In various Tau discussions I have read many people are quick to tout the merit of Kroot and Kroot Hounds, but they got no love for the Shaper or Krootox. I cannot speak to the Krootox because of the way I use my Kroot (Which is needing them to outflank.) I can't bring one. However I run with my Shaper, and am glad to have him.
What this is is a brief discussion of the merits I have found running a Shaper. What this is not is me saying that people who don't run Shapers are wrong/fail/suck/are stupid. I do not possess the hubris to assume that it is the "right way" simply because I am doing it. All I speaking from here is my own experience. Take it for what you will.
The quick and dirty is that I often hear, "A Shaper is 4x as much as a normal Kroot."
I feel like that is cause he is 4x the Kroot.
I need my Kroot to stay in the game. Be it as late turn, out flanking, objective thieves; or just going to ground on the objective in cover. I run my squads with 9 Kroot, 8 Kroot hounds, and a Shaper. Total squad size is 18. That means that in order to break I have to lose 5 guys (The first turn in which they are shot at). If my squad were 21 strong (Shaper changed out for the 3 normal kroot) I would need to lose 6 before I checked.
Let's say I do take five wounds in the shooting phase, we can safely assume that they are AP'ing me as I don't buy armor for my Kroot. Time for the Shaper to shine. I can allocate one wound to the Shaper (1 of 3 down), and four wounds to the Kroot (Muerta). Four casualties doesn't equal a check. If I did not have the Shaper I would not have to make a check either, having had 5 casualties. However, the next phase I am only 16, so losing 4 causes a check at Ld 7, where as with the Shaper I am at 14, where 4 wounds would be 1 on the Shaper (2/3) and three on the Kroot so three casualties and no check required. I know that math says that I will pass that 58.3% of the time, but my scoring units are kind of at a premium, so those are not odds I like. Long and the short, in the first two shooting phases, your opponent has to kill 25% +1 before you have to check.
Where a Shaper falters at 4x the Kroot is close combat. He only has 5 attacks on the charge, 7 less than four Kroot would have. That is a bummer because against MEQ opponents that is two wounds, not taking into account their armor save. Where the Shaper kind of makes up for this is with the Ld 8. As long as he is alive, you can lose by 1 and still have a good chance of sticking. As a bonus, even though 6+ armor saves are silly, you can take a wound on the Shaper (Assuming failing it doesn't kill it.) and have chance. It is one of those "what the hell" scenarios that pays off 1/6 of the time.
Lastly, and not to be over looked. Shapers look friggin cool, though I guess you could just bring Shaper models as normal Kroot.
If you need your Kroot squads to stick in shooting (Important distinction as pointed out in John's comment.), the Shaper can be a valuable asset. He can take as many wounds as three Kroot. And in certain instances he can prevent checks, all the while offering one better leadership for the times you do have to check.
Sound off a little if you like. Let me here why you hate/love those Shapers.
Thanks for reading,