Alternative Ranger Builds Mod18
The Stance Switching Warden is a good build for live content with a lot of control and area effects, as the Melee Warden dps output plummets when having to dodge and reposition a lot.
The Hunter Trapper and Hunter Ranged are fun builds to use, maybe not in the hardest content. I thought I should put them out there as the rotations I gave are reasonably smooth and fun in practice.
This article is mostly aimed at NWO players with level 80 Rangers who are a bit bored with the usual shtick: Encounter + 4 Storm Strikes. The alternative builds I will discuss here are not as competitive as the usual melee build (except one in a special case), but they are fun to play, especially during content like Master Expeditions, where some degree of novelty is probably welcome. Also, if you are a developer, I’ve included some suggestions at the end of each section. Hopefully, they’ll be helpful for the next patches / modules.
Stance Switching Warden
This build is my personal favourite. Very mobile and flexible, it’s great for dungeons with a lot of control effects. I’ve personally used it in The Throne of Idris, and The Frozen Heart, as I noticed that with my melee Ranger I had to keep dodging and moving, and my dps plummeted. Instead, with this build you can dive into melee when you see an opening, deal some serious damage taking advantage of Flurry, then get out of there and still be relevant.
At wills: Electric Shot, Penetrating Arrows
Encounters: Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrow, Binding Arrow
Passives: Aspect of the Serpent, Twin Blade Storm
Dailies: Snipe, Call of the Storm
Feats: Focused, Storm’s Recovery, Blade Hurricane, Skirmisher’s Gambit, Enhanced Conductivity
As you can tell, this build is not quite a rooter build, despite the fact that almost every Encounter Power roots the target. That is because Crushing Roots is not very useful for a Warden: it doesn’t last long, mobs die quickly while bosses are mostly immune to the control effects. Also, the feats that make rooting matter are in the Hunter path. Therefore I’ve decided to go with Aspect of the Serpent, which gives me a nice bonus to damage.
My favourite rotation is:
Ranged, Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrow, Binding Arrow, Hindering Shot, Melee (Tab), Call of the Storm (if you have the AP), 4x Storm Strike, Steel Breeze, 4x Storm Strike, Oak Skin, Ranged (Tab), …
Whenever you are moving, make sure to be in ranged stance and to be shooting penetrating arrows. That reduces your downtime from dealing damage and it’s great for kiting enemies around. It’s also great for defensive purposes, as most enemies telegraph their big hits, but by the time their animation has finished, you are already out of their range.
Obviously, use Hindering Strike + Steel Breeze + a few Electric Strikes (possibly with Flurry) to clear mobs, while use ranged powers for single targets. I don’t really use Electric Shot.
If you are far and have full AP or have just finished the melee rotation, just Snipe the boss and keep accumulating AP. As sometimes we actually use Snipe, maybe it would be better to use the TOMM ring that gives +3% damage to Encounter Powers instead of the Leading Ring of the Teacher (+3% dmg on at wills and encounters, -30% dailies) or similar.
Even though the Feat Focused is technically the wrong one for this build, I found it to be much better than its alternative Deft Strikes.
It’s useful to cast Oak Skin at the end of the rotation, if nothing else, because it reduces the cooldowns of your other melee powers.
The last point about this build is that it uses the same Feats as the full melee build, therefore people can try it without needing an extra loadout or a respec token.
It would be really nice if Deft Strikes was changed to grant 20% bonus damage with a stance shift, decreasing 4% per second. Or instead, if it allowed Aspect of the Serpent to hold 5 charges for 5% bonus damage each (a bit like stacks of Arcane Mastery).
This build relies heavily on applying roots in order to deal extra damage, get action points and to reduce cooldowns, all key ingredients to a reliable Dps. It’s quite hectic and fun to play, but maybe don’t use it in difficult dungeons, because you don’t want to make your party’s life pointlessly difficult. Master Expeditions, Stardock Expeditions, low level queues are excellent example of perfectly good content for this build.
At wills: Rapid Shot, Aimed Shot
Encounters: Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrows, Longstrider Shot
Passives: Crushing Roots, Aspect of the Serpent
Dailies: Forest Ghost, Disruptive Shot
Feats: Rate of Change, Thorned Roots, Biting Snares, Forest Bond, More than Disruptive
Disruptive Shot (to apply 10% bonus ranged dmg for 10 sec), 3 Ranged Encounters, Melee (Tab), (run into melee), 3 Melee Encounters, Ranged (Tab), Disruptive Shot, and so on . Every time any one Encounter is not ready, use either Rapid Shot if in Ranged stance or Rapid Strike if in melee stance. Always try to do 3 ranged + 3 melee attacks, to take full advantage of Aspect of the Serpent, and preventing Rate of Change from fading completely.
By rooting people you 1) reduce your cooldowns via Forest Bond, 2) gain Action Points via Biting Snares, 3) deal extra damage + some control via Thorned Roots and Crushing Roots.
Also make sure that you keep your Action Points at around 75% capacity. That is because you still have plenty of AP to cast Disruptive shot, while you still have room for the extra AP given by Biting Snares, which give you 20% AP in one go.
I personally pick Longstrider Shot because both its Melee and Ranged versions are good, the cooldown is not excessive, and it has a quick casting time. By the time I finish casting Cordon of Arrows, the enemies are dead or have moved. Plant Growth has a cool animation but its cooldown is too long. Cordon of Arrows’s roots do not reduce cooldowns, Plant Growth applies (only) weak roots, and once every 23 seconds. In either case the damage is not high enough. Generally, my encounters go a lot smoother when using Longstrider Shot.
The drawback of this build is that the cooldown reductions are not powerful enough. Consequently, you’ll eventually have to use at wills in longer fights, and with no Flurry and Aimed Shot not being a viable option, that’s when your dps plummets. However, if you use this build in Expeditions or dungeons with a long series of short encounters, it will be fun and I guarantee you’ll never have to touch your At wills again!
- Rate of Change is not relevant enough, especially compared to Focused. See changes proposed above for Stance Switching Warden.
- Increase the cooldown reduction from Forest Bond to like 20%. At 5% you don’t even feel it.
- Cordon of Arrows / Plant Growth needs to be buffed. Plant Growth would be pretty decent if it had a cooldown of like 11 seconds and applied strong roots. Cordon of Arrows should have a similar cooldown, and apply weak grasping roots. As they are, these powers are nearly useless on longer encounters. Remove the charges for Cordon of Arrows if necessary. Maybe increase the area.
- Change the other feat, alternative to More than Disruptive, to let both Disruptive Shot and Slasher’s mark but both ranged AND melee damage by 10% for 5 seconds. Hunters cannot be pure melee.
- Many of the passive powers are nearly useless. Possibly buff them to be almost on par with the useful ones.
- Bear Trap / Ambush is a very cool power, but not good enough to be used in practice. Please buff it!
I used to be an Archer in Mod 15, so I am really curious to see how well this build does in Mod 18. Here’s how I play it.
At wills: Rapid Shot, Hunter’s Teamwork
Encounters: Constricting Arrow, Commanding Shot, Longstrider Shot
Passives: Seeker’s Vengeance, Aspect of the Falcon
Dailies: Slasher’s Mark, Disruptive Shot
Feats: Longshot, Critical Action, Predator, Commander in Chief, More than Disruptive
Rotation Single Targtet:
Commanding Shot, Disruptive Shot, Constricting Arrow, Longstrider Shot, then Rapid Shot until Prey and More than Disruptive have run out. Then cast Hunter’s Teamwork and keep using Rapid Shot until Commanding Shot is ready. Rinse and repeat.
Rapid Volley to apply Prey, Disruptive Shot, Constricting Arrow, Longstrider Shot, use all the Rapid Volley charges you have left but 1, then Rapid Shot until Prey and More than Disruptive have run out, one charge of Rapid Volley to keep Prey up. Then keep using Rapid Shot until your Encounters are ready. Rinse and repeat.
If the enemies die reasonably quickly, keep a few more Rapid Volley charges available in order to apply Prey more often.
Rapid Volley is generally better than Hawk Shot, even after the buff.
- The Critical Action feat could also reduce the casting time of Aimed Shot to 1.2 seconds, making it viable again.
- The Commander in Chief Feat could let Commanding Shot AND Longstrider Shot reduce ranged cooldowns by 2 seconds.
- It’s a bit ridiculous that Longstrider Shot is still called that even though it now has nothing to do with fast movement, but hey, that’s a very minor point!
Hopefully this article has been useful. What I’ve been saying in the article is probably not that new to very knowledgeable players, but I felt there had to be a reference online for something else than the Ranger melee build.
I would like to thank Lord Willow for his videos on Alternative Ranger Builds. That was good inspiration, but I have reasons to do things slightly differently.
Leave comments if you find typos or have suggestions, and remember to have some fun while grinding!