To me it seems that this is by far the best Archer civ in the game at the moment (if you exclude civs like Chinese which are stronger as a result of having a wider tech tree and being more boom-oriented). Aside from an archer bonus, they get so much going for them so I believe a small nerf could be in order.
- +100 food +100 gold obtained per age (especially useful for early Feudal and early Castle, really helps smoothen the economy)
Comment: this is one of the strongest eco bonuses in the game imo as it gives you 400 resources in the first 20 minutes of the game. Compare this to an eco bonus like the one Burmese get for example (which is a decent mid-tier eco bonus) that saves 150 resources on the 1st and 250 on the 2nd upgrade in the first 20 minutes of the game. This is better because you can choose where to spend the resources and it’s also more “valuable” resources (gold in early Feudal for example allows you to get up to 2 extra Archers without going to gold)
- archers fire 18% faster
Comment: not much to say here, it’s a pretty good bonus that makes Ethiopian crossbows skyrocket in DPS, they are called “machine gun” by some pros now. It’s a really strong combat bonus but it’s deserved since archers is what Ethiopians should be good at and its strength is comparable to the Britons archer bonus
- Pikeman upgrade free
Comment: this is also a fairly strong bonus, Pikeman is the common complement unit to Crossbows and in early Castle age normally there aren’t enough resources to do this upgrade. It also saves the research time, in short you can churn out 4-5 extra pikeman between the time saved on the research and the resources saved. Just to give a mental picture, imagine if a cavalry civilization like Lithuanians also got free Elite Skirmisher upgrade at the start of Castle age to counter the common counter-units to their go-to strat. Sounds insane no?
- Shotel Warrior in Castle
Comment: this is not strictly a bonus but Shotels are an excellent unit to complement how Ethiopians play because they can rush down weak units, harass villagers, capture siege units and so on. It’s a unit on the expensive side but it has 2 very big advantages in that it produces very fast (even without the UT) and it’s fairly good without upgrades. One of the better UUs “in actual games” where you might find yourself creating these in a pinch
Last but not least, Ethiopians get a full Siege tech tree with full Siege Workshop units, Siege Engineers, as well as all building HP boost technologies except Hoardings. Notably they get the somewhat rare Siege Engineers Bombard Cannon.
Ethiopian cavalry kinda sucks, so it’s OK that they have good siege, good archers and FU Halberdiers, but I would like to see them lose some of their early game bonuses. For example, Pikeman upgrade should be something that you research for -50% price. I think this nerf would still maintain them top tier but make them also more reasonable to play against where for the first 25 minutes of the game they always get a power spike of some sort. I am open to other suggestions though, for example an alternative nerf would be +75 +75 resources per age and not +100 +100.
Last but not least, though this is largely anecdotal, remember that between Archer civs and Cavalry civs, Archer is the slightly more versatile unit for the reason that in early game it’s harder to mass food-intensive units (like Knights), and furthermore Archers can fire above walls so are a better complement to Siege than Knights who can endlessly get walled off by increasing layers of walls. Though this is anecdotal, again, I don’t want to drive this point too much because Knights have ways to get past walls also and have advantages that archers don’t (e.g. can run under TC fire or under towers that are defending resources).