We start our review of the Elites slot with the Kroot Shaper. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The Kroot Shaper, originally an upgrade squad leader for units of Kroot Carnivores, is now an independent character. Kroot Shapers have a nearly identical profile to their troop counterparts. A 7″ movement is to be expected, but weapon skill 3+ and ballistic skill 4+ are also shared, as are strength and toughness three. Five wounds and three attacks is a respectable number, although they are greatly hampered by having only a 6+ armor save. Leadership seven is also pretty abysmal for a character, being actually lower than many basic units from other codices. The only real high point of the unit is their cost, a mere 25pts.
Special Rules and Wargear
Kroot Shapers come with two special rules. The first, Wisest of Their Kind, allows Kroot units within 6″ to use their Leadership value. The second, The Shaper Commands, allows Kroot units to reroll wound rolls of ‘1’.
A Kroot Shaper is armed with a Kroot Rifle (24″ S4 AP0 Dmg Rapid Fire 1, can also be used as a Str+1 AP0 melee weapon) and a Ritual Blade (S+0 AP0 Dmg1). If any models are slain by the Ritual Blade, nearby Kroot units do not need to make morale tests that turn. The Shaper can exchange their Kroot Rifle for a Pulse Carbine or Pulse Rifle at no cost.
Kroot Shapers are arguably the worst character in the entire game. Their combination of bad stats, no protection, and mediocre abilities puts them in an exceptionally-poor place to start, and then combine that with the fact that the only unit they can buff being one of the worst in the codex and you are left with a character that serves essentially no purpose at all.
Their two morale-enhancement abilities are both so bad as to essentially do nothing; Wisest of Their Kind gives a pitiful +1Ld to Kroot squads, which is unlikely to make any kind of significant difference for them, as they are typically taken in large blocks and are thus very vulnerable to casualties with their weak armor save. The Ritual Knife is actually even worse, however, since it only functions on turns you get into melee combat and only if you kill something with it. This necessitates your Shaper getting in close enough to attack the enemy, and also them failing saves against an AP0 weapon with a middling number of attacks. Also keep in mind, if the Kroot kill off the unit before the Shaper gets to attack, the Knife will do nothing- which means you probably need to select the Shaper to fight first, which in turn gives the enemy a chance to swing into the Kroot and cause more damage before they get to attack.
Now add in the fact that the Shaper themself is ludicrously easy to kill and you’ve got a problem. Five wounds is a respectable total, but a 6+ save (and no invulnerable save) certainly is not; even for their price, they are much easier to bring down than even Eldar or Guard characters. Sniper units of any kind will doom them instantly, as will even a moment of being outside of Look Out Sir range or even just a charge from any basic troop unit in most codices.
We should also take this opportunity to point out the fact that Shapers, unlike the troop unit they nominally exist to buff, do not get a pre-game “scout” movement to push forward- so in most cases, they will start the game out of range of the unit they want to protect them unless you make a specific effort to string the unit out (which is much harder with the new coherency rules.)
As an extremely cheap infantry unit the Shaper might theoretically have some role as an action monkey, but since most of the relevant actions cannot be taken by characters they fail at even this. The Shaper has no place in a competitive army of any kind, and even casual armies should probably shy away from using them due to their many flaws.
It’s probably for the best that the Kroot Shaper’s model is hopelessly outdated and annoying to get ahold of, since the unit itself is not just the worst character in the game but perhaps even in competition for the worst unit in the game of any kind.
As always, remember you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.