How Well Did They Create Ethiopia in Civilization VI?

TL;DR – So how well does Civilization 6 capture Ethiopia with its new entry? It’s raining faith Halleluiah, its rain faith, amen

Review –

With the drip-feed of content coming out of Civilization VI’s New Frontier pack we have already gotten a look at the Maya, Gran Colombia, and now Ethiopia. Given that Ethiopia is the first of these civilizations that has grabbed me, I thought it best to sit down and have a look at just how well they have implemented it in-game. After that, we will also spend a little bit of time looking at the other additions to the game. But to refresh ourselves, let’s take a look at Ethiopia’s bonuses.

Menelik II of Ethiopia. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
Menelik II of Ethiopia. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

Civilization LeaderMenelik II
Leader Agenda: Ethiopian Highlands. Likes Civilizations who build cities away from Hills. Dislikes those who build near Hills.
Civilization CapitalAddis Ababa
Civilization BonusAksumite Legacy Its cities earn +faith from resources, faith from international trade routes of resource-rich towns. Can purchase Archaeological Museums and Archaeologists with faith.
Leader Bonus: Council of Ministers extra culture and science based on the faith output on cities founded on hills, combat bonus on hills
Unique UnitOromo Cavalry +combat strength +sight, no movement penalties for hills, replaces the courser
Unique ImprovementRock-Hewn Churches built on hills or volcanic soil, can’t be built next to each other + Faith, extra faith from adjacent mountains and hills. Will only ever be pillaged not destroyed by natural disasters. +Tourism with Flight

When creating a civilization around Ethiopia and its historical predecessors, there is a lot that you can draw upon for inspiration. From the classical era, you have Kingdom of Aksum who had one of the largest trading networks of the time, being one of the critical powers on the Afro-Eurasian continent. You could go for one of the kings during the middle ages as Ethiopia shifted and changed in response to the world around them. This is what they did for Civilization 4 with Zara Yaqob. For a more modern approach, you can look at how Europe never colonized Abyssinia/Ethiopia during the Scramble for Africa. This more defensive focus was the direction Firaxis games took in the last edition Civilization V with Haile Selassie.

With this edition, what they did was take inspiration from all of these eras in their civilization design. With the leader Menelik II, we get the transition period into the modern era and positioning Ethiopia in response to the rapidly changing world around them. The Civilization Bonus Aksumite Legacy references the legacy of the Kingdom of Aksum and its trading legacy, while also playing into the historical heritage of the kingdom that internally links itself back to the Biblical Queen of Sheba. The Rock-Hewn Churches link the several intermediate periods like the Zagwe dynasty.  As well as this, the Oromo Cavalry explores a significant shift in Middle Ages Ethiopia with the migration of the Oromo people northwards. Nearly every part of Ethiopia’s history is represented here in some way. In the past, Firaxis has been criticized for taking a wide net approach to their civilization creation with the North Americas and a lesser extent Polynesia, Vikings, and the Celts. However, even though here they cast a wide net, it is also picking critical touchstones of the past, showing a lot of care has gone into choosing its components, and that was for the best.

Civilization VI: Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
If you can get that faith engine started it can be powerful. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

From a gameplay perspective, if there is one focus for Ethiopia, it is religion, with nearly all its bonuses based around getting that faith. That faith production engine, if you can get it up and running, is majestic to watch as your cities pump out faith at extraordinary levels. I have not gotten it to the levels that I have seen online, but in nearly all of my games, I have never been wanting of faith. This can create a steamroll effect where you get that first golden age, pick Monumentality as your dedication, make sure you have Mangus with Provision in your capital city and watch those settlers spit out into the countryside. From using that combination, it can give you a massive boost in that early game and give you a considerable step up over your neighbours. Couple this with the flexible nature of religion and your ability to cherry-pick nearly any great person in the game makes Ethiopia a secure tier 1 civilization. I will say that as a civilization, you need that engine to start early to get things moving and if you don’t spawn near hills it can be an uphill battle as I have discovered in some of my multiplayer games.

However, this faith engine does give me some concerns about the game going forward with regards to power-creep. When more civilizations and features are released, they do want you to buy them, so they make them enticing to a customer. What happens if you are not careful is that you can make other civilizations feel so underpowered in comparison that they become entirely uncompetitive. We see that with the faith in Ethiopia (though this is still a little location contextual), also the movement bonus and Great General stacking in Gran Colombia, The new Natural Wonders like Paititi, and some of the Secret Societies. This is an issue for all games that add in new features like Overwatch and their growing roster of heroes, but given we are only a third of the way through this pack, it is of some concern.

Civilization VI: Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
It does look like power creep is becoming an issue. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

With regards to the rest of what has been released so far (which you can see a list of in our Features Thread), there have been some I liked and some I haven’t. Gran Colombia is exciting, and I liked that we got something new in South America, especially something with such a legacy as GC has. However, while I found it fun to play with, that plus movement was such a significant change with the way movement works, it makes you have to recalibrate completely when you play another civilization. With the Maya, I liked that we had a civilization that was focused tall rather than wide, it is also the best-case scenario for using the map pins because you want to plan thing out well. My only issues was that inevitably when I played the best city location was always just out of the six-tile range. I liked the new resources though I have played many games and still Honey will not spawn near me, to the point that I think that I might be personal. The new forest fire is one that you have to be careful with, though it is odd that if you visit the Meteor Shower location, you get a free military unit. With both packs, we got new game modes, and to be honest, while I know these will appeal to some players, I am not one of them. That is entirely okay because they are optional additions and you don’t need to have them on, which I don’t. But it would be nice to see some that are a bit more subtle in the future.    

In the end, what do we think about Menelik II’s and Ethiopia’s addition to CivilizationVI? Well, honestly, I have had a lot of fun playing them. Much like a good Eurogame it is all about building that engine and watching it chug along, and unlike a good Eurogame that probably means trampling over a neighbour or two. At this point, we are only a third of our way through the New Frontiers Pass, and I can’t wait to see where we go next. If you would like to see more content on Ethiopia and Civilization VI, I can recommend our Civilization Mapping Project.       

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you played
Civilization VI ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day. 

Credits – All images were created by the staff of Civilization VI
Lead Designer 
– Anton Strenger
Lead Engineer– Ken Grey
– Amanda Bonacorso & Kevin Schultz
Art Director
– Kat Berkley
– Geoff Knorr,  Phill Boucher, Roland Rizzo & Christopher Tin
– Firaxis Games
– 2K

Disclosure – I am a moderator on the site Civfanatics of which several staff and players are members of the ‘Frankenstein Testing Group’, Firaxis Games internal playtesting team. I am not part of this team, nor do I have any links with Firaxis Games or 2K.

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