It's been a long rocky road with Yan Lo. At first he was shelved for being "useless" then forgotten about whilst Ironsides took center (mosh pit) stage until finally I decided that I needed to give him a chance. I liked everything that was on his cards and upgrades but at first couldn't put them to use in actually winning games (Or at the very least, making it frustrating for my opponent to overcome). At some point I stepped back and thought to myself "when am I going to stop chopping and changing masters and start putting some table time into making one great?" It worked with Rasputina & Ironsides but not so much with Ramos, Misaki or Mei Feng.
The Yan man was very tough to play as at first and that primarily came down to two things: The damn Chi and the "reliance" on the Ancestor tagline.
Chi is dead easy once I set it up. Yan Lo is slow guy so getting anywhere near where I wanted to be first turn was going to leave him out in the open (A mistake I made plenty at the start). I've had great success with Clockwork Trap killing first turn and it's set me up for the rest of the game with Ash Acendant and Ca7; Ca8 if I felt discarding for Chi was worthwhile the next turn. After that, bodies hit the floor or Soul Porter gives him more Chi if required. Really easy and after playing him for so long, Chi has never once been a problem using the Trap method.
I've dismissed Yan's ancestral reliance in previous posts and it remains true to this day. Building a core list to "include at least 3 ancestors" left me with roughly 15-17ss left to build with, thus not making a core so much as making an all-comers list that has a pair of switch-outs, ergo struggling with anything that isn't Turf war with Breakthrough (which is in my mind the default strategy all-comers lists build to).
I've used Summoning Toshiro yes but outside of Soul Porter giving him a shove his Ancestor tag has never played a role in my games. I've also used Yin in some games but again, I used her for her absolutely bonkers defenses and ability to stop movement, not simply because she has a tag that's barely mentioned. Remember, Reliquary doesn't bring back upgrades.
Sooner or later though, even with all the success or all of the time spent honing skills, you want a change. I have met very few people who have been playing this game for more than 6 months who haven't changed masters or at least thinking about it very strongly. There's a lot of choice and using only your first master does become boring after a time. The time has come for Yan Lo and quite honestly I'm saddened that he didn't get a better send off.
My last three games were simply speaking, bad match-ups with Pushes and Armor taking the main blame. Turning the average damage track of 2/3/4 in Lo's crew into 1/2/3 or even worse 1/1/2, creates poor Ap efficiency so if there is a tough melee brawler with armor who bosses up to my guys and I don't have a convenient Clockwork Trap to the side in order to save everyone, I'm stuck doing 3 damage a turn to a 10Wd+ model whilst they are busy spitting red-hot destruction. When I flurry with Punk Zombies, I want models dead, not viciously scratched. Ronin and Pathfinder are the only anti-armor tech I have but they are really easy to take out in two Ap so I was stuck. The masters that have this as a main tactic/defense are hard-fought when you're taking Yan Lo and quite honestly, I would suggest someone else if facing these threats but this is Malifaux, sometimes you will get into terrible match-ups and you have to take it on the chin and move on.
Even so, my time with Yan Lo has been a memorable one, it's been thought provoking to take a master that on the surface looks to be a dud and start surprising myself with just how effective he can be. Yes he has bad match-ups, 80% of all Malifaux masters do but in the games where he's not facing Armor and Blasts he does bloody well and is going to be a master I will miss playing. Alas all good things must come to an end, it's time to consider another master who hasn't had so much table time. With any luck, they will be just as fun to play as Yan Lo has been. Keep strong and have fun out there.