New T’au Empire models give Kroot the makeover they deserve

The Kroot Hunting Pack contents, assembled on a wasteland board
(Image credit: Ian Stokes)

Welcome to the T’au empire, gue'vesa! While they’re known as the blue dudes in anime mech suits, the T’au Empire is a coalition of races that welcomes all species into the fold, as long as they’re willing to embrace the Greater Good. The most prominent of these alien auxiliaries being the Kroot, a race of bird-like mercenaries who eat their prey. Delightful.

The Kroot were a part of the T’au Empire since the faction joined Warhammer 40K way back in 3rd Edition, but that was over 20 years ago, and their model range hadn’t really been updated since then. That is, until now. With the launch of the 10th Edition T’au Empire Codex, the Kroot model range has received a full refresh — all the old models have been redone, and there are a bunch of new ones to boot.

We picked up the new Kroot Hunting Pack starter set (which you can grab from Amazon for $185.49 right now instead of $220, or for a heavily reduced £121.50 at Wayland Games if you're based in the UK) which comes with the first wave of these new Kroot models, so let’s check them out and see whether they’re worthy additions to your T’au army. 

Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys (Kroot Carnivores) 

A collection of Kroot Carnivores on a wasteland battlefield

(Image credit: Ian Stokes)

Kroot are often described as cannibals in the lore, but that’s not entirely fair. They don’t eat other Kroot, they just eat all the other sentient races they battle against. This brings us onto the first new set of models, the Kroot Carnivores.

These are the main, frontline troops that you’ll find in Kroot armies. The new models don’t revolutionise the look of the humble Kroot Carnivore – they’re still lanky, wry birdmen carrying hunting rifles. However, they’ve benefited a lot from 20+ years of model-making advancements; there are a much greater variety of faces and poses within the squad, they’ve gained a new special weapon, and there are loads of extra details on their packs and clothing – even their muscles are more defined!

There’s a price to pay for these nicer models though, as you only get 10 models per box, as opposed to the 16 models that we used to get with the old set. Now, given that you take them in squads of 10 or 20, getting 16 Kroot in a box wasn’t hugely useful, but it’s still worse value for money than the old set. The new kit is undoubtedly high quality, so I think the tradeoff is worthwhile here.

In game, Kroot Carnivores are a solid scouting unit that can start the game further up the board than the rest of your force. They’re a reasonable skirmishing unit that will quickly fold if any real firepower comes their way. Their party trick is that objectives they hold stay under your control even after they leave (either willingly or via a forceful eviction). This means your opponent has to walk up and take an objective off you to claim it, they can’t just blast you off from range.

 You better shape up (War Shaper & Flesh Shaper) 

Leading the Kroot are the Shapers. Whereas previously we only had one, now there are three variants of the Shaper: Trail Shaper, War Shaper, and Flesh Shaper – the latter two of which are included in the Hunting Pack box set.

Kroot War Shaper model on a wasteland backdrop

(Image credit: Ian Stokes)

War Shaper

The War Shaper takes on the role of the classic Kroot Shaper, serving as a general-purpose leader. The new model stands out from the rank and file thanks to the ornate, animal pelt cape and tactical rock. There are a couple of weapon options you can build him with: either a bow and a tri-blade, or a staff and lasso-type thing – I went with the bow because it looks sick.

In game, he offers some slightly better melee combat for the squad he joins, but the real benefits come from his two special rules: War Leader and Root of Honour. Root of Honour allows you to remove Battle Shock from a unit once per battle, letting that unit control objectives and benefit from stratagems. War Leader lets you use a Battle Tactic stratagem for free once per battle round. This is decent in any T’au army, but it’s amazing in the Kroot Hunting Pack detachment which has some strong, Kroot-focussed stratagems.

Kroot Flesh Shaper model on a wasteland backdrop

(Image credit: Ian Stokes)

Flesh Shaper

As the gruesome name might suggest, the Flesh Shaper is less about leading and more about stabbing. He’s got a pair of gnarly looking blades and he’s ready to brawl. The model is nicely sculpted to help him stand out from the unit he joins thanks to his bulkier physique and aggressive pose.

This dude is all about the fight, and both his special rules exemplify this. Ritual Butchery gives any unit he joins sustained hits in melee (6s to hit = two hits). Meanwhile his Rites of Feasting gives his unit a Feel No Pain 6+ (a roll to ignore damage taken after a failed save), which improves to a 5+ if the unit ever destroys an enemy unit in combat.

He offers some decent buffs, but they’re limited in their application. Kroot Carnivores are chaff skirmishers, not elite fighters, and applying buffs to a bad combat unit to make them just mediocre feels like a pointless endeavour. He also hits like a wet noodle. If you’re running the Kroot detachment, you can stack enough other buffs on his unit to make him decent, otherwise this guy probably stays on the shelf.

Cannibal chickens riding gorillas (Krootox Rampagers and Krootox Rider)

Finally we come to the stars of the show, the Krootox. While your average Kroot is a skinny birdman, Krootox are beefcake gorillas. Absolute units. The classic Krootox Rider has received a new model, and alongside that we also have a new melee unit in the Krootox Rampagers.

Krootox Rider on a wasteland backdrop

(Image credit: Ian Stokes)

Krootox Riders

The Krootox is an update of an existing model, and it’s one hell of a glow up. The old resin/metal model was weirdly thin due to how the models were cast, but this new version is thicc in all the right ways. The squat pose proudly displays the Krootox’s bulging forearms dug into the ground, with the rider operating the cannon mounted on its back. The Krootox itself has been adorned with chains and jewellery to showcase the respect that the Kroot gives to these powerful steeds.

There are several head options to add variety if you have multiple, and a couple of weapon options too. There’s the classic Repeater Cannon as well as the brand new Tanglecannon. And, because you get a different weapon mount and rider torso for each gun, it’s really easy to magnetise and swap out between them, which is a very nice touch.

In game, the Krootox is a nice support unit that can retaliate when nearby Kroot get shot. That rule won’t come up too often, but outside that the Krootox Rider is cheap, tough, and hits surprisingly hard. You’ll probably just run them alone as skirmishing and objective scoring units outside of the Kroot detachment, yet they’re viable in any style of T’au list. My only complaint is the cost per model — you get one per box and each box costs almost as much as a squad of three equally-big Krootox Rampagers. Speaking of which…

Krootox Rampager models on a wasteland background

(Image credit: Ian Stokes)

Krootox Rampagers

If sitting back and shooting isn’t your style, then… well, why are you playing T’au? But also, who cares because here come the new Krootox Rampagers to satiate your need to run up and punch things.

These variants of the Krootox are younger, more aggressive versions of the venerable Krootox. Forgoing the big gun on their back, these Krootox are all about the brawl. These new models are probably the highlight of this release. There are three models in the box and each of them has a unique and highly dynamic pose showing them hurtling towards the enemy. The riders look excellent too, wielding a number of sharp implements as they cling on for dear life.

On the battlefield, these fearsome brutes finally give the T’au a proper melee unit. They hit reasonably hard, although their lack of armour piercing means they’re going to bounce off hard targets like Terminators. Their special rule, Kroot Linebreakers, does help alleviate that a bit by dealing a bunch of Mortal Wounds on the charge, which should bypass almost all the usual defences that elite infantry rely on. I do wish they hit just a little harder given their size, but we can’t have everything.

Should you buy the new Kroot models for Warhammer 40K?

Kroot War Shaper model on a wasteland backdrop

(Image credit: Ian Stokes)

Kroot have always been a crucial part of the T’au Empire, both in the lore and on the tabletop, and it’s fantastic to see them finally get some love from Games Workshop. The whole coalition of races aspect of the T’au fell by the wayside and I’d love to see it picked back up. Maybe we’ll get new Vespids and add some new races down the line?

For now, this line-up is well worth looking at for T’au players. The 10th Edition T’au Codex features a Kroot detachment and, if you want to play that, you’re going to need multiple units of all these models. For regular T’au players, the regular Kroot Carnivores and Krootox Riders are the standout units that I’d definitely recommend picking up. And, if you want to add some melee punch to any T’au army, the Krootox Rampagers are fantastic. You can probably skip out on the Shapers unless you’re building a larger Kroot force though.

It’s also worth noting that there are a few more Kroot units due out soon. Kroot Hounds are getting new models and there’s the awesome Lizard-riding Kroot Lone-spear, along with the third (and best) of the Shapers, the Trail Shaper. We’ll take a separate look at them when they drop later this month. In the meantime, get out there and feast on your foes spread the Greater Good across the galaxy.

For recommendations on what to play next, check out the best board games and the best tabletop RPGs.

Ian Stokes

Ian Stokes is an experienced writer and journalist. You'll see his words on GamesRadar+ from time to time, but Ian spends the majority of his time working on other Future Plc publications. He has served as the Reviews Editor for Top Ten Reviews and led the tech/entertainment sections of LiveScience and as Tech and Entertainment Editor.