Egypt is most certainly the easiest Native African nation to play in the Scramble for Africa scenario. Due to below described handling of “diplomacy with the AI” it’s possible to delay war with Italy until a time when we’re prepared. From then on: This Scramble for Africa Egypt strategy is actually fun (where before it’s tense waiting for sh** to hit the fan).
Historically, Egypt has been the strongest native African power, thus had relatively good preconditions for succeeding in the historic Scramble for Africa. Egypt’s demise, falling under de facto British rule came from good intentions:
Isma’il Pasha, the ruler of Egypt and grandson of Muhammad Ali Pasha (thus Egypt’s unique ability in this scenario), was on a good way modernizing and industrializing the country. Unfortunately, his efforts led to borrowing huge sums from the French and British Governments, resulting in severe debt. He even had to sell his own country’s shares in the Suez Canal Company to the British government. Once he repudiated that debt, both France and Britain claimed financial control over Egypt and ultimate toppled him from power. Interesting though: Egypt never was an official colony of Britain, but most maps simplify Egypt’s status and only display de facto control.
Playing the Scramble for Africa with Egypt will be different: Our differences are more with Italy and Portugal, who face a more severe threat to our coastal cities.
In a nutshell
Here’s the Dos and Don’ts, the essentials of this Scramble for Africa Egypt Strategy:
- avoid war with the Ottomans at all costs
- delay war with Italy using the diplomacy exploit below
- settle close to Ethiopia to contain them
Unique unit and unique power
Egypt’s unique traits are quite useful. It’s unique unit, unique building and unique trait all benefit our goal tremendously:
- Unique unit: Dervish Cavalry – same strength as normal cavalry, but starts with Shock1 (bonus in open terrain) and generates Great Generals quicker.
These are the backbone of your army. All it’s bonuses come in really handy.
- Unique building: Burial Tomb (replaces Colosseum) and comes with a pre-filled (!) Great Artwork slot, thus boosting culture enormously.
- Unique power: Muhammad Ali’s Legacy (not the boxer, but Ismail’s grandfather 😉 ) – Trade Route 20xGold5 Gold bonus from Caravansaries and Harbors doubled.
The unique power is incredibly helpful for a North African civ which gets VP for Gold per Turn (GPT).
The very first thing to do is to use the Southern Cavalry to make contact with Ethiopia. Exchange Embassies! Why? You need to know where their capital is. Found your 4th city with exactly 6 tiles between them. This way they can’t found more cities north of their capital. This will be crucial later for potentially conquering Ethiopia. (Also it gives you a chance on some Natural Wonders, in my game, the source of the Nile river granting +10 Happiness.)
The first steps of this Scramble for Africa Egypt strategy are a balancing act between getting your economy up and producing at least some Naval units to compete against an Italian or Portuguese attack which will come some time around turn 30 to 35. Gold per turn is vital. This is how Egypt scores Victory Points. So early trade routes are a priority. No use saving money — invest it immediately into
- things boosting production in Cairo
- things boosting GPT
- Naval Units
This is how I managed the balancing act:
|Market||buy a Watermill in #4||Cargo Ship|
|Cargo Ship||Windmill||Cargo Ship|
|Cargo Ship||buy a Stable in #10|
|Settler (starting #13, founding Kassala in #20)|
|buy Zoo in #24||Privateer|
Diplomacy: Exploiting the AI to survive the Scramble for Africa with Egypt
First of all: This wasn’t my idea, but @Kilicool64 pointed it out in a comment under the Scramble for Africa Scenario Strategy and Achievement Guide! Thanks for that! Here it is in a nutshell:
- When Italy is about to declare war either on you or the Ottomans (whichever comes first), reload and bribe it against Morocco
- Then declare war on it immediately. (Don’t do it directly, though. The Ottomans should be willing to pay you.)
- Even though Italy really wants to fight the Ottomans, it’s too hesitant to add a third war to the mix, so it will remain at peace with them for quite a while. As a result, instead of dying an early death, [the Ottomans] will survive and flourish, becoming an excellent trading partner [and an actual threat to score 😉 ]
This tip worked splendidly. In my game I didn’t score as high as described in said comment, but still won by a margin. Italy indeed kept sending scores of unguarded Settlers to Egypt, supporting my workforce. Overall I’ve seen only a handful of Italian Riflemen.
Most Europeans had declared war on me sooner or later. Here’s a brief list of war- and peace deals, contributing to my Gold per Turn (GPT) income, required for scoring Victory Points (VP) playing Egypt:
- Peace with England in turn 62 for 32GPT (plus: Bribing them against Ethiopia)
- Peace with Germany in turn 78 for 181 GPT
- Peace with Belgium for 209 GPT
Thanks to the Egyptian unique building, Egypt was the only civ that I unlocked all Social Policies with. Not that the last one mattered so much. But buffing GPT in all possible ways AND still unlocking Army of the Sahara was really nice.
- Caravans: +2GPT from Land trade routes
- Commercial Hub: +10G in the Capital
- Improved Wares: +1G from Markets
- Conscription: -33% Unit Maintenance costs
- Army of the Sahara: +50 combat bonus fighting in the desert
- Berber Heritage: +25% production of mounted units
The only threat: Conquering Italy
- Turn 66: Catanzaro
- Traded for Open Borders with Morocco for 2 GPT
IMPORTANT: This must be 2 separate trades and Open Borders needs to come first — otherwise your units will be expelled from the area of the city you’re selling
- Traded Catanzaro to Morocco for 6 GPT
- Traded for Open Borders with Morocco for 2 GPT
- Turn 71: Palermo
- Turn 71: Segon (from Belgium)
- Traded Segon to the Ottomans for 83 GPT
- Turn 73: Cagliari
- Traded Cagliari to the Ottomans for 165 GPT
The rest of the game – conquering Ethiopia (and a bit more)
War with Ethiopia was inevitable: Their score increase each turn was tremendous! More than I could ever have caught up with in the remaining time of the game. I logged it just for a dozen turns:
|Turn||Ethiopia (Culture)||+VP||Ottomans (GPT)||+VP||Egypt (GPT)||+VP|
|76||2886 -> 2738||+82||2504||+23||2090||+50|
|78||2863 -> 2719||+57||2621||+9||2285 -> 2210||+60|
- Turn 73: Declaring war on Ethiopia with “help” from England
- Turn 76: Harar -> sold to the Ottomans for 70 GPT
- Turn 77: Algiers (from France)
- Turn 78: Peace with France for 108 GPT
- Traded Algiers back to France for 200 GPT (+Luxuries) and for them declaring war on the Ottomans (!!!)
- Turn 79: Gibraltar (yes, backstabbing England)
- sold to Morocco for 63 GPT in turn 90
- Turn 84: Sell Lalibela to the Ottomans for 103 GPT
- Turn 95: Liberate Agadir (I puppeted it, but nobody wanted to pay for it, so gave it to Morocco for free)
Only with conquering Ethiopia and selling some of their cities, keeping others, I could raise my score and score increase per turn to be sufficient for rank #1. Of course the great 300+GPT deal around Algiers also helped tremendously.
As usually fighting one’s way through the Mediterranean and the Red Sea is a painfully slow crawl, since basically every tile is covered by enemy ships. The overpowered AI with all it’s bonuses is really not fun to play against, but eventually some of those ships are gonna join our ranks, others will be cannon fodder (and XP gain) for our Frigates, so it’s required after all.
While this Scramble for Africa Egypt strategy might not be perfect, it most certainly is a guideline which any successful strategy will need to stay close to. Playing this was tremendous fun: Tense at first, just like it’s always tense to be in an inferior position, hoping for survival, but exciting later when we achieve dominance at land and sea and claim the throne and rank 1 of the scoring table.
Overall playtime was a whopping 12 hours!!! Yes, that’s due to the huge army and fleet towards the end of the game. And that’s without reloading (to capture more enemy ships with Privateers) or fine-tuning production in our cities to withstand the initial Italian attack. A score of 5014 is great. I’ll provide that score in an updated version of the Scramble for Africa Scenario Strategy and Achievement Guide for the complete ranking of Civs.