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Jomini

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1.) I have to doubt this one. Not only are we talking about a nullification of winter as a concept, but we're talking a perfect hand with their crop variety. 10,000 years of farming a root tuber to use with with their local rice production, Sorghum as an emergency crop (which can thrive in just about any situation), beans for protein, and self-fertilizing ground on an open grassland due to the rain cycle.
2.) Use of iron in agriculture had been extremely old and constant, starting with the Nok (500-1,000 B.C), or possibly some earlier culture. It had spread to Mali by the time of Ghana's fall, and likely earlier.
3.) Modern West Africa is still in the middle of a population boom, and is on its way out of a drought. With the French controlling most of their utilities and economies, and infrastructure for up-to-date inland transport methods not existing, it's a pretty poor comparison.
1. Winter is highly useful for agriculture. This is in an era before pesticides and lack thereof would result in continuous difficulties with crop pests. Locusts, for instance, have a northern range defined by lowest winter temperatures that also is historically correlated with more productive farmland. It also limited the spread of parasitic insects which both reaped human returns (e.g. less malarial burden), but also less livestock burden. Most historical farmers wanted cold winters because it would kill off problem pests and weeds so they could start their crops without competition with the first spring plowing.

The common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, which is the main staple bean in Africa currently is a new world species. Again Africans were not idiots and when a superior staple crop presented itself, they adopted it. Sorgum is a terrible crop for early agriculture. It has this nasty habit of producing cyanide and killing all the draft animals. Local rice production continues to be geographically constrained with much of Africa lying outside of the rice belt. And lest we forget rice is not native to Africa. Which should not surprise us as those 10,000 years also give plenty of time for pests to be established. Which is why the main cereal in Africa today is corn.

Again, you are doing that thing where you imply period Africans were dumb for adopting new world crops and Eurasian techniques for agriculture.

2. I said robust iron agriculture for a reason. African ironworking remained focused on bloomeries until the 20th century, in Europe bloomeries were already beginning to lose out to blast furnaces by 1250. This reliance on bloomeries (even with highly innovated draft techniques) required much more extensive reheating and reworking which limited both the throughput and drastically reduced the ability of African ironworks to produced mixed metal decisions (e.g. hard iron edging with soft iron backing). This in turn lead slower adoption of heavy plows and also to slower adoption of deep inversion tillage practices (this was likely a good long term bet as over a few generations this goes from increasing crop yields to decreasing them through soil loss).

3. So what would you like me to do? Assume that before the boom started they were only 2% of global population? When exactly do you think West Africa was ever more than 5% of global population.


"Much less enticing" is the reason they didn't conquer it? Please tell me what Portugal was trying to do during the time period, and tell me why they changed their minds as soon as it became feasible.
Well their official plan was to:
a. Spread Christianity
b. Combat the spread of Islam
c. Dominate the slave trade
d. Protect the Indian trade

They changed their minds largely because the unstoppable juggernaut of Islamic expansion died out with the decline of the Ottomans, the Jesuits and other missionary societies advanced ahead of the empire, the Dutch and English began dominating the slave trade, and the Indian trade was supplanted by the French, Dutch, and English. Sure there were some freebooters who tried to carve out empires in Africa, but in the main the official policy of the crown of Portugal was to secure trade. And up until the invention of the steam engine, it was likely far more lucrative to trade for the high value goods (slaves and gold) than to try to run the place on the ground. After all when Morocco actually tried the latter it became a giant money and manpower sink with little beyond gold and salt heading back to Morocco proper.

And Africa is just an extreme example of this. Many places historically had terrible logistic connections (the US plains off the Mississippi and tributaries, the Balkans off the rivers, and more isolated bits of Persia all similarly faced trouble for any imperial master - getting money out was hard (as was getting it in).

Africa was poorer than the rest of the world. It was less populated both relatively and in absolute numbers. And it was deficient at a lot of technologies that were taken for granted throughout Eurasia (e.g. the simple case being the stirrup which was still making its way through Africa at game start).

None of this is a knock against the people there. They were quite adaptable, but once trade introduced better crops, better technology, or whatnot they typically jumped at it. So much so that many people tend to forget that things like cassava or the common bean were not extant hundreds of years ago. But they did live with the mixed blessing of being highly isolated from the major trade networks. This made their gold's value less and limited their export trade to high value/weight which was particularly heinous when slaves became profitable enough to rival gold in that category.

Africa was behind in technology if only because Africans rapidly adopted things like guns, artillery, stirrup cavalry, beans, polished steel needles, and all the rest.
 
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1. Winter is highly useful for agriculture. This is in an era before pesticides and lack thereof would result in continuous difficulties with crop pests. Locusts, for instance, have a northern range defined by lowest winter temperatures that also is historically correlated with more productive farmland. It also limited the spread of parasitic insects which both reaped human returns (e.g. less malarial burden), but also less livestock burden. Most historical farmers wanted cold winters because it would kill off problem pests and weeds so they could start their crops without competition with the first spring plowing.
True, but these benefits come with the natural downsides of your farmland being unusable for a set period of time, which can have devastating effects on a community. Compare a community that sows plants every month of the year to one that can only sow cereals before a certain point of the year. Certainly, there are certain winter crops you can grow, but those wouldn't form the basis of a diet, would they? Additionally, insects like locusts are a known food source that's high in protein, relative even to cattle meat. It's just trading one food source for another. Pests and weeds, you burn before you begin sowing, and manage your fields regularly. It's just daily maintenance.

The common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, which is the main staple bean in Africa currently is a new world species.
Irrelevant. We're talking about old world beans.

Sorgum is a terrible crop for early agriculture. It has this nasty habit of producing cyanide and killing all the draft animals.
If we assume they didn't know, they should've at least been able to notice that animals had an unusual tendency to die within a few hours of feeding on sorghum, and swapped over to regular grazing.

Local rice production continues to be geographically constrained with much of Africa lying outside of the rice belt.
This has been focused on West Africa.

And lest we forget rice is not native to Africa.
African rice is its own breed of rice. It was domesticated locally.

Which should not surprise us as those 10,000 years also give plenty of time for pests to be established. Which is why the main cereal in Africa today is corn.
Fair, but corn being a more desirable crop doesn't necessarily mean as much (unless we know how much more desirable it was), especially with the Columbian Exchange being a part of the game's time-frame. Also, do we have knowledge of how they dealt with those pests in the past?

Again, you are doing that thing where you imply period Africans were dumb for adopting new world crops and Eurasian techniques for agriculture.
No, you're implying they couldn't handle living in their own environment, and had to depend on outsiders to figure it out.

2. I said robust iron agriculture for a reason. African ironworking remained focused on bloomeries until the 20th century, in Europe bloomeries were already beginning to lose out to blast furnaces by 1250. This reliance on bloomeries (even with highly innovated draft techniques) required much more extensive reheating and reworking which limited both the throughput and drastically reduced the ability of African ironworks to produced mixed metal decisions (e.g. hard iron edging with soft iron backing). This in turn lead slower adoption of heavy plows and also to slower adoption of deep inversion tillage practices (this was likely a good long term bet as over a few generations this goes from increasing crop yields to decreasing them through soil loss).
Isn't African soil notoriously fragile? Anyways, last I heard, African bloomeries were generally easy to construct (2-3 hours to make a functional one in a video I saw), didn't rely on difficult materials, and could handle large amounts of metal at once. Simple as the tools might've been, there were a lot of them, they worked with the soil's natural self-management, and they didn't hurt the environment.

3. So what would you like me to do? Assume that before the boom started they were only 2% of global population? When exactly do you think West Africa was ever more than 5% of global population.
1000-1700 AD, and likely during earlier times as well. I wouldn't use the "% of global population" metric, just because population data tends to be unreliable. I'd look more at their general capacity and leave an open range of values.

Well their official plan was to:
a. Spread Christianity
b. Combat the spread of Islam
c. Dominate the slave trade
d. Protect the Indian trade

They changed their minds largely because the unstoppable juggernaut of Islamic expansion died out with the decline of the Ottomans, the Jesuits and other missionary societies advanced ahead of the empire, the Dutch and English began dominating the slave trade, and the Indian trade was supplanted by the French, Dutch, and English. Sure there were some freebooters who tried to carve out empires in Africa, but in the main the official policy of the crown of Portugal was to secure trade. And up until the invention of the steam engine, it was likely far more lucrative to trade for the high value goods (slaves and gold) than to try to run the place on the ground.
The fact is, they couldn't make it work. Crown support or not, the attempts failed, and that's what we have to go on.

After all when Morocco actually tried the latter it became a giant money and manpower sink with little beyond gold and salt heading back to Morocco proper.
Morocco sent over a force of about 5,000 men to try to colonize a region about the size of Eastern Europe, and temporarily ceased to exist as that happened. Their men were primarily a disruptive force that enabled revolts to occur and (with the help of locals) managed to prevent the Malian Empire's resurgence. They didn't have anything akin to a colonial structure, and even if they had, they were operating by sending men and camels back through the Sahara desert, to a nation-state that didn't exist.

And Africa is just an extreme example of this. Many places historically had terrible logistic connections (the US plains off the Mississippi and tributaries, the Balkans off the rivers, and more isolated bits of Persia all similarly faced trouble for any imperial master - getting money out was hard (as was getting it in).
Agreed.

Africa was poorer than the rest of the world. It was less populated both relatively and in absolute numbers. And it was deficient at a lot of technologies that were taken for granted throughout Eurasia (e.g. the simple case being the stirrup which was still making its way through Africa at game start).
I can't agree with this, and I don't see how you came to that conclusion. Not in the slightest bit.

We've already gone over the population bit. The estimates definitely would've put them way beyond North Africa, at the very least.
Poorer? How do you figure? How are you counting this? What's the value of a Kola nut? What's the value of a pound of gold? What's the value of a bronze armlet?
Technologically-deficient? Stirrups definitely aren't the example you want to use for that. We both agree that horses were rare in the region due to the influence of the Tsetse fly. Bloomeries are more easily constructed than Blast Furnaces. Heavy plows run the risk of disrupting the soil, and would've been less useful for staple crops like yams, that require relatively little land area to produce food. We should probably gauge them using technologies that would've been entirely beneficial for them to use.

None of this is a knock against the people there. They were quite adaptable, but once trade introduced better crops, better technology, or whatnot they typically jumped at it. So much so that many people tend to forget that things like cassava or the common bean were not extant hundreds of years ago. But they did live with the mixed blessing of being highly isolated from the major trade networks. This made their gold's value less and limited their export trade to high value/weight which was particularly heinous when slaves became profitable enough to rival gold in that category.
Gold's value was limited when it was being traded in Sub-Saharan Africa. they knew how much they could get for it in North Africa and other areas.

Africa was behind in technology if only because Africans rapidly adopted things like guns, artillery, stirrup cavalry, beans, polished steel needles, and all the rest.
I don't understand what you're saying here. They rapidly began to use technology they could consistently import, and swapped over to using goods with additional benefits. This sounds like they were relatively up-to-date with this sort of thing.

P.S: Thinking it'd be possible to use HCC modifiers to deal with certain issues. Not sure which.
 
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Oh please, don't be obtuse. We already have that. The fact of the matter is that any realistic measure of income, manpower, or any other proxy for "development" is going to shake out as something with Asia > Europe > Africa. To this day, West Africa is only 5% of global population and back in the EUIV era were likely a far lower percentage due to the lack of crops from the Columbian exchange and the limited deployment of robust iron agriculture.

Everywhere had large cities pretty much all of them connected to the trade routes. Some of them are going to be smaller than the rest. And Africa's really should be the ones that do that. We know that Zeila, the heart of the Adal Sultanate was a small enough deal that they entire place was rented for a fee and not so highly developed that it could literally be abandoned without the state coming apart. We know that Mogidishu was a prosperous commercial city, but again, it was not able to fund a military machine capable of projecting power down the coast or across the ocean.

Every nation has travelogues of wealthy cities rich in trade. But the truth is the vast majority of wealth in the EUIV era was in arable land and East Africa had precious little of it for the crops and technology available at the time. The wealth of incoming and outgoing trade (e.g. the gold and slaves being transshipped north in exchange for spices and cloth) is not development, but the trade stream where East Africa can do its historic thing of being a exchange point that gets surpassed when things start going around the Cape or revert back to earlier routes through Mesopotamia.

Frankly, if anything in game is short on development, it is Asia. The most backward step provinces could typically supply more agricultural surplus from herding than most arid provinces could manage at all. And we certainly have much higher recorded troop counts for things in the undeveloped Asian regions that we ever saw coming out of the African horn.

There is not some conspiracy against Africa getting its due. It was a place that had wealth, but not particularly large amounts and where it was very hard to monetize that wealth. When Napoleon capture Egypt or when the British blockaded the continental traders, there simply was not a huge impact comparable even to losing the US trade in 1812. Much of Africa was simple subsistence farming and Africans, which is why Africa more deeply benefited from the new crops and technologies introduced from elsewhere than pretty much anywhere else on the globe.
Untrue. There were massive cities in Africa that dwarfed many European cities, such as Benin and Mogadishu. The reports of ibn Khaldun and ibn Battuta are testament to this. We know the small cities, like Walata, which ibn Battuta describes as a backwater tiny kingdom, and Mogadishu is described as a metropolis. Vasco de Gama said Mogadishu was a city with buildings 4 or 5 stories high... and no, Mogadishu was able to extend its power along the coast. And of course there was Timbuktu (a city of 50,000 people) whose wealth is legendary during this era.

These are cities from varying regions of Africa and there are many more to list, like Katsina, Niani (100,000 inhabitants!), Ngazargamu (which had stone walls 16 feet high)

There were massive cities all over Africa (I'm leaving out the Congo and Central Africa here though)
 
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Jomini

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True, but these benefits come with the natural downsides of your farmland being unusable for a set period of time, which can have devastating effects on a community. Compare a community that sows plants every month of the year to one that can only sow cereals before a certain point of the year. Certainly, there are certain winter crops you can grow, but those wouldn't form the basis of a diet, would they? Additionally, insects like locusts are a known food source that's high in protein, relative even to cattle meat. It's just trading one food source for another. Pests and weeds, you burn before you begin sowing, and manage your fields regularly. It's just daily maintenance.
If we wish to discuss idle land then we need to consider the impact of the rain cycle. West Africa, for instance has much more varied weather patterns that we see in Europe or Asia with its lack of significant snowpack to feed rivers. Droughts are well recorded and crop failures are much more severe when you lack the animals per capita of places like Europe.

Long and the short of it is that we know African agriculture was less effective than what developed over the game's timeframe. The uptake of cassava, corn, and the common bean were all remarkedly quick. Quicker, in fact, than things like potatoes in Ireland. So either the delta for African food production was higher or something magical lead to greater agricultural changes within the game's timeframe.

Irrelevant. We're talking about old world beans.
Great how many calories was the extant hoe agriculture producing per hectacre with these beans?

If we assume they didn't know, they should've at least been able to notice that animals had an unusual tendency to die within a few hours of feeding on sorghum, and swapped over to regular grazing.
No, they new, which is why they switched away from sorghum in large quantities and started using cassava as ground stored calories. Again, arguing that the old ways placed no constraints on Africa makes it awfully hard to explain why the switched. Me, I assume they were like every other agricultural civilization where the productivity of farmland was of paramount concern and within the span of a few generations superior yielding crops heavily displaced inferior ones.

This has been focused on West Africa.
And even in West Africa rice needs specific conditions to grow, the vast majority of West Africa cannot sustain intensive rice cultivation as can be done in Asia.

African rice is its own breed of rice. It was domesticated locally.
Yeah and it was displaced by Asian rice because the latter grows more calories. This in spite of better taste and less labor requirements. This is a common story. The Mississippean culture had their own crop domestication. Then they got access to corn from Mexico and that displaced their old farming techniques. Similarly, the potato displaced a lot of turnips and became a staple in Ireland because it was a superior crop.

Period Africans held that their 1444 crops were inferior to the new ones and it is on the strength of new crops that we see much more intensive agriculture with higher agricultural surpluses arise.

Fair, but corn being a more desirable crop doesn't necessarily mean as much (unless we know how much more desirable it was), especially with the Columbian Exchange being a part of the game's time-frame. Also, do we have knowledge of how they dealt with those pests in the past?
Again, I am not saying that Africans were not using the resources they had well. It is just that their resources, from technology to crops, were lesser than other places. And hence they supported smaller populations and smaller populations of specialized labor. Virtually all their smiths, for instance, were cultic in nature and practiced in small scales. This is what we tend to see in places that cannot support higher concentrations of surplus labor. Scandinavia was like this back in the CK era. But as technology improved and more food could be obtained from the soil, we saw the rise of more specialized labor.

Africa has the problem that its soil was extremely calorie dense early in history for humans and actually very calorie dense with today's technology (though I think Iowa may still be the best cropland in the world). The EUIV timeframe and starting technology was likely Africa's lowest point for relative agricultural productivity. Northern Europe was likely at its relative nadir in the early Roman period. Maybe you disagree, but then do tell me when do you think Africa's cropland was least suited to the extant technology and crops?

No, you're implying they couldn't handle living in their own environment, and had to depend on outsiders to figure it out.
The Inuit could handle living in the Artic environment. However they were not able to build cities nor sustain population densities even a fraction of that in say Iceland. In like fashion, Africans handled living in Africa, but like the Inuit they lived in a place with certain constraints (e.g. Tsetse flies limiting available animal power) which in turn reduced their ability to intensify agriculture to the levels possible elsewhere.

And after all it is not me saying this. Slaves in the new world were known to remark that they could achieve higher crop yields here using African cultivars and African growing techniques. Or you could just look at Haiti, which managed to produce more calories per acre than Africa after independence.

I think that Africans were able to do very well with what they had and then when some restraints were removed they proved capable of even greater production in spite of facing the hardships of slavery. You seem to think that faced no restraints and I am at a loss as to why they were able to produce higher crop yields in places like Georgia or Haiti than back in Africa.

Isn't African soil notoriously fragile? Anyways, last I heard, African bloomeries were generally easy to construct (2-3 hours to make a functional one in a video I saw), didn't rely on difficult materials, and could handle large amounts of metal at once. Simple as the tools might've been, there were a lot of them, they worked with the soil's natural self-management, and they didn't hurt the environment.
An infinite amount of iron produced is still not going to give you the farming implements which Africa ended up adopting and trading with Europe to get. And again, it is not like African states found no use for these iron implements as they actively traded for European made ones throughout the period.

1000-1700 AD, and likely during earlier times as well. I wouldn't use the "% of global population" metric, just because population data tends to be unreliable. I'd look more at their general capacity and leave an open range of values.
By soil type, Africa is not the highest yielding place on the globe. Its precipitation is hard to capture and harder still to irrigate. With modern practices, many places in Africa have been extremely productive cropland, but not before adopting new technologies. For pretty much any historical measure of agricultural surplus, Africa has not had much. Which method measuring agricultural surplus do you prefer?

The fact is, they couldn't make it work. Crown support or not, the attempts failed, and that's what we have to go on.
Ehh the freebooters won some and lost some. The scheme as whole, where Portugal controlled a series of forts on the coast, partnered with local elites, and made massive bank off the slave trade and East Indian trade worked for just under 200 years.

[QUTOE]Morocco sent over a force of about 5,000 men to try to colonize a region about the size of Eastern Europe, and temporarily ceased to exist as that happened. Their men were primarily a disruptive force that enabled revolts to occur and (with the help of locals) managed to prevent the Malian Empire's resurgence. [/QUOTE]
So not that much different than the Seljuk/Ottoman conquests. Or the Russians, the Mughals, or the Spanish for that matter.

They didn't have anything akin to a colonial structure, and even if they had, they were operating by sending men and camels back through the Sahara desert, to a nation-state that didn't exist.
Ehh they had enough structure to suffer internal infighting and have an attempted coup of the "new" territory. As far as sending things back on camels, that is the point. West Africa is highly isolated and moving out things of value was limited the highest value per weight.

I can't agree with this, and I don't see how you came to that conclusion. Not in the slightest bit.
So when do you think the stirrup was introduced into West Africa? When do you think it was fully diffused throughout the continent. Every history I have ever read about African cavalry thinks that this happened during the game's timeframe. In Eurasia stirrups had diffused through centuries before. And so it goes. Likewise the compass was widespread throughout Europe at game start (barely), but it was limited in Africa to the Eastern Coast and North Africa, in spite of having been introduced to East Africa centuries before Europe. Waterwheels. Canal Locks. This goes on quite a bit.

We've already gone over the population bit. The estimates definitely would've put them way beyond North Africa, at the very least.
Poorer? How do you figure? How are you counting this? What's the value of a Kola nut? What's the value of a pound of gold? What's the value of a bronze armlet?
Technologically-deficient? Stirrups definitely aren't the example you want to use for that. We both agree that horses were rare in the region due to the influence of the Tsetse fly. Bloomeries are more easily constructed than Blast Furnaces. Heavy plows run the risk of disrupting the soil, and would've been less useful for staple crops like yams, that require relatively little land area to produce food. We should probably gauge them using technologies that would've been entirely beneficial for them to use.
Bloomeries cannot produce the quality of metal needed for cannons or remotely reliable firearms. Heavy plows were items traded to Africans for slaves. If they are useless why did Africans buy them?

As far the stirrup, it was taken up by literally every African cavalry force eventually. And pretty much everyone eventually got cavalry.

Again I am not picking things useless to Africans. I am picking things they either regularly traded for, eventually developed widespread local manufacture of, or produced goods for which they regularly traded.

I mean in this thread I have been told that artillery would be useless, yet the Kongolese paid a lot to the Dutch for artillery. I am told that heavy plows would be useless, but they were on trade ship manifests.

Gold's value was limited when it was being traded in Sub-Saharan Africa. they knew how much they could get for it in North Africa and other areas.
It was also limited outside of Africa as most African gold was neither coined nor rendered into bullion. And such coinage as occurred was done with blanks lacking inscriptions or imagery which were used throughout Eurasia as aids against clipping and counterfeiting (and was adopted by African gold producers over time). After all the gold trade was largely gold dust heading north to be coined and then for the coins to circulate over thousands of miles.



I don't understand what you're saying here. They rapidly began to use technology they could consistently import, and swapped over to using goods with additional benefits. This sounds like they were relatively up-to-date with this sort of thing.
Technology they (or anyone) could consistently import was never up-to-date. This is an era of state secrets when it was illegal for mill workers to emigrate. When a method of glassblowing was guarded by death sentence to anyone who revealed it.

Africa started the game vastly behind the main Eurasian trade basin (with the normal caveats about those parts of Africa connected to that trade basin). It caught up for a while, then started falling behind again. Part of the latter falling behind was undoubtedly the decimation wrought by the slave trade and the ever weakening ability of the Islamic states to serve as a competitor to the Western powers.

West Africa should go through a rise in the 17th century and then have to deal with the unsustainable nature of the slave trade. Instead we start with Africa very close to being on par with Europe (and trivially close if you can dev push institutions). By game end they are technologically maybe a decade behind. This is basically eliminating a huge portion of the major currents in West African history from the game.

Frankly I would much prefer to have Africa and the Americas have mechanisms for modeling the historical rise of the coastal slaving states or of the Beaver Wars that require balancing you priorities with those of your trade partners rather than just having West Africa become just another blob states wait to get rolled by whoever gets there first while the place is consolidating.
 

Jomini

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Untrue. There were massive cities in Africa that dwarfed many European cities, such as Benin and Mogadishu. The reports of ibn Khaldun and ibn Battuta are testament to this. We know the small cities, like Walata, which ibn Battuta describes as a backwater tiny kingdom, and Mogadishu is described as a metropolis. Vasco de Gama said Mogadishu was a city with buildings 4 or 5 stories high... and no, Mogadishu was able to extend its power along the coast. And of course there was Timbuktu (a city of 50,000 people) whose wealth is legendary during this era.

These are cities from varying regions of Africa and there are many more to list, like Katsina, Niani (100,000 inhabitants!), Ngazargamu (which had stone walls 16 feet high)

There were massive cities all over Africa (I'm leaving out the Congo and Central Africa here though)
4 stories tall is below that of your average CK era tower. And yes I have read of these. I personally like Yaqut ibn-‘Abdullah al-Rumi al-Hamawi who actually compares to places he has visited. Mogadishu is said to be the principle city of East Africa and has many fine things about it. Yet he reports that it is smaller than Merv (dev 8) or Khiva (dev 9), yet the game has Mogadishu at dev 10 right now.

Where exactly down the coast did Adal project? They, after all, explicitly asked the Mamlukes for help against Ethiopians in Massawa and did so on unequal and inferior terms. They had no possessions of which I am aware in Arabia. As far as I know, they never managed to project power to Kilwa let alone down to Sofala.

Again, exactly where in the province rankings should the top African city be? How far did their merchants trade? How big was their navy?
 

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4 stories tall is below that of your average CK era tower. And yes I have read of these. I personally like Yaqut ibn-‘Abdullah al-Rumi al-Hamawi who actually compares to places he has visited. Mogadishu is said to be the principle city of East Africa and has many fine things about it. Yet he reports that it is smaller than Merv (dev 8) or Khiva (dev 9), yet the game has Mogadishu at dev 10 right now.

Where exactly down the coast did Adal project? They, after all, explicitly asked the Mamlukes for help against Ethiopians in Massawa and did so on unequal and inferior terms. They had no possessions of which I am aware in Arabia. As far as I know, they never managed to project power to Kilwa let alone down to Sofala.

Again, exactly where in the province rankings should the top African city be? How far did their merchants trade? How big was their navy?
I was referring to the Mogadishans and Ajuran in coastal projection, not Adal. Adal seemed to be more focused inland than the other Somali entities. Merv and Khiva should perhaps be more developed that this. I'm for more development in Asia, I don't disagree with that.

The top African city? That depends. The Malians did have oceangoing vessels, but obviously, inland trade was more important. Niani (currently 16 dev) prior to European trade becoming extant would be one of the top contenders in West Africa. I'd say it should be on the same level as a larger European city like Bordeaux (21 dev). After this time, I would say Benin.
 

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If we wish to discuss idle land then we need to consider the impact of the rain cycle. West Africa, for instance has much more varied weather patterns that we see in Europe or Asia with its lack of significant snowpack to feed rivers. Droughts are well recorded and crop failures are much more severe when you lack the animals per capita of places like Europe.
Which is why dike construction was common there. They knew better than to leave themselves completely at the mercy of the rains. They knew how to tap into underground water sources. Animals aren't as necessary, and crop failures don't have as much of an impact if they don't all happen simultaneously. Even if they do, they turn to what food they did store until they can get their emergency food production back online.

Long and the short of it is that we know African agriculture was less effective than what developed over the game's timeframe. The uptake of cassava, corn, and the common bean were all remarkedly quick. Quicker, in fact, than things like potatoes in Ireland. So either the delta for African food production was higher or something magical lead to greater agricultural changes within the game's timeframe.
I believe it has more to do with proximity and ability to grow the food. A willingness to change practices doesn't reliably indicate the level of difference beyond a certain point. Improvement over the game's timeframe was a near-universal constant.

Great how many calories was the extant hoe agriculture producing per hectacre with these beans?
There's virtually no way of knowing that. All I know is that they were recorded as having easily produced beans much larger than those commonly found in Venice. The one recording this says nothing of the total number of beans produced.

No, they new, which is why they switched away from sorghum in large quantities and started using cassava as ground stored calories.
Yams already served that function, and no farmer would attempt to use cassava as a substitute for Sorghum. They occupy different roles. Sorghum is a crop you grow when you're in a drought or flooding conditions. Cassava is just Yam with a longer growth cycle and increased end output.

Again, arguing that the old ways placed no constraints on Africa makes it awfully hard to explain why the switched. Me, I assume they were like every other agricultural civilization where the productivity of farmland was of paramount concern and within the span of a few generations superior yielding crops heavily displaced inferior ones.
It wasn't like they switched over entirely for it. Where possible, the crops I mentioned are still grown.

And even in West Africa rice needs specific conditions to grow, the vast majority of West Africa cannot sustain intensive rice cultivation as can be done in Asia.
That doesn't prevent rice from being exported to other parts of the region.

Yeah and it was displaced by Asian rice because the latter grows more calories. This in spite of better taste and less labor requirements. This is a common story. The Mississippean culture had their own crop domestication. Then they got access to corn from Mexico and that displaced their old farming techniques. Similarly, the potato displaced a lot of turnips and became a staple in Ireland because it was a superior crop.
Tests have been conducted, and the difference in output can be chalked up to ease of harvest, not calorie output. Nowadays, they should be farming NERICA rice, which combines the benefits of both crops.

Period Africans held that their 1444 crops were inferior to the new ones and it is on the strength of new crops that we see much more intensive agriculture with higher agricultural surpluses arise.
...Which means nothing for this game. New World crops being desirable just means everyone benefits.

Again, I am not saying that Africans were not using the resources they had well. It is just that their resources, from technology to crops, were lesser than other places. And hence they supported smaller populations and smaller populations of specialized labor. Virtually all their smiths, for instance, were cultic in nature and practiced in small scales. This is what we tend to see in places that cannot support higher concentrations of surplus labor. Scandinavia was like this back in the CK era. But as technology improved and more food could be obtained from the soil, we saw the rise of more specialized labor.
I disagree with the conclusion and the comparison. Cultic or not, they accomplished what was needed of them. We see historical mention of client cities and villages surrounding the major city-states along rivers, with high village densities. This isn't so much due to a lack of surplus labor as a lack of need for additional goods. Effective spears don't require much metal, heavy armor wouldn't yield the same definitive results in did in Europe, farming implements would only be slightly larger than spears. There wasn't as much of a need for sickles and plows, I don't believe nails were used during the time, And with the reduced labor cost to process the metal and this might leave them with a selection of goods that allows them to pursue a guild structure, disguised as a cult.

Africa has the problem that its soil was extremely calorie dense early in history for humans and actually very calorie dense with today's technology (though I think Iowa may still be the best cropland in the world). The EUIV timeframe and starting technology was likely Africa's lowest point for relative agricultural productivity. Northern Europe was likely at its relative nadir in the early Roman period. Maybe you disagree, but then do tell me when do you think Africa's cropland was least suited to the extant technology and crops?
Not enough information to say. We have 10,000 years of agriculture to look at (possibly more), but we don't have much information about even the recent periods. There's no way for us to really confirm much of anything.

The Inuit could handle living in the Artic environment. However they were not able to build cities nor sustain population densities even a fraction of that in say Iceland. In like fashion, Africans handled living in Africa, but like the Inuit they lived in a place with certain constraints (e.g. Tsetse flies limiting available animal power) which in turn reduced their ability to intensify agriculture to the levels possible elsewhere.

And after all it is not me saying this. Slaves in the new world were known to remark that they could achieve higher crop yields here using African cultivars and African growing techniques. Or you could just look at Haiti, which managed to produce more calories per acre than Africa after independence.

I think that Africans were able to do very well with what they had and then when some restraints were removed they proved capable of even greater production in spite of facing the hardships of slavery. You seem to think that faced no restraints and I am at a loss as to why they were able to produce higher crop yields in places like Georgia or Haiti than back in Africa.
I don't say they faced no constraints. I say that those constraints were largely balanced-out by other natural features and available crops. Haiti doesn't struggle in winter, and Georgia's farmland would be considered strong by anyone's standards. Wasn't it used primarily as farmland (even after the beginning of the industrial revolution) for this reason? IIRC, African slaves in the Thirteen colonies farmed their old crops like Indigo and Rice before cotton and tobacco took off. It wouldn't be much of a surprise that they'd enjoy higher yields there, as Georgia's latitude places it snugly between the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, which were both hotbeds for rice production.

An infinite amount of iron produced is still not going to give you the farming implements which Africa ended up adopting and trading with Europe to get. And again, it is not like African states found no use for these iron implements as they actively traded for European made ones throughout the period.
(Addressed below)

By soil type, Africa is not the highest yielding place on the globe. Its precipitation is hard to capture and harder still to irrigate. With modern practices, many places in Africa have been extremely productive cropland, but not before adopting new technologies. For pretty much any historical measure of agricultural surplus, Africa has not had much. Which method measuring agricultural surplus do you prefer?
Why rely so heavily on rainfall? They were primarily Yam farmers. Rainfall is more important for wheat farmers, as they rely on farms holding massive amounts of land for a crop that's otherwise easily grown. Remove it from that environment and it's non-viable. Yam farmers would be digging dikes to manage excess rainfall, and using that in tandem with other sources of water to feed clusters of densely-packed food.

Ehh the freebooters won some and lost some. The scheme as whole, where Portugal controlled a series of forts on the coast, partnered with local elites, and made massive bank off the slave trade and East Indian trade worked for just under 200 years.
They were able to profit, sure. However, their goal was to take control of inland areas. They ended up with only a smidgen more land than they were initially given. The coastal forts weren't large enough to warrant anyone's attention, and were usually only attacked for religious reasons, or as retaliation for some manner of raid the Portuguese conducted.

Ehh they had enough structure to suffer internal infighting and have an attempted coup of the "new" territory. As far as sending things back on camels, that is the point. West Africa is highly isolated and moving out things of value was limited the highest value per weight.
Small/medium-sized gangs tend to suffer from similar problems. And you're only counting the Saharan gold trade, as opposed to the trade along the coasts. The Saharan gold trade was sufficient enough, but they also exported directly to the Portuguese. It's why the routes changed.

So when do you think the stirrup was introduced into West Africa? When do you think it was fully diffused throughout the continent. Every history I have ever read about African cavalry thinks that this happened during the game's timeframe. In Eurasia stirrups had diffused through centuries before. And so it goes. Likewise the compass was widespread throughout Europe at game start (barely), but it was limited in Africa to the Eastern Coast and North Africa, in spite of having been introduced to East Africa centuries before Europe. Waterwheels. Canal Locks. This goes on quite a bit.
It doesn't matter when the stirrup was introduced. Technologies are spread based on their use in a region. If your region hardly has any horses, you're unlikely to develop or receive a horse-related technology.

Water wheels: Primarily used for grinding grain. Not going to be as useful for Sorghum (eaten by popping off the pieces at the end) and Yam (Root tuber).
Canal locks: Only necessary if your rivers aren't navigable, and, as we saw in Ghana with their new "Lake Volta", this resulted in nearby communities contracting malaria more easily.

Bloomeries cannot produce the quality of metal needed for cannons or remotely reliable firearms. Heavy plows were items traded to Africans for slaves. If they are useless why did Africans buy them?

As far the stirrup, it was taken up by literally every African cavalry force eventually. And pretty much everyone eventually got cavalry.

Again I am not picking things useless to Africans. I am picking things they either regularly traded for, eventually developed widespread local manufacture of, or produced goods for which they regularly traded.

I mean in this thread I have been told that artillery would be useless, yet the Kongolese paid a lot to the Dutch for artillery. I am told that heavy plows would be useless, but they were on trade ship manifests.
Bloomeries don't need to produce metal for firearms or cannons, as those can be imported.
Heavy plows: They're not useless. It's just less useful than it would've been in other areas, and we don't know how much of an increase in productivity came with the plows.
Stirrup: The problem was with the spread of the technology, not the desirability of it.
Artillery: Very useful for defense, but difficult to transport. Deliver those to the main cities and they'll defend themselves.

Technology they (or anyone) could consistently import was never up-to-date. This is an era of state secrets when it was illegal for mill workers to emigrate. When a method of glassblowing was guarded by death sentence to anyone who revealed it.
They were given cast-off weapons, not ones entirely different in structure. It was a way of disposing of the "Extras" you wouldn't put into the hands of one of your soldiers. Again, if Morocco's imported cannons count for their military, then even slightly-defective guns should also count. The unit pips are arranged for this anyway.

Africa started the game vastly behind the main Eurasian trade basin (with the normal caveats about those parts of Africa connected to that trade basin). It caught up for a while, then started falling behind again. Part of the latter falling behind was undoubtedly the decimation wrought by the slave trade and the ever weakening ability of the Islamic states to serve as a competitor to the Western powers.
I disagree. If you can fight off the invading force, then as far as the game's concern with "levels" goes, you're on the same level.

West Africa should go through a rise in the 17th century and then have to deal with the unsustainable nature of the slave trade. Instead we start with Africa very close to being on par with Europe (and trivially close if you can dev push institutions). By game end they are technologically maybe a decade behind. This is basically eliminating a huge portion of the major currents in West African history from the game.
Pretty sure the devs won't model the slave trade. Like, at all. It's too much of a risk for them.

Frankly I would much prefer to have Africa and the Americas have mechanisms for modeling the historical rise of the coastal slaving states or of the Beaver Wars that require balancing you priorities with those of your trade partners rather than just having West Africa become just another blob states wait to get rolled by whoever gets there first while the place is consolidating.
See, that's the thing. I don't normally see blobs from outside West Africa in West Africa. It's usually one of the local states that blobs (Mali, Air, Mossi), or a mix of a few states with a few European minors holding coastal provinces, and an Iberian/expanding Papal States just a few extra inland provinces (Fulani). Nothing like what you describe.
 
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Jomini

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Lightwell, Africans made many fine adaptations to the surroundings from dikes to extremely low labor bloomeries. But none of this changes the fact that every single one of the innovations I discuss was adopted because the locals thought it was superior to what they were using before. The fact that they traded away copious wealth when they tried, and failed, to produce some of them locally again bespeaks the constraints of being isolated from the global trade network.

Sub Saharan Africa should end up in a place that reflects the incentives that lead to their historic choices. Their cities should have lower development before the import of new crops than after. Their militaries should naturally fall significantly behind the Europeans absent imported weapons and even then need at least a 4:1 advantage.

I do not want to play a fantasy Africa. I want to play an Africa where the struggles with poor soil quality show up so that should I beat the English to Georgia, I get the same improvement in my crops. I want to see the real world impacts where African staple crops grown in Haiti are being sold in France because Haiti has good deep water transport while moving rice in West Africa requires expensive overland transport.

Africa's default story in EUIV should be one where Mali is in decline, but reasonably wealthy, and the place is close to North African norms. But absent ahistorical choices, the whole place falls behind as the wealth of the Americas and the scientific revolution (broadly speaking) ignite the largest leap forward in human history. Eventually, as Africa matures as a market their should be massive dislocations as trade dominates life.

None of that happens right now. Sub Saharan Africa is just another place and after 1500 plays much like India or Arabia. Adding more dev does not change that.

And you can tie yourself in knots about everything old was great, but the actions of African states suggest there was substantial room for improvement. And after that improvement occurred, Africa was still sending fleets a fraction of the distance that Portugal was managing at game start. Its cargo volume, even after upgrading its shipping, never approached those of Venice or Genoa at game start. And its armies were rarely able to beat third rate European troops even with numerical advantages.

At some point respecting African history means giving some nod to the challenges these states faced. Much as with the Ming, we want there to be tensions related to unique difficulties (isolated position vs perpetually raided by the steppe hordes), not just another blob of land that will get rolled by the Iberians when large states with few distractions come across valuable land held by states with depleted manpower.
 

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Lightwell, Africans made many fine adaptations to the surroundings from dikes to extremely low labor bloomeries. But none of this changes the fact that every single one of the innovations I discuss was adopted because the locals thought it was superior to what they were using before. The fact that they traded away copious wealth when they tried, and failed, to produce some of them locally again bespeaks the constraints of being isolated from the global trade network.
Because they believed them to also be useful. A building is good, and a window is also, but if I pour immense focus and effort into attempting to produce windows, it doesn't necessarily say my building has less worth than the window.

Sub Saharan Africa should end up in a place that reflects the incentives that lead to their historic choices. Their cities should have lower development before the import of new crops than after. Their militaries should naturally fall significantly behind the Europeans absent imported weapons and even then need at least a 4:1 advantage.
1.) The game doesn't care where your weapons come from. It assumes that if you have access to them, you always have, and always will.
2.) That 4:1 advantage point is ridiculous, especially when you consider the fact that Europeans can easily transport the entirety of their nations' armies to any area in the world, and get magical bonuses to combat strength.
You consistently discount these facts when speaking.

I do not want to play a fantasy Africa. I want to play an Africa where the struggles with poor soil quality show up so that should I beat the English to Georgia, I get the same improvement in my crops. I want to see the real world impacts where African staple crops grown in Haiti are being sold in France because Haiti has good deep water transport while moving rice in West Africa requires expensive overland transport.
You're looking for an entirely different game. EU4 doesn't model any of that, and it never will. It wouldn't even be an enjoyable experience. Everything you propose just makes the entire region such a condemned hell to exist in that nobody would ever play a local tag. I don't even believe that's true of their history. The Songhai had a very real chance of conquering even more land and remaining a well-centralized nation, but Ishaq II's blunder screwed them over.

Africa's default story in EUIV should be one where Mali is in decline, but reasonably wealthy, and the place is close to North African norms. But absent ahistorical choices, the whole place falls behind as the wealth of the Americas and the scientific revolution (broadly speaking) ignite the largest leap forward in human history. Eventually, as Africa matures as a market their should be massive dislocations as trade dominates life.
The game can't model tags migrating into each other without annexation. You'd still need to add provinces.

None of that happens right now. Sub Saharan Africa is just another place and after 1500 plays much like India or Arabia. Adding more dev does not change that.
Jomini, I am firmly convinced that the thing you claim to want is something only you would ever want. The dev increase is to add more to do in the region, as it was dominated by regular wars in each area. They can't declare wars for slaves (because PDX doesn't want to touch that subject with a ten-foot pole), so they need to have an actual reason to fight each other.

And you can tie yourself in knots about everything old was great, but the actions of African states suggest there was substantial room for improvement.
As with anyone.

And after that improvement occurred, Africa was still sending fleets a fraction of the distance that Portugal was managing at game start. Its cargo volume, even after upgrading its shipping, never approached those of Venice or Genoa at game start. And its armies were rarely able to beat third rate European troops even with numerical advantages.
Only for the Western half of Africa, and primarily because they didn't need to send ships out. Everyone East of the coast had been sending cargo fleets out to Arabia and India, and had their trade suppressed as a result of foreign intervention. As for the military advantage, that's just an insult. Fact is, even in the 1880s, Colonial troops struggled when fighting settled nations. The reason colonial states won in the end is because the consequences for failure were limited. Ultimately, losing an outpost here or there meant nothing in the long run, and a loss wouldn't end with the state being dismantled.

At some point respecting African history means giving some nod to the challenges these states faced. Much as with the Ming, we want there to be tensions related to unique difficulties (isolated position vs perpetually raided by the steppe hordes), not just another blob of land that will get rolled by the Iberians when large states with few distractions come across valuable land held by states with depleted manpower.
Because making the countries so weak and helpless that they can't win a fight without a ridiculous modifier and a 4:1 numerical advantage in a region where no one tag could ever hope to put together the minimum 120K (going against history now) needed to challenge an Iberian 30K stack, is how you ensure they don't get steamrolled by Iberians. I'm going to end off with this:

You're looking for a different game. EU4 is not the game you want. PDX isn't going to model the slave trade, they don't care about local weapons production, they aren't going to implement entirely-realistic anti-blobbing restrictions, and they're not going to turn West Africa into Hell-on-Earth to satisfy your alleged love of difficulty. I'm familiar with your arguing tactics. This is just a way to justify the status quo by going so far overboard in the opposite direction that the old position looks reasonable by comparison. I could just as easily say, "West Africa should have as much development as all of Asia and be able to beat Germany with a flick of their finger", but I won't. It's disingenuous, and if I said I wanted to do this for the "Challenge" of playing as the underdog in that situation, and not because I wanted to have an easy time steamrolling other tags with an OP nation, nobody here would take my claim or argument seriously.
 
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Lightwell, Africans made many fine adaptations to the surroundings from dikes to extremely low labor bloomeries. But none of this changes the fact that every single one of the innovations I discuss was adopted because the locals thought it was superior to what they were using before. The fact that they traded away copious wealth when they tried, and failed, to produce some of them locally again bespeaks the constraints of being isolated from the global trade network.

Sub Saharan Africa should end up in a place that reflects the incentives that lead to their historic choices. Their cities should have lower development before the import of new crops than after. Their militaries should naturally fall significantly behind the Europeans absent imported weapons and even then need at least a 4:1 advantage.

I do not want to play a fantasy Africa. I want to play an Africa where the struggles with poor soil quality show up so that should I beat the English to Georgia, I get the same improvement in my crops. I want to see the real world impacts where African staple crops grown in Haiti are being sold in France because Haiti has good deep water transport while moving rice in West Africa requires expensive overland transport.

Africa's default story in EUIV should be one where Mali is in decline, but reasonably wealthy, and the place is close to North African norms. But absent ahistorical choices, the whole place falls behind as the wealth of the Americas and the scientific revolution (broadly speaking) ignite the largest leap forward in human history. Eventually, as Africa matures as a market their should be massive dislocations as trade dominates life.

None of that happens right now. Sub Saharan Africa is just another place and after 1500 plays much like India or Arabia. Adding more dev does not change that.

And you can tie yourself in knots about everything old was great, but the actions of African states suggest there was substantial room for improvement. And after that improvement occurred, Africa was still sending fleets a fraction of the distance that Portugal was managing at game start. Its cargo volume, even after upgrading its shipping, never approached those of Venice or Genoa at game start. And its armies were rarely able to beat third rate European troops even with numerical advantages.

At some point respecting African history means giving some nod to the challenges these states faced. Much as with the Ming, we want there to be tensions related to unique difficulties (isolated position vs perpetually raided by the steppe hordes), not just another blob of land that will get rolled by the Iberians when large states with few distractions come across valuable land held by states with depleted manpower.
If I remember correctly, way back in the days of Westernisation, there was a bigger pip disparaty between tech groups and the Western tech group would eventually dominate all others by a longshot. Then it was changed to the one we have today where some tech groups do have an edge at some tech levels but otherwise all units are pretty much interchangeable.

I'd also like to see the difference between armies and tactics modelled better than what we currently have, but I don't think this will ever happen as the devs have been trying more and more to make the game a level playing field for MP.
 
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Jomini

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Because they believed them to also be useful. A building is good, and a window is also, but if I pour immense focus and effort into attempting to produce windows, it doesn't necessarily say my building has less worth than the window.



1.) The game doesn't care where your weapons come from. It assumes that if you have access to them, you always have, and always will.
2.) That 4:1 advantage point is ridiculous, especially when you consider the fact that Europeans can easily transport the entirety of their nations' armies to any area in the world, and get magical bonuses to combat strength.
You consistently discount these facts when speaking.
The game cares where your weapons come from. It has unit localization for things like Banners and will be shortly making mercs once again localized. EUIV assigns every unit an origin province and it would be utterly trivial to simply make something like "abrades" a special unit that can only be raised in provinces next to cores of some more advanced, friendly nation. We could likewise take the trading league infrastructure to create political blocs to that would mimic the actual relations of the area.

It would be vastly more fun to have to manage a bunch of relations with trading partners about religion (e.g. you start trading with England, they go Anglican do you follow or lose your advanced weaponry until you can secure a new trade partner), about market access (e.g. your ally demands your trade power on the coast), about warfare (your trade partner demands you attack allied states). All of this is more interesting and less works than things like random new world, EOC mechanics, or the coming reworking of estates.

You're looking for an entirely different game. EU4 doesn't model any of that, and it never will. It wouldn't even be an enjoyable experience. Everything you propose just makes the entire region such a condemned hell to exist in that nobody would ever play a local tag. I don't even believe that's true of their history. The Songhai had a very real chance of conquering even more land and remaining a well-centralized nation, but Ishaq II's blunder screwed them over.
Nonsense, people play it now and play worse areas (like Siberian clans or Alaskan tribes). And I am looking for Africa's unique units and governments (like those in India or Russia) to reflect their history. Let Africa have a unique tech option, they can deal with institution spread penalties but can build lucrative trade and military partnerships outside of the favor system.

The game can't model tags migrating into each other without annexation. You'd still need to add provinces.
Ehh the map is already overwhelmed with province bloat. What we need is for Sub Saharan Africa to have some unique CBs like the North American nations.



Jomini, I am firmly convinced that the thing you claim to want is something only you would ever want. The dev increase is to add more to do in the region, as it was dominated by regular wars in each area. They can't declare wars for slaves (because PDX doesn't want to touch that subject with a ten-foot pole), so they need to have an actual reason to fight each other


Only for the Western half of Africa, and primarily because they didn't need to send ships out. Everyone East of the coast had been sending cargo fleets out to Arabia and India, and had their trade suppressed as a result of foreign intervention. As for the military advantage, that's just an insult. Fact is, even in the 1880s, Colonial troops struggled when fighting settled nations. The reason colonial states won in the end is because the consequences for failure were limited. Ultimately, losing an outpost here or there meant nothing in the long run, and a loss wouldn't end with the state being dismantled.
Ethiopia provides a very strong counter point. After all numerous external forces tried to take the place and the Mamelukes & Ottoman proxies came close … right up until the Ethiopians adopted better weaponry. And again, the numbers game is by far and away the most common way those colonial forces lost.

You keep playing this little game. You decry having African states needing to have armies multiplicatively larger than their opponents and then seek to normalize off colonial campaigns where they typically outnumbered heavily and routinely outnumbered 10:1 or more in victories.


Because making the countries so weak and helpless that they can't win a fight without a ridiculous modifier and a 4:1 numerical advantage in a region where no one tag could ever hope to put together the minimum 120K (going against history now) needed to challenge an Iberian 30K stack, is how you ensure they don't get steamrolled by Iberians. I'm going to end off with this:
You seem to think the worst outcome is the Spanish AI decimating the place a bit too easily. I think the worst case is making Africa just another boring mess of provinces without even the uniqueness that the American natives get. I want to have Africa be challenging, as it was for the historical states. Where losing a campaign was not just surrender a few provinces and then recover in 10 years.

I would like for it to be much harder for the AI Iberians to get value out of the African interior, so much so that the best play for the AI would be to have a local trade partner.

But barring a nice DLC doing basic things for Africa that we've had elsewhere, then I want my Africa campaigns to be challenging. Not another one where the colonists bring institutions and everything defaults to the same old, same old stuff.

I mean do you think we should not, finally, get an African DLC?

You're looking for a different game. EU4 is not the game you want. PDX isn't going to model the slave trade, they don't care about local weapons production, they aren't going to implement entirely-realistic anti-blobbing restrictions, and they're not going to turn West Africa into Hell-on-Earth to satisfy your alleged love of difficulty. I'm familiar with your arguing tactics. This is just a way to justify the status quo by going so far overboard in the opposite direction that the old position looks reasonable by comparison. I could just as easily say, "West Africa should have as much development as all of Asia and be able to beat Germany with a flick of their finger", but I won't. It's disingenuous, and if I said I wanted to do this for the "Challenge" of playing as the underdog in that situation, and not because I wanted to have an easy time steamrolling other tags with an OP nation, nobody here would take my claim or argument seriously.
Oh please. I just want Africa to get an historical DLC. Unique units based on special circumstances? We can do that. An alliance form that involves mercantile exchanges and has differing benefits for each side? Also doable.

Making the place just another mess of provinces and dev is not going to do anything to save the AI. I mean seriously, Iberia already eats all the way to Egypt, why exactly would they ignore more dev spread over more alliance webs with less manpower and lacking as much Muslim conversion penalty?

Your plan appears to be to turn West Africa into AI bait and then be upset when the AI does the rational thing and overrun the place.

Me, I want the Iberians to not be tempted inside in the first place. I want there to be trade modifiers and other bonuses for linking up a remote region that are as lucrative (at least in the short term of a century or two) as just coring the place.

Ultimately I am just asking for Africa to get the basic treatment that so many other regions have had.
 

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The game cares where your weapons come from. It has unit localization for things like Banners and will be shortly making mercs once again localized. EUIV assigns every unit an origin province and it would be utterly trivial to simply make something like "abrades" a special unit that can only be raised in provinces next to cores of some more advanced, friendly nation. We could likewise take the trading league infrastructure to create political blocs to that would mimic the actual relations of the area.
It cares where the units are organized. Weapons can come from anywhere at any point in time. It's why I have no trouble getting top-class artillery together in both India and Brazil without any transports.

Ehh the map is already overwhelmed with province bloat.
You do realize Africa has the lowest Province:Sq. km ratio of all the continents, right?

Ethiopia provides a very strong counter point. After all numerous external forces tried to take the place and the Mamelukes & Ottoman proxies came close … right up until the Ethiopians adopted better weaponry. And again, the numbers game is by far and away the most common way those colonial forces lost.
The Portuguese gunners didn't even send that many men. More importantly, they served as auxiliaries in an already well-equipped army.

You keep playing this little game. You decry having African states needing to have armies multiplicatively larger than their opponents and then seek to normalize off colonial campaigns where they typically outnumbered heavily and routinely outnumbered 10:1 or more in victories.
The difference is that, in real life, a state would be limited by logistics and the consequences arising from sending their entire army to conquer a place. In the game, they don't. If you set a requirement to outnumber them as they historically did, but give the invaders the ability to ship over 30,000 top-class infantry units, the comparison is lost. I don't care if you try to put a band-aid on it with "We can fix that". I'm not interested in trying to get PDX to rework the entire army transportation system.

More importantly, invaders hired mercs like the Imbangala to fight for them. They didn't just go it alone, get outnumbered, and then get pushed out.

You seem to think the worst outcome is the Spanish AI decimating the place a bit too easily. I think the worst case is making Africa just another boring mess of provinces without even the uniqueness that the American natives get. I want to have Africa be challenging, as it was for the historical states. Where losing a campaign was not just surrender a few provinces and then recover in 10 years.
"A bit". Say what you want, but everything you say comes down to making West Africa uniquely weak and unpleasant, and justifying it by using standards no other country is held to. The guys on /pol/ couldn't do a better job than this.

I would like for it to be much harder for the AI Iberians to get value out of the African interior, so much so that the best play for the AI would be to have a local trade partner.

But barring a nice DLC doing basic things for Africa that we've had elsewhere, then I want my Africa campaigns to be challenging. Not another one where the colonists bring institutions and everything defaults to the same old, same old stuff.

I mean do you think we should not, finally, get an African DLC?
Snake oil. An African DLC can be good and fun without having to be your hardcore "PIERCE MY EYES" jobber-fest.

Increase the province count, increase the province dev, increase the number of cultures, add neat events, maybe have a neat bonus for vassalage, and let us play a normal game.

Oh please. I just want Africa to get an historical DLC. Unique units based on special circumstances? We can do that. An alliance form that involves mercantile exchanges and has differing benefits for each side? Also doable.
Literally nobody has a "Historical" DLC, and even if they did, it wouldn't be fun to play.

Making the place just another mess of provinces and dev is not going to do anything to save the AI. I mean seriously, Iberia already eats all the way to Egypt, why exactly would they ignore more dev spread over more alliance webs with less manpower and lacking as much Muslim conversion penalty?
"Less manpower"? West Africa had a higher population than North Africa. This shouldn't even be a question.
Fetishists should also be difficult to convert, and prone to converting back to Fetishism. Ideally, neighboring countries should be more than willing to attack Iberian claims in that area, just because they can leverage force to push them out.

Your plan appears to be to turn West Africa into AI bait and then be upset when the AI does the rational thing and overrun the place.
You're acting like it's just sitting there, looking pretty for Iberia. My plan would be to make the AI there extremely aggressive, and willing to exploit unrest in its neighbor to get a land advantage. They'd constantly be worrying about some minor tag with a cultural core spawning rebels and marching in for land.

Me, I want the Iberians to not be tempted inside in the first place. I want there to be trade modifiers and other bonuses for linking up a remote region that are as lucrative (at least in the short term of a century or two) as just coring the place.
...In a game that operates through mercantilism. Grand. More importantly, making the region so undesirable makes no sense.

Ultimately I am just asking for Africa to get the basic treatment that so many other regions have had.
Sub Saharan Africa should end up in a place that reflects the incentives that lead to their historic choices. Their cities should have lower development before the import of new crops than after. Their militaries should naturally fall significantly behind the Europeans absent imported weapons and even then need at least a 4:1 advantage.
No, you're asking for PDX to cripple Africa if they make a DLC to address one of the worst-handled continents in the game. With other regions, they got dev increases, province count increases, more tags, more events, a few systems of government, actual goals, and changes for their religion.

I can say, right now, that if your changes went through, I wouldn't buy the DLC. I wouldn't upgrade to the newest version of the game. I'd abstain from purchasing EU5. I wouldn't want to play in the mess of a region you're scraping for reasons to create. Should I go and make a wall of text to make the British Isles "Historical"? Do I need to start going into posts that try to improve gameplay there and using the minute details of their situation to justify "Replicating the challenges hey would've faced" everywhere? Obviously not. That's not fun. Starting off as a bankrupt, under-populated island off the coast of nowhere isn't fun. Having to risk the very real possibility that nobody in the continent is crazy enough to set out to the Americas in time for your state to continue existing is a very real possibility. Columbian exchange? Roll die. French have the same amount of money instead of also being nerfed? Well, maybe they'll get a "Historical" change some other time.

The real winners are just the people who don't play as the nations that get updated, and who goes and pays for an under-developed region like West Africa to get nerfed even further?
 

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It cares where the units are organized. Weapons can come from anywhere at any point in time. It's why I have no trouble getting top-class artillery together in both India and Brazil without any transports.
Nonsense. Native Americans cannot build cavalry until tech 6 or something even if they have good trade relations major horse exporters.


You do realize Africa has the lowest Province:Sq. km ratio of all the continents, right?
So? It also has the highest ratio of desert and other impassable biomes to total land area of all the continents. Frankly the most important thing about number of provinces is how easily you can path an army through the area and historically had the worst logistics for that (due to the nature and course of its rivers and slope gradients). It should have the highest ratio, and win out even over the more barren regions of Eurasia.

In any event, the solution is to increase the province size elsewhere for more interesting strategic options, not to push Africa further into hyperconnected blob territory.

The Portuguese gunners didn't even send that many men. More importantly, they served as auxiliaries in an already well-equipped army.
Just like would happen if the technology, rather than the actual force count, was decisive. Almost as though being able to stay abreast in technology let them hold out against every way of colonization until Italy gassed the place.

The difference is that, in real life, a state would be limited by logistics and the consequences arising from sending their entire army to conquer a place. In the game, they don't. If you set a requirement to outnumber them as they historically did, but give the invaders the ability to ship over 30,000 top-class infantry units, the comparison is lost. I don't care if you try to put a band-aid on it with "We can fix that". I'm not interested in trying to get PDX to rework the entire army transportation system.
Real life logistics in this era are only limiting after fighting battles and when transversing barren ground (either because of previous looting or because the place had too little agriculture to support foraging). Moving troops from Lisbon to Luanda was cheaper (and often quicker) than moving them from Lisbon to Madrid. Historically, armies marched through anywhere that had the calories to support them. This is why we have exactly one recorded campaign across the Sahara in all of history. It was expensive to march troops in and very quickly you reached the limit of how many troops the oases could support. Moving powder in after battles would be challenging, but again that is wholly dependent on your riverine transport. Pretty much every European incursion inland followed watercourses for this reason. That said, the first battle is free and you have no logistical tail until you fight it.

More importantly, invaders hired mercs like the Imbangala to fight for them. They didn't just go it alone, get outnumbered, and then get pushed out.
I would be remarkedly interested in allowing Europeans (or whomever) to recruit local auxillaries in all their wars, this was by far the norm throughout history. But given that the game has trouble allowing Cortes, Pizarro, and Alfonso Duke of Goa to do exactly this. Frankly this is part of what does not bother me about the Europeans shipping in a bunch of guys, they should have ways of bolstering their ranks by over an order of magnitude by recruiting or impressing the locals.



"A bit". Say what you want, but everything you say comes down to making West Africa uniquely weak and unpleasant, and justifying it by using standards no other country is held to. The guys on /pol/ couldn't do a better job than this.
Oh please I hold everyone to the same standard. I have consistently held that hordes need to be a threat until the back half of the game (so much so that they keep down Poland and Russia to some degree), that the Balkans have far too many provinces to remotely reflect the historical challenges of campaigning there, that the Siberian tribes have too good of starting tech, that Scandinavia is too open, and that the provinces in the new world are too numerous with too easily exploited resources.

West Africa should be weak because it was. In 400 years there were zero conquests from there outside. There battle record against gunpowder states (North African, Sub Saharan, or European) was pretty terrible with their starting tech, and we know that African farmers in the New World were able to achieve superior results for African crops with better technology and better trade logistics.

Snake oil. An African DLC can be good and fun without having to be your hardcore "PIERCE MY EYES" jobber-fest.
Oh please. We could always include an "Africa wins" button to make you happy.

By far and away the most fun campaigns for me have been ones that are not just cookie cutters: Japan, Hordes, the Aztecs, a migrating Native tribe (with no plans to do much of anything with the old world because I refuse to play that much RNG waiting), the HRE, Portugal, and Karaman. Making Africa into just another block of densely connected provinces with a bunch of ahistorical development is not going to make my games more fun. And either the strong AIs in the area will conquer it or they will do one of those things where the AI plays dumb to railroad something.

Truth is, a lot of states have challenges and overcoming them makes the game fun. Byzantium is one of the most popular starts and it is not because it is easy.

Increase the province count, increase the province dev, increase the number of cultures, add neat events, maybe have a neat bonus for vassalage, and let us play a normal game.
Why? I mean seriously you can already play that game in India. Or in Arabia. Or in the Baltics. What exactly is gained by playing this sort of setup as Mali as opposed to Mewar?

Further for the 95% of games where the player does not start in or have major plans for Africa, how exactly does this not end up with some AI going after the dev in the interior and then mucking up every major power war for the rest of the game?

"Less manpower"? West Africa had a higher population than North Africa. This shouldn't even be a question.
Places with lots of states warring it out when the Iberians are at peace and have manpower to burn tend to go down. You propose placing a bunch of warring states in a place where Iberia will soo arrive (and making it easier for them to arrive) and expect that, somehow the intra-African wars will not deplete their in-game manpower?

Right

Fetishists should also be difficult to convert, and prone to converting back to Fetishism. Ideally, neighboring countries should be more than willing to attack Iberian claims in that area, just because they can leverage force to push them out.
And this accomplishes what exactly? That Iberia has a bunch of wrong religion clay? That neighboring countries, at best, get bogged down in long protracted wars waiting out a timer until the Iberian AI will concede the province?

You're acting like it's just sitting there, looking pretty for Iberia. My plan would be to make the AI there extremely aggressive, and willing to exploit unrest in its neighbor to get a land advantage. They'd constantly be worrying about some minor tag with a cultural core spawning rebels and marching in for land.
Sounds like a nightmare to balance and has never worked anywhere else in EUIV. I mean in real life Italy was like this with the French, Spanish, and Austrians all getting into this sort of trouble. In EUIV, the place routinely devolves into about 4 states and slowly gets eaten by a major. Right now the only place that comes remotely close to what you describe is China, and that is just the silly nerf to Mandate that results in a string of EoC that can never build up Mandate.


...In a game that operates through mercantilism. Grand. More importantly, making the region so undesirable makes no sense.
Well for one it would be historical. The official policies of Portugal were that controlling the trade was lucrative. Going inland was opportunistic at best

No, you're asking for PDX to cripple Africa if they make a DLC to address one of the worst-handled continents in the game. With other regions, they got dev increases, province count increases, more tags, more events, a few systems of government, actual goals, and changes for their religion.
More tags means nothing if they are all functionally the same. Oh you got +10% trade power and I got +10% trade steering. What mattered were the mechanics that reflected local reality. China is a dense region with a history of empire going back thousands of years. It received a system that reflected that and encourages a different play style (tributaries and prosperity). The Mesamerican religious reforms are fun and would be great without the RNG luck of when do I border a European core.

I can say, right now, that if your changes went through, I wouldn't buy the DLC. I wouldn't upgrade to the newest version of the game. I'd abstain from purchasing EU5. I wouldn't want to play in the mess of a region you're scraping for reasons to create. Should I go and make a wall of text to make the British Isles "Historical"? Do I need to start going into posts that try to improve gameplay there and using the minute details of their situation to justify "Replicating the challenges hey would've faced" everywhere? Obviously not. That's not fun. Starting off as a bankrupt, under-populated island off the coast of nowhere isn't fun. Having to risk the very real possibility that nobody in the continent is crazy enough to set out to the Americas in time for your state to continue existing is a very real possibility. Columbian exchange? Roll die. French have the same amount of money instead of also being nerfed? Well, maybe they'll get a "Historical" change some other time.
Ryukyu runs are often good fun. Starting bankrupt would mean waiting off the modifiers and I opposed forced waiting, but if you want fantasy there are far more games out there that equalize starts. EU has always reflected historical reality in broad strokes and I see no reason to quit that now.

The real winners are just the people who don't play as the nations that get updated, and who goes and pays for an under-developed region like West Africa to get nerfed even further?
Well the Aztecs got heavily nerfed with Doom, yet more people play them now when you either need to head to South America or wait on RNG gods than back when you could just eat a 25% mana penalty and still build boats. The HRE is getting a massive nerf next update to remove the most powerful option in the game (add land to Revoke) and I predict that not only will people buy the DLC they also will not avoid the HRE.

I mean frankly I don't get it. If you can make a run with the Aztec, you can handle one with today's West Africa or even one with my preferred tradeoffs of increasing isolation and less external threat.

Somebody has to be the least advanced region in the old world. The place that had the worst connections to the major trade basin should be it. Somebody has to have the least dev. The place that never managed to send ships a fraction of the distance that Portugal, England, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Austria or heck the Ottomans did is a also a pretty good candidate.

A bunch of regions all the same makes for less interesting games.
 

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Nonsense. Native Americans cannot build cavalry until tech 6 or something even if they have good trade relations major horse exporters.
I mean when I'm playing as a single nation with access to artillery.

So? It also has the highest ratio of desert and other impassable biomes to total land area of all the continents. Frankly the most important thing about number of provinces is how easily you can path an army through the area and historically had the worst logistics for that (due to the nature and course of its rivers and slope gradients). It should have the highest ratio, and win out even over the more barren regions of Eurasia.
"Impassable".

Just like would happen if the technology, rather than the actual force count, was decisive. Almost as though being able to stay abreast in technology let them hold out against every way of colonization until Italy gassed the place.
I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here.

Real life logistics in this era are only limiting after fighting battles and when transversing barren ground (either because of previous looting or because the place had too little agriculture to support foraging). Moving troops from Lisbon to Luanda was cheaper (and often quicker) than moving them from Lisbon to Madrid. Historically, armies marched through anywhere that had the calories to support them. This is why we have exactly one recorded campaign across the Sahara in all of history. It was expensive to march troops in and very quickly you reached the limit of how many troops the oases could support. Moving powder in after battles would be challenging, but again that is wholly dependent on your riverine transport. Pretty much every European incursion inland followed watercourses for this reason. That said, the first battle is free and you have no logistical tail until you fight it.
This is avoiding the point. The fact is, Spain isn't sending a 30,000-man army to Mali in any Alternate History scenario you dream up. The fact that they can do it here indicates that the rules have changed.

I would be remarkedly interested in allowing Europeans (or whomever) to recruit local auxillaries in all their wars, this was by far the norm throughout history. But given that the game has trouble allowing Cortes, Pizarro, and Alfonso Duke of Goa to do exactly this. Frankly this is part of what does not bother me about the Europeans shipping in a bunch of guys, they should have ways of bolstering their ranks by over an order of magnitude by recruiting or impressing the locals.
Ignoring the point here, too. Those local forces changed the initial number count. They're the reason why the Moroccans were able to hold Jenne and prevent the Malian Empire's resurgence.

Oh please I hold everyone to the same standard. I have consistently held that hordes need to be a threat until the back half of the game (so much so that they keep down Poland and Russia to some degree), that the Balkans have far too many provinces to remotely reflect the historical challenges of campaigning there, that the Siberian tribes have too good of starting tech, that Scandinavia is too open, and that the provinces in the new world are too numerous with too easily exploited resources.
Just imagine this for a second: Design West Africa to be in-line with the other states as they are. It'll do wonders.

West Africa should be weak because it was. In 400 years there were zero conquests from there outside. There battle record against gunpowder states (North African, Sub Saharan, or European) was pretty terrible with their starting tech, and we know that African farmers in the New World were able to achieve superior results for African crops with better technology and better trade logistics.
1.) They didn't attempt to conquer Central Africa because it would really only be the business of states like Songhai, who got nixed by a fluke while their Empire was unstable.
2.) North Africa? they sent a raiding party across, but didn't have a reason to attack powers out there.
Where else? The Atlantic? The only interested power was crushed by an inland state. That's it.

If you discount Sub-Saharan gunpowder states, you see like, two losses, and the second one is really pushing it. Not even a bad record.

Finally, we know African slaves along the perfect latitude for rice production produced more rice than they did back in Africa, and that farmers in 1960s Haiti managed to out-produce the existing states in West Africa. Obviously, the comparison is skewed. There's a reason you didn't respond to the other post.

Oh please. We could always include an "Africa wins" button to make you happy.
What, do you want to play petty games? I'm sure I can find it in me somewhere.

By far and away the most fun campaigns for me have been ones that are not just cookie cutters: Japan, Hordes, the Aztecs, a migrating Native tribe (with no plans to do much of anything with the old world because I refuse to play that much RNG waiting), the HRE, Portugal, and Karaman. Making Africa into just another block of densely connected provinces with a bunch of ahistorical development is not going to make my games more fun. And either the strong AIs in the area will conquer it or they will do one of those things where the AI plays dumb to railroad something.

Truth is, a lot of states have challenges and overcoming them makes the game fun. Byzantium is one of the most popular starts and it is not because it is easy.
Not looking for stardom. Just looking for a sensibly-updated region.

Why? I mean seriously you can already play that game in India. Or in Arabia. Or in the Baltics. What exactly is gained by playing this sort of setup as Mali as opposed to Mewar?
Different position on the world map, different NIs, and proximity to the choke-point of trade. A behemoth in West Africa has the potential to screw foreign traders over. This gives foreign traders every reason to try to ensure control of the region is limited.

Further for the 95% of games where the player does not start in or have major plans for Africa, how exactly does this not end up with some AI going after the dev in the interior and then mucking up every major power war for the rest of the game?
For the same reason you don't see Spain in West Africa or Arabia right now.

Places with lots of states warring it out when the Iberians are at peace and have manpower to burn tend to go down. You propose placing a bunch of warring states in a place where Iberia will soo arrive (and making it easier for them to arrive) and expect that, somehow the intra-African wars will not deplete their in-game manpower?

Right
You always say this, but act like Spain doesn't have to defend the land they've claimed, and like these states are constantly warring without any conclusion at all. Again, remove Morocco's odd expedition to Tondibi, and West Africa has a major power.

And this accomplishes what exactly? That Iberia has a bunch of wrong religion clay? That neighboring countries, at best, get bogged down in long protracted wars waiting out a timer until the Iberian AI will concede the province?
It's a province with both the wrong religion and the wrong culture. Unrest is going to be a constant, and if any of the states support rebels there, it'll be the easiest thing for them to get rid of the foreign presence. It makes sense to ensure you're only fighting local enemies, and getting a friendly ally state while eliminating a risk? That servers to make it easier to gain power in the region.

Sounds like a nightmare to balance and has never worked anywhere else in EUIV. I mean in real life Italy was like this with the French, Spanish, and Austrians all getting into this sort of trouble. In EUIV, the place routinely devolves into about 4 states and slowly gets eaten by a major. Right now the only place that comes remotely close to what you describe is China, and that is just the silly nerf to Mandate that results in a string of EoC that can never build up Mandate.
None of those regions have periodically-spawning tags.

Well for one it would be historical. The official policies of Portugal were that controlling the trade was lucrative. Going inland was opportunistic at best
"Portugal didn't attempt to march into a country whose vassal was able to challenge (and defeat) them, even on the water. This means the land was undesirable."

More tags means nothing if they are all functionally the same. Oh you got +10% trade power and I got +10% trade steering. What mattered were the mechanics that reflected local reality. China is a dense region with a history of empire going back thousands of years. It received a system that reflected that and encourages a different play style (tributaries and prosperity). The Mesamerican religious reforms are fun and would be great without the RNG luck of when do I border a European core.
We can't get to differentiating tags until we have a solid model of what the region should be like.

Ryukyu runs are often good fun. Starting bankrupt would mean waiting off the modifiers and I opposed forced waiting, but if you want fantasy there are far more games out there that equalize starts. EU has always reflected historical reality in broad strokes and I see no reason to quit that now.
Every other sentence is just you attempting to this odd picture as reality.

Well the Aztecs got heavily nerfed with Doom, yet more people play them now when you either need to head to South America or wait on RNG gods than back when you could just eat a 25% mana penalty and still build boats. The HRE is getting a massive nerf next update to remove the most powerful option in the game (add land to Revoke) and I predict that not only will people buy the DLC they also will not avoid the HRE.

I mean frankly I don't get it. If you can make a run with the Aztec, you can handle one with today's West Africa or even one with my preferred tradeoffs of increasing isolation and less external threat.
The Aztec mechanic is a "Shark womb" situation with an implied timer. There's a realistic (and horrifying) dynamic present that makes the region both engaging and rewarding (Gold, free expansion, strong ideas and religious bonuses, etc.). That's not what you've proposed.

Somebody has to be the least advanced region in the old world. The place that had the worst connections to the major trade basin should be it. Somebody has to have the least dev. The place that never managed to send ships a fraction of the distance that Portugal, England, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Austria or heck the Ottomans did is a also a pretty good candidate.
This isn't, "Least advanced region in the world". You've proposed a plain hellscape. There's no reason anyone would play as a local tag instead of a foreign conqueror. There's nothing interesting. All you've proposed are unrealistic, one-sided debuffs to ignore the game's abstractions and punish African tags for existing. Every time I challenge you to ask what would prevent any existing power from just walking into this region, steamrolling them, and taking their resources, you deflect.

A bunch of regions all the same makes for less interesting games.
Okay, I'm done. I give up. Every post of yours incites me to respond with a ban-worthy response, so I'm out. I'll let someone else deal with this. I maintain my stance that I wouldn't buy what you're advertising, and that nobody should. See you.
 

Jomini

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Mar 28, 2004
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Lightwell: You still have yet to come to terms with the historical reality. African states wanted western tech. Be it compasses, guns, cavalry, stirrups, plows, woven cloth, blown glass, or clocks. We have trade records of all of these things being bought with lucrative trade goods. We have history of Africans outside of Africa achieving more when the constraints were removed. Slaves in Georgia had more productive agriculture with peanuts than they managed back in Africa. Slaves in the Carolinas were able to grow rice more productively than they did before enslavement back in Africa and all this is by their own account. And we have dramatically superior performance by African born troops in places like Haiti and Jamaica during the rebellions and wars.

There were constraints holding Sub Saharan Africa back: geographic isolation, disease burden (crop, livestock, and human), soil and rain patterns that made intensive agriculture difficult if not impossible, and a host of basic economic activities that were using techniques discarded centuries previously in Eurasia and that Africans themselves would discard over time.

This is not a budding field of Empires which shall span globe.

And that is okay. Some regions were less advanced and less suited to the extant technology at various times. Northern Europe was not able to build massive civilizations until you had heavy plows and really needed horse collars. Even once these came into common use (e.g. in China) Northern Europe was still backward until that technology diffused in.

When I play an historical game set in the Roman period I want Scandinavia to be an isolated area with difficulty breaking out let alone challenging the Roman Empire. And if the Roman Empire (or for that matter China) manages to be in a position where expanding into Scandinavia makes sense, then I don't want some silliness making the AI stand and stare.

As to what to do to make Africa engaging, well I would have some sort of Fetishist/Islamic event tree (perhaps similar to some HRE things). Force nations to navigate the dynamic religious landscape, give both sides a chance to launch some sort of Jihad/Return to the ways of the ancestors option. Give rewards inline with the difficulty of unifying the place. Make some disasters, like Court and Country, where you can deal with short term pain (annoying the cults) in order to have long term rewards (e.g. if you rip apart the old order you might, suddenly, become one of the more innovative places in the world).

I am fine with some interesting challenges and mechanics. But for the AI the default should be something inline with history. The empires should decay and be replaced. The balance of power should shift to the coast. Portugal's AI should like at the risk/reward of going inland and say "later". It should not be that all the AIs just float along and passively become yet another pocket of land that has one or two major states that are basically identical to fighting like the handful of such states in India or Arabia.