The Ethiopian people represent a civilization in Civilization VI. They are led by Menelik II, under whom their default colors are yellow and dark green. They are available with the Ethiopia Pack, which was released on July 23, 2020.
The Ethiopians' civilization ability is Aksumite Legacy, which provides each city with extra Faith for each copy of improved resources inside, increases the Faith yield of their international Trade Routes based on resources in the origin city, and allows them to purchase Archaeological Museums and Archaeologists with Faith. Their unique unit is the Oromo Cavalry (which replaces the Courser), and their unique tile improvement is the Rock-Hewn Church.
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Ethiopia under Menelik II has the ability to truly weaponize the most underrated yet versatile currency in Civilization VI: Faith. A formidable foe for a Religious Victory, Cultural Victory, Scientific Victory or even a Domination Victory, Ethiopia will charge toward the finish line just solely thanks to their unparalleled capability to generate Faith.
Extra Faith from improved resources and Trade Routes
This ability is the crux of all Ethiopian power: the sheer amount of Faith per turn they can generate can make any Religious/Cultural empire jealous. Every improved resource of every type (bonus, strategic and luxury) inside Ethiopian territory will generate 1 Faith. This will get amplified even further if the city has many copies of the same resource. For example, if you have 1 improved copy of Stone, that copy will earn you 1 Faith, as expected. If you have 2 improved copies, however, each copy will grant 2 Faith, for a total of 4 Faith. If you have 3 improved copies, each will grant 3 Faith, for a total of 9 Faith. Therefore, a city with 2 copies of Stone will generate different amount of Faith from resources than a city with 1 copy of Stone and 1 copy of Wheat (4 Faith vs. 2 Faith). Overall, the formula for this is if you have X copies of the same resource inside a city, that city will earn X2 Faith from that resource type. if you are lucky enough to find a resource-rich area, especially areas where there are duplicates of multiple resources, a city can easily provide you a huge amount of Faith just from resources alone. The best aspect of this ability is that the extra Faith is added straight to the City Center (you can check it yourself by hovering your mouse over the Faith generation on the city panel), which means you do not even have to work the resource tiles to make use of its Faith.
The bonus Faith from Trade Routes is also a welcome bonus but it is noticeably less significant. For every resource in the city, you will receive 0.5 extra Faith every time you send a Trade Route from that city, regardless of resource diversity. This means unlike the extra Faith from resources where 2 copies of the same resource will grant a different amount of Faith from having 1 copy of 2 different resources, the extra Faith from Trade Routes will not differentiate between different types of resources. Since you can customize which cities can send how many Trade Routes, if you truly want to maximize it, you can check the city panel of every city you have to see which one has the most resources and send the majority of your Trade Routes from there. However, considering how much Faith you will be generating already from this, plus the Rock-Hewn Churches, it does not sound necessary to squeeze a little bit of Faith out, especially the end results in Faith of this aspect is only 50% as effective as the extra Faith from resources.
Ability to purchase Archaeological Museums and Archaeologists with Faith
This ability gives your Faith income a little bit more flexibility, not a whole lot, but a welcome bit. It is significantly weaker than the Jesuit Education belief or the equivalent Malian civilization ability to purchase all Commercial Hub buildings with Faith. You can only buy Archaeological Museums and Archaeologists with Faith, helping you transition from a Religious Victory to a Cultural Victory, or at least having that route as a backup. With your busted Faith generation, it is very tempting to instant Faith buy Archaeological Museums in all cities, but you should build Art Museums as well to make use of your potential Great Artists.
Council of Ministers
This simple bonus is the one reason why Ethiopia is the most well-rounded religious civilization in the game. It only has one simple condition to satisfy: to settle your cities on Hills. These Hills city will then generate Science and Culture based on their Faith output. Similar to the Ethiopian civilization ability, this one is so strong because the requirement for it to be active is something you want to do regardless of which civilizations you are playing: you want to improve your resources and send Trade Routes for Faith, and this Faith output will be automatically translated into Culture and Science when the cities are on Hills. This also means if Ethiopia misses the opportunity window for a Religious Victory, they can still aim for a Cultural Victory much better, and to a lesser extent, a Scientific Victory (Ethiopia does not have any bonus towards Production save for their starting bias toward hills).
Menelik II's ability also has a second smaller and less significant aspect. It grants + 4 Combat Strength to all units when fighting on Hills. Similar to other bonuses of the same trope (+ X Combat Strength when fighting on certain terrains), the site of the battle depends on the tile where the defender stands. Therefore, Ethiopian units will receive the bonus when they attack into a Hills tile and when they get attacked (i.e. defend) on a Hills tile. This is a somewhat useful bonus on offense but nowhere near game changing, but it works much better on defense, since Ethiopia has strong incentives settling in hilly areas.
Not exactly the most memorable or flashy unique unit, the Oromo Cavalry is the most "quiet" piece in the Ethiopian arsenal. It is only slightly stronger than the standard Courser, with a conditional Combat Strength bonus from Menelik II's ability. However, it does have better maneuverability in hilly terrains and higher Sight than a regular Courser, coupled with the fact that this is a light cavalry unit, it shines brighter working as a scout for imminent threat approaching your border, or as a "spotter" (a unit that works solely to provide vision and intel on the enemy's army) and pillager in aggressive conquest, other than a true militaristic unit. Overall, even when Ethiopia can compete well in the Domination path thanks to their outstandingly high Faith generation and the Grand Master's Chapel, it is definitely not because of this unit. The Oromo Cavalry is not crucial in any Ethiopian strategy, you can also solely use Knights if your empire has more Iron than Horses and there will not be any major consequences for that.
Maximizing Faith generation is the key to Ethiopia's strategy under Menelik II, and the Rock-Hewn Church helps considerably with these efforts. A single one can provide up to +7 Faith if surrounded by Hills and/or Mountains, which also translates to +1 Science and Culture bonuses for a city founded on Hills. Once Flight is researched, it starts providing Tourism equal to its tile's Faith bonus, and its Appeal bonus can help create better places for National Parks and Seaside Resorts. All of this will spur the Ethiopians toward a Cultural Victory, especially if they use their accumulated Faith to purchase Archaeological Museums and Archaeologists to fill them with Artifacts. Even if a Cultural Victory is not your first choice, just the sheer Faith output on this improvement alone plays very well into the Ethiopian toolkit, as it can translate into Science and Culture, or even quickly summon up a large army in just a few turns if you adopt Theocracy or build the Grand Master's Chapel.
Religious and Cultural Victories are Ethiopia's best options, and largely go hand in hand. In favorable terrain, their Rock-Hewn Churches allow them to produce Faith like few other civilizations can, which they can then use to purchase Missionaries and Apostles to spread their religion and attempt to win an early Religious Victory. If the game lasts so long that a Religious Victory is no longer feasible, they can start using their Faith to purchase Archaeological Museums and Archaeologists and collect Artifacts to increase their Culture and Tourism output. With Heritage Tourism, the Tourism bonuses they'll receive from their Rock-Hewn Churches, and maintaining Trade Routes with other civilizations, shifting to a Cultural Victory should be a simple and effective strategy for Ethiopia.
Ethiopia can compete decently well for a Domination Victory, despite having an underwhelming unique unit and no apparent bonus towards waging wars. Their power comes from being able to instantly field a massive army to surprise your enemies, most likely your next door neighbor, by amassing Faith, build the Grand Master's Chapel and most likely adopt Theocracy as the tier 2 Government for the Faith purchase cost reduction. Even their religion can be customized to aid them further in battle. With the Crusade belief and Wars of Religion policy card, on top of Menelik's ability, Ethiopian units can gain up to 18 Combat Strength. However, remember you still have to convert enemies' cities one by one, so that you can benefit from both the policy card and the Crusade belief. Not to mention, their huge Faith output also leads to an above average Science output, putting you ahead of your opponents on the tech tree.
In summary, Ethiopia can snowball much harder than other civilizations if they are able to capture a few cities, since they will always bolster their Faith output, leading to even more military units. If the conquered cities happen to be on Hills, their technological advancement will only grow, leading to an even easier conquest of the rest of the map.
It is hard to inhibit Ethiopia's Faith generation, since they get Faith out of the most mundane tasks that everyone would have to do anyway, like improving resources, sending Trade Routes or just simply settling on Hills. Even the few effective methods require near-constant warmongering (such as pillaging their Trade Route constantly), and it's hard to justify being hated by every other civilization and racking up incredible war weariness just to counter Ethiopia, so only do so if your plan was to wage war on Ethiopia anyway. When you do, it is worth completely crippling the entire civilization by take their cities, instead of using the hit-and-run tactics (only pillaging and plundering Trade Routes). Ethiopia does have one defensive mechanic, but it is lousy to say the least. Extra 4 Combat Strength when fighting on Hills is not significant enough, especially if you compare it with other defensive powerhouse civilizations like Vietnam or Gaul. Also, their unique unit is very underwhelming, the Oromo Cavalry is technically a "defensive" unit but it does not even do that job well, so there is virtually no defensive power spike that you need to take into account before attacking. As long as you hit your own offensive power spike, you can run over Ethiopia. Remember, the extra Combat Strength considers the tile of the defender, so as long as you try not to end your turn on Hills or attack Ethiopian units that are standing on Hills, you can easily bypass this, even though, as mentioned above, 4 Combat Strength is hardly significant.
Another method is to forward settle them on Hills. If the Ethiopians can't settle on Hills, then Menelik II's phenomenal yield bonuses will never come into play. Of course this is a lot easier said than done. This method is more beneficial when Ethiopia somehow spawns on the edge of the continent (next to the coastline), since you most likely can only block off their expansion in one direction. Think of this similarly to how you play against the Maya, another civilization where you also want to forward settle to limit their expansion space. Pay attention of loyalty level and make sure your strategic settlements have Walls and a defending army, just in case of an Ethiopian attack. The good news is Ethiopia is not amazing at offensive skirmishes since their Combat Strength bonus and unit are insignificant, the bad news is, with their Faith output and the Grand Master's Chapel, they can quickly summon up a large army for invasions, and since this can potentially happen at any point from Medieval Era onward, you always need to be on guard.
Our ancestors evolved in East Africa, and “Lucy,” that three-million-year-old hominid discovered in 1974, lived in the Awash valley. So it is fair to say that few regions can boast a longer (pre)history than Ethiopia. The country has been the crossroads of human evolution, the spread of Christianity, and the end of colonialism, and has played a decisive role in each.
To the east of Ethiopia lies the Red Sea (and, beyond that, the Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia), and to the west, the Nile River. With such proximity to the earliest of human civilizations, it is no surprise that a kingdom, “Punt,” rose as a wealthy trading post in Ethiopia in early antiquity. Punt produced and exported valuables such as gold, myrrh, frankincense, ebony, and ivory – valuables that earned the kingdom the name “God’s Land” amongst Egyptian traders.
A series of independent kingdoms followed. Of these, Axum became one of the most powerful polities around the 1st century BC, spanning the Red Sea to southern Arabia and extending inland to the Nile valley in what is now Sudan. For the next few centuries, while Egypt fell to Rome, Axum prospered. The kingdom lay at a trade crossroads, dealing in gorgeous dyes, iron for making weapons, and glassware – a Roman account devotes a page just to listing all the different goods one could trade in Axum, with networks as far as India.
In the 4th century AD, Christianity was introduced to Axum, making it one of the first Christian kingdoms in the world (just after Armenia, but before Rome). Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) historians describe how the king captured a Syrian Christian and then, in the process of long conversations with his captive, became a Christian himself. While royal coins were subsequently emblazoned with a cross, the religion did not permeate the entire kingdom, staying a religion of the elite (unlike in Rome, where Christianity was more associated with commoners). But during one of the purges of Christians from Rome, many Christian holy men sought refuge in Ethiopia, and gradually converted much of the populace (traditional religions as well as Judaism persisted, and persist to this day). At this time, too, a group known as the Nine Saints came to Axum and translated the Bible from Greek into Ge’ez, the local language and established a monastic order.
But power shifts. Rome fell, Muslim rulers came to dominate the Red Sea region, and Axum’s own subjects over-worked fragile arid land. Ethiopian power drifted southward and turned inwards.
All was not lost during this moment of isolation. The traditions established by the Nine Saints continued and are preserved in the time-frozen churches of Lalibela, constructed during the Zagwe dynasty (900s-1200s). They remain an established World Heritage site today and still see active visits by pilgrims.
Ethiopia was not to remain dormant forever. A new emperor, Yekuno Amlak eliminated the last of the Zagwe kings and, to solidify his rule, married one of those king’s daughters. In addition, he spread a legend to help shore up his legitimacy, claiming to be the descendant of the ancient king Solomon and the Queen of Sheba —hence the name of this new dynasty, the Solomonic dynasty.
Under the Solomonic dynasty, Ethiopia started to ascend once more, climbing out from its historical dark age. Although they still lacked a fixed capital (the empire moved around in mobile camps), the empire progressed in other ways. They achieved military success and controlled most of the Horn of Africa. The religious fervor of the region remained, and facilitated contact with European powers, particularly during the late 1400s through the early 1500s. Artists and writers also flourished during this time and created great works, including the epic, Kebra Nagast, a Ge’ez epic that retells the story of the Queen of Sheba, her relationship with King Solomon, and how the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia with their son, Menelik.
Unfortunately, the mid-1500s brought conflict to Ethiopia. The Abyssinian-Adal War between Christian Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Muslim Somalia (Adal) lasted from 1528 to 1543 AD, leaving Ethiopia in a bloody and drastically weakened state. Churches and manuscripts burned, and many lives were lost in the fighting. The Ethiopian Emperor Lebna Dengel reached out to Portugal, who responded by sending a fleet complete with musketeers to Massawa in 1541. Even with the aid of the Portuguese fleet, Ethiopia still had trouble fending off “the Conqueror” Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi. Emperor Galawdewos joined with the surviving Portuguese forces and marched west to confront the Conqueror once again. Al-Ghazi was finally defeated in the Battle of Wayna Daga, and his armies retreated from Ethiopia. Skirmishes continued, however, through 1559 until Galawdewos foolishly attacked the city of Harar with a skeleton force. He was executed, leaving the monarchy devastated.
A permanent capital wouldn’t be established again until 1636. The founding of Gonder helped bring consistency back to Ethiopia (even if it also brought court turmoil that led to Shakespearean levels of political intrigue and drama). It again became the center of trade, and Gonder was able to build a substantial infrastructure. The Ethiopian nobility built new palaces and beautiful gardens, drawing in philosophers and artists once again.
By the late 1800s, Gonder declined, leaving behind a medley of combative provinces. Three emperors worked to unite Ethiopia during their respective times. Emperor Tewodros II went from being a chief’s son, to a local monastery to be educated, to eventually become the leader of a group of bandits. He was a smart leader and capable warrior, which gained him followers until his group of bandits became the size of a small army. He became so well known, that to try and appease him, Empress Menen Liben Amede arranged a marriage between him and her granddaughter. For a while, this worked, until Tewodros decided he was done with his new relatives and wanted more power. He took over and through conquest, unified a large portion of the region. He wasn’t without some compassion, though. He took in the son of a prince he killed and eventually married that boy to his daughter Alitash. The boy, now a young man, escaped Tewodros and went on to become Emperor Menelik II, who cemented Ethiopia’s fame as a bastion against colonialism.
Colonialism had spread like a fever throughout Europe, and those powers late to the game - Italy, specifically - sought their own chance to build an empire. In Ethiopia’s region, the Ottoman Empire had reigned for years. But, through force and cunning, the English had managed to gain control over Egypt, and the French over Somalia. A strip of land on the Red Sea between British and French dominions – what is today Eritrea – became a vital beachhead into the African highlands, and the English, fearing French domination and not trusting Ethiopian rule, “gave” it to the Italians. Thus began the first Italo-Ethiopian War.
It did not end well for the Europeans. Vastly outnumbered and fighting far from their home turf, the Italians were slaughtered and returned home in defeat. And, suddenly, the world heard about an African ruler who dared to stand up to Europe, and who won. The Italians were to strike again, just before World War II, and were this time victorious. Like Menelik, the emperor who stood up to them, Haile Selassie – born Ras Tafari Makonnen (yes, the “Ras Tafari” that present-day Rastafarians identify with) became famous as a hero who stood up to European domination.
Today, Ethiopia is a populous country in East Africa. Like many other countries in Africa, it faced division and bloodshed in the Cold War, and the line of Solomon fell to a Communist coup in 1974. In the 1990s, facing the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of Eritrea (the former Italian colony, and Ethiopia’s Red Sea port), Ethiopia has again warmed to the West.
- Main article: Ethiopian cities (Civ6)
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- The Ethiopian civilization's symbol is the Lion of Judah, a common symbol in historic Ethiopian flags.
- The Ethiopian civilization ability references the Kingdom of Aksum, which ruled Eritrea and northern Ethiopia from approximately 80 BC to 825 AD.
- Ethiopia's primary colors (yellow and dark green) are identical to those of Arabia.
- The introduction of Ethiopia in Civilization VI marks the third time they have been featured in the Civilization franchise, every time led by a different leader: Zara Yaqob in Civilization IV, Haile Selassie in Civilization V and Menelik II in Civilization VI.
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