lopsided victory picks to date in Season Four: more than 70% of the entrants picked Justinian to top the field. No one else was even remotely close. Given the track record of some of our past favorites, that might end up being the kiss of death for the Byzantines. The First To Die category was nearly as lopsided with Asoka coming in as another heavy favorite to make a quick exit. There wasn't much support for the notion that Asoka would be joining Gandhi in the playoffs. The second place vote was the hardest to choose once again, with Peter and Suryavarman as the most likely choices in a divided field. I also tend to find this to be a tough category to pick; with so much popularity for Justinian, it makes sense that many of the contest entries chose leaders on the opposite side of the map for the runner up spot. As for the victory type, Domination and Spaceship were split pretty evenly. There wasn't much interest in the other victory types despite already seeing one Cultural victory earlier this season.

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!

Greatmefisto: What can be said? Alot of relgion stuff whitch will cause alot of tenisons and wars. Asoka being in a not good diplomatic situation is just arrowing him for first to die (although it could also be Monty if he picks his war against stronger oponent). Justinian start is looking so good with gold, wine and iron at his capital (and he has Cataphract) and his traits are overall good to. I picked Suryavarman second beacuse he is far away from Justynian and I expect Byzantium to conquer all neighbours. Ofcourse many relgion shenanigans could take place and all that prediction could go straight to hell.

Y3llowSheep: Five religious civs walked into a game. Hilarity ensued. LOL, however this ends, this is gonna be a good one! As for my picks, Justinian seems like a strong bet, especially since his military flavor means he won't pull a Pacal and ignore the one tech which will save his bacon. Whoever comes second is whoever lucks into getting Justinian's religion (however likely that is, as everyone will likely chase their own religions and then hate everyone else once they catch said religions. Perhaps I should pick Sury just because he's furthest from Justinian!!) and Saladin seems like the most likely candidate due to proximity. Of course, in a redux of history, Sally could easily found his own religion and then immediately rabidly war with the Byzantines. It's a safe bet that Asoka is going to be a tasty snack for everyone else (he is in the unenviable position of being the only high peace weight leader, centrally located surrounded by civs pre-disposed to hate him, and has a low unit emphasis; even if he's not the first to die, Asoka is a dead man walking). Considering that this game is almost guaranteed to be a blood bath, domination also seems like a sound choice. Let's see how it shakes out!

ZincAlloy: Monty! I love you, man. You're still gonna die, but I love you all the same. Justinian wins this one, he's in a good spot to beat up whichever of Saladin, Charlemagne, or Asoka don't get his religion. Or all three of them. It'll probably be all three of them. Peter comes second, solely because RNG says it's his turn to be the Russian powerhouse.

Rusten: Justinian 1st and Saladin 2nd. The two leaders share peaceweight and favourite civic in addition to neither of them plotting at pleased, so if they stay out of each others way in the early game they are going to be good friends. Justinian gets the #1 spot due to overall competence and having wet corn+gold in starting BFC and a lot of room to expand. There's also a good chance he will eat Asoka. I'm relying on Montezuma to cause enough havoc to make this go to a domination win over space/culture/diplo. Charlemagne is a wildcard as he has a good starting location and copper in starting BFC, but the copper could be a blessing or a curse. AIs won't start plotting until they have access to metal units so it's possible he starts a war too early due to aggressive AI mode and neglects expansion. But if it's early enough it could catch someone by surprise like Pacal in the 2nd game. For my picks I'm hoping it's a curse. Asoka is the odd one out and will be first to die to either Justinian or Charlemagne.

Commodore: The first to die is whichever one of these religious loons misses out on Meditation, Polytheism, and Monotheism. The poor loser is going to beeline Theology or Code of Laws, ignoring even Agriculture.

RefSteel: One of the billion ways this could play out: After Justin picks up Mediation and half the world switches to Polytheism, only to find that Saladin was teching it from turn 0, the only civs with worker techs are Russia and the Khmer. Driven to Masonry by the Curse of Capital Marble, Asoka goes all the way to Monotheism before his workers figure out how to feed anybody. This prompts an almost endless series of Eastern Wars for all those souls the in-game pop-up keeps telling us our empires contain, and the vagaries of religious spread align Chuck and Monty against Asoka, Peter, and Sury. When Peter's peace weight leads him to backstab India, Asoka crumbles under the pressure of his surrounding enemies and his own mismanagement, but Sury becomes the real winner by launching an attack on the Aztecs while their troops are off on an adventure in Byzantium for reasons best known to Monty's ornamental skull. The two Western powers proceed to divide up the world, thanks in part to more warring in the east after the HRE founds and adopts a late religion, spoiling Chuck's relations with Saladin. With no one else left to fight, too evenly matched to trigger Domnination, Peter looks at Sury and asks, "Race you to Alpha Centauri?" The King of the Khmer says, "You're on!" and - with a greater proportion of their mutual gains thanks to extra pressure from Creative culture - proceeds to win.

AT Ben: Justinian has great traits, great history, great land (plus a lot of it), and great access to Asoka AKA “Punching Bag.” Excited to see him win again! Peter, my second place prediction is, erm, unlikely to get killed by Justinian? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Faded_Outline: Risky pick, especially given that he's got that poison pill of marble tucked in amidst the starting bounty, but Peter looks good this round. A nice starting spot to explode from, several happy resources in easy reach, starting with mining so he doesn't pull a Mehmed and put a farm over his gold, and of course a start next to the very tasty Asoka, early enough to roll him without getting bogged down in a forever-war. Poor Monty seems likely bash his skull against Charlemagne for the whole of the game without progress. Suryavarman has the chance to tech peacefully all game; probably a solid threat for sniping a culture or space victory. Justin is finally going to get hamstrung by his starting techs the way a player would. Saladin has enviable space to grow but this contest seems to have laid a curse on the Ottoman leaders; I'll not assume they do anything of consequence until proven otherwise.

Simeon: I anticipate a complete and utter religious bloodbath with Suryavarman limping to a space race victory, followed closely by Justinian. I can't see any other leaders being alive by the end of the end of the match, Charlemagne being the first casualty (probably due to Montezuma). Although Montezuma will likely claim a kill or two, his hubris and general stupidity will cause him to attack a much bigger power and face complete obliteration at the hands of a far more advanced army - standard Montezuma practice.

Takuan: I keep failing in these predictions, so i'll just make the safest best. Justinian. One of te best AIs in the game, can't go wrong with him. He'll win by domination. The second place will be Charly, since he's imo a good AI, not oustanding but good. Compared to the rest of the field (Asoka, Monty, even Saladin despite the land he has to expand towards), Charly should be able to outscore them, especially if e (and possibly Saladin) share Justinian's religion. I predict they will be buddies, and will war against most others. I would like Sury to shine, but i don't see it happening.

Shpoko: On this map, Asoka is DEAD. DOA, do not pass go, do not collect 200 rupees. Three rivals already have him as worst enemy, he'll likely alienate two more by T40 and he's smack dead in the middle. Who profits most by his demise will be the winners, thus Justinian and Peter get my nods.

OleDavey: I would normally pick Justinian, but I think the AI is as likely as not to screw itself with a second city in the tundra. Meanwhile, I love Saladin's start, And I think he's isolated enough that he can tech up and put himself in a strong position just by being far away from most of the likely early wars. I predict Saladin winning domination in a final war against Sury. I wouldn't be surprised to see Peter get in good with the leader and live through this game either.

BlueOrchardBee: I've been touched by the finger of GOD

Game Four Picking Contest Entry Form