Usac’s Civ Crafting Brainstorms Part 3- Songhai

Hey I can’t be stopped! Even if I fall into the void, I’ve got at least 2 dozen more civs. So let’s get into it!

Courtesy of this place, go praise it!: New Civ Icon Idea

Big shtick here: a civ without Chemistry!

The Songhai help round out the Sahel area of Africa just a bit more with one of Mali and Berber’s enemies. The Songhai, or Gao, were a peoples along Lake Chad, who grew into power starting at the first millennium, although it didn’t really take off until the 1300s, and before all of this by perhaps 300 years, there was certainly Gao culture alive and distinct. So much like how the Briton timeline is 500 on even though it probably would be more sensible as 1066 onwards.

The story of Songhay peoples begins before the Songhai with the Gao (or sometimes Gow) and the Sorko lake fishermen. Different than the Soninke lineage that is the Malians, it is unknown when the Gao Empire began, but it is known to have existed before 872. When the Malians took to power, the Gao were weakened until the Songhay Empire took off. While they didn’t rise to bring Mali into decline until the 1400s, they did become a dominant force in West Africa. That is, until gunpowder was introduced. With lower troop numbers and fancy technology, the Songhai Empire fell in 1591 to Berbers with guns although that was because the guns scared a stampede into an army of Songhai infantry. The Battle of Tondibi saw Berbers with a force of 5000 men and a few cannons defeat a force of Songhai numbering 3-4 times that number of troops, mostly INFANTRY! Thus game play and story match well. Unlike Europe vs. America, there was no disease cheat. Pure cannon micro won the day as guns dropped the infantry like flies (history matches game play for once).

So this civ has the pleasure of being the civ that is, more than any other (even civs like Aztecs), gonna struggle with gunpowder.

Why Songhai? Fill up some Africa. New Imperial camel civ!

Songhay(700s-1591) - A Camel and Infantry civ.

  • Swordsmen half gold.

The use of infantry was strong in Songhai forces. While I’m not sure they mastered swords, especially not sure if 2H swords, the footman was a valuable soldier. It differentiates itself from the Goths in a few ways. First, it’s available in full in Dark, second, they get full Armor tech, and lastly, it saves more gold when gold saving matters most. Compared to Malay, you get the Champion tech. Whether lacking Arson will bite back or not is yet to be determined, but I get the feeling 40 of these slicing your TC will be just as dangerous as any champions. Unlike the Goths, the Songhai don’t also save 21f per soldier or save on spear men in any capacity. Unless they should NOT get supplies but I’m unsure about this as thios discount is literally their ONLY infantry bonus.

  • Fishing Boats don’t need to return to dock and automatically gather but gather 25/20/15/10% slower.

The Fish from waters like Lake Chad were bountiful. Disputes with the Kanem and Bornu of Niger were not unheard of between all the tribes in the area. Definitely no Gill Nets, but the question is, is it too strong at full gather speed?

  • Start +50f/75w/25s

  • Just some extra goodies. These numbers can be finagled with if they’re too good.*

  • Gains 100/250/450g when aging up.
    Gold in Sahara Africa? Yes!

  • Heavy/Imp Camel tech 50% cheaper and faster to research.

Camels were kinda a big deal. Used by the Sanjara traders to reach Morocco and even as far as the Middle East. Oh yea, they have Imp Camels if I haven’t waxed on about that! It’s technically not a UU as samurai and any other anti-UU attacks don’t do extra damage to them.

  • Team Bonus: Gold Mines revealed on map

The wealth cannot be understated of West Africans to know where to find salt GOLD. Well it could, and probably should be, as they do start with -20 gold.

Missing Techs:

  • Barracks: Eagle Scout, Arson
  • Archery Range: Hand Cannoneer, Parthian Tactics, Elephant Archer
  • Stable: Hussar, Battle Elephant, Steppe Lancer
  • Siege: Bombard Cannon, Siege Ram, Siege Elephant
  • Dock: Cannon Galley, Gill Nets, Heavy Demo Ship
  • Blacksmith: Bracer
  • Economy: Two Man Saw, Town Patrol
  • University: Bombard Tower, Heated Shot, Chemistry, Keep, Arrow Slits
  • Monastery: Illumination, Heresy
  • Castle: Sappers

You are seeing correctly. This civ has no Chemistry, let alone gunpowder. Although, their UU could help circumvent that a little bit. They have a great melee force and Siege Onagers who do 75 damage instead of 76, the horror. Arbalests, discounted Champions, Imperial Camels and Siege Onagers are nothing to sneeze at!

It also has Paladins. It makes absolute sense as more than most Africans and even some Euros, heavy cavalry was key to Songhai success. Now this is literally the civ with ZERO bonuses for their otherwise FU Paladins, in fact -20g towards it, so whether that’s enough to incentivize them over Imperial Camels and infantry is yet to be determined, though they’re probably your best hope against Archer swarms if Onagers don’t have enough range!

  • UU: Gao Huntsman – A camel who throws hunting spears. Acts like an Arambai but sacrifices some of that unit’s raw power for a bonus against gunpowder units and huntables, as well as a minor bonus vs. UUs. Damage/Range doesn’t increase with smithing. Thumb ring doesn’t work either for its ■■■■ accuracy.


Gao Huntsman Stats Elite
Hit Points 55 60
Armor 0/1 (-3 Cav Archer) 0/2 (-3 Cav Archer)
Armor Types: Camel, Cavalry Archer, UU
Attack 9 (+3 vs UU, +5 vs Huntables, +10 vs Gunpowder, +3 vs cavalry) 12 (+4 vs UU, +8 vs Huntables, +13 vs Gunpowder, +5 vs cavalry)
Range 4 5
Line of Sight 8 8
Accuracy 40% 45%
Rate of Fire 2.1 2.1
Movement 1.35 1.35
Cost 70w,80g
Train Time 23s 22s
Elite Upgrade 1000w,750g 45s

Compared to the Arambai, it will win cost effectively, as well as vs. most UUs, and probably trades well vs. Camel Archers. Conqs, Jannisaries and Organ Guns are obliterated. Longer ranged archer UUs need to kite them, although the bonus is not on par with Samurai, which doesn’t contribute much vs a target that was already dying to fire from 3 units anyway. They cost a pretty penny though.

Castle UT: Salt Trade - Teamwide Stone Trickle. Numbers yet determined.

Cost: 400f/450s. 30s

The idea is a simple stone tech. A bit filler, but teamwide Trickle might be too much?

Imperial Age UT: Tuareg - Camels and Gao hunters take -33% damage from anti-camel attacks.

The implication is that anti-camelry is less powerful here. The Tuareg were Berber but had much interaction and camel trade with the people of Saharan Africa.

Gameplay: The Songhai start is certainly interesting. You can do a 5 Militia drush without mining.

On water, their fishing bonus is nice. If you can defend your water position, you can fish further fish spots first and then tuck your fishing ships away in an isolated patch away from as much naval confrontation as possible. Granted, this is their only naval bonus. As the one civ without Chemistry (not that they’d have any gunpowder anyway) and no bracer either, their Galleons are weaker as is their archery and a lack of CGs doesn’t help you breach the shoreline.

You’re going to need ESkirms to deal with all the Spears and archers you will see. Not to mention the gunpowder units. There are bullet wounds all over this civ, even with Gao Huntsman spam! If your enemy has guns, he will blast you with them. Sure, Arbalest (even without Bracer), Paladins and Camels are scary, but it’s incredibly gold expensive, and if you didn’t pressure your enemy off his gold, you might run out early.

If you make it to the trash wars however, the Songhai could easily live on half-gold Champions, despite full food costs (might change this) who, unlike the Malay, lack Arson instead of the Champion upgrade. They’ll need them as this civ lacks Chemistry, Bracer and Hussar, leaving their trash as rather low tier… that is to say, other than fairly good Halbs and cheap champs they don’t do well and a Goth cost and time effective swarm can compete.

Faster armies with lots of range to hit and run with will be nasty to these guys. Even the Gao Hunter, who enjoy more resistance than Arambai, including not having the archer armor (might change this) won’t do super well against units with 8 or more range. They need to likely risk a lot to take down Hand and Bombard Cannons. Counter them like you would Arambai but remember to exploit their reduced cav archer armor as they aren’t true ‘archers’

If water is available, fish! Always fish… do it by boat! You don’t even need to redock closer to the fish. Just FISH and hide your boats away in an obscure location away from all the conflict! If you don’t fish you’re wasting the most valuable eco bonus if the fishing spots are deep. Fish in obscure locations that naval battles will never take place in, you can do it more safely, after all. Fish in the deepest waters!! Fish on your enemy’s dock in the Dark Age to deny him his closest food! Keep in mind, this is NOT a naval civ. A civ can be a fishing bonus civ and not have a naval powerhouse status. The lack of Chemistry (including CGs) hurts here for end game navies.

The monks are decent, but can you really Monk rush as a civ who starts with less Gold? Sure, it’s only 20 and all the mines are revealed, so you know where to go to attack or even starve your enemy’s mines if you got moxie to try and starve him.

So grab your armies and don’t let them gun you down!

Any balance advice welcomed! Numbers probably need a few tweaks.


Considering this civ is defined as “Infantry civ” it deserves a better bonus, this is practically Portuguese. The problem with Militia-line is definitely not its gold cost, but its food cost, either way it takes mobility/pierce armor to make Infantry happen in AOE II.
I think you should come up with a different Infantry bonus.

Too chaotic for AOE, unbalancable, they’d gather faster than any other civ, half the time fishing ships just travel clumsly between the fish and the dock, you cant implement this idea.
Further more, people would just play hide and seek with these fishing ships, they’d pay back for themselves easily until found and get killed, again, it has nothing to do with strategy or decision making, it’s not AOE.

In order to pull it off, you’d have to add a new water unit, a big expensive (200w) fishing ship that’ll also act as a floating drop off site while also having the ability to fish.

I mean okay, though considering how bad their Infantry bonus is (gold efficiency obsession, no relevancy besides the hyper-late game and the very first dark age militia) I’d just let them have 2 possible extra militia that they can train, Aztecs have a Dark Age eco bonus AND +50 gold.

Why not just making Heavy Camel tech free?, or rather having access to Heavy Camel tech in Castle Age (No Husbandry and/or bloodlines)
The current bonus is too minor to characterize the civ, you have only 4 bonuses after all, the civ needs an identity, a power-spike, you’re too scared to integrate them. (Besides water, on land they’re hardcore Portuguese syndrome)

According to how map generations work in AOE you basically give them the bonus of Vietnamese AND the global ability to just see all mines. Unproportional bonus. Unbalancable.

That’s a nice niche tech.

That’s okay, luxurious one.
We’re left with 2 UT’s that serve no degree of playability. Not a fan of 2 post-Imp luxurious techs.

You need to change the stats, it’s too much of an Arambai, perhaps much more pierce armor, yet worse movement speed?
Cause it seems like you care about diversity, you just missed it when it comes to the UU. (tech tree is interesting)

Alright, balance changes: The fishing boats gather slower (becoming slightly faster per age) as to not be broken.

Civ doesnt lose any gold.

The Gao Hunter has a lower base damage now to focus on its counter unit role. It still utilizes a arambai style power vs accuracy gameplay as that style is only currently used by 1 unit meaning there’s room for it elsewhere.

Not sure what you mean by luxury bonuses but this should hopefully be more playable? I hope so…

I dont see any clear strat for them tbh. They dont have much going on beyond the MAA play before imp

I see two ways to approach them imo, we either give them more reasons to go for the UU or we just give them another bonus

Maybe faster miners or extra good through the ages could fit

I could make the UU stronger again. It doesn’t have archer type armor so that’s an advantage it has.

Here are my proposed changes:

70w/g/s per age.
Gets supplies
UU gets +2 damage, and +1 vs cavalry same for elite.

If this isn’t enough also giving it +1 Pierce armor.

Extra attack for the non elite version and extra pierce armour for both versions of the unit seems good

About the extra resources each age, how would you feel about +125/250/500 gold at feudal/castle/imperial age

ALso, the imperial UT is pretty OP vs other camels but pretty bad vs everything else, what about making it be a percentage like the Sicilian bonus?

This is an important one, the rate should be noticably slower.

That’s nice.

Now it’s less of an Arambai, but I feel like it’s still missing a component that will make it a “Gao Hunter”, a signature feature, instead of this Arambai intentional-miss mechanism, how about multiple spears, which unlike Mayans Skirmishers or Kipchaks/Chukonus, they’ll share the same damage each. And since you rely on bonus damage here, each spear will benefit from it, this will make it very easy to balance and adjust.

I like the idea of the multi-attack unit, but I think I know a place for it. Not here, but in future concept I think I can make that work.

I like all of these changes although 500 might be a bit much. It was either this or 150g per Town Center.

The UT is now 33% damage reduction from anti-camels, can adjust as needed.

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Reflecting after anyezr. I feel this civ is a little too juiced on eco and early game bonuses. Good starting resources, cheaper militia, amazing fishing and a big age gold infusion just feels like too much at the same time

The existence of Gambesons throws a wrench into my plans as well. I was thinking perhaps with Gambezons now a thing yhis civ needs more enticement for the militia like so here’s my resuggested bonus: Swordsmen 40/50/60/70% less gold.

As it stands the civ can create 4 militia with loom and pre mining and that’s ok by me.

Now the lack of Gambesons and even Supplies matrers less in the later game and the resourxe bonus which was originally meant to include -20g to justify the existence of half gold militia, is no longer needed.

So thry cost 60f/6g and dont have any of the barracks techs except Squires! This isnt shabby all mind you and in games where gold becomes very hard to come across it will probably run circles around the Malay Levies.

As it stands better fishing for land based maps with some shoreline and the gold infusion as you age up seem like a sufficient enough bonus set.

So the bonus resource is gone. Also since Allergictable was… not someone i should listen to even if I was at gunpoint, im starting to think the fishing ships don’t need a gather rate penalty.

As such heres the bonuses pending concept:

  • Swordsmen 40/50/60/70% less gold
  • Gain 100/250/400gold when reaching next age
  • Fishing Ships do not need to return to dock (may or may not have gather rate penalty)
  • Heavy Camel and Imperial Camel upgrade half cost and research time.
    Team Bonus: Gold within 30 range of a TC or dropsite revealed on map.

Slight edits and I dont see the trch tree really changing at all.

More reflections, I feel this civ is in a good place provided you remember I cant edit the main post but the post above has all the adjustments I had in mind. But don’t bombard me with your feedback all at once. I would so hate that!

If I understand correctly, this is a sarcastic request for feedback from someone other than AlergicTable, so here goes…

Overall, the civ feels thematically similar to Malians, in that it has a gold bonus (in fact, two) and a broad tech tree, but doesn’t really push you towards any specific unit line. I think the key difference is that Malians have a power spike (from Farimba) in early Imperial Age, whereas this civ doesn’t have that ### ## ######## in late Imperial Age. I guess the other civ that fits that description is Spanish, but their tech tree is very different. So generally the civ fills a gameplay niche that I think is not yet filled by an existing civ, which is good. (Although it is a very specific niche.)

This is fine and part of what would give them a strong late game (in low-gold situations). I don’t think it will play out too much like Goths or Malay. Historically, I guess this is telling me they either had a lot of infantry, or their commoners trained with swords as well as spears, or something like that?

I’m not keen on these lump sum type bonuses, and this feels very similar to the Ethiopian bonus to me, but I think it’s ok. I think the other gold bonus is more interesting.

This is a nice bonus idea. No idea about the gather penalty, and water isn’t balanced well anyway. Historically, I don’t really get it, because to me this bonus suggests a culture that was able to fish effectively in dangerous waters, or something like that. Maybe Lake Chad was very dangerous? But also, it seems not to have been in the Songhai Empire.

With this and the swordsmen discount, I think you don’t need (and probably shouldn’t have) halberdiers.

I think this has nice flavour to it. I’m not sure about the exact implementation. I’d suggest that it should reveal “your” gold mines at the start of a game – random maps generate resources for each player, so I assume it could reveal just the ones associated with you. It would need some kind of range-based effect as you suggest for nomad-type maps, though.

The concept seems fine but I don’t really get the name (wasn’t Gao a city?) or the bonus damage.

It just seems quite random to me. I guess the bonus against huntables is just there because it’s called “huntsman”, but realistically, on most maps there won’t be any relevant huntables left by the time you’ve trained any of these.

Not sure about this, I don’t like the fact that there’s no way for your enemies to stop it. Maybe you could have trade returning stone as well as gold, but stone is deliberately such a scarce resource that maybe it’s unwise. Plus, I don’t think anyone ever built castles from salt.

This seems kind of excessive on top of already having Imperial camels.

It would be fitting historically as both are in the same area.

Yes, that was just an observation, not intended as negative at all.

Just spotted that this was censored, not sure why. Hopefully you get the gist: their late game is very good.

AllergicTable, unfortunately, is never going to give feedback on anything again. He’s been perma-banned from the site.

Good riddance. ArrogantTable used so many words but said absolutely nothing. A native English speaker he claims to be!? I’ve seen second language english speakers do way better.

Anyeay this civ has too many gold based bonuses probably.

Between the enormous savings on militia, the free gold and the cheaper camel tech and the team bonus… something needs to change and I honestly think it should be the team bonus.

So here’s the new Team Bonus:

Camels and camel UUs do +2 vs other camels.

This shows a focus on camel units as a pinpoint although it might even be too good. With the potential for new camel scout civs to one day exist, this bonus would probably need a qualifier that either that unit is excluded or somehow this boon is withheld until that age.

Not sure if people are currently craving African civ talk at the moment

Songhai Dias (Kings):

837-849: Alayaman
849-861: Za Koi
861-873: Takoi
873-885: Akoi
885-897: Ku
897-909: Ali Fai
909-921: Biyai Komai
921-933: Biyai Bei
933-945: Karai
945-957: Yama Karaonia
957-969: Yama Dombo
969-981: Yama Danka Kibao
981-993: Kukorai
993-1005: Kenken
1005-1025: Za Kosoi
1025-1044: Kosai Dariya

Plenty more (roughly 40). With the best contenders in my opinion for a campaign Askia the Great (reign 26 August 1528- 12 April 1531)

Source: African States and Rulers, 3D Ed. by John Stewart | Open Library.


Natural choice to make his tomb a wonder considering a small tomb works for a Goth wonder and I believe his was bigger no?

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