This summary of the Wildcard game was written by another fan contributor named Chaosquo. The unusual nature of the Wildcard game makes this a difficult match to summarize, and he did a fantastic job with this writeup. Thank you very much Chaosquo!
AI Survivor 2 Wildcard Game: The Story of 1 Tenacious Leader and 2 Catapults
With 11 surviving AIs coming into this wildcard match, we had a large map and a chaotic game ahead of us. Darius spawned in the north with a tundra pocket to himself, Zara spawned in the northeast with a nice peninsula, south of them were Joao on the western coast, Hammurabi in the middle, Roosevelt to the east and Augustus on the eastern coast. Further south was Mehmed on the western coast, then Hannibal and Peter. Saladin spawned to the south of Peter close to the tundra and Hatshepsut spawned on the southeastern coast. While most of the AIs were quite close together, there was some open land between Joao and Hammurabi that could be taken advantage of by the imperialistic Portuguese. The north had mostly AI that were classified as good on the peace weight scale, with Joao and Zara being more neutral, while the south was rather evil, with Hatty being the exception. This was bad news for her, especially because she was next to the only other leader that focuses on religions in this game, Saladin. Most AIs planted their second city towards the center or open space, only Peter and Augustus expanded towards each other. Both Hatty and Saladin went for Polytheism. Saladin got it by 3 turns and founded Islam, which caused Hatty immediately to switch to Meditation, but Hammurabi also decided to go for it and won it by 1 turn, founding Taoism.
The third cities followed soon after, with Augustus further expanding towards Peter and Roosevelt also joining in on the fun. This had the potential to get ugly really quickly, especially since Peter was on the opposite end on the peace weight of the other two. Stonehenge went to Augustus, Joao got the Great Wall with the help of stone, which was useful for him since he had a rather isolated position. Darius converted to Taoism, Hatty finally founded Buddhism via Monotheism and kept expanding along a long river, remembering her heritage. Peter’s territory formed a nice cross, while Zara stopped building settlers to go for the Great Lighthouse. 4 barbarian cities sprang up in a curving line east of Joao’s cities, with a fifth in the southern tundra.
At turn 50, Hannibal, Hammurabi and Zara were still on 3 cities, with Roosevelt taking the opportunity to expand into the peninsula that could have been wholly Ethiopian. Peter converted to Buddhism, which still didn't improve his opinion of Hatty much, while Joao went Taoist. He also continued to plant cities aggressively, while Mehmed got the first barb city right to the north of Hannibal and on the doorstep of Hammurabi. Peter destroyed his nicely shaped empire by founding a city and boxing Hammurabi further in, while a barb archer defender left its city, got killed by Mehmed, who refused to waltz his axeman into the now empty city. He sent a sword to try to capture it, but got warded off by a reinforcement archer from another barb city to the north. Roosevelt tried to plant another city in the north eastern peninsula, but got spooked off by barbs. He came back later with a mini stack escorting 3 (!) settlers, but only got a single city that looked to be soon behind Ethiopian culture. Babylon built the Oracle, taking Metal Casting. Joao got the Pyramids, while the Temple of Artemis was built by Zara. Hannibal and Augustus converted to Islam, and Mehmed finally got that barb city. The landgrab phase ended with Saladin in the lead, closely followed by several other leaders, while Augustus and Roosevelt were doing poorly and only had 5 and 6 cities respectively. Zara founded Christianity through Code of Laws. Meanwhile 2 more barb cities were captured by Joao and Mehmed, meaning the Ottomans now had 3 cities that were not connected to their core cities. Darius was quietly settling his backline tundra.
The first war of the game was kicked off by Mehmed declaring on Hammurabi. He took some time shuffling his units around, than wasted some units attacking into a city without catapults. They both continued to trade units ineffectually. The other leaders felt left out, so on the same turn Peter declared on Hatty, and Joao wanted a piece of Hannibal. Peter had swords against walls and axes, and had managed to be the worst enemies of 5 leaders, so we were waiting to see if someone wanted to pile in. It turned out it wasn't one of them, but Saladin that joined in, declaring on Peter and taking a city on the border. Joao took a border city and advanced on Carthage with 2 catapults in his stack. Hannibal took advantage of the Portuguese stack moving and took back his border city and cleaned up the attack on his capitol. Joao took the Carthaginian border city again using maces, but gave the city back immediately in a peace deal.
Mehmed belatedly brought catapults to siege down Babylon, but Hammurabi later managed to take back Babylon because the Ottomans wasted a big stack on attacking another city. Mehmed took Babylon again, while his enemy took a former barbarian city. They signed peace right after, maybe also helped by the fact that Hammurabi had the Statue of Zeus. Saladin took another Russian city. Peter bought Augustus into the war on Hatty. He lost a big border city to Hatty before signing peace, letting Hatty focus fully on Augustus, though not before losing a border city. Hatty captured her border city back from Rome, but lost the big city she got from Peter to Augustus. Roosevelt piled in on the hated Peter and marched elephants into Russia and got a city, while Saladin captured Moscow. Peter created a hideout by capturing a barb city in the southwestern corner off the map. Saladin proceeded to claim the left over Russian core cities. Zara wanted to take advantage of Augustus’ preoccupation and declared on him, marching a big stack and a separate stack of catapults into Roman territory. He promptly lost those and then ground his big stack against a city on a hill, almost managing to wipe out the defenders. Augustus managed to get peace with Hatty by giving back the small border city, but right before she could take back the bigger former Russian city. Saladin took his sweet time getting to the last Russia city, but Augustus marched a big stack to an Ethiopian border city and took it.
At Turn 150, Zara, Joao, Roosevelt and Darius were close in GNP, while Joao had the most production and food. Saladin was the leader in power. Darius managed to get Liberalism, taking Nationalism and building the Taj in a city that would take 59 turns. Saladin finally managed to kill Peter and we were waiting on who he would set his sights on next. He was friendly with his two muslim brothers Mehmed and Hannibal, but could declare on anyone else. In the meanwhile, Augustus was slowly bombarding down the Ethiopian holy city containing a castle and Chichen Itza. Hannibal felt an itch again and declared on Hammurabi, marching a stack forward. It got immediately wiped out. Babylon had also flipped back in the meantime.
Joao triggered a Golden Age and got the Taj right afterwards. Mehmed felt envious and declared war, marching his main stack from a former barb city. They got stomped immediately by Joao, but he managed to bleed a lot of units in the following turns, accomplishing nothing either. Even though he had a tech lead over Mehmed, he had avoided all military tech, so there was no advantage on the field. Joao finally managed to get both former barbarian cities from Mehmed, signing peace afterwards. In the war between Ethiopia and Rome, the holy city of Zara held so long that he teched to Cuirassiers and wiped out the attacking stack from Augustus and then managed to take back his border city. Zara and Augustus continued to trade units, finally signing peace, restoring the status quo ante bellum.
Saladin got bored and also declared on Hammurabi, who got peace from Hannibal right after. He quickly proceeded to take 2 cities, including the Statue of Zeus, and then settled down in front of the capital, bombarding it down with 2 catapults. Saladin brought more units to the siege of the Babylonian capitol, bringing the total to 41 units, still only including 2 catapults. He finally had enough and signed peace. Several turns after, Hannibal came back for round 2 with Hammurabi, marching in a stack and getting it promptly wiped out. Meanwhile, Hammurabi flipped the city with the Statue of Zeus back. Augustus started to march a stack to the west across the whole map, making us wonder what his target was. Mehmed had to put his newly built units to use, so he also declared on Hammurabi, taking back his former barb city. We finally discovered that Augustus sent the stack to take a medium sized border city of Mehmed, which was fully enveloped in Ottoman culture afterwards. During all this, Joao got Rifling -> Steel -> Artillery, so we were waiting to see which fool he would decide to stomp on. Roosevelt marched a stack straight through Arabic territory, making us wonder who he would target.
Saladin declared on his erstwhile war ally Hatty, doubling her in power. It was Cuirassiers versus Egyptian Rifles though, so Hatty had a small advantage there. His main stack had 81 units, but had only the 2 heroic catapults involved in the siege of the Babylonian capital to bombard city defences. Saladin brought a separate stack of catapults, which got promptly wiped out by the defenders. This left him taking off 2% each turn from the Egyptian border city. During this, Roosevelt used his mighty stack to take a barb city in the southern ice cap. Hannibal managed to capture a city from Hammurabi, while Augustus was continuing with his stack to the Ottoman capital. It was Muskets versus Janissaries, so not much was expected. Joao was building the Apollo Program without having discovered Steam Power, which was interesting. With Augustus threatening to take the Ottoman barb city, Mehmed signed peace, leaving Hannibal alone to fight on. The thrilling siege of the Egyptian border city continued with only 1 catapult left. Saladin managed to reinforce the stack to 111 units, including 2 (!) catapults again. At 14% city defense, he finally attacked, bringing down his stack to 15 units and killing about 5 rifles. Hatty wasnt able to take a city either, so they signed peace with Saladin giving up a city. Hannibal took Babylon, leaving Hammurabi with 3 cities. He came really close to taking down the capitol, but Hammurabi managed to get rifles upgraded just before the attack, so it held.
Joao, while doubling everyone in power and disliking Mehmed, was teching happily. The next war came in an unexpected place, with Roosevelt advancing with infantry on Zaras rifles. This would be his chance to get from fourth to second place and advance to the playoffs, but he was happily building research in every city. After taking the Ethiopian holy city and Zara wasting a big stack of rifles attacking infantry, they signed peace again. Roosevelt had also built several ships in his iceball city, which he must have rushed using Universal Suffrage civic. Meanwhile, Mehmed sent a retaliatory force across the map to get wiped out inside Roman territory and signing peace. After further turns of trading units between Hammurabi and Hannibal, they also gave up, leaving the whole world at peace. It looked like Joao was going to win this easily via Spaceship, being well ahead in tech. Hammurabi managed to flip back Babylon for the nth time. Hatty had enough of this and declared on Saladin, being dead even in power, but fighting infantry with rifles. She managed to lose the city she got in the last war, but made it to Assembly Line to even out the units. Hannibal also piled in on Hatty.
The other leaders also caught the war bug, with Darius finally doing something and declaring on Hannibal, while Augustus declared on Roosevelt on the same turn. Darius had tanks against Cuirassiers, while Augustus was fighting tanks with infantry and half of America’s power. Both these wars had the possibility to decide second place. Both Carthage and Rome were getting rolled quickly, but Rome was smaller to begin with, Roosevelt had less score to gain. Zara wanted a part of the pie and captured Rome, while Joao was plotting war too. Mehmed wanted to finish the matter once and for all and declared on Hammurabi, but managed no progress. Hatty lost 2 more cities, but managed to stabilise. Roosevelt eliminated Augustus, and Joao finally declared on Mehmed, moving forward with Modern Armor:
Zara wanted more brownie points and piled in as well. The next turn, U.N. peacekeeping stopped the war against Zara. Roosevelt was making a play for the coveted second place and declared on Saladin. Hammurabi wanted payback and also piled in. Joao eliminated Mehmed and launched his spaceship in the same turn, with Darius killing Hannibal 3 turns later (the final iceball city contained 10+ frigates), but still missing several parts on the Persian spaceship. Roosevelt didnt manage to conquer any cities before the spaceship landed, which sealed his fate.
Darius moved on in second place with the added territory from Carthage, with Roosevelt in third, followed by Saladin, Zara, Hatty and Hammurabi. Joao performed a good landgrab and never looked back, even his long pointless war with Hannibal couldnt hold him back. Darius planted less cities in the beginning, but settled several iceball cities later to contribute to his research. Roosevelt got boxed in pretty early, but made a play for it by betraying his peaceful nature and declaring several wars of conquest. Unfortunately for him, he got talked into peace after conquering 1 city each by Peter and Zara, and his successful conquest of Rome was split with Zara.
Saladin actually had a good chance, had he not insisted on bombing down city defenses with the same 2 catapults. A fast conquest of Babylon followed by Egypt would have gotten him the land to challenge Joao. Zara got distracted by wonder building and didnt fill out his peninsula, while Hatty refused to settle her backline tundra and ice cities and rather focused on building missionaries and failing at warfare. Hammurabi kept holding on, being involved in a full quarter of the 25 wars in this game, being at times reduced to 3 cities. He managed to hold back Mehmed and Hannibal long enough for the other leaders to get ahead and crush them later. For that, he deserves an honorary mention.