With Kyuubi, the male counterpart to Kitsune, Temple players receive a second foxlike Yokai; Ashinaga Tenage being the third Yokai that Temple players have access to at the moment. Kyuubi can be considered somewhat of a specialist, as can Kitsume. I say specialist, because three things are jumping out at you right away: high rice cost, Melee Skill 3 and 5 wounds. These stats must hold up in comparison with monks, such as Riku, Kenko, Yumi, Suchiro and Akari, all of whom bring Melee Skill 4 and a multitude of traits, special attacks and Feats – often for less rice. So what is the added value of Kyuubi over the beat stick monks?
Let’s start with his unique effect first. Kyuubi gains +1 Melee Skill and Sharp, when resolving a melee exchange against a Shugenja or Shisai model. As suggested by the unique effect, I will go ahead and consider Kyuubi’s main task to hunt Shugenjas and Shisais. This makes Kyuubi especially useful against the Ito Clan, which has the most models of this type: Ayako Ito, Mizuki Ito, Sakura and Satsuki. Prefecture (Daisuke, Matsu Takashi and Shuichi), Cult (Ikiryo, Kato and Waku) and Savage Wave (Ushi, Wu-Zang and Zung Fu) also have a good pool of models with the Shugenja or Shisai characteristics. Against the Silvermoon Trade Syndicate and Temple, Kyuubi cannot fulfill his specialist role as the Trade Syndicate do not have Shugenja or Shisai models in their ranks and you do not really need Kyuubi to take out an enemy Aiko either, as anyone who reaches Aiko will likely succeed.
What seems odd, at least for the time being, is the special rule Sharp, as Shugenja or Shisai models, with the exception of Ushi, do not have Armour or Toughness. Instead they usually try to protect themselves by causing Fear. Fortunately, Kyuubi does possess Bravery. But might the Fearless special rule have been a better choice? Only Ushi possesses Toughness, but honestly, if you see Kyuubi coming anywhere near Ushi, I would just switch to Kemono’s profile!
The special attack and defense for 0 die is a nice touch. Combo Attack at no cost is always useful, and especially against durable kami models. Counter Attack Defense is also rather offensive in nature. The real defenses are already built in through the traits Parry and Strong Mind. Sixth Sense, one of the traits I look for the most in the Temple faction, is a good counter against Camouflage. Kyuubi and Kitsume are a cheaper way to include the Sixth Sense trait into your war band than for example Sojobo. While all models with Sixth Sense can utilize fact that amidst a brawl they will never be surprised, Kyuubi, Kitsume and Sojobo can actively seek out camouflaged models.
The Ki characteristic and Ki Feats are another area in which Kyuubi knows how to shine. The Ki characteristic of 2/9 is very nice and means he can use a least one Ki Feat per round – as they all cost two Ki. Apparition and Vault allow for movement tricks, while Lurker allows Kyuubi to stay camouflaged, unless the enemy is two inches away. All three Ki Feats make Kyuubi very versatile as there are multiple ways in which to utilized them both in a defensive or offensive manner.
All in all, I am very intrigued by Kyuubi. However, the fact that Kyuubi only has Melee Skill 3 and 5 wounds makes him rather fragile. As his preferred prey Shugenjas and Shisais only have Melee Skill 2 or less, this seems fine. Against other models, especially hard hitters, Kyuubi needs to pick his battles more carefully. For this he needs to make use of his Ki traits. Another downside is his average speed. Kyuubi wants to find the Shugenjas and Shisais in the backfield. An additional movement or the ability to buy additional movement might have been a nice addition, but maybe too much with the Apparition Ki Feat. Yet, I begin to wonder if Kitsume does not have the edge here. Kitsume is more defensively oriented than Kyuubi, but through her ability to shape shift into her fox form, she becomes much more mobile than Kyuubi. Unfortunately, I feel that both, Kyuubi and Kitsume, might be one rice point too expensive each. For me personally, Kyuubi will be used against Cult players a lot, and to hunt Bikou.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
– kleiner gargoyle