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Warhammer 40K: Mastering the Kroot Shaper

5 Minute Read
May 17 2022

Today we look at the cheapest of the T’au Empire’s HQ choices, the Kroot Shaper.


The Kroot Shaper’s statline is mostly pretty unimpressive, although it does have a few high points.

Movement 7″ is nice but not exceptional; weapon skill 2+, on the other hand, is quite rare in the Tau book and even good in the greater context of the game. Ballistic skill 2+, however, is much less impressive and does limit the Shaper’s contributions somewhat. Strength four and toughness three are standard for Kroot. Four wounds and three attacks is about what you generally get with a low-tier HQ like this. Finally, leadership eight and a 6+ save are both extremely underwhelming, but better than nothing. At 25pts, the Kroot Shaper is the cheapest HQ choice Tau have and one of the cheapest HQ choices in the game, allowing you to fill out a detachment with almost trivial ease.

Special Rules and Wargear

A Kroot Shaper comes with a number of useful special rules, which is surprising given its cost. Ambushing Predators is common to all Kroot, allowing it to move 7″ before the start of the first round. It’s useful for keeping up with its friends or redeploying to somewhere safer. Wisest of Their Kind lets friendly Kroot within 6″ use the Shaper’s Leadership, useful given the rather abysmal morale of the unit otherwise, and The Shaper Commands gives out a standard hit reroll of 1 for Kroot units. Finally, Stealthy Hunter gives them an additional +1 when in cover, which is unlikely to make a big difference given their pathetic armor save, but is still better than not having a bonus at all.

The Shaper comes equipped with a Shaper Kroot Rifle (24″ S4 AP-1 Dmg1 Rapid Fire 2) as well as a Ritual Blade (S+1 AP-1 Dmg1). The rifle can be replaced with a standard Pulse Rifle, and the Ritual Blade can be replaced by a Kroot Pistol (12″ S5 AP-1 Dmg1 Pistol 1) and a Grenade Belt (6″ S5 AP-1 Dmg1 Grenade 2d6, one use), both for free. Given the limited utility of the knife, I think the grenades are probably an obvious choice- they aren’t particularly strong, but they have a chance of doing some damage to something, whereas the knife is only a trivial upgrade in combat.


Use the Kroot Shaper

The Kroot Shaper’s main job is simple: exist. That’s it. While they do provide some benefits to Kroot units, realistically speaking these are not significant enough that they will actually enable the Kroot to do any significant damage to most targets. No, the actual job of a Kroot Shaper is to be the ultimate slot-filler. They are as cheap as you can really ask such a unit to be. While also having all of the functionality of such a unit.

This is not a trivial thing to say- obviously, a Shaper takes up space on the battlefield (blocking reserves, etc) in the same way that any other unit would, and even for that they are a pretty functional little piece. But they also have the all-important Infantry keyword, which allows them to do quite a number of very useful tasks- such as the many actions necessary to score points this edition. Although being a unit of one model does mean some of them are not very helpful (e.g. Retrieve Nachmund Data), there are still plenty of others he is capable of doing well. And that’s in addition to their small base and model making it quite easy to hide behind terrain. Shapers can stay out of harm’s way when the situation requires. With the nerfs to indirect fire, they can even be seen sporting a 3+ save against such shots. Which is almost like actual real durability.

T’au HQ Opportunity Cost

The problem, however, is that the Tau HQ slot is crowded. Rather than being something you are compelled to fill despite wanting to spend points elsewhere, the HQ slot actually contains some of the best units in the faction. From Commanders to Ethereals to the many named characters, Tau have a plethora of powerful HQ choices. You’ll be hard-pressed not to want at least two of three of them in every army. This means the Shaper’s role in simply being in the army isn’t really one that’s needed most of the time. He can’t even carry a relic or warlord trait.  Shapers can’t get any of the ones you really want as they have a unique list of choices exclusive to them.

Final Thoughts

The Kroot Shaper is, unfortunately, a solution in search of a problem. There are plenty of codices out there who would appreciate a cheap slot-filling HQ. But the Tau codex isn’t one of them. As a result Shapers are unlikely to see any significant competitive play going forward. With that said, however, they are not so bad that they are unusable. If you really want to stick one into your Crusade force, and I’m okay with them “merely” meeting that bar.  Especially considering where they have been at in some previous editions. There really aren’t any truly bad units in the new Tau codex. If you really want to build an army with three Shapers and six blocks of twenty Kroot? Well, you’re not gonna win a lot, but you will give some people a pretty weird run for their money sometimes.

For the Greater Good!


As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day at the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

Reece Robbins
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