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 are playing Scotland for the first time and 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, 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:
- 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, Faith and 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- ( 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.
- ( 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.
- 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.
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.