Flavor: Shipwrecked in Manila the French crew of the "Flying Fox" spent two years building the ship and named her for the enormous bats in the area.
Here I will review a ship that I don't own. Actually, many people don't own the Renard qui Vole. In fact, the database says that not a single member here at Miniature Trading has one up for trade, while 16 members want one. The Renard (as I will refer to her) is one of the very rare Mysterious Islands PR/LE box topper tournament ships, and is one of many small LE ships that are hard to find (similar to the DJC LE's).
She hasn't been reviewed yet, and has been used in only one fleet. As the title suggests, she has a few distinct strengths that make her stand out, but other than that, the Renard is a fragile and not overly useful one master.
The Renard qui Vole is best used as a support gunship. Due to her small cargo hold, she isn't a great gold runner. For 1 point less you can have Le Bon Marin, not to mention all the other great little gold runners the French have. Her ability, speed, and cannon makes her ideal to be used as a submarine counter.
Strategies and game play:
If your opponent uses submarines a lot, this is a decent ship to bring to the table. Since most submarines aren't particularly fast, the Renard will likely be able to catch them and get the first shot. However, since her armament is limited and that same submarine could ram the Renard's only mast off, it's wise to be cautious when hunting subs with this ship. Other strategies include using the ship as a generic support gunship, or as a scout ship that can grab a couple coins when bored or defend a particular area you control.
Combos with other miniatures:
Due to the Renard's speed and the general lacking of speed on submarines, the Renard doesn't usually need a helmsman to reach full effectiveness. For a gunship, this is great and saves the Renard 2 points on her total point cost. (though, if needed, a captain and helmsman fit aboard at 12 points to give her S+S+S+S speed!)
However, you'll definitely want a captain to make sure you can move and shoot. This brings the Renard's total cost to 10 points, which is a lot for a single masted support gunship, but at least one that is very quick and has an accurate cannon.
A musketeer is actually a good option for the Renard, because it nearly doubles the ship's total firepower and allows you to take on larger submarines. A cannoneer is a bit less effective in this case because you already have a 66% chance of hitting with the main gun, so it's better to add an extra cannon than reroll a shot that could easily hit. You could get a free reroll for either cannon with Godiva or LaFontaine, though that's a very risky bet to put a Ransom crew on a 1 masted ship.
Where this ship becomes fun is with the various specialist crew. I'd highly recommend a Firepot Specialist for the Renard, as it can cut through the defenses of the Nautilus and set subs aflame when they're still underwater! Next up, the Stinkpot Specialist allows for crew cancelling, which is a very important tactic in battles. The Renard's speed can allow her to race ahead of a bigger gunship, blast the crew of the sub with stinkpots, and allow for the larger gunship to follow up soon afterwards. This could slow the sub down if she has a helmsman, and also prevent disaster from encountering crew like Captain Nemo. The chainshot and smokepot specialists aren't as highly recommended, but could help in specific situations. (especially if the sub is fast and you need to slow it down until further help arrives)
For named crew, the options are severely limited by the Renard's point cost and cargo capacity. However, there is one that is absolutely perfect for the Renard. Henri Diop. This guy is one of the least useful French crew in existence, yet here you can finally have a great reason to use him. Most of the game's submarines are of the Mercenary faction, so the Renard will be able to use Diop's ability when hunting most subs. In addition, Diop links to all French ships, which allows you to still put another crew (for 2 points or less) on the Renard! This gives you a 1S specialist shot firing at a submerged ship; if you hit with a firepot, you could potentially end a huge threat with one shot!
Possibly the most dangerous combo is to add Capitaine Arathiel and two oarsmen. This would allow for maximum sub hunting capability, and gives the Renard enough speed to catch almost any ship.
Funny enough, Claude Perier is a decent option if you're unsure of which specialist to use.
There are a few other fringe cases where you might put a named crew aboard the Renard for various objectives, such as Nicholas-Thomas Baudin or Lenoir. Also, if you know that an enemy submarine has a canceller on board, this Lenoir will allow you to still take your important shot(s).
Ways to counteract it:
-Using USS Mercury; the ability will negate the only chance the Renard has of hitting (watch out for a musketeer though, which could hit and allow for the regular 2S gun to connect normally)
-Ram it out of commission (possibly from underwater for maximum revenge/irony)
-Avoid using submarines - the Renard is a ship with a very specific use, and outside of her ability she's not going to have a big effect on the game
The biggest competition for the Renard comes from Pierre Aronnax. Being a crew that can serve aboard any of France's best gunships, Aronnax is far more flexible than the Renard. If you know you'll be facing submarines (or see them on the ocean and can hire him with Vicomte Jules de Cissey), Aronnax is your man. He would be fantastic on many French ships, especially some of the better 5 masters that have L range guns (watch out for Christian Fiore). In addition, he links to all French ships and is a common, literally the complete opposite of the Renard's extreme rarity. To be honest, Aronnax is a far better option. However, if you're lacking points with which to hire a large subhunter and put Aronnax aboard, the Renard is a great option to fall back on.
The Renard doesn't face much other competition, but it's worth noting that there are some better options at the 7 point level for French gunships. The Le Coeur de Lion is probably the best of the bunch and happens to be one of the most fun and underrated ships in the game, mostly due to her namesake. However, the other options are pretty good too, so the Renard is mostly relegated to strictly sub hunting.
-Enough cargo and point space to complement her ability with the right crew setup
-Relatively cheap - Aronnax gives the ability alone for only 2 points less
-Only fills a specific role
-Outclassed by a much better and more common option with the same ability within the same faction
Artwork and aesthetics:
Unfortunately we don't yet have a picture of the constructed ship, but based on the card picture she's not exceptionally pretty like a lot of French ships. There's some evidence of bat-like artwork that connects to the flavor text, but overall she looks pretty drab.
The Renard is not one of the best ships in the game, and she never will be. However, she fills a very niche role in a very effective way, and when combined with specialist crew she can do her job to perfection. I give the Renard qui Vole a 6/10. (8.5/10 strictly within the realm of sub hunting)