Ha! I’ve made a false statement: In a previous strategy guide I claimed Egypt was the easiest Native African nation to play. That needs to be corrected to Ethiopia being easiest for all Native African nations (while Egypt remains the easiest of the North Africans). Overall and described in below Scramble for Africa Ethiopia strategy, Ethiopia most certainly is way easier. Thanks to Ethiopia’s great cultural bonuses, a successful strategy relies solely on walling oneself in and waiting it out.
As we can see, even historically, Ethiopia not only survived the historic Scramble for Africa, but even expanded its borders and prospered: Menelik_II., king and later Emperor of Ethiopia, strongly expanded and modernized the country during his 1889 – 1913 reign. Keeping good relationships with all other colonial empires and only being at war with Italy in the First Italo-Ethiopian War, allowed him to not only defend his kingdom, but expand it.
Playing the Scramble for Africa as Ethiopia will basically follow the same historic cornerstones:
Scramble for Africa Ethiopia Strategy – In a nutshell
Here’s the Dos and Don’ts for playing Scramble for Africa as Ethiopia:
- expand your empire, founding all those initial cities
- focus on modernization and culture
- avoid war with all Europeans except for maybe Italy (who will come for you via Egypt anyways)
Unique unit and unique power
Ethiopia’s unique traits are really cool. All of three (unique unit, unique building and unique power) benefit our goal:
- Unique unit: Mehal Sefari – A rifleman with Drill1 promotion (bonus in rough terrain) and a special promotion “Near Capital Bonus” (+30% combat bonus fighting in the capital, wearing off further away)
- Unique building: Stele – replaces the Monument, but creates 3 culture instead of 2
- Unique power: Spirit of Adwa – Combat bonus (+20%) when fighting units from a Civilization with more Cities than Ethiopia, which will be just about everybody in this game including Belgium and Germany.
Scout the area as best as you can before settling your initial cities. If there’s a suitable, defensible spot 3 tiles away from the Red Sea – take it! This way you can block at least some tiles from enemy coastal cities and stay out of range of Navy ranged attacks.
Use mountain ranges and block as much good land as possible. For measuring distance to City states, use the Scramble for Africa Map. Even though the terrain changes, locations stay the same. Keep a distance of maximum 6 tiles to neighboring City states to prevent Europeans from settling between City state and you.
Early wars are unlikely: So when it comes to Social Policies, choose the Culture track. Doing that, you’ll get more culture and thus will be able to unlock the Military track later in the game, while you actually need it. Obviously you also already score VP along the way.
Here’s where I settled on a pretty well defensible map I played in 2014 (yes, 6 years ago):
If you’re brave or bored and feel powerful enough, you might even capture some of the weakly defended European colonies at the Horn of Africa:
A Scramble for Africa Ethiopia strategy guide almost doesn’t deserve the name. First because it’s fairly straight forward and self explanatory, second because the Europeans as controlled by the Civilization-5-AI will have a hard time
- navigating through densely occupied City states and bring units to the front
- breach your defense in a meaningful manner
Overall that makes playing Ethiopia the shortest possible Scramble for Africa games, with only about 3h playtime but also slightly disappointingly imbalanced in favor of the player. A score around 6000 is repeatedly doable.
Update: A replay in 2020 shows a score of 6k+ is possible again
Writing this post about the late 2014 game got me excited again, so played another round of Scramble for Africa Ethiopia. Despite a much less defensible position I won in the 2nd try:
Surprisingly enough in this game Egypt didn’t fall in an early war against Italy. Being busy defending against Belgium and Germany however, I could not make use of this and march against Egypt myself.