Waiting has it’s own pros and cons, has been talked about already, and you’re smart enough to weigh that option on your own. I will lay out the two options from your original question,
Hu Tao I got very late, ignored when I did, but have found some use. He was key for me in Morlovia for example and part of the reason I beat Advanced with all 4’s. His damage is not great, but can kind of survive. I have mine +1 because revive happens.
I found AoE blind to be amazing. I am pretty sure you run mono and yellow is healer poor. You don’t need what healers you do have to keep up with damaged that missed. This can be the difference of bringing an on color healer or not too. I utilize him in that context as an aggressive defense on an attack team. He does get used a little less now because I have Justice maxed who does the same thing.
Especially compared to the other vanilla yellow 4’s (which I have ranted about previously and repeatedly) that blind to save the team is useful IMO. While I do use Justice, Hu Tao can do the same thing for a much less expensive resource value.
Gafar I wish I had. He is a fast purple 4* sniper that counters healing. Purple has some great 4’s, but of the vanilla lot none of them snipe. You need to get up to the 5’s to find a sniper (Domitia, Sartana, etc.). He offers some value in that sense and his A value is pretty high.
He is very squishy is the general complaint. I am assuming he won’t get emblems, but purple has a lot of great healer options too, many of which I know you have to help keep him alive.
He is also great in cleric trials as a damage dealer. Otherwise that can end up feeling like a decade long slap fight against a mountain. Earning emblems easier isn’t a bad thing if you have nothing else to do. Although I think you skip those some times.
If you’re not embleming him he won’t make your raid team. He could make a later war team, especially on field aid to utilize the heal counter.
I think they both have value, it’s just what skill set you want to max first. I am jealous of Gafar (something else I have ranted about previously and repeatedly ) but could see Hu Tao getting play in provinces, challenges, etc. Both heroes could work to make ToL easier. You had mentioned that is nerve racking
good luck. Let us know what you pick and how it goes!
PS: @Gwniver, there is a F2P thread in the Community Content section. All welcome any time