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Continuing my series of Civilization V strategies, the fourth installation will cover the African trading empire of Morocco lead by Ahmad al-Mansur.

When the area of Morocco (north west Africa) was first inhabited about 100,000 years ago, the land was a fertile savannah, rather than the arid desert and mountains that it is today, and archeological remains of several Paleolithic proto human cultures exist in the region. During the classical era, Phoenicians established colonies on west Africa, and eventually it was conquered by Carthage and then Rome, and then by Muslim Arabs around 670 CE. The earliest independent Moroccan states were the Berber kingdoms which dates to at least 110 BC, and after the repulsion of Arab rule, the Berbers resumed control. Morocco was the first nation to recognize the United States as an independent nation, and their fleet protected U.S. merchant ships from assaults from barbary pirates. The friendship treaty with Morocco is the United States' oldest non-broken friendship treaty.

After the assassination of the Saadi Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh, his oldest son, Abdallah al-Ghalib sought sole rule, and Ahmad al-Mansur and his brother, Abd al-Malik, had to flee to the Ottoman empire. When Ahmad al-Mansur eventually gained control of Morocco, he resisted Ottoman annexation and maintained Morocco as an independent state, he established friendly relations with many Christian European nations, and began playing the Ottomans and Europeans against each other in order to secure his position of power. Later in his reign, he launched a military campaign against the Songhai empire, which had been weakened by civil strife. The campaign was successful, but Ahmad's heirs couldn't manage the vast territory that had been conquered, so it was divided into smaller kingdoms, and the Moroccan empire went into decline. Ahmad died of the plague in 1603

Morocco was the first civilization that I played in Civilization V: Brave New World. I chose them because their trait is very general-purpose and emphasizes the new trade route mechanic.

Civilization V Brave New World - Ahmad al-Mansur of Morocco

Moroccan uniques in Civilization V: Brave New World

Civilization V Brave New World - Morocco flag

Morocco's uniques make them a powerful trading empire. The general-purpose nature of economic traits makes Morocco viable for any victory condition; although they particular excel at diplomatic strategies (especially since they like to share their wealth more than other trading empires like Portugal). They can also make excellent use of their desert start bias with a unique improvement and unit that receive bonuses on desert.

Gateway to Africa

"Receives +3 Gold and +1 Culture for each Trade Route with a different civ or City-State. The Trade Route owners receive +2 Gold for each Trade Route sent to Morocco."

Ahmad al-Mansur - portrait

Morocco is geared towards being an economic civ. Their unique trait encourages them to trade with a diverse set of other players and City-States, and it provides a small incentive for other players to trade with Morocco.

The text is a little ambiguous, but a significant point to remember is that the bonus gold and culture is for each different civ or City-State that you have a trade route with! So, if you are sending a trade route to - say - Rome, and Rome is sending a trade route to you, you do not gain +6 gold and +2 culture. Because of this, the bonus gold and culture does not show up in the "Assign Trade Route" list. This requires some extra work on your part, since you'll have to check for both outgoing and incoming trade routes with a particular civilization.

In order to maximize the benefit of this trait, you should diversify your trade routes amongst as many unique civs and City-States as possible, and avoid using internal trade routes to buff food and production. Settling along rivers that have adjacent hills will give good food and production output, which will free up your Caravans and Cargo Ships to be exclusively devoted to foreign trade. If a civ is already trading with you, consider sending your trade route to a different civ or City-State that you do not already have a trade route with.

Civilization V - trade routes to and from Morocco
A composite image showing that Morocco does not gain its trait bonus if sending a trade route to a civilization that is already sending a trade route to Morocco. Despite having 7 trade routes, I'm only receiving 18 gpt (3 x 6).


Moroccan Kasbah

Game Info: "A Kasbah is a type of medina (a walled quarter in a city) found in the countryside, usually a small settlement on a hilltop or hillside. Originally the home for a tribal chieftain or important Islamic imam, the Kasbah is characterized by high-walled, windowless houses and narrow, winding streets. It is usually dominated by a single fortified tower. Kasbahs were common along the North African coast and Middle East until the early 1900s. Building a Kasbah was a mark of wealth, influence, and power for Moroccan and Algerian families of Arab descent.

A Kasbah can only be built on a Desert tile."

Requirements: Chivalry technology, and must be built on desert.

Effects: +1 Food, +1 Production, and +1 Gold. Also provides a +50% defensive bonus to units.

A Kasbah is an improvement that turns resourceless deserts into productive, multi-functional tiles. The downside is that they still don't generate enough food to support the population that works them, and they generate lower overall yield than improved tiles on other terrain types. They make flat deserts tolerable, but you won't go out of your way to settle in a sparse, resourceless desert like you might do with Dutch Polders (marshes and flood plains) or Brazilwood Camps (jungles). You'll need to support your Kasbah tiles by working other tiles that generate positive net food or by sending food into your desert cities via internal trade routes. Try to generate all your food locally, since every trade route that you spend to send food into a city is one trade route that isn't giving you bonus gold and culture from trade with a foreign city.

The Kasbahs also provide a good defensive bonus (+50%), so they can help to deter would-be conquerors and allow Morocco to stick to its turtle strategy.

Civilization V - Kasbah yields
Examples of Kasbah yields.

Kasbahs are not as strong as other civs' unique improvements (particularly the Netherlands' Polders), but they have no special requirements other than desert tiles, which are common enough for Morocco to be able to spam them. Morocco also has a desert start bias, so you'll probably have plenty of opportunity to lay down a carpet of Kasbahs. Kasbahs can be built on hills and flood plains, as long as no resource is on the tile. On a desert hill, a Kasbah tile has 1 food, 3 production, and 1 gold; and a Kasbah flood plain has 3 food, 1 production, 1 gold.

Berber Cavalry

Berber Cavalry

Game Info: "Mounted unit that specializes in Desert warfare and protecting Moroccan lands. Receives combat bonuses when fighting both in Desert tiles and Moroccan territory. May only be built by Morocco."

Civilopedia Strategy: "This mounted unit replaces Cavalry and is a fierce warrior in the deserts of Morocco. Receives combat bonuses for both fighting in a Desert tile or fighting in Moroccan territory (these bonuses do stack)."


Requirements: Military Science technology, 1 Horse, and 1 gold per turn maintenance.

Obsoleted: Combustion technology (same as Calvary)

Cost: 225 Production / 450 Faith / 740 Gold [Standard settings] (same as Cavalry)

Attack Type: Melee, Combat Class: Mounted, Strength: 34.

Movement Speed: 4.

Bonuses: Standard Cavalry bonuses (no defensive terrain bonus, can move after attacking, -33% penalty attacking cities).
Desert Warrior promotion, which grants a +50% combat bonus when fighting in desert.
Homeland Guardian promotion, which grants a +25% combat bonus in friendly territory.

Moroccan Berber Cavalry's 'Homeland Guardian' promotion

Morocco's unique unit also favors a turtle strategy in most cases. The unit receives large combat bonuses in Morocco's native lands (which will likely contain lots of deserts), and it can quickly mobilize to defend those lands. A stock Berber Cavalry fighting in a Moroccan desert has +75% bonus for an effective combat strength of 59.5. That's only half a point less than a Landship! Additionally, the Desert Warrior and Homeland Guardian promotions do carry-over when the unit is upgraded, so your Landships, Tanks, Modern Armour, and Metal Gears [Giant Death Robots] will retain those bonuses.

Since mounted units don't receive defensive terrain bonuses, they gain no extra benefit from your Kasbahs; thus, you can station fortified melee units on your Kasbahs, and use your Berber Cavalry for hit-and-run attacks. Taking the Charge promotion can be helpful, as you can let the enemy attack your entrenched melee units in the Kasbah, then clean them up with your Berber Cavalry.

Moroccan Berber Cavalry's 'Desert Warrior' promotion

If one of your rivals happens to be in a desert, then the Berber Cavalry can make a potent offensive unit (+50% combat strength). Just don't rely on it to capture cities; it's combat bonus doesn't apply to cities, and it still has a -33% penalty against cities. You'll want to bring strong melee units and siege if you intend to capture cities.

Channeling your inner desert tortoise

Morocco heavily favors a turtle strategy. Its trait provides bonus gold and culture from foreign trade routes and provides incentives for other civs to trade with you. Unlike Portugal, however, this bonus is completely static and not affected by modifiers. Both its unique unit and unique improvement have defensive characteristics. But since Morocco doesn't specialize in any particular victory type, you may have trouble competing with some of the other civs that do specialize in individual victory types. You'll have a hard time defeating the tourism output of Brazil or France; keeping up with the literacy of Korea, Maya, or Babylon; having a pointier stick than Japan, Assyria, or Huns; or maintaining City-State alliances as well as Greece, assuming that Austria or Venice doesn't assimilate all the City-States.

Civilization V - duplicate trade routes from Morocco
Composite showing that Morocco does not gain its trait bonus if sending multiple trade routes to the same civilization (in this case: Indonesia). Despite having 3 routes, I'm only receiving 6 gold (3 x 2) and 2 culture (1 x 2).

Since Gateway to Africa only provides bonus gold and culture per unique civilization (or City-State) that you trade with, Morocco benefits from playing on larger maps with greater numbers of civs and City-States, since this provides more unique trade partners. Using "Advanced Game Options" to add more civs and City-States than are generated by default for a given map size will usually result in civs being closer together, which also helps, since it will likely put more cities within range of Morocco's caravans and cargo ships (but it may limit your options for peaceful expansion, since valuable real-estate will be snatched up immediately). The bonus gold and culture is most helpful early in the game, so get as many trade routes up and running as early as possible. Even if you don't start near the coast, consider researching Sailing just to get the extra trade route. Later in the game, the bonus gold and culture from Morocco's trait will likely be overwhelmed by other sources of gold and culture, so there may not be as much incentive for players to keep sending trade routes to you.

Civilization V - trade route gold breakdown
Income from trade routes is determined by unique resources within range of the city, the city's base gold, and being adjacent to a river.

Try to develop one or two of your cities into a trade powerhouse by specializing them to generate a lot of base gold. The city with the most unique improved luxury and strategic resources is a prime candidate (hopefully, this is your capital). Supplement the luxuries by working gold-generating luxury tiles, working Trade Posts, plopping and working Customs Houses, and assigning citizens as Merchant specialists. This should encourage most civs to send at least one trade route to you. How many trade cities you will need will depend on the map. If your position on the map favors sea trade routes with many civs and City-States, then get a conveniently-located coastal city plopped and build the Market, Bank, Harbor, and East India Company in it as soon as possible. Depending on the size and shape of the continent, you may also want an inland trade city with a Caravansary, Market, and Bank that will allow you to send Caravans to other civs on that continent (which may or may not be reachable by your Cargo Ships).

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that all of your cities need to be specialized for trade. You don't want to have multiple lucrative trade cities because then other civs will send multiple trade routes to you, which will grant +2 gold for each route for them, and nothing extra for you!

In deserts we trust

Religion is not necessary for effective play with Morocco, but it is strongly recommended. If you decide to go for a pantheon early, then Desert Folklore becomes an obvious choice. Since your Kasbahs mean that you will actually be working your desert tiles by the mid-game, this pantheon is very strong for Morocco! Papal Primacy and Tithe are good founder beliefs, and the Religious Unity enhancer belief can be a great supplement. If you get all the way to a Reformation, then Charitable Missions will help you to build and maintain alliances with City-States. If you combined Papal Primacy with the Consulates policy in Patronage, then you will have permanent "Friendship" status with all City-States that you aren't at war with!

Since you can expect to have a lot of trade routes going to and from a lot of different foreign cities, you can also consider taking beliefs that improve passive religious pressure. This will allow your religion to spread effectively without you having to put much effort into it.

If you're beaten to desert folklore, then a good backup choice can be Goddess of Festivals since incense often appear clustered in deserts. If another civ picks up this pantheon as their follower belief, then you might want to send trade routes their way in order to get Goddess of Festivals as a minority pantheon from the Religious Tolerance policy in Piety. Since you might be sending trade routes to City-States and losing out on on the bonus beakers from other civs, then Messenger of the Gods can help keep you technologically competitive. Monument of the Gods can help you get some good early-game wonders like Petra and the Colossus. Monasteries can also be a good follower belief if you happen to have incense (regardless of whether you took Goddess of Festivals), and Morocco's less aggressive playstyle means that Swords into Plowshares is also a good follower belief to take. If you want to further maximize your defensive bonuses, then the Goddess of Protection pantheon and Defenders of the Faith enhancer can further enhance the effectiveness of your Kasbahs and Berber Cavalry as deterrents to invasion.

Gold! Wonderful gold!

Most of Morocco's wonder focus should be on gold and diplomacy-flavored wonders, unless you are specifically attempting a cultural or scientific victory. Having large surpluses of money in the late game will allow you to pivot your victory strategy on a dime by purchasing relevant buildings, units, or City-State alliances should your current victory plan become untenable or you find yourself developing a lead in an unexpected demographic. So don't shy away from pursuing such wonders; every one that you build is one less that a rival can build; thus, slowing down their victory.

Civilization V - Kasbahs buffed by Petra
Kasbahs built on different terrains and buffed by Petra wonder and the Desert Folklore pantheon. Notice the different yields (flood plains are not affected by Petra).

In any case, there are a few wonders that Morocco should put high priority on building:

  1. Petra: A must-build for any civ with a desert start-bias, and especially valuable for Morocco due to the bonus trade route and free Caravan unit. Petra-buffed Kasbahs will generate 2 Food, 2 Production, and 1 Gold on flat deserts; and 2 Food, 4 Production, 1 Gold on hills! Sadly, flood plains are not buffed by Petra. The race for this wonder can be very competitive, especially if Arabia, Egypt, or Netherlands are in the game.
  2. Colossus: If you get an early coastal city, this wonder will grant you another bonus trade route and free Cargo Ship. Don't forget to build a Trireme or two to protect your valuable Cargo Ship.
  3. Big Ben: The Commerce Policy tree should be a no-brainer with Morocco, so Big Ben should be a high priority. This wonder will give you a large discount when purchasing in cities, which will allow you to stretch all your bonus gold even further.
  4. Forbidden Palace: A good wonder for any diplomatic-focused civ. Bonus delegates will help you prevent embargoes from neutralizing your unique trait.

Petra and Colossus can be very difficult to build on higher difficulties (Immortal and above), as the A.I. bonuses will make them highly competitive for these wonders. The restrictive prerequisites for Petra may make it a little bit easier (only a handful of civs will even have the requisite terrain). If you focused on the Liberty social policy tree and finished it, then you could take a Great Engineer in order to rush one of these wonders; but you'd be sacrificing the opportunity to take a Scientist and plop an Academy...

You will also want to prioritize building Markets as early as possible so that you can build the East India Company national wonder. These buildings will improve the gold yield for trade routes going into your cities, and will make them more lucrative targets for foreign traders.

You can also further supplement your defensive uniques by going after one of the defensive wonders. Himeji Castle is probably the best option if you get to Gunpowder early. The Great Wall and Red Fort can also be good. And if you settled near a mountain and have castles in all your cities, then Neuschwantein will be a huge buff, especially if you developed a wide empire.

Free Trade leads the way to victory

Civilization V - Moroccan Berber tank
A Moroccan "Berber tank".

Morocco's bonus gold is tied to the tech tree and is independent of your empire's size. You'll get the same bonus whether you have 3 cities or 13, but more cities will generally mean more research, which will get you to the techs that unlock more trade routes. As long as you keep expanding into desert, your Kasbahs will provide a defensive bonus that will keep your lands relatively safe from invaders, and once you hit Berber Cavalry, you can consider your lands fairly impenetrable (but don't get cocky). This means that the only limiting factors on expansion for Morocco are happiness and social policy cost. The bonus culture from your trait can help offset the increased policy cost from more cities, but this bonus will become pretty negligible as your empire grows.

If you're lucky, City-States will ask for trade routes frequently, and you can build up lots of friends and allies that will provide you with free luxuries (and happiness). And if you're trading with other civs and playing nice, then you should be able to buy luxuries from them. So you should be able to generate enough happiness to expand your empire to a respectable size. You might want to hover around 4 cities until you can get the East India Company built, and be sure to accumulate as many social policies during that time as you can. Once the East India Company is built, feel free to go on an expansion boom (assuming you can afford the happiness).

Commerce seems like an obvious policy tree to open (it is), but don't overlook Patronage. As you gain more trade routes, you will likely run out of unique civs to send your trade routes to, and so you'll want to send them to City-States instead. Since City-States can't send trade routes to you, and since they can't directly use the money against you, they are generally better targets for your trade routes later in the game. The Merchant Confederacy policy in Patronage will buff the gold value of your City-State trade routes, and other policies in that tree will improve your relations and provide further science benefits and great people. Keeping alliances with City-States means it will be harder for your rivals to turn them against you.

Exploration also contains the Merchant Navy and Treasure Fleets policies that will be useful if you have a water-based map and lots of Cargo Ships.

Do not allow the World Congress to embargo City-State trade! You also want to avoid letting your trade partner civs become embargoed. Either of these resolutions will significantly cut down on the number of unique trade partners, and could almost completely neutralize your Gateway to Africa trait later in the game. If you adopted Patronage and have strong relations with most of the City-States, then you can afford to dedicate your spies to being diplomats in other civs' capitals. This will allow you to use your gold reserves to sway their votes in your favor.

Civilization V - Venice absorbing Moroccan trade partners
Venice can be a real problem if they start using Merchants of Venice to absorb your City-State trade partners.
Austia's Diplomatic Marriage can cause similar issues, but is easier to deal with considering Austria requires several turns of alliance first.

And while on the topic of maintaining trade with City-States, Moroccan players should be very wary of Austria and (even moreso) Venice. Both of these rival civs can effectively remove City-States from the game by absorbing them into their own empires. Austria is a bit easier to manage because they can only marry a City-State that they are allied with, so you can block their ability by maintaining alliances with your important City-State trade partners; Venice, on the other hand, can buy off a City-State with their Merchant of Venice regardless of their relationship level, so there's nothing you can do to protect yourself from this ability.

If you have control of the World Congress at any point, you may want to consider proposing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation resolution. The defensive bonuses of your Kasbahs and Berber Cavalry are useless against nuclear missiles!

Your ideological choice for Morocco will most likely come down to either Order or Freedom. I've noticed that most A.I.s seem to favor Order (even if they only have three cities), so if you want to maintain friendly relations with A.I. civilizations in a single-player game, then Order might be your best bet (this is one of the reasons why expanding early is a good idea). If you're playing for the Diplomatic Victory, then maintaining relations with City-States will become very high priority. The Treaty Organization tenet in Freedom will help with this, as it will boost influence with City-States that you are trading with. Since your Gateway to Africa trait means you will likely be trading with a lot of City-States later in the game (since other civs will be sending trade routes into your cities), this will net you a lot of influence over the course of the later parts of the game.

Buying culture and science

Since culture yield is no longer a direct path to the Culture Victory, and since you can't buy Archaeologists with gold, Morocco's trait doesn't help much with Brave New World's culture [tourism] victory. You can still use it to buy Universities (for training Archaeologists), Museums, Airports, and Hotels though.

Civilization V - can't buy Archaeologists
Your bonus gold won't help much with a cultural victory, since you can't buy Archaeologists.

Similarly with the Science Victory: your trait isn't directly applicable. In fact, Gateway to Africa can make science a liability, since you may end up passing up on the free beakers from trade routes with civs in order to trade with City-States. Your desert start bias also means that you might not be able to grow your population enough to support a lot of specialists, unless you get lucky with lots of wheat, oasis, and flood plains. You can use the extra money to buy Libraries, Universities, Public Schools, and Research Labs, which will help. Patronage can get you bonus science from City-States and the Sciences Funding resolution can also be helpful. Be careful about proposing Sciences Funding though, as you don't want to risk upsetting too many trade partners who may disapprove of that resolution.

Buying the sharpest stick is risky

Just because your uniques favor a turtle strategy, doesn't mean that you have to play passively. Extra gold will allow you to support a larger army, as well as be able to buy military units and buildings, and bonus culture can help you finish off the Honor Policy tree if you decide to play aggressively. Even if you alienate all the other civs in the game, you can still trade with City-States and reap the benefits of your ability. Be sure to keep spies in the City-States that you are trading with so that you can maintain alliances and coup if necessary. You don't want all your City-State trade partners becoming loyal to a hostile civilization that may declare war on you at any moment (thus auto-plundering your trade routes and crippling your economy).

As mentioned above, Austria and Venice can really screw with your plans. If you have an opportunity early in the game, you may want to consider using your military to eliminate either of those civs if you encounter them. Or you can use your reserves of wealth to try to bribe another (stronger) civ into killing Austria or Venice.

By the renaissance, your deserts should be full of Kasbahs, which will provide you with heavy defensive bonuses if anyone decides to invade your lands. If the invasion happens during the industrial era, then your Berber Cavalry can easily repel them. These defensive bonuses will free up more of your army to protect your trade routes and go on the offensive. Since you will likely adopt Commerce to support your economy, go for the Mercenary Army policy and buy some Landsknechts. Using them to pillage your enemy's infrastructure will provide you a hefty sum of gold and cripple your enemy's economy. If you don't capture their cities, they may be desperate enough for money to send trade routes to your cities after the war is over, which will net you more gold and culture.

Friend or foe? Cashing in on Ahmad al-Mansur's Morocco

You can generally assume that Ahmed al-Mansur will be a peaceful leader, since he will mostly be interested in trade and cooperation. He can be a valuable ally if you want support in the World Congress. The defensive characteristics of his uniques can also be used to your advantage. If Morocco is your neighbor, then consider signing a Defensive Pact (especially if Moroccan lands lie between you and a potential enemy). His defensive bonuses can help act as a buffer that will slow down any army trying to march against you, and if you have open borders, you can camp your units on his Kasbahs in order to take advantage of the defensive bonuses and rack up exp.

The Gateway to Africa trait is easily exploited by Morocco's opponents. Remember, that Morocco doesn't get any additional benefit from having multiple trade routes with other civilizations (regardless of whether they are sending or receiving the route). Other players, however, get +2 gold for each trade route that they send to Morocco! So if you send two routes to Morocco, then their trait is giving more money to you than to them!

Civilization V - trade routes to Morocco
Other players can potentially benefit from "Gateway to Africa" more than Morocco!

If you want to hinder Morocco's ability to use its trait (and don't mind antagonizing Morocco), then try passing the Embargo City-States resolution. This bans trade routes with all City-States, which will force Morocco to send its trade units to other civilizations. Since most (if not all) other civilizations will already be sending trade routes to Morocco, then the gold and culture gains of Morocco's trait will be cut roughly in half!

If going for a Domination Victory, try to defeat Morocco before they get their Berber Cavalry. If you start on the same continent and don't want any of Morocco's cities, try to take them out before they build Kasbahs. If you plan on capturing any Moroccan city (or want to settle your own city in Moroccan lands), then wait until they have covered their deserts in Kasbahs, move in with Landsnechts to pillage the Kasbahs, and take the city. When you repair the pillaged Kasbahs, you'll have modestly-productive deserts and a nice defensive bonus to protect your captured lands from would-be liberators.


Discuss this strategy on Civfanatics:

or on the official 2K Civilization V forums:

Listen to the discussion on PolyCast, Episode 195, 01m59s (Mar 22, 2014):

Other Civilization V Strategies

America (BNW)America (BNW)
Arabia (BNW)Arabia (BNW)
Carthage (BNW)Carthage (BNW)
France (BNW)France (BNW)
Germany (BNW)Germany (BNW)
India (BNW)India (BNW)
Iroquois (BNW)Iroquois (BNW)
Japan (BNW)Japan (BNW)
Ottomans (BNW)Ottomans (BNW)
Rome (BNW)Rome (BNW)

Comments (2) -

03/04/2015 03:03:10 #

Hey! I just wanted to reach out and say how awesome your civilization v guides are. I do understand the amount of work and time that go into each one. Would there ever be an English guide? Love playing them...but I would also love to maximize them

03/04/2015 03:18:09 #


Thanks for the support! It definitely is a lot of work to put these guides together, and I'm thrilled that they have received the positive response that they have. I've had several requests for guides for other civs. I wish that I could do them all, but there's only so much time. I do intend to continue making guides as time permits, so an England guide might happen in the future.

In the meantime, the Civ V war academy does have a guide for the vanilla version of England:

If you're looking for a G&K / BNW guide, there is one available at Carl's Guides:

Be sure to check back every now and then, as I do have additional guides in the works.
Keep Civ-in! Smile

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