The Return of Civilization Battle Royale

When Civilization V and its expansions were in development, Ed Beach, Lead AI Programmer on Civilization V and Lead Designer on Gods & Kings and Brave New World, used a tool to help him test and analyze the AI systems he was working on. The tool would create and play a game of Civ all by itself, AI-only. To the devs it was a helpful, but run-of-the-mill development tool. To Civ fans, an AI-only game had become a brand new way to experience a game they’d already sunk thousands of hours into.

Previously, we talked to thenyanmaster about the beginnings of this phenomenon. Now, diehard Civ fan TPangolin has carried the trend forward and is currently in the middle of his second AI-only Battle Royale, affectionately titled Battle Royale Mk.II. The bigger and badder game rages on which you can follow here.

We got a chance to catch up with TPangolin and ask him about the new version of Battle Royale and what makes it special.

You’ve done a Civ V Battle Royale once before. How did that go? What was the response like?

Inevitably, and somewhat predictably from the perspective of the naysayers from the outset - it ended in the destruction of the earth and the tears upon the cheeks of all civilians who were unfortunate to watch it happen. It's quite strange really, the previous Battle Royale seems incredibly distant at this point. The reaction and hype we had garnered up until the moment it crashed was quite spectacular! I guess it could be said that perhaps it's a good thing that the original version crashed at around turn 318. Our battle hardened selves have collectively learnt a couple of things a) it’s all about the journey, and not the destination and b) if the original didn't crash, it couldn't have come back sooner, bigger and better with 50% more civs!

What was your favorite response from a fan?

With the hundreds of pieces of original content that the fandom behind the Battle Royale has produced, it's extremely hard to pick something singularly great out of what has been made so far. There's comics, rap battles, diplomatic maps, gifs, polandball iterations of the world, poems, independent power rankings and even a whole website dedicated to showcasing the whole thing!

Here are some of my favorite responses thus far:

The Official Battle Royale Companion Website:
Israel's Scout Problem:
Cruising Towards Victory:

What kind of magic do you have to perform to run a game like this?

Life as a student has taught me a few things, the magics of instant coffee and Milo are unparalleled and so are the subsequent feelings of willpower, determination and the unmistakable feeling of "Jazz-Hands" you get from too much caffeine.

Now you’re on Battle Royale Mk.II. What makes it different?

This one is far bigger! We currently have a new .DLL file is in use that allows for a greater number of civilizations in a game, taking us to 62, including the elusive observer Babylonians. A more stable mod list is in use, the quantities of units (including archaeologists) have been toned down, and I'm running the game in extremely long bouts to avoid crashes. My latest Battle Royale session took over 20 Hours of in-game and covered a measly 150 turns!

What did you learn from the first Battle Royale that improved the Mk.II?

We learnt that the AI loves building Archaeologists despite the fact that the only Archaeological sites left were on tiles blockaded by the icy recesses of Antarctica. We also learnt that sometimes unofficial mods are prone to game crashes and thus we learnt that since it's all about the journey, and not the destination - we can enjoy the now so much more.

What has been some of your favorite moments from Battle Royale Mk.II?

Thus far, my favorite moments have been the Spartan storming of Constantinople, the SPECTACULAR fall from grace that was China (Previously the #2 Civilization predicted to win, now the #61st), and of course the Buccaneer invasion of Central America of which Great Merchant Steve Jobs was on the frontlines of the war (most likely advocating Piracy)!

Who do you think is going to win?

This is a game full of wildcards! A Civilization that sits and bides it's time and avoids wars may not seem like a potential candidate for a podium finish, but if they're on par with technology - they can storm the gates of a larger, scarier neighbor when that said neighbor has their backs turned! This has happened a myriad of times so far and will continue happening throughout the game. I also think that the greatest Civilizations are the ones with not necessarily the ones with the greatest land armies, but those with the greatest fleets. Naval Warfare is amazing at achieving cross/intercontinental inroads towards seemingly unready/unsuspecting enemies on opposite sides of the globe. Carpets of Doom are one thing, but the Inuit's Ice Sheet Fleet, the Australian Wobbegong Armada and the Icelandic Polar Vortex are on whole new levels (especially considering the amount of Coastal Capitals).

What’s next for you?

Battle Royale Mk. III! Most likely, what's next for me is the further growth and fostering of the community that we've already built. The community over at /r/civbattleroyale is absolutely exemplary and the content and humor that they produce (although extremely niche in our little corner of the internet) is second to none. I'm not sure what the future holds, but I hope I can do something along the lines of the vast amounts of fun that I'm having already.