Top 10 French Gold Runners:
1. Le Bon Marin
This is the most perfect "as-is" treasure runner in the game. Cheap, fast, lots of cargo, built-in explorer. Need I say more?
This ship has the durability of a two master, but because of that negative ability her point cost is about what a two master might be. Her somewhat obscene cargo hold is only augmented by her fast base move. Easily one of the best ships in Savage Shores.
One of the original French ships, this is one of the very best deals in the game. She is just fantastic. Most players either use her as some kind of treasure ship or a place to put their 0LR +5 crew/etc., but it's even feasible to use her as a gunship. I think of her as the French answer to HMS Cumberland
, which is from the same set.
4. Le Pique
This ship has been a staple of French fleets since she came out. Some use her as a sniper gunship (potentially with shot equipment), but since she's so fragile I think she's better as a gold runner. If you add an explorer she'll only have two spaces for gold, but you're still only spending 6 points and she's got S+S+S speed. Another great value for your points.
I personally like this ship better than Le Pique, but I felt that one extra cargo space isn't worth paying 3 extra points. The Artesien does have a more treasure-oriented ability, but it's not particularly good. She'd be better off with no ability or an ability that lets her randomly take one treasure from any ship she touches. Either way, still a great ship!
6. Le Triton
This is the most durable ship on the list so far, which makes a sizable difference in my book. The Triton is very simple - just crew her with some combination of helmsman/explorer and she'll be set to go. Her guns are serviceable, making her a good hybrid ship.
7. La Vengeance
The Vengeance could be considered a larger and more expensive version of the Triton. Her extra firepower (and bonus against English ships) makes her even more viable for use as a hybrid, but with only an explorer she makes for a good gold runner as well. Even without a captain this ship should be able to easily settle most disputes over gold by ramming and boarding smaller enemy runners and taking their gold and potentially dismasting them.
8. La Dijon
This is your quintessential bread-and-butter treasure runner. (That sentence sounds strange lol) The Dijon has it all - nice cargo, good speed and even an ability that's perfect for a gold runner.
9. Le Favori
This one is similar to the HMS Lady Provost
, trading the HI-raider ability for a defensive one and losing a cargo space. Her ability is what sets her apart (and makes her expensive), giving her an advantage over other small ships, although she's still vulnerable to ramming. The Favori has performed admirably in my games and is a little bit underrated because the top 5 ships on this list steal thunder from other ships.
10. Le Courageux
I've had two copies of this ship for a long time and never could understand all the hype. However, she is quite good. She is a uniquely gifted hybrid ship, with enough cargo to run gold and fight and an ability that suits both, especially given her small size. This ship just beat out the Amazone and Belle Poule.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): L'Amazone
, La Belle Poule
, St. Joan
, La Fureur
, Le Coeur de Lion
, East Wind
, Sea Phoenix
, Le Mercure
, Le Rochefort
, Le Descharges
, Le Petit Dauphin
, La Belle Etoile
, Le Lyon
, La Geographe