East African DLC - The Swahilis [concept]

Hello friends! I’m just stoked with the new Caucasus DLC coming soon, and I’m hopeful that the next DLC would be in East Africa! As promised, below is the Swahilis civ concept I would wish to see in a possible future East African themed DLC of AOE2 DE. I already posted a Zimbabwean Civilization concept a couple of days ago, check it out: East African DLC – Emporiums of Ivory and Gold - The Zimbabweans [concept]
I’ll be doing the Somalis next.
Share your thoughts/comments below! J


The Swahili are a distinctive East African culture due to admixture with Arab, Indian, and Persian immigrants. They adopted Islam and are best known as prolific maritime merchants, with their currency and goods reaching as far as China, even Australia. With the lucrative trade of ivory, gold and slaves in the Swahili Coast, the Swahili-city states thrived and rose to power. This civ represents the Swahili sultanates of Kilwa, Mombasa, Malindi, and Pate; the trading polities of Zanzibar, Pemba, Inhambane, Lamu, and Comoros; the Makua people, the Maasai people, the Zanj, and other inland Bantu peoples they influenced.

Kilwa Sultanate (957-1513) – the most powerful Swahili kingdom that controlled the entire Swahili coast and had trading outposts at Madagascar at its height, before falling to the Portuguese. Wholly dependent on commerce, the grains, meats and other supplies had to be traded with the interior Bantu peoples in market towns.
Malindi Sultanate (9th-15th cen) – emerged as a regional power from 9th century onwards, rivalling Mombasa and Kilwa. In 1414, it was notably visited by Zheng He. In 1500, due to trade conflicts, they willingly became a Portuguese vassal and helped the Portuguese in bringing down Kilwa and Mombasa.
Mombasa Sultanate (900 – 1593) – another Swahili regional power that was a rival to Malindi, but unlike them, hostile to the Portuguese. When Ibn Battuta visited, he wrote of their expertly built mosques. They fought many battles and skirmishes with the Portuguese, eventually falling under their rule in 1593.
Pate Sultanate – (12th-19th cen) – became a sultanate after independence from Kilwa in 1203.
Zanzibar, Pemba, Lamu, Comoros, Inhambane – coastal city-states ruled by sultans or sheikhs that was conquered by Kilwa and incorporated into their empire.
Makua people – related to the Maravi people, the Makua were also successful traders controlling the trade routes between Lake Malawi and the Swahili coast. They are also known for their metal processing.
Maasai people – an inland East African Bantu people known for their fierceness and proficiency in using the rungu.
Zanj – a collective term for East African Bantu slaves responsible for the “Zanj Rebellion”, against the Abbasid Caliphate in Basra which is known as one of the bloodiest and most destructive uprisings in Western Asia.

Naval and economic civilization

Civilization Bonuses:

-gathering fish also generates gold (their currency were mainly cowry shells)
-get 20% more of the resources you buy in the Market (The Swahili sultanates relied on their wealth through trade to feed the population of their kingdom)
-Fervor and Theocracy free (represents the quick spread of Islam in the region)
-Markets, Blacksmiths, and Monasteries are built 3X faster and cost 100 less wood (a nod to their trade focused and relatively sophisticated culture)

UU1: Rungu Warrior (50F, 40G) – quick melee infantry armed with a club (rungu) that he occasionally throws dealing high damage. Attack bonus vs. buildings. Strong vs. archers, weak vs. cavalry. (a rungu is a wooden throwing club or baton used by East African cultures)
*intended to be an eagle-gbeto-coustillier hybrid with a ranged ability that when massed, can punch through a building or wall quickly and murder villagers inside
Attack: 8, 10 (elite) ; vs. buildings +5, +6 (elite)
Club Throwing Ability Atck: +12, +16(elite) ; vs. buildings +30, +45(elite)
Ability Charge Time: 40 seconds ; Range: 4
Armor: 0/3, 0/4(elite) ; Armor class: Eagle Warrior
Hit Points: 55, 60(elite)

UU2: Mtepe (85W, 30G) – replaces the Trade Cog. Trade ship that is cheaper. Can gather fish like fishing ships and build fish traps, and generates gold while fishing at double the rate of the civ bonus. (A Swahili sewn boat designed to be flexible)

Regional Unit (East Africa): Assegai Ambusher – regional unit for East African civs accessible at 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)
Hit Points: 40, 50 (elite)
Range: 4, 5(elite)
(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)

Castle Age UT: Coral Architecture - 50% of tower stone cost converted to wood (They used coral-derived material to construct walls and towers)

Imperial Age UT: Shirazi Legacy – Allied trade units take 10% less pop space; then generate three monks carrying relics (The Shirazi is a dynasty of possibly Arab or Persian origin that ruled most of the Swahili city-states. They proselytized Islam, dominated trade, and developed the culture in the region)

Team Bonus: The first trade unit that you create is free

Missing technologies:
Mill – Crop Rotation
Barracks – Champion
Mining Camp – Gold Shaft Mining
Archery Range – Cavalry Archer, Parthian Tactics
Stable – Hussar, Paladin, Bloodlines
Blacksmith – Plate Barding Armor
Dock – Heavy Demolition Ship
University – Keep, Bombard Tower
Monastery – Heresy
Siege Workshop – Siege Ram

Possible Wonders: Husuni Kubwa, Great Mosque of Kilwa

Main Strengths: Water Maps, Trade and Team Play, Monks
The Swahili are a naval and trade focused civilization that will shine in water or hybrid maps, and as well in team games, and is designed to rival the Spanish as an ally. They are great picks on any water map, team games, Black Forest, but will mainly struggle in open land maps such as Arabia or Land Madness.

Dark to Feudal Age: In water or hybrid maps, the bonuses that will work for you are their gold generating fishermen, fishing ships, and Mtepe, giving you an early gold boost, so definitely go for a fish boom. You also get wood savings from the cheaper Blacksmith and Market, thus allowing to field archers early. With your team bonus in team games, this will allow your team to modestly trade early on, and the gold that your team will earn will certainly stack up ahead of your opponents. In 1v1 land maps, with your Market bonuses and free Caravan, you can perform a deadly “trade cart rush” provided your enemy’s Market is not within walls; or you could go for a free Mtepe instead in water or hybrid maps. With the additional 20% that you get when buying resources in the Market, adapting to different situations will be easier, or going for a fast Castle.

Castle Age: If you go for a fast Castle strategy, you may quickly field monks with your Monastery bonus with deadly timing. With free Fervor, you also have a better edge in contesting relics. You can also go for an Assegai Ambusher rush that will harass your opponents and force them into skirms, infantry, or siege; or build a Castle early to go for an even stronger Rungu Warrior rush. You may also research your Castle Age UT to annoy your opponents with a tower spam and cement your positions in the map.

Imperial Age onwards: With access to Hand Cannoneers, Bombard Cannons, and Siege Onagers, supported by Halbs or Assegai Ambushers, your late game army can be unstoppable. Your Imperial Age UT will be impactful in team games since this will enable your entire team to have a little extra pop space to be used for more military or trade units. In 1v1s, the three free relics that you get will give you more gold generation, which will give you an advantage when gold runs out. In water/hybrid maps, your fish boom will also generate you gold aside from relics, and you can even invest in replacing your entire fishing ship eco with Mtepes for a better gold trickle from your civ bonus, and they are even affected by your Imp Age UT.

With the Swahilis, you have many opportunities to get ahead of your opponents financially, which you must translate into a victory. But with their reliance on access to water and an undisturbed economy, your opponents can exploit this weakness and shut you down. Their lack of good cavalry and power units also puts a limit to what they can do. However, a good Swahili player can make money talk.

AI player names:
Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi – founder of Kilwa
Muhammad ibn Ali – second ruler of Kilwa, ruled for 40 years
Suleiman ibn al-Hassan ibn Dawud – one of the greatest Kilwan sultans; brought Sofala, Pemba, and Zanzibar under Kilwan rule
Al-Hassan ibn Talut – seized power from the Shirazi dynasty by force, starting the Mahdali dynasty
Al-Hasan ibn Sulaiman/Abu’l-Muwahib – Mahdali sultan who went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, who was named as “father of gifts” by traveler Ibn Battuta for his generosity
Ibrahim ibn Suleiman/Emir Ibrahim – Kilwan usurper who killed the previous sultan and was driven out and deposed by Francisco Almeida
Mwana Mkisi – pre-Islamic queen of Mombasa, founded Kongowea, predecessor settlement of Mombasa
Shehe Mvit - succeeded the Mkisi dynasty and built Mombasa’s oldest stone mosque
Sultana Alimah I – first female Comorian sultan
Hassan ibn Abu Bakr – a ruler of Zanzibar

Possible campaigns:

  1. Founding of Kilwa Sultanate
  2. Expansion of Kilwa under Suleiman ibn al-Hassan ibn Dawud
    Historical Battles:
  3. Zanj Rebellion
  4. Battle of Mombasa vs. the Portuguese

Wikipedia articles



Good write up of the civilization concept.

Next forum battle regarding next dlc East Asia vs Africa.


Thanks Mahazona! I’m from Asia, but would prefer an African DLC prioritized since there are so many unused civilizations from that continent. :smiley:


I think I would prefer an African DLC too, but there are some civs in Asia that would be nice to have

The coral building thing is very interesting, never heard of it before, but I really like how you implemented it

Not sure if spawning relics is a good mechanic tho, seems pretty broken in team games if you have an Aztec or Lithuanian ally… Maybe a slow gold trickle for every university? (or market, or TC, or Castle) with a top of #### or something like that

Edit: why does the forum censor the number after 3? lol

1 Like

Gets definitely my approval. Would give them a galley line bonus too. Free galley upgrade (an admittedly potent bonus), isn’t given yet.

1 Like

Yeah found the coral architecture impressive too when reading about it.

The relic spawning could be broken but I really intended it that way for it to have interesting team ups with Lithuanians especially. The gold generation from relics could be negligible since there is trade anyways so the other effect of the Imperial UT will be more impactful.

It plays to their playstyle of being eco focused with supportive elements since they are lacking any power units such as Battle elephants, Camel archers, Paladin, etc.

1 Like

Thank you Szaladon! :smiley:

The free galley line upgrades is definitely powerful. That bonus alone I think is enough to make a civ a top tier naval civ because the immediate power spike could really snowball and is hard to play around. Looking back, I didn’t give any naval military bonuses to the Swahilis since historically, I didn’t find anything noteworthy. They however, get complete naval tech tree, and with eco bonuses to help them in naval maps, they are definitely a contender.

1 Like

Those two overlap too much with Saracens and Bohemians imo

1 Like

I think that you might want to tone down some of these benefits. You can Blacksmith or Market wall cost efficiently, and expediently, which is terrifying. On water and hybrid maps, that fishing bonus is possibly incredible as fishing is the best source of food to begin with (Your Fast Castle play will be phenomenal, too much). The extra Market resources is not a bad starting point, but simply will take time to balance. The free techs are fine.

1 Like

I feel like too many of the bonuses revolve around gold and their naval bonus isn’t strong enough.

That said they dont really have anything for a land bonus.

Late game navies tend to stop making fishing boats until the water is super secured since a dock atill training one isnt taining a warship. And towards warships? You get a slow gold trickle while fishing which isnt bad at all. Niche land likited to water.

Saving wood on markets and blacksmiths saves, for a long while 200w. That is nice… but, welll…

Lets compare them to vikings another naval civ not meant to be a land monster but does well there.

The wood savings on your monastery is probably the most long term bonus here as with the free techs you dan kinda monk rush. I do emphasize kinda. If it were redemption it might be a little absurd after all.

Still compared to Vikings they save wood on dock, per warship and also…free wheelbarrow not only saves wood it increases thr amount of wood you can intake especially because you dont lose 3 villagers woryh of teaining time to increase your villager worth by a great amount and you save 175f to boot.

This bonus as free Hand Cart is also an amazing Castle Age spike that makes you glad you clicked up to castle age as you grt ready to make whatever military units you want quite frankly.

This civ’s military? It’s interesting for sure and diverse. Like Spanish or Chinese the civ bonuses dont really push you in any one direction.

Stables are kinda eh but Viking Knights have worked with that eco and you can throw out camels in a pinch. It also gets Lancers, and camels and elephants, both kind. Wait they get both kind of rams!?

1 Like

I think Swahili they should appear along with Congolese and Mutapa civs in the Bantu / Southern Africa DLC.

  • maybe Malagasy also?
1 Like

Unfortunately, there is no way to count on the creation of a completely new Architecture Set for these civs… the Caucasian DLC showed us this.

Could you add the cost and training time for this unit. Looks interesting but a bit beefed up. Could be good if its cost matches its strong stats.

A bit overpowered for the cost. I think you might argue the cost based on Coustillier. But then again coustillier themselves are quite cheap for their worth.

very situational almost eliminates all land maps.

Almost a duplicate of Saracen. I believe Saracens is 35%

I think it should be just limited to blackmsith and market considering they have almost full monastery. Just based on the set of changes Bohemians had.

Ok. Naval civs are gold hungry in general so this fits. My only problem is that this could be a secondary eco bonus, not the main one. Otherwise the civ will be weak on land. Give them an additional wood or food bonus. Or a new building or free tech that let you save resources somehow.


Fervor and sanctity could work. But maybe op under certain circumstances. How about atonement and sanc
ugh I wont bother to complete it. This censorship.

No. This is like a copy of saracens and bohemians bonuses + focused spanish bonus, but weird. Give them something more normal like lumberjacks generate a small trickle of 0.014 wood per second during gathering movements. Or something like that, I don’t know.

1 Like

Yeah, it’s irritating, isn’t it? Why on Earth would there be a filter for a saint-related noun?

Yes they kind of overlap, but I think I can’t change it to something completely different since these bonuses work well with the Swahili identity, unless you can suggest a better one. Also, when more civs are added to the game, its inevitable that some bonuses will be similar. I can change it maybe to:

-Markets, Blacksmiths, Monasteries, and Universities -50% cost and are built 3x faster

The 20% more from Market bonus is just similar, the Saracens still get better prices and can sell food later to take back their gold. The Swahilis don’t have this luxury, but at least they have a permanent gold eco bonus.

Do you think it’s too powerful? The Saracens probably still has a better Market bonus and can hit better timings for aggressive rushes.

Thanks for the overview, you are right that their naval bonuses could still be lacking when compared to top tier naval civs. So far, what helps them in water maps, is the fishing gold trickle, the free Mtepe, and wood savings on Market and blacksmith. I could draft a 5th civ bonus relating to it. Any suggestions?

About the Vikings, they are exceptional in land and water due to free wheelbarrow. It’s just nuts and one of the best eco bonuses in the game. The Swahili on the other hand are historically coast dwellers and truly dependent on trade wealth to source grain and timber from inland Bantu peoples. So it’s intentional for them to be kinda bad in land maps, however, the 20% more resources is not weak since it is similar to Saracens Market bonus that allows them to have absurd Castle Age timings. On top of that they get wood savings and diverse military options. Vikings surely are still better than them in 1v1 Arabia, but in team games the Swahilis are a much better pick, so that is the tradeoff.

Yes, if ever there will be an East African DLC, the Swahils, the Zimbabweans and the Somalis are top priority due to their importance in the region. The Malagasy could also be added and I’m drafting a concept for them too. Although the devs might not include them since they only cover the island of Madagascar and the different Malagasy kingdoms only rose to prominence towards the end of the AOE2 timeline.


Oh I haven’t drafted the price, good thing you pointed it out, I’ll add that info. :slight_smile:

Its hard to tell with the pricing coz when compared to the coustilier, the coustilier has better stats, faster, and can fight melee battles better. When compared to eagles, eagles have attack bonus vs. cavalry and conversion resistance. When compared to gbetos, gbetos are permanently ranged and have much better DPS. To determine a balanced price, definitely needs testing.

Yes this is a civ bonus for water/hybrid maps.

Yes they are similar, but the difference is that the Saracens bonus can buy with a much lower gold price, and sell resources at a better price. The Swahilis still pay the standard gold price, but get more resources, and don’t get bonuses in selling. Therefore, the Saracens are still much better, but the Swahilis at least have a permanent gold eco bonus on water maps at least, and better team play bonuses.

The Monastery I really want to keep since this is important for their monk rush and relic control since this is going to be their strengths in land maps to make them even playable there, especially Arena. I could revise the bonus to make it not too similar to Bohemians/Saracens:

-Market, Blacksmiths, Monasteries, and Universities -50% cost and built 3x faster

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts! :smiley: