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Mansa Musa makes a return in Civilization VI as leader of Mali

Firaxis Games
Mansa Musa of Mali from Civilization VI: Gathering Storm
Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, Mansa Musa of Mali

Pablo Escobar of the ancient gold trade, the man whose exploits should've changed his name to the Goldfather, is making a return in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm as the leader of Mali, having skipped appearing in the earlier instalment.

Usurping the order in which Firaxis and 2K Games delivered the info, let's focus on Mansa Musa first. His leader ability is Sahel Merchants, which grants traders one extra gold for each desert tile in the origin city and an extra trade route during a Golden Age.

Mali's unique ability is called Songs of the Jeli, which means that cities get additional food and faith for each adjacent desert and desert hill tile.

A clever tweaking of Mali's mines in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm will see them contribute to Mali's monetary power by yielding more gold than normal. Note however that this will come at the expense of production capacities, which is arguably quite a historically accurate trade-off.

Historical accounts of Mansa Musa painted a portrait of a man whose faith played an important role and Civilization: Gathering Storm reflects that too - Mali's commercial hub buildings can be purchased with faith.

The district unique to Mali is called the Suguba and it replaces the commercial district in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm's new civ. Cities with Sugubas get discounts for all faith and gold purchases and on top of that, receive a hefty adjacency bonus from rivers and holy sites.

When it comes to warfare, Mali adds Mandekalu Cavalry to Civilization VI: Gathering Storm's armoury, replacing the Medieval Era's Knight units. Mansa Musa's Knight replacement not only gets gold when scoring kills, it also protects your caravans, apparently up to four tiles away.

2kMansa Musa of Mali from Civilization VI: Gathering StormCivilization VI: Gathering Storm

All in all, we're looking at a civilisation whose main advantage is its gold influx, provided Civilization VI: Gathering Storm players can make it work in their favour. Even Firaxis advise players that they'll have to reach into the gold bag when playing as Mali, especially if you're planning to outpace the growth of your non-desert dwelling neighbours.