Tired of stomping all over everyone with a mighty European empire? Looking for more of a challenge? Then welcome to the guide for Ethiopia, "Africa for the Africans."
What this is is simple- it's a guide to uniting Africa under an African banner! Historically every square inch of Africa wound up colonized and conquered by the European powers (with Liberia a "technical" exception, as it was land purchased by America for freed American slaves). We're going to change that.
So why Ethiopia? Simple- because historically Ethiopia was able to defeat Italy when it tried to conquer them in the 1800's, and it became a symbol of hope and freedom for blacks and Africans everywhere. And during World War 2 rebels worked with the British to kick out the Italians. There are other African countries too- like the Mamluks, Morocco and Algiers which are easier to play with but they're more Arabic/Muslim then black.
In gameplay terms, we'll be playing 1.09 with the latest version of AGCEEP. We'll also set difficulty to max and aggressiveness to a minimum, to make opponents stronger. Our goal is to conquer as much as Africa as possible and to make Ethiopia ready for a nice transfer over to Vicky.
Here's what you start with as Ethiopia- first the negatives. You belong to the African tech group, which makes research 5 times as expensive. Ouch. If you're used to a Latin country, you will feel the pain of the expenses. On the bright side, when you play a Latin country again you'll have a much greater appreciation for it's high tech speed.
You also start out with the isolation penalty which means you know less than 20 nations, something which makes research a considerably greater expense. Fear not- this can be easily rectified with a simple maptrade and it'll be your first goal.
You also start out unusually poor with a large number of slave provinces that only rise in value later in the game. You also begin with a very low manpower. If you're crying "send me back to France/England/Turkey" right now, than this country may not be for you.
Now for the positives.
First off, you're on Africa. ALL African territory you acquire here will increase your manpower. Later in the game you'll be surprised by just how much this amounts to.
Also, your neighbors are almost all Muslim (and Nubia converts eventually) which makes DOW'ng them and annexing them easier as you take less badboy for doing so.
Also, being in Africa, you're far from the interest of stronger countries like the Europeans and generally won't have any neighbors that are too excessively powerful.
Before beginning, you have to decide between being small or an empire.
If you wish you could have only Ethiopian territories in your empire and focus on trade and tech the whole game. But.... where's the fun in that? Plus we're trying to give Africa to the Africans, you can't really do much of that if you spend your whole time sitting around afraid of increasing tech costs and having to buy stability. Even if you do reach civilized status for the Vicky transfer, it still won't be nearly as valuable compared to having a massive African empire.
Now then, set Muslim tolerance to max. Next, try sending some some gifts to the Mamluks. Eventually they will invite you into an alliance- accept immediately. Eventually you should be able to maptrade and the Mamluks will be more than happy to help you.
Voila! You now can see all of Europe and much of the Middle East. And your research will speed up considerably to boot. It's still nothing great, but it's decent enough and you should be higher than your neighbors. This will give you a nice advantage in future wars- so avoid map trading with them to keep them behind you tech-wise. And don't worry too much about trading right now.
Once you hit Infrastructure 1, buy tax collectors for each of your provinces. Make sure to build them in your wealthiest provinces first. Also, try not to mint to excess and once you start building one, wait until it's finished and tax revenues for the next year come in before minting.
In time all your provinces should have tax collectors. Now for domestic policies. This will take many decades to get what you want, but oh well.
You'll want centralization maxed, of course, to increase tax revenue and reduce tech speed. Only invest two points personally as events should handle the rest.
Next on the agenda is Offensive. Increase the slider all the way just one short of the max to give your troops an extra shock value.
Now Plutocracy vs. Aristocracy.... go for Plutocracy. You'll need it to help with trading later, and for a bit of production bonus. Also, as much of Africa is jungle, cavalry won't be too important to you. Beware though, there are a few plains areas- you'll notice them when you see a cavalry unit highlighted during combat. (and sometimes the plains area will kind of look like a jungle) NEVER go into combat with an enemy there if they have more cavalry than you. I've seen 16K stacks of infantry lose to a single cavalry unit before. Retreat, mint and build, and then fight them again.
Free Subjects vs. Serfdom.... try to stay near the middle if you wish, or go full Serfdom. Don't go completely free as it'll make recovering stability a very big pain.
Now for Naval vs. Land. You'll never be a naval power and going for Land will make units cheaper. Plus it helps with free conquistadors. Definitely go for Land. But don't go for full land too soon, you don't want to damage future trade opportunities.
Narrowminded vs. Innovative. Well.... if you don't plan on expanding much, stay with Innovative. However, narrowminded will decrease stability costs substantially and most of all- it'll give you plenty of free conversions! As you're surrounded with mostly Muslim provinces throughout your conquests, you'll definitely need it- Ethiopia will be too poor for most of the game to afford to pay serious converting. Don't be intimidated by the large number of wrong-religion provinces you'll acquire, 400 years is a long time to let conversion events do their stuff.
Finally there's Free Trade vs. Mercantilism. Events should move you to free trade- you'll need it for merchants later so go for free trade.
Now on to the game. We've built up tech a bit and have some tax collectors. Above us we have Nubia and Mamluks. Avoid taking any Arabic culture territory as later it tends to get you into combat with the Ottomans, so forget about them. Just give the Ottomans military access if they ask and stay out of their way. The Mamluks start out very weak and vulnerable and have a nice COT, but it's just not worth it.
Below them is Nubia, a two-province country which shares your religion. It will later convert to Islam. Try to take a province from them beforehand, and vassalize them/demand military access. Nubia should make for a nice buffer zone between you and the Ottomans.
Check your neighbor to the east, Adal. Notice something? It's holding several Ethiopian culture groups- and you have a nice cassus bellum on them. Don't jump into war yet.
And on the Arabian peninsula lie Aden and a number of areas with COT's. Being as you'll never be much of a naval power- and since you gain no manpower from areas outside of Africa- don't bother going after them. For your first war target Adal.
Now, when you've built up tax collectors and events/misc. give you a nice 200-300 ducats, militarize very heavily. Build up about 30-40 of infantry units then launch a blitzkreig. Beware of a general they have early in the game around the 1430's, he's extremely difficult to beat. But without him they should be easy to crush. Once you take over all their provinces but one, build tax collectors and eventually colonize their incomplete colony.
Now for your provinces. Some of the Ethiopian ones are Muslim. Luckily, being of your culture, it makes converting them much easier. Early in the game you get an extremely good king called Constantinos. During his reign converting will be very easy. Focus on your Ethiopian provinces first. The king is so good that you may even consider converting some Muslim provinces to boot.
Conquest-wise, opportunities should abound. Cassus bellums will form from random events. Again, be careful not to conquer anywhere above Ethiopia- there are many plains regions which love cavalry and worst of all, the Ottoman Empire usually takes over the Mamluks up north. You're no match for them militarily but as long as you stay south of the Nile- and away from their Arabic culture group- they'll generally leave you alone.
The Mamluks may start out extremely weak and their COT looks tempting but if you go after them you will encounter the Ottomans and they will beat you very bad so it's not worth it.
After Adal comes Mogadishu. If you're lucky then Mogadishu will DOW you- actually, they generally do. Or at least you wind up with a nice CB. When attacked, conquer like crazy as provinces are much cheaper badboy-wise then. Also, as they're usually allied with Adal, annex Adal's last province. This is important in order to avoid an Adal-event which results in Ethiopia losing lots of population in it's territories.
As you conquer more and more your tech/stability costs will rise- don't worry. That's the price you have to pay for expansion. Sure, you could stay small the whole game and try to work towards "civilized" status for a conversion to Vicky (more on that later) but that'd be pretty boring wouldn't it? Event conversions will help will wrong religion provinces. Make sure Muslim and Orthodox tolerance is maxed and station troops in regions recently conquered until rebelliousness dies after 3 decades. Also, keep military expenses low during peace time.
Remember, as you play try to keep Stability maxed, unless you need expenses. And always, always, ALWAYS pay loans as soon as possible- be careful never to have more than 2. As a poor nation, if you wind up with 3 or more then it'll really eat into your expenses and force you to mint a lot to pay them. Only when your income is above 50 ducats should you not worry about loans.
Now then, let's go back to tech. Your first focus after levels 1 should be to make infrastructure level 2 and then trade level 2. Your trading skills aren't much to start out with but, you should be able to send a few traders out locally to Aden.
As for Kilwa down south, do NOT maptrade to get it. It'll erase the isolation tech penalty for your neighbors, which'll make fighting them more difficult later. Plus, with your diplomacy so bad, sometimes it can take a ton of diplomats and a ton of ducats to maptrade. You'll eventually learn about Kilwa after sieging Mogadishu's capital.
After Adal and Mogadishu, fight your way south to Kilwa and anything standing between you and them- the COT is very valuable, and increases tech speed a lot for any small-province country which has it.... which means they'll have a very high land rating if you leave it alone long enough. Try to avoid this from happening, but more on that later.
Back to our tech- remember not to fight someone if their land tech is more than two above you. Keep building tax collectors, keep stability maxed and cross your fingers for conversions. Focus your investments on trade level 3. In the meantime, maptrade poor countries to learn about India, China and east Asian ocean, areas full of juicy trade spots. For now don't send any traders there unless a new COT opens, then send as many as you can.
Anyway, eventually you'll reach trade level 3. By the time you reach there you should have plutocracy maxed and have some actually pretty good trading skills. Actually if you've played your cards right you may have the best trade tech in the game, a position you'll want to maintain.
For trading, here's the trick- if you send more than 2 or 3 to a country they tend to embargo you.... but ONLY if their trade tech is level 4 and they're capable of doing so. So, early in the game you can send out 6 man swarms to COT's to easily dominate trade. Especially when a new COT opens, it's a great way to make cash.
Focus on dominating wealthy COT's, then poorer ones, and avoid ones with heavy competition. Try to monopolize a few small ones which don't get much competition. Pretty soon your treasury output will more than double and come close to tripling.
What this means is that you're basically near the Chinese tech speed. VERY nice. Build up trade once more to level 4 (for more trader stickiness and more money) then focus on infrastructure. While you're at it, build a few refineries in Ethiopian territories, as your same-culture territories will offer bonus population (and manpower) from growth vs. other territories.
Meanwhile, you'll eventually notice there's a juicy COT down south in Kilwa. By now you'll have found out about it without maptrading. Often times it'll disappear and reappear in a new country. Wherever it winds up, obtaining it as soon as possible should be a priority.
Conquering the region with the COT is a big prize. If offers a huge income to the owner- and a boost to tech speed, especially if the owner is an enemy with a small number of provinces. Be careful of their land tech- but don't worry. Your high trade skills can help you catch up. When you're about 1 behind, blitzkreig your way to conquering it, badboy be damned. (but if you're lucky you may have a cassus bellum ahead of time)
Oh, along the way Portugal will offer to make you their vassal. Go ahead and accept and send them a royal marriage, ask for military access and trade for map exchanges. Don't worry about being their vassal, you're too far away to have to send them your tax money at the beginning of each year. Just make sure to drop vassal status before the game ends so that they don't have any control over you in Vicky.
You can maptrade them and on any aggression level but cowardly, Portugal often times will agree. On lowest aggression they explore/colonize a lot more and it's rare you'll know enough provinces to convince them to trade you. If they have more provinces known don't worry, eventually you should be able to have enough to trade them later with luck.
On that note, once you reach a trade tech of 4, try to make plutocracy go back up to aristocracy. You'll need it to improve your diplomatic skills- it can't be overexaggerated how VERY difficult it is to improve relations with other countries low skills.
Plus with all the badboy you have, it'll be worth it.
Now then, our next goal is Infrastructure 4. Once you reach it, build judges in EVERY province. You're too poor not to need them. At Infrastructure 5, build courthouses. This should help with inflation though, try not to let inflation go below 2% as this makes certain random events worthless to you. Also, remember that when the value of slaves increases as Europeans build more colonies it should make your regions more wealthy as well.
Late Game Goals
There are a couple of areas to colonize behind Kenya. However, they're also the worst areas in the game to do so- 30,000 natives with an aggression of 9, all await you. These areas also are virtual dead zones with almost no supply limits.
Don't even think of trying to get all the natives to join your colony. Even if you're playing as Spain or France and have a great conquistador, the lack of supply limit makes this VERY difficult to accomplish. If you have a land tech of 40+ (maybe 50+, possibly even higher) and you repeatedly spam the same province constantly to have just enough soldiers in there, you MIGHT get it- but the amount of time and money it takes to do so is more than it's worth. So you'd probably have to make these the very last colonies in the game that you try to acquire.
But we're not Europe, so getting the Natives to join us there is something we shouldn't worry about.
At about Land level 16 or 17 send in stacked infantry units of about 15,000. Have them fight the Natives til they die, then have another come in and take it's place. It'll take about 2 or 3 times but, you'll have a great new colony available to quickly become your same religion and culture.
Also, if you get a conquistador then send him south through Portuguese territory. There are two great provinces below Zimbabwe with 10,000 natives- use the conquistador to peacefully assimilate them. Make sure the conquistador has an army of about 5,000-10,000 cavalry with army expenses maxed.
Keep sending the conquistador across Africa, and keep colonizing as much as you can find.
There's some great territory in Zimbabwe to be had. As long as you don't maptrade them then walking over Zimbabwe should be an absolute cinch. Make sure to send in armies to quickly take over land and then annex the whole country. If you can't take it all over, don't fret, two wars max should be enough. Just be careful of any territories with low supply limits, and make sure you have enough infantry and artillery.
Despite its pagan status, Zimbabwe has huge territories that are expensive to send missionaries to so you may wish to rely on conversion events.
On that note, try to keep conquering whenever all your territory becomes your religion- no reason to put your conversion events to waste.
If you're lucky, you may reach much of Africa before other European powers do. Colonize every free spot you can get. Perhaps Kongo might still be pagan too- if it is, conquer it. If you're really, really lucky, you may form an empire that leads straight to modern-day Nigeria- at that point there'll be far too much left to completely conquer, but you should be able to nab a few more territories before endgame. Be sure to nab up as many pagan provinces as possible.
Your land tech should actually be high enough that you can probably fight and steal some European provinces if you so wish. As this is an "Africa for the Africans" game, let's consider "liberating" these provinces instead of picking on our Muslim brothers....
The Vicky converter awards you with machine parts the higher your infrastructure is. Try to increase it very high as each Infrastructure 6 and above gives you an extra 5 machine parts. As for Land, focus on having just enough to stomp on your neighbors and perhaps later beat back the Europeans.
DON'T FORGET TO BUILD SOME MANUFACTORIES!
The Vicky converter has special conditions to start out with machine parts factories. You can start out with one if you have 10 inside your national provinces and you can start out with another one if you have 15 in any provinces. It just so happens you have 10 national provinces.
Check your saved game file and make sure to have at least one manufactory in each of these provinces.
As for the other five, try to build them in wealthy Zimbabwean gold territories.
Try to build Refineries and goods manufactories, and perhaps one fine arts academy in your capital. I'd recommend building a few around the time you reach trade tech 4 and have a nice trade income going.
The end is nigh! It's nearly 1819 and things are looking good. Your income should be one of the highest in the world, your manpower should be in excess of 150, nearly all your provinces should share your religion, you should have 15 manufactories (10 in Ethiopian culture lands) and your manpower could be over 150. Not too bad for an African minor.
But why let the fun stop now? You can transfer your game over to Victoria and continue your madcap adventures of uniting Africa and fighting the Europeans.
You should have 2 machine parts factories, lots of prestige, good income, a high population, lots of territory and at least 10 machine parts. Not too shabby for an African minor.
If you stayed small and completely Ethiopian, it's a possibility Ethiopia can begin Victoria with civilized status.
But if you decided to build a huge empire, it's not going to happen. Don't fret though, a large empire is probably much better.
By the time you're done you should be sitting pretty. Having a manpower of over 150 near the very end is actually quite doable (you'd be surprised how much manpower you start getting from building colonies on Africa as an African nation) and your income should be very high as well, one of the highest in the world. All of your colonies share your religion and culture and most of your territories are your religion as well. Not all of Africa will be in the hands of Africans or your hands (unless you play on lower difficulties and on a higher aggression rate to slow down European colonialism) but, a pretty good-sized chunk will be. And with all the wealth, machine parts, machine parts factories, population you have, reaching civilized status in Vicky should be a breeze.
Congratulations! Now, convert you game, play Vicky and focus on uniting all of Africa and then on going after the Europeans. From there, the world is yours to conquer as you please.
Or, you could leave the rest of the world in peace, having united Africa and avenged slavery. Whatever your choice Ethiopia will be the world's premier power and there will be absolutely no threat in the world to your power.