Axiis was kind enough to type up this summary of the action from Game Six. Excellent summary and hilarious to boot. Thanks!
AI Survivor 2 Game 6: Mansa Stomps, Hatty Trolls, The Wildcard Game Grows
The Survivor pool for game 6 promised drama, and the game mostly delivered. Both Egyptian leaders, Hatsepshut and Ramesses, were present in the middle of the map. They were sandwiched between a threesome of aggressive warlords in Alexander of Greece, Brennus of the Gallic Celts, and Mehmet of the Ottomans. The squad was rounded out by Augustus of the Romans in the southeast and Mansa Musa, the king of Mali, who was perched in a river valley at the north end of the map. Interestingly, not one of the leaders could grab a religion right of the bat, which added a critical wrinkle to the diplomatic game.
The game's defining war was set up by the first settlers wandering out of their respective capitals. While Augustus headed west towards Istanbul and Alexander busied himself with a second city containing all of six non-tundra tiles, Hatty and Mehmet set themselves on a collision course. They appeared to want the same hill tile that overlooked a river valley between their respective capitals, and Mehmet won the race by a turn, founding Edirne and pushing Hatty's settler out of his borders to the west. Hatty responded to this set back by founding her own city on a hill across the valley from Edirne, apparently trusting her creative trait to win the culture war brewing between Egypt and the Turks. Unfortunately for Hatsepshut though, Mehmet caught break when he narrowly won the race to the game's first religion. He naturally chose Islam, which popped in Edirne. The Holy City bonus stabilized the Turkish border and established the Egyptian-Ottoman border.
The second religion popped in Ramesses' Egypt, with Christianity appearing in Heliopolis on Mansa Musa's southern border. Of course Mansa is a smooth operator, and he fought back by grabbing the game's third religion, Confucianism. Just like that, Mansa had a Holy City of his own to push back against Ramesses' borders.
Wonders began to fall as the AIs slowly filled out the map. Rome completed the least impressive Great Wall possible, Rams pulled down Stonehenge, and Mansa took Monarchy after building the Oracle Mali also pulled a major coup by snagging the iron that sat just north of Hatshepsut’s borders, denying her a source of metal until her cultural borders finally grabbed the iron on the opposite side of her territory, in the desert between Egypt and the Celts. Hatty’s lack of metal would soon become a critical weakness when she up and started a war with Mehmet a few turns later. Her first stack consisted of three lonely and unfortunate war chariots that promptly suicided into Mehmet’s capital city. Her second attack similarly proved total failure, and the war settled into a pattern of random skirmishes. Hatty lacked the power - not to mention the technology and strategic resources - to take one of Mehmet’s cities, while Mehmet had his hands full with a wave of Barbarian raiders coming up from the southern tundra and burning the land around Istanbul.
Mehmet and Hatsepshut failed to accomplish much of anything with their opening war, which would eventually peter out into a contentious peace. As their armies splattered themselves on their respective targets, the AIs put the finishing touches on their settling phase and began forming religious blocs that would define the rest of the game. Mansa confidently stuck with his own religion, feeling no apparent compunction about being the most hated guy in the game (which he was, by a kind of shocking margin). The two Egypts and the Greeks were joined by the Christian faith, while the three southern empires of Rome, the Celts, and the Turks formed an Islamic triad.
It goes without saying then that the second war of the game erupted between… wait, Rome and the Celts? Yes, apparently Augustus just had enough of a genetic hatred of the Brennus and his long haired Gauls that he decided to march clear across the Ottoman Empire and attack his fellow Muslim out of the blue. Sadly for the Princeps, his two major death stacks failed to make any progress against the Celtic defenses and he was left with a blood enemy within his religious bloc, while Barbarian cities like the aptly named Visigoth bloomed on the east coast, in land that really should have been Roman.
As that second Roman stack marched west to meet its fate, the war bug spread to Mansa, who had been cottaging like mad around his river heavy capital. He apparently sized up Ramesses and liked his chances because when the war declaration horn sounded again, it was Mali marching on Egypt. Ramesses quickly responded by pulling the always aggressive Alexander into what was now a two front war on Mali. If this was a nice move on paper though, it was positively suicidal when it became clear that tiny, tundra bound Greece was hopelessly backwards compared to might Mali, and that Rams was far more interested, at least initially, in grabbing the barb cities to his east than he was in pressuring Mansa in the south. Alexander put up a good fight, but he really never stood much of a chance against Mansa’s stack, especially when Mali started rolling out macemen.
Meanwhile, things were going badly for Rome, and they were about to start going even worse. Augustus had put together a third army for an attempt on a Celtic city, but the Praetorians ran into a Celtic death stack in Turkish territory and were wiped out, leaving the path to Rome itself wide open. Mehmet seemed to see which way the winds were blowing, and he turned on his erstwhile ally Augustus and joined Brennus in their inter-faith war. However, though the Turkish/Celtic forces steamrolled Antium, they were held back at the gates of Rome.
Back in the north, the Greeks had countered Mansa’s thrust by recapturing Sparta behind the Malinese army marching on Athens. This would only slow down Mansa’s offensive though, and nothing Alexander could do would end up stopping it. Meanwhile, Ramesses finally came back from his years on the east coast and retook a border city captured by Mansa before blowing his stack on Mansa’s longbow fortified hill city just over the Egyptian border. If Mansa was bothered by any of this he didn’t show it, as he continued to tech along at a frightening pace while building every wonder he could get his hands on.
The appearance of longbowmen apparently lit a fire under Mehmet, who finally reopened the long dormant war with Hatsepshut before she teched to feudalism – Hatty was, predictably, screwing around on the wrong side of the tech tree, leaving herself wide open to attack. Hatsepshut then gave the Turks another key assist by moving part of her Elephantine stack out of the city to attack Edirne just as a Turkish doomstack appeared at the city gates. With half her defenses in the field and no longbows in sight, Hatsepshut could only watch helplessly as the Ottomans seized her great fortress city, the city that had been a thorn in Mehmet’s side since the beginning of the game.
Worse news followed for Hatty a few turns later when Brennus finally settled peace with Augustus, freeing him up to join his bash brother Mehmet in taking down Hatty’s Egypt, which now sat on Brennus’s northern border. With the doomsday clock now ticking in Hatty’s ear, she pulled off a small victory that would have profound consequences for the rest of the game. Augustus was using his peace to finally finally finally take the barb cities on his east coast, when Hatsepshut swooped in and somehow snagged the last city in the southeast corner of the map out from under Augustus’s nose with a single war chariot. This Egyptian outpost was totally crushed by Augustus’s borders, but it was a nice win for Hatsepshut nevertheless. That little barbarian city, safely ensconced by Roman culture, would become Hatty’s refuge as Mehmet and Brennus quickly partitioned Egypt. Critically though, Mehmet and Brennus could not end their war with Hatsepshut – she was behind Roman culture, and relations between Rome and the Islamic bash brothers were still frosty, which meant that Rome would never open its borders to the Turkish/Celtic doomstacks that were targetting Hatty’s last little city. The unintended consequence of Hatty sniping Visigoth out from under Augustus was that the war between the Islamic bros and Egypt would never end, so the hyper aggressive war mongers of the south would never look to start another war.
And with Mansa Musa looking totally comfortable fighting off his nearest technological rival while simultaneously swallowing Greece whole, that meant that the game was only going to go in one direction. In a bizarre twist of fate, the capture of Visigoth more or less sealed the game for Mansa. The only question left was how he planned on closing out the game.
Shortly after Hatty’s fateful conquest, Ramesses peaced out with Mansa. He had accomplished basically nothing except that he instigated a war between mighty Mali and tiny Greece. Sadly for Alexander, he was lacking a random barbarian city to hide out in and was utterly outclassed by Mansa, which meant Alexander could do nothing but rue the day Ramesses talked him into this damn fool crusade. He was officially First to Die on Turn 161, and only one civ would end up joining him on the chopping block.
Ramesses offered himself up for elimination a few turns later, when he took a supremely ill-timed shot at Mansa. He was just able to keep up with Mansa’s beaker count during his golden age, but he put that science towards communism. Mansa, prudently, ignored Marx and went after rifling. He was just in the process of upgrading his army when Ramesses again sounded the horns of war, giving Mansa a totally decisive military tech advantage over Egypt. Though it took some time – particularly when Mansa stopped fighting to invest in factories and to upgrade his rifles to infantry – Egypt simply could not compete with Mansa and his cottage cheese. The Rammer was eliminated on Turn 281, having taken his shot at the king and missed.
With Mansa just miles ahead of the Islamic civs (and Hatty!) in terms of tech, with Brennus and Mehmet still glaring past Rome’s borders to Hatty’s lone city, and with Augustus being, well, Augustus, Mansa was able to leisurely build his way to a cultural victory. The only late game drama was Hatshepsut’s flagrant trolling of the UN, when she repeatedly defied motion after motion, incurring a +20 (!) unhappiness penalty for refusing to recognize freedom of speech and religion and then topped herself by refusing to end the war between her one city empire and the Islamic bros. Hatty truly embraced her inner Kim Jong Un as she openly trolled the international community.
The culture count finally ticked over for Mansa on Turn 307. For all the action, bad blood, backstabbing, and alliance making, the end of the game saw remarkably little action. With Mansa content to tech his way to a peaceful victory and the Islamic bros locked into finishing their endless war with Hatty, and with Augustus being, well, Augustus, there was just no one around to fight. At the end of the day, Mansa went out as the top dog, having eliminated the only two dead civs, while five (!!!) civilizations went on to fight another day, including little Egypt, waving two middle fingers at the rest of the world from her tiny corner of the map.
1. Mansa Musa
6. Ramesses (eliminated)
7. Alexander (eliminated)
I'll point out that you can see Hatshepsut's borders in the corner of the minimap, still shielded by Roman culture from attack at the end of the game. What a strange conclusion!