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Stealthy ranged infantry. Good against infantry.
—In-game description

The Shinobi is an archer in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties that is unique to the Japanese and can be trained either by Shogun Tokugawa or at the Consulate when Japanese Isolationism is chosen as Shinobi-No-Mono. It has strong ranged and siege attacks, and can use stealth mode.


The Shinobi is a highly unusual unit. It has the hit points of a Musketeer, resistance of a Crossbowman, speed that is slightly lesser than a Pikeman, a high base damage and no multipliers. As a general rule Shinobi are strong against ranged units and very weak in melee combat. Additionally, they have exceptional siege damage for an archer unit. However, the siege animation is much slower than that of other ranged infantry, making Shinobis better than most archers at sieging, but worse than most heavy infantry, such as Musketeers. It can go into stealth mode to avoid enemy contact, but must avoid units and buildings that can uncloak stealthed units, such as hero units and Town Centers.

Shinobis are classified as Siege units, which comes with both advantages and disadvantages. It makes them very resistant to defensive structures, such as Outposts, Forts or War Huts (taking only half damage, which is further negated by their range resistance), but making them more vulnerable to Militiamen or their equivalent units. Their high base damage and hitpoints gives them a strong advantage against other ranged infantry. The Shinobi can beat nearly all Skirmisher-type units in a one on one fight. The primary disadvantage of Shinobi is their short range, although this can be negated by both their speed and stealth ability.

Shinobi can be difficult to mass early on, as they can only be obtained through the consulate with an export cost. In the Industrial Age and onwards, they can be massed by Shogun Tokugawa, and have the advantage over Yumi Archers of not having a wood cost. An odd characteristic of the Shinobi is that they seem to fire some sort of explosive arrow against buildings, rather than a grenade or a torch.

The Shinobi-No-Mono (Consulate Shinobis) have +10% hit points and attack than regular Shinobi.


The Shinobi is automatically upgraded in every Age starting from the Fortress Age. However, only the regular variant whose name changes to reflect this.

Fortress age up.png Disciplined Shinobi (+20% hit points and attack)
Industrial age up.png Honored Shinobi (+30% hit points and attack)
Imperial age up.png Exalted Shinobi (+50% hit points and attack)

Further statistics[]

As Shinobi(-No-Mono) are unique to the Japanese, only technologies that they have access to are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Heavy infantry, light cavalry, Eagle Runner Knights
Weak vs. Heavy cavalry, Hand Shock Infantry, artillery
Hit points Infantry Breastplate.png Infantry Breastplate (+10%)
Cree Tanning.png Cree Tanning (+5%)
Navajo Weaving.png Navajo Weaving (+5%)
Attack Carib Kasiri Beer.png Carib Kasiri Beer (+10%)
Carib Garifuna Drums.png Carib Garifuna Drums (+1.0x multiplier vs. villagers)
Seminole Bowyer.png Seminole Bowyer (+25%)
Tupi Poison Arrow Frogs.png Tupi Poison Arrow Frogs (+10%)
Yoga.png Yoga (+5%)
Clenched Fist.png Clenched Fist (+30% melee attack)
Speed Inca Road-building.png Quechuan Mountaineering (+20%)
Apache Endurance.png Apache Endurance (+5%)
Sight Town Watch.png Town Watch (+2)
Creation speed Standing Army.png Standing Army (-25%)
Inca Chaquis Messengers.png Quechuan Diet (-25%)

Home City Cards[]

As Shinobi(-No-Mono) are unique to the Japanese, only their cards and other civilizations' TEAM cards are shown in the following tables:


Translated to mean “one skilled in the art of stealth,” shinobi were masters of the art of stealth, also known as ninjutsu. They were peasants of no social rank, but in possession of expert skills that were sought after by generals and feudal lords, and that often fetched high prices. Most shinobi acted as assassins or spies, gathering reconnaissance information that could turn the tide of battle. While most feudal daimyo and honorable samurai waged a moral war against the outlaw shinobi, it is believed that many of these high ranking warriors actually were shinobi, and simply kept up the ruse of hunting the outlaws in order to deflect suspicion from their own actions.

Popular culture has grossly misrepresented the appearance of shinobi, and they are most often identified by a black suit that supposedly helped them blend into the darkness. However, shinobi most likely dressed in the typical peasant garb of fifteenth-century Japan: remnants of samurai armor, with perhaps the addition of a head covering, and a special piece of footwear called jika-tabi, which had a split-toe design that improved gripping and wall climbing and were virtually silent. The shinobi arsenal consisted of a variety of weapons and diversions, many of which utilized gunpowder. Smoke bombs, firecrackers, hand cannons, and even land mines were used to stun enemies, or to provide a moment of confusion that allowed the shinobi to escape. These gunpowder secrets were carefully guarded within the shinobi clan. Another form of trickery were the ashiaro, wooden pads that were carved to look like an animal's paw, or a child's foot, and could be worn to produce misleading footprints.

The numbers of shinobi reached its peak in the centuries of war before the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate and the beginning of the Edo Period in 1603. During the waning years of the shinobi and the samurai, writers recorded the techniques and weapons of these arts in technical manuals in order to keep the traditions alive. The most famous of these was the “Mansen Shukai", written in 1676 by ninjitsu master, Fujibayashi Samuji.