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Monday, 12 March 2012

Paradigm Shift; Anti-Tank and CC: Scarab Swarms


Not so long ago the world firmly believed that antitank in CC was weak, unreliable and shouldn't be attempted. With the new necron codex, many players have pointed to scarabs and the awesome antitank that they are. The question is, what has really changed? Is there some fundamental reason why scarabs are that much more effective, or have people just simply learned to see the game in a different light as a result of the new necron codex?

One of the main reasons why people opposed antitank and CC was that in order to destroy a tank, you had to be in base contact with it. Thus, you are committing yourself in order to achieve the simple goal of destroying a rhino. With scarabs, that's no different. Scarabs do come in big units (especially with the help of 9 tomb spyders) allowing multiple combats, allowing you to attempt to destroy more then one vehicle once you commit. Is this really because scarab swarms are so much better, or because opponents don't what formation to adopt when fighting scarab swarms. By layering your vehicles (preferably with flamer-weaponry or otherwise threatening squads/tanks in front) you should be able to get the scarab player to either a) commit his scarabs to take out the first layer and be susceptible to the inevitable counterattack, or b) take those units to the face and try to get in range of the second/third layer of the tanks before commiting.

Scarabs are more cost effective then other units, that's a given. On the other hand, scarabs also require numbers to deal damage, due to the mechanic of entropic strike. In addition, when compared to a higher strength, entropic strike needs to roll a couple more dice to get the same results. This pretty much evens out, as scarabs throw down more dice to hit, penetrate etc., but require an extra phase to do damage. I still don't believe that scarabs are lightyears away from other armies with regards antitank in CC.

You can get perfectly good results in CC with units that are otherwise more diverse then scarabswarms. Scarabs just introduced a new mechanic that seems different. In the end, it's just a slight difference in probability. Same elements from a strategic point of view (you still suffer from an effective range of 0") and the same playstyle as any army that pops tanks in CC.


  1. I think a lot of the reason Scarabs are accepted as good anti-tank is because that is their only role in the army.

    In other armies, the units that have good close combat anti-tank options are usually better or at least equal against infantry. They usually want to use shooting to open up the tank so that they can assault the unit inside the tank. Take Space Marines for example. A tactical squad using a powerfist to destroy a Rhino is inefficient, because that squad won't be able to assault the contents of that Rhino this turn and will be subjected to the following round's shooting before it can do anything.

    In the Necron army, though, the Scarabs' only job is to rip open tanks. Then the rest of the army can open fire on the contents of that tank next turn. No one really cares if the scarabs get shot up after eating a tank, they've already done their job.

    Honestly, I think the lack of diversity in the Scarabs is what makes them favored for anti-tank. Orks, Tyranids and armies with more diverse CC options don't want to waste their time killing tanks in CC when there are infantry to kill.

  2. Interesting idea, I guess the thing to think about is whether duality is a bad thing?

    Thx for the comment.

    1. Duality is definitely not a bad thing, but when a unit can do something so well, then duality isn't strictly necessary.

      Another thought I had on Scarabs is that they force the opponent to react to them.

      Against shooting attacks, there isn't much a person can do to protect their tanks. There's cover and LOS to consider, but that should always be a factor regardless of opponent.

      Against normal CC attacks, moving a vehicle helps its survivability, but not moving doesn't guarantee a dead tank (there's still penetration and and damage rolls to consider).

      Against Scarabs, if a tank doesn't move, it is dead. All it takes is 3 scarab bases worth of attacks against an immobile tank to 100% guarantee a wreck. This forces a significant change in strategy for some forces, and anytime you can force your opponent out of their comfort zone is a good thing.

  3. Certainly, forcing the opponent to react to you is a good thing. Scarabs have the threat range and damage output to really do that. You're right.


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