This playoff game from Season Two produced a surprise for the writeup: two different submissions sent to me via email within 24 hours of one another! I never expected a game played two years in the past would attract so much attention all at once - the readers of this website are amazing. As a result, we have writeups for this game from both Axiis and Chaosquo; this is the second summary written by Chaosquo. Thanks to both of them for putting these awesome reports together!
Season 2 Playoffs: Game 1: The game where the AI had a look at the picking contest
The first game of the season 2 playoffs pitted AIs with a rather low peace weight against each other, the highest was Pericles at 6/10. The map was a rather typical rectangular Pangaea, but with a peninsula in the top middle. Tokugawa (I was still surprised he had made it to the playoffs with his isolationist playstyle) started in the top left, Boudica started in the middle, followed by Julius on the coast. Cyrus was in the bottom left, followed by Catherine and Pericles. All AIs planted their second city towards the middle, with Julius and Cyrus almost on top of each other, the second ring tiles would overlap. This didnt look promising for Cyrus if Julius found iron and put his Praets to use. Boudica founded Buddhism with Meditation, while Toku beelined straight to Polytheism to found Islam. Since Russia was on the same river as Celtica it looked likely for the two to form a Buddhist block, while Pericles was likely to get Islam via the coast. Cyrus was the first to three cities, closely followed by the other leaders bar Boudica, who got delayed by hooking up all the seafood in her capital. Julius planted towards Boudica, would could spell trouble for him, since the closest iron was covered by a barb city.
Toku, Boudica and Catherine were all going for Stonehenge and were all within one turn of each other, with Catherine ahead (who is creative to begin with *facepalm). Boudica managed to snipe it with a forest chop, which was fortunate for her, since she was Charismatic and would get extra happiness form the free monuments, and also because she planted a city right next to a Russian city, which already controlled some first ring tiles of that new city. Catherine consoled herself with building the Great Wall, but she was already surrounded by other AIs so it would’nt be that helpful. Caesar planted his fourth city right into Persian territory, while several barb cities between Toku and Boudica flourished, going up to 5 archers in one with promotions.
Catherine founded Christianity with Monotheism, but the holy city popped in a tundra city, not helping her cultural war with Boudica. The Celts continued to expand southwestward in a straight line, winning her fourth city spot by virtue of turn order. Cyrus was quietly pulling ahead with 7 cities, built the Oracle to take Feudalism, because he already had Monarchy beforehand, catapulting him into the Medieval Age. Boudica and Pericles were making a play for a central barb city, but Toku stole it with a single cover promoted archer. The landgrab phase slowed down, only Boudica and Toku still had the peninsula to expand to.
Toku kicked off the fun by declaring on Pericles, and Boudica was not to be outdone, taking on Catherine. All parties lacked catapults, so not much was expected to come out of it. After trading some units, Boudica took a small city on the side, which controlled the only Russian metal. Cathy got it back, but not before pillaging the mine, leaving her still metalless. Toku and Pericles made peace, with no territory changed. Caesar converted to Cathy's religion, and was struggling to take the two barb cities covering his iron, but got one city captured back by barbs. After losing some more units, he finally got both cities.
Cyrus converted to Boudica's Buddhism, but switched to Cathy's Christianity later, removing the fear of a backstab of Russia by Persia. He was running away with the game, getting the Pyramids, Hanging Gardens and Mausoleum. Toku captured a size 6 barb city, giving him access to the north peninsula. Toku kept building units and decided to pile in on Boudica. He still lacked Construction, and sent his units in circles around his territory. Boudica managed to hold her border city with Guerilla 3 Gaelic Warriors against both a Russian and Japanese stack, but lost it to a second Japanese stack. That city was heavily covered in Russian culture, making it likely to flip. He also got a second city, this one further from Russia. After all this, he finally took the border city that should have been his at the start of the war. Cathy took the Buddhist holy city, followed by the capital and the last city for the kill on Boudica.
Julius wasn't to be outdone by his nephew from the wildcard game and marched a stack through Russia to declare on Toku and took both former Celtic cities. He then proceeded to smash his stack against a former barb city, losing it completely. This led to him losing the two former Celtic cities to Toku again. After some more fighting, they signed peace, leading to the first world peace since the BCs. Cathy proceeded to continue building units, leading up to a war declaration on Julius. Her first two stacks got easily cleaned up marching into Roman territory, since she didnt have maces. Caesar then paid her back by capturing the former Celtic capital, but lost it soon after. He then managed to pick up a border city close to the Russian core and later two former Celtic cities, signing a peace deal after.
Toku went after Pericles, who had switched to Christianity and built the Apostolic Palace. Two turns into the war the inevitable happened, a holy war against Toku was declared and everybody else piled in. Pericles then peaced out and let everybody else deal with the mess. Cyrus sent a big stack cross map and took a former Celtic city. They signed peace soon after. Caesar captured a former barb city in the north from Toku and got the hotly contested former Celtic city in a peace deal after.
In the meanwhile, the AP holy war backfired on Cathy, who was fighting a two front war for some time. She lost a core city to Toku, but managed to get a peace deal for some unknown reason. She then flipped back her core city, since it controlled 0 tiles. Cyrus had enough and declared with cavs and rifles on Toku, who didnt even have Gunpowder. He took one city, but stopped to build observatories in all cities, so reinforcements took a while to come. He even got Assembly Line, but still was producing Infantry sparingly, so the conquest took some time, but in the end, Toku stood no chance.
Caesar also wanted to finish the job and declared with grens on Cathy, who also didnt have Gunpowder. He took all former Celtic cities, but kept losing his own cities to the superior Persian culture, so his score was still behind Pericles. He smashed a big stack across a river into a hill city defended by curaissiers, and lost them all. He then signed peace again. The world proceeded peacefully, most cities were building research, but the Greek decided to carpet the coast in destroyers That single barb galley must have been really threatening. Cathy managed to secure a defensive pact with Cyrus, which could shake up the game if Caesar went back at it.
Cyrus continued to drag his feet, teching rather slowly. He then managed to build a SS thruster in a total iceball city and launched his spaceship without the last thruster 10 turns before his third city was set to hit legendary culture. Pericles finally managed to build a submarine to kill the icelocked barb galley, which stopped his ship building spree after 125 destroyers and 65 battleships.
In the end, it was a Persian victory, which was predicted by 2 people, followed in second place by Pericles, also 2 people, and culture was chosen by 5. Boudica as first to die was also only predicted by 4 people. It really seemed like the AIs took a collective look at the prediction sheet and said “nope, not going to happen” and proceeded to troll everybody in the most imaginative ways possible. The amount of strange decisions, starting with Boudica’s city placement, Toku’s unit pathfinding, Caesar’s cross map war, Toku’s peace with Cathy when he could have wiped her out, Caesar’s refusal to tech Rifling, Pericles’ obsession with ships, Cyrus’ durdling (he won without using the culture slider at all) was pretty impressive to witness.