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Firaxis recently released the second civilization and leader pack for its New Frontiers DLC Pass. This pack includes alternate versions of the leaders Teddy Roosevelt and Catherine de Medicci, and the new Secret Societies game mode. The main part of the new DLC, however, is the new civilization, Ethiopia, lead by Menelik II. I expect to have the guide for Lady Six Sky of the Maya published within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, a preview of the Maya guide is already available to my Patrons via Patreon.

Paleontologists believe that Ethiopia was one of the earliest homes of anatomically modern homo sapiens, and that humans crossed through Ethiopia on their way to the Middle East and Asia. Ethiopia is the source for some of the oldest known examples of stone-tipped human weapons and tools, dated at 279,000 years old. Ruins in Bale Mountains suggest the earliest known example of permanent human residence at high altitudes. The earliest kingdoms in Ethiopia were founded out of Semetic traditions, and the region has been heavily influenced by both Islam and Christianity, making Ethiopia a unique melting pot for all three of the Abrahamic religions. Ethiopia and Liberia were the only two African nations to retain their sovereignty during the European colonizations of Africa, and held off an invasion from colonial Italy in 1896 before eventually being conquered by fascist Italy in the lead-up to World War II.

Emperor Menelik II helped to modernize Ethiopia, and also establish Ethiopia as an independent nation after defeating the first Italian invasion in 1896. Menelik II went on to expand Ethiopia's territory and established a Council of Ministers that served long after his death and advised at least two other emperors (and conspired to depose one of them). He adopted a strict prohibition of the slave trade within Ethiopia, and is fondly remembered by the people of Ethiopia for his tremendous benevolence to the poor.

Civilization VI is still a "living game". Strategies for the game (and for specific leaders and civs) may change as Firaxis applies balance patches, introduces new features, or expands the game through further DLC or expansion packs, or as the Civ community discovers new strategies or exploits. As such, the following strategy guide may change from time to time. I will try to keep it up-to-date, and will make notations whenever changes are made. I'll also post links in the official 2K forums and CivFanatics, where I'll also report any changes made. If possible and practical, I will try to retain the original content of the strategy for posterity.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions that readers wish to offer. Feel free to post on the linked forums, or by posting a comment at the bottom of the page.

This guide is up to date as of the release of the "New Frontiers" Ethiopia DLC pack (July 2020) (ver.

Ethiopia likes to build its cities in the hills. Doing so grants access to the Rock-Hewn church, which grants faith from adjacent hills and mountains. A portion of Ethiopia's hill-folk faith will be converted to science and culture.

Civilization VI - Menelik II of Ethiopia

Menelik II of Ethiopia's uniques in Civilization VI

Civilization VI - Ethiopian flag

Ethiopian capital start bias: non-snow hills

Ethiopian civilization unique: Aksumite Legacy

"Ethiopia's International Trade Routes grant +0.5 Faith per resource at the origin. Improved resources provide +1 Faith for each copy the city owns. Can purchase Archaeological Museums and Archaeologists with Faith."

Ethiopian cities get extra faith from improved resources. This includes bonus resources, as well as luxuries and strategics. The bonus also works if you settle the city center directly on top of a luxury or strategic resource, so long as you have the technology that unlocks the improvement necessary for that resource. For example, if you settle your capital on top of silk, you will get the 1 free faith automatically after researching Irrigation. You will not get the extra faith from settling on top of bonus resources (such as wheat, cattle, rice, and so forth) because bonus resources are removed if a city is founded on the tile.

It is important to note that this bonus faith is applied directly to the city. It is not bonus yield on the tile. This means that the city does not need to work the tile in order to reap the benefits of the bonus faith. Hence, a low-population city can still get the free faith from having more improved resources than the city has population to work those tiles. See the examples below, and note that resources which do not normally generate faith do not have any extra faith on the tile.

Lalibela is generating 3 bonus faith.
1 From a single Corn, 1 from a single Gypsum, and 1 from a single Turtle.

In the above example, Lalibela has three distinct resources, each of which grants 1 bonus faith to the city, for a total of 3 faith.

Adigrat is generating 6 bonus faith.
2 Fish each generate 2 (4 total from Fish), 1 from a single Pearl, and 1 from a single Turtle.
Gondar is generating 8 bonus faith.
2 Wheat each generate 2 (4 total from Wheat), and 2 Ivory each generate 2 (4 total from Ivory).

In the two above examples, Adigrat and Gondar both have 4 total resources, but Gondar is generating more total faith. This is because Gondar has two pairs of resources. They generate 2 faith each, instead of only getting 1 faith each from two different resources. If a city hypothetically had 4 copies of the same resource, it would generate 4 faith from each resource, for a total of 16 faith! You can change which tiles belong to which city by going into the city screen and "swapping" tiles.

Ethiopian cities with improved resources generate even more extra faith from trade routes. The extra faith doesn't consider where you send your trade routes (as long as they go to other civs); it only cares about resources improved at the source city. As such, you should have all of your international trade routes originating from cities that have multiple improved resources in order to maximize faith.

The free faith from improved resources and trade routes gives this civ a lot of buying power for religious units and buildings in the early half of the game. Later in the game, this faith can be used to buy Naturalists and Rock Bands to support a culture victory, but Ethiopia is also able to spend this faith on Archaeological Museums and Archaeologists. This allows Ethiopia to pivot from a religious focus to a culture and tourism focus much earlier than other civs.

Menelik II's leader unique: Council of Ministers

"Receive Science and Culture equal to 15% of your Faith generation in cities founded on Hills. Units receive +4 Combat Strength on Hills."

Civilization VI - Menelik II portrait

The cities that Menelik founds on hills will convert a small amount of faith into science and culture. This will speed Ethiopia's progress through the tech and civic trees, as well as speed up the acquisition of tiles in cities that generate faith. Between Holy Sites, Rock-Hewn Churches, and Ethiopia's Aksumite Legacy abilities, Menelik's cities have a lot of potential to generate large amounts of faith, which can make the science and culture bonus quite sizeable by the mid-game.

Menelik's units also receive a moderate combat bonus when fighting units, cities, or districts on hills. This is likely to be most useful when defending Ethiopian territory, since Ethiopia will likely be settling on and near lots of hills. When attacking units that are defending on hills, this bonus will more than offset the defender's terrain modifier.

Note that ranged units only get the combat bonus if the ranged unit fires at a defender that is on a hill. The ranged unit standing on a hill is not sufficient to trigger the combat bonus. On the upside, this does mean that ranged naval units can benefit from this ability, if they are firing upon a land unit standing on a hill. Similarly, melee units only receive the combat bonus if they are attacking onto a hill. Your unit won't get the bonus if it is moving off of a hill to make an attack on an adjacent flat land. Air units will also receive this bonus when performing air strikes against units or cities on a hill.

Ranged units do not get the combat bonus if they are standing on a hill, attacking a unit on flat land [LEFT].
Naval ranged units do get the bonus if attacking a city or land unit standing on a hill [RIGHT]!

Units defending on a hill (whether being attacked in ranged or in melee) do always get the combat bonus, which stacks with the normal terrain bonus(es).

Unique district: Rock-Hewn Church

Game Info:

"Unlocks the Builder ability to construct a Rock-Hewn Church, unique to Ethiopia.
+1 Faith. +1 Faith for every adjacent Mountain and Hills tile. Provides Tourism after researching Flight from Faith. +1 Appeal. Can only be pillaged (never destroyed) by natural disasters. Can only be built on Hills or Volcanic Soil not adjacent to another Rock-Hewn Church.

Civilization VI - Rock-Hewn Church

Requirements: Theology civic,
must be built on a hill or volcanic soil,
but cannot be built adjacent to another Rock-Hewn Church.

Cost: 1 Builder charge.
Maintenance Cost: none

+1 Faith, +1 Appeal,
+1 Faith for each adjacent hill or mountain,
Provides Tourism from Faith after researching Flight,
Cannot be destroyed by natural disasters.


The Rock-Hewn Church can sometimes generate better faith from adjacency than a Holy Site, but the inability to construct buildings on the Rock-Hewn Church (because it's an improvement rather than a district) means that Holy Sites are still better sources of faith in the long run. Rock-Hewn Churches cannot be built adjacent to each other, so a single Rock-Hewn Church in the middle of a cluster of hills might generate less total yield than multiple Rock-Hewn Churches built 2 tiles apart. For example, imaging a hill tile surrounded on all sides by 6 other hills. A single Rock-Hewn Church built in the middle of this formation would yield 7 faith. However, a triangle of Rock-Hewn Churches built 2 tiles apart would net 12 total faith!

Unique unit: Oromo Cavalry

Civilization VI - Oromo Cavalry icon

Game Info: "Ethiopian unique Medieval era light cavalry unit. Stronger and greater sight than the Courser that it replaces. Receives no Movement penalty from moving on Hills."

Civilization VI - Oromo unit portrait

Requirements: Castles technology
Replaces: Courser.
Obsoleted: Military Science technology.
Upgrades to: Cavalry.

Cost: 200 Production | 800 Gold | ?? Faith [standard speed],
10 Horses (standard speed) (-10 from Courser).
Maintenance Cost: 3 Gold per turn [standard speed].

Promotion Class: light cavalry,
Attack Type: melee,
Melee Strength: 46 (+2 from Courser),
Movement Speed: 5.

Ignores zone of control,
+1 Sight,
No movement penalty from moving in hills.

The Oromo Cavalry is not a great unit on its own. In fact, it's best use is probably as a mounted reconnaissance unit if your early Scouts all died. It's greater sight allows it to reveal more terrain, and the ability to enter hills without penalty allows it to keep the high ground without slowing down. It can also be a good sentinel unit when stationed along the borders with a hostile rival, or when placed in neutral territory to watch the movements of an enemy.

When combined with the combat bonus of Menelik's Council of Minister's ability, the Oromo Cavalry becomes a more potent weapon. It has a higher base combat strength compared to the Courser and gets the Council of Ministers combat bonus on hills. It can quickly traverse hills to get behind enemy lines and attack enemy units that try to fortify or heal on those hills. If the enemy is stationing ranged units on the hills in order to attack you over other obstacles, the Oromo Cavalry with the Coursers promotion can make mince meat of such units.

Religion to tourism pivot with Menelik II of Ethiopia

Ethiopia should exclusively attempt to found cities on hills in order to take advantage of the Council of Ministers ability. More specifically, it's always good practice to try to found city centers on plains hills whenever practical. The city center always provides at least 2 food and at least 1 production. In the case of a plains hill, the city center upgrades the underlying food from 1 to 2, and maintains the 2 production. This grants the city a free bonus production for every turn of the game. Scouts should focus on exploring hilly areas to find good locations for hill cities. As such, you'll want to take the Alpine promotion for your Scouts so that you can explore as much hilly terrain near your start as possible, which will also help them to defend against barbarians.

Hills usually come in clusters, so you'll likely also have plenty of options for building the Rock-Hewn Church improvement. This improvement will require a bit of forethough for placement, as its mountain adjacency means that it will be competing with both Holy Sites and Campuses for that mountain-side real estate. If possible, build your Holy Sites and Campuses adjacent to mountains in locations that are not also adjacent to hills, and save the hilly areas next to mountains for your Rock-Hewn Churches. You can also look for alternative adjacency bonuses for these districts. For example, consider placing Campuses in the middle of rainforest, or along coasts adjacent to reefs, or next to geothermal fissures.

Rock-Hewn churches favor some of the same locations as Holy Sites and Campuses.

Worst case scenario: you can always build over your Rock-Hewn Churches later if you decide you'd rather have a Campus, Holy Site, Industrial Complex, or any other district or wonder. But you should try to avoid replacing them, as they can provide large sums of tourism after researching Flight Ideally, you should build your early Rock-Hewn Churches on tiles that you will definitely work. Desert and tundra hills aren't practical to work early in the game, since they provide no food. Grassland and plain hills are best for early Rock-Hewn Churches.

Civilization VI - Pyramids wonder

You also want to look for clusters of resources. It doesn't matter if they are bonus resources, luxuries, or strategics. Try to research Animal Husbandry and Bronze Working early so that you can reveal the location of Horses and Iron. Founding cities in the middle of clusters of the same resource, and then improving those resources with Builders, will grant Ethiopia sizeable sums of free faith, even if you don't yet have the population to work all those resources. Use policies like Ilkum and Serfdom, along with Liang the Surveyor governor to get as many Builder charges as you can. The Pyramids world wonder will also grant a free Builder and give one additional charge to all future Builders. The Ancestral Hall government building will also grant a free Builder whenever you found a new city, which can help you improve resources quickly for extra faith.

This might encourage you to found your cities a bit further apart in order to make sure that all of the clustered resources are worked by the same city. It might also encourage you to delay (or entirely avoid) harvesting bonus resources, especially the resources that have duplicate copies within the city's range. Of course, you can always remove the improvement and harvest the resource later, after you've used the faith. It really depends on how aggressively you want to pursue religious play, and how important the extra faith is to you.

Civilization VI - Grand Masters Chapel

Having large amounts of faith means you'll probably want to go for founding a religion, but you don't necessarily have to. If you're going to be keeping bonus resources for the extra faith, instead of harvesting them, then pantheons that add yield to bonus resources are good choices for Ethiopia. This includes Stone Circles (bonus faith from quarries), Goddess of the Hunt (bonus food and production from Camps), God of the Sea (bonus production from Fishing Boats), and so forth. If you're playing the Gathering Storm expansion, then Fire Goddess pantheon (faith from geothermal fissures and volcanic soil) can also be a good option for Ethiopia if you have lots of nearby volcanoes. You can build Rock-Hewn Churches on volcanic soil to get more faith yield from those tiles. Also, since Rock-Hewn Churches increase the appeal of its tile, you can upgrade "charming" tiles to "breathtaking" tiles, which may make the Earth Goddess pantheon a very good option.

Have faith in your inevitable victory

Civilization VI - Valletta flag

Religious beliefs that allow you to purchase items with faith are good choices for Ethiopia, since you will likely be generating a large excess of faith. Jesuit Education (may purchase Campus and Theater buildings with faith) ties in nicely with the bonus science and culture from Aksumite Legacy, and stacks nicely with the promotions of governor Pingala the Educator. Warrior Monks may also be a good options for a follower belief if Jesuit Education is already taken. Take a good, hard look at the Grand Master's Chapel for your second-tier Government District building. It will allow you to purchase any land unit with faith. If you find the Valletta city state, becoming its suzerain will allow you to purchase walls and city center buildings with faith.

You can also use the faith to purchase great people (including Writers, Artists, and Musicians). In this case, the Divine Spark pantheon (+1 prophet, scientists, and writer points from districts) can be a good option, as it will speed along the progress of great people. Even if you fail to found a religion, or chose to ignore religion, you should not ignore Holy Sites and Rock-Hewn Churches! Later in the game, your excess faith can be used for the creation of Archaeological Museums, Archaeologists, Rock Bands, and Naturalists. Ethiopia is built for a pivot from religious play to a Culture Victory.

Use large surpluses of faith to buy Museums, Archaeologists, Naturalists, and Rock Bands.

Having abilities that allow you to purchase military units with faith (such as Warrior Monks and/or the Grand Master's Chapel) will also allow Ethiopia to pivot to a Domination Victory. Warrior Monks can be a dominant medieval unit. The Oromo Cavalry can also be a dominant offensive unit if you are attacking an enemy that has settled in a very hilly area (such as Greece). The combat bonus on hills is very situational, and should not be relied on as a part of your strategy. Use it when you can, but don't build your whole strategy around it. Instead, you can use the Grand Master's Chapel to spam military units throughout the game and overwhelm your rivals with sheer numbers. Later in the game, you can also use faith to purchase stock units that you can combine with your older, promoted units into corps and armies.

Having both your unique improvement and unique unit located on the medieval parts of the civic and tech trees (respectively) puts Ethiopia in a good position for gaining extra classical or medieval era score. Religious play can also be a good source of era score. If you can achieve a classical or medieval golden age, you should strongly consider the Monumentality Dedication Bonus. This will allow you to purchase civilian units (Settlers, Builders, and Traders) with faith. Your strong output of faith from international trade routes, Holy Sites, and Rock-Hewn Churches should give you plenty of Faith to buy Settlers and Builders to quickly claim new territory and improve it.

The Monumentality dedication bonus allows you to spend excess faith to purchase civilian units.

The Theocracy government will provide a substantial discount to all faith purchases, allowing you to stretch your faith even further. If you have access to the Feudalism policy (+2 charges for Builders), then use it, and focus on buying Builders in the city that has Liang the Surveyor as a governor, as she'll grant an additional charge.

Civilization VI - Potala Palace world wonder

Your focus on settling on or near hills and mountains will also make some wonders more attractive. Oracle and Alhambra both have hill requirements, and the Potala Palace requires a hill adjacent to a mountain. Machu Picchu is also built on a mountain. Even though it doesn't require a hill, the Great Library is also a great early wonder if you plan to push hard on culture and tourism, as it grants extra writing slots.

Mont St. Michel is always a good religious wonder to build, but it's even better for civs who plan to pivot from religion to tourism, as it allows you to suicide Apostles into theological combat to earn free relics. If you're not too concerned about spreading your religion, you can send these Apostles far away, spread your religion in cities until they have 1 charge left, then suicide them against rival Apostles for the free relic. Sacrificing them far from your sphere of influence will prevent your own cities from losing your religious pressure and accidentally converting to a rival religion when the Apostle dies.

Since Ethiopia will likely stick with Archaeological Museums instead of Art Museums, you likely won't be too aggressive about going for Great Artists. As such, wonders that provide extra art slots (such as the Hermitage) can be ignored, unless you want to deny them to other players.

Civilization VI - Hagia Sophia world wonder

Of course, you don't have to pivot to a culture or domination strategy if you can achieve a Religious Victory earlier. Very few civs have as much potential as Ethiopia for generating faith, and the discounts from the Theocracy government can allow you to overwhelm your heathen neighbors with Missionaries and Apostles.

If you stick with a religious strategy, then you'll want to look at building all the standard religious world wonders. Hagia Sophia grants an extra charge to all Missionaries and Apostles. Kotoku-in will boost the faith output of a city. Mahabodhi Temple will grant free Apostles (which you can use to spread your religion or evangelize a new belief). And last, but not least, Meenakshi Temple will boost your Gurus. You'll have plenty of excess faith to afford Gurus, which will allow your Apostles to survive longer in heathen territory.

Lastly, aggressive conversion of other civs, or conquest of other civs or city states, could lead to religious or military emergencies against you. Winning these emergencies will reward you with Diplomatic Favor which you can spend in the World Congress towards Diplomatic Victory points, giving Ethiopia the potential to compete for any victory in the game.

Playing against Menelik II of Ethiopia

Menelik II's A.I. agenda: Ethiopian Highlands

"Enjoys building on and around Hills if possible, and likes other civilizations that leave the areas near Hills to him. Dislikes those who also settle and build on and around Hills."

You have a lot of control over whether you meet Menelik's agenda or not. If you chose to not settle on or near hills, then he will like you. If you prefer to focus on settling on plains hills for the bonus production in your city centers, then you can expect Menelik to get angry with you. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure how the game defines "areas near hills". I'm not sure if this requires that you settle on a hill tile, or adjacent to hills, or if there are simply hills within the workable radius of your city. I would need to test this further to know for certain. If anybody knows for sure, feel free to post in the comments!

Regardless of whether you settled in the hills or not, Menelik will certainly try to do so. This means that his cities will be extra defensible, as the cities and defending units will get defensive bonuses for being on hills, and he will be able to position ranged units on hills so that their attacks are not obstructed by other terrain. You should avoid melee confrontations with Menelik's units on hills whenever possible, due to the +4 Combat Strength from his Aksumite Legacy ability. Instead, you should try to lure his units onto flat land whenever possible and focus-fire ranged strikes against his entrenched defenders on hills.

Settling on flat land will make Menelik more amicable towards you.

Watch out for the Oromo Cavalry in the medieval and renaissance eras, as it's ability to enter hills with no penalty allows it to quickly strike from the fog of war. Pikemen promoted with Echelon, with support from Crossbows, will help you keep the Oromo Cavalry in check. If you are forced to do battle with Menelik's forces on hills, then you should try to bring a General in order to offset the hills combat bonus, and try to use flanking and support bonuses whenever possible. Bringing along a Medic or Apostle with the Chaplain promotion can also help your units to heal up more quickly and withstand Menelik's counter attacks.

It's going to be tough to keep up with Menelik's faith output if you're trying to play religiously. Don't expect to be able to compete with him on even ground unless your civ also has large bonuses to faith (such as Khmer or Russia). And it isn't just Menelik's Missionaries and Apostles that you'll have to worry about, as his large faith-generation may allow him to produce units or buildings if he has chosen the appropriate beliefs or built the Grand Master's Chapel in his Government District.

Your best bet might be to declare war on him early in the game in order to pillage his lands. If you eliminate his army, but don't necessarily want to capture all his cities, you can hopefully march through his land and pillage his Holy Sites, Rock-Hewn Churches, and other improved resources. This will cripple his faith-generation, while also giving you large sums of your own faith (especially if you adopted the Raid policy). You can then declare peace and use the faith you stole to train your own Missionaries and Apostles to convert Menelik's cities. Once his cities are converted to your religion, all his bonus faith will go towards training religious units of your own faith.

Discussions & Change Log

Thanks for reading. I hope this guide helps you to build an Ethiopian civilization that will stand the test of time!


These strategy guides for Civilization VI have been taking longer to research and write than I would like. The unique abilities of civilizations and leaders in Civ VI are much more complicated than in Civ V. As such, it takes a lot more play-testing to figure out all the ways that the abilities can be used.

If you enjoy this strategy guide, and would like to see more like it, please consider becoming a contributor on Patreon. All Patrons will receive previews of upcoming projects, and an opportunity to discuss or contribute to its development. At the higher tiers, you'll also get early access to select content, and the opportunity to vote on future content.

In any case, feel free to comment and share, or discuss you Ethiopia strategies in the CivFanatics forums at:

or on Steam:

or on the official 2K forums:

[Show Change Log] [Hide Change Log]

22 August, 2020

Incorporated feedback from JesseS from Civfanatics forum: Recommend Earth Goddess pantheon to go along with Rock-Hewn Churches. Also reminder that rushing to Flight will boost tourism.

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