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Sullla's AI Survivor Season Eight - Game 2 Thread

I don't think it coulda gone any better for Justy. He is so good in his element. Crushed the religion and only early threat was a very nerfed Toku, who can be a lot tougher usually than credited. Not sure what Toku's deal was this game but he was turrible.
Well, my congratulations to all of the Justinian believers! I definitely did not see this dominant of a performance coming. (In general I think I had a pretty terrible read on this game.)

It was a pleasure to see him finally return to form, though. I enjoy rooting for Justinian (still pulling for him to be the first two-time champ) and it had been what, five years since he'd had a successful game? I like his spot in the playoffs as well. I am not writing up this game but I am slated for Playoff 2, so hopefully that will be a fun one.

Not too much to say about his performance, really, though. He utterly dominated the econ/cultural side of the game, did a fantastic job of leveraging his religion to eliminate threats (and was far away from the most threatening leaders anyway), and fought well on the occasions where he was called to. Way better game than anybody else, a total stomp.

Gilgamesh I'm considerably less excited about, as he was pretty uninspiring. I'll admit the early 2v1 did hamper him and nobody else played particularly more deservingly of second place, so it's not like this was a totally lame undeserved finish, but it certainly wasn't exciting either. I wonder if he got a bit unlucky in this game or will habitually underperform in the alternate histories. At a glance his position in the playoffs looks pretty average, so we'll see who his other opponents are as the round goes on.

Cathy was lucky to survive for the Wildcard (her first time in that round ever, I believe!) but that was about the only lucky thing for her this game. I don't think she did anything particularly wrong, she just had a bad start that didn't allow her to do much. Uncharacteristically quiet Cathy game, but she'll probably make up for it in the WC.

Bis made a good run for it later in the game, but his start was poor enough that it might not have been enough even if he'd just gone toe-to-toe for Gilgamesh. Neither of his wars on Justin was a good idea either. He definitely wasted a potential playoff spot. That start makes me doubt though how viable he really was as a potential winner.

Genghis delivered in entertainment value even if his actual performance was pretty bad. I wonder how differently things will go in games where he targets Cathy first? He's perhaps the most interesting leader to see the alternate histories for, to see if he is capable of ever delivering on that promising start or will just constantly torpedo his game like he did here. After the real game, though, I'm feeling like my doubts in him were pretty well justified.

We got some trolling from Wang, at least! Not too much, but the early wardec to kill Gilgamesh's chances of winning, cross-continent attack of Toku, and having one-city Cathy march four units across the map to him filled enough of a quota. Too bad he couldn't have sniped the Toku kill. Also wish we'd had him in the Wildcard as well, but it was not to be.

Finally, Toku at least got my fantasy team the First to Die points! Given both the situation in the auction when I got him and his start to this game, that isn't too bad. This map went basically nothing like I'd imagined when I put him as high priority, though. 'Twill be interesting to see if he's any more viable when he's not a total religious pariah, as well as if his start will always be as bad as it was here. One of the more interesting leaders for an AH. I enjoy rooting for Toku so it's too bad he did so badly here, but at least it came to Justin's benefit.
Tokugawa went wonder spam, never placed his settlers, unfortunately Sulla never showed him because Genghis wardec on Gilgamesh...
Of all leaders I really don't think we will see Toku finding other religion in AH often, maybe not even once?! This shoud be noted/checked by AH creator.
I think Catherine did a good job in expansion for that start. But everybody's snowballing genghis over cathy ftd dreams went wrong.
And of course Wang Kon defended well with all those ice coast cities and was never push over until late game. He was also the reason why Gilgamesh couldn't snowball, that must be the reason why he uninspired you. 2v1 on Korea was very ineffective.
Yeah, I don't know what the most likely outcome is for that second religion but it's probably not Toku.
With two seeded leaders succeeding in this game, there's some interesting implications for future seasons' seeding. Will be interesting to see this develop as the season goes on.

Gigamesh was tied for the last Pool One spot at the start of the season, so his 3 points here puts him back in contention for a Pool One spot. He currently leads both Suryavarman and Stalin; Sury in particular is almost certainly going back to Pool Two if he does not at least secure a playoff spot in this game. On the other hand, Gilgamesh must have another strong game in the playoffs to have any hope of moving higher than #7.

Justinian was sinking in Pool One, but his win here puts him right back in the comfort zone - he is now AI Survivor's #3 ranked leader, displacing Kublai Khan from that spot.

Catherine, by the way, is tied for the last Pool Two spot. She didn't get any points to help out in this game, but her survival does still leave that door potentially open, and I imagine her landgrab traits might be particularly useful in the Wildcard...
Justinian had a runaway victory, but there are many reasons to believe it would be hard to reproduce. Settling west, he took a big bite out of Catherine's land, but settling east would have breathed life into her game. Even late in the early game, Justinian was slow to metals, and had not expanded very well. We can see from the turn-priority silk settle that Justinian could be very squeezed in other playthroughs. While the monopoly on culture and wonders made sense in this game, religious hegemony seemed somewhat of a high roll.

I can definitely see this is not a 90% Gilgamesh map :D He had a lot to do in the early game: settle the land, clear barbarians, and carry out early conquest. While he succeeded in the first two, he completely failed to gain ground, even losing a border city that would prove bitterly regretful during Bismarck's rampage! Personally, I was surprised to see Gilgamesh struggle to meet Genghis' unit production. It was also odd that chariots formed such a large proportion of his defenses when he had access to copper. The forever war eliminated any early advantage from his land, especially with his odd lack of production. He did have land, but it was indeed average. The tundra conquest seemed potentially limited by pathfinding.

Bismarck proved himself capable but not quite competent. He settled towards the jungle, expanded well, researched the Wheel, kept the economy afloat, and even became a bit of a monster! If anything, the game showed that Bismarck's start with adequate expansion could compete directly with Gilgamesh's land. It's easy to belittle Bismarck given his fatal final war declaration, but he was the only AI to contest Justinian's early game(!) While I think his position would be weaker in the Alternate Histories, as Tokugawa proved an unexpected shield, his peace weight gave him options for mid-game expansion, and I do think he would advance a fair number of times.

As has been noted, Catherine expanded well, took land off of Genghis, and that was about it! Justinian's holy city made it difficult to take land away from him, though she tried. It seems clear this was a non-starter for Catherine--her AI just does not wait to plot war until she is down to one city! It's possible she needs a weak start from Justinian just to be relevant. While I think Catherine is a good AI, I agree she's lucky to have another chance.

I am probably most impressed with how Wang Kon held his own in the early game. He managed to split capital duties with his first settle, prioritized Hunting and Iron Working, and proved a tech leader with relevant stats into the mid-game. Unfortunately, his lack of early expansion, especially relative to Bismarck, meant that his land just could not compete against the larger empires. Given Gilgamesh's weaker start, it seems less likely Wang Kon would make much headway to the west.

It was also interesting that the area around Gilgamesh's and Wang Kon's first settles was fiercely contested. I wonder if it was to the defender's advantage to be able to concentrate their forces against the rotating sieges.

Tokugawa had an underwhelming performance featuring bizarre misuse of river commerce, skewed research priorities, and late access to metals. While he settled predictably away from the map, he struggled to expand to the point that Justinian added late filler cities. But as Keler notes, we did not see much of Tokugawa in the stream anyway. I am inclined to view this as an anomalous result.

And then we have Genghis Khan who probably performed as some expected. While he lost almost the whole region north of his capital to Catherine, he did settle into the map. Additionally, he took a city off Gilgamesh, cleaned up Tokugawa, and almost did the same to Catherine. I am not particularly surprised he folded so quickly to Bismarck. With a better start, I can see how his sheer unit production would overwhelm Catherine or Justinian.
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