Rounding out my series of strategy posts about Brave New World's new civilizations, here is the Zulu. But first, I want to take a moment to thank the readers and everyone who has provided feedback and constructive criticism for these posts. When I first started with Assyria, I wasn't sure if I'd bother doing any other civs at all - let alone all of them! But people read the posts and encouraged me to keep writing them, and now they are among the most popular posts on this blog! I have been very humbled and gratified with the responses that I have received. I'd like to specifically thank all of those who posted suggestions and feedback on the forums. I really appreciate your participation. Many of your ideas and strategy alternatives have been incorporated into revisions of these posts, and I've taken your criticisms to heart in writing the subsequent posts. I'd also like to thank the fine folks at PolyCast, who have taken the time to discuss and publicize these posts, as well as provide additional feedback. Keep up the good work!
As for my future plans: I expect to take some time away from Civ to catch up on some other games, like Dark Souls II and some Steam games that I've had sitting on my computer for a while (like Europa Universalis IV). I also intend to get back into modding and some other personal projects. This does not mean that I am completely done with Civ V strategies though. I do intend to look at some of the civs whose strategies were significantly changed by the Brave New World expansion (particularly France and Arabia, whose uniques were redesigned). I will continue to write strategies as time permits, and will continue to check the forums and comments and possibly update these posts if readers provide new insights. Thanks again, and keep on Civin'!.
Now, without further ado, the Zulu!
Little is known about the regions of southern Africa prior to European invasions and colonization. The region was divided up into small tribes and kingdoms, but they kept very few written records of their histories. In the early 19th century, the Zulu Kingdom (lead by Chief Shaka) came to dominate large chunks of the eastern coast of southern Africa. Shaka's successors expanded the kingdom through wars with rival tribes and European settlers for almost a century before the British offered an ultimatum in 1878 to King Cetshwayo regarding a territory dispute between the Zulu and the Boers (Dutch settlers in Africa). Cetshwayo rejected the terms of the ultimatum, leading to the Anglo-Zulu war. The Zulu won an early victory, overwhelming the British with their tactics and sheer numbers, handing the British their single worst defeat to a native African fighting force. In the long-term, however, the Zulu were incapable of standing up to the British army that was equipped with firearms. The British sieged the Zulu capital, Ulundi, exiled King Cetshwayo to Cape Town, and divided the Zulu Empire into 13 "kinglets". This lead to internal conflict between the kinglets, forcing the British to reinstate Cetshwayo as the King of the Zulu. But conflict continued, and Ulundi was again sieged by one of the kinglets and Cetshwayo was killed. When the Union of South Africa was formed, the Zulu Kingdom stopped being recognized as a sovereign power, although several Zulu kings did retain significant influence in the region through the middle of the 20th century.
Shaka kaSenzangakhona was the first King of the Zulu Empire. He united several small tribes and then initiated significant military, spiritual, and cultural reforms. He used innovative and highly-aggressive military tactics to conquer neighboring tribes and establish the Zulu Kingdom as a dominant force in the southern Africa region. He was a brutal and efficient leader and introduced the iklwa stabbing spear and large cowhide shields that allowed his soldiers to quickly surround their enemies and engage in visceral close-quarters combat. His impi soldiers employed a novel "bull horn" formation consisting of three parts:
- the "chest" was the main force composed of senior soldiers who would engage the enemy to keep them pinned and immobile,
- the "horns" were squads of young, fast warriors who would flank the enemy that was engaged with the chest,
- and the "loins" were a reserve force behind the chest and with their backs to the battle who would defend the army from flanking maneuvers and chase down escaping enemies.
These tactics proved incredibly useful to Shaka and to his successors (even against the muskets of European invaders), and it was even used to crush the British in the opening battle of the Anglo-Zulu war. However, these tactics could not survive against the killing efficiency of more advanced firearms and cannons and were eventually abandoned.
Zulu uniques in Civilization V: Brave New World
The Zulu's uniques are all geared towards pre-Gunpowder warfare and acquiring massive amounts of powerful promotions.
"Melee units cost 50% less maintenance.
All units require 25% less experience to earn their next promotion."
Shaka's special trait allows the Zulu to field a massive army of well-promoted melee units, especially prior to Gunpowder. Faster promotions then encourage the Zulu to use that army!
The Zulu are well-suited towards early game warmongering and conquest. Their other uniques also make them specialized towards hunting down barbarians if you lack convenient early-game military targets. As such, the Honor social policy tree has a lot of value in the early game (after your first couple of policies in Tradition or Honor) so that you can immediately mobilize to newly-spawned barbarian camps and so that you can gain promotions more quickly with Military Tradition once you start attacking other civs and/or City-States.
Although Gunpowder units (such as Muskets and Rifles) behave like melee units, they are not actually of the type "Melee"; they are actually "Gunpowder" type units. Because of this, they do not qualify for the discounted maintenance. Also, naval units do not qualify for the discounted maintenance. Only true land melee units count:
- Pikemen (you may get these from Militaristic City-States),
- and any other unique units that replace the above units (you may receive them from Militaristic City-State allies or other civs in multiplayer),
- gifted Spanish Tercio, Hunnic Battering Ram, Assyrian Siege Tower also count.
Be wary of building an excessively large melee military in the Medieval or Renaissance era, and then upgrading them to Gunpowder units without a surplus of gold per turn. You will suddenly be paying up to twice as much on unit maintenance. This could potentially bankrupt you, which will slow down your research rate and potentially force you to disband units or delete buildings or roads in order to reduce maintenance costs.
Ranged, mobile, naval, and air units are not left in the dust, however. They also benefit from the discounted promotion costs. This means that your archers can be promoted to Range or Logistics quickly, siege weapons can get to Indirect Fire, your horsemen can get to Charge and Mobility more quickly, navies can get to Supply more quickly, and Bombers can reach Air Repair and Logistics more quickly. This ensures that Zulu will have an effective military for the entire game, regardless of map settings!
Promotion Experience (XP) Comparison
|Promo #||Promo Cost (XP)||Cum. Total (XP)||Promo Cost (XP)||Cum. Total (XP)|
*If you take Military Tradition, a fresh Melee unit (Warrior or Horseman or even Musketman) with no XP can get its first promotion at 7.5 XP with one melee attack (normally earns 5 XP, but increases to 7.5 XP with the policy).
**New Zulu units can have 3 promotions right out of the gate with the 45 XP from all 3 military training buildings (Barracks, Armory, & Military Academy).
***New Zulu units can have 4 promotions with 75 XP from all 3 military training buildings (+45 XP), Autocracy's Total War tenet (+15 XP), and the Brandenburg Gate world wonder (+15 XP).
Game Info: "Unique Zulu Barracks replacement. Grants unique promotions to pre-gunpowder melee units."
Civilopedia Strategy: "In addition to the regular abilities of the Barracks which it replaces, the Ikanda grants a unique set of promotions to pre-gunpowder melee units created within the city. These include faster movement, and greater combat strength. Only the Zulu may build it."
Requirements: Bronze Working (same as Barracks).
Cost: 75 production, 1 gold per turn maintenance (same as Barracks).
Effects: +15 experience for newly-trained military units (same as Barracks),
Grants the unique line of Buffalo promotions to newly-trained pre-Gunpowder melee units.
Newly trained pre-Gunpowder melee units will receive the +15 XP from the Ikanda (just like a Barracks) and will also receive the first promotion in the Buffalo line, Buffalo Horns, for free. Like the unit discount aspect of the UA, this only applies to newly built/bought Warrior, Swordsman, Longswordsman, Spearman, Impi, or Landsneckt. Mounted melee units such as the Horseman do not receive the Buffalo Horns promotion.
Buffalo promotions make any melee unit into a super-unit!
- Buffalo Horns: (free to pre-Gunpowder melee land units)
- +1 Movement.
- Flank attack bonus increased by 25%.
- +10% Defense against all Ranged Attacks.
- Buffalo Chest: (requires Buffalo Horns)
- +10% Combat Strength when fighting in OPEN Terrain. (NO Hills, Forest or Jungle).
- Flank attack bonus increased by 25%.
- +10% Defense against all Ranged Attacks.
- Buffalo Loins: (requires Buffalo Chest)
- +10% Combat Strength*.
- Flank attack bonus increased by 25%.
- +10% Defense against all Ranged Attacks.
*NOTE: The +10% Combat Strength from Buffalo Loins is actually +10% on Open terrain and +10% on Rough terrain. So if you have all 3 Buffalo promos and attack/defend on flat terrain it will show +20% for Open terrain (added with +10% from Buffalo Chest). If you attack/defend on Rough terrain, it will show +10% for Rough terrain. It is not actually a generic Combat Strength modifier like the Morale promotion (+15% Combat Strength anywhere, anytime). This means that it does not apply when attacking cities or while embarked.
After all three (3) Buffalo promotions are taken, the unit will have +1 Movement, +75% Flank attack bonus, +20% Combat Strength on OPEN terrain, +10% Combat Strength on ROUGH terrain, and +30% Defense against Ranged Attacks. Essentially five (5) promotions for the price of three (3)--actually the first promotion is free, so five (5) for the XP price of two (2). And Shaka gets a discount on promotion costs, so five (5) for the XP price of LESS than two (2).
Once upgraded to a Gunpowder unit, any Buffalo promotions the unit already has will still function, but a Gunpowder Buffalo unit is no longer eligible to acquire new promotions in the Buffalo line. Be sure to get to the last promotion (Buffalo Loins) before upgrading to Muskets or Rifles (or upgrading to Lancers for your Landsneckts).
Flanking Bonuses from Buffalo Promotions
|Flank Level||Normal Bonus||Buffalo Horns (+25%)||Buffalo Chest (+50%)||Buffalo Loins (+75%)|
|Level 1 Flank|
(2 units surrounding enemy)
|Level 2 Flank|
(3 units surrounding enemy)
|Level 3 Flank|
(4 units surrounding enemy)
|Level 4 Flank|
(5 units surrounding enemy)
|Level 5 Flank|
(6 units surrounding enemy)
Game Info: "Specialized in defeating Knights and other mounted units. Only the Zulu may build it. Also performs a first-strike ranged attack before combat."
Civilopedia Strategy: "Before engaging in melee, the Impi performs a spear throw attack that can damage or kill the enemy unit before making contact. Only the Zulu may build it."
Upgrades to: Rifleman (instead of Lancer).
Requirements: Civil Service technology and 1 gold per turn maintenance (same as Pikeman).
Obsoleted: Rifling technology (instead of Metallurgy).
Cost: 90 Production / 180 Faith / 370 Gold (same as Pikeman) [Standard speed].
Attack Type: Melee, Combat Class: Melee, Combat Strength: 16 (same as Pikeman),
Movement Speed: 2 (same as Pikeman).
Bonuses: +50% bonus versus mounted (same as Pikeman)
Spear Throw: performs a ranged attack prior to engaging in melee,
and also receives +25% combat bonus against gunpowder units.
The Impi's base stats are identical to the Pikeman that it replaces; however, it receives strong offensive bonuses that make it a dominant medieval unit in the hands of an aggressive player, and it remains effective well into the renaissance.
The Impi's spear throw is not included in the combat odds.
Prior to engaging in a melee attack against a unit, an Impi will perform a ranged attack that allows it to damage the enemy without receiving damage, and it also grants ranged combat experience to the unit. The damage dealt by the spear throw is determined by its melee combat strength. Spear throw damage is not included in the battle odds calculator, so the Impi will deal significantly more damage than indicated. Also, since the melee attack happens after ranged damage is already inflicted on the enemy, the damage that the Impi receives is also usually slightly less than predicted due to the enemy's reduced strength (unless attacking Japanese units).
In fact, it is possible for an Impi to outright kill an enemy unit with its ranged attack prior to engaging in melee. In this case, the Impi will receive no damage, and it will advance to occupy the attacked tile.
The Spear Throw ability does not work against cities nor when defending.
The Impi make a ranged attack first, and then a melee attack. The ranged attack applies its damage and generates experience independently of the melee attack [RIGHT].
The Spear Throw ability also includes a 25% combat bonus against Gunpowder melee units (i.e. Muskets, Rifles). This makes the Impis competitive against Muskets, but vulnerable to Riflemen, unless the Impis have an overwhelming manpower advantage. It does not help against ranged gunpowder units like Cannons and Gatling Guns.
Another important element of the Impi is that it upgrades to Rifles instead of Lancers! Zulu can still build Lancers from scratch after researching Metallurgy, but will have to wait until researching Rifling before the Impi can be upgraded. The Spear Throw ability is lost when the Impi is upgraded to a Rifleman, but any Buffalo promotions that it has acquired are retained (but Riflemen cannot acquire new Buffalo promotions).
Another subtle quality of the Impi is that the game database implies that ancient ruins can upgrade an Impi to a Lancer. I have not been able to test it, so I cannot confirm that this will actually happen. Keep this in mind if you plan on exploring with your Impis. If anyone can confirm this, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page!
Buffalo Impi: the ultimate army?
An Impi upgraded with the Buffalo promotions from the Ikanda is a formidable weapon throughout the entire medieval and renaissance periods - provided that they are used offensively! These promotions grant improved flanking bonuses, as well as an extra movement point that will make it easier for the Impi to surround an enemy. This combined with the maintenance reductions of the Iklwa trait and lack of resource requirement means that the Zulu can pump out a horde of Impi that can be used to decimate enemy armies in the field. You should focus on sending your Buffalo Impi out to attack other players, City-States, and barbarians, and use other units (such as Warriors and Cavalry) inside your borders to defend.
Use your horde of Buffalo Impi to surround and decimate your foes!
This is especially true against enemies like Keshiks and Camel Archers that can normally retreat.
The Impi can't do everything though: they don't receive any bonuses towards capturing cities, so support from ranged and/or siege weapons is still necessary for early-game domination efforts.
If you are invaded, Impis can still be an effective defensive tool. Don't leave your Buffalo Impi fortified along your borders and open to sneak attack, since they aren't particularly strong defenders. Instead, keep your defensive forces several hexes inside your borders and then attack the invading army in order to maximize the damage that you will do. Remember to move multiple units adjacent to the enemy prior to attacking, so that you can maximize your flank attack bonuses! This may result in some outlying tiles being pillaged by the enemy, but decimating their army will make it well worth it.
Carrying a sharp stick: Getting the most out of the Zulu
The Zulu are exclusively focused towards mid-game aggression and conquest. They can field a large number of powerful and well-promoted medieval units that can be used to crush any rivals that spawn on their continent, and which remain viable well into the renaissance. Use these strengths to gain early advantages that will allow you to coast to a victory later on.
Bronze Working should be a very early priority, as it will grant access to the Ikanda building. Build an Ikanda in your primary unit-producing city (probably your capital) as early as possible so that you can start training Warriors and/or Spearmen with the Buffalo promotions. I also suggest that you reach for Iron Working early so that you can build the Heroic Epic before you start mass-producing Impi.
Your discounts on unit maintenance means that you can probably afford to keep more units garrisoned in your cities prior to the industrial era, even during times of active conquest and without Tradition's Oligarchy policy. With Honor's Military Caste social policy, these garrisoned units will also generate additional culture and happiness, which will help to offset the penalties of conquest. Of course, if you go down Tradition and adopt Oligarchy, then the reduced maintenance won't matter, since these units will not cost anything anyway.
The Terra Cotta Army is a good early game wonder if you tech to Construction early. Zulu's maintenance discounts means that this wonder is less likely to cripple your economy. Be advised, however, that units spawned by the Terra Cotta Army will not receive the Buffalo promotions.
Even if you don't plan on much early game conquest, the Buffalo Horn promotion grants +1 movement, which allows your units to quickly mobilize to barbarian encampments so that you can complete City-State quests and protect your trade caravans. The experience from the Ikanda will allow you to also take the Buffalo Chest promotion, and a couple combats with barbarians should grant enough experience to acquire the last Buffalo Loins promotion. Be sure to get all three Buffalo promotions on all your melee units before you upgrade them to Muskets or Rifles!
The Iron Buffalo - what to do with your iron resources
Even though you can effectively use an army of Impi and a handful of ranged units, you can still build iron-based units as well. Swordsmen and Longswords built in cities with Ikanda will still receive the Buffalo promotions. They can then be upgraded to Muskets normally, giving you some very strong early gunpowder units.
Zulu don't have as much use for iron unless they need Frigates. Feel free to sell it away.
Your Impi should be effective enough that you won't need many Swordsmen or Longswordsmen. If you do acquire iron, feel free to sell most of the excess to other civs. You can even sell it to civs that you know you will go to war with. Sure, they may be able to build or upgrade to better units, but when the war starts, they'll lose that supply of iron, and their units will be fighting with a combat penalty. Depending on the map, you may want some iron during the Renaissance so that you can build Frigates. But prior to that, iron can be considered an expendable resource.
If you want to acquire cities from other civs, but want to avoid warmonger penalties, you can use your Impi to decimate their armies, surround their capital, and then demand they hand over cities in exchange for peace. Cities traded in deals or offered for a peace deal do not contribute to warmonger score. The only downside is that you can't obtain capitals this way, and so you can't achieve a domination victory without capturing capitals by force and therefore taking warmonger points.
If you have access to Faith and decide to go for a religious focus, then the Holy Warriors belief is a good choice. This allows you to buy units with Faith, which frees up your cities' production queues to focus on economic buildings. This is particularly effective for non-violent strategies, but a steady flow of faith-bought units will also come in handy for domination victories.
The Buffalo army: Dominating the world with Zulu
If you plan on going for domination, then the Statue of Zeus should be a top priority wonder. This will allow your melee units to be stronger at sieging cities, which means you can build fewer ranged and siege units in order to keep the maintenance costs of your large army low during the early half of the game when gold is much more scarce and valuable. You should also put higher priority on finishing the Honor policy tree early, since you'll want to eliminate your nearest neighbors prior to researching Rifling (while your Impi will still be highly effective).
If you find Mt. Kilimanjaro early, you should consider founding a city near it in order to claim exclusive access to its movement bonuses. Take some time to send your Buffalo units adjacent to Kilimanjaro in order to obtain the Altitude Training promotion (double movement & +10% Combat Strength on hills). This will prevent rough terrain from slowing you down so that it will be much easier to gain your flanking advantages.
With a lot of captured cities, you'll be paying a lot in building maintenance and in happiness penalties. Because of this, the Commerce policy tree is a very strong choice for any warmonger. The extra gold and discounts on purchasing in cities will allow you to buy some happiness buildings or courthouses, and the +2 happiness per luxury resource from the finisher will also help keep your people from revolting.
A "Buffalo" Landsknecht upgraded to a Lancer is a fast, effective pillager.
"Buffalo" Landsknechts (from Mercenary Army policy) can also be very helpful. If bought in a city with an Ikanda, they will have the Buffalo Horns promotion, giving them 3 total movement. This can allow them to wreck havoc on enemy improvements and provide you with an extra supply of gold. When upgraded to Lancers, they'll retain the extra movement and bonuses towards pillaging! If you're at war with multiple rivals, you can send your primary army of Impis and Trebuchets / Cannons to siege the cities of one enemy, while using Landsknechts (or Lancers upgraded from Landsknechts) to pillage the territory of your other enemies to cripple their economy and make them easier targets when it comes time to turn your full attention to them.
Assuming that you can generate enough gold to afford the maintenance after upgrading Impis to Riflemen, you should end up with a massive army of highly-promoted veteran modern infantry. The promotion discounts from Iklwa trait will also allow you to rapidly promote more advanced units such as Tanks, Bombers, and Battleships as they become available, which means that your supporting army will also be well-promoted and highly effective. The Brandenburg Gate wonder will provide additional experience to some of these late-game units.
Other military wonders such as Pentagon (discounted unit upgrades) and Kremlin (cheaper armor unit build costs, but requires the Order Ideology) will help you upgrade to a modern army as well. You'll have a large army and probably many captured cities by the industrial era, so either Autocracy or Order should work well for you. Your large, veteran army should allow you to crush your remaining enemies and capture their capitals without too much trouble.
Peace through strength: winning with the Zulu by other means
Playing a non-domination strategy with Zulu is a bit harder, since the Zulu do not have any direct peace-time benefits. The only real bonus that they have is the slight economic advantage of the unit maintenance discount. This allows the Zulu to maintain a larger-than-usual defensive force without breaking the bank. You can use this large defensive force as a deterrent to invasion, and also as a "peace-keeping" force to squash barbarians and keep the tyrants of the world in check.
You'll still want to engage in the occasional war so that you can acquire promotions for your units, just be wary of conquering cities by force. Either claim the cities in peace deals or use your army to focus on liberating cities captured by bigger jerks than you. This will earn you the friendship and loyalty of the liberated civs and give you Research Agreement partners to help keep yourself on the cutting edge of the tech tree. If you happen to liberate any Capitals or City-States, then you will almost certainly be the beneficiary of that civ's World Leader votes in the United Nations. If other warmongers like Aztecs, Russia, Mongolia, Huns, or Assyria are in the game, then this becomes a much more viable strategy, as those civs are likely to try for a domination victory of their own.
Building the Great Wall early will give you an overwhelming defensive advantage, as most of your defensive units will have extra movement from the Buffalo Horns promotion.
If there are any City-States that are not the protectorates of any major civs [that you want to remain peaceful with], then you can use your larger-than-average "defensive" army to camp near their borders and demand tribute on a regular basis. If possible, march your army from City-State to City-State demanding tribute.
Use your army to demand tribute from City-States (especially those without pacts of protection from major civs) with whom it is impractical (or unnecessary) to become friends or allies with.
Early in the game, prior to meeting all the other civs, you can maybe afford to be a little bit hostile and capture some cities without too much warmonger risk (especially on continents maps). This can be a good way to get a few free Great Works to contribute to a cultural victory.
Castrated Buffalo: Countering Shaka's Zulu war plans
The Zulu are heavily geared towards early and mid-game aggression. If they are your immediate neighbor, then you should expect war to come fairly early. Zulu uniques will ensure that their army is large, well-promoted, and more mobile than other civs' armies. Shaka's A.I. favors early unit rushes, and he's a prime contender for the Statue of Zeus wonder. Shaka's A.I. will play very similarly to Montezuma of the Aztecs (from vanilla game), except that he may wait until a little bit later before attacking. Similarly to Montezuma, don't be surprised if Shaka founds early cities very close to other civs' borders. This will cause "border tension" and will make him much more likely to use your proximity as an excuse to attack. If he adopts the God of War pantheon, then any units that he kills in this war will likely generate faith due to how aggressively he pushes up against other players' borders.
The Buffalo promotions from the Ikanda will grant Shaka greater mobility for all his melee land units. This means that he will be able to run down ranged and siege weapons that you deploy against him. Therefore, your best defenses are strong, fortified melee units or ranged units garrisoned in your cities. Try to position your defensive units such that they cannot be surrounded so that you can avoid the devastating flanking bonuses that the Zulu can accumulate. Using coastlines, mountains, and rivers to block Zulu movements and negate his speed advantage can make a huge difference in protecting you from his inevitable assault. This is especially true of the Aztecs, Inca, and Iroquois, who can move quickly through rough terrain. The Persians can possibly equalize their army if they enter a Golden Age during a war with Zulu, since this will grant +1 movement and a combat bonus to all Persian units for the duration of the Golden Age. Building the Great Wall will nullify some of the Zulu's mobility advantages and can help keep you alive long enough to turn the tables.
Shaka's early game aggression - and his fondness for bullying city states - can result in him having many enemies later in the game, which means that you can likely unite several other civilizations against him. If you can take control of the World Congress, then it shouldn't be hard to impose embargoes on the Zulu. This can be especially damning during the industrial era. By that time, the Impi [even with their promotions] are likely to be outclassed by opposing rifles, cannons, and cavalry (especially if you have a unique unit at this time). Embargoing their trade and proposing Standing Army Tax in the World Congress, at the same time that you force them to upgrade from Impis to Rifles (thus forfeiting their maintenance discount), has the potential to completely crash their economy!
If you have a civilization with a strong naval focus, you can usually take advantage of the fact that Shaka rarely builds a sizeable navy. England, Ottomans, Songhai, Denmark, Byzantines, and Netherlands, can all use their unique units or abilities to help capture any Zulu coastal cities or support amphibious invasions. Even the sea-based trade empires such as Carthage, Polynesia, Portugal, Venice, or even Indonesia, will have a considerable advantage due to simply having more ships.
Cavalry armies beware Zulu's stampeding Buffalo!
Civs that have a focus towards mounted units also need to be particularly cautious if facing off against the Zulu. The Impi retains the same bonuses against mounted units as regular Pikemen, are likely to have multiple high-level promotions, and the Ikanda's Buffalo promotions grant additional movement and other combat bonuses. Zulu Impi are more likely able to track down, surround, and attack your mounted troops than regular spear and pike units. The addition of the free ranged attack also means that the Zulu Impi are more likely to kill your mounted units without taking as much damage.
Zulu Impi are formidable counters against most pre-industrial mounted unique units.
They can even stand toe-to-toe with the dreaded Siamese Naresuan Elephant [LEFT].
The Mongolian Keshik can cause trouble [RIGHT] since it is fast enough to evade the Impi and strong enough to deliver more than just a flesh-wound.
Remember that ranged mounted units technically count as "ranged units", so the Impi's bonus versus mounted does not apply to Chariot Archers, their replacement unique units, and also unique ranged mounted units. Chariot Archers and their replacements are all too weak to pose a serious threat to Impis, but the Mongolian Keshiks and Arabian Camel Archers are significant threats even to the Zulu's Impis. These units can move after attacking and are powerful enough to do respectable amounts of damage with bombardment and then safely retreat out of danger. As long as you don't let the Zulu units surround you or slow you down with zone of control or terrain, then you can be very successful at harassing the Zulu and depleting their army.
The Winged Hussar
's Heavy Charge can break up Impi formations and nullify the flanking bonuses, paving the way for other units to fight the remaining Impi with more advantages.
The Impi is a formidable counter against the remaining early game mounted melee units. The Cataphract of Byzantine, the African Forest Elephant of Carthage, the Companion Cavalry of Greece, the Naresuan's Elephant of Siam, the Conquistador of Spain, the Ottoman Sipahi, the Swedish Hakkapeliitta, and even the Winged Hussar of Poland, among other pre-industrial mounted UUs, must be very wary of Zulu's Impis.
A well-promoted Impi with flankers can even stand up effectively against stock Cavalry in some cases. You should definitely have strong melee units and/or ranged support if you face off against a swarm of Impi.
Discuss this strategy on Civfanatics:
or on the official 2K Civilization V forums:
Listen to the discussion on PolyCast, Episode 204, 01m09s (June 28, 2014):