42 Artificial Intelligences Are Going Head to Head in 'Civilization V'

War is still the easiest solution to every problem.

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Feb 27 2015, 8:30pm

Image: TPangolin]

The r/Civ subreddit is currently hosting a fascinating "Battle Royale" in the strategy game Civilization V, pitting 42 of the game's built-in, computer-controlled players against each other for world domination.

If you've never played it before, Civilization V is a grand strategy game in which players choose a civilization and take turns guiding it through the ages by establishing cities, securing resources, and choosing between different technologies, religions, and forms of government.

The match is being played on the largest Earth-shaped map the game is capable of, with both civilizations that were included in the retail version of the game and custom, player-created civilizations that were modded into it after release.

So far the match has lasted 161 turns, putting it at 1880 BC, but some interesting, historically inaccurate world events are already taking place. Ironically, Poland is currently putting the screws to Nazi Germany, which already saw Berlin burn to the ground and is now being squeezed to death between Polish forces and Norway.

Ironically, Poland is currently putting the screws to Nazi Germany

There are several ways to win a Civilization match. A player can achieve a scientific victory by being the first to launch a spaceship, a cultural victory by engineering a utopian society, or a diplomatic victory by winning votes in the United Nations.

Unfortunately, much like in the real world, Civilization V lends itself to warmongering, making the destruction of other player capitals the most straightforward and common victory condition.

"For the Battle Royale, I've turned off all victory types except for Domination [meaning players will have to conquer each other]," Battle Royale organizer TPangolin told me. "This includes turning off Time Victory, which essentially ends the game at turn 2050. So with that being said, the game might never end, but I intend to run it for as long as possible until we start reaching a point of stagnancy and stalemate. Even then, people still might enjoy the stories the game might tell."

An endless Civilization game is not without precedent. In 2012, another Reddit user revealed that he's been playing the same Civilization II game for 10 years, which evolved into an endless war between three emerging superpowers and a world ravaged by nuclear bombs and global warming.

Image: TPangolin

Given the time period, current wars in the Battle Royale are being fought with sticks and stones. As time passes, greater wars are sure to erupt, and as the AIs develop nuclear weapons, things will get more interesting and grim.

You can catch up with how this strange history has unfolded so far with additional commentary in these detailed slideshows:

You should also be able to watch the next 25 turns unfold live at 4 PM ET today via the Twitch Stream below.