Scramble for Africa Portugal Strategy (Deity)

The Scramble for Africa Portugal strategy is more a story of a successful game than a guide. In comparison with previous guides for European Nations, let alone the extensive guides for African Nations, little more can be added. As usually in my guides, here’s the historic background of Portugal in the Scramble for Africa scenario:

We’re playing colonial Portugal, namely Maria Pia, spouse of King Luís I of Portugal and since his death in 1889, queen dowager. Portugal did not play an incredibly active role in the historic Scramble for Africa, as can be seen in the map below. Portugal extended it’s colonial dominion in Africa only slightly, compared to other European Nations. The villain in “Scramble for Africa Portugal” for sure is Britain: In 1890, so still the early years of African colonization, Portugal dreamed of an African realm spanning from Angola in the West to Mozambique in the East. This vision can be seen in “The Pink Map“. Britain couldn’t allow this. It had plans for the Rhodes Colossus, a rail line from Cap to Cairo. So in the 1890 British Ultimatum they forced the retreat of Portuguese military from vast areas North of the British Cape colony.

Comparison of Africa in the years 1880 and 1913

Compared to Portugal’s colonial history in Africa, it’s domestic history of that period is even more troublesome: During this time republican and anti-monarchist movements were on the rise all over Europe. In Portugal, the Lisbon Regicide, the assassination of King Carlos I and his son in 1908 (Maria Pia’s son and grandson) put the Monarchy in deep crisis and left the queen dowager devastated. Two years later, after only two days of rebellion the 5 October 1910 revolution succeeded in overthrowing the centuries-old Portuguese Monarchy and established the First Portuguese Republic.

Below Scramble for Africa Portugal strategy outlines how to extend our colonial territories way beyond the historic Portuguese colonies in Africa. Furthermore we’ll conquer Zululand and Ethiopia.

Scramble for Africa Portugal Strategy – In a nutshell

Here’s the Dos and Don’ts for playing Scramble for Africa as Portugal:

  • prevent England from capturing Zulu cities
  • prevent Belgium from connecting with Zanzibar
  • conquer Ethiopia

In Southern Africa we have to move quickly: We need to quickly contain the Zulus, so realize The Pink Map, by connecting our Western and Eastern colonies. Check out the Scramble for Africa Map: It doesn’t need many cities to achieve this.

In Western Africa we can almost ignore the other players. Obviously building some force there is desirable, but: We can’t wage war against the Europeans. And we can’t compete with AI-controlled Morocco either. However we can pick up the scraps from French-Moroccan wars. More below…

Unique unit and unique power

The Portuguese unique traits in Scramble for Africa are the same as in the base game. They’re handy, but not overly powerful compared to other nations unique units, buildings and powers:

  1. Unique Improvement: Feitoria – Constructed on City-state territory, on a coastal tile without resources, provides 1 copy of any luxury resource(s) the City-State has, regardless of relations. You can not trade this resource. Also provides +50% Defensive bonus for any unit on that tile, same as a Fort. Pillaging this improvement constitutes an act of war against Portugal.
  2. Unique power: Mare Clausum – Resource diversity grants twice as much Gold for Portugal in Trade Routes.

Both of these traits are nice for Scramble for Africa: Double Gold from Trade Routes boosts your economy much faster than possible with other nations. Unfortunately it’s still nothing compared to Deity-AIs. One huge benefit for Portugal is that you’ll always have great trade partners, since from Lisbon all Mediterranean cities are open for trade.

The Feitoria comes handy as long as none of the other Europeans marry of the City states of Zanzibar and Mogadishu. If that becomes a threat – you’ll have to counter that by getting allied and marrying them yourself anyways. In that case, Feitorias become useless…

The only threat: Belgium connecting with Zanzibar

Why is this the only threat to winning the Scramble for Africa with Portugal? The answer is relatively simple: Europeans score by owning land. Without interference in the North, Italy will for sure capture most of the Ottomans and Egypt. This will most likely grant them the longest rail line (worth a whopping 500 VP). The only way to build a longer rail line as Portugal is by connecting Zululand in the South with (Portuguese!) Ethiopia in the North. And there’s only one nation who could potentially settle that space between Portugal’s existing colonies and Ethiopia before us: Belgium.

Scramble for Africa: Portugal conquers Ethiopia

As explained in other guides, in order to win the Scramble for Africa Portugal needs to eliminate Ethiopia. Fortunately Portugal is bested placed to do so. While other Europeans need to march through

  • thick Jungles (Belgium)
  • Egypt and optionally the Ottomans (Italy) or
  • most definitely the Ottomans and Egypt (France)

Portugal can peacefully expand to central Africa, leaving the Congo to Belgium, but taking anything else. Without the British Ultimatum, a huge colonial empire is entirely possible.

To the South, as an optional, but useful side-quest we can capture those Zulu cities. Ideally we wait for England to declare war on the Zulus. They’ll draw their attention and units south and we can capture their cities with ease.

In the Scramble for Africa Portugal can win easily following these simple steps. It’s a straight forward game without much that can go wrong.


Civilization 5 Scramble for Africa Portugal Deity - Map at turn 100
Map at turn 100 showing Portugals dominion in Africa

As stated earlier and in other guides: A Scramble for Africa Portugal strategy is very similar to any other European strategy. Based on containment of other Europeans and the conquest of Sub-Sahara and Ethiopia we’ll climb to the top of the scoring board. Fortunately the Scramble for Africa Map is different every time – otherwise playing the Europeans would be very one-sided.

With a score of 4126 Portugal is not the top scorer in the Scramble for Africa Scenario, but still fun to play even on Deity difficulty.

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