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The Highlander is a unique recon unit of the Scottish civilization in Civilization VI: Rise and Fall. It replaces the Ranger.


In addition to being stronger than the Ranger it replaces, the Highlander receives combat bonuses in rough terrain. Since it replaces a unit that does not seem to have a lot of use, the Highlander also has every problem that the Ranger has. (Read more here.) If you want a regular, most representative feel of the civilization, this unit should serve only as 4 Era Score and nothing else. If you are looking for a new and more challenging gameplay experience, continue reading.

Although it is possible to use the Highlander in combat, it is very hard to do so effectively. Your goal is to gain the Tier III Promotion Promotion, Ambush, but since earlier recon units do not do a lot of combat because that is not their purpose, it is not possible to get a lot of pre-built Scouts to earn this and upgrade them later, even if you run Survey. Here is a few tips to earn the infamously hard to achieve promotion so your Highlander can actually have a purpose instead of the mere 4 Era Score:

  1. Make sure every Tribal Village and Natural Wonder is discovered by a Scout. For Natural Wonders in particular, you can know if you are close to one without discovering it by turning on the tile yields. If you see uncommonly high yields, especially with irregular type of yields (like Science Science, Faith Faith and Culture Culture), on tiles that are not supposed to have those yields, stop going further and send a Scout that way. Make sure you have the Survey policy card running before discovering either Tribal Villages or Natural Wonders.
  2. If you are in a rather isolated region (like on an Island Plates or Archipelago map), make sure your Scout is level 2 by fighting Barbarians before letting them discover Tribal Villages. Since XP from fighting Barbarians after getting level 2 is drastically reduced, you can maximize your possible XP gain by doing this. However, if you know you are not alone, make sure to guard these Villages by patrolling other units next to them and remember to claim it, even not by Scouts, if you see other civs are close.
  3. The Terracotta Army gives a free promotion to every land unit. Make sure you amass a large army of Scouts and Highlanders before finishing this Wonder.
  4. (GS-Only only) With the Embrasure title, Victor can give a free starting promotion, though it is not very helpful since you can always do that by carefully alternating between fighting Barbarians and healing.
  5. (GS-Only only) The Skirmisher is not really a useful unit since you do not need your recon units fighting, but in Scotland's case, this unit is a helpful stepping stone to gain XP for your future Highlanders.
  6. Very important, but sometimes players forget: If you cannot gather enough XP for your Scouts to reach Ambush (which accounts for most, if not all, of your games), use your Highlanders to fight when running Survey. This works because Rangers are stronger than Musketmen with a ranged attack and not too bad on defense either, and your Highlanders are even stronger than that with situational bonuses on top.

Much like the Ranger it replaces, the Highlander does not seem to come into play too often, as scouting should definitely be demoted close to the bottom of your priority list in the Industrial Era and it does not do a better job at scouting than your regular Scout, either. Since Highlanders are worse than regular military units at fighting and require a prohibitive amount of setup to succeed, they should never be the factor you rely on to carry you to victory unless you are looking for something very, very unusual.

Unexpectedly, the Highlander exerts zone of control, despite being a unit with ranged attacks. This detail is not mentioned anywhere in the game, but is coded in the game files and still fully functional to date. Coupled with the fact that the Highlander likes to fight in Hills and Woods, enemies' Movement Movement may be hindered even more when approaching the Highlander, so it can be somewhat meaningful in a defensive war, especially if you have many Hills and Woods tiles in your territory. However, as analyzed with great details above that this unit and the Ranger it replaces have little impact on the battlefield, this feature, whether intended or not, is nothing more than an interesting piece of trivia without actual gameplay implications.

Unlike Civilization V, in Civilization VI, the site of the battle is actually the tile of the defender, not the attacker. Therefore, similar to other bonuses that grant extra Strength Combat Strength when "fighting on" certain terrain, the Highlander will receive extra Strength Combat Strength when it attacks a unit standing on Woods or Hills, regardless of where the Highlander stands. Also, the Highlander will receive extra Strength Combat Strength on defense if it gets attacked while standing on Woods or Hills. This bonus does not stack with itself when the Highlander fights on a Wooded Hills.

Civilopedia entry[]

In the wake of Scotland’s 1719 Jacobite rising, the British Army recruited loyal Scottish clans (the Campbells, Grants, Frasers, and Munros) to promote unity and keep the peace in the Scottish Highlands. The first of the Highland Regiments was known as the Black Watch thanks to their classic dark tartans—with prominent red waistcoats to show their loyalty to Great Britain.

The British Army regulars carried a musket and bayonet into battle. The Highlanders took it a step further by charging into the fray with broadswords, an arguably uncommon weapon for the 18th Century. They first saw combat outside of their homeland at the Battle of Fontenoy (1745), where a French writer described them as “Highland furies” who fought with “more violence than ever did a sea driven by a tempest.” Highlanders continue to serve in modern times, though their broadswords are (presumably) ceremonial.


  • The Highlanders are shown to be armed with the French Charleville musket. The British Brown Bess was standard issue of Highlander regiments in reality.


Civilization VI Units [edit]
Civilian SettlerBuilderTraderArchaeologistSpyNaturalistRock Band GS-Only
Land military AT CrewArcher (Hul'che1Pítati Archer1) • ArtilleryBarbarian Horse ArcherBarbarian HorsemanBombardCatapultCavalry (CossackHuszár GS-OnlyLlanero1) • Courser GS-Only (Black Army GS-OnlyOromo Cavalry1) • Crossbowman (Voi Chiến1) • Crouching TigerCuirassier GS-Only (Rough RiderWinged Hussar1) • Field Cannon (Hwacha R&F-Only) • Giant Death Robot GS-OnlyHeavy ChariotHelicopterHorseman (Hetairoi1) • Infantry (Digger1) • Keshig R&F-OnlyKnight (Mandekalu Cavalry GS-OnlyMamlukTagma1) • Line Infantry (Garde ImpérialeRedcoat) • Machine GunMalón Raider R&F-OnlyMan-At-Arms (Khevsur R&F-OnlyBerserkerSamurai) • Maryannu Chariot ArcherMechanized InfantryModern ATModern ArmorMountie GS-OnlyMusketman (ConquistadorJanissary GS-Only) • Nihang1Pike and Shot (Carolean GS-Only) • Pikeman (Impi R&F-Only) • Questing Knight4Ranger (Highlander R&F-Only) • Rocket ArtillerySabum Kibittum1Saka Horse ArcherScout (Okihtcitaw R&F-Only) • Skirmisher GS-Only (Warak'aq GS-Only) • SlingerSpearman (Hoplite) • Spec Ops R&F-OnlySwordsman (Hypaspist1Immortal1LegionNgao MbebaToa GS-Only) • TankTrebuchet (Domrey1) • Vampire3VaruWar-CartWarrior MonkWarrior (Eagle WarriorGaesatae1) • Zombie5
Naval military Aircraft CarrierBattleship (Minas Geraes) • Caravel (Nau1) • DestroyerFrigate (De Zeven Provinciën R&F-OnlyJong1) • Galley (Bireme GS-OnlyViking Longship) • IroncladMissile CruiserNuclear SubmarinePrivateer (Barbary Corsair GS-OnlySea Dog) • Quadrireme (Dromon1) • Submarine (U-Boat)
Aircraft BiplaneBomberFighter (P-51 Mustang) • Jet BomberJet Fighter
Support Anti-Air GunBattering RamCultist3Drone R&F-OnlyMedicMilitary EngineerMobile SAMObservation BalloonSiege TowerSoothsayer2Supply Convoy R&F-Only
Religious ApostleGuruInquisitorMissionary
See also Great PeopleHeroes
1 Requires DLC2 Apocalypse mode only • 3 Secret Societies mode only • 4 Heroes & Legends mode only • 5 Zombie Defense mode only

R&F-Only Added in the Rise and Fall expansion pack.
GS-Only Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.