Civilization 5 Battle Royale Has 61 AI Civilizations Fighting For World Domination

Civilization 5 Battle Royale
It’s a no-holds-barred battle for world domination without a single human player involved.

Civilization 5 is a game of many faces. It can eat up hundreds of hours of your life, and yet there exist speedruns of it that last less than half a second. It is one of the most popular and played strategy games of its time, yet right now it might be most popular in a form nobody can play.

That form is the Civ Battle Royale Mark II, a huge, ongoing game of Civ 5 played entirely by the computer against itself. The concept is simple: the game is modded to allow for 62 unique civilizations to compete on one huge map of the Earth, up from the base game’s limit of twelve. One of these is still controlled by a human, but is sequestered in an unreachable corner of the map, so that its only impact on the game is in clicking the “Next Turn” button.

This leaves 61 factions, all controlled only by the AI, duking it out amongst themselves to be the last one standing. These run the gamut from global powers like China to indigenous civilizations like the Blackfoot to forgotten states like the short-lived Republic of Texas—all starting on the map at their historical point of origin, tasked with expanding their territory, defeating their neighbors, and ultimately conquering the world.

The result is a chaotic spectacle. It’s a world of constant war, with nations building colossal, continent-spanning armies and recklessly raining nuclear bombs on each other. Factions rise and fall in bizarre, fictional ways: the Polynesians colonizing Baja California, Buccaneer pirates briefly conquering Portugal, Japan spending in-game centuries under Australian control.

A substantial community has formed to watch the unpredictable twists and turns. Within a year of its launch, the Battle Royale found its way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Most followed battle in a strategy game”, drawing tens of thousands of unique viewers every month. The game has its own Reddit community, where over 11,000 diehard followers eagerly anticipate the weekly album updating the state of the game, cheering on their favorite civilizations and booing their enemies.

It’s the strength of this community that has kept the Battle Royale running for nearly three years. Their enthusiasm for the game has resulted in some remarkable creativity: they ascribe personalities and invent lore for the otherwise faceless civilizations, swap memes, create original art. Some followers have even go so far as to write a novel about the game or make it the focus of a sociology paper.

The community’s passion even helped keep the Battle Royale alive after it encountered a seemingly fatal bug after more than a year of operation. Though the game initially appeared dead in the water, members of the community stepped in and spent months rebuilding the save file from scratch. Now, rebooted as the Battle Royale Mark 2.1, the game looks like it will run its course without another major crash.

And the conclusion may not be far off. After over 1,000 turns, only twelve of the original 61 civilizations survive, and several of those cling to life. The battle for ultimate victory will likely be contested between Brazil, who now control all of South America as well as Africa and the Middle East, and the Inuit, who control all of North America and much of Siberia.

Still, it’s going to be a few months before a victor is crowned. Each civilization commands so many cities and military units that each turn now takes a staggering ten hours to process, so that each weekly installment in the community’s coverage of the match only covers about fifteen turns. And that means you have plenty of time to follow the endgame on Reddit, or start at the beginning with the Battle Royale archives.

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Jessica is a well traveled Pokemon trainer and Battle Pet tamer in Des Moines. When she's not out battling gyms or slaying the Legion, she's writing about it!
Gamer Since: 2004
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: World of Warcraft, Pokemon Go, Hearthstone
Top 3 Favorite Games:World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas, Neverwinter Nights 2
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