T’au Codex Review – Elite: Kroot Shaper

Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, here again to discuss a leader among Kroot, the Kroot Shaper. As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!

Responsible for negotiating the contracts that their kroot brethren fulfill, Kroot Shapers help coordinate strategies with their employers as well as help carry them out by leading their brethren into battle. Such a place of prestige (at least among other Kroot), is rewarded with access to higher technology weapons that would normally not be attainable, like the T’au Pulse Rifle which some Shapers are known to carry into battle.

On the tabletop, Kroot Shapers consist of a single model unit who is an Elite choice <Character>.

Kroot Shaper

M WS BS S T W A Ld Sv
7″ 3+ 4+ 3 3 5 3 7 6+

Wargear

Each Kroot Shaper is armed with a Kroot rifle (30″ Rapid Fire 1 S4 AP0 D1 or Melee S+1 AP0 D1) and a ritual blade (Melee S[User] AP0 D1). If any models are destroyed by this weapon, friendly <Kroot> units within 6″ of this Shaper don’t have to take Morale tests that turn. The model can replace its Kroot rifle with a pulse rifle (Rapid Fire 1 S5 AP0 D1).

Special Rules

  • Wisest of Their Kind
    • When taking Morale tests, <Kroot> units within 6″ of a Shaper use its leadership instead of their own.
  • The Shaper Commands
    • Reroll wound rolls of 1 for friendly Kroot units within 6″ of this Shaper

Tactics

As should be immediately clear from looking at the above stats and special rules, Shapers are support characters for blobs of <Kroot> units, which includes Carnivores, Hounds, and Krootox. The unit to benefit the most from the Wisest of Their Kind rule is the Hound, buffing their leadership from 5 to 7. That bump of 2 leadership will be noticeable on your Morale tests, but seeing as your Hounds are still T3 and Sv6+, they’ll still die in droves, just run away slightly less. Plus, an Ethereal would just do it a lot better, buffing those Hound’s leadership up to 9 or even 10, making a real difference. Also the Ethereal on a drone would even be more mobile (Movement of 8 versus 7), so the Ethereal has got that edge too.

The Shaper Commands rule will also potentially buff the Hounds the most in close combat. With their 24 attacks, Hounds will hit approximately (on average of course) 16 of those, wounding a T3 target normally for 8 of those. By re-rolling 1’s on the To-Wound, you’re going to be adding about 1-2 successful wounds to that, which isn’t earth shattering. It’s the only way to get re-rolling Wounds on Kroot though, so if that’s your schtick, go for it (after a hard look at how questionable that general strategy is).

Kroot Carnivores can benefit from rerolling 1’s To-Wound not just in the Fight phase, but also in the shooting phase. 24″ Rapid Fire weapons with a 7″ pre-game movement (plus their regular 7″ movement) means that they’ll be in Rapid Fire range most of your first turns. This could end up making an impact with a max unit of Carnivores is 20 models, firing 40 shots in Rapid Fire range. Of the 20 of those that hit (BS4+), you’ll be normally wounding about 13 of those on a T3 target. With the re-rolling To-Wound rolls, you’ll add about 2-3 successful wounds to that. Plus, you would also get to reroll 1’s To-Wound in the Fight phase for Carnivores too, so should you make that long turn 1 charge with them, you could again be doing a few more extra wounds to your opponent. Just keep in mind that the following turn, whether you successfully charged or not, you’ll be near enough to your enemy to be torn to shreds by shooting and melee attacks alike due to the fragile existence of all <Kroot> units.

The biggest thing to keep in mind with the Shaper is just to keep him with your other units. Carnivores will typically be moving 7″ before the game and then another 7″, which would put them 14″ away from their starting point if they all moved max distance. Our little Shaper is only capable of moving 7″, so unless you conga-line some Carnivores back to him, they’ll all be out of range to receive his useful buffs. It’s quite strange to me that the Shaper doesn’t get the pre-game movement. Hounds are in a similar boat, due to their 12″ movement. Unless you conga-line back, they can easily outrun his buffs. Plus with Hounds, when you make Charge rolls, be mindful that you’ll only be moving further away from the Shaper (more likely than the Carnivores thanks to their Voracious Predators special rule). That is, unless the Shaper can make a successful charge too. You will want your Shaper in close combat to use his ritual blade though, so this will probably be something you’re actively working towards most games. Kroot Hound and Carnivore units suffer pretty mightily from poor leadership, even with the Shaper buff, but the Ritual Blade has the ability to completely negate this. While VERY far from guaranteed (a Shaper will kill 2/3 of a Guardsman while in close combat – factoring in the Shaper’s BS3+, S3 ritual blade, and the Sv5+ of the Guardsman), it can ensure your green tide holds fast at a key moment rather than costly morale losses. Personally, I’d rather see it as something like a 12″ Pistol rather than a Melee weapon, because I think a ritual cross bow sounds cool, but also it would help overcome the already incredible difficult time that <Kroot> units already have in terms of getting in close combat. Or at least give it some AP or something.

Counters

If you think Shapers need a way to be countered, you haven’t been reading the article. Their buffs are lackluster at best and they have to clumsily keep up with their Kroot brethren. That being said, there are even more way to put a damper on them. The can’t be embarked on a Devilfish because it doesn’t have the <Sept> keyword. Laughably, it can embark on the Tidewall Rampart components. Regardless, it isn’t especially fast, relying on it’s own M7″ – therefore it can be outrun or outmaneuvered. This dovetails with its lack of a pregame movement and no ability to reroll failed charges like the Kroot Hounds.

While a <Character> it will most likely be surrounded by T3 Sv6+ low leadership models, so if you brought any anti-hoard weapons AT ALL, you’ll have no problem clearing a way to the Shaper itself. The icing on the proverbial cake is that even if it succeeds in doing exactly what it wants, which is to get into close combat with you while near several other <Kroot> models, any army with the exception of T’au will be able to wipe it in close combat. Do not be afraid.

Summary

“The be’gel had us surrounded, and the last of our ammunition reserves had run dry. We resolved to meet our deaths with honour. Then we heard the shrill baying of hounds, the crack of hard-round rifles. The Kroot emerged from the forest with howls that chilled the blood, and fell upon the be’gel. It was over in minutes. Our auxiliaries saved many lives that day, and I will not forget their bravery. Nor will I forget the awful sounds of tearing flesh and snapping bones that followed, as they butchered and devoured the bodies of their foes.”

– Shas’ui Dau, Vior’la Sept, T’au Empire Codex 2018

Now THAT sounds like the type of Kroot I want in my armies. I want fluff and rules to meet in a fun and exciting way. Unfortunately, Kroot Shapers keep up the trend of delivering a ruleset devoid of intricacy and are bland at best. Lack of a significant impact means that even should you heavily invest in them and <Kroot> in general, any decent list will just be able to gun/chop them down. Kroot don’t live long enough to be buffed by the middling Shaper buffs.

What would it take to give the Kroot Shaper a proper place as Kroot leaders?

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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About Charlie A.

Mathhammer is best hammer. Follow Charlie on twitter @40kDiceRolls for mathhamer, painting pictures, and a generally good time.

7 Responses to “T’au Codex Review – Elite: Kroot Shaper”

  1. Faitherun October 8, 2018 8:26 am #

    While I think there are a variety of fun and interesting ways to improve all the kroot, one change I would love to see on the shapers is to give them the ability to deny the witch.

    No additional points costs, no smite, no psychic powers. Just deny.

    I think then we would see 3 of them in almost every army lol

    Additionally, give them the following ability.
    If a shaper kills a unit in close combat, or is part of an assault that kills a unit, it gains the ability to add one to its str and attacks vs enemy units that share any of the same faction keywords. This bonus also impacts any kroot models within 6″ of him

  2. happy_inquisitor October 8, 2018 11:20 pm #

    I was so excited that Kroot Shapers were going to be characters in 8th – and so disappointed by the implementation.

    They really are quite sad and pathetic. Pretty much the most useless unit in the Tau codex and should comfortably make any shortlist for most useless unit in the game.

    They provide minor buffs to Kroot which the Ethereal just does better. The Ritual Blade is so horribly unworkable that it should have a rule stating that your opponent must buy you a drink to celebrate should you ever pull it off. Kroot Shapers double down on the general Kroot problem of being bland and uninteresting other than as chaff to throw in front of your Tau to screen them – do not waste points on trivial offensive buffs for units that are not going to survive the first turn that your opponent shows the slightest interest in killing them anyway.

    At this point only a Kroot Mercenaries codex and a full rules re-write can do much for them. Leave on the shelf.

    • Charlie A. October 9, 2018 4:09 am #

      If they implement the whole “if you bring a Shaper, your opponent must buy you a beer”, I’m running three every game!

      • happy_inquisitor October 9, 2018 11:43 pm #

        If you take 3 shapers then you are definitely only their for the beer and having a good laugh!

  3. Anggul October 10, 2018 5:03 am #

    I would really like to see GW put more effort into alien auxiliaries, in both rules and models. They’re such a key part of the lore and themes of the T’au Empire but I feel like GW has neglected them in favour of just making more T’au units.

    I think it’s a missed opportunity, because it’s a chance for the sculptors to go crazy and just design whatever cool aliens they can think of and stick them in the T’au Empire instead of having to design a whole range of units for a full codex of them.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2018 10:49 am #

      I would love to see just more Kroot unit! They’re a cool alien race.

  4. Rathstar October 15, 2018 1:42 am #

    You were a bit too polite about the effectiveness of the Kroot Shaper, you went over the rules fine, but the overwelming advice should be not to take one unless you really like the model. Spending his points in more kroot or kroot hounds would be better, or just using an Ethereal on a drone if you want the leadership buff.

    I don’t think there is a worse model, effectiveness wise, in the whole codex. Shame as the old special character model I have is quite nice. At the end of the day, you’re never going to lose a battle just because you spend 40 points on a poor character, but the Shaper needs some work to become useful.

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