Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Here Kome the Kroot

When I started playing Tau back in 2005, I remember reading through the book thinking what's the deal with these ugly kroot models?! Their look was a complete reversal from that of the Tau - rather than the sleek helmeted lines of the firewarriors, the kroot presented an animalistic facade closer to feral creatures than a sentient life. Needless to say, I was not impressed and for a time refused to consider playing with kroot. However, as I dug into their background (inter-galactic mercenaries who seem to be "gaming" their allies for better guns), I really started to like the extra dimension that they added to the Tau Empire.

The clincher for me was the discovery of the Kroot Mercenaries PDF (ping me if you are looking for this). Kroot Mercenaries was a variant list that allowed kroot to be taken as allies to a number of forces or to be run as an army in its own right. Granted the list was almost impossible to play on its own given the distinct lack of effective anti-armor. But the variety of new kroot units (winged kroot, mounted kroot, kroot shaper council, etc.) made for some compelling conversion opportunities. In addition, the army list rules actually advanced the background by allowing kroot to have specific upgrades based on the general species that they had frequently dined on.

From there I was hooked. I made some ebay purchases, messed around with conversions, and tried some quick painting techniques (which failed miserably) to bring them up to table top standard. Unfortunately, as this hobby goes, I was soon distracted by yet another difficult army to play - the Daemonhunters (not Grey Knights). Soon I was whipping gun metal blue on my Miles Cerulean (Blue Knights) and cheesing out my allied Inquisitor list as best I could - jk.

I have sporadically played my Tau in the years since, but never got back hardcore into the little fish heads. After the Daemonhunters, the Vostroyan Firstborn proved to be sufficiently distracting that I had little time to put paint to anything else and being spoiled for choice in the current IG book has not lent itself to looking back to the Tau.

But of course the wheel turns and we turn with it. The new Tau codex has inexorably drawn me back to the blue guys and I have finally started getting the army up to a table top standard. The good news is that my painting skill (and patience) have increased in the intervening years such that I am better able to do justice (even in an assembly line fashion) to my little, plastic soldiers. Re-enter the kroot...

While my firewarriors definitely need some fresh paint, I have re-discovered my interest in the kroot for their gritty look and updated rules - so they are getting the first cleanup. The rules are an interesting question as a few minor tweaks have fundamentally changed how kroot operate. They lost 1 attack and 1 point of strength which has seriously diminished their close combat ability. Before the update, kroot could make a reasonable stand against space marines and now they are good for picking off a few stragglers in close combat (if they are lucky).

On the flipside, the individual kroot dropped 1 point in cost, gained an armor save (6+), and have access to a shaper that is 33% cheaper than before. Perhaps most importantly, the kroot can now take sniper rounds for 1 point each in addition to their regular kroot rifles.  Without this upgrade, I would argue that the kroot got worse from previous edition to the current - with the upgrade they simply take on a different role in the army.

For 7 points each (6 + 1 for sniper rounds), the kroot become dirt cheap, infiltrating snipers that are fully capable of sniping a heavy weapon or lobbing a volley of S4 firepower or even taking down a monstrous creature. They still act as a great buffer between the precious firewarriors and an oncoming assault horde and with the benefit of markerlights, ethereal powers, and leadership buffs kroot can put out a lot of hurt for a relatively nominal cost.

This post kind of rambled around for a bit when it was really just an excuse to show off the newly painted kroot in the first image. These guys were basecoated with a flat camo khaki from Home Depot, given some base colors (belly, carry-alls, and guns), washed with devlan mud, then punched up with high contrast orange. The orange is my Tau's sept color (sa'cea) so the kroot quills and war paint are meant to tie the army together a little better.