I like the road idea, but not the extra food from upgradable roads. (If the Malakim are going to be anchored in flood plains, btw, some extra skill with boats would be appropriate too. Anyway, back to roads...) I can accept the first point of food as Malakim knowledge of how to squeeze some sustenance out of the desert. I think a later hammer bonus would be fine though.... and maybe a special "Desert Farm" improvement (though I'm sure there's a better name) that gives an extra food and gives up one of the trade and any hammers and requires a relatively advanced tech. I don't think there's a way to do it with XML, but some sort of commerce and/or food bonus based on desert roads + open borders with other civs would be great, IMO. I suppose my position is that - if we're talking historically or realistically - deserts were notable for trade more because there's not much else you can actually do with them than because they're *good* for it. Though I suppose you aren't bothered by other people most of the time. IIRC the famous desert trade was generally from one non-desert region to another non-desert region. Sub-sahara Africa to the Med., for example, or the East-West "Silk Road" that went through the Gobi. The desert itself was rarely a source. Certainly of food, and even of wealth - except for traders. I think a bonus to trade rather than straight commerce would be good for the Malakim, to show that they know what to do with those roads. All in all I'd rather see the Malakim as the civ best able to wring something out of the desert, but keep it as very poor terrain even for them - except as a strategic barrier and tactical advantage.