Last week, I discussed one of the two T’au auxiliary units, the Vespid Stingwings. I argued that, while this unit isn’t great, it does have some use in 9th edition.
The same cannot be said for the topic of this week’s article, the Kroot Carnivores.
And it’s a real shame. I’m a fan of the Kroot. I think that the model for the basic Kroot infantry unit holds up 18-odd years after release, and they provide a great contrast to the clean, crisp T’au Battlesuits and vehicles.
But the Kroot haven’t been good for a good while. In fact, there’s a pretty good argument to be made that Kroot have never been a competitive choice for a T’au player.
And it’s no wonder. Kroot don’t do anything particularly well on the tabletop. In the lore, Kroot are skilled, cunning hunters with ferocious combat ability. On the tabletop, a Kroot pack can barely dent a squad of Guardsmen.
And what’s more, Kroot can’t even fill the role of a cheap and cheerful screening unit. If he chooses to take a unit of Kroot, a T’au player must take at least ten models. At six points per model, the unit costs at least 60 points. For 45 points, the T’au player could take five Fire Warriors and have points left over. These Fire Warriors would at least have a half decent armor save.
What does a Kroot infantry model offer in terms of an armor save? 6+. Combined with a Toughness of 3, these supposedly deadly mercenaries will die to a stiff breeze. They’re even less durable than Pathfinders, which really takes some doing.
The stat-line as a whole sums things up: Movement 7″, Weapon Skill 3, Ballistic Skill 4, Strength 3, Toughness 3, Wounds 1, Attacks 1, Leadership 6, and Save 6+.
I should point out that the rifle with which the Kroot is armed grants +1 to Strength in combat. So that’s something.
I’m going to dispense with the sarcasm now — it’s not really my style — but you can see why the Kroot make T’au players just a little jaded. In the time of the Space Marine, this really is a unit from a different era. The Kroot are woefully under-powered, offering nothing in terms of offensive capability, nothing in terms of defensive capability, nothing in terms of board control, and nothing in terms of interesting stratagems or abilities.
Kroot are bad. You get the picture.
How can we bring them up to speed? What changes could we make this unit in order to make it viable choice in a T’au army?
Let’s get this one out in the open for a start: a Kroot codex would be super cool.
Of course, that’s very unlikely to happen, but we can dream.
Now let’s get down to brass tacks. Can we get rid of the 6+ save? I’m sure one of the most technologically advanced factions in the galaxy can come up with some shiny new armor for their favorite buddies. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that the next incarnation of the Kroot increases their armor save from 6+ to 5+.
We’ve just increased Kroot’s survivability by 100 per cent. Cool.
But let’s go a little bit further. Kroot are natural hunters, using the terrain of the battlefield to their advantage. Let’s take this theme and run with it. If a Kroot unit is in cover, enemy units suffer a -1 to hit penalty and the Kroot gain +1 to their armor save.
Now let’s actually give them some kick in close combat. That Kroot Rifle? Let’s keep the increase to Strength, and let’s add an extra attack and an extra point of AP. Now when a unit of ten Kroot charges into close combat, they’ll be hitting on 3s with 20 attacks at Strength 4 and -1 AP. That’s not too bad. They’re not going to be beating up anything big and nasty, but it’s certainly a start.
There are plenty of interesting directions that a design team could take this. We could add in stratagems on top of these improvements in order to buff up certain aspects of the models’ abilities, and we could consider aura effects for Sargent-equivalent units. Put simply, there’s much more that we could go into here.
But these ideas do suggest to me that there is a decent unit to be made out of the Kroot. With some relatively minor changes, we could bring this often-neglected unit into contention.
And this does give me a little bit of hope for the Kroot as a whole — and, indeed, for the T’au faction as a whole.
What else do the Kroot offer at the moment? I’ve yet to mention Kroot Hounds, Krootox Riders, or the Kroot Shaper. There are, moreover, a handful more Kroot options from Forge World, but I’ll just stick to the standard codex units for now.
Unfortunately, the three units that I mention above offer T’au players little incentive to take them on the tabletop. I’ll talk about a couple of the highlights of these models, which will give you a pretty good idea as to why you don’t see them on the tabletop if you’re not familiar with T’au auxiliaries.
The Kroot Shaper is the Kroot equivalent of a Captain or a Lieutenant, and that’s where the comparison to cool Space Marines models ends. The Shapers grants a 6″ re-roll 1s aura for other Kroot units, which is something at least. It still doesn’t make Kroot interesting on the tabletop, but it’s at least a start.
Moreover, nearby Kroot units can use the Shaper’s Leadership — a Leadership value of 7. Again, you can see why this range of models desperately needs a refresh.
Here’s a strange thing about the Shaper: it takes up an Elite slot. This strikes me as quite a peculiar choice. If it were an HQ unit, T’au players could take Kroot-only detachments, which could open up some interesting detachment-locked abilities. Obviously, this isn’t the case, and I think that this was yet another missed opportunity to do something cool with the Kroot when the T’au codex was last updated.
And what about the Kroot Hounds? Do these beasts offer T’au players anything interesting? This will not come as a surprise: they do not. Kroot Hounds hit at AP -1 is combat, which is just about the most note-worthy aspect of the model.
But with two attacks hitting on 3s at Strength 3 per model, AP -1 doesn’t really cut the mustard.
The 12″ move characteristic is decent. If you’ve read my last few articles, you’ll know that I really value a quick unit on the tabletop.
But the Hounds have the same defensive profile as the Kroot infantry, meaning that they are completely unreliable in any offensive or defensive capacity.
Do the Krootox Riders give T’au player’s pause for thought? At the very least, this model has a more interesting stat-line: with Strength 6, Toughness 5, and 4 Wounds, there’s something going on here.
It is, of course, let down by its dreadful save of 6+. Indeed, I think that it is this value that really lets down the Kroot as a whole. As I mention above with the Hounds, a 6+ makes the Kroot completely unreliable in any offensive or defensive capacity. The Krootox Rider mitigates this somewhat with respectable Toughness and Wounds values, but it still won’t stand up to any degree of concentrated firepower.
Finally, I will briefly mention that there are a couple of stratagems in both the codex and the Psychic Awakening supplement that give some of these units a little bit of play. However, it really isn’t much to write home about, and T’au players usually have bigger fish to fry when it comes to spending Command Points.
Moreover, the stratagems don’t change the core problems of these models. A poor stat-line can only be improved so much.
As I mention above, these models feel dated in the current edition of the game. They clearly haven’t had any proper attention from GW for a good while now. In 9th edition, the Kroot simply do not offer anything of value to the competitive T’au player.
I know that this article has been something of a downer. I didn’t intend it to be when I first started writing, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I’m usually positive about the T’au, and indeed about the game as a whole, but sometimes it’s appropriate to point out the negatives in a faction’s roster, and clearly this is one of those times.
But I’m going to end on a positive note. I think that Games Workshop will give some attention to the T’au auxiliaries when it comes to the 9th edition T’au codex. There’s a lot of scope to do some interesting, creative things with the Kroot — and, for that matter, the Vespid — and I think that a refresh of the auxiliaries range will be popular with fans of the T’au, meaning that there is a financial incentive for GW to bring some new ideas to the range.
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