|The Gremlin With No Name.....wait.|
When you take a look at Francois' card then the first shortcoming is pretty easily seen necause his Df stat is a very lowly 4. This is mitigated a bit by having the Squeel Defence Trigger on a Mask (this is very common on Gremlin models, making them hard to pin down with melee attacks) as well as the ability to use Soulstones, being a Henchman. His Wp is a very respectable 7 (the same as Burt Jebson) and he boasts a fairly healthy 10 wounds.
Francois definitely falls into the beatstick category for the Gremlins. Like Burt Jebson he has both a decent melee and ranged attack, although unlike Burt, his melee attack (a Dueling Sword) has a slightly better damage spread of 2/3/5 as opposed to 2/3/4 on his Rough Rider shooting attack. But his real damage dealing strength (and his built in self-destruct button) is the Dumb Luck trigger. This occurs on a Ram (which comes built in on his Duelling Sword melee attack) and essentially doubles the damage taken by the opponent. The down side of this is that Francois has to take damage equal to half the damage that the opposing model suffers. So what are a few ways to keep him alive to carry on poking things with the pointy end of the sword?
The main way to keep Francois alive and killing is upgrades. First of all is the brilliant Gremlin upgrade Dirty Cheater which allows a model to heal one wound eeverytime it cheats a card during it's activation. I tend to always have one of the upgrades on my Master (it's Rare 2 so you can have 2 in one crew) but I usually put the other one on something I know will be a target for my opponent. It's only a small heal but it does mean that even if you can't win a duel to hit an enemy model, you could even cheat in a worthless lower card just to heal a wound back.
The second upgrade that he can make good use of is Stilts. This upgrade allows for it to be discarded in order to negate all melee damage from one attack. As this is a one time thing then you do have to be very cautious with when you use it - for example the Dumb Luck Trigger is built in to Francois' sword attack, so hitting a Severe or even a Red Joker on the damage flip would deal 10 damage to the opponent model and 5 to Francois. By discarding Stilts, this damage to Francois can be totally ignored. This upgrade does also increase the height of any model it is attached to, which also helps Francois see over scenery or terrain to take shots at things!
Another good way of keeping Francois alive is to take a model with some sort of healing ability, such as a Slop Hauler or even Fingers from the Closing Time boxset. Personally I don't see the value of Fingers but then Brewmaster isn't a crew I'm totally familiar with so it is entirely possible he's awesome and I'm just not aware of it. I like taking a Slop Hauler with certain schemes or strategies but it's not an autoinclude for me. However when Frame for Murder is in the pool.......heh heh heh. Ahem.
Another trick I've enjoyed using with Francois is his (0) Action. Called "Showdown" it requires a 5 or more of Tomes and allows Francois, until the end of the Turn, to discard a card before any duel to gain a positive flip to the duel. Now this doesn't affect the damage flip but it's a decent idea if you have something on low wounds that really needs to die and will do so with even a Weak damage flip. It's also come in handy against Neverborn or Ressurectionist crews, even with a Wp of 7, it's a handy extra layer of prevetion to stop Francois getting Lured or other such horribleness that these factions can put out!
I'm personally not a fan of Francois' (1) Action Gremlin Menace. The part which allows you to push him 5" directly towards a model feels a little redundant in a faction that's full of movement tricks (Ooo A Girl, Trixibelle using Gremlin Lure etc) but I will admit that the condition this action puts on the opposing model can be useful. Not only is it named "Boot Puddles" (seriously I can't be the only one amused by this?) it means that the target enemy model suffers negative flips on Attack Actions when they target Francois. I tend not to use this Action too often as, even with Reckless, I find that there are better uses for Francois' AP plus I like to think that anything he does put on negative flips will (hopefully) be shot or stabbed off the board reasonably quickly.
|Yes I have 2 versions of Francois. No I don't have a problem. Shut up.|
So to summarise. When would I take Francois over Burt Jebson? Honestly the answer is hardly ever. If I put Francois in a crew it's because I want the enemy crew to die as fast as possible so I would actually take both of them in that case. I don't like taking Francois in something like Collect the Bounty because even though he's quite capable of dealing out massive amounts of damage, his penchant for killing himself makes him a liability and often an easy 3 points for an opponent. I usually think the same about Headhunter as well, but paradoxically I like to take him in Reckoning because you know stuff is going to die anyway and my hope with him is always that he can either take 1 or 2 models with him before his sudden but inevitable demise.