Introduction – Ranger Theory
Start with my article on tanky build design. This ranger build is about midway between balanced and tanky.
I was going to start with another profession, but with the recent patch all the eyes are on the ranger right now, with claims the class is broken and unplayable.
I’m finding just the opposite, the patch has buffed everything about the way I played ranger. A bow ranger I’ve spoken to notes the same thing; the June 25th patch seems to have boosted but altered the playstyle for bow rangers. Caveat being these are sample sizes of one each.
A ranger is NOT a World of Warcraft Hunter. And the recent patch set out to make that crystal clear by hitting pet reliance very hard.
So What is a ranger? It is a skirmishing class meant to be highly mobile jumping in and out of melee and ranged combat, with a pet as support (not support as in the ‘role’ in GW2, but support as in a sort of mobile semi independent buff). The is modeled off of the idea of the wilderness survivor: Grizzly Adams, combined with the special forces soldier: an Army Ranger.
The true fantasy icon for the ranger is NOT Legalos, but Aragorn.
So with that in mind, I build to be sort of in between melee and ranged. Weapon choices of Sword / Torch and Axe / Axe. A melee option that pops in and out a lot, and a ranged choice is fairly close in.
Where the WoW Hunter stays in the back and fires volleys of arrows while their pet runs in, the Ranger should be in the thick of the action. You should be busier and more active than the ‘true melee’ warriors and thieves – they’re mostly there in close. You’re all over the place.
If you go bows, short or long, that still holds. Use the pet as a sort of buff, as if it was a utility skill. Don’t sit back half AFK spamming auto-attack. Use ALL of your bow skills, and manage your pet special abilities and swapping quickly and smartly. You might stand further out than me, but you should still think as if you wee in the thick of it: ultra fast proactive actions.
Never play ANY build of ranger as slow paced and relaxed: save that for the hunters.
Keen Edge (III) and Spotter (VII) in Marksmanship
Keen Edge is key to sending out a lot of condition damage. Once foes get low, you’ll be able to speed up the ‘burn phase’ with a heavy application of bleeding damage.
Spotter is now one of the most powerful traits in ranger, with an up to 150 boost to precision for your whole group when in combat. The ‘up to’ part is a bit concerning… but when this starts applying you will see the critical hits racking up really fast.
Sharpened Edges (II) and Honed Axes (IX) in Skirmishing
Sharpened Edges gives you yet more constant condition damage pressure. Your aim to keep bleeding constantly up on enemies.
Honed Axes only favors your ranged option, but with constant weapon swapping even if you mostly melee you will be getting a lot of benefit from the boost to critical damage.
Vigorous Renewal (IV) and Martial Mastery (X) in Wilderness Survival
Vigorous Renewal will help get back to dodge-ability after a heal. I’m on the fence over this trait. It was a choice of ‘best of the choices I saw’ and I might change it.
Martial Mastery works wonders for sword. Remember that you will be doing a lot of weapon swaps, so you want both weapons strong. There is no ‘fall back weapon option’ for ranger: everything has to perform. This gives it for your sword, and when underwater makes your spear the better option (Not as much need to swap underwater, but keep both options good anyway).
Nature’s Bounty (III) in Nature Magic.
Nature’s Bounty extends the duration of regeneration effects you apply. This will get you more miliage out of your heal, and the minor trait before it. If you find yourself not needing as much healing, you can swap this out for Strength of Spirit which gives a boost to power. On this build, it would give 55 Power.
Rampager Helm – Mesmer Rune
Settler Pauldrons – Mesmer Rune
Berserker Coat – Dwayna Rune
Settler Glove – Mesmer Rune
Carrion Pants – Mesmer Rune
Berserker Boots – Mesmer Rune
– I still need to think about the upgrade slot on this.
Rampager Sword – Force Sigil
Rampager Torch – Purity Sigil
Rampager Axe – Force Sigil
Rampage Axe – Purity Sigil
I might be changing ‘Purity’ for Accuracy soon to boost up critical chance. My other condition removals seem sufficient. If I keep purity, it might make sense to put accuracy in there instead of force so that purity triggers more often.
Underwater Weapons: I have not bought / crafted for this yet, but I recommend Rampage and Force Sigil weapons.
Rabid Back – Ruby (Berserk) Upgrade
Rampage Accessory – Coral (Rampage) Upgrade x2
Rampage Ring – Coral (Rampage) Upgrade
Rabid Ring – Ruby (Berserk) Upgrade
Rabid Amulet – Ruby (Berserk) Upgrade
Two Devourers. Any two of the three will do. Swap them in combat constantly to get as much use of their special ability as you can, and put them away before they die.
These were chosen because they apply conditions from range, and burrow under when targeted. You might prefer other pets – but I strongly suggest using ranged ones.
Many say pets are hard to keep alive, but if you use them right, they’re not all that bad at staying up. It is about choice of pet and managing their cooldowns. This is one of those areas where the Ranger is NOT a Hunter. The Hunter can let the pet play itself, the Ranger has to look at those F1-4 keys and master timing them all while still mastering their weapons and utilities, AND master positioning of both the pet and the ranger.
The key for this is in three basic elements:
- Use ranged pets, that operate further out than you. S if you are ranged and not melee, stand between your pet and the enemy.
- Swap pets often (F4). Have both slots filled in with good pets, and swap them constantly. If one gets aggro or takes AoE, swap it right away. Pets heal super fast when stashed, and as long as it doesn’t die the cooldown on swapping is around 15 seconds.
- F3 is your friend. Use it to call your pet off of a target. If my pet gets aggro or is standing in a bad spot, this will save it.
Healing Spring is amazingly good in dungeons and group events. Otherwise go with Heal as One. The Troll Unguent heal is less useful as your traits will be giving you regeneration – but if you can survive spikes, the trait that boosts regeneration duration can make Troll Unguent attractive.
Utility Skill Choices
Modify utility skills as needed to get either more conditions, or a little bit of survivability.
Signet of Renewal is the most important of my utility skills – that clears your conditions. That’s the only utility I always keep on my action bar. Everything else I change up between almost every fight… Activate it when you get too many conditions to deal with, otherwise let the passive strip them off over time.
Sharpening Stone is a major part of the DPS for this build. With the amount of condition damage I have, I want to get conditions onto the enemy as often as possible. This one stays on the bar unless a fight needs something. Its a default, but I’m willing to give it up a little faster than Renewal as I have traits that also apply it. If I have this, I hit it on cooldown.
The third utility slot changes constantly. The only regular there is Signet of the Hunt because in the open world that’s great for exploring, and in cities just getting around. Never activate that one unless in a fight where you’re stacking and have no desire to go anywhere.
Rampage As One is very nice to have and spam on cooldown. The fury and might are very useful.
All of the other elite skills are situational. Use them when you know the situation calls for it.
Resulting Stats Summary
This is a ‘balanced’ dungeon build, somewhat ‘tanky’. You will have moderately high aggro, but you will not be subject to one shots.
The power and crit chance may seem low, but the damage comes out pretty good due to constant application of a lot of conditions. When playing this I don’t see large flashy numbers as often as on my thief or my warrior, but enemy mobs go down visibly faster.
Jump in and out of melee all the time. When ranged you want to be ‘just over the line’ from the reach of melee or point-blank-area-effects. It is fine to swap into Axe even when staying in melee if there is something of use there.
If there is a stack of enemies somewhere and most do not have aggro on you, the number 5 of axe, Whirling Defense, is amazing. You can also trigger it defensively to avoid a big ranged attack or a whole bunch of little ones.
Be careful with Sword skill number 2, Hornet Sting. Its crazy fun at level 5, but you will soon notice it can leap you back to the very wrong place to be… like over a cliff… or into some new adds…
If your sword has you stuck on the enemy and you need to move away, swap to axe and dodge. Or try hitting that number 2 once, but not twice.
With the recent patch, my damage and survival both went up. The change was slight, but enough to feel it.