The ethiopia pack for civilization VI has brought many new features to the game, most notably the inclusion of the george michael of eastern africa, menelik II of ethiopia. Apart from not really being known as the George michael of eastern africa, Menelik II has strong bonuses which allow his empire to remain introverted and defensive, focusing on faith-a faith-a faith and culture to steer ethiopia to victory.
Menelik II of Ethiopia
Unique Unit: Oromo Cavalry (replaces the Courser)
Unique Tile Improvement: Rock-Hewn Church
Good at: FAITH
Council of Ministers
Faith is great, and not just because George Michael says so. Serving as a second economy, this gives you an option other than gold for purchasing Builders, Settlers, and Traders during Monumentality Golden Ages, units with the Grand Master’s Chapel, or even science and culture buildings with the Jesuit Education belief. Securing yourself a religion can be downright impossible on higher difficulties but – as mentioned with Jesuit Education – can amplify faith as a resource for buying what you need to push your civilization forward.
Menelik’s Ethiopia doesn’t just love faith – it craves it. Thanks to Council of Ministers, any city founded on a hill will receive science and culture equal to 15% of the faith generation of the city. This may not seem like much at first, but when you factor in all your sources of faith, a wide empire, and the fact that you’re constructing your way towards science/culture buildings anyway, the effect will start to snowball.
Oh yeah, and you’ll also get +4 combat strength to all unit for fighting on hills. Woohoo!
Ethiopia doesn’t just stop there with faith. Any trade route from Ethiopia grants +0.5 faith per resource at the origin, and +1 faith for every improved copy of said resource thanks to Aksumite Legacy. A strong gold economy can become just as important in order to open up your trade routes, and becoming familiar with Menelik’s Ethiopia will allow you to better place your cities and know where the best trade routes come from.
Asumite Legacy also gives you the ability to purchase Archaeologists and Archaeological Museums with faith – giving you a strong push to dig up relics in pursuit of your culture victory.
So you’ve placed your Holy Sites, set your trade routes, what more can you do? Well, when you reach Drama and Poetry in the culture tree, you’ll grant your Builders the ability to build a Rock-Hewn Church on any hill in your empire. These beauties provide +1 faith and +1 appeal as a base yield, but also an additional +1 faith for each hill or mountain tile adjacent. As you can probably figure out, that tops out an impressive potential +7 faith, even up to +9 faith with the Earth Goddess pantheon. As with Colossal Heads from suzerainship with La Venta, these tiles will produce tourism equal to their faith output once you reach Flight, meaning your faith contributes even further to your win condition.
With Earth Goddess being much more obtainable since the recent patch (anecdotally speaking), it’s worth it to fish for an aesthetically pleasing start with Ethiopia, and then get scouting for Tribal Villages. The inclusion of the Secret Societies (with guides coming to the site soon!) means that you can better choose what you want to pursue in the early game. I would recommend hunting for those Tribal Villages so that you can join the Voidsingers, allowing you to construct the Old God Obelisk for some exceptional early faith generation as you pursue your pantheon. It is no understatement to say that landing Earth Goddess could be Everything She Wants.
Menelik II’s legacy was his people’s staunch defense of Ethiopia when the Italian colonists were pushing in from Eritrea in the mid-1890’s. Ethopia’s hilly northern region – sometimes referred to as “The Roof of Africa” due to its height – is the basis for Ethiopia’s love of hills in Civilization VI, and the prime scouting ground of their unique unit, the Oromo Cavalry.
Earned at Castles in the science tree, the Oromo Cavalry are only slightly more useful than the unit they replace – the Courser – in that they have better sight and are unimpeded by hills (as well as being stronger when on hills themselves). Therefore, rather than view the unit as a path to victory, its use is found much more in its ability to scout and maintain Ethiopia’s historically strong defense.
What’s the verdict?
Ethiopia is remarkably fun. A predisposition towards rocky terrain in their starting area means that you won’t be starved of production, nor appropriate spots for your Rock-Hewn Churches. If you gravitate towards Earth Goddess much like I do, you’ll find that your empire will be riddled with faith yields – it’s like playing non-tundra Russia!
Menelik’s abilities are clearly aimed towards a religious or tourism victory, and will excel with all of his unique attributes. That said, one of my cleanest science victories came from an Ethiopia game, keeping my production and science as high as I could and maintaining a defensive religious tactic with Inquisitors to keep the tenets of my religion – Finchism – strong throughout the empire to reap the rewards of Jesuit Education.
And really, that’s what Ethiopia does well: introversion. Shut the borders, watch your peripheries, and economize. Don’t be swayed by your oppressors, maintain your Freedom!