Civilization Craft: Shona

This is my newest brainstorm, having completed it just yesterday, so I have no feedback on it whatsoever and it may be rather rough as a result. Keep that in mind when giving feedback.

The Shona represent the Shona people, but more specifically the empire of Zimbabwe, which built many defenses and stone buildings.

They are a defensive civilization, reflecting the defensive walls and towers built by the people living near the Zambezi River. Naturally, they have the African architecture set shared with the Ethiopians and Malians, and their Wonder would be the Conical Tower of Great Zimbabwe.

Civilization Bonuses:

  • Villagers automatically drop off their resources after being tasked to another resource
  • Granary replaces Mill
  • Receive +50 stone after advancing to the next age
  • Defensive buildings take 50% less bonus damage

Team bonus: Market technologies and trade units cost -15%

Unique Unit: Svimbo Warrior (high attack infantry with trample damage)

Unique Building: Granary (Mill that slowly generates food)

Unique Technologies: Nguni Shields (Mpombo Scouts +2 melee armor), Great Zimbabwe (Granaries generate gold in addition to food)

Tech Tree Notes:

Shona infantry is above average, since the only technology they miss is Blast Furnace, and their Mpombo Scouts have extra armor thanks to Nguni Shields. Their unique unit is also infantry, and it’s quite good in massed-up battles. So the infantry is good.

Shona archers are quite good. They have access to Arbalesters and Elite Skirmishers with all the upgrades. They also have access to a fast regional unit called the Assegai, replacing the Cavalry Archer. So, their archers are quite serviceable.

Their cavalry is inapplicable, as they do not have any.

In terms of siege, they are missing the Siege Onager and the Bombard Cannon, as well as Siege Engineers. So, it’s average at best.

Shona Monks are quite bad, since they lack Atonement, Illumination, and Block Printing, and the lack of Heresy makes Shona units especially vulnerable to enemy Monks. Use them to heal and pick up relics, as they aren’t good for conversions.

The defenses are really good, as they have all relevant upgrades except for Treadmill Crane and Bombard Tower. They even gain a bit of stone after reaching the next age, making it easier for them to construct fortifications. They also take only half the bonus damage that other civilizations do.

The Shona economy is strong. Their hunters and shepherds carry more, making them more efficient if they can’t be close to drop-off buildings. In addition, they have access to Granaries, buildings which constantly generate a trickle of food. Finally, they and their allies have cheaper Market technologies and trade units, making trading much more efficient and easier to start.

Shona ships are below average, lacking Heavy Demo Ships, Cannon Galleons, Dry Dock, and Shipwright. They are passable, but not great.

In conclusion, the Shona have a strong early game, with hunting, herding, and Mill bonuses, giving them easy access to resources at the start. In the midgame, they have access to Assegai, making enemy archers less effective, and in the late game, they can build fortifications that take only half as much bonus damage. Thus, they have quite a bit of power in each age, making them difficult to play against. However, enemy skirmishers, knights, and anti-infantry units will give the Shona a lot of trouble, since their own cavalry is quite lacking.

Stats and Costs:

Svimbo Warrior Stats:

HP: 60, 75 (Elite)
Attack: 14, 16 (Elite)
Attack Bonuses: +3 vs Standard building
Armor: 2/0, 3/0 (Elite)
Attack Speed: 3
Speed: 0.96
LOS: 5

Cost: 70 food, 45 gold
Training Time: 13 seconds
Elite Upgrade Cost: 800 wood, 900 gold

Granary Stats:

HP: 600 (Dark Age), 800 (Feudal Age), 1000 (Castle and Imperial Ages)
Armor: 0/7, 1/8, 2/9, 3/10 (Dark, Feudal, Castle, and Imperial Ages, respectively)
LOS: 6

Cost: 100 wood, 75 stone
Construction Time: 35 seconds

Nguni Shields Cost: 550 wood, 450 gold
Nguni Shields Research Time: 50 seconds

Great Zimbabwe Cost: 900 wood, 300 gold
Great Zimbabwe Research Time: 70 seconds

Historical Explanations:

The Shona were hunters and gatherers and frequently had to collect different resources, so their villagers automatically drop off resources when they switch.

Great Zimbabwe is believed to be a ceremonial granary complex, so the Shona have a Granary building and a unique tech improving it.

The Shona were fine stoneworkers, which is why they gain a bit of stone after reaching the next age. This is also why their defensive buildings take less bonus damage.

The Shona had a large trade network, which is why their team bonus provides a discount on Market technologies and trade units.

The Svimbo was a club used by the Shona people. Clubs tend to be very effective at dealing high amounts of damage, which is why the Svimbo Warrior has such a high attack.

Nguni shields were special shields created by the Nguni people of South Africa, who probably lived around or with the Shona people. They were carried by warriors of that region, and could be used to deflect spears, assegais, or arrows. Thus, Nguni Shields gives Mpombo Scouts extra melee armor.


i didnt have time yet to read it all, but here are my first thoughts:

I dont think this matters for shepherds, as they are under the TC anyway, so all it does is remove the need to force drop once or twice. very minor bonus
similar for boar which are usually under the tc.
so it only really affects deer, and this might be a better/worse version of the mongol bonus. would need to test

quite situational, maybe make it affect all fish?

hmm, how does this work? is it a permanent buff or does the extra HP disappear once the wall is destroyed? feels a bit like an aura bonus that many here seem to dislike
also bear in mind that upgraded rams (dont recall which upgrade? capped ram or siege engineers) adds range/blast damage to rams, so extra HP on houses means nothing if their HP is still lower than the walls, since they will go down together anyways.
also does this stack? ie a house next to two pieces of walls gets +150 or +300?

very similar to the British team bonus, dont you think?

sounds fine. i dont have a feeling for how good this would be. a bit of a mix of saracens bonus and Italians’ silk road.

interesting unit. this is quite a fast unit with more range than an xbow so could be OP.
the charged attack ignoring armour could become extremely snowbally against high-pierce armour units like huskarls: either they kill them quickly, or get killed quickly.
one thing to consider here: what happens if the charged attack misses? melee units don’t have this problem, since their attacks always hit, so the charge of eg coustilliers is never ‘wasted’. but with this unit it might be possible to run in one unit that takes all the spears to the face, and the remaining units can clean up.
another thing: is the spear affected by ballistics? how does it fare against mangonels?

straight up damage reduction is new (afaik). i think extra armour/extra hp would be more in the spirit of the game

people are already complaining about the slavs’ detinets: getting 40% of their stone cost replaced by wood and they dont even have a good castle unit.
consider other civs with cheaper castles: franks, incas, bulgarians (kreposts), sicilians (donjons). all of these have mediocre UUs.
this would be a civ with an amazing castle UU which can spam castles at half cost (after the first one). it is a pretty expensive tech, but it pays back its stone cost with just a single castle
could maybe be combined with lacking conscription? just as an idea, although that wouldnt fix the potential castle/tower dropping issue

not sure why they would… you’d be making mostly cheap archers+infantry? monks are usually used against knights and elephants.

I hope I dont sound overly critical, i was trying to find possible problems/oversights in this design.
in general i think if more civs are added africa would be a good place for it.

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Good feedback. I’ll definitely consider some changes.

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I think this would make them work similarly to how Khmer farmers work? In which case, I think the bonus could be very useful on some maps where you have lots of hunt and you don’t have to worry about creating mills for drop-off points there. Might also be very beginner friendly who accidentally kill sheep away from TC. I think this bonus is actually pretty fun, though probably not a meaningful bonus.

Yeah, and there are several other civ bonuses that stack with team bonuses. This could make their Archery Ranges extremely powerful in teamgames, which would be very interesting! Adds a new Archer civ to the mix of the current ones, so I’d support this type of bonuses.

Uhh? I mean, compared to Manguidai and Conquistadors, anything is mediocre, but I wouldn’t call those mediocre. Boyars, Kamayuks, Konniks are all very powerful units.

Personally, I do feel like the stone building discounts start to overlap a little too much, and I’m also unsure about the walls buffing adjacent buildings, it feels one of those throwaway bonuses that you forget that exist.

Charged attacks on ranged units are also very scary, so I’m not sure about the UU, but not opposed to the idea either. Looks cool, and it’s a civ from Africa!

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I’ve got nothing particular against this civ design, in fact I think the idea of buildings getting extra hp next to walls is really cool.

I’ve got to say though, I just don’t think that a vast cultural group such as the Bantu could en umbrellaed in this way. It needs to be broken up into Shona, Kongolese, Swahili, because having all these cultures lumped together would be almost as bad as having one “Indians” civ (not quite that bad though).

I just really don’t think you can lump three potential civs together into one “Bantus” civ, it just seems nonsensical in terms of design. You could make three Bantu civs with the Assegai as a shared unit (replacing the cav archer) for example.

Again, no problem with the civ balance/bonuses in particular, maybe just rename it to Shona/Zimbabweans.


To address your concern, the reason I lumped all the Bantus together is because I didn’t think they were all significant enough on their own to warrant separate civs. The Indians are different, because different regions of India had powerful empires on their own, but the Bantus in Africa were mostly a collection of small tribes and kingdoms, with only two or three major powers of that region to claim.

These two or three major powers could be added just fine on their own though

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Many offer this one as a new Magyar bonus (some people are really stubborn about the idea of an eco bonus being something universal), there’s a problem with this bonus though, it’s the best laming bonus in the game, people would just send forward vills, even just 1. It’s too rewarding for laming.
So I’m not sure about this one, despite how versatile and nice it is.

That’s great!

Does 150 HP really matter if there is a Stone-wall in the defences? It’s just 150 HP for a building that has much worse armor and unit-size than a wall.
I’d change this one.

Since it’s a civ bonus and not a team bonus you can be bolder with the numbers. How about 20%, 30%, 40%?
This one is actually a nice bonus we’ve yet to have in AOE. It’s not OP since the civ doesnt have any other Archer bonus, barely a meaningful eco bonus.

10% is too low for Markets, either give Markets a different bonus (like line of sight…) Or rather: Trade units and all Market techs are -10%.
None will even bother calculating 10% discount to a single Market they’ll build. I remind you Vikings have 15%, that applies on Dark Age where every res is more precious, and docks unlike market are being built more than once.
Perhaps -10% Trade units and -20% Market cost? (meh it’s getting too much Saracens anyways)

Overall not a fan of these bonuses, they dont build up into a wholistic playable civ with a clear identity and fun feeling to it. A generic Archer civ for the vast majority of the game’s timeline? Defensive without a great eco bonus, very lacking. No powerspikes to play around them strategically.

What’s the catch here? This unit seems the perfect design in the game.
Very Cheap.
High movement speed.
Higher range.
High Pierce Armor.
High accuracy.
High LOS.
Decent Rate of Fire.
Decent HP.
Extremely high damage both base damage and charge one.
Which is conceptually very hard to implement balancely, unlike melee charge damage.

This unit doesnt make sense, it has it all.
It’s far from being anything close to reasonable, redesign is needed.

25% less global damage? It doesnt make much sense, it’s practically bonus HP. So why not just giving them HP and make it more intuitive, understandable and elegant. Vietnamese and Vikings combines, it can be decent.

Nope. Cant be implemented in AOE.
Slavs already have it just worse.

Sorry, overall I’m not convinced, your worst one :frowning:

Did bantu people use cavalry?

Myabe in Uganda and the Swahili coast a bit

Bantu umbrella is a terrible idea.


Bantus are not a civilization, they are a language family just like Slavs, Germanics and Romance.

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So are dravidians that too is a language family.


It’s several hundred ethnies covering an area similar to whole Europe and triple as big as the Indian subcontinent. I can’t fathom why you think it’s remotely comparable.

It’s worse.

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You completely missed the point I was making,we already have culture groups languages groups ingame so its not too hard to imagine a total bantu group like in RON.

Should we add all the african kingdoms under one name absolutely not but there is nothing stopping from someone making an umbrella bantu civi concept.


And so are Slavs? How does that weaken my argument? The reigning opinion is anyhow that Slavs should be renamed, same is true for Dravidians and Bantu by conclusion.

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Thats whole point we already have cultural/language groups ingame.even this civi concept is based on zimbabwe mainly.

No, that doesnt face the argument, it is just some weaker form of Whataboutism. Just because it is already or still present, doesnt give you a card blanche for everything. By that argument Indians could still be Indians.

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Either we’re consequential and accept that civ umbrellas are a no-go and add specific entities or we remove the last specific additions we got with the DLCs.

It’s weird to have the position that X language family is okay to have as a giant umbrella and Y not.

They’re not going to remove the specific civs we got lately, so in my opinion the devs should continue adding specific entities and not egregious umbrella civs; staying in line with what happened lately and not doing the same error with Forgotten Empires.

I honestly would like to see a Slavs rename to Ruthenians, considering Indians were renamed too. Would for me personally make Dawn of the Dukes more bearable than it is right now.

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I fully agree they should have left them as it is and add the three new civis.