Civ4 AI Survivor Season 4: Game Eight 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.

Game Eight gathered up the last remaining leaders in the opening round of competition. We ended up with a little bit of everything in this game, starting with the Season Three champion Josef Stalin. The Russian leader absolutely torched the prior season of competition by winning all three of his games en route to the overall crown, while scoring a full seven kills along the way. Stalin didn't show anything like that level of dominance in prior seasons, and it was an open question if he'd be able to keep it up this year. Joining him as the other seeded leader was Pericles, one of the game's best cultural leaders and always a threat to win if left untouched. As for the unseeded leaders, we had a pair of fairly aggressive AI personalities that also brought the Financial trait in Hannibal and Ragnar. Both of them won games in past seasons, and they're among the few leaders who can pair unalloyed warmongering with a decent economic setup. The high peace weight leaders in this game were a group who loved building wonders, with Ramesses and Hammurabi both likely to chase after these unique prizes in repeated fashion. Finally, this game also brought a "Gandhi-lite" personality in the form of Lincoln, one of the most pacifistic leaders in the whole game. I had no idea how this mixture was going to play out - this could be another game with no clear favorites.

Pool One Leader

Stalin of Russia
Traits: Aggressive, Industrious
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 3 First Place Finishes, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Three Champion
Total Kills: 8
Overall Power Ranking: 25 points, 5th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Stalin's traits are Aggressive and Industrious, a bit of an odd pairing without too much in the way of obvious synergy. Stalin also employs the same Russian unique stuff as Catherine, with the Cossack and the Research Institute. As an AI, Stalin predictably has military and production flavors. He is unsurprisingly rated as a rather aggressive leader (7.6 out of 10) and as an "Evil" leader according to peace weight. Interestingly, Stalin AI doesn't care much about religion at all, as befitting a good Communist. He gets few benefits from shared faith and little in the way of penalty from differing religions. Otherwise, Stalin's numbers are pretty average across the board, except for his massive love of espionage spending (10/10!) It's a fairly well constructed AI personality based on the historical persona. In a game where so many other AI leaders will be battling over religion, Stalin will opt out of the race altogether and do his own thing.

Season Three Addition: Stalin didn't accomplish much of anything in the first two seasons of AI Survivor, and it was a surprise when he took over and started dominating the competition in Season Three. Stalin was the outright winner of all three of his matches, piling up an impressive body count with seven kills to take home the Golden Spear award. Stalin's traits of Aggressive/Industrious don't appear to be especially great for these matches, but the Russian leader has been able to find the right moments to snowball ahead in his previous games. Here in this new competition we'd have to see if he could keep the magic from Season Three alive.

Pool Two Leader

Pericles of Greece
Traits: Creative, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Fishing, Hunting
Peace Weight: 6
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes, 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Championship Game in Season Two
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 14 points, tied 11th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Pericles is yet another generally peaceful leader with an economic focus. He has perhaps the best trait pairing in the game for pure culture, with Creative and Philosophical traits. That means cheap libraries, universities, theatres, and colosseums. As the other Greek leader paired with Alexander, Pericles has acccess to the Phalanx unique unit and Odeon unique building. There's some nice synergy between Pericles' Creative trait and that odeon, perhaps helpful in pursuing a cultural gameplan. As an AI, Pericles has production and science flavors. He's another AI leader who loves him some wonders, with an 8/10 rating in that category. The other numbers are mostly average across the board, right in the middle. Pericles AI desires peace with his neighbors, having a low aggression rating of 3.3 out of 10. His peace weight sits in the middle of the scale, halfway between the "Good" and "Evil" leaders. Pericles won't be drawn naturally to either side of the alignment scale. Pericles the AI likes to go for Cultural victories, and he'll probably be looking to pull one off here once again.

Season Three Addition: Somehow I keep underestimating Pericles even though he's won two games (by Culture and Diplomacy), came in second in another game, and made it to the Championship. His gameplan of fast expansion mixed with heavy cultural pressure seems to work well against the other AI leaders. Pericles might have a tough time here though, with two dangerously aggressive AI neighbors in Ragnar and Stalin. The nearby stone resource could also be a poison pill given his love of early wonders. We shall see.

Unseeded Leaders

Hammurabi of Babylon
Traits: Aggressive, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Peace Weight: 8
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: Hammurabi was one of the few leaders included in the original Civilization game, and I always thought it was unusual that he didn't reappear in Civ4 until the Beyond the Sword expansion. Hammurabi has Aggressive and Organized traits, a decent second-tier pairing, particularly in the hands of the AI. Hammurabi is the only Babylonian leader, and makes use of the Bowman unique unit archer, and the Gardens unique unit colosseum. These are both pretty bad, and the only reason anyone ever picks Babylon in our events is for their awesome starting techs (Agriculture and The Wheel). Hammurabi AI is another one of the rare leaders with only one flavor: CULTURE. He'll heavily emphasize researching techs with a cultural bent to them. Hammurabi's AI otherwise looks like a carbon copy of Ramesses, with the same heavy wonder focus (8/10) and a slightly higher aggression rating (5.5 out of 10). He also shares the identical peace weight as a "Good" leader. Basically, the Hammurabi AI will hope to win through peaceful or cultural means without being attacked by anyone else. Not one of the more interesting AIs.

Hannibal of Carthage
Traits: Financial, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Mining, Fishing
Peace Weight: 2
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: Hannibal has one of the weaker Financial pairings, mixing the game's best trait along with Charismatic. It's... OK, I guess? None of the three extra traits added in the expansions have ever been that interesting, although I think we need to thank Firaxis for not doing the typical expansion thing and making all the new traits super overpowered. Hannibal is the only leader of the Carthaginians in Civ4, who have the Numidian Cavalry unique unit and the Cothon unique building. These ones are fairly average, not too weak or too strong. The Hannibal AI was apparently programmed from a Roman point of view, as Hannibal is clearly considered to be a villain with this setup. (I guess the winners do write the histories in this case.) Hannibal AI has military and gold flavors. He doesn't bother with wonders much (2/10), his unit emphasis is slightly above average (6/10), and Hannibal is notably above average in aggression rating (7/10). Hannibal AI gets rated as an "Evil" leader via peace weight, which is kind of unfair to him historically. In any case, he'll be a likely figure to stir up some trouble in this game. He's had exactly one awesome game in past seasons, a dominant romp in Season Three, and struggled in his other starts.

Lincoln of America
Traits: Charismatic, Philosophical
Starting Techs: Fishing, Agriculture
Peace Weight: 9
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season One
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 20th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Abraham Lincoln is the last of the three American leaders to make an appearance this year. Lincoln has Charismatic and Philosophical traits, a pairing that's not particularly impressive. He is also tied to the terrible American civilization, with its too-late-to-matter Navy SEAL and Mall unique items. Maybe this will be the rare game where we get to see them in action. Lincoln the AI has science and growth flavors for his research. You're never going to believe this, but his favorite civic is Emancipation. That one was probably a little too easy! Lincoln AI is extremely peaceful in this game, pacifistic even. His aggression rating stands at 0.8 out of 10, the second lowest in the game behind Gandhi. It's easy to get on Lincoln's good side and hard to get on his bad side. Lincoln AI has a sainty peace weight as another "Good" leader, which will inspire love from some of our competitors and hatred from others. He has had a very binary performance in past years, either rolling peaceful neighbors and doing well or drawing warlike neighbors and getting crushed. Ragnar and Stalin may pose problems in this match.

Ragnar of the Vikings
Traits: Financial, Aggressive
Starting Techs: Fishing, Hunting
Peace Weight: 0
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Two
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 27th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Ragnar is essentially the polar opposite of Lincoln. The Great Emancipator is the second most peaceful leader in the game; Ragnar is the second most warlike, behind Montezuma and only by a fingernail. Ragnar has Aggressive and Financial traits, which has often made him a popular pick in our Pitboss games. His Viking civ has the Berserker unique unit and the Trading Post unique building, both of which are extremely strong on water maps. They probably won't do too much on a Pangaea though. Anyway, Ragnar's traits and civilization are both above average, but what sets him apart is his AI personality. Ragnar AI is another leader in the Montezuma / Temujin / Shaka mold. He has only one flavor: MILITARY. He builds units at a ridiculous pace (10/10 rating). And as mentioned before, Ragnar is the second most likely leader to declare war in the game, with an aggression rating of 9.9 out of 10. That's a normalized score based off of Montezuma's AI, which shows that there's virtually no difference between Ragnar and Monty. Ragnar also sits at the bottom of the peace weight scale, ranked as low as it's possible to go as an "Evil" leader. He's going to be predisposed to hate these peaceful builders, and with such a gigantic focus on military, Ragnar will have a great opportunity to go conquering.

Ramesses of Egypt
Traits: Spiritual, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Peace Weight: 6
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Playoff Round in Season Three
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 2 points, tied 30th place (out of 52 leaders)

AI Summary from Season One: Ramesses has Spiritual and Industrious traits, the ones that used to belong to Gandhi in pre-expansion days. He has the good fortune to be playing as Egypt, with the strong War Chariot and Obelisk unique stuff. Unlike the rest of this bunch, Ramesses has a low aggression rating at 3.7 out of 10. His most prominent claim to fame is a very heavy emphasis on wonders, with a 10/10 rating for wonder construction and a culture emphasis to boot. Expect Ramesses to do a lot of wonder-whoring, that's what he's known for. He also places a lot of focus on religion as well, with a giant bonus for shared faith. How he'll do with this mixed field of competitors is anyone's guess, probably the game winner or first one eliminated with little in between.

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

I thought that Game Eight didn't have as much of a dominant favorite as some of our other opening round matches, and the picking contest entries seemed to feel the same way. Stalin was the clear community pick to win the game with about 40% of the vote, however there was also considerable support for Pericles, Hannibal, and Ragnar. This was also reflected in the runner up entries where there was no rhyme or reason to the selections. No one seemed to know who was going to finish second, only that it wasn't likely to be Lincoln or Hammurabi. The American leader did show up in one place though, as an overwhelming favorite to be the First to Die with more than two thirds of the picks seeing him as a goner. No one else was even remotely close in that category. Finally, the victory type leaned towards Domination for this game, perhaps from all of the individuals picking Stalin or Hannibal or Ragnar. We also had a lot of people choosing Cultural in addition to the usual Spaceship, likely the contest entries backing Pericles or one of the other high peace weight leaders. It certainly didn't seem likely that Ragnar would win by culture.

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!

Myth: Ragnar or Ramesses first to die 100%, both surrounded by opposite peaceweights. Ragnar is next to mostly pacifistic leaders tho, while Ram is not. Therefore, Hannibal wins because he's closer to the early collapse. But he needs a #2, and it's most likely to be someone on the opposite side of the map with a similar peaceweight.... aka Ragnar, I guess. Stalin might screw up my prediction. So could Ragnar, since he IS Ragnar.... Could be an oddball game though, with high/low winner/second. Who tf knows tbh.

ZincAlloy: This one's gonna be bloody, but the high peace weight civs win out. Ragnar's berserker rage leads him to an early death at the hands of an alliance led by Pericles, who'll use that shared war bonus to be best buds with the peaceful three. Together they crush Stalin and Hannibal, and then Pericles is voted UN leader. Ramesses and Hammurabi are basically clones and fight it out for second in points, but Ramesses's beard is shinier so he takes it.

MirrorG: In my heart, I want Lincoln to be able to pull of a display like Gandhi did earlier this season. In my head, I know it's probably more likely he'll get squished fairly early on thanks to the very low peace weights of his neighbors, his best bet being that Pericles' fast expansion connects the two and allows them to share a religion, possibly allowing Lincoln to call / buy the Greeks into defensive wars, however unlikely that lucky chain of events may be. ...My memory of this season, though, shows that logic is better thrown out the window, and as such I feel Ragnar may end up pulling a Napoleon like last game and getting knocked out first. All in all, I feel Pericles' position and traits would allow him to easily choke out Ragnar and have little competition from Ramesses (and I'm guessing Russia and America will be about as distracted hating each other as IRL), so chances are he'll be pretty free to come out on top of this one. Expecting this to be another game where only one civ survives to be sent to the wildcard game, though, since that just seems to be the theme of this season.

Hydrocyanide: Ragnar surrounded by peaceful builders = rabid fox in a henhouse.

Takuan: I'm rooting for Stalin considering his performance last year. Second place goes to Ramesses due to his great capital and land, and he's most likely going to stack wonders boosting his score. Meanwhile, Ragnar and Stalin will go on a rampage against Pericles and Lincoln respectively, while Hammurabi and Hannibal do absolutely nothing all game and wait to be conquered. Stalin will just roll over the map and win by domination. I have absolute confidence that religions will utterly crush my predictions once again.

Aus prof: Wow, so many leaders here have great land! Iím guessing Pericles to win despite his starting techs (which suck for his capital) because he has good land, and I think heís a solid AI. Meanwhile, Ramesses second because heís going to stay out of the way and not get involved in the chaotic mess that peace weights will ensure this game becomes. Lastly, first to die is hard between Ragnar who has great land but is surrounded by enemies, and Hannibal who has crappy land but no nearby enemies. Chose Ragnar in the end, mostly because I donít like his expansion rates, ie: he expands slowly so might not use all his land. Lastly, I just want to say that Iím pretty sure Stalin got lucky last season. Iím guessing you could insert any low peace weight AI into his positions last year, have the diplomacy shake out the same, and have that AI perform well. He even got the lucky start next to the food - Um, I mean Mansa - last championship. Iím just not sold. Please donít prove me wrong!

Slothlife: Ragnar ruins someone's day early but suicides in the middle ages. Til VALHALL!

Keler (artdeco): I think it is obvious , Stalin,Hannibal or Pericles will win this game 99%. A very very slight chance Ramesses can win if Pericles ends up as first to die instead of Ragnar or Lincoln. For others, no chance to win at all. At least it helps to narrow down choices. On the bright sight, we have more balanced map unlike HC and JC games of this season. I checked the resources, this game won't be a boring one to watch. Only Ragnar starts in a disadvantaged position that he will try to expand through Lincoln probably to exist long enough not to die first.

Y3llowSheep: Given the peace weight splits, I picture this to be a violent world. Given the lackluster performance of the AIs on the "Good" side of the divide, "Evil" will probably prevail headed by Uncle Joe (his evil compatriots aren't the most competent themselves). Still, Stalin doesn't strike me as hyper-competent along the likes of Cyrus or Mansa, who both got owned, so who knows?

haphazard1: How the religions shake out in this group with no one starting with mysticism is a huge wild card. But I am going to guess peace weight differences will prove dominant over religion, particularly with Stalin not caring much about faith. Lincoln will be first to die, just too tempting a target for the warmongers. Hannibal will tech away quietly in the west, eventually pulling ahead as his fellow warmongers waste resources on endless wars and the high peace weight leaders get dragged down by those wars. Carthage wins by space, with Ragnar taking second by conquering a lot of land from his high peace weight neighbors but lagging Hannibal badly in tech.

LoneWolf: It's an unpredictable game, since low peaceweight characters have enough prominence here to possibly counteract low peaceweight aggression, if they play their cards well. My scenario is Stalin obviously smashes Lincoln, but Ragnar ultimately fails to conquer Pericles, resulting eventually in the Athenian reversing the war and annexing the Viking's lands. Stalin is second for most of the game, but eventually gets defeated by Peri, who then launches spaceship. The second scenario is Stalin or Ragnar just doing a juggernaut on the peaceniks, but my first prognosis is more interesting and has some possibility to succeed.

LaserGuy: I like Ragnar's start here, with multiple seafood tiles in his capitol that he can use to jumpstart his economy. If he can capitalize on his early lead by taking out Ramses or Hammurabi, he's a strong contender to win. I'm not sure I believe the hype on Stalin since this isn't an AI I've never really seen much out of. Still, his start is decent and his neighbors are weak, so he's got a pretty good shot. First to die is a toss-up between Lincoln and Pericles, I think. Pericles' wonder focus, poor starting techs and stone start are going to seriously hamper his development and expansion and leave him easy pickings for the likes of Ragnar. Lincoln is a notorious pacifist with both Stalin and Ragnar not too far away. Ramses I expect to survive a bit longer, if only because he's going to get the early religion and may be able to make some alliances early on that will help keep him alive.

Commodore: Betting on the AIs feels increasingly like betting on racing snails; none of the competitors are going to cover themselves with glory. Nevertheless, I feel like all the good jungle-free land Stalin has around him, coupled with a Lincoln ripe for the plucking, makes me think he'll do well. Hannibal and Ragnar look ready to waste themselves in wars halfway around the world, so I think Pericles will probably take second with his excellent gold start and safe westward of course, having said that, the my snails will now proceed to smash into each other all game while Hammurabi bumbles into a win...

Philly D: Pericles and Lincoln expand well... look for Ragnar to waste his start again.

Game Eight Picking Contest Entry Form