Saturday, November 19, 2016

Tactics: Cameronians, A Howl-To

See what I did there? Get it? Howl-to? No? Fine.

Greetings to one and all! I am Sgt. Rock, and I will be popping into this blog periodically to share the occasional bit of wisdom, wit, and/or nonsensical doggerel. I play Ariadna, Caledonia in particular (and occasionally PanO, but we don’t talk about that.) Pride of Rodina tends to focus more on the Tartary side of Dawn, so I figured I’d don my kilt and talk about one of my favorite units in Caledonia – our furry friend, the 2nd Irregular Cameronian.

The Rundown

Cameronians can be a challenging unit to use, but once you’ve figured out how these giant furry cruise missiles work, they can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. They have a pretty impressive stat line, they’re stupidly fast, they’re pretty cheap (even by Ariadna standards) and they carry dirt simple weaponry. They’re Extremely Impetuous and Irregular, which on the surface seems like a tough thing to overcome for new players – I know it was for me! – but with experience and practice (or the judicious application of William Wallace, whom I’ll tackle another time) these things can be overcome, or even be an advantage! Unlike their Kazak cousins, the Dog-Warriors, they start in their canine form. This means that they sacrifice what amounts to an extra wound, effectively, but in exchange, they move faster right out of the gate, and they can't be simply ignored. That extra wound is arguably better, but if you're playing Caledonia, you don't really have a choice, do you?

The Hard Part
I mentioned Extremely Impetuous and Irregular being things that can be an advantage. These two traits are a common theme in Caledonia. In fact, when I first started playing Infinity, it was kind of a turnoff for me when considering sectorials, because I didn’t like the idea of troops that didn’t do what they were told! But while these attributes are definitely more challenging than John Q. Line Trooper and his Regular order, they’re not much of a problem when you know what you’re doing.
Irregular orders can be an inconvenience at times, especially in low point value or Limited Insertion games. However, the damage they can cause can be mitigated by the inclusion of William Wallace (again, a topic for another day.) In a full 300 point normal format game, irregular orders really are not a big deal, especially on a unit as cheap as the Cameronian. A lot of building lists in wargaming is thinking about opportunity costs; that is, if I spend X many points on Y unit, what possibilities am I potentially passing up for those X points? This line of thinking means that sometimes, you might look at an Irregular order and think “That’s an order that I can’t feed to my link team/TAG/assorted big scary dude!” Don’t think of it like that. Consider the Cameronian’s Irregular order as a compulsory reminder to spend at least one order on a big, furry killing machine that you should be using to his fullest ability.

Extremely Impetuous might also seem, on the surface, like a great way for our friend to get himself killed, but it’s actually a very powerful tool. Impetuous troops are forced to move directly towards the nearest enemy at the very beginning of your turn. It’s a free – let me repeat, FREE! – order to get a crazy fast short range specialist into just the place you want him to be. It denies you the use of partial cover, but that’s not such a big deal, and Cameronians are such big targets, it’s hard for them to find cover that will fit their bulk anyway. Smoke grenades, decent armor, two wounds and Total Immunity will do a lot to keep him alive on the way. That said, he is NOT invincible. He’s not a TAG. He’s not a Father Knight. He will go down to sustained ARO fire, so don’t take any unnecessary risks with him. Positioning is key; deploy him in such a way that his shortest route to the enemy won’t take him straight across a firelane. At the end of your active turn, make sure that you’ve spent an order putting him safely out of harm’s way, if he’s still alive. Don’t forget Super Jump! Sometimes, going up and over is safer than going around. Finally, it sometimes happens that despite your best efforts, that Impetuous movement is going to take him right around a corner and straight to his death. In these situations, weigh your options, and consider spending that regular order to cancel his Impetuousness. He’s not very expensive, but he’s a powerful asset, and there’s no sense wasting him if you can spare an order (and in Caledonia, or even Vanilla Ariadna, you usually can).

Uh, bro, you sure this is a great idea? Maybe we should use some cover?”
The Fun Part
So now you’ve got your rabid dog all up in your opponent’s business. This is where the fun begins. Look for clusters of troops; link teams are your prime targets, even if they’re heavy infantry. Two chain rifle templates per order will absolutely shred clustered troops. Remember also that you can position each template differently, meaning you can cover a lot of real estate with molten shrapnel. Take out snipers and other ARO pieces in cover, tear up groups of cheerleaders, have fun! Don’t feel compelled to rush into CC. Cameronians and other Dog Warriors give the impression that they can tear TAGs apart with their bare hands – they’re freaking werewolves, after all! This can be true on lucky rolls, but it’s not something to count on. Remember, beyond having an above average CC stat, they don’t have anything to give them an exceptional edge in melee. If you really feel the need to break out that ax on his back, make sure that you’re advancing towards other troops that you want to kill, as well. Cameronians are great bullies, and can wreck things like line infantry and snipers in melee, but you don’t want him tied up for more than an order or two if you can help it. Drop smoke around a corner, rush into CC, kill something weak, and move on. Consider the use of speculative fire with his grenades, as well. If you’re close enough to pitch a grenade around a corner or over a wall without exposing yourself to AROs, do it. The -6 from speculative fire is offset a fair bit if you’re within 8”, and his PH stat is so ridiculously high that he’s got a good chance to hit his target. Again, Cameronians can take a lot of punishment, but they aren’t invincible, and the best way to survive an attack is to avoid being attacked entirely.

The Sad Ending
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. You must be prepared to accept that your beautiful tail-wagging murder machine is going to die. Not that he might die, that he WILL die. And that’s okay! He’s cheap. He’s disposable. You don’t put a Cameronian on the board hoping that he’ll survive the first turn, you just hope that he can cause as much carnage as possible before your opponent puts him down. If you’ve used him properly, he can take down enough models in a first turn “alpha strike” to cripple your opponent for the entire game.

So that, in a nutshell, is my take on how to use a Cameronian. Be smart with him, don’t expose him to unnecessary risk, and just feed the little bugger orders until he kicks the bucket. I don’t claim to be the best Infinity player in the world, but I hope you can make some use of what I’ve put down here, and that you can get some use out of the Cameronian, as well. So until next time, keep your claymores sharp and your wits sharper!   


  1. Excellent article! Really the only thing I'd add is that just like their Kazak brothers, grenades are a fantastic way to deal with opposing models that keep dodging.

    Namely, once you start hosing people down with chain rifle fire, most opponents have the gut reaction to "dodge" and save their own skin. But a PH 16 roll with a grenade in the +3 range band is no joke, and forces them to take that roll as a face-to-face, rather than looking for a simple pass/fail. Depending on how many ARO's you're taking and how spread out they are, this can often yield much better outcomes than just using the Chain Rifles :)

    1. Holy crap, I'd never even considered that! I'm going to try that sometime for sure!

  2. You should at some point write about the McMurder and two cameronians threesome of death. I have in first turn killed 11 out of 14 models, the two Cameronians act as body guards and distractions for McMurder.