The Ghanaians represent the Ghana Empire, which predated the Mali Empire. Despite this, they have access to Hand Cannoneers and Cannon Galleons as a nod to the kingdoms succeeding them embracing gunpowder. The Ghanaians have the African architecture set, which is extra fitting given that the Monastery for that set is based on Larabanga Mosque in Ghana. Their unique Castle is an original one inspired by the rough stonework and adornment of the traditional village of Ouadane, the old tower of which is also the Ghanaian Wonder.
The Ghanaians primarily focus on camels and monks, though they have full infantry and foot archers as well. Due to their powerful aggression, their defenses are quite poor, lacking several key technologies.
With all that said, let’s delve into their civ bonuses:
- Selling food gains 25% more gold; buying food costs 25% less
This is a little confusing, so let me explain it. Basically, the displayed cost for buying food is 25% higher than it actually is, and the displayed gain from selling food is 25% lower. So while the base commodity trading fee remains at the normal rate, the Ghanaians have a better food-to-gold exchange than any other civilization except the Saracens.
This bonus references merchants having to pay an extra tax of one gold dinar on imports of salt, and two on exports.
- Heavy Camel Rider upgrade available in Castle Age
The Ghana Empire quickly embraced the camel and it became important to their economy and trade with North Africa. While they probably didn’t use it in combat so much, it was undoubtedly important to their growth.
- Trade units cost no gold, but cost 50% more wood
The Ghana Empire had a large network with not only other West African nations, but also North Africa, and grew very rich as a result.
- Monks take 33% less bonus damage
While the Ghana Empire was never fully Muslim, it did have a relationship with Muslim scholars. However, Ghana itself had traditional African beliefs.
- Team bonus: Camel units +2 LOS
Of course, this further references Ghana’s embracing of camels for transport and trade, as well as possibly combat.
Unique Unit: Mazalim
The Mazalim is essentially a medium cavalry unit with only 8 attack (9 for Elite). However, its main feature is that it gains extra attack for each kill, up to +7. This means that a fully-buffed Elite Mazalim can have 20 attack. However, this comes with the drawback of each individual unit being buffed separately, rather than all at once, meaning that veteran Mazalims need to be kept alive until they can gain full strength.
Mazalim is an Arab term for a particular form of justice. In the Ghana Empire, this term was used, at least by Arab sources, for court officials surrounding the king that could also be princes or nobles.
Camel Caravans: Camel Riders +2/+2 armor
Cost: 300 food, 150 gold
This technology gives Camel Riders essentially the same armor stats as Knights. However, they still have significantly less attack, so are not a full replacement for the Knight line. They just become better at tanking arrows than normal Camel Riders, and also take less damage from melee units. Combined with Heavy Camel Riders being available in the Castle Age, Ghanaian Camels are top-tier.
Camel caravans, or camel trains, were an important aspect of trans-Saharan trade, as well as the Silk Road and the Muslim hajj. The Ghana Empire was an important center of trade in West Africa during its peak, and many camel caravans would’ve traveled back and forth through the empire.
Madhhab: Monasteries generate gold without relics; Monks ignore conversion resistance
Cost: 1000 food, 800 gold
This technology is situational in terms of the economic impact of Monasteries generating gold, since it is only 15 gold per minute for one. Considering the cost (same as Imperial Age), it will take a while to pay back the gold cost alone, even with multiple Monasteries. It does stack with Relics, though, and this can make a slight difference. However, the impact the technology has on Monks is substantial. The effects of Faith and First Crusade are completely ignored, as well as any conversion-resistant units. This means that Heresy alone is enough to deter a full force of Ghanaian Monks, particularly since every single technology is available. Monks also take less bonus damage, so even if a Hussar can get close, it will probably not be able to kill a Monk before it’s converted. While the technology is expensive and difficult to get going, its impact is enormous, giving the Ghanaians the best late-game Monks out of any civ, except for possibly the Aztecs.
A madhhab is a school of thought in the Islamic world. There are four main madhhabs in Sunni Islam; the Maliki branch is popular in North and West Africa. While the Ghana Empire itself was not Muslim, it interacted greatly with Muslim scholars, and became Muslim after it was conquered.
Missing Units: Eagle line, Elephant Archer line, Heavy Cavalry Archer, Paladin, Battle Elephant line, Steppe Lancer line, Siege Onager, Bombard Cannon, Fast Fire Ship, Heavy Demolition Ship, Elite Cannon Galleon.
Missing Techs: Parthian Tactics, Hoardings, Plate Barding Armor, Architecture, Keep, Heated Shot, Bombard Tower, Arrowslits, Crop Rotation, Gold Shaft Mining, Shipwright.