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Amass an elite force of female knife-throwing Gbeto Warriors, follow in the footsteps of the great Mansa Musa, and become the greatest king of Western Africa. Conquer surrounding kingdoms with tough infantry and Farimba cavalry to increase your wealth and hold a firm grip on the trade routes that zigzag through the the region. Will you be able to keep the formerly hostile provinces united under your crown?

The Malians' civilization music theme in the Definitive Edition

The Malians are an African civilization introduced in Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms based on various western African kingdoms such as the Mali Empire and Songhai Empire. In game, they focus on infantry with a versatile technology tree.


The Malians are an infantry civilization with a versatile tech tree. Their infantry is solid, lacking the Halberdier and Blast Furnace upgrades, and their infantry have increased pierce armor. Their unique unit, the Gbeto, is a highly mobile ranged infantry unit that can be utilized for hit-and-run teactics. Their cavalry is also excellent because of Farimba that gives their Stable units a massive attack boost resulting in their Cavaliers getting a more powerful attack than Paladins and their Light Cavalry and Heavy Camel Rider are the strongest of all civilizations as well. The archers are also good, but suffer from the lack of Bracer. And so does their navy, that is very underwhelming with Galleons and Elite Cannon Galleons also missing. The siege weapons are average at best, as they lack Siege Rams and Siege Engineers, but have access to Bombard Cannons and Siege Onager. The Monks are good, only Illumination is missing. Their defensive structures are average, but they have a solid economy with gold mines yielding more gold and their buildings (except farms costing less wood.

Campaign appearances[]

The Malians have a campaign devoted to their civilization: Sundjata. They also appear in:


This campaign is played as the Malians.

  • Hunted
    • Sosso Scouts - Enemy
    • Niani - Ally → Enemy
    • Kangaba - Ally
  • Djeriba Gold
    • Djenne - Enemy
    • Djenne Villiages - Enemy
    • Sosso Traders - Enemy
    • Captured Villagers - Ally

Francisco de Almeida[]


Unique unit[]

GbetoIcon-DE.png Gbeto: Fragile infantry with powerful ranged attack

Unique technologies[]

CastleAgeUnique.png Tigui: Gives Town Centers an attack without garrisoned units.
Unique-tech-imperial.jpg Farimba: Gives Stable units +5 attack.

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonus[]

Universities work +80% faster.


The African Kingdoms[]

  • Initially, the wood-saving bonus applies to Farms. With patch 4.8, the bonus no longer applies to Farms.
  • Initially can research Halberdier. With patch 4.8, it was removed from the technology tree.
  • Initially can research Arrowslits. With patch 4.8, it was removed from the technology tree.
  • Initially, Elite Gbetos have 14 attack. With patch 4.8, it was reduced to 13.
  • Initially, Condottieri are not affected by the Malian civilization bonus that adds pierce armor to Barracks units. With patch 4.8, that was fixed and the bonus applies to Condottieri.
  • Gold Mining and Gold Shaft Mining are free.
  • Gbeto (both standard and Elite) have 1.2 fire delay.

Rise of the Rajas[]

  • With patch 5.7, Gold Shaft Mining is no longer free.

Definitive Edition[]

  • Receive Fast Fire Ship.
  • Lose Galleon.
  • With update 42848, Gbeto (both standard and Elite) have 1.0 second fire delay.

Dawn of the Dukes[]

In-game dialogue language[]

In-game, Malian units speak Eastern Maninka that belongs to the Mande branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It was the administrative language of the Malian Empire.

  • Select 1 Iwɔ? - Yes?
  • Select 2 I ni cie - Hello
  • Select 3 Nlabaqn naa - I'm ready
  • Select 4 Ci kan? - Orders?
  • Task 1 Iwɔ - Yes
  • Task 2 Nga famou - I understood
  • Task 3 Ayiwa - I do
  • Female Task 4 Nbe o ke la sayi sayi - I will do it immediately (Only spoken by female villager)
  • Male Task 4 Sayi sayi - Immediately
  • Build Nbq ka jɔ̌ - I build
  • Chop Nbq l\g\d\ ti laa - I chop wood
  • Farm Nbq t\m\n\ la - I gather (from farm)
  • Fish Djqkq m\la - I fish
  • Forage Nbq ak\ kan le - I gather (from forage)
  • Hunt Nbq dounsou ya la - I hunt
  • Mine Nbq jan laa - I mine
  • Repair Nbq a dalan - I repair
  • Select 1 Iwɔ? - Yes?
  • Select 2 Nbi la mar\ lou - At your service
  • Select 3 Ci kan? - Orders?
  • Move 1 Nga famou - I understood
  • Move 2 Ayiwa - I do
  • Move 3 Iwɔ faama! - Yes, sir!
  • Attack 1 Keloo kee! - Attack!
  • Attack 2 An be ta keloo kee! - We'll fight!
  • Attack 3 An ga keloo kee! - We attack!
  • Select 1 Iwɔ? - Yes?
  • Select 2 Ci kan ? - Orders?
  • Select 3 Nbi la mar\ l\ - At your service
  • Select 4 Mariga Allah - In the name of God
  • Move 1 Nbq kaga le - I'm going
  • Move 2 Iwɔ - Yes
  • Move 3 Kousobee - Right
  • Move 4 Nbe o ke la sayi sayi - I will do it immediately
  • Select 1 Taga fee - Here you go
  • Select 2 I bo mou no fee? - What do you want?
  • Select 3 Mouna i ba lafasa? - Why do you disturb me?
  • Select 4 Yaftuli kɛ - Reporting
  • Move 1 I bala mi fa nlo kɛla - I will do what you ask
  • Move 2 Nga kissi li - By my grace
  • Move 3 Ni i kote - As you requested
  • Move 4 Nyala ke - I shall do

AI player names[]

When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Malian AI characters:

  • Abu Bakr II (fl. 14th century): Also spelled Abubakri and known as Mansa Qu, may have been the ninth mansa ("king of kings") of the Mali Empire. He succeeded his nephew Mansa Mohammed ibn Gao and preceded Mansa Musa. Abu Bakr II abdicated his throne in order to explore "the limits of the ocean".
  • Mamadou: Mansa Mahmud II, also known as Mamadou, was mansa of the Mali Empire from 1481 to 1496.
  • Mansa Mahmud IV: The last great emperor of the Mali Empire according to the Tarikh al-Sudan, the West African chronicle written in Arabic in around 1655 by Abd al-Sadi.
  • Mansa Musa (c. 1280 – c. 1337): The tenth mansa of the Mali Empire. During his reign, Mali Empire reached its golden period. He is also considered as the richest man of all time.[2][3]
  • Mansa Sakura (died c. 1300): A former slave who became the sixth mansa of the Mali Empire.
  • Mari Djata I: The same as Sundjata according to Ibn Khaldun, a North African Arab historiographer and historian, in the late 14th century.
  • Ouali Keita: Mansa Uli, also known as Ali or Wali in Arab sources, was the second mansa of the Mali Empire.
  • Soumaba Cisse: A monarch of Ghanaian Empire, ally of Sundjata Keita: 1235–1240.
  • Soumaoro Kante: Soumaoro Kanté, also known as Sumanguru was a 13th-century king of the Sosso people. Seizing Koumbi Saleh, the capital of the recently defunct Ghana Empire, Soumaoro Kanté proceeded to conquer several neighboring states, including the Mandinka people in what is now Mali.
  • Sundjata: Was a puissant prince and founder of the Mali Empire. The famous Malian ruler Mansa Musa who made a pilgrimage to Mecca was his grandnephew.
  • Tiramakhan: A 13th century general in the Mali Empire who served under Sunjata Keita. Traore expanded the power of Mali westward and set up the Kabu Empire.


Throughout the Middle Ages, many city-states and kingdoms emerged in West Africa as a result of the lively trans-Saharan trade of salt and gold. The constant struggle to dominate commerce in this part of the world went hand in glove with the rise and fall of great empires that were able to conquer and unite the scattered kingdoms into one state.

Between the 4th and 11th centuries AD, the Soninke people were the first to monopolize the gold trade and expand their rule over a vast area. At its largest extent, the Empire of Ghana covered present-day western Mali and southeastern Mauritania. However, by the end of the 11th century, the Berber Almoravid Empire had assumed control of the gold trade. Whether or not this was achieved through an invasion led by Amir Abu-Bakr Ibn Umar is still unclear. In any case, the loss of a major resource, combined with overgrazing and periodic droughts, led to the disintegration of the Empire of Ghana. In AD 1203, the Sosso people, former vassals of Ghana, conquered the capital city, Kumbi.

In the following decades, the Sosso people continued their military campaign. According to oral tradition, king Sumanguru Kante conquered several small Mandinka chiefdoms. However, an exiled prince, Sundjata, united the different kingdoms, spurred a rebellion, and eventually defeated the Sosso army at the battle of Kirina in AD 1235. Five years later, Sundjata annexed Ghana and its important gold mines and trade routes, thus founding the Mali Empire.

Further expansions led by successive Mansas (kings) extended the boundaries of the empire to Gao in the east and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Especially under Mansa Sakura (AD 1285-1300), a freed slave, territorial conquest was significant. In order to defend and control this vast region, the Mali Empire maintained a full-time army, consisting of up to 100,000 soldiers of which the majority was infantry. Each tribe was expected to supply a certain number of freemen with their own weapons to serve. Only from the 14th century onwards, when the empire came increasingly under pressure, did the Mansa also rely on slaves to fight.

Under the reign of Mansa Musa (AD 1312-1337), the Mali Empire reached its zenith. Due to his remarkable pilgrimage to Mecca he was and is probably the best-known Mandinka ruler: with an entourage of 500 slaves and 100 camels carrying 30,000 pounds of gold, Musa attracted attention everywhere he went. After his return, the king ordered the construction of two madaris (universities) in Timbuktu, namely the famous Sankore and Djinguereber mosque. For two centuries, these remained international centers of learning, housing books and scholars from all over the world.

Although the different Mandinka tribes initially had their own animistic beliefs, Islam slowly spread throughout the empire due to Muslim involvement in the trans-Saharan trade. By the 14th century, the Mansas had converted to Islam, but never forced their subjects to do the same. Consequently, the Mali Empire was home to many religions, often mixed with local rituals and traditions.

Starting in the late 14th century, the power of the Mandinkas began to decline. Internally, the governing lineage was plagued by intrigue and weak rulers, while the state was threatened externally by invasions and rebellions. Most importantly, Berber invasions and the rise of the Songhai Empire (AD 1464-1591) resulted in the loss of the northern and eastern regions, including Timbuktu, and control over the Sub-Saharan trade. In response, the Mali Empire shifted its attention to the southwestern provinces, where Portuguese explorers had arrived in 1455. However, the tide could not be turned, and by 1600 the Mali Empire gradually disintegrated completely back into several chiefdoms.[1]


  • The user interface image in the Definitive Edition displays an image of Mansa Musa, a ruler of the Malian Empire, from the Catalan Atlas.
  • The African architecture set shared by the Malians and Ethiopians is based on the Sudano-Sahelian architecture, with elements of Aksumite architecture in the Imperial Age.
  • The design for the Malian wonder is anachronistic by necessity. It is based on the current appearance of the Great Mosque of Djenne, but the mosque had been rebuilt in the early 20th century.
    • The original mosque would likely have looked different; as the architect for the original mosque was from Egypt, so it is possible that the mosque would have been similar to medieval Egyptian mosques in appearance. Indeed, 19th-century French explorer René Caillié described the then-abandoned mosque as "built of earth, surmounted by two massive but not high towers; [...] rudely constructed, though very large".
  • The Malians are the only civilization that lacks the final attack upgrades for both melee and ranged units at the Blacksmith (namely Blast Furnace and Bracer).
  • Before the Definitive Edition, they were the only civilization with a unique technology that improves the attack of cavalry units. Currently, Bulgarians and Lithuanians have a unique technology and a civilization bonus that do similar effects respectively.
  • Along with the Cumans in the Definitive Edition, they are also the only civilization having access to Siege Onagers but not Siege Engineers.
  • In the Definitive Edition, they are the only civilization that lacks access to the Galleon but has access to the Cannon Galleon.
  • They are also the only civilization that has access to Arbalesters, but lacks Bracer.
  • There is a rumor that Malians had access to the Paladin in one of the betas but the Farimba technology only granted +3 attack, because they had Blast Furnace.
  • The Malians are the only civilization that has access to every single generic unit and technology available in the Castle Age.
  • With a Viking ally (Providing 15% cheaper Docks), the Malians get the cheapest Docks in the game, costing only 105 wood.


Video overview[]