When the Scorpion destroys your favorite tank, remember: it is only acting according to its nature. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
On the tabletop, a Scorpion is roughly equivalent to a Baneblade or similar titanic vehicle, coming in with a pretty beefy statline that includes some significant high points. A 14″ movement with the Fly keyword makes it quite mobile even despite its large model size, while toughness eight means it can shrug off a lot of smaller weapons with minimal effect. 3+ armor is not particularly impressive, but neither is it below par for a vehicle of its type, so we can consider it a wash; but with twenty-six wounds, it can endure quite a lot of firepower from most weapons before falling. The real notable feature, however, is ballistic skill 2+, which means that even when heavily wounded the Scorpion can hit targets with reasonable consistency. Its other values are a bit above those of most Craftworld tanks (S8 A5 Ld9) but are still largely irrelevant, as they are with any vehicle. At a touch under 650pts, however, the Scorpion is going to be a major investment for any army that decides to run it- to say nothing of the support it wants to have.
Special Abilities and Wargear
The Scorpion comes with a small handful of special rules as well as a limited suite of options, though neither are as much as you might expect. It possesses the Hover Tank rule, like most Aeldari vehicles, as well as Catastrophic Explosion (happens on a 5+, 6″ radius, d6 mortal wounds.) Most interesting, however, is the Distort Fields rule that it shares with some of the other titanic vehicles; this gives it an invulnerable save that is usable against both close combat and shooting, but with the caveat that it has to move in order to get it and the save gained is dependent on the distance you move. Going up to 8″ will give it a 6++, up to 16″ (which covers all normal movement and low advance rolls) will give it a 5++, and moving 17″ or more gets you a 4++ at the cost of your shooting.
The Scorpion’s main gun is the Twin Scorpion Pulsar, which is a fairly terrifying weapon. With a 60″ range and Heavy 4d6, it’s well-equipped to reach across the board and put a ton of hits onto most things- and the rest of its statline is no less terrifying. Strength 12, AP-4 and flat 3 damage make for a gun that can shred even heavy targets with ease, and to make it even more dangerous wound rolls of 6+ are resolved with flat 6 damage instead; it’s wholly plausible for the Pulsar to kill a Knight in a single volley without particularly exceptional rolls, and smaller targets are in even more trouble.
Backing this up is the secondary armament, which can be any one weapon chosen off of the standard Craftworlds heavy weapon list; as usual the Scatter Laser is one of the best options, although there is something to be said for spending a bit more in order to get the Aeldari Missile Launcher, which complements the main gun more. It can also select items off of the vehicle equipment list, with Spirit Stones (6+ Feel No Pain effect) and Crystal Targeting Matrix (ignore the Heavy penalty against the closest target) are two of your best options.
So, functionally the Scorpion ends up looking a lot like an Aeldari Castellan- with heavy anti-vehicle firepower and decent resiliency as well as an inability to get tied up in combat, it does a pretty good job of faking it. The Scorpion does have the benefit of innate BS2+ (though needing to move will usually negate this advantage) and the ability to benefit from Runes of Fate powers such as Guide, Doom, and Fortune, but on the flip side it only comes with a 5++ save (though -1 to hit will usually even that out) and a slightly lower wound count as well as no meaningful melee capability to speak of.
However, on closer examination the comparison doesn’t look as good. Although the Twin Pulsar is an absolutely devastating weapon and actually hits perhaps harder than the Castellan’s full armament when pointed at a single target, the ability of the Castellan to split its fire and hammer two, three, or even four targets (especially at close ranges) should not be underestimated, and it is a capability that the Scorpion completely lacks- it can never really deal damage to more than one target per turn, or perhaps two at best if you are going to be generous and count in the underslung weapon. When you’re spending 650+pts, hitting one target per turn just really isn’t enough.
To further complicate things, the Scorpion suffers from an issue that plagues a number of titanic vehicles, namely Death Spiral syndrome. This is what happens when you have a unit whose defensive capabilities decline as it takes damage- in the Scorpion’s case, its movement value (which indirectly affects its invulnerable save due to the Distortion Fields rule.) You can probably see the issue here- the more damaged the unit becomes, the easier it becomes to damage it, resulting in a feedback loop that quickly results in a total loss of the vehicle. Now, for the Scorpion it’s not nearly as bad as it could be; as its movement only drops to 10″ in the second bracket, it can still get the 5++ save so long as it keeps trucking at full distance, but once it drops into its third tier it can only get a 6++ save, at which point it is likely doomed.
On the plus side, however, the Scorpion fills a role that Craftworld armies tend to desperately need- namely, heavy anti-tank. Although there are certainly plenty of options for that sort of thing within the codex (Fire Prisms, Dark Reapers, Crimson Hunters, etc), all of these come with disadvantages of their own and the Scorpion presents a useful option for another way to handle such targets. Although I don’t think it’s necessarily the best solution, it’s certainly one that has its merits, as several players have proved by scoring well at some very large events (including LVO.) If we continue to see a push towards more heavy vehicles in the meta, the Scorpion could start to gain some popularity- though of course its existence as a Forge World model will always be a big limiter on this, as it simply means that a lot of folks don’t have access to it as an option.
Although the Scorpion hits quite hard and has several layers of defenses (-1 to hit, 5+ invulnerable save, 6+ or even 5+ FNP effect), none of them are particularly difficult to get past and the chassis itself is fairly (but not exceptionally) resilient. To that end, actually killing it probably needs to be done as a fairly dedicated thing if you go for it, and will take some serious firepower (though probably less than the Castellan, at least back in its heyday.) Eldar lack a stratagem to send the vehicle back to its top tier, however, so if you can knock wounds off it those wounds will stick, so there is at least some consolation; do keep in mind, however, that can potentially be healed for d3 or 2d3 by some of their characters.
But the more common way to handle it is also the way most players handled the Castellan- by ignoring it. Yes, it will vaporize one vehicle per turn, but if you can absorb those losses while chipping away at the Scorpion you often can beat the rest of the army as it tries to do its thing. An army featuring the Scorpion will probably have anywhere from 800 to 1000pts dedicated to supporting it, so if you can simply deal with the rest of their forces you can then turn your attentions on the big vehicle and finish it off once all of the other elements are gone, which is a lot easier at that point (or simply continue ignoring it and outscore them, which is also quite possible.)
Although priced slightly higher than we might like to see, the Scorpion is a pretty fair example of the sorts of things that Forge World can produce and the interesting and unique vehicles available in their line; if you’ve been eyeing one for a time now, perhaps consider picking it up and giving it a test run or three, as it’s actually a pretty neat addition to a mechanized Eldar army. And as always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to expand an existing army or start a new one.