The Highland Charge: A Primer on Caledonia and its Warbands Hey there guys, You may know me as one of the crazy players over in the PanO section of the forum that’s always going on about the effective use of TAGs and HI Well I also spend a fair share of my time running my take on the savage horde that is Caledonia with considerable success. Today I’d like to take the chance to share with you the things I’ve learned about using them in a game and maximizing the punishment you can dish out to your opponents when you use this army properly. So it’s over the mountains and over the main, through Gibraltar, tae France and tae Spain. Taking the High Ground There is a perception in the community that Caledonia is all about fighting at short range, as such you will often hear people suggest that if Caledonia is doing too well then the tables are too dense or the opponent should be taking more ranged weapons. But I for one feel this is inaccurate. In my opinion Caledonia has some of the most lethal and mobile ranged firepower in the game and a correctly constructed Caledonia list will crush the opponents ranged threats before the Galwegians, Wulvers, Cameronians and SAS move in to finish off the remnants of the opponents army. In my opinion it is critical for a Caledonia army to ensure that it can and does have the tools to kill the opponents long range threats so that it has the freedom of movement on the table to put its large order pool and piece trading warbands into effect. So what units in CHA are best at applying range firepower? Caterans, T2 mimetism, climbing plus BS12 snipers are filth, and who cares about irreg, either you were spending those orders on them anyway or you are running Wallace. The Caterans really shine due to their climbing plus more than anything which lets them easily establish flanking fire with and overlapping fields of fire. Scots guard, While these guys can Camo up and operate like psuedo tank hunters with the molotok and ML profile turning them into both active and reactive turn threats, they are also very, very effective when you link them as a 5 man link to get your hands on B2 BS15 MLs with SS2. As a whole in this set up they are less mobile than the caterans but they can also threaten a lot more wholesale destruction than the caterans, and most importantly are not reliant on camo mods, therefore act as a serious threat to MSV troops. Grey AP HMG+Vols, this guy gets a category all of his own, why? Because he is stupid, stupid good. Linked with you Volunteers this guy weights in around 60 pts for your core fireteam and can drag both specialists and Linked chain rifles and shotguns to hide behind in active. Packing a HMG means he doesn’t have the range bands that the Missile Launchers and Snipers above do, but the B5, BS16 and AP DAM15 of the gun coupled with Ph16 smoke means that this guy can and will just buzzsaw his way through almost anything your opponent has left with 32 of him. Mormaer AP HMG, hes a lot like the grey above and is farily maligned for the high price he pays for his ARM5. But this is infinity and if you like the model you can absolutely make this guy worth, the standout strength of the Mormaer AP HMG is probably that it needs little support to be effective, resilient enough to be a floating HMG that can be put where you need unlike the Grey and the Scots guard who drag their links around with them. Mormaer Haris: Like the above the Mormaer Haris looks poorly costed on paper compared to the Grey+Vol core link. However in my experience, on the table the mormaer haris shines as a solid, tough roadblock, with its ARM5/8 cushioning its inability to obtain BS16 by making it hard to dislodge when it does lose F2F rolls. additionally if you like 1 B5 AP HMG in a list, 2 is just hilarious amounts of murder and both are cheap enough to be taken at the same time. Furthermore T2 rifles with BS13 and an Xvisor are a significant long range threat, BS10 assuming cover isn’t as much of a practical limitation as it first seems when you are B3/4 and every shot that you do hit with, hits as hard as a T2 round. Finally you can slip a Grey into this link, either covering the short range band for the haris with a T2 boarding shotgun, or providing a second AP HMG in the link. Regardless of which grey you choose it gives you the option of smoke inside the haris. Vol HMGs x2 +link, the budget version of range, in a 5 man link you still have to respect that volunteers are packing B5 DAM15 weapons even if they are only BS13. But at .5 SWC and still packing B2 AROs from 16-32 these guys have their benefits. If you are running them though they most certainly aren’t going to be enough on their own to lock down the table which means you’ll have to have one or more of the units above in the list anyway. Up close and personal (SAS and firepower under 16) This is probably CHAs deadliest range band, Under 16 they have a plethora of threats and dangerous units. In fact you can and probably should write a CHA list where every single model can be an existential threat to everything of the opponents. As such I don’t really feel like I have to expand overly on how to take units that excel at these range bands as the majority of our models are innately deadly here. Camo Troops, Walking softly, and Carrying a Big Gun: So, one of the drawbacks often mentioned about Caledonia relative to other Aridana factions is the cost of its Camo troops, in particular its skirmishers such as the SAS. And while it’s true that SAS pay a fairly steep price for access to skills such as Martial Arts, they are also some of the choppiest skirmishers and scoring units in Aridana, having the choice of running Chain rifles, assault pistols shotguns and grenades on top of their combination of shock or AP Close combat (one of the few units that has such a choice). As much fear as Uxia causes for her access to Assault pistols+ scoring, Caledonia, can if it chooses run more than 1 B4 Camo nightmare and run it effectively. Oh they don’t score the way uxia does but then they are also significantly cheaper at 21 pts to her 27. The other combo that almost every Ariadna army should run in my opinion, and Caledonia is no exception, is the katyusha and midfield scoring FOs. Even with the premium SAS pay to run as FOs you are probably going to be taking 2 in most lists, as such for a minimal pts and SWC expenditure you are able to add the katyusha to your list, unlocking orders, scoring in the form of the dozer+katyusha and turning your WIP13 Camo troops into long range killers that can move behind units LoF and target them, before the katyusha opens up and deletes them. Discussing the katyusha in detail for a moment; once an enemy is in the targeted state the katyusha has 3 options available to it. Firstly it can guided fire, a short skill attack that will hit on 16s, but must be centered on the target and is vulnerable to cumulative U-turns by enemy hackers and ECM by TAGs. It is also limited to 5 shots a turn. The second way to fire the katyusha is speculative fire, and at enemies in the targeted state it can fire off centre on 16s (+3 guided, +3 range) out to 16 inches. Considering that this method of attack is immune to the limitation of guided above in these situations it is usually the preferable option. Finally the katyusha can speculative fire at targeted enemies out to 40” on 10s if you need too (-3 for range, +3 for targeted, ignore -6 for SF) This method of fire is particularly effective against hacking heavy armies against who your guided is at -6/-9 or worse, or against units in a link team or that are bunched up where you can off centre the template and still clip multiple models. NB: If you are taking a wardriver as a hacker for missions remember that you can MKMN2 the Katyusha and turn it into DA shock ammo for extra fun. It can also be combo’d with the speculative fire tactics demonstrated below. The other Caledonia camo troops are the Cateran, a reasonably self-explanatory nightmare sniper, take the T2 and make people cry, they are probably one of the best ranged units and snipers in the game, and are a steal at 24 pts a pop. Don’t be afraid to use these guys aggressively in active either, their C+ allows them to gain angles that your opponents usually wont expect. The final camo option available to Caledonia is the scots guard, acting as psudeo tank hunters for the sectorial, they offer solid ARM3 Camo defense with heavier weaponry in the molotok and the ML. Typically I look at these units as back up attack pieces for when the primary punchers in a list go down, able to play shell games with caterans and remain safe until you need them due to their back field nature. The ML in particular squares off as an additional range deterrent to the cateran and can really menace groups of clumped troops in reactive turn. The ML in particular is very effective in coordinated orders as it suffers none of the down sides of not being the spear head due to its B1 nature. They also have the ability to obtain B4 Ap/Shock rounds natively outside of a link with their twin SMG/DEP profile, a pretty cheap back up close range attack piece. Ultimately I tend to view scots guard as support or second line units and they are a great place to dump SWC once you have loaded up with what you want elsewhere in the list. Or squeeze in some extra camo threats if you have the points. Managing Extremely Impetuous Warbands: One of the most important skills a CHA player can have is how to get the most out of their impetuous orders and by extension their warband’s. When you use these properly, and plan ahead they are effectively a second set of orders with which to achieve your goals. While Its accurate to state that the extremely impetuous nature of these troops allows our opponents to plan for their advance and establish appropriate AROs, it is just as accurate to point out that the user of a warband knows exactly how that troop will behave as well, and can therefore position them to act in the manner they desire. This means that during the deployment phase or using spare orders during the end of the Caledonia players turn, a CHA player should position his warbands such that they are in the right place to be useful during the next impetuous phase regardless of how the opponent reacts to their presence. Positioning of Warbands in these locations is an exercise in planning ahead and players should be looking to place them in locations that are behind large LOF blocking terrain where they are able to advance their first movement skill without likely provoking AROs from the opponent. It is incredibly important to note that warbands never gain cover, therefore you can, due to the nature of geometry, usually gain yourself a few extra inches of space out of your opponents LOF by pulling back an inch or so from such pieces of terrain. When your warband activates it will run diagonally towards the corner of the building in question, rather than parallel to it, and thus no be moving as far laterally relative to the building. Which brings me to my next point, personally Ive had the most success with my warbands when they are used in a mutually supporting manner. Positioning them near enough to each other such that if required I can activate 1 and use it to freely smoke the advance of the other, while at the same time ensuring that the opponent finds it difficult due to positioning to catch both warbands with a single ARO troop. Let’s put an example of these tactics into practice. Example 1: Positioning properly: In this example we have a player with a model located in the red position who is placed such that it draws LOF and hence ARO to the left hand corner of the blue LOF blocking terrain. If our warband (let’s say a Galwegian 45er) is positioned right up against the building, as is common t deploy most troops such that they obtain cover from the building for the longest possible time, then the 4’ Ex Imp move of the Galwegian is enough to get the model to the corner such that the red unit has an ARO. However as we see in the second image, by pulling the Galwegian back away from the cover, cover which he cannot benefit from anyway, then the 4’ Ex Imp move is insufficient for the Galwegian to reach the edge of the building and thus will not generate an ARO. In this way the Galwegian is then free to throw down smoke for the rest of the army, or be in a position to strike after other units have cleared out the offending red unit. Example 2: Forcing the ARO This next example is not specific to warbands, it works for any unit attempting to get into close combat (provided they remember to turn off stealth) but warbands are probably one of the more prolific users of this interaction and therefore I feel its justified to call it out now rather than leaving it as assumed knowledge in later examples. In this example the opponent has placed a red unit on ARO at the corner of the building that a Galwegian is positioned behind. Unfortunately for the red unit it is within 4’ of the corner and therefore is not going to be given the option of AROing effectively. Why is this? This is because of the generation of AROs by units moving within the ZOC of a unit but outside LOF during the first short skill. In the above example the Galwegian activates and moves towards the corner of the building, moving into the ZOC of the red unit but outside its LOF. This generates an ARO, but without Hacking or LOF (or jammers) the only ARO available to the red unit is “Change Facing” which the red unit must declare. Now that the red unit has declared change facing, the Galwegian is free to use its second move to move into B2B with the red unit without being shot or stabbed. Doing this with both your extremely impetuous moves and combining it with the other techniques mentioned in this primer, such as smoke, is an important skill in terms of getting the most out of your warbands. Example 3: Warbands working together So the above example about using warbands to get into close combat and not die with extremely impetuous orders is all well and good, but it’s really only the first step. By operating your Warbands in pairs it’s possible to take the tactic to the next level, not only getting down smoke completely unopposed, but also ensuring you are able to move at least 1 of your warbands the maximum 4-4 distance with its impetuous move without being shot in the face. Furthermore, under the right circumstances you can do all that, and even place one of your 2 warbands into B2B with the opponent without them ever having the option of responding effectively. Take the following situation, just like above there is a red unit located around the corner of the blue LOF blocking terrain. This time however there are Galwegian 45er’s in both the position at the wall and drawn back from the terrain. The Galwegian player activates his warbands in such a way that the first to activate is the one away from the wall. Moving to the corner and then throwing smoke unopposed to block LOF from the red unit to the corner. Now, with the smoke blocking the LOF to the corner the other Galwegian is free to move 4’ around the corner with its Ex Imp move, and does not have to worry about the ARO due to the smoke thrown by the other Galwegian. Furthermore, if this is done correctly, and the red unit is for example within 4 of the corner of the building, the second Galwegian forces the red unit to declare an ARO after its first short skill, leaving “change facing” as the only available ARO. That then leaves the second Galwegian free to use its second short skill to move into B2B and engage the red unit completely unopposed. Example 4: the art of unopposed smoke One of the themes of these examples has been that the Galwegians generally are throwing smoke such that the roll is always unopposed and as such the opponent never has a way to reliably stop the smoke from going down apart from hoping that the Galwegian rolls an 18, 19 or 20. Now many people may say, “ah but you can make the smoke a F2F roll and therefore you can stop it going down” But heres the secret, you can’t really ever force the Galwegian to throw the smoke as a face to face unless they choose too. Why, because if the Smoke template does not block your LOF to the Galwegian, then the special dodge property of smoke doesn’t kick in and the rolls are unopposed. This might mean the Galwegian probably dies, or at the very least goes dogged. But the tactic can usually allow the Galwegian player to put the smoke down and then follow the attack up with another Galwegian, and there are almost always more Galwegians….. So what would it look like if we put this “unopposed smoke toss” into practice? Well taking the above example. We have the 2 Galwegians facing off against 2 red units on ARO. However one of the red units is starting the turn in a position such that it is able to ARO against both Galwegians regardless of the order in which they activate. Assuming that the red unit on the left is a half decent ARO piece, then it is probably unfavorable for the Galwegian player to attempt to fight the ARO with his Smoke dodges as there is a significant chance that the Galwegians could lose bot F2F rolls and therefore lose both Galwegians for no return. But the Galwegian players is clever, He can rig this game such that he only loses 1 of his Galwegians, or more realistically, such that he is expending both of his Galwegians to remove what may be either a significant threat or a very valuable piece of his opponent. So he activates the Galwegian closest to the corner and charges head long into the opponent’s fire. The red player dutifully declares his AROs, let’s say he declares shoot with his units, hoping to stop the Galwegian getting its smoke off and killing it in the process. The Galwegian however throws the smoke behind its path of advance, such that it does not block LOF of the Galwegian to either of the opposing red AROs, which then do their job and kill the Gal. With the LOF of both red units now blocked by the smoke the second Galwegian is then able to freely advance until it is in a position to attack either of the red ARO units and trade for them. In this way the Galwegians have changed the trap from a situation where they obtain nothing into a trade for the opponent’s pieces. “I am the Wallace” I like to think that there aren’t many if any must takes in infinity (Units like the machinist in PanO being exceptions) and I’m not going to argue that Wallace is a must take un2it for Caledonia, but, I think if you aren’t taking him then you need to have seriously considered what you are sacrificing by forgoing the option. If you have a specific game plan in mind, or you dislike obvious lts that’s all well and good, but a lot of the ways that running Caledonia makes a nightmare for your opponent are generally just improved by using Wallace as your Lt. Let’s start by breaking Wallace down and looking at his strengths, then we’ll look at his drawbacks and finally Ill discuss how I overcome a lot of those drawbacks in game. The biggest and most obvious thing about Wallace is that he has Inspiring leadership. Meaning he makes all your Irregular troops regular provided he is alive. Now on Joan that’s a pretty nice buff in terms of the warcor tech bee and a scattering of other irregular units. With Wallace however its bread and butter, Caledonia is chock full of Irregular units, Cheap Warbands in the Galwegians, Effective long range firepower in the form of the Caterans and the heavy hitters that are Cameronians. Now while it’s true that all these irregular units are the types of troops that you will usually spend orders on every turn anyway, and therefore the impact of Inspiring leadership is somewhat diminished in a list that focuses on those units. By making them regular you are giving your list the resources to choose to activate other troops with those orders, a subtle but incredibly important option that means you can forego activation of units that cannot answer the problems posed by your opponent in favour of leveraging the solution to those problems with even greater effectiveness. Inspiring leadership has another powerful aspect in that it allows the Lt to use their LT order to declare a coordinated order that they are part of. In an army that uses “Move-Move” orders a lot to put itself in position this can be effectively the equivalent of a further 3-4 free orders a turn under some circumstances. Even better, the Irreg-Reg conversion of IL means that any units in Wallace’s combat group can benefit from this rule with none of the normal limitations on coordinated orders. So the power of Inspiring leadership is all well and good, but it makes your Lt choice pretty obvious from the moment that Wallace is deployed. Thankfully Wallace is well built to withstand most assassination plays outside of those that are truly tailored to get at him. For a start he can join any link in CHA, meaning that getting him SS lvl2 is pretty easy due to the cheap nature of some of our link teams (heres looking at you Grey+Vols) SS lvl2 means that Wallace is effectively immune from Surprise attacking impersonators and TO assassins, being able to make such plays for him inefficient in terms of the number of orders required, the risks taken and the likelihood of possible reward. These benefits aside, Wallace is also a WIP15 Lt which is the highest Lt roll we can get and gives him very good odds of being able to dictate the battle in any game. He is also a BS13 combi rifle and a fantastic 3rd turn Rambo with his 6-4 movement meaning he can move 10’ an order if he has too. Couple this with his fantastic CC skills and Wallace if a fantastic Lt for the game, cheap enough to be played as purely support for the first few turns and dangerous enough that he can wreak utter havoc when used late game. So let’s look at some examples of what I like to use Wallaces Lt order for, or how I like to set him up to limit his obvious weaknesses so that we can get the most out of him. A lot of these are standard plays that anyone can do with their LT or with the expenditure of a command token, but the way that Wallace does them makes them much more efficient, and therefore nasty, in particular when the units in question are backed up by 20+ regular orders and a plethora of extremely impetuous orders. Example: Castle Caledonia So I’m going to share this one, it’s probably one of my biggest little secrets. But I spent a long, long time trying to figure out how to protect Wallace from strong assassination plays and I’ve come up with the following. Its terrain specific so you need to look for good places on the table to deploy in and it’s also only really worth it if you are going second, if you are going first you can typically either kill any threats to Wallace or gut your opponents order pool so badly they can never recover enough to make a play for him. Before I go into detail it’s important to remember a few things. Firstly, your opponent can’t move over your troops, even when they are prone or unconscious. Secondly Sixth Sense protects you from surprise shot, and surprise attack and speculative fire and being shot through smoke. And most importantly, it lets you hold your ARO until the enemy declares their second short skill when they are within your ZoC, this information is huge as it lets you respond in the most efficient way at all times if you are set up correctly. So what is the castle? The Castle is Wallace in a link (typically volunteers) inside a building or at some other hard to attack point, backed into a corner to protect his rear. Then in front of Wallace prone you deploy a pair of “Guards” now these can be Chain rifle wielding members of Wallace’s link, Hard to kill Wulvers or Greys, or in my opinion the best option, order generating Galweigans. So we have the set up above, why is this a good defensive position? Because Wallace is a PH17 B2 smoke thrower, a BS16 B2 combi rifle shot, a B2 LFT all with SS2 and NWI when he is in a link. What we are doing here is ensuring that the opponent gets a single shot at Wallace and stands good odds of just dying outright for the attempt if they try because Wallace and his guards will obliterate most things in the game with massed AROs. So why the guards? Primarily they are there to block attackers from moving into B2B contact with Wallace without first having to engage them one way or another. Ok that’s fine, your opponent says, just throw smoke and then CC, well that’s all well and good. But if those guards are Beserkers or Wulvers you can do that all you want, most assassin’s in the game are 1 wound and aren’t going to survive a non-face to face hit in CC. What about shooting? Well shooting Wallace or the guards is going to get you full of a lot of holes. The idea behind all this isn’t to make Wallace unkillable, you can’t really do that, the idea is to make the idea a serious of major risks, 50/50 attempt, after 50/50 attempts such that the odds of achieving the ultimate goal of dropping Wallace are ultimately not worth the cost in resources to attempt. Setting him up like this is a very good way to protect the greatest strength and greatest weakness of the Caledonian army. When you couple this with layer upon layer of additional defense in the form of more galwegians out on ARO, Camo marker spam, T2 snipers and Linked Greys and volunteer Chain rifle+LSGs you can make the idea of gunning for Wallace utterly futile to your opponent. Example: Speculative Fire Spam The following is a trick I’ve been using for a while now with Wallace, and while it’s the sort of thing that anyone in the game has access too with the expenditure of a coordinated order, the use of Wallace’s Lt order to achieve this trick instead gives it an efficiency that is lacking for other factions. So in this example the Caledonia player has pushed a harris of Wulvers up behind a piece of LOF blocking terrain. Opposite the terrain is a group of enemy troops. Let’s assume they are a light Infantry link team for the sake of this experiment. Now the Wulver player could edge round on of the corners and engage the link team 1 at a time to give itself good odds of killing each in turn with little risk. But doing this would require a significant number of orders, and involve the potential to be shot at by various nasty weapons that makes life bad for the Wulvers. However, because the Caledonia player has Wallace as his LT he can rather efficiently pull a very nasty trick to put a serious dent in the link team or grouped models with zero risk to his own troops and with the expenditure of a single command token and order. Breaking the link the Caledonia player can spend Wallace’s Lt order to declare a co-ordinated order on the Wulvers, Spec-Firing at the link and throwing 3 grenades at the link on 11s (assuming range). Given that Speculative fire also targets a model, but the impact templates can be off centered the Wulvers can also spread the impact templates out provided that each of them is in contact with the central target model to catch every member of the link team at least once, two of them twice and the central 1 three times. This kind of barrage has good odds of doing serious damage to at least some members of the link due to the effective burst bonus of the tactic. To finish of the tactic and add insult to the injury the Wulvers can then re-link with a single command token before cleaning up the rest of the link or at the end of the turn before the opponent has a chance to try and deal with them. Example: Creeping Past Enemies Last of the Wallace examples for now, again this is more of a “any coordinated order can do this” tactic that is merely made more efficient by the use of Wallace’s Lt order, which can then leave you with command tokens for other uses. In this example we have an enemy unit on suppression fire at a corner such that it is blocking the advance of 2 of the Caledonia troops past it. Lets say the trooper on the right is a 112 pushing for an objective and the troop on the left is a Galwegian. The Caledonia player wants to push the 112 past the enemy troop but at the same time take the red unit out of the game by killing it, however he has only limited orders left and wants to do this efficiently. So he uses Wallaces Lt order to declare a Co-ordinated order and moves both the specialist and the Galwegian up such that they are just out of LOF of the red unit, the Galwegian has now activated in ZOC of the enemy and thus generated an ARO. At this point the Red unit can Change facing or forego the ARO entirely. What the Caledonia player then does is pretty basic, he moves the Galwegian into B2B with the Red unit and the 112 is moved past the LOF of the red unit. Even If the Galwegian had not been able to make B2B with the Red unit, at this point the red unit can no longer respond to the 112 moving. Furthermore, because this is a co-ordinated order the relative positions of the Galwegian and the 112 is unimportant, the 112 can be half way across the board and the Galwegian can still be used to provoke an ARO and allow the 112 to pass the Red units LOF without repercussions. That’s it for the current selection of Wallace based tactics, I’d like to finish by reminding you that Wallace realistically makes any coordinated order tactic much more efficient and hence much more viable in the game, it’s a very powerful resource and one that is devastating when used properly. Conclusion: In conclusion I hope this primer will help demonstrate to you how to go about getting the most out of your Caledonia Highlander Army. I know I personally have a huge amount of fun playing with these guys and have had significant success across multiple meta’s using them. I do have a lot to learn still however as there are still lists and tactics that I want to explore with the army and I will update and add sections to this primer in the future that will expand on the lessons within.