It’s Chibi Wednesday, and today we’re taking a look at the Yamazaru clan from Ninja All Stars, or as I prefer to think of them, Monkey Ninjas! Each clan in Ninja All Stars follows a totem of sorts, and for the mountain dwelling Yamazaru, known far and wide for their borderline ascetic stoicism bizarrely blended with a love of pranks and practical jokes, this totem is the Ninja. They are the advanced version of the Earth shrine clan, and are children of stone and of winter – hence their fur-trimmed garb. Their ways are mysterious (duh, they’re ninjas), and often confound the other clans who don’t understand many of their rituals. When your clan is reputedly fond of inventing more ways to stand out in bad weather for days, competing in the Moon Festival for the favor of the Moon Princess is a good way to show that there’s more to your people than rock and snow.
Each of the Ninja All Stars clans comes with the same variety of models – Chunin, Madoushi, Kaiken, Yajiri, Kunoichi, Oni and two named heroes. Today we’re looking at the core players of the clan. We’ll look at the Yamazaru heroes and oni in a future article.
The Yamazaru Chunin is hands-down the slowest of all the Chunin in Ninja All Stars, with a base movement of 4. This means you’ll need to spend those early turns running, and if you’re playing to outmaneuver your opponents, you’re playing the wrong clan. You are the mountain. Stand firm and show them what that means.
What thatactuallymeans is that the Yamazaru Chunin is the only Chunin in any of the clans that has both 4 Attack and 4 defense. Every other Chunin is 4/3 or 3/4, but no, our tough little monkey hits like a boss, and takes it on the chin just as well. As a Close Combat Master he can reroll any one dice in a Close Combat situation, and possessing Earth Mastery he can reroll any dice, once per turn, that don’t yield an Earth symbol. This means that when the Chunin is swinging, there’s a much higher chance of yielding at leasta stun result from melee.
As abilities, the Yamazaru Chunin can choose between Back Flip and Yama Fist.
- Back Flip allows the Yamazaru Chunin a little more maneuvrability by placing him into any of the three squares in his back influence zone that’s otherwise unoccupied, automatically succeeding any dodge rolls that were required.
- Yama Fist channels the power of the storm and trades the Yamazaru clan’s legendary resilience for higher power, making the Yamazaru Chunin +2/-2, effectively giving him 6 Attack and 2 Defense until the end of the round.
The Yamazaru mystics apparently like playing flutes and wearing baskets on their heads. 5 Movement is pretty standard for a Madoushi, and for Attack and Defense we have a 2/3 split, favouring the defensive side. As with all Madoushi, the Yamazaru Madoushi has mastery of his clan’s element, allowing for rerolls of any dice that don’t result in an Earth symbol.
The Madoushi can choose between Healing Herbs or Mountain Flute.
- Healing Herbs fuels tales of the toughness of the clan. Whenever a friendly model adjacent to the Madoushi is injured, you may instead place a Stun token on the Madoushi to ignore the Injured result.
- Mountain Flute is pretty bloody amazing in that it’s a Range 10 attack with Stealthy, so the Madoushi can pipe his tunes while being hidden in the trees without giving away his position. The flip side to that enormous range is that both Earth and Void results will only result in Stuns – you cannot injure your opponent with your tootling. That said, with Earth Mastery, the ability to hand out stuns willy-nilly at extreme range is hardly to be sneered at.
The Kaiken are the lifeblood of the Yamazaru clan. Your team *must* include at least two of them, though if you’re only fielding two I have questions for you regarding common sense and why you’re lacking any. Their movement of 5 is nothing exciting, but of the six clans, four follow the standard 2/3 or 3/2 split for attack and defense; only the Yamazary and Ijin Kaiken score 3’s in both, making them effective both on offense and defense.
During my playtesting with the Shrine clans I fell in love with Yajiri and their ranged attacks, so this is the most painful model in the team for me… the Yamazaru Yajiri aren’t particularly fast, and aren’t amazing archers. Their Attack and Defense is a frankly embarassing 1/1, and their Attack goes up to a mediocre 2 when they shoot. The models are adorable, but they’ll be the least-used models in the clan, and with good reason.
Finally, the cute little stabby girl ninjas of the clan, the Yamazaru Kunoichi. They are the fastest models in the clan, with a Movement of 7, and should be on your roster according. Much like the Kaiken, the Kunoichi are balanced both offensively and defensively at 2 Attack and 2 Defense. As with all Kunoichi, they also have the Nimble trait, allowing them to reroll dodge attempts. It should be noted that these are the only Kunoichi in the clans that are equal in their stats. Every other Kunoichi is 1/2 or 2/1, meaning that while they may not be as fast as some of their counterparts, in a clan that’s renowned for not being overly mobile, the Kunoichi will be invaluable, and when they get to their targets they’ll be able to give as good as they get – a claim no other clan’s Kunoichi can make.
Overall, the Yamazaru are known for their resilience for good reason. They are truly the children of the mountains, and are about as speedy. The Yamazaru are, overall, the slowest of of all the clans, but at the same time they also average out to be the toughest. A clan built for close combat, their ranged options are lacking, but their resilience means they can weather the storm.