This is a continuing feature for Season Five 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 start as always with an overview of the map:
The second game of AI Survivor features a series of fan-favorite selections. While Suryavarman may be a somewhat bland choice from the group of Pool 1 leaders, we get to see the always-entertaining Catherine as his Pool 2 counterpart. Catherine's "high maintenance girlfriend" personality promises lots of imperious demands and cossack-based action from the fiesty tsarina. This game also drew Wang Kong, the "Troll King", with his bizarre antics that have delighted the lurkers over the past few years. (The one leader who required multiple repeated edits while doing the Worldbuilder setup for this game was naturally Wang Kon - who else?) They are joined in this game by the militaristic Brennus, the wonder-obsessed Louis, the pacifistic Roosevelt, and the arguably worst AI leader in Civ4: Sitting Bull. Will this dunderhead ever manage to make it as far as the Wildcard game? With Catherine and Suryavarman and Brennus as neighbors, the odds do not favor Sitting
Duck Bull in this game.
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: Season One Championship Game
Total Kills: 7
Overall Power Ranking: 19 points, 8th place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Suryavarman has a lot of power packed into his kit even if it sometimes seems to be pulling in six different directions at once. He has the quintessential early game trait pairing of Creative and Expansive, two traits that help to drive expansion and to claim land quickly. This was a popular trait pairing for a long time in unmodded Civ4 Multiplayer games, often chosen ahead of Financial leaders to get off to a roaring start. Suryavarman's Khmer civ is a bit weaker, with decent starting techs and adequate unique features in the Ballista Elephant and Baray without having anything of game-breaking strength. As far as Suryavarman's AI personality goes, he has a surprisingly aggressive setup for someone with good economic traits. Suryavarman has a high aggression rating (7.6/10), a very low peace weight, and a fairly high emphasis on training units (6/10). However, Suryavarman also positively loves building wonders (8/10), an odd fit for someone with his militaristic bent and expansion-focused traits. He will heavily emphasize religion in his diplomacy and carries a special penalty for anyone who refuses his demands. Along with the Creative border pops, this is not an easy neighbor to live alongside. Suryavarman's tech preferences are Gold and Culture, and he will indeed plot war at "Pleased" relations. He can be a highly unpredictable leader, either charging into multiple wars or sitting back to construct wonders in peace.
Past Performance: Suryavarman's previous appearances have reflected his somewhat erratic nature as an AI leader. He was the winner of the first ever game of AI Survivor in Season One, via the United Nations of all things, and took second place in a very difficult field from a tough starting position in the playoffs. Suryavarman had a weaker performance in the following championship game, suffering elimination while still taking a respectable third place. Since then he's been all over the map, everything from an elimination at the hands of Pacal in Season Two to an elimination in the Wildcard game in Season Three to an outright victory in the Wildcard game in Season Four. These repeated trips to the Wildcard round mean that Suryavarman has shown up in a lot of games, nine of them in total thus far. Any leader with the rare combination of low peace weight together with good economic development makes for a dangerous opponent, and even if Suryavarman has been somewhat scattershot in recent seasons, he always has that potential to become a major threat.
Catherine of the Russians
Traits: Creative, Imperialistic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mining
Peace Weight: 2
Past Finishes: 2 First Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Two Playoffs
Total Kills: 5
Overall Power Ranking: 15 points, tied 13th place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Catherine has arguably the best traits for rapid expansion in the game, with Imperialistic for building settlers quickly, and Creative for popping borders of all her cities. She also gets the powerful Cossack, and the too-late-to-matter Research Institute for her unique items. Lastly, Catherine gets the weak combination of Hunting and Mining for her starting techs, meaning she’ll have to research a few techs before she can get any of her food resources up and running. Catherine is one of the more unique personalities in the game. She has a unique change to her diplomacy in that refusing one of Cathy’s demands will give a -2 malus as opposed to the usual -1. This applies to other AI leaders too, and Cathy often ends up hating nearly everybody else in the game because of it. Naturally, she has high likelihood to demand all kinds of tribute, with numbers like 8/10 and 10/10 for various types of demands. Catherine is the only AI leader in the game who can be bribed to join a war at "Friendly" relations. She is also moderately aggressive (6.7/10), and other than that most of her numbers are fairly average, including unit (4/10) and wonder build (6/10) ratings. She also has a fairly unusual flavour combination, with Cultural and Military flavours. Thanks to her traits, Catherine is one of the most likely AIs to claim a large portion of the map peacefully, and her moderate aggression rating means she can sometimes get the snowball rolling. However, the lack of economic benefit from her traits means that if she fails to do this, she will often fall behind technologically, the kiss of death in these games.
Past Performance: Catherine has played a couple of dominant games, and a few disappointing ones. Her opening game in Season One was a dominant romp, but she was beaten down by Justinian after a long duel in their playoff game. Then, in Season Two, Catherine came out on top of a host of aggressive AIs, leveraging her strong landgrab to slowly crush the rest of the competition (including a revenge kill on Justinian), before playing a mediocre playoff game, again staying alive without advancing. Season Three was Catherine’s first year to not advance beyond the opening round, as she was killed by, you guessed it, Justinian, in another game where those two topped the scoreboard. Lastly, Catherine played a strong opening in her Season Four game, but played the diplomatic side horribly, declaring war on anyone and everyone before being deservedly crushed by Isabella. In her Season Two playoff game, Catherine didn’t have a particularly strong landgrab, and she played a pretty average game. The reason that’s noteworthy is that in every single other game that Catherine’s appeared in, she’s done the opposite. Win or lose, Catherine has consistently topped the scoreboard in the early and midgame, and it’s clear by now that she puts her landgrab traits to effective use. The mark of a strong Cathy game is instead whether or not she can convert those early leads into tangible victories before her difficult personality catches up with her. Another feast-or-famine leader, Catherine’s high-maintenance personality tends to make a lot of enemies, and her games usually end either when she kills all of them, or they kill her first.
Brennus of the Celts
Traits: Spiritual, Charismatic
Starting Techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Peace Weight: 0
Past Finishes: 2 Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: Season One and Two Playoffs
Total Kills: 3
Overall Power Ranking: 7 points, tied 27th place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Brennus gets the Charismatic and Spiritual traits, a middle-tier economic pairing. He gets the less decent Gallic Warrior and Dun unique items, both well below average, and starts with Hunting and Mysticism techs, one of the “religion-or-bust” combinations. Brennus is less suicidally aggressive than his female counterpart, with only a moderately high aggression rating (7/10). Other than that, his preferences are pretty similar, with a moderate unit build rating (6/10) and a low wonder build rating (2/10), and Brennus is also highly unlikely to demand tribute (1/10). The other noteworthy difference between the two are their flavours, with Brennus’ being military and religion. The male Celtic leader is far more likely to actually use his Mysticism start and research a religion out of the gate. He also cares a lot more about religion, with a high bonus and malus for sharing or not sharing faith with his neighbours. Brennus is basically one of the moderately aggressive, religious AIs, with an extremely low peace weight to boot (0/10).
Past Performance: Brennus is a middle-tier leader as far as past performance goes. He’s scored two distant second-place finishes in the first two seasons, though neither were particularly impressive, and has never performed well in the playoffs, dying in his first game and coming very close to death in his second game. Otherwise, he played an unimpressive opening game and Wildcard game in Season Three, failing to advance further, and while he opened strongly in his Season Four game, he failed to keep up the momentum, throwing away a significant lead to a Darius/Gilgamesh combination later on. Brennus has so far been a substantially average leader, sometimes able to get a kill or two, sometimes falling flat on his face, but at this point it seems safe to say he’s unlikely to run away with a game without some serious luck on his side.
Louis XIV of France
Traits: Creative, Industrious
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Wheel
Peace Weight: 1
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Three Playoffs
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 33rd place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Louis XIV has a strange AI personality that mixes together a heavy emphasis on wonders together with military aggression. It's not a winning combination. Louis has the Creative and Industrious pairing of traits, a setup that's good for claiming land and then developing cities upwards with additional infrastructure. He also gets to benefit from the strong French civilization, with its excellent starting techs and the useful Musketeer unique unit. However, Louis largely wastes these positive features with a destructive AI personality that pulls in too many directions at once. He's obsessed with building wonders, sporting the rare 10/10 rating in that category, and too often ties up his cities on world wonders with questionable benefits. Louis also has a Culture flavor for his research and tends to spend a lot of time at the top of the tech tree grabbing stuff along the Aesthetics line. These are poor choices for a leader who also has a Military tech flavor, a fairly high aggression rating (6.3/10), and a very low peace weight. Louis tends to make for a bad neighbor as his borders are always intruding on the other empires and he demands tribute constantly (8/10). Needless to say, the guy who likes to pick fights with his rivals while simultaneously locking up his cities on long wonder builds hasn't had a ton of success to date.
Past Performance: Louis has only managed a single second place finish thus far but he's been surprisingly competitive in many of his appearances. His true performance level is likely stronger than what these numbers suggest. With that said, Louis was quickly eliminated in each of the first two seasons of AI Survivor without serving as much more than a speedbump. And in his sole runner-up finish, he was an extremely distant finisher with less than half of the score of a runaway Justinian. However, Louis was leading his playoff game for much of the match before running afoul of a distastrous two-front war against Caesar and Kublai, and he was similarly the leader for the first 200 turns of his opening round game in Season Four. Louis probably would have won that contest if Wang Kon hadn't built the Statue of Zeus to troll him in their lengthy war. In other words, it's clear that there's some potential here even if Louis has a bizarre personality pulling at culture + military cross-purposes.
Roosevelt of America
Traits: Industrious, Organized
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: 1 Second Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Four Playoffs
Total Kills: 2
Overall Power Ranking: 4 points, tied 33rd place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Roosevelt is a classic example of a peaceful builder that largely wants to stay out of conflicts. He has a solid economic trait pairing with Industrious and Organized, although lacking any of the top-tier grouping of Financial or Creative or Expansive. Roosevelt often tends to struggle with expansion since he lacks any traits or abilities to speed up his early game. The American civilization is doing him no favors here, with decent starting techs but unique features that both come far too late to make a difference. Roosevelt the AI is not very militaristic at all, with an aggression rating of 2.6/10 and a dangerously low train unit emphasis (2/10). Despite his Industrious trait, Roosevelt doesn't particularly emphasize wonder building (4/10) and prefers to focus on espionage spending (7/10). He also has little interest in religion and doesn't stack up much of a shared faith bonus or differing faiths penalty. Roosevelt has unusual tech preferences for his research, emphasizing Production and Gold flavors, and the expected high peace weight for a "good" leader. He will plot war at "Pleased" relations though in a bit of a twist. Generally speaking what you see is what you get with Roosevelt. He's going to try and play the builder game but he lacks the traits and the civ to make him a top competitor for that gameplan.
Past Performance: Roosevelt has been fairly mediocre overall, managing one trip to the playoffs without achieving anything too memorable or interesting. His theoretical best game took place in the opening round of Season Four, where he had a difficult corner start and was widely expected to be the First to Die. Instead, he managed to slip into the playoffs in second place behind Isabella. It wasn't a very impressive finish, mind you, as Roosevelt was 6000 points behind on the scorebord, but he did survive and that was more than the rest of the field could say. Outside of that single game, Roosevelt has typically been a speed bump on the road to victory for other stronger leaders. He was eliminated in the opening round of Season One, then survived to the Wildcard game in Season Two without accomplishing much. Roosevelt made a truly bad decision in Season Three by converting to a self-founded religion that put him outside Justinian's religious alliance, resulting in a deserved elimination. His playoff game in Season Four also ended in self-inflicted disaster, committing suicide with an invasion of a much stronger Darius (an example of the "plot war at Pleased relations" backfiring). While Roosevelt is a decent enough leader in overall terms, he's demonstrated some truly awful decision-making in recent years of the competition.
Sitting Bull of the Native Americans
Traits: Philosophical, Protective
Starting Techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: No First or Second Place Finishes
Best Finish: None, Eliminated in all four opening round games
Total Kills: 0
Overall Power Ranking: 0 points, tied 47th place (out of 52 leaders - dead last place)
Personality: Sitting Bull is stuck with the Philosophical and Protective traits; in other words, the two worst performing traits in the entirety of AI Survivor. This immediately puts him in a bit of a hole. Sitting Bull also gets the unimpressive Dog Soldier and Totem Pole for his unique items, neither of which help matters. His only redemptive feature is his starting techs of Agriculture and Fishing, yet even they are merely above average, meaning that Sitting Bull plays the game at a serious disadvantage. As a personality, Sitting Bull the AI is a series of contradictions. He builds a lot of units (8/10) and doesn’t bother with wonders (0/10). He is the most likely leader in the game to demand tribute (10/10), and his flavours are Military and Growth. This all sounds like the makings of an aggressive leader in the vein of Ragnar or Alex, and yet, Sitting Bull has a lower than average aggression rating (4.3/10). He simply doesn’t attack very often. He also has a high peace weight, preferring the likes of Gandhi and Elizabeth to Montezuma and Shaka. This, along with his traits, largely leads to an AI that constructs a strong military that he doesn’t use, and a weak economy to boot, with Sitting Bull struggling to keep up in tech with even the rabid warmongers. It doesn’t paint an impressive picture, and as a general rule Sitting Bull doesn’t just start in a deep hole; he’s unwilling to dig himself out.
Past Performance: Sitting Bull is one of six remaining leaders that have yet to claim a single point, either through kills or placements. In fact, Sitting Bull hasn’t even made the Wildcard Game, dying in every single game he’s played, and there is a strong argument to be made for him being the worst performing leader in AI Survivor history. Even Frederick made it to the Season One Wildcard Game! Sitting Bull’s traits have done him no favours, and although he usually doesn’t collapse fast like some of the other peaceniks, instead he always seems to die by a thousand cuts, as aggressive AIs slowly wear him down time after time. To paraphrase Sullla, Sitting Bull is certainly capable of sabotaging someone else’s game through a determined defence, but he’s probably the least likely leader to actually pull a victory from one of these games. Expect nothing from Sitting Bull, and you’re unlikely to be surprised.
Wang Kon of Korea
Traits: Financial, Protective
Starting Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Peace Weight: 8
Past Finishes: 1 First Place Finish
Best Finish: Season Three Playoffs
Total Kills: 4
Overall Power Ranking: 9 points, tied 22nd place (out of 52 leaders)
Personality: Wang Kon is infamous in AI Survivor circles for acting as the "Troll King", the one leader who will do the most obnoxious thing possible to screw with the rest of the field as well as the viewers watching the game. He has one amazing trait in the form of Financial and one terrible trait in the form of Protective, the two polar opposite traits in terms of overall usefulness in Civ4. Wang Kon's Korean civilization has a subpar set of starting techs combined together with the decent Hwacha and the excellent (if late-arriving) Seowon. As far as AI personalities run, Wang Kon is a pretty basic peaceful builder. While he has a somwhat high aggression rating (6.1/10), his build unit rating is low (4/10) and he doesn't make a lot of demands on his neighbors. With Gold and Science research flavor, a high peace weight, and an inability to declare war at "Pleased" relations, this would seem to be a standard economic leader in the Elizabeth or Frederick or Roosevelt mold, someone who's mostly going to stay out of the way and tech away in peace.
Past Performance: Appearances can be deceiving. Wang Kon has acted in bizarre patterns again and again, defying all logic with both brilliant and braindead actions that trolled everyone in sight. It started in Season One, where Wang Kon spent the latter turns of the game hiding from Mao Zedong's armies behind Asoka's closed borders before the Chinese leader finally found a pathway through and eliminated Korea. Wang Kon's single appearance in Season Two was played out as if controlled by a drunken sailor, pointlessly marched his army halfway across the map to Russia again and again to troll Stalin. Two foolish civic switches by Wang Kon removed his shared religion and shared civic bonus with Huayna Capac, resulting in a stomping by the great yellow Incan menace. The trolling reached its height in Season Three, however, as Wang Kon lost his capital and half his empire to Mehmed, only to rally back after being saved by Charlemagne. He slowly re-acquired most of his territory via the "liberation" mechanic, and then won an extreme lategame Spaceship victory by virtue of Charlemagne stupidly launching without a full set of engines in place and tying on the victory date. A tie apparently goes to the leader who has a more complete spaceship - unbelievable. Korea's following appearances were less memorable, with a fast elimination in the Season Three playoffs followed by a Wildcard appearance in Season Four where Wang Kon was again the First to Die. He did thoroughly ruin the game of Louis in the opening match of Season Four though, fighting an endless war that saved Gandhi and allowed the Indians to take home a Cultural victory. Long story short, Wang Kon should be a pretty unremarkable leader but has proven to be nothing of the sort. He will do something weird just to screw around with everyone else, the AI Survivor equivalent of the Twitch Plays Pokemon livestream chat.
Here's what the community was thinking based on the prediction contest before the game took place:
Opinions were split between the two seeded leaders as far as who would win the game, with a very slight preference for Catherine over Suryavarman. Very few people gave any of the other leaders much of a chance to top the field in this game. The Runner Up category was the usual grabbag with no clear favorite, and then the First to Die category had another twofold split between Sitting Bull and Roosevelt. There was a clear consensus that one of these two leaders would be making an early exit, although which one it would be was divided. This time the community was also split about 2:1 in favor of a Domination victory instead of a Spaceship win, likely reflecting the more militaristic nature of the leaders drawn into this group.
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!
Duizhang_Lu: Cathy + Troll Kon + Sitting Bull? This game is going to be a riot!! Despite Cathy's strength, I think Sury actually has a better chance to win since Sitting Bull is screening the rest of the peaceful civs. As much as he sucks at winning, Sitting Bull is hard to kill, so I think he's going to drag Cathy and Brennus down with him. I fully expect Wang Kon to go out in a blaze of glory, trolling until the very last. Who knows, with how far he is from most of the evil leaders, maybe he'll live to troll again!
MirrorG: Surya and Cathy are both solid picks for who will be able to grab the most land early on and use it to their advantage. That said, Surya sharing a river with Sitting Bull puts him at risk of sharing a religion with someone who is probably not the best friend to have, and who he'd probably do better at conquering to block of Cathy. Speaking of Cathy, since she isn't running as much of a risk of getting on Sitting Bull's good side, I believe she'll take him out and use that power base to win out the rest of the field. Aside from that, a split down the middle between low and high peace weight leaders = lots of wars, but perhaps a bit of a bloc forming at the end that keeps the game running longer than it otherwise would've. Sitting Duck for first-to-die because of course.
Alhambram: High peaceweights shall defy the threat of evil civs. In a shocking moment Roosevelt rolls over Louis while at same Wang Kon manages stalemate Sury. Cathy get stuck by Sitting Bull's protective traits and Brennus is too preoccupied in his little corner. Eventually both Roosevelt and Wang Kon rolls over the map with Roosevelt taking the most spoils. Therefore three high peaceniks lives long and happy lives. Endgame drama comes at moment when Roosevelt already launched spaceship and got 2 turns left to win, but Wang Kon put down vote for Diplomatic Victory and with help of Sitting Bull he wins the vote.
ZincAlloy: Oooo, Roosevelt and Sitting Bull? Two delicious snacks for Cathy to munch on on her path to victory. Brennus tags along for second place, solely by spreading his religion to her to secure an alliance. Wang Kon does absolutely nothing and survives with only a city or two when the spaceship wins it, as he's building up power for the wildcard game.
pindicator: I feel like this is Louis' game. He's got a wonderful start with the stone, double gems, and double gold. He has two very peaceful and low unit-building neighbors in Wang Kon and Roosevelt. If there's ever going to be a time for him to shine this is it. So I think he eats Roosevelt, and then helps Cathy pick off Sitting Bull. Then ends up 2nd to Sury becaue it's freaking Sury.
Myth: Cathy, in test games and previous “alternate histories,” when she won, won EXTREMELY quickly and early. I saw one game where she won domination on turn 250. Since this is a larger pool of leaders, 300 is my early win prediction. Roosevelt is the only high peace weight, non-protective leader, which I assume will allow Wang and SB to survive a little longer. However, Cathy is still the best leader here in my opinion and, since Louis is furthest from her, is my decision for second, especially if he gains from Roosevelt’s destruction.
Amicalola: So I think for this one the weight of numbers and the quality of the various AIs means another low peace-weight victory is in the books. The question is which ones will actually win. Catherine and Brennus both have pretty weak capitals for their techs (Cathy in particular also has very little food around her), so I think they'll both be slow to start. Additionally, they have to go through Sitting Bull to get to the others, and though I'm 100% sure he's going to die, he'll bleed a lot first. So I think the victory/second goes to Louis/Suryavarman respectively, mostly because they have better capitals (especially Louis, hot damn!), and easier access to the weaker peaceful civs, especially Roosevelt (whos stone will make him not expand much). He's my first to die for that reason, as well.
RefSteel: I'm pretty much going by the form book here, with Catherine - one of my favorites, and one of the most effective AIs - gaining most of the spoils from a dogpile on the weakest AI in the tournament, then just rolling on across the bottom of the continent until she hits the sea. Bought into war with her erstwhile allies, she could crush them along with everyone else, leaving the Troll King - the one who bought her in twice - as the distant second-place civ by default and geography. The only surprises I'm expecting are the normally-highly-effective Sury getting outplayed (and/or getting stymied by having too many neighbors who hate him, even if they're mostly not very competent) and Wang Kon arranging or getting involved in a bunch of different wars ... which I admit would be a relatively tame performance by his standards of insanity!
Patrick Hayden: I really like Suryavarman's start. He's got a lot of space. I think Catherine will go to war with her two neighbours but I don't think they'll be quick/easy wars.
SpamBot: If only Roosevelt and Sitting Bull had swapped positions... But no, Cathy, and likely Brennus as well, is going to get drawn into a prolonged stalemate with that Duck. This leaves the door open for... Wang Kon and Suryavarman? Aka some of the most random and unpredictable AIs? Goddamn it. I suppose that Louis might also have a shot to win, but he will have to ignore the lure of the Stone long enough to settle some land and kill Roosevelt and honestly that is another RNG gamble. Well, at least this game promises some epically bad decision making?
ThreeLeggedChicken: A lot of pointless early-mid game skirmish wars and cross-map invasions take place in the north. In the south, Sitting Bull enjoys only 65 turns of peace before the first invasion, and then slowly fades off the map while causing huge casualties to all his enemies - Catherine being the main beneficiary. Louis suffers a faster collapse by the combined forces of Wang Kon and Roosevelt, with the Americans surprisingly ending up with every city except the French capital. Actually, the Americans hold pretty well until the Industrial Era, when Catherine completes what she started, but failed to finish, in the Season 4 game with the help of Cossacks. From that point, Cathy does what she needs to get a Domination victory - namely, settling a number of iceballs in the south and thwarting a Cultural attempt by Troll Kon that used Paris. Survayarman holds off Brennus for second, by virtue of having larger cities and acquiring some border cultural flips from Cathy's conquests.
luddite: Louis has a great starting location with food and lots of luxuries nearby. Most other leaders lack luxuries. He'll waste time building wonders, but at least the stone will make it go quickly, and will help him win border wars. Then the low peaceweight leaders on the edge will all attack the high peaceweights in the center.
Dark Savant: Cathy has been a strong performer in previous years, but she doesn't have much food near her start and can easily get boxed in by Sitting Bull (who doesn't have the personality to do well, but can and will stop others from doing so). Louis drew a coastal start without coastal resources. He's likely to build too few cities and too many wonders, with his closest neighbors of opposite peace weight. That's a recipe for early elimination. Roosevelt has a good enough start, neighbors, and space (he has the best opportunity to expand away from the equator) to do okay, but I wouldn't trust his personality to do so well as to win. Brennus will have a couple of powerful cities, and his lack of happiness resources doesn't hurt much with his traits, but he's also likely to be boxed in with such a corner start. So which of Suryavarman and Wang Kon will do the best? It's hard to say; it's unlikely they'll be good friends, so they probably won't both perform well. They both have roughly equal-looking starts; Suryavarman's position would be stronger if only he had early happiness. Let's say Wang Kon, because why not. With Louis XIV looking to be the most likely early victim, let's say their other neighbor Roosevelt for second.
bellarch: Cathy's start looks a lot like Mehmed's from Game 1: few neighbors, good land to expand into (and lots of it), similar peace weight AI who will probably found a religion to the north and a great war target to the rest. However, unlike Mehmed, her neighbors are not tech monsters but rather AI Survivor's resident mediocrity and Sitting Duck. Cathy feasts on duck, backstabs Brennus after growing huge, and rides a war-torn continent to domination. Sury ends up on the wrong side of a religious divide with Cathy and gets eaten, so Louis, with his out-of-the-way location and great start, happily builds wonders, beats up Roosevelt a little, and rides Cathy's coattails into the playoffs.... I say this assuming that this is a normal game. Part of me fully expects that Wang Kon works his black magic and somehow gets Sitting Duck into the playoffs.
Isidora: Honestly, these picks make no sense, but I'm betting the game won't either.