Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Little Love

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,


  1. "Where a Shaper falters at 3x the Kroot is close combat."

    Where do you usually find your kroot? For me it is in close combat. All of my firewarrior squads are mounted and I find that they are much better at taking and holding objectives, therefore 90% of the time I find my kroot outflanking into close combat. Therefore it only seems logical that I should equip my kroot to be good in close combat.

    "If you need your Kroot squads to stick, the Shaper can be a valuable asset"

    This only applies to shooting. A shaper-squad in close combat faces the same problem that a non-shaper-squad faces when it gets shot at. You have to make a Ld 7 test that you will fail 42% of the time. Although one difference is that a shaper-squad in close combat might be wiped out in a sweeping advance if they fail that test, as opposed to running and possibly regrouping.

    Now, since 90% of the time I find my kroot in close combat I think we should talk about what the shaper can do in close combat. The shaper only way a shaper gives staying power in assault through armor saves since if you don't take the saves you have LESS staying power than a non-shaper kroot squad because you can't dish out as many wounds and are more likely to fail close combat, and if you fail to win combat then you are in the same boat as the non-shaper kroot squad getting shot at with a Ld 7 test (although they may not have to face a sweeping advance). In your above example you have 9 kroot, 8 hounds, and a shaper. This is a 139 point squad with 56 attacks on the charge. In order to give this sqaud staying power in assault you need to spend another 17 points, making it a 156 point squad. At that point count you could drop the shaper, add two more hounds and three more carnivores giving you 15 extra attacks. Both the shaper and non-shaper squad have staying power in assault, the non-shaper tries to stay by inflicting more wounds, and the shaper squad tries to stay by saving against wounds. I comes down to playstyle and personal opinion. Are you an offensive player who tries to win assault by inflicting more wounds with the extra 15 attacks, or are you a defensive player who tries to win assault by saving wounds?

  2. Cool way to look at it for sure, thanks. I completely agree with you assessment of it being how you play. :)

    The thing with the 15 extra attacks is cool for sure, but to my mind 15 attacks is a wound on MEQ (I know there is bigger potential there). If 1 wound is the difference between whether or not I am testing is if it is a draw or am down by 1. Down by 1 means I lose and test on 7 instead of six.

    My Kroot are not the close combat of my army, cause my army has none. They are the squad who can come in on the flank and take an objective from a combat squad that is sitting on it while the rest of the army rushed forward to punch me in the ear. :)

  3. "They are the squad who can come in on the flank and take an objective from a combat squad that is sitting on it while the rest of the army rushed forward to punch me in the ear."

    If that is how you are using them then a shaper is going to be a necessity, because (again as you said earlier) you are going to be running up to that Tac squad who is going to get some shot on you and you are going to NEED that staying power.

    I mainly use my kroot to rip apart any heavy infantry (dev team), as the majority of them can't hold their own hand to hand. That way I can use something more mobile like a mounted firewarrior squad to take that objective from that nasty tac marine squad. With the heavy infantry gone my fish is safe.