Alternative Ranger Builds Mod18

by Sorek on December 19, 2019
Ranger
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Alternative Ranger Builds Mod18

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TL;DR

The Stance Switching Warden and Hunter Trapper are pretty decent builds that I tested in all the content up to and including LOMM, very flexible, fun, and only very slightly behind Melee Warden in terms of dps.

Hunter Ranged is fun to play, but is slightly behind the previous two builds. However, I thought I should put it out there in case people want to try it in content like ME/WE/FE Expeditions, farming campaigns, and so on.

Don’t forget to check out the bonus sections!

 

Foreword

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. However, the bonus sections (below the Conclusion) are useful new players, new level 80 players who have not got used to the change of pace of the game, and players farming the equipment to access the endgame dungeons.

The alternative builds I will discuss here generally deal slightly less damage than the usual melee build if you try them on a dummy. However, there are plenty of situations (discussed below) where some of these builds can outdamage even the popular Melee Warden build, if played correctly (I won’t cover the Melee Warden build here, as there are plenty of references online. To quote one, see the video by Sume Linked in the Conculsion). In any case, these builds are fun to play, especially during content like Master/Warden/Fragment Expeditions, Heroic Encounters, and campaign farming, where some degree of novelty is probably welcome. I’ve tested Stance Switching Warden (1 & 2) and Hunter Trapper in all content up to and including LOMM, and I’ve always done well, had loads of fun, and often topped the Paingiver chart.

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 1

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 Warden 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 Blade Hurricane (Flurry), then get out of there and still be relevant.

At wills: Electric Shot, Penetrating Arrows
Encounters: Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrow, Binding Arrow
Class Features: 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 (mainly Thorned Roots) 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), Hindering Strike, 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.

Rotation for mobs:
Hindering Strike, Steel Breeze, 5 x Electric Strike, Oak Skin. For me this is usually more than enough. If 3 or more mobs are still alive, 5 x Electric Strike. Otherwise switch to bow and finish them down individually with you ranged Encounters. I don’t really use Electric Shot.

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.

If you are far and have full AP or have just finished the melee rotation, you can just Snipe the boss and keep accumulating AP. As sometimes we actually use Snipe, maybe it would be better to use the Nickel-plated ring (+3% damage to Encounter Powers) instead of the Leading Ring of the Teacher (+3% dmg on at wills and encounters, -30% dailies) or similar. The contribution of our at-wills to the total damage is much lower for the Stance Switching Warden than for the Melee Warden anyway.

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. I may work on a rotation designed to maximise the return from Deft Strikes in the future.

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.

Suggestion:
It would be really nice if Deft Strikes was changed to grant 20% bonus damage with a stance shift, decreasing 2-4% 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).

 

Stance Switching Warden 2

Recently I’ve been playing around with the build above, and I realised there are situations where it can be improved. So, if you are playing Throne of Idris, Cradle of the Death God, or any other dungeon where positioning matters a lot, and misstepping can cause you to die, you should use the build above. Instead, if you can move more or less freely, and mobility is important as monsters apply lots of control effects (e.g. Vallenhas), then this build is even better. As a matter of fact doing Master of the Hunt and checking how long it takes to clear each area, for me this build is even better than the my standard Melee Warden.

The powers equipped are the same as above, with the exception of Marauder’s Escape instead of Binding Arrow. Keep in mind that while Marauder’s Rush is very good and useful, Marauder’s Escape rarely hits at all. But, the new cooldowns are shorter, and both new powers give you additional mobility.

The way I use Marauder’s Escape for damage, is jumping in people’s face and activate it while I’m still in the air. If you fire it from very close, it tends to hit the promised 3 times. Otherwise I use it to get out of a red area, and if I also hit something, even better. If needed, you can cancel the animation by dashing.

The rotation in perfect conditions would be:
Melee (Tab), Marauder’s Rush, 4x Storm Strike, Hindering Strike, Steel Breeze, maybe 1/2 Storm Strike (just enough to let the ranged powers come off cooldown), Ranged (Tab), Marauder’s Escape, Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrow, Hindering Shot (if not on cooldown), Melee (Tab), Marauder’s Rush, …

Obviously, if there are plenty of monsters applying control effects, you’ll also be running and dashing and using penetrating arrows as well while you move.

When my Action Points are full I tend to get out of the way and use Snipe (during the ranged part of the rotation, then continue as usual). With control effects, I don’t have the time to stand still while using Call of the Storm (and taking advantage of its buff) as I get immediately controlled.

 

Hunter Trapper

This build relies heavily on applying roots in order to function. 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. I’ve been using this build in Vallenhas and LOMM, and I haven’t had any problems. Regrettably, the at-wills on the Hunter path are subpar with respect to Warden. However, if they were buffed by a decent amount, this build could be rivaling the best dps builds in the game.

At wills: Rapid Shot, Split Shot
Encounters: Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrows, Longstrider Shot
Class Features: Crushing Roots, Aspect of the Falcon
Dailies: Forest Ghost, Disruptive Shot
Feats: Rate of Change, Thorned Roots, Biting Snares, Forest Bond, More than Disruptive

Rotation (single target):
Hit Tab until you’re Ranged (for the +5% dmg buff), Disruptive Shot (to apply 10% bonus ranged dmg for 5 sec), Longstrider Shot, Constricting Arrow, Hindering Shot, Melee (Tab), Gushing Wound, Steel Breeze, Hindering Strike, Ranged (Tab), a Hindering Shot if you have 2 charges, then use Rapid Shot, and hit Tab twice (quickly) every 3 shots until Londstrider shot has about 2 seconds left on cooldown. Then fire Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrow, Longstrider Shot, and restart the rotation.

Hitting Tab quickly while firing Rapid Shot won’t interrupt the animation/damage but it will refresh Rate of Change (+5% dmg), and will allow you to quickly check if your melee powers are ready.

Using almost only Rapid Shot allows you to take advantage of Aspect of the Falcon, which in this case is superior to Aspect of the Serpent.

I thought that Careful Attack would synergise with Bilethorn and being in a party, but after some testing I realised that Careful Attack has an internal cooldown of about 1 second, and despite it being an at-will, it does not proc Bilethorn. So even though it would be a cool power, the amount of damage it does is abysmal and I will not be using it. Instead, I slotted Split Strike as the only usable AoE at-will power we get, even though I still almost never use it.

Unfortunately, Aimed Shot and Aimed Strike take too long to cast and have too low magnitude, so I won’t be slotting them. Also, the bleed from Aimed Strike does not stack with itself, but it does stack with the bleed from Gushing Wounds.

Rotation (multiple targets):
Use Forest Ghost instead of Disruptive Shot when mobs surround you, then keep firing the Encounters following the usual rotation. Avoid casting Gushing Wounds as it takes a whole 1.3 seconds, and you’ll often get interrupted before the animation finishes. If after using all of your Encounter powers, 3 or more mobs are still standing, instead of using Rapid Shot in the rotation above, you can use Split Strike (remember to hit Tab regularly), until your Encounters are ready.

Make sure 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. As we use dailies a lot, consider in getting one of the legendary slug mounts that on a daily use, give you back 10%AP over 10 seconds.

Obviously, use Seeker’s Vengeance if you can consistently get behind the enemies, instead of Crushing Roots.

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.

Don’t use Leading Ring of the Teacher as you rely on damage from Disruptive Shot quite a lot. I personally went with a Ring of the Gravestalker +5, which boosts both melee AND ranged damage as long as I am within 25ft of the target. And I almost always am, also to take advantage of Aspect of the Falcon.

Personally, I think this build is better than it looks as with control immune targets (e.g. bosses), Thorned Roots results in both Hindering Strike and Constricting Arrow having a magnitude of 550. That, with Longstrider Shot having 525 magnitude, gives you 3 very good powers out of 6. The other 3 are a bonus.

Suggestions:

  1. Rate of Change is not relevant enough, especially compared to Focused. See changes proposed above for Stance Switching Warden.
  2. Increase the cooldown reduction from Forest Bond to like 20%. At 5% you don’t even feel it.
  3. 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.
  4. Change the feat Slasher’s Expertise, 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. Or, substitute Slasher’s Expertise with Nature’s Envoy from Warden. That would be great, with a small buff to Aimed Strike. In exchange, substitute Nature’s Envoy in the Warden with the option to give Snipe the ability to buff all damage by 10% (similar but better than Slasher’s Expertise). As a Stance Switching Warden I would pick that! Or even better, the enemy takes 10% more damage.
  5. Almost all the Hunter paragon Class Features are nearly useless. Possibly buff them to be almost on par with the useful ones.
  6. Bear Trap / Ambush is a very cool power, but not good enough to be used in practice. Please buff it!
  7. Hunter’s Teamwork / Careful Attack: Please remove the internal cooldown to make Careful attack usable. More drastically, if it was changed to decrease target’s damage dealt by like 4% / increase target’s damage taken by 4%, it would be a cool power to use in both versions!

 

Hunter Ranged

I used to be an Archer in Mod 15. Here’s how I play Archer in Mod 18. It’s an ok build, but I need to do some more work on 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 Target:
Careful Attack, Tab, 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.

Rotation Solo/AoE (Rapid volley instead of Commanding Shot):
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.

Suggestion:

  1. The Critical Action feat could also reduce the casting time of Aimed Shot to 1.2 seconds or 1 second, making it viable again.
  2. The Commander in Chief Feat could let Commanding Shot AND Longstrider Shot reduce ranged cooldowns by 2 seconds. As it is it’s not enough.
  3. 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!

 

Conclusion

Hopefully this article was 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 Melee Warden 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. Check this video by Sume on the standard Melee Warden build if you haven’t seen it yet. A thanks to Rainer and his very helpful Pocket Wiki (and videos), and Janne’s website for more insights on how the game works.

Leave comments if you find typos or have suggestions, and remember to have some fun while grinding!

 

 

Bonus Sections:

 

Races

Unless you can pick Dragonborn, race does not matter that much. However, as things stand in mod 16-18 the best race for ranger is Half-Orc, for the +5% crit sev and the +2 bonuses to Str and Dex. Most of the damage done using the builds above is physical, so a bonus to Str is preferable to a bonus to Int.

Other than that, Sun Elf is quite good for Melee Warden, for the +2% AP gain and +2 to Dex and Int (Int is important for magical damage, coming from your at-wills). Also, the thematically appropriate Wood Elf is also good, with bonuses to Dex and Int. Other notable races are probably Gith and Tiefling (the latter for the +5% dmg when target is below half HP), although they’re a bit at odds with the forests and nature theme.

 

Boons

The boons should be picked using the same logic that the Melee Warden build follows. My choices are Power > Movement Seed, Comp Influence > HP > Bonus damage & resistance against Demons, Undead > Resistance to Control Effects.

About the main boons on the top part of the sheet, I tend to go with crit sev/AP gain (or incoming healing for TOMM) if Warden, or recovery/crit sev/incoming healing if Hunter (for now). I also tend to pick Blood Lust in both cases.

 

Equipment

For ranger, as far as I know the jury is still out on which item is BiS for quite a few slots. I am just going to give you cheaper but near optimal gear, which you’ll need to get your BiS gear.

Unless you have an epic augment companion laying around, buy (for AD on AH or tradebars) a deepcrow hatchling. It’s a good augment and the companion power is +6/8 k power. And it bolsters with Bulette Pup. Get rank 8/9 Bonding runestones, and rank 8/9 Empowered runestones from the Auction House, they’re quite cheap as of now.

Then you need to farm Master Expeditions (and WE, FE) for:
1) the appropriate companion gear to cap your stats (varies depending on the rest of your gear) [try keep most of it, you don’t know what stats you’ll need in the end]
2) Ebonized chest piece, still BiS
3) Ebonized shirt, still BiS
4) Ebonized rings
5) Alabaster weapons
6) Gloves that give +3% damage on Encounter Powers (which I personally like)
7) if you’re lucky, a Staff of Flowers/Arcturia’s Music Box, …, from Zok
8) Decent 950-1000 IL boots

Don’t sweat it if you don’t get Alabaster soon. At the same time, you can farm Seals of the Deep, which will allow you to buy the Burnished weapons set. Burnished is better than Alabaster when you’re in a party, so you’ll have to get it anyway, before you finish TOMM and get Lionheart. Seals of the Deep also give you access to the Protege’ set, which has a head piece that gives +5% damage in Undermountain, invaluable for Master Expeditions, LOMM and TOMM.

So far you can use Radiant Enchantments in offence slots, maybe Azure in defence, and Dark in Utility, all coming from the gear that Lord Nasher gives you when you start Undermountain.

You should save to get a Vorpal Enchantment for your weapon (good for everything), and Soulforged for your armour (Barkshield if you have more AD to spend).

Buy TOMM rings on AH: Striking ring of the Master, and either (or both) Leading ring of the Teacher, Nickel-plated Ring, depending on your build(s).

When you’re ready, you can move on to farm Big Heroic Encounters in Vallenhas, to get Juma bags, to get the boots that give you +5% damage and -25% incoming healing. If you use them you should switch out your Dark enchantments for Tacticals to balance your incoming healing out (unless you’re soloing). Farming seals of the Fallen will allow you to get the new pants, which I prefer over the Protege’ ones (higher stats, power still ok). Juma bags also give other decent boots you can use, such as Armando’s.

For artifact set, I tend to use Trobriand’s set for solo play, and Arcturia’s set whenever I can position behind the boss (e.g. TOMM). They’re both relatively easy to obtain.

At this point you should:
1) upgrade the deepcrow hatchling to legendary
2) upgrade companions that give +power (e.g. Minstrel) when you equip them (maybe up to Epic quality)
3) get and upgrade a Bulette Pup
4) save to get rank 15 Bonding runestones
5) save to get rank 14 Empowered runestones
6) finish upgrading your companions for +power
7) save to buy rank 14 enchantments
8) you should also get some cubes of augmentation to change your weapon modifications (crit sev, power)

Now you’re basically ready for TOMM. Go on to follow the guides for endgame builds.

Note that if you complete acquisitions incorporated, you get a rank 14 Heart of Fire enchantment guaranteed, while completing Chult gives you access to the dungeon Fane of the Night Serpent, which can result in a Ring of the Gravestalker+5. When you do campaigns, I found that it’s mostly enough to only do weeklies. You’ll get there, don’t burn out! Read the guides for each campaign, and as always, ask your guildmates for tips. Guildmates are important, you should support each other!

 

General Strategy

I feel I should spend a few words on general strategy. Cooperation is an important asset and can make a world of difference on how a fight goes.

The tank should always walk in first. When entering a fight as a dps, walk on the side of the enemies and position yourself behind them. When the tank grabs aggro, you can start attacking and you’ll all benefit from combat advantage, deal more damage, have more fun, die less. During a boss fight, the party positioning should look like this.

The boss should be facing the tank, and everyone should be behind the boss, all close enough to be in the range of a single healing spell from the healer.

Obviously, party composition varies. If all the dps are melee, and the healer is a paladin, obviously you’ll have the four people sticking closer around the back of the boss. If all dps and healer are ranged, they’ll be lumping closer to the point exactly opposite to the tank. However, everyone still has to be near the boss, within the healing range.

When the adds spawn, the choice it twofold. If they are relatively weak adds, the dps’ can keep facing the boss and deal with the adds using Area of Effect powers. If the adds are relatively strong, the dps’ should leave the boss and focus on the adds to dispatch them quickly, *while the tank maintains aggro*, then focus back on the boss. All of that while remaining withing healing range.

If the boss turns towards you (you being a dps), stop attacking, take some distance (remaining close to the healing range), dodge blows if they come, until the tank grabs the aggro back. Then you can resume dealing damage again. Don’t run off or the healer may not be able to keep you alive. If you die, you get a stack of resurrection sickness (-10% hp and dmg per stack) and make everyone’s life harder.

Dodge the “red areas”, deal a tiny bit less of damage, save the healer a lot of divinity that can be spent when really needed!

Also, last but not least, when you realise you are in a new dungeon and don’t know the mechanics, tell your party, they’ll help you out. And when you finish the dungeon, go online and read a guide about it, so you’ll know what to do next time.

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  • Dave
    February 3, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for the guide. Love it so much started playing my ranger again!

  • Winter
    February 26, 2020 at 12:25 am

    quick question, what are the top races for the stance switching ranger?

    • March 3, 2020 at 5:11 pm

      Any race that makes a good ranger will make a good Stance Switching Warden.

      If you are willing to spend some money, dragonborn gives bonuses to hp and damage. Otherwise, as things stand in mod 18, I’d go Half-Orc or Sun Elf. Half-Orc gives you +5% critical severity, very important, a bonus to Dex (which gives you more Crit Sev), and a bonus to Strength, which increases the damage of your Encounter Powers. Sun Elf instead, gives you increased Action Point gain, also very important, a bonus to Dex (as above), and a bonus to Intelligence, which increases the damage of your at-wills. As a Stance Switching Warden, you’re gonna use a lot of Encounter Powers, so probably Half-Orc is slightly better, but the difference is likely very small.

      However, race does not make a big difference in mod 18, so you should pick a race that you’ll like to play in the long run. For example, Sume is a Halfling, I am a Wood Elf.

  • Winter
    March 14, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    What about boons? From campaigns and such?

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