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Neural Upgrade: Who do I vote for?

Introduction

With the upcoming Neural Upgrade vote (scheduled for Sep. 17-19th) teased in the September Roadmap drawing closer, players may be wondering which units they should pick when the poll drops, especially as MICA team has given no hint as to the gameplay effects of these remodels, opting to only share their MOD III artworks in the teaser banners that have rolled in over the weeks. 

This guide serves to provide a brief overview of each and every potential unit in this upcoming batch, so that readers can both make an informed choice and prepare their own armory for their eventual release on EN.

Official Neural Upgrade Vote Image
Official Neural Upgrade Vote Explanation Image

2★ Remodels

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M1911

Currently the only Smoke Grenade user among HGs, M1911 has a fairly respectable 20% Rate of Fire/50% Accuracy tile buff covering the four directly adjacent tiles, allowing for positioning either at position 4 between the backline DPS, or position 8 to buff one DPS and serve as an offtank. 

While she may be a common T-Doll who’s used as enhancement fodder on a daily basis, commanders who have trained M1911 up have often gotten a good return on investment from this 2★ HG, thanks to the ubiquitously useful nature of Smoke Grenade. 

Neural Upgrade

m1911 mod card

M1911’s Smoke Grenade significantly improves after remodel due to her increased rarity that results in a stronger debuff which matches UMP45’s Skill multipliers. Her tile buff also improves slightly, gaining a 4% Rate of Fire increase for a total of 24% RoF and 60% Accuracy. 

M1911’s MOD II Skill brings a significant functional change to her gameplay by adding the auxiliary effect of letting her fire seven consecutive double-damage shots rapidly after throwing her Smoke Grenade. Here’s a short video of her new Skill, Desperate Sharpshooter in action: 

The very short initial cooldown of this powerful burst damage skill surprisingly makes M1911 an excellent DPS option for 5HG echelons, outperforming GSh-18 for many scenarios due to the dual benefit of Smoke Grenade reducing incoming damage and the quick upfront burst taking out enemies early. Even in standard ARSMG or RFHG teams where she is used as support, the damage added is essentially free and softens up approaching enemies before main DPS units come online.

Commanders who have previously used M950A to solo-HG farm limited drops on a budget will be happy to know that M1911 Mod becomes a much more reliable option for that purpose.

MOD III Special Equipment

M1911 receives the XM261 ACP ammunition, which is a slightly better Hollow Point ammo with 17 instead of 15 Damage. If fully enhanced, this represents about a 4-5% increase to her Damage and will be noticeable for commanders that use M1911 for her Desperate Sharpshooter Skill. 

G3

G3 is a 2★ AR with an Anti-Personnel Grenade Skill and a surprisingly high Damage stat of 55 that far surpasses every other grenadier except FAL. Unfortunately, G3’s low rarity means her Skill comes with a similarly low multiplier, canceling out this edge in base stats. Furthermore, her tile points directly upwards, which means it would be affecting precisely zero SMGs in a typical echelon.

This combination of unfortunate attributes effectively relegates G3 to unused status, due to the abundance of accessible and more effective Anti-Personnel Grenade users in the AR pool. 

Neural Upgrade

g3 mod card

G3’s tile coverage is expanded to also cover the tile directly in front of her, with the tile effect improved from 50% ACC/20% RoF to 55% ACC/25% RoF. While it is not a Damage-boosting tile, the increased Accuracy and Rate of Fire does still somewhat improve the damage output of an SMG T-Doll in front of G3.

As a result of the Neural Upgrade, G3’s stat caps improve further and her Anti-Personnel Grenade’s multiplier is increased to the 4★ standard of 12x damage, improving her skill damage to match that of M4 SOPMOD II. 

G3’s MOD II Skill, Freezing Point of Bravery, is a passive skill that modifies her Anti-Personnel Grenade: any targets hit by the explosion will either be stunned for 1.6 seconds if they have 50% or more HP, or take an additional 4x Damage (for a total of 16x) if their HP is under 50%. 

While this secondary Skill does not solve the issue of long initial cooldown that affects all Anti-Personnel Grenade users, it does allow G3 Mod to serve as one of the few ARs capable of corpse dragging the map 11-5 when it releases in the future. Nevertheless, since M4 SOPMOD II and 416 are accessible AR options who are also capable of dragging the aforementioned map, performing an expensive Neural Upgrade on G3 for the express purpose of dragging 11-5 is of questionable added value. 

MOD III Special Equipment

G3 receives the unique G3 Improved Barrel Group accessory as her MOD III Special Equipment, whose stats of 48% Crit Rate and 4 Damage make it essentially a VFL 6-24x56 with an added Damage stat, enhancing G3’s damage output by approximately 5%.

FN49

FN-49 is a 2★ RF that may have seen combat for commanders who were not blessed with high rarity self-buffing RFs when they made their first RFHG echelon.

With a fairly standard Damage Focus skill, FN-49’s performance is mostly held back by her relatively lower base stats and Skill multiplier, eclipsed by both higher-rarity DPS RFs like Lee-Enfield and the accessible budget option of M14

Neural Upgrade

fn49 mod card

Remodels tend to completely fix stat issues that hold units back, and FN-49’s case is no different. The rarity bump to 4★ improves her Damage Focus multiplier to a much more serviceable 65%, and the remodel also confers a substantial stat increase of 111 -> 120 Damage and 32 -> 34 Rate of Fire, bringing FN-49’s performance much closer to the standard expected of most DPS RFs. 

FN-49’s MOD II Skill, Cold Fighting Spirit, is a simple but effective 15% boost to Rate of Fire that activates in tandem with her Damage Focus skill. This secondary skill has little flair, but fits FN-49’s role well and pumps her DPS up even further. 

Combined with the stat boost from her MOD III Special Equipment, a fully upgraded FN-49 reaches DPS levels comparable to the premiere 5★ Damage Focus RF, Lee-Enfield. One notable advantage that FN-49 holds is her considerably higher Rate of Fire, clearing the cap of 116 with a standard RoF buffer pair of M950A and Five-seveN plus either an RoF tile buff from HGs like Welrod Mk II, or an 8% RoF buff from a Tactical Fairy with the Aim talent. 

MOD III Special Equipment

FN-49’s MOD III Special Equipment, Fire Selector, is an accessory with stats of 48% Crit Rate and 5 Rate of Fire. The 5 RoF is an incredibly potent increase to her DPS, turning 34 RoF to 39 for an almost 15% increase in DPS, considerably higher than what most other MOD III Special Equipments offer. 

If FN-49 were to be upgraded, going all the way to MOD III is highly recommended to unlock her full potential with this exceptional Special Equipment. 

Editor’s Pick: M1911

While all options in the 2★ pool are exceptional and they each improve by leaps and bounds, M1911 Mod’s kit is the most unique out of the three contenders and offers utility not currently seen anywhere else in Girls’ Frontline.

As someone who likes to experiment with HG-heavy compositions that benefit significantly from M1911 Mod’s presence, my vote goes out to M1911. 

3★ Remodels

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M14

Blessed with a solid set of base stats despite her 3★ rarity, M14 is an RF that is far more likely to have seen action than FN-49, with many beginner guides even recommending her inclusion in a player’s initial ARSMG echelon in lieu of an AR due to her exceptional performance. The fact that all players are handed one copy of M14 for free as part of the Seven-Day Frontline Supplies campaign only solidifies her market share further. 

As a result, M14 is one of the most leveled RFs in Girls’ Frontline, and many commanders will already have her at level 100 5x linked with 100+ Affection, completely ready for her Neural Upgrade without any need of additional preparation.

Neural Upgrade

m14 mod card

Given that a Neural Upgrade cannot possibly reduce the performance of a T-Doll, it stands to reason that already-good units like M14 can only get better.

Sure enough, M14’s Neural Upgrade improves her already-stellar performance to a level competitive with that of FN-49 Mod and Lee-Enfield. Since M14 was already quite good and a higher rarity than FN-49, M14’s stat cap increases are marginal in comparison, with relatively minor improvements of 108 -> 110 Damage and 43 -> 44 Rate of Fire. 

M14’s MOD II Skill, Clear Fighting Spirit, is the same type of concurrent buff that activates with her Damage Focus Skill, increasing Crit Damage by 10%. As RFs tend to have near 100% Crit Rate, this is essentially a 9-10% damage boost against almost all types of enemies. 

Despite the smaller relative percentage increases in her Neural Upgrade, the overall improvements are still sufficient to bring M14’s performance in line with that of FN-49 Mod and Lee-Enfield. M14 edges out both of her peers by a razor-thin margin, thanks to her higher base stats providing better DPS outside of buff windows. 

MOD III Special Equipment

M14 unlocks the M2 Bipod with her MOD III, an accessory that adds 48% Crit Rate and 10 Accuracy. Unfortunately, as RFs already have very high Accuracy, the expense of enhancing this special equipment is hardly worth its negligible boost to DPS.

Bren

As a Lock and Load MG with difficult-to-use tiles and a small clip size of 8, Bren suffers a worse fate than MG4 and doesn’t even get the chance to be part of a logistics echelon despite her passable base stats.

With many commanders opting to dismantle her instead of leveling up a copy, a good Neural Upgrade is perhaps the only sliver of hope for Bren, an uphill battle against her numerous weak points in hopes of a miraculous redemption arc like Micro Uzi’s amazing improvement. 

Neural Upgrade

bren mod card

Bren’s Neural Upgrade significantly improves her stat caps, from 89 -> 97 Damage and 31 -> 34 Accuracy, reaching levels comparable with M1918 BAR. Her tile buff gains a fairly negligible 3% Accuracy without improving in coverage, for a total of 15% Accuracy/10% Rate of Fire. Her Lock and Load skill also improves slightly, gaining 4 ammo instead of 3 albeit retaining the same Damage multiplier of 30%. 

As Bren reaches a clip size of 13 with a maxed out IOP Maximum Ammo Box, her Lock and Load skill works out to an approximate increase of (17 * 1.3) / 13 - 1 = 70% total damage for her second salvo, on par with units with Damage Focus MG but with the notable drawback of requiring more time to dish it out. 

Bren’s MOD II Skill, Disparity of the Strong, improves her Accuracy slightly (15%) and adds 1 to her maximum Ammo count each reload, stacking up to 3 times. This effect does improve her damage output per clip somewhat, but takes a very long time to stack up and does not synergize with the fact that most fights with MGs end on the first or second clip. In longer fights, Negev is a preferred main DPS, and Bren neither offers an Armor tile nor enough DPS to match an extra HG who can either buff Negev’s performance or decrease the enemy’s damage. 

Bren Mod unfortunately did not improve enough in performance for her to break out into the forefront of MG DPS units. Due to the extremely high cost of Neural Upgrades, players seeking a tangible return on investment are not advised to invest into Bren’s remodel. 

MOD III Special Equipment

Bren gains her MOD III equipment as the Bren L4 Barrel Group, with bonuses of 5 Damage and 30 Accuracy alongside a penalty of -1 Rate of Fire, which does not meaningfully affect MGs. It adds approximately 5% DPS over a regular ITI MARS red dot sight. 

With a Fairy that does not boost Crit Damage, this special equipment contributes comparable DPS to a VFL 6-24x56 against regular enemies during daytime. On the other hand, when fielded alongside fairies that have a Crit Damage aura such as Command Fairy, an optical sight becomes more preferable. 

Micro Uzi

Micro Uzi’s oddly-shaped tile buffs have been the subject of much humor and consternation ever since the launch of Girls’ Frontline. The below-average base Damage of 24 also fails to synergize with her Incendiary Grenade skill, causing Micro Uzi to become a Dummy Core almost every time she is rescued by G&K. 

Neural Upgrade

uzi mod card

Can a Neural Upgrade save this oft-bullied T-Doll and turn her into a meta pick? The answer, fortunately, is a resounding “yes”. Uzi dummies across the world celebrated when her Neural Upgrade was unexpectedly announced in May of 2019, and while many players feared that her remodel would go the way of Bren Mod and leave the unit in the same place they were previously, this turned out to not be the case. 

With her Neural Upgrade, Micro Uzi finally learned the art of proper tile buff formation, gaining a third tile positioned behind her while simultaneously adding a 15% Accuracy effect to her already-strong 18% Damage buff tile effect.

While Micro Uzi’s Damage cap only improves from 24 -> 26 and her Special Equipment does not further enhance this stat, the real strength of Micro Uzi’s remodel does not come from pure stat increases as is the case with FN-49 and M14, but rather from the extremely unique nature of her MOD II Skill, Chain Burning. As it is a fairly mechanically complex Skill, the full skill description is included below for reference: 

Incendiary grenade deals an additional 0.8x damage every 1.5 seconds to burning enemies and will spread around the burned enemy, creating a new burn area with a radius of 1 unit. This lasts until the effect of the incendiary grenade ends. Burn damage will take effect against enemies in an extremely small area.

This appropriately-named Skill bestowed to MOD II Micro Uzi is one of the more unique secondary skills among units who have a Neural Upgrade, allowing her Incendiary Grenade’s lingering burn to literally spread through densely-packed enemies like wildfire, setting ablaze enemies who were nowhere near the initial point of impact.

The effect is quite strong in practice and turns Micro Uzi into the first Incendiary Grenade user to actually deal substantial damage through the damage-over-time burn, rather than via the initial hit. Since every instance of fire spread leaves behind an extra burn pool that can stack on top of other burns, closely-packed enemies can take tremendous amounts of damage very quickly.

A short gif is included below to show the exponential scaling of Chain Burning under ideal conditions, with an unbuffed Micro Uzi managing to almost kill enemies who have close to 7000 health (1365 per link): 

Micro Uzi chain burning almost dealing 6000 damage

While Vector retains her crown of the most powerful initial Incendiary Grenade impact damage, Micro Uzi Mod’s Damage tile buff affords her more flexible team compositions, and her unique Skill can shine in many encounters by offering an incredibly potent AoE DoT effect that is currently not available from any other T-Doll in the game. 

MOD III Special Equipment

Micro Uzi’s MOD III equipment is a lore-appropriate red dot sight, MPL M21, with 36 Accuracy and a penalty of -1 Rate of Fire. Unfortunately, as a standard EOT 518 offers up to 8 Damage and the MPL M21 offers zero, there is no compelling gameplay reason to enhance Micro Uzi’s MOD III special equipment as her skill scales purely with the Damage stat. 

Editor’s Pick: Micro Uzi

Leaving aside Bren whose remodel doesn’t quite help her enough to significantly change her usability, the competition boils down to two very strong post-remodel units, M14 and Micro Uzi. 

While M14’s remodel is powerful, the significant investment needed to get to that point is a major flaw - with the EN pool of strong Damage-buffing RFs already heavily saturated with Lee-Enfield, Stella, and G28, upgrading M14 to match the performance of a 5★ T-Doll doesn’t really offer anything new, especially given that the upcoming Singularity event has a ranking map that heavily favors ARSMG echelons and would likely cause M14 to be benched. 

On the other hand, Micro Uzi’s new Skill provides a unique and powerful effect in propagating her DoT that will come in handy in both the upcoming DJMax collaboration and the Singularity ranking map Hornet’s Nest, due both to the high mob density and presence of highly evasive enemies that are weak to undodgeable damage such as from an Incendiary Grenade’s impact or burn. 

Solely due to the fact that most players don’t even have Micro Uzi or Bren leveled, M14 has a very high likelihood to win the 3★ vote despite the opposition’s best efforts. Nevertheless, my vote goes out to Micro Uzi because I’m dying to see her Skill in action in EN; perhaps with enough of us, a miracle will happen. 

4★ Remodels

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G36

G36 is an unusually rare 4★ AR, with craft rates on par with 5★ T-Dolls like G41 and 64 Shiki. Players lucky enough to have a copy of her in their armory will have likely noticed her surprisingly mediocre performance compared to other self-buffing ARs despite her fairly standard Damage Focus T Skill, causing much confusion among G&K commanders who expected MVP performance out of a T-Doll who is often highly recommended in guides. 

Closer inspection reveals that this is a consequence of G36’s unfortunate base stats, with subpar values in both important DPS attributes of Damage and Rate of Fire. Fortunately, her incredible tile buff of 30% Damage and 10% RoF often more than compensates for this shortcoming by substantially improving the damage output of an offtank SMG. G36 thus had no problems finding her home as a core DPS in ARSMG echelons, and with a potential Neural Upgrade coming, players are eager to find out just how much better this maid can become. 

Neural Upgrade

g36 mod card

G36’s Neural Upgrade is a sneak peek into the trend of MICA team doing as much as they can to ensure 4★ T-Dolls upgrade into units with gameplay performance suitable for their new 5★ rarity, with almost all 4★ units receiving incredible remodel effects, G36 being no exception. 

G36’s base stat issue is fully fixed by the Neural Upgrade, with impressive gains of 47 -> 51 Damage and 72 -> 76 Rate of Fire, essentially matching that of G41 whose stats reach 50 Damage and 77 Rate of Fire.

G36’s Damage Focus T is also upgraded to receive the 5★ multiplier of 75%, and her tile buffs improve by 5% Rate of Fire to reach final values of boosting 30% Damage/15% Rate of Fire for any SMGs standing on her tiles. 

While the aforementioned changes alone would easily make G36 a mainstay in ARSMG echelons, MICA Team has elected to bless G36 with one of the most powerful DPS MOD II Skills to date, Arclight Pact, perhaps influenced in part by the T-Doll’s incredible popularity among the Girls’ Frontline fanbase.

When G36’s Firepower Focus T activates, Arclight Pact grants her a 5-second buff of 10% Rate of Fire for each T-Doll situated on her tiles, stacking up to two times for an incredible 21% Rate of Fire buff that pushes G36’s damage output far above her competition. Furthermore, any T-Dolls situated on G36’s tiles (typically SMGs or HGs) receive a respectable 25% Evasion buff, noticeably decreasing their damage taken. 

While 4★ Neural Upgrades are extremely expensive compared to the 2★ and 3★ varieties, G36’s remodel delivers value that is well worth the cost and will not disappoint. Unfortunately for min-maxing commanders who may have read about this particular caveat in the Neural Upgrade 101 guide, G36’s stat gain curve happens to be shaped such that she gains her last point in RoF at level 120, requiring a monumental investment of either tireless grinding or thousands of combat reports to fully realize her potential. 

MOD III Special Equipment

G36’s MOD III Special Equipment is the G36 Hybrid Optics telescopic sight, with 48% Crit Damage and 8 Accuracy. While 8 Accuracy is nothing to write home about, it nevertheless is still an improvement over the standard best-in-slot equipment, and commanders who want to squeeze out every last bit of performance have the option of splurging on this special equipment for a very minor DPS increase. 

Mosin-Nagant

A famous Rifle in both real life and Girls’ Frontline, Mosin-Nagant happens to also be the best member of her class in Griffin; unfortunately, that class happens to be the very specific niche of a 10 second initial cooldown RF Nuke. 

Despite her absolutely amazing Hayha Memory Chip special equipment, the limited demand for Nuke-type RFs means Mosin-Nagant generally saw little action during missions, with self-buffing RFs being generally favored due to their lower initial cooldown.

Neural Upgrade

mosin mod card

Mosin-Nagant’s Neural Upgrade pushes her to 5★ rarity alongside fairly modest stat boosts of 131 -> 136 Damage and 30 -> 31 Rate of Fire. Mosin-Nagant’s Designated Shot multiplier also increases from 6x to 6.5x, increasing her damage output even further ahead of the closest competitor, Springfield. 

Of course, if Mosin-Nagant cannot break out of her niche of only supplying a powerful Nuke, she will remain a rarely-picked member of RFHG echelons. Fortunately, her MOD II skill, Pale Reaper, addresses this weakness and turns Mosin-Nagant into a strong generalist DPS RF. 

Pale Reaper grants a non-stacking buff of 20% Damage for 3 seconds each time Mosin-Nagant kills an enemy, alongside a further 30% Rate of Fire buff for 5 seconds if her Designated Shot performs the kill. While the percentages are modest, Mosin-Nagant can potentially get a kill as soon as she takes the first shot and receive a permanent 20% Damage boost, giving her a head start over other RFs in pre-skill DPS. 

The Rate of Fire component of Pale Reaper is less exciting, partly due to its long effective initial cooldown of ~11 seconds. Nevertheless, if a battle does last that long, this boost is appreciable and can help quickly cleaning up stragglers who remain. 

Speaking in practical terms, Mosin-Nagant MOD III with her Hayha Memory Chip will output DPS comparable to current self-buff RFs, with the added bonus of a Designated Shot being available to unload a large burst of damage later on in a longer fight. While she is not necessarily the most effective out of the 4★ Neural Upgrade options for EN now, Mosin-Nagant Mod can perform quite well under the right conditions and will definitely see use by commanders who decide to upgrade her. 

Note: When the new client update arrives in EN alongside the bamboo rework that allows charged-shot RFs to fire their skills earlier for reduced damage, Mosin-Nagant can choose to launch her shot early and trigger the 30% RoF buff from Pale Reaper as soon as ~6s into the fight.

MOD III Special Equipment

Mosin-Nagant receives the K6-24X56 scope for her MOD III upgrade, with stats of 50% Crit Rate and 6 Accuracy that give it a very slight edge over the typical 5★ optical sight. 

This minor boost is of course much less important than the 30 Damage and 30% Crit Damage conferred by her Hayha Memory Chip, therefore commanders should not even consider investing in the K6-24X56 unless there is nothing else to enhance.

SAA

SAA, also known as the Colt Revolver, is a fairly common and flexible 4★ HG with excellent tile buffs of 24% Damage and 50% Accuracy, laid out in a cross formation that makes her work well as a support from position 4.

While SAA has a skill multiplier that falls a little short of some other HGs, she is still one of the best Damage buffers on EN and works well as a flex pick for ARSMG, RFHG, and even MGSG echelons. Most commanders at mid- or late-game will have raised a copy of SAA and seen her carry her own weight, so even if her Neural Upgrade doesn’t do anything noteworthy, SAA Mod is guaranteed at least her 4★ version’s baseline level of performance.

Neural Upgrade

saa mod card

By turning into a 5★ unit through Neural Upgrade, SAA’s Fire Command multiplier is improved to 25% to match that of Grizzly. Her tiles gain 10% Accuracy to become 24% Damage/60% Accuracy, and while the coverage does not improve, it is already quite passable. She also gains a little more HP and Evasion to help tank if needed. 

SAA’s MOD II skill, Duel Survivor, actually operates entirely independently from her Fire Command skill. Functionally, it provides a buff of 5% Rate of Fire and Accuracy to all allies that ramps up by one additional stack every 4 seconds up to 3 times, similarly to the Fervor talent that some fairies possess. 

Since echelons containing SAA Mod start the battle with one stack, this effect reaches its peak effectiveness at 8 seconds, granting the echelon approximately 15% Rate of Fire and Accuracy. Interestingly enough, SAA does not even need to be present for this effect to continue ramping up: commanders can retreat SAA at any time without interrupting Duel Survivor’s effect. 

SAA’s Neural Upgrade brings her to the apex of supportive HGs, offering her team 25% Damage and up to 15% Rate of Fire for an effective DPS increase of over 40% past 8 seconds. Few other HGs can compete with SAA in this front, and often they come with baggage such as Mk23 requiring Nighttime to function fully, Contender’s uptime being a brief 5 seconds, or Jill’s Fringe Weaver debuffing allies after its active duration.

MOD III Special Equipment

SAA earns the Colt Revolver Long Barrel for her MOD III upgrade, whose stats of 10 Evasion, 20% Crit Rate, and 3 Damage is only differentiated from a regular AC4 Suppressor by the Damage stat, which is not typically a priority for primarily supportive units like SAA.

Editor's Pick: SAA

The 4★ bracket is full of excellent Neural Upgrade candidates and is perhaps the most difficult choice in this voting event. Between SAA Mod’s incredible versatility, G36 Mod’s tremendous power, and Mosin-Nagant’s unique and practical remodel, it is near impossible to say which one I would prefer because I want all of them. 

To tie-break, I decided to look at the breadth of applications available to each remodeled T-Doll, as a measure of the return on investment for the Neural Upgrade: the more places in which I can use a certain unit, the more I’ll have gotten my money’s worth, so to speak. SAA of course wins this hands-down - but maybe the flexibility test criteria was rigged for HGs from the start.

Afterword

With all the voting options having been revealed as of September 10th, only a week remains before the final vote is scheduled to take place between September 17th-19th. AFK commanders should note that the voting period is only three days and spans from a Tuesday to Thursday, so take care to not miss the chance to vote!

The Neural Upgrade login event will take place soon after and award the SIG Sauer P226 T-Doll. 

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