East African DLC – Emporiums of Ivory and Gold - The Zimbabweans [concept]

Hi, since that there is a possible new expansion on the horizon after Return of Rome, I really wish it will be centered on the East African region. So I came up with a concept for fun, and I hope the devs could draw inspiration from it. The East African expansion will be titled “Emporiums of Ivory and Gold,” since the kingdoms and empires in this region is known for their extensive trade of these valued products. The civs that will be featured on this expansion will be the Zimbabweans, Swahilis, Somalis, Malagasy; and I will post a civ design of each one. Let me know what you think in the comments!


The Zimbabweans will represent the Shona people (Kingdom of Mapungubwe, Kingdom of Zimbabwe, Mutapa Empire, Kingdom of Butua, Sofala sheikhdom), the Nyasa people (Maravi Confederacy), and other peoples within their sphere of influence. They are known for their marvelous stone structures and their rich gold mines that propelled them to power.

Kingdom of Mapungubwe – early medieval Shona kingdom known for its marvelous stone masonry.
Kingdom of Zimbabwe – successor of Mapungubwe. Its capital city, Great Zimbabwe, is known for its monumental mortarless stone walls and towers. The kingdom controlled gold mines and traded with the Kilwa Sultanate. It later declined and was abandoned.
Mutapa Empire – founded by a Zimbabwean prince who broke away from the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, he established a kingdom that will eventually become a powerful empire. It had control of the gold mines of the kingdoms it conquered and became the premier state of the region. It declined due to infighting and Portuguese intervention.
Kingdom of Butua – the other successor state of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe situated in the south of Mutapa and governed by the Torwa dynasty. Its capital city was Khami, which was similar to Great Zimbabwe. Notable for its trade in gold, it was later conquered by the Rozwi Empire.
Maravi Confederacy – situated along Lake Nyasa, it was a confederacy of kingdoms (Undi, Lungu, Mkanda, and Karonga) that traded ivory and slaves with the Swahili, and later the Portuguese.
Sofala – a wealthy seaport ruled by a sheikh which was part of the Mutapa Empire but was largely autonomous. It was the prime entrepot of the Mutapa gold trade which was valued by Somali and Swahili merchants. It later formed an alliance with the Portuguese, and eventually became a colony.

Defensive civilization

-Starts with 4 houses
-Castles, towers, walls, and town centers can self-repair (gets faster per age)
-All land units get +1HP per Town Center(max +7) and +3HP per Castle(no limit) you own
-stone and gold mines last 40% longer (The Mutapa and Sofala mines were a major source of gold in the East African Trade)
-Towers and tower techs cost -20%

Unique Unit: Gano Axeman - durable infantry armed with a battle axe(gano). Gets bonus damage equal to 10% of his maximum health. Attack bonus vs. buildings.
Base damage: 5 , 6 (elite)
Armor: 3/3 , 4/4 (elite)
Health: 70 , 80 (elite)

Regional Unit (East Africa): Assegai Ambusher – regional unit for East African civs accessible in the Barracks at Castle Age. Fast moving ranged spearman with high pierce armor and attack bonus vs. cavalry. Good vs. cavalry and archers. Bad vs. skirmishers, infantry, scorpions.
Attack: 3, 4 (elite)
Armor: 0/4, 0/5 (elite)
Range: 4
(The Assegai Ambusher is designed to replace the Cavalry archer for the East African civilizations since horses in this area were barely used due to the abundance of tsetse flies. The Assegai is a light spear or javelin that was used throughout Africa)

UT1: Houses of Stones (Destroyed Castles, towers, walls, and town centers refund 40% of their stone cost)
English translation of “Zimbabwe,” a testament to their stone working prowess

UT2: Cow-horn Formations (Gano Axemen + 20% move speed, Assegai Ambushers +15%)
Battle formation used by Shona people to surround their enemies, which was later adopted by the Zulu.

Team Bonus: Canceled or destroyed construction foundations refund more resources

Missing technologies:
Dock – Dry Dock, Elite Cannon galleon
Blacksmith – Ring Archer Armor, Chain Barding Armor
Barracks – Arson, Champion
Archery Range – Cavalry Archer, Parthian Tactics, Hand Cannoneer
Stable – Bloodlines, Light Cavalry, Knight, Heavy Camel
Monastery- Atonement, Theocracy, Block Printing
University – Bombard Tower, Siege Engineers
Siege Workshop – Siege Ram, Siege Onager, Bombard Cannon

Main Strategies: Tower rushing, Turtling
The Zimbabweans are a defensive civilization and their bonuses will incentivize players to play defensively as their land units get tougher the more they build and protect their Town Centers and Castles. Therefore, this civ thrives better in semi-closed or closed maps, and can snowball in the late game as their land units become harder to kill. With regenerating fortifications and longer lasting gold and stone mines, the Zimbabweans is built to outlast their opponents. With their Team Bonus, tower discount, and regenerating fortifications, they can also go for a tower rush or a castle drop against their enemies. Their deathball composition will be buffed Gano Axeman, Assegais, and siege. The Zimbabweans can also shine in team games, with their team bonus making failed castle drops hardly punishing. With a Portuguese teammate, they can build more Castle to potentially make their military, especially the Gano Axeman, unstoppable.

Wikipedia articles


Im not sure what the plan with this civ. 4 houses free can actually be a hindrance if they spawn in bad locations around your starting TC.

Essentially its 100 free wood and some vill seconds saved. Its not bad but Im not sure what you mean by fortifications. All stone buildings? If its towers that 100w starts running away and you can out tower most especially with all the extra stone you’ll get exacerbated by the fact you get free stone mining techs AND 40% conservation it should be one or the other imho.

And this civs ‘s blacksmith is in a word unfair. It lacks chain bard for otherwise elite battle elephant and archer and cav armor as well. This civ falls off a cliff hard the longer the game goes but its early game is either tower focused or just cant keep up with other fall off civs like vikings and aztecs who still have better blacksmithing

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I did not give them final armor upgrades and other unit upgrades because on top of their civ bonus giving their land units bonus hit points(HP) for each Town Center and Castle they own, it might be too strong. Their cavalry is also abysmal since East African civilizations barely used them due to tsetse flies. The plan of this civ is to play defensively and ramp up the hit points of their units, synergizing well with their UU the Gano Axeman, which also gets bonus attack the higher his hit points.

+2 missile armor goes way further than 10 HP. Case in point Malian champions are more potent than Vikings ones.

For an example: if Frank paladins didnt get last armor and blood lines didnt exist… a full arbalest would kill that Frank paladin in 39 hits taking 5 damage per. The full 160 HP with 7 pierce armor would die in 54 hits taking 3 damage per shot. Thats a difference of 32 HP to boot.

About the only unit in this army that would shine woild be the arbalest but even then 2 HP over a vietnamese vs 1/2 armor I know which Id prefer.

The axeman is okay. But with 6/6 max armor its going to be okay but not great. its low enough missile armor to get skewered by archer civs.

I guess my other issue is thar this civ mostly just trains two unique units and doesn’t want to consider anything else in the tech tree.

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Cool suggestion but can you find AI names of historical rulers for them? Cause I cannot. And more importantly a campaign protagonist and events for 5 or 6 scenarii, at least semi historical (like yodit). And also a wonder.
I hope this is possible since it would be a very nice addition to the game.

Usually these kind of bonuses work bad with units but for walls and towers it could be perfect!

I think this is already used (?) And the next one step on bohemians toes but it could be ok to give bohemians the free gold upgrades and Zimbabwe the stone ones.

So only battle elephants? Because I guess they don’t get steppe lancers lol.

Civ identity is there even if it probably need balance and more than just one regional unit to make up for all the common ones they lack. Are there reliable accounts of battles, warfare or sieges?

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That makes sense, maybe they can get final infantry armor. Your right about them having quite limited unit comps to work with but giving them good cavalry will be historically inaccurate. So they work like Meso civs but without the great early aggression instead with great defenses, and a potential to be quite unstoppable late game with ramping HP especially in team games or closed maps.

I would change the mining bonus to a Tower bonus. Perhaps Towers cost -20%. This would enable some forms of aggressive play, whilst keeping with your defensive building nature. This civ will need more work.

To add a bit of perspective, it would potentiate an effective MAA + Tower play. This would fit in with your infantry build. It would also strengthen your ability to make defensive towers to protect your own resources. If you research Guard Tower, it could remain strong in the Castle Age.

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There are many rulers from the Mutapa Empire that can be used:

  • Nyatsimba Mutota (c. 1430–c. 1450)
  • Matope Nyanhehwe Nebedza (c. 1450–c. 1480)
  • Mavura Maobwe (1480)
  • Mukombero Nyahuma (1480–c. 1490)
  • Changamire (1490–1494)
  • Chikuyo Chisamarengu (1494-1530)
    Chikura Wadyembeau (kingdom of Zimbabwe)
    Sheikh Isuf (Sofala)

For the campaign, it could be Nyatsimba Mutota a Zimbabwean prince, establishing his own kingdom of Mutapa that will eventually surpass all others and become an empire.

For the wonder, it could be Great Zimbabwe or Khami.

They also don’t get battle elephants since there were no historical accounts of them being used, and had mostly infantry and missile troops for military like Meso civs. :slight_smile:


The tower discount could be better than the stone mining bonus, thanks for the feedback! :slight_smile:

One quick last thing, you could also make the same bonus apply some or all of the tower upgrades in the university.

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Then it’s perfect! I guess I shouldn’t rely on Wikipedia for those kind of informations lol

I’d like to see the other civ builds you mentioned if you ever happen to finish them. There’s a Swahili build from a youtuber called RobbyLava that you may find interesting.

For Zimbabwe civ maybe you could give them blast furnace since if they already lack cavalry they should at least have good infantry like Aztecs or being annoying with archers and towers early on like others suggested.

I see two other options to make the civ stronger: either relying entirely on defense and make them go for an early wonder (could be a new and unique playstyle, like wonders cost less bonus or they’re built faster or… they are available in castle age!) or give them a bonus for faster building towers instead of the gold one (something like towers are built 25/50/100% faster from feudal age on or cost less or are available an age earlier) to make them tower rush.
I’d also change the team bonus to something like towers give 5 pop space which seems to fit their identity.
But again it depends on how you ground them historically.

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Yes, I agree…or Zimbabwe and Mutapa leave it for AoE 3…

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Yeah I guess blast furnace would be fine. I am careful giving them too many tower bonuses since they could end up being like the Incas with an oppressive tower rush. I would like to keep the longer lasting mines since it was historically central to their identity, and their playstyle of relying on stone defenses to outlast their opponents and build more Castles to beef up their land units in late game.

I have finished drafting a Swahili civ concept but I will check out this video that you say. Thanks! :smiley:

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Zimbabwe and Mutapa’s height was during medieval, and I’d love to see them in AOE2. :slight_smile: In AOE3, they could still use the Rozwi Empire.

They could make a civ called “Shona” in AoE 2 (900-1430) (in 900 CE the Shona came out of the Iron Age aka AoE 1 and began to settle in the region) and then a Shona civ in AoE 3 (1430- 1866)…both civs would cover all of Southeast Africa from Zimbabwe to South Africa…

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Just finished watching RobbyLava’s Swahili civ concept and I am amused how we have the same idea of them being naval and trade focused, with a little bit of defense bonuses. Although mine has a different playstyle, we also got the same Unique Unit in the Mtepe, but quite different too. I love his out of the box ideas but unsure on how his concept could be balanced, definitely needs testing and refining.

I’ll post mine in a few days, I hope you get to comment on it too :smiley:

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That’s what they are known for so anyone making swahili city state civi would use these as the base.

Id be wary using Robbylava as an inspiration. He always has an aspect in his designs that drive me up a damn wall and the one here that gets me rankled in his Swahili civ is the borderline worthless TB:

uses gold for Villagers if you dont have enough food.

Gold is a very precious commodity so most people arent gojng to want to use gold for villager production anyway.

Its a noob trap for beginners who think they can forgo food production and the expert players are gonna manage their economy so well they’re never gonna see it in action.

And now do those of you who white knight Robby understand why I fight so hard against his design philosophy? Its full of something so niche and or detrimental and he uses it to pied piper newer designers and I wont let them get suckered

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An alternate take on the length of mining resources is to instead have miners trickle food overtime when mining. Your civilization is intentionally designed to be miner intensive, but food and wood are the core resources of the game so having a set number of miners working being around the equivalent of a farm helps. This synergizes with your other bonusses and would make booming more practical when under pressure.

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Honestly I see a world where this is useful.

In messy/low eco scenarios where it isn’t possible to setup the farm eco to support 3tc. You go heavy on gold to keep vills flowing. If gold replaces food one-for-one this might even be too strong. Although I would need to see numbers (gold gather rate with or without upgrades) to confirm.

Whether it’s elegant or good game design or should be a team bonus is another matter. Personally I wouldn’t mind it as a civ bonus but can understand if people find it too outlandish.