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The Desert and the Mountain - Empires of Africa

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Completed Scenarios' started by Plotinus, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Thanks for the detailed feedback, Ram. Here are some responses!

    I can't take credit for the units and LHs, of course! Although I did do new pcx files for a lot of the LHs (the static images) since I was using the "wrong" era, as it were. The Bejan LH was one of these - I think it's one of Civ Army's best (though I was disconcerted to learn just before posting the scenario that the Beja don't actually look anything like that). The barbarian hut was by me, though, as were quite a few of the city improvements. Plus I did a few colour conversions for units - for example, the "early" barbarian is a UtahJazz unit which I made black, and I think he looks pretty good. I'm glad you like the tech icons. Any ideas for "Africanising" the ones that remain are always welcome!

    Glad you like the irrigation - I actually don't remember who did that one! Whoops. Yes, the little galleys do perhaps look slightly odd. Although pretty much all suitable ships are actually in the scenario...

    The Kanem-Bornu actually got the Ansar Rider at the absolute last minute - I think this is the last change I made before posting it (if you look carefully at the screenshot on page one of the thread, they have a different graphic for the same unit). I only decided to make Hausaland and Ouaddai playable at a late stage, to add a bit more variety, and this meant I had to come up with some new units (so they could all have different UUs). The Ansar Rider was originally assigned to the Nubian kingdoms, but I did a lot of chopping and changing around. It's surprising how many suitable mounted units I found for this scenario, given the dearth of (say) suitable archer and swordsman units. But I just about made do, I think.

    Dates very nearly made it in for the Nubians. One of the pedia entries talks about date trees and their importance. But somehow I couldn't find a way to have them "make sense" in gameplay terms.

    The second music track is "Eyes of Africa", by Mary McLaughlin, from the album "Daughter of Lir". I got this and a few of the others from Amazon downloads, which lets you download complete sample tracks for free. A useful resource! I agree that this is a great piece, and I'd quite like to hear more by her (had never heard of her before this). I don't know the provenance of the Muslim Call To Prayer that I used but I think it's a great one. I heard the call to prayer "for real" for the first time only a couple of months ago, in Indonesia, and it is very beautiful. Better than "Philip Glass Glass, Philip Philip Glass", at any rate...

    I was going to sneak in "This Land is Nobody's Land" by John Lee Hooker, but I didn't have that CD with me, it wouldn't have been entirely legal, and I don't know if I could have got away with claiming that it's exactly African!

    Actually, if you want to add music to your scenario, I could always make a "music patch" for you like I did for this one, if you send me the tracks. PM or email me if you fancy the idea.

    Are Ghana and Mali really the wrong way round? That's a bugger. I did my best to check the geographical locations of these cities. I notice that in the game, Ghana tends to spread out along the Niger whereas Mali tends to stay below it, which isn't right, but I think the locations of their starting cities should be correct. Ah well! I put Hadrian's Wall in the wrong place last time, too.

    The Yoruba aren't in it, although it's one of the names barbarians can have. There wouldn't really be room for them what with Benin being there. So I'm sorry if you'd have liked to have seen them! I bet you weren't as annoyed as I was when I played the Age of Discovery Conquest, went down the African coastline hoping to discover Kongo, and found just a bunch of barbarians there. In fact that was one of the things that inspired me to make this scenario, which was originally going to feature Kongo, but they got dropped at an early stage (too far away from everyone else, not enough cities, unclear what their gameplay path should be...).

    You're right that not much is made of the pre-Muslim beliefs of West Africa. All I can say is that there wasn't gameplay room for them, as it were. There is a little more of this sort of thing for the Central African factions, who get to research Myths and suchlike. However, there's *plenty* in the game on Christianity, as you will see if you play Makuria, Alwah or Ethiopia! As you no doubt know, Christianity did not penetrate into West Africa until modern times - indeed it wasn't until the later nineteenth century that it got into the interior of West Africa beyond the coastlines. Benin was still conducting human sacrifices a century ago! This is why Christianity plays no role in the West African civs in this scenario. Even today, the interior of West Africa is largely Muslim, with large numbers of Christians being confined mostly to the areas nearer the coasts, such as southern Nigeria.

    Ethiopia: the events of the Horn of Africa are pretty irrelevant to West Africa, yes, so it won't have made much difference to your game what Ethiopia did (although it sounds like Adal had some effect...). It's part of the interest of this scenario, I think, that you get such different games depending on which civ you play, because there are quite distinct regions and different things going on. The AI plays Ethiopia badly and often gets wiped out. Obviously this is unhistorical, but it was unavoidable if Ethiopia was to provide a challenge for the human player. Beboy made some interesting comments above on this part of the scenario.

    Ah, the Trading Post - sorry if it looks a bit feeble! Sword of Geddon gave me a bit of help with that, but I did it myself before I'd really got the hang of cutting and pasting. Well, I didn't want it to look bigger than the nearby cities, I suppose...

    Steel - good point. I think I said something about this in the pedia entry for the Arabian Swordsman. I don't know to what degree steel was used by the Africans themselves during this period, but it didn't make it into the scenario. Well, of course, you don't want it *too* weapon-centred, I'm sure...

    Well, that was quite a long response, so I hope it answers your points! All feedback is definitely welcome. I'm surprised (and pleased) that so far only the tiniest patch has proven necessary. At this rate I should be able to post the MP versions before long. I think this scenario will actually be much better in MP - more protracted guerrilla warfare in the Horn of Africa, and a tighter trading race in West Africa...
     
  2. woodelf

    woodelf Bard

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    Looks great Plutonus. Like TLC I might have to give up sleep to play, but it'll be worth it. Kudos.
     
  3. Rambuchan

    Rambuchan The Funky President

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    Those are some nice insights Plotinus. Thanks.

    I noticed the colour conversions on the workers and others. Very nifty. You should do more city / goody graphics IMO. I thought those huts were excellent, very authentic. Bejan are news to me, so I wouldn't know if he looks right or not. But he did look very impressive. Props to all the artists you mention.

    And yes, I'll think about some Africanising options. I'll post some here in case others have input. For starters you've got Ghanaian Kente Cloth. That's the classic gold, orange and green tapestry and weaving. You've kind of got it in the Storytelling icon but I'm sure you could get something more detailed, perhaps for weaving which isn't that authentic (didn't recognise the colours and patterns in that icon anyway). These techniques contributed to Ghana's wealth in the same way gold and other 'assets' did and their's are the most distinctive from all peoples' represented in your scen. Here are some examples of Kente Cloth in the spoiler:
    Spoiler Ghana Kente Cloth :






    Then you've also got the fine bead work from Eastern and Southern Africa, done so well by the Masai and Xhosa as two fine examples. This is a really good link back to pre-Islamic days and it stayed around. Found a nice site with pics and a good explanation. Open up the spoiler for it
    Spoiler African Beadworking :
    1) Beadwork on a bowl basket:


    2) The Significatory Functions of Beadwork



    First, like flags or languages, beadwork traditions signaled a sense of belonging to a people, to a place, and to a chain of tradition.....

    Second, because tradition linked the living to their ancestors, beadwork was spiritual art. Absent the ancestor figures and masks that focused belief for other African peoples, this religious function of beadwork was vital....

    Third, beadwork ensembles allowed social identities to be read. Differences in dress within particular beadwork conventions mapped social typologies....

    Fourth, beadwork was, and still is, a vehicle of self-expression, reflecting the individual styles of both its creator and wearer....

    Fifth, many beadwork colors, patterns, and motifs conveyed symbolic references-an ability to indicate concepts that mirrors the function of language. Such symbolism even enabled the construction of complex narrative messages whose semantics were intelligible within a limited territory, functioning like a dialect.

    Good reference pictures here: http://www.axisgallery.com/african_art/illuminated-signs/intro.html

    3) Slightly out of the geographical range but interesting nevertheless.

    The art of Ndebele beadwork




    http://www.museums.org.za/sam/resource/arch/ndebele.htm
    Finally, I found this link with lots of images from your scenario's area. Check out Axum:
    http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Ethiopia_GIFS/menu_Ethio.html

    I'll comment on the othere points later on. Hope this brings up something useful and interesting at least.
     
  4. man o' war

    man o' war AKA Kristophski

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    Ethiopia fell really early in my game too. Have only played a little (lots of work to do) but seems really good! :)
     
  5. 7ronin

    7ronin 海軍少佐

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    Plotinus, you've done a super job on this. This is one of the best mods/scenarios for Civ III that I have played. The game is rich in detail and variety. I like the fact that the different cultures have such distinctly different paths to winning. Everything is well thought out.

    I've just played a game as Ghana (warlord). It went fairly well except that I was distracted by a war with the Hausa/Ayuubids. It also took me a while to figure out the trade aspects. I was short of winning by dumping one trade good at a tradingpost. If the guys up by Marrakech hadn't made me leave I would have won. In my game the Ethiopians also disappeared within the first few turns.

    Once again thanks for a job well done; I can't think of anything that could make this any better! I'm looking forward to your next project.
     
  6. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Thanks for the comments, everyone. Good to see the hard work paid off!

    Rambuchan - thanks for the pictures, which are great. Hopefully there will be room to put them in at some point. Although I should add that the icon I used for Weaving is actually of Bogolan, so it's authentic!
     
  7. Neonanocyborgasm

    Neonanocyborgasm Deity

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    Just tried a few games at Monarch level with increased AI aggression, because I tend to play aggressive and find the AI is a pushover without it. I tried my hand as the Hausa, and now I'm trying my hand as the Falasha. I like how the Hausa have this nomadic thing going where you can't build workers until late in the game, although it makes for a difficult game. I was doing well until the Ayyubids decided to make mince-meat of me.

    My current game as the Falasha is ok, but it's still early. I figured I'd play it in homage to my Jewish atheist heritage. ;)
     
  8. johnnyjal

    johnnyjal Prince

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    The Mali just got a rather sudden victory on points.
    I had a massive backlog of gold shipments and something else
    before I figured out what to do with them. One mega convoy is all it took.
    Before then was way behind on points even though we went through
    centuries of fraticidal warfare with other West Africans. Didn't feel like
    fighting non West Africans as they appeared to have stronger units.
    So we tried to be friendly. So I will play this one again. This time I got
    Falasha as random choice. Feels like it will be a totally different game.
    Very good work dude..
     
  9. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Sounds like you did what Musa did in real life, and flooded their markets with gold!

    The West African civs do have weaker units than the Central African ones, which is meant to make you warier about declaring war when playing them. Note also that the West African civs have better defensive units than offensive, which is meant to make it harder to wage aggressive war. These civs are better suited to expansion through settling (essential to grab the resources) rather than through warfare. Though it seems that some people are quite capable of effective warmongering with these civs anyway... Now, the key to success as Falasha is basically unmitigated violence. But you might have realised that already!
     
  10. Rambuchan

    Rambuchan The Funky President

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    @ Plot: Yes Bogolan is unknown to me, until I played your scenario that is :)

    Here is some more feedback on your feedback:

    Dates & Yuroba - Fair enough if they didn't make it in. *sniff sniff*

    Mary McLaughlin - So my Celtic / LOTR description was not far off the mark! I shall look out for this lady's luscious lyrical ways. Very haunting and blissful.

    Call To Prayer - I've heard it in many places around the world, from many a muezzin (the guy who sings it). Most beautiful was in Pakistan coming out of the massive Badshahi Mosque in Lahore at dawn. That was something else! Anyway, I've heard it many times, in many forms and you picked a good one.

    Blues - As for your desire to include John Lee Hooker, well you could have used some Taj Mahal (he did a great album with Toumani Diabate called Kulanjan). He's a blues man who went back to West Africa and made fusion music there. It would certainly pass as being relevant to your scen but has a certain groove to it. A west African / blues style version of "The Catfish Blues" is a real gem. There seem to be some clips to listen to on the Kulanjan page. Check out Tunkaranke and Kulanjan for the more West African 'flava'. If you want more West African music, I have a quite a variety in my collection, so I'd be happy to name more guys for you.

    Ghana and Mali - Well they are the wrong way round. Even the way they develop. It's a tough one for sure. I'm of the view that the way they develop is the way to name them. For example we had a little debate about Nepal and Tibet in the Mughals. Although I went for Nepal, they clearly started in Tibetan lands. However, the AI had a tendancy to populate the mountainous areas of Nepal, so I decided Nepal was the best option. It's up to you but just letting you know that I had to seriously suspend my disbelief regarding Mali and Ghana's placement. I'm not one to not play a scen because of these things but it's a big one IMO. Besides, Mail are better known as a kingdom with interests and operations in the desert, interacting more with Arabians across the desert, whereas Ghana were far more coastal and river based. My two cents.

    Christianity - I'll just shut up :blush: gotta play over in the East to see all that I guess.

    Trading Post / VPL - No matter your reasons, this is something that's letting you down I feel. I'm just being a perfectionist for your sake. :)

    Steel - No I'm not a big fan of over militarising a scenario. I just thought it would have been a nice touch to go for steel instead of iron, for difference's sake and indeed for realism with the Arabs. I think you are right that the sub-Saharan Africans were not so proficient. This, if you were so inclined for an upgrade, could be a nice distinguisher. But granted, it is an elaboration that may not be necessary.
     
  11. Antiochus VII

    Antiochus VII Basileus

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    This has become one of my favorite mods ever - thanks!

    I haven't digested all the details enough to comment but in my game Ghana/Mali/Songhai developed right to form really BUT I was playing Mali and may have 'decided' where all three were going by following history. I thought the initial placements were about right though especially for Mali and Songhay.

    P.S The lack of anyone on the coast to prevent westward expansion and the fact that Mali must eclipse Ghana to take the Niger bend probably make the details of the game differ from the exact history.
     
  12. AluminumKnight

    AluminumKnight Conquistador

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    Well, completed my first game, it lasted 57 seconds. Decided to try the Falasha. I attacked Adulis with a Falasha runner and lost... quickest game ever?
     
  13. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    [AK] Ha, that was bad luck! I think you're probably justified in trying that one again.

    [Ram] Sounds like you and I have similar musical taste. Taj Mahal is actually my favourite (living) artist, so I'm very familiar with the album in question (although I believe I'm right in saying that in this case the African artists travelled to America, rather than Taj going to Africa!). I don't have it with me here, though. Every once in a while, a blues singer gets earnest and does a collaboration with Africans, supposedly getting down to their African roots. Johnny Copeland made an album like that in the 1980s ("Bringing It All Back Home"), which was quite good though not as good as Taj's (his style was less suited to this kind of thing, I think), and Corey Harris featured in a film all about it directed by Martin Scorsese ("Feel Like Going Home"). Harris met Ali Farka Toure, who told him that there's no such thing as "African Americans" - they're all "Africans"! Ali Farka Toure, of course, was greatly inspired by John Lee Hooker, who he believed was basically playing African music. Personally (going even more OT now), whilst the blues is of course influenced by African music, I think on the whole it's much more American than it is African. The blues and Malian music really are more distant cousins than basically "the same thing", as Copeland called it. So to my mind, albums like Taj Mahal's and Toumani Diabate's are, as you put it, "fusion music" rather than really "gettin' back to the roots" as they are often represented.

    That said, the blues does sound more African when played on the banjo, an instrument of American invention but African inspiration, and the main instrument of the blues in its early years before guitars became popular.

    I must apologise for misplacing Ghana and Mali... Do you have any more helpful maps you could point me to? At least the city placement is intended to work in Mali's favour. Ghana start off with more, but their city placement is really shocking, so Mali should be able to develop more and overtake Ghana. That, at least, ought to be historical!
     
  14. AluminumKnight

    AluminumKnight Conquistador

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    Update: Tried again with Falasha, sort of dissappointed with the ease in which Ethiopia was utterly destroyed by the Adal and I... so I decided to try the other side. These were all Monarch, btw

    MUCH harder. It is 1189 and I have yet to retake Adulis. Have been pumping Armahmans, and attacked with 5 of them, plus an elite Quiyanweman and 3 Meqennet riders. I don't know how many spearmen the Falasha built, but I killed 4 and redlined another 2, and they still had more... this is going to take longer than I thought...

    I have built nothing but military so far.

    Having said that, great scenario! Perhaps strengthen Ethiopia a little, but overall excellent!
     
  15. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Glad you're enjoying it. Balancing Ethiopia, Falasha and Adal was one of the hardest things in making this. Basically, if Ethiopia were stronger then they became too easy. In particular, the AI isn't very good at playing Ethiopia - they tend to blow all their units in the first few moves trying to retake the lost cities, and then have nothing to defend against Adal's next attack. So if Ethiopia were strong enough for the AI to play them well, they would be far too easy to play yourself. I'm sorry about that! The result is that Ethiopia now typically offers much more of a challenge to the player than Falasha. As I mentioned, I think it will be interesting to see if anyone has a go at this multiplayer, when I post the MP version. That should provide much more of a challenge - and it could be pretty fun to have two people playing Ethiopia and Falasha hacking each other apart...

    [EDIT] In defence of my city placement in West Africa, here are a couple of maps I found...





    Sources for these - http://www.zum.de/whkmla/histatlas/westafrica/haxmali.html and http://www.clearviewregional.edu/docs/ms/libra/ancientafricankingdoms.htm

    Here is a sort of synchronic map, showing the greatest extent of all three of them:



    This is from http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/islam/fractured/westAfrica.html

    As you can see, medieval Ghana wasn't where modern Ghana is. Its major cities were north of the Niger and suffered from poor land. Medieval Mali, of course, took over the territory previously ruled by Ghana, so it was sort of in the same place, but its territory was much greater. In particular, Mali developed the region around the Niger itself, resulting in better agricultural and greater cities. Just like in Civ, really! Of course, at its height Mali controlled much of the territory attributed in the second map to Songhai, including the great trading cities actually on the Niger, such as Timbuktu. So this was the sort of information I used in putting the scenario together, but if this was wrong I'd be glad to be put right. Certainly it's surprisingly hard to get accurate information on the locations of these cities and their areas of influence. As you can see, these maps here don't exactly agree on borders (although no doubt borders were fairly fluid anyway).

    In the game, Ghana typically expands eastwards along the Niger and sends a settler or two south. That seems unhistorical - in reality, it ought to expand less, and get quickly vanquished by the Almoravids, and Mali should expand upwards into its place and take most of the western half of the Niger. If you look at the screenshot on page one of the thread and compare it to the map given here, you can see that, to be historical, Ghana (played by the AI) ought to have put Walata just a couple of tiles NE of Kumbi Saleh - that is, in the desert - rather than where it actually did, which looks more like the location of real-life Timbuktu.

    By the way, if anyone is wondering who the hell the Wolof are, they are actually a large ethnic group from the area indicated on the map, and they had an empire of their own during the period of the scenario - the Djolof Empire. This came into being as the empire of Ghana fragmented in the thirteenth century - while the bulk of Ghana got taken over by Mali, the western part turned into the Djolof Empire, dominated by the Wolof. Unfortunately, this is another empire that didn't make it into the scenario (simply no room on the map).
     
  16. OG_Pieps

    OG_Pieps Chieftain

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    This scenario is absolutely amazing, Plotinus. Seems that it was a lot of work. I like the variaity of units and the detailed map. Thanks very much!
    CivIII forever!
     
  17. Rambuchan

    Rambuchan The Funky President

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    If I get a chance to log in whilst on holiday Plot, I will take a closer look at those maps and placements. No time now though. :(
     
  18. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Thanks, Ram. I know you like maps! As I say, I think I did get the locations roughly right, but I'm always open to correction. At least I have a bit more of an excuse with porous empires from centuries ago in a foreign continent than I do with famous landmarks in my own country. Damnable Hadrian's Wall!

    Og Pieps - thanks for the kind words. I'm happy to keep CivIII going as long as possible!
     
  19. Neonanocyborgasm

    Neonanocyborgasm Deity

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    Just completed my first game as the Falasha. Lost to the Ayyubids culturally. I have to wonder that the Ayyubids are way too powerful. Saladin threatens me and every other African civ almost every game, and makes conquests that are very ahistorical. Maybe I'll try my hand as the Mali next time.
     
  20. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Yes, the Ayyubids are very powerful. The idea is that they should put a lot of pressure on the civs near them, especially the Nubian ones (this is one of the major hurdles to overcome when playing Makuria and Alwah). They also cause lots of problems for Ethiopia and Falasha, and, to a lesser extent, the central African civs. I think it's a bit unusual for them to get a cultural victory, though. You're right that it's a bit unhistorical, perhaps, but bear in mind that other Muslim civs such as the Funj (who wiped out Alwah) and the Abbasids are not in it. So the Ayyubids are, as it were, representing more than just the real Ayyubids, if you see what I mean.
     

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