- −10% Land attrition
- −0.05 Monthly autonomy change
- +1 Yearly prestige
- +50% Chance of new heir
- +1 Yearly legitimacy
- +20% Fort defense
- −0.03 Monthly war exhaustion
- +1 Diplomatic reputation
- +1 Missionary
- −10% Core-creation cost
- +0.5 Yearly army tradition
- +5% Discipline
Ethiopia is a medium-sized country in eastern Africa, just north of the Horn of Africa. In 1444, it shares a border with its vassals, Damot and Hadiya, and with Alodia, Beja, Medri Bahri, Adal, and Janjiro. Starting with an Empire-rank government and control of a Coptic holy site, Ethiopia has the potential to be not just a contender for African superiority but to challenge for control of the Arabian peninsula and the Middle East.
- Main article: Ethiopian missions
After the Songhai 1.32 patch, the new mission chains for Ethiopia are primarily focused around the liberation of the copts in the Middle East, the legacy of the Empire of Aksum and the contact with the Europeans.
- Main article: Ethiopian events
Restore Solomonid's Legacy
AI decision factors:
- Base weight: 1
Three religious denominations exist inside Ethiopia at the start of the game: Coptic (the current state religion), Sunni and Judaism. While a Jewish Ethiopia may offer an appealing challenge for experienced players, a Coptic or Sunni Ethiopia provides the best opportunity for success.
As a Coptic nation, Ethiopia can make early use of the unique holy sites mechanic thanks to the site in Aksum. The ability to give a boost to military (through manpower recovery (+10%) or discipline (+2.5%)), religion (through missionary strength (+1.5%)), or other aspects of the nation (through increased yearly legitimacy (+0.5) or reduced core creation cost (-10%) which is arguably one of the strongest points of the Coptic faith) based on the chosen holy site bonus allows Coptic Ethiopia to proliferate at a rapid pace, either through absorbing lesser countries or converting held provinces. Should nearby Makuria convert the holy site in Qasr Ibrim from Sunni to Coptic, Ethiopia (as well as all other Coptic nations) will unlock a second Coptic bonus, further increasing Ethiopia's potential power. The conquest of Alexandria from the Mamluks (which will be a short-term goal after domination over the horn of Africa is achieved, as to not let the Ottomans seize control over the area, which will make the conquest of the holy site much more difficult) will unlock another Coptic blessing at your disposal.
When conquering Egypt, it is best to take entire states in a single go. This is because there are a number of events that can grant +2 missionary strength for the whole state, for 10 years, upon taking a specific province in the state. Conversion is thus much easier getting these bonuses, and having it apply to the whole state and not be wasted.
As a Sunni nation, Ethiopia is less starved for decent allies in the early game. Muslim nations in the Arabia and Persia regions such as Yemen, Hejaz, Persia and Qara Qoyunlu -- to say nothing of the mighty Ottomans -- will find becoming friendly with another Sunni nation far more appealing than a Coptic one. As the game progresses, Sunni Ethiopia's expansion will be much smoother than its Coptic counterpart as it will not need to convert Sunni provinces taken through conquest.
Starting as Coptic in a Sunni-dominated area of the world, religious differences can make finding good allies for Ethiopia difficult. Even if Ethiopia converts, there are still Fetishist nations in Africa that will reject alliances unless the player has grown to a formidable size.
Regardless of state religion, Alodia and Makuria are prime targets for early alliances. Their positioning and size means they can provide decent military support while not blocking Ethiopian expansion to the north, east or south. There's even enough space to hand one or both nations a province or two from Beja or the Mamluks to keep the alliance strong.
When seeking larger allies later in the game, the safest strategy is to look for matching religious interests. If Coptic, Christian nations that rival expansionist-leaning powers like Portugal, Spain, France and England can make for key assets during territorial wars. If Sunni, the Ottomans, Persia and Morocco are excellent candidates, with Morocco having the added perk of also being eager to take Iberian territory from Portugal and/or Spain.
Ethiopia begins with the feudalism institution and the 6/5/5 ruler Zara Yaqob. Nevertheless, your moment of technological parity with Europe and North Africa will quickly start to vanish once the Renaissance begins in 1450.
Speeding up institutions
Though not an absolutely necessary strategy, forcing institutions to arise in your lands instead of waiting for them to spread from without provides an excellent return on the investment of monarch points: with a little luck and risk management, you will spend hundreds of monarch points on developing provinces to save thousands of points in increased technology costs in the future, and you won't have to constantly fight wars at a significant technological deficit.
Note that Ethiopia's terrain poses an added challenge to this strategy, though. Without dramatic early territorial expansion, you'll only have rough and arid provinces with significant penalties to development costs to work with. On top of that, the low overall development of your provinces will greatly slow the rate of institution spread.
The least costly provinces to develop within easy reach are two dryland provinces in your east and three dryland provinces initially under Alodia's control but often easily acquired. Arid drylands have a 20% development cost penalty, but you can completely offset it by fully unlocking economic ideas and making sure you adopt the encourage development state edict. If you elect for this strategy, it's advisable to set your technology's national focus to administrative technology: should Zara Yaqob live a reasonably long time or his successor have a respectable administration skill, you have a strong chance to finish economic ideas long before the colonialism institution arises.
To speed up institution spreading, if and when you have some spare monarch points, you can spread them evenly developing a line of provinces -- which should include Gondar -- between the two dryland areas and then along a second line from Gondar south to Shewa. The two named provinces start as Ethiopia's most developed provinces and pick up new institutions relatively quickly. The thin smear of added development in the other provinces will make a difference in their adoption speeds and hence institution spread through the core of your territory. Always remember to select the encourage development state edict before spending on development: the -10% savings may seem slight, but the monarch points you save will add up over time.
It's also advisable as Ethiopia to force an institution to spawn as early as is feasible. You can only speed up the slow institutional spread in Ethiopia by so much, and thus an early spawn gives an institution more time to spread before the current technology penalty goes from annoying to onerous.
Most of the idea groups can well benefit Ethiopia depending on your overall strategies. The below picks merely make use of Ethiopia's particular situation:
As mentioned before, economic ideas helps the institution spawning strategy when fully invested, but its other benefits also directly or indirectly boost income, one of Ethiopia's main weaknesses in the early game. Though income from trade ideas can greatly outstrip income from economic ideas, it's much more the long term investment since it requires Ethiopia to conquer many provinces in several different trade areas before it can overtake economy ideas' income potential.
Innovative ideas can't fully offset technology cost penalties if you choose to let institutions spread to Ethiopia passively. Nevertheless, it's probably the easiest way to improve your monarch point economy, which will take a beating from lagging technology and/or spawning institutions.
Whether going with Sunni or Coptic, Ethiopia can convert other provinces reasonably well without picking up religious ideas. However, the added ease from religious ideas, besides its other nice bonuses, means quicker conversions with fewer frills. Since heretic provinces have a hefty production penalty, rapid conversions will also do much to turn around Ethiopia's economy. Furthermore, stranded in a sea of Islam and Fetishism, a Coptic Ethiopia can get enormous use out of the deus vult idea.
Ethiopia begins with two vassals, can vassalize several neighbors in due time, and can even maneuver into an early personal union with its northern neighbor. Therefore, influence ideas could be a natural fit.
Defensive ideas are always a popular pick to, ironically, improve your armies' offense. However, Ethiopia gets added defensive bang for its buck: the defensive mentality idea stacks its fort defensiveness bonus with Ethiopia's hostile borders national idea for +40% total. When placed among Ethiopia's copious highland and mountain terrains, forts therefore become hideously more difficult for even technologically ahead armies to deal with. And while attrition levels seldom cripple armies, defensive ideas eventually stacks an extra point of attrition on all enemy armies in your territory, most of which already imposes low supply limits, so the viability of delay and a scorched earth defense against a superior enemy significantly improves.
Ethiopia does have viable options for a colonization game as explained below. If you have the urge to colonize the Indian Ocean islands and beyond, you'll need exploration ideas. Even if you have little desire to colonize in Africa, it's hard to pass up all the virtually free provinces for the taking once you expand beyond the Horn of Africa or towards the Sahara, in which case you'd likely want expansion ideas down the line. Keep in mind that it's hard to compete with EU4's big four colonizing countries for lands beyond East Africa once their explorers reach the Indian and Pacific Oceans, so if you take exploration ideas, do so early (perhaps your second group pick) and probably avoid taking expansion ideas later since its colonizing advantages over exploration ideas will be shorter lived.
Starting as an Empire, Ethiopia should try to unify the horn of Africa as its first objective. Its cultural union makes converting the land much easier, have low unrest, and gives a boost to tax income. Furthermore, the Gulf of Aden trade node is better than the Ethiopia trade node, so moving the capital/trade capital to there can also increase income.
To the north
Making noise near the Ottoman Empire -- one of EU4's most dominating presences -- is a risky gambit at the best of times. To lessen the chance of fatal overextension, being on the Ottomans' good side either through an alliance or other arrangement is crucial. Should the Ottoman threat be temporarily pacified, the Mamluks and all connected African territory beyond are ripe for the plundering -- especially if the Ottomans have decided to take a piece out of the Mamluks for themselves.
To the east
The Arabian peninsula provides an alternate way into the Mashriq region that doesn't involve setting delicate plans in motion to deal with the Mamluks and Ottomans. Depending on who has allied with whom, taking territory off of Yemen and/or Oman can be done in a methodical fashion to avoid a hefty aggressive expansion penalty. (Note that the island province of Socotra is, in fact, Yemeni and may accidentally be overlooked by a hasty player.) From there, eastern expansion into Persia or northern expansion to secure all of Arabia awaits, assuming the Ottomans haven't already sealed off Arabia from Mashriq and are greedily eyeing expansion of their own.
To the south
If colonists are not available, the Horn of Africa is the only way to expand Ethiopia south towards the Cape of Good Hope. This requires going through a handful of stubborn, low development nations, many of whom will not be so keen to see foreign infidels gobbling up territory in their vicinity. The amount of coastal land available on this route makes island-hopping a far easier prospect later on, not to mention providing a deterrent of sorts against European colonization. Be warned: even a rapid expansion may not be quick enough to prevent a European power from taking the Cape and all the trade node fortunes that come with it.
To the west
If not colonized, the empty provinces to the west will birth Funj by event in the early 1500s. Assuming you or a vassal border it, you can start a war of total conquest on day one of Funj's existence. It begins its life with a very weak military and no allies, so it should be an easy conquest and well worth the -2 stability hit for declaring war without a casus belli. Annex every province: you probably won't acquire enough of an aggressive expansion penalty to matter, will deny your rivals a convenient ally against you, and pick up a handful of provinces of Nubian (i.e. accepted) culture and Fetishist religion, which is easily converted to your preferred faith.
From there, the path least traveled -- the Sahel region -- requires colonists to bridge the remaining gap from Ethiopia to central and western Africa. There is no more direct way to Mali, Timbuktu and other African powers, many of whom will be more than a little unfriendly upon your arrival to their borders. If pan-African domination is the player's goal, securing this desert route is almost a necessary step.
To the sea
An unorthodox method for Ethiopian expansion is overseas colonization. Initially, the closest feasible options are Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius -- assuming the islands are free of European influence by the time Ethiopia is within colonial range. If at least one island can be added to the empire, the stage is set for Indonesian colonization. First, in order to get within the necessary colonial range, an occupied island will need to be conquered. Using Ethiopia's new holdings as staging points (Socotra also fits nicely for this operation), either the Maldives or Ceylon will need to be captured. Of the two, the Maldives are less problematic as they are completely disconnected from the Indian mainland and less prone to retaliation. Once cored, Ethiopia should be able to make colonial landfall somewhere on the Indonesian archipelago. Once settled, expansion opportunities abound with the Philippines, Australia, the Pacific islands and potentially even the Americas ripe for colonization.
Ethiopia has a specific achievement, Prester John, which requires control of a vast stretch of territory stretching from the mouth of the Nile to the Black Sea while remaining Coptic. As this means Ethiopia will eventually need to take land from the Ottomans, careful military planning will be needed to avoid disaster.