Friday, October 31, 2014

Industrial Revolution - Mei Feng Tactics


In keeping with aggressive pose, Mei Feng is a powerhouse and anchor of her crew, which I quite enjoy, as I tend towards support commanders, so I'm very much in to the idea of a strong commander who can still run support a little.

She's got a bit of an odd character because, while she's a bouncing death ball and has some useful defensive support, it's her Henchman, Kang, who brings more of the power and offensive support to the crew.




(Wo)man of Steel: Stats and Core Abilities
Mei's got just plain solid stats, which are around the peak of a well-rounded commander. High DF and WP with immunity to Slow and Paralyzed (and, by extension, Horror, in most regards) gives her no real particular weakness. Add to this Armor and good WD count, and she's pretty tough to crack... Which is just what you want from a front-liner.

However, in true martial arts fashion, she's not just a brawler and, in case she gets overwhelmed, she's also got the ability to dodge out of the way, which should help her in the worst of situations (and/or set her up for the next round of attacks). I try to keep a high Mask, or a high card and a Stone ready, if it looks like she may need this, though will wait until I think my opponent has spent high cards on earlier attacks (even if it means I take some extra damage).

Due to her solid defense, she can go reasonably confidently at any point in the turn, though I'd tend to take her late in the turn if possible, since she has such good triggers that require successes.

Finally, she's allowed to take Foundry models regardless of faction, meaning the Rail Golem, Metal Gamin, and Willie from Arcanists, and Kang from Ten Thunders.


(A Call to) Actions
(core, plus some more from Upgrades)

Mei Feng's actions are ideally chained, and unlike many which are limited to one, or with some other restriction, her chains can stack for a very high number of additional, effectively free, actions. These should be considered in the context of her Upgrades, so I'm not including a separate Upgrade section... they're interestingly closely tied to each other.

Due to the reliance on triggers, I prefer to take her with a high Soulstone count so I can flexibly pick what I want.

Tiger's Claw
This attack has her highest Moderate damage, and an auto-trigger, which provides extra damage in two layers (Burning, then the bonus from it). However, applying Burning interrupts her action chain, so I prefer to use her triggers from upgrades.

Upgrade: Seismic Claws
I consider it a fantastic upgrade, and will pretty much always reach for this first.

Tremors is the meat and potatoes of this upgrade: If you've got a few low-Def models stuck near you (pinned by another model or terrain, for instance), you can easily multiply each of these actions into a few. This means, if Mei is able to get near a cluster of weak DF minis, you should likely go for it over something more valuable (unless it's likely to kill her), since she'll get much more mileage out of it.

Canny players will likely learn to treat her like a blast attack because of this, though she has the advantage of being able to push enemies around (though this will likely only affect the game if she began the turn engaged). You can force your opponent to dump a lot into defending against her because of the damage output she's capable of.

Rolling Ground is a nice other combo option (since the Kick can also chain), but more situational because it can't chain into other attacks and requires a suit.

Jackhammer Kick
This attack has a high melee range and high Strong damage going for it, and provides a strong buff, which stacks with the prevalent Armor in the crew, and itself.

The auto-push is an interesting part of the action, as you can potentially overextend yourself, but you can also use it to set up further combos by changing attack vectors or just engaging more models.

As part of a chain, it allows you to follow up, while it also can make her effective engagement range 6" (assuming they already started pretty far out). On disengaging, a couple things to note: You're not required to make a disengaging strike, and the movement could be detrimental, since she can end up leaving melee with other models, freeing them up, or she can enter her target's engagement zone while letting the target control the location.

Upgrade: Thunderous Smash
This is her Kick's specific upgrade. This highly depends on what your opponent is fielding: The more you expect they'll be relying on Markers, the better this is. For a point and a slot, I'd consider this very valuable if you think they're likely to be relying on any one type of Marker.

Rail Walker
This one relies on a lot of moderate cards, so, while you can get a silly amount of movement off of it, it's one I've felt is too demanding to use a lot: If not charging, to get an extra 2" or so, it takes a 7 and a potential failure (Black Joker); for 14", it takes 2 7's and 2 chances of failure, etc. It's also more demanding than a Charge, though you can do a lot to position for Jackhammer pushes if that's what you're going for.

I mostly use it just once to either dodge to safety or if a straight charge isn't viable. It's also possible to bounce Mei way over to get in position or make an Interact action if she's gotten out of position late game.

Note: Since it isn't a Push, a lot of standard moves, like Pounce, don't trigger on it.

Vent Steam
This means opponents will need to effectively halve their normal amount of actions when attempting to take your crew apart at range, so I'd definitely use it and take it slower with Mei the first turn, if you're looking at a bunch of guns (or swirly magic fingers) pointed your way. Remember that this affects all offensive spells, including melee ones and your own.

While you may be up against opponents who are really melee-heavy, against most lists, being able to force focuses on magic and ranged attacks is hugely valuable for a crew that could otherwise get shot up on the way to combat. I think this might be her most valuable action, considering how well it shuts down some lists and hinders most.

Upgrade: Vapormancy
I really like this Upgrade, since it allows you to chain either of your primary melee attacks into a crew buff, and get another set of attack options out of it.



Scalding Breath is worthwhile (especially at its cost), since it adds variety to her repertoire of attacks (rather than feeling like it's competing for her actions): It gives her a non-ML attack (so most parries don't work on it), a more accurate attack (1 higher than her others, good when 2 (+1 burning) damage is all you need), and adds the threat of a Blast to her types, and does burning to everyone off of that auto-trigger. The only problem I have with it is you can't chain (to or from).

Note: Remember that Breath is a melee range, so can be used on the charge, though Rail Walker lists which attacks it can chain to, so you can't leap straight in to a breath.

Other Upgrades
Mei Feng's upgrades are strange to organize, since so many are linked to her core actions, but the "other" category:

Price of Progress
This one looks pretty strong, given how much she wants to be at the front. I'd take her action upgrades first, since this less directly aids her offensive potential. Again, a nice, cheap one. I don't have the experience here, if it looks like she's killing 2-3 models on average, I expect this will become pretty standard, though at less a soulstone is probably more reliable.



One-Track Mind: Thematic Crew
Mei Feng's standard crew has quite a few things working for it: Armor (and general durability), Burning (though not the same reliance as others), and a fairly deceptive efficiency with actions (generating more or making them better) are what I'd consider the strengths, along with a general focus on close range.

Notes on my listing system: Along with her thematic options, I've listed entries that I consider strong (or potentially strong) with Mei, or just on their own. The key:

X – an X indicates the model is cross-listed with a full entry elsewhere.
Red Names - ones I particularly recommend (and ones I would look at first when padding out or improving Mei's crew)
Grey text - this indicates I haven't tested this model enough (or, in some cases, at all). I will be updating this list as I get to testing everything. Some of these are still theory, some have practice but no conclusive experience/data. For my own reminders and for anyone interested, I've highlighted my highest priority tests.

Embering
Mei's totem has nice defensive stats, so won't be much of a liability to her crew. As a Minion, the Emberling has the stats to be a good cheap objective runner when not assisting, and Incorporeal gives the little guy some good mobility to do run said objectives. Most of the time, he won't be winning you games, but at 3 points he's got a lot of utility.

Its ability to dump out a scrap marker needs something pretty good to be worth the high card and damage. (*cough* Toshiro *cough...)

It's also reasonable against low defense models (enough to try if you've got nothing particularly good to do late in the turn), and with a surprisingly long charge.

Metal Gamin
These guys are pretty nice for 4 SS. With Armor, Hard to Kill, Stand ground, and Protection of Metal, they're pretty focused on defense.

I'd be very hesitant to use Magnetism on friendlies, since your constructs don't tend to have a lot of health.

I really like having one of these guys attached to a slower model for 4 points, and they're reasonably good in numbers, and having 2-3 around can allow their defended models to slide through corridors of protection without needing to be as concerned about positioning. Alternatively, giving themselves/each other Protection of Metal is pretty strong, since they dramatically improve their damage (and any other Metal Gamins'), while buffing their own DF and not relying on positioning.

Kang
If you know/expect you're fighting Constructs/Undead/Terrifying guys, Kang is pretty obvious for a decent model with some nice buffs. If not, he's solid but not necessary, and I wouldn't consider him an auto-include, though his abilities outside the buff are enough to warrant taking him (he's just exceptional when he can make his fellow workers shine).

He's got some high durability, though not enough you can just throw him out there and expect he'll live. Since Can't Keep him Down is turn-dependent, I'll tend towards playing him in reserve mostly, since he becomes more effective on each passing turn.

While Hot Coals has the juicy-looking Blast and Burning trigger, I'll take the reliable accuracy and high damage of his Shovel whenever I can, instead.

Upgrade: People's ChallengeCombined with Kang's high durability and good damage, the trigger can be very threatening, and the possibility that you'll play a high tome (or high card and buy the suit) can be a strong deterrent. I haven't gotten any mileage out of Taunt yet, but I haven't written off the limitation that it adds.

Rail Golem
This Golem has more in common with Mei's style of attack (high volume) than he has particular synergy with the crew. He can gain DF from Metal Protection, but mostly goes solo.

He's got a whole bunch of ways of gaining Burning, and can either vent them all on his Boiler or spend a bunch in sequence on Locomotion.

If you've got some low-medium Tomes and a few Burning tokens, Locomotion is solid. If you don't, Vent Boiler is probably stronger, especially if you have 1 or 3 (since you don't gain extra non even numbers and your opponent is likely to spend higher cards if you have a ton of Burning, so they're probably wasted).

The Rail golem is pretty reliable, with a positive twist and a decent 3 weak damage but, with the lowish accuracy cap, I find him better at one-shotting little guys than going after your opponent's big guys.

Regarding durability, while the Golem is big and scary looking, it relies heavily on its high armor, so you may need the assistance of Metal Gamin or Vent Steam to keep it going.

I tend to prefer Howard Langston more, when available, despite the fun of running in-theme.

Rail Worker
These guys have some nice stats, a good melee attack, and a useful DF trigger: It has odd wording, in that it will affect collateral damage (Blast, etc.) and not just reduce damage on them (like with Armor).

Note: There's some debate over the wording on  this- I'll be leaving this and the note here, until something's resolved.

Their main strength compared to the rest of the crew is offensive: For the cost, they get a very nice Moderate damage of 4, which is aided by Implacable Assault effectively making all their melee attacks focused, which is made even better when stacked with Kang's buff.

Shovel Faster is useful in that a tie on an attack won't reduce damage, but its short range and reliance on Burning means I've never gotten much mileage out of it. It also has the benefit of not being a problem if it randomizes to one of your guys when shooting into melee, if none have Burning.

Rail Workers are definitely a strong choice on their own, but stack with basically all of Mei Feng's bonuses and requirements, plus they're living so they benefit from Kang's anti-Horror aura and buffs.

Willie
One of very few characters who's also a Minion. He's got a pretty accurate attack, but I think I'd be more inclined to use him to dump a bunch of explosions and either force my opponent to dump some medium cards early turn or take a bunch of little damage late turn w/o the cards left to cheat. Set Charge looks like it has synergy with the Union Miner. Not enough experience to comment further.

Foundry Upgrade: Hard Worker
Without much range, the LoS buff isn't very relevant in my opinion, except for buffing the LoS of the (0) action its owner hands out. Honestly, this one doesn't really matter who gets it as long as you're expecting they'll survive decently long, though Mei Feng has enough movement and melee range that she'd probably benefit from it most. It also gives a nice use for a couple bad cards, meaning you can get more mileage out of a poor hand (which is something I've learned to value highly after fielding Mei a lot).

Against the right enemy, stacking this with Kang's native anti-Undead/Construct aura is very strong, and it's certainly worth the 1-SS risk if you think there's a good chance of needing to fight a fair number of Undead or constructs, and at least has the above anti-Hard to Wound (0) that many other models have.


The Five Turn Plan: Tactics

Flying Fists
Mei has some absolutely amazing triggers. She can pretty regularly generate 3+ AP worth of actions off of a single move, which makes her potentially fantastically efficient. A few notes on how to set this up properly...

What you generally want is a late-turn activation, as you'll both have stripped your hand of some of the better cards, which, with Mei's accuracy, will tend to favor you. The ideal situation is to have 2-3 enemies with low DF (4 or under is perfect) pinned in by terrain or other models so when Mei launches attacks, she doesn't need to reposition her targets or potentially push them out of melee with her. If you can get this from a charge, great. If not, this is one of the strongest advantages Rail Walker gives you, since, even if the construct you're positioning dies, you've still got a scrap marker to bounce to, to precisely place Mei.

Mei uses a ton of cards when she activates, which is a noteworthy liability, as, even if you've got a perfect setup, it can be foiled by the Black Joker. If you haven't drawn it by the time Mei activates, very actively plan for it, since it will wreck your chain of actions if drawn  (if you draw it for your hand, I'd highly recommend trying to hold on to it for the high volume of flips you'll see in the middle turns). If you're saving that high Tome for pressurized Vent, or you're looking at Rail Walking and stretching your actions to get a couple attacks in at the end of her activation, consider how much your plans could be wrecked by not completing that chain, and decide if it's worth it to you to be slightly less efficient, but have a spare AP for trying again. The Red Joker on your opponent's side, or just a high enough DF, can also wreck your chain, so it's good to track those, and again go for the lowest-DF enemies it's worth it for Mei to personally attack.

As tempting as it is to try to chain indefinitely, luck will eventually swing your opponent's way, so it's worth looking at ending the chain early if there's a trigger you'd really like, without stretching yourself too thin (or you could do what I do, and get carried away, having her flail until she misses).

Smoke & Mirrors
Assuming your opponent has reasonable range or spellcasting, a good starting point is moving Mei into position to Vent Steam as an anchor for your crew. This ability can make enemy actions far less reliable or more action-intensive, and most importantly prevents cheating fate without focusing. Add any sort of cover, and your opponent's gunline will become pretty sporadic and/or unreliable.

Because of this, I'll tend to activate Mei late each turn, not only because her high volume of attacks benefits from targeting low-DF enemies without many cards, but also because I can get the most mileage out of Vent Steam each turn, before deciding if I want to use it the next. This tactic does encourage you to bunch Mei's crew, so watch out for blasts, but I've found that it excels at getting your crew through those first couple of turns where they're most likely to get shot up without being able to retaliate.

I often layer this with the Metal Gamin Protection of Metal, and Bleeding Edge Tech can really help you tank your crew, but neither are essential for this action.

Note: Remember that Vent Steam will also affect your attacks, so plan around the bubble, if you want to cast spells or shoot stuff. Often it won't matter since Mei will likely be engaging any threat there so it'll already be a poor option to shoot, but Scalding Breath is particularly noteworthy, here.

Note 2: You can, in fact, stack Vent Steam for some rather hideous defense against the right crew. Not normally something I'd focus on, but really strong if someone's hyper-focused or if you don't need Mei to do a lot this turn, or if you get the right triggers. (Sub?) Note: There's some debate over the legality of stacking like this- I'll be leaving this and the note here, until something's resolved.


Arise and Revolt! - Objectives
Mei & Kang are basically good at two things: Killing things up close, and surviving things (and, I guess, making their crew good at them, too). You should play to these strengths, and focus on objectives that allow you to

While you can achieve interact-based objectives, it's not what the crew excels at. The only of the interact objectives I'd encourage are the sort based on closing with enemies (Cursed Object, etc.) or getting to the enemy side of the board (since you'll be charging forward anyways).

I wouldn't recommend sending Mei to personally kill something with high defense (since that isn't where she excels), but anything that involves killing enemies or surviving in general are solid options.

You've got some serious anchor models that your opponent will have trouble removing- you may be able to play them for Frame for Murder with clever baiting.

The People's Army: Starting with Mei Feng
The boxed set pretty much starts you off on the right path. Mei's two upgrades will get a lot of versatility and triggers, while Kang is a solid choice and the Rail Workers benefit from most of their abilities.

Mei Feng
-Seismic Claws
-Vapormancy
Emberling
Kang
2 Rail Workers
(4 SS cache)

If going up against Neverborn, Ressers, Arcanists, or Outcasts, it's probably worth the gamble for Hard Worker. If you have the room, People's Challenge is probably a good buy, too. This will put you in the 28-31 SS range, to add to as you see fit. The Emberling is there to run objectives since it's cheap and mobile. The scrap drop is a bit expensive, so mostly you're buying a cheap Minion in her core list, since your other models will be busy killing stuff.

From here, you'll probably want some cheap infantry (Metal Gamin fit the bill) and a second big guy, or some more medium-weight infantry, and I'd prefer bringing a decent ranged option. 3-4 constructs is probably a good range to try to hit for Rail Walker (more is fine, but that's about the range you should go out of your way to select for).

Mei's boxed set is kind of a strange beast, and isn't actually that necessary to take any of her pieces for her play style: 

Rail Walkers are nice, but are mostly a collection of decent synergies on a good stat line. Similarly, Kang isn't actually necessary. If you have another strong piece in mind, that's fine, but he's pretty strong on his own, regardless of synergy. Finally, as mentioned above, even if not going for synergy, the Emberling is often worth it just to do a little manual labor. They're all good, but none are what I'd call essential.



Industry and Origins: Arcanist vs. Ten Thunders
Mei has a pretty flexible play style, and her Infiltration means she'll have enough Construct options that her Rail Walker abilities aren't wasted or pigeon-holing in Ten Thunders.

Currently, I basically feel like her Arcanist upgrade options are stronger (and you can run, while I like her Ten Thunders out-of-theme model choices more, despite not really feeling as thematically fun as the Union.

I tend to gravitate towards Ten Thunders, unless I'm focusing on a minion-heavy Construct list with Bleeding Edge Tech as an anchor.


Don't Feel Railroaded: Non-thematic options
The Foundry theme is pretty one-note, so you'll probably eventually want to look elsewhere. Furthermore, there's very little in the Foundry theme that specifically buffs Mei or goes exceptionally well with her (they're just good pieces on their own), so I could easily see an entire crew made of non-thematic options (though it'd be easier with Arcanists, since they have more in the way of
Constructs than Ten Thunders). Some general thoughts on what makes a good addition to her crew.

Mostly what Mei Feng provides her crew is defense, and all she's looking for is Burning (which she can provide for herself, and is hardly essential) and constructs/scrap markers.

Assuming you're taking Kang, you've got a big incentive to include a few Living models if you're worried about Horror, but it's pretty easy to go pure-Construct.

Note: The only rule in her crew which explicitly works with the Foundry characteristic is the Hard Worker Upgrade's granted (0) action, so if you're getting enough Burning and Constructs already (I'd aim for at least a few of each), it's pretty open to pick and choose based on objectives.

Note (2): I'm focusing on Mei as an Arcanist first, mostly because I feel like the models fit her aesthetic better, and there are more options with clear synergy outside of her theme.


First, playing to the crew's strengths:
Mei works well with constructs or even scrap markers, but I don't feel more than 2-3 constructs are strictly necessary to get enough mileage out of her crew (this is more important as Ten Thunders, since Arcanists have no shortage of constructs).

Burning is in a kind of weird place, where it isn't strictly necessary for playing the theme, but can certainly be made better. I'm looking at exploring a burning-heavy list, since, again, I don't feel it's necessary so it may also not become overspecialization.

Overreliance on tricks can hold you back, however, so some options moving away from her strengths:
The crew has a lot of armor, and I don't really feel like more than 1 armor is great for a model, since it relies heavily on something that can be circumvented by some models or abilities and you start to pay for it (1 native + 1 from Mei's Stance is more efficient, I think, than the extra you pay/a model relies on 2 native, +1 from her Stance). Anything that you think fits, which uses other defenses (terrifying, high stats, high WD count, etc.) is worth considering.

I personally don't like only bringing knives (however speedy or durable) to a gun fight. Some ranged options will definitely be a nice addition once you've gotten the core filled.


Elevating the Common Man: Upgrades
Most generic faction upgrades seem pretty redundant with Mei's, so only listing the ones with extra potential.

Arcane Reservoir (Arc)
I have trouble judging how much this specifically factors into Mei's play style (vs. just being a good upgrade), but an extra card in your hand is a solid (if expensive) option, and Mei's durable enough that you can expect to benefit from it for most of the game.

Bleeding Edge Tech (Arc)
Since it's very easy to design an Arcanist crew heavily around construct minions, this one's just pure gold. Great with the Rail Golem, though any reasonably durable M&SU would be great with this. If mostly going in-theme, this alone would likely be enough to convince me to play her as an Arcanist.

Imbued Energies (Arc)
A strong option when chaining actions on Mei or getting that extra push of an action if you think you'll need it, my only hesitation is I don't like buying one-use items (though I guess that's what Soulstones are, anyways...).

On Wings of Wind (TT)
The push is fantastic with Mei's already high mobility. It doesn't give you something that new, since you can already Place and Mei has multiple Push options, but it requires neither an action nor a duel. Mostly, tempest Heart looks very solid, since she doesn't have a (0) natively.

Recalled Training (TT)
Given in particular Mei Feng's high action count/ability to multiply/chain actions, this seems likely worth a soulstone. Also, with The People's Challenge, Kang could be basically immovable for a turn.

Recharge Soulstone (Arc)
A variant on The Price of Progress- I think I like it better, due to her suit reliance.

Smoke Grenades (TT)
These could cover your advance/prevent ranged retaliation? Not sure yet.

Workin' in a Coal Mine: Burning Models
You don't really need a ton of these, but a few are definitely nice largely, in my opinion, for the accuracy buff you can give Mei. These models are also mostly strong in their own right, so I don't consider taking a bunch of these an over-reliance on Burning. I would avoid focusing too much on this synergy, and tend to play fine without it: It's mostly just nice to consider as an added benefit.

Arcane Effigy (Arc)
This is just theory, but the Effigy seems like it could keep pace with Mei well, and auto-Burning (or forcing a discard) with her attacks seems great.

The Captain (Arc)
A speedy melee piece with an armor buff? Sounds like Mei, jr. Airburst is a nice bit of maneuvering, since Mei is generally at her best when she can pick her targets. Burning effects and M&SU are just gravy.

The Firestarter (Arc)
Well, ah, the name is pretty obvious. Ignition is nice in that it won't damage the Rail Golem, and the Firestarter's high range is a nice change from the relative nearness required for most of Mei's Burning effects.

Fire Gamin (Arc, X)
Friekorps Specialist (Merc)
Theory only.

Monk of the High River (TT, X)

Union Miner (Arc)I'm not sure how they got a welder to shoot 10", but another Burning shot attached to a pretty good set of stats is nice. Probably not worth it, outside of a Burning list or going for schemes perhaps.


More Powerful than a Locomotive: Heavies
The Captain (Arc, X)

Howard Langston (Arc)
For a point more than the Rail Golem, uh, wow. The accuracy (I prefer higher base over a positive twist most of the time) and higher weak damage are great, and Nimble/Flurry are going to get you reasonably close to the Golem's attack output, while Terrifying and Steam Cloud are both nice bonuses. Fun Burning shenanigans aside, I think you get a lot more raw power for that point.

Joss (Arc)
Joss hacks off scrap markers, and has some very nice, pretty accurate attacks. I'm also really liking the buff of his (0) upgrade, which is pretty easy to cast considering its effect, once he's gotten stuck in. My only issue with him is no extra actions, though his reasonable speed and melee range helps compensate.

Mechanical Rider (Arc)
I like summoners. I like summoners with easily hit TN's. I like reactivations, mobility, and versatile attack options. The Mechanical Rider has a lot going for it, and I definitely want to see how it plays in more games, but Arcanists have a ton of nice 4SS options to summon.

The Great Leap Forward: Ranged Options 
I always prefer to take a little range if I can, even if it makes a less-optimized crew, just because I never like being stuck against a ranged force with little to do but skulk (and have been on the shooty side of that equation enough to know better).



December Acolyte (Arc)
Stripping Armor and Hard to Wound, on top of a solid defensive and offensive stat line and a gun, makes these guys look pretty tempting.


Gunsmith (Arc)
The Hard Way makes these guys a better choice if going for the Burning theme. I prefer to use a double-positive twist to punish opponents late in turns, since the 3 cards will have a hugely better accuracy than a single DF flip. If not focusing on Burning enough , these guys are pretty expensive.


Fire Gamin (Arc)
A more offensive Gamin, a decent ranged attack and death burst (both with Burning) are its selling points. It also has a pleasantly high speed. These guys are good enough that I'd consider taking one or two as a cheap ranged option, even outside of the Burning focus.

The Proletariate: Rank & File
Your basic fighters. They'll be doing most of the killing or the getting killed.

The Illuminated (TT)
I'm not really sure why these are dual faction instead of just Neverborn, but they are, and they're ridiculously tough with some solid offense, enough to warrant a high cost and no specific synergy except those nice Minion and Living tags that will allow your buffing models to help out their expensive friends. Remember, they've got mind bullets, too.

Komainu (TT)
I've only ever summoned these friendly little robo-puppies, but they're quite solid (and this isn't to say hiring is bad, I just like squeezing the points out of my list). As a summon, they'll be benefitting from a ton of synergy right off the bat, as minions (for Toshiro's buffs), constructs (for Mei's hopping), next to an Ancestor (for their auto-trigger), and capable of doing burning (one of said triggers).

Beyond this, dropping one with Guard the Soul in a decently defended position (some cover and Vent Steam is probably the easiest) and playing Guard the Soul can create a serious annoyance to casting opponents, and their WP-targeting attack adds variety to a very physical offensive front.

Monk of the High River (TT)
Burning is obvious, but the combination with high mobility and DF is why I'm interested in these guys.

Support and Objective Runners
These are for more specific roles, which doesn't necessarily mean you won't be using them to fight, but you should be bringing them with a specific objective (regarding support or scenario objectives in mind).

Chiaki the Niece (TT)
Layers of durability (possibly further enhanced by Mei's abilities) and defensive support (condition removal and healing on a pretty easy TN for what you get) are solid, but I feel like her Upgrade is pretty necessary for offensive support if it turns out she's not needed defensively, since that's a lot of points invested in some poor damage.

The Firestarter (Arc, X)

Johan (Merc)
Another condition remover, this one comes with a serious punch and the M&SU tag. I've always thought he's great for his price. (Mostly suggested for Arcanists since you're paying the merc tax and Chiaki can provide the same in-faction, though without the kill-o hammer.)

Soulstone Miner (Arc)
This weird little robot is highly mobile, and good if you need a model to run an objective in enemy territory, since a lot of Mei's crew will be busy killing stuff. It's fairly expensive for an objective runner, but it has a pretty good threat range to pick off other objective runners or opportunistically finish someone off for a Soulstone. It's also pretty durable and, if it's really got nothing left to do and the game's ending soon, it can damage itself to add to your Soulstone pool. Finally, it's a pretty good anchor for Rail Walker, though I'd consider that more of an opportunistic thing than a reason to take it.

Mr. Tannen (TT)
I've played against him and his anti-interact and anti-cheating tech are strong for his lowish cost. He needs play experience for further comment.

Tengu (TT)
Cheap, mobile, and with a lot of Scheme marker interactions, it's pretty obvious what these guys were designed for. A Song for Night and Day can also do a lot with constructs' generally small health that's so often armor-reliant (and armor-buffed), and is pretty nice to heal up Toshiro's summons.

Toshiro the Daimyo (TT)
Again, a bit weird that he's a general TT choice, but his reasonably high durability and the ability to pass out Focused or Fast is pretty nice. The Emberling is golden with Toshiro, since it can drop Toshiro summoning immediately. He also gives bonuses to Minions, which Kang is already assisting, so you can get some dire bonuses against enemies you can stack against.

I'm feeling like Toshiro will likely become a staple for my Mei TT crew. While he doesn't give the degree of support Kang does, he's very flexible in not requiring a target type of model and in being a summoner as well as supporter and fighter.

Something else to consider, here, is that his use of corpses can work as denial against a Resser player, since you can haphazardly use up their valued resource.

His buffs are strong enough that, in a minion-heavy crew, he's fine without summoning (though I personally will rarely pass up the opportunity to have at least one summoner).

Note: Remember, Toshiro's buff does work on unusual melee attacks such as Sh or Ca attacks, since it's based on the range type, not the offensive stat.

Union Miner (Arc, X)

Wastrel (TT)
The movement and defensive capabilities of these stylish gangsters means they look like pretty good for the assist or striking out on their own for an objective, if you have a few points left over.

Yamaziko (TT)
Vent Steam helps with Yamaziko's biggest weakness (getting torn apart at range due to her low DF), while Braced Yari can make Mei's Vent Steam cloud even more obnoxious, since it basically means the only way to attack reliably is to walk up and whack someone at that point. This seems like it has a lot of potential.