Ranger Build Compendium (Mod 19)

by Sorek on June 30, 2020
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Ranger Build Compendium (Mod 19)

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Introduction

Welcome to the Ranger Build Compendium. My name is Sorek, and all opinions contained in this guide are my own, although most of them are based on discussions had on the Wolfpack discord group, where there are lots of more experienced Rangers than I am. Consider joining it if you want access to knowledge as it evolves in real time.

I started experimenting with various builds in Mod 17 and 18, when Melee Warden was the undisputed best. Now, for the first time in a long while, the Ranger class is so lucky to have two viable paragon paths, and a lot of options to play with.

The general consensus is that Hunter Trapper is best for single target, while Melee Warder tends to be better in AoE situations. Even though the other builds are not as effective as these two, they are fun to play, especially in random queues, master expeditions, legacy campaigns, and I’d say everything below LOMM difficulty. From LOMM and above, efficiency starts to be important and people often abandon dungeons because the group’s dps (damage per second) is not high enough, so maybe try to stick to the best builds.

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.

A quick 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!

 

Melee Warden

The Melee Warden build has been covered extensively by much better players than me, and it has changed very little since Mod 18. Check this video by Sume if you haven’t seen it yet, or one of Rainer’s videos, e.g. this video, which also covers extensively what the Best in Slot (BiS) gear currently is. If you don’t have those items yet, keep calm and check out the bonus section Equipment at the very end of the article.

 

Stance Switching Warden 1

This build (SSW1) is one of my favourites. 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: the feats (mainly Thorned Roots) that make roots matter are in the Hunter path. Therefore I’ve decided to go with Aspect of the Serpent, which gives me a decent 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). As it is, Deft Strikes isn’t working well, even on a build specifically based on it, see SSW3 below.

 

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 (SSW2) 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.

 

Stance Switching Warden 3

I’ve been experimenting with Deft Strikes, and this build (SSW3) is what came out of it. It’s a difficult rotation, quite unforgiving if you miss one step. Here it goes.

At wills: Electric Shot, Penetrating Arrows
Encounters: Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrow, Marauder’s Escape
Class Features: Aspect of the Serpent, Twin Blade Storm
Dailies: Snipe, Call of the Storm
Feats: Deft Strikes, Storm’s Recovery, Blade Hurricane, Skirmisher’s Gambit, Enhanced Conductivity

Rotation:
Marauder’s Rush, 4 Storm Strike, Tab, Hindering Shot, Tab, Hindering Strike, Tab, Constricting Arrow, Tab, Steel Breeze, Tab, jump and Marauder’s Escape, 1 Penetrating Arrow (waiting for cooldowns), Call of the Storm, Marauder’s Rush, 4 Storm Strike, …

If you miss one step, I would fall back to the usual Melee Warden rotation until the ranged powers have come off cooldown, then try to start again. Unfortunately, the tests I’ve performed indicate that this build/rotation is not significantly better than SSW1 or SSW2. One possible reason is that despite taking full advantage of the 10% increase in damage coming from Deft Strikes, the bonus only applies to Encounter powers, and quite a lot of time is wasted switching stances while it could be used to cast At Wills with Flurry instead.

 

Hunter Trapper

In Mod 19 Hunter Trappers received a lot of attention, as they have arguably become the strongest build for Rangers. Recently both Sume and Rainer have published very thorough videos about it. Make sure to check them out. My approach is probably in between.

At wills: Aimed Shot, Rapid 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 +15% 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 Aimed Shot, and hit Tab twice (quickly) in the middle of every shot until Londstrider shot has about 2 seconds left on cooldown. Then restart the rotation.

Hitting Tab quickly during the casting time of Aimed Shot will refresh Rate of Change (+15% dmg), and will allow you to quickly check if your melee powers are ready. I used to do it with Rapid Shot in Mod 18, and it was somehow easier.

Using almost only ranged at-wills 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.

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. Rapid/Aimed Shot until your Encounters are ready. You may want to slot Cordon of Arrows instead of Longstrider Shot when doing AoE damage to packs of mobs. Do NOT use Cordon of Arrows during boss fights, it is terrible for sustained damage.

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 and during boss fights, instead of Crushing Roots.

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.

I confess, I often drop Longstrider Shot in favour of Marauder’s Rush, just because of the extra mobility it gives me, a bit like the Hell Pit Trapper build below.

If the enemies are densely packed, as in the Infernal Citadel of the Ascension BHE in Avernus, use Cordon of Arrow/Plant growth and Seismic Arrow.

Suggestions:

  1. Cordon of Arrows / Plant Growth needs to be buffed. Plant Growth would be pretty decent if it had a cooldown of like 14 seconds and did twice the damage. Cordon of Arrows should have a similar cooldown and shorter casting time. As they are, these powers are nearly useless on longer encounters. Remove the charges for Cordon of Arrows if necessary. Maybe increase the area. Plant Growth’s cooldown is way too long.
  2. The feat Slasher’s Expertise does not fit with the concept. Change it e.g. to let both Disruptive Shot and Slasher’s mark buff 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.
  3. Almost all the Hunter paragon Class Features are nearly useless. Possibly buff them to be almost on par with the useful ones.
  4. Bear Trap / Ambush is a very cool power, but not good enough to be used in practice. Please buff it!
  5. 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 2% / increase target’s damage taken by 2%, it would be a cool power to use in both versions!
  6. Please, let Aimed Strike stack with multiple applications, and increase the damage to be in the ballpark of Aimed Shot.

 

Hell Pit Hunter Trapper

During the Hell Pit event I found myself playing around with these builds once again. Be aware that even though your item level is scaled down to 20k, the caps seem to be 85k according to Rainers video. So what I did was removing as many items that gave me combat advantage in favor of +arpen, defence and crit, and replacing Arcturia’s set with Demogorgon’s set (no enchants). I chose Hunter because in Hell Pit the roots have time to deal the full damage, and they stop mobs from surrounding me too much (and gaining CA). The powers I used are

At wills: Rapid Shot, Aimed Shot
Encounters: Hindering Shot, Constricting Arrows, Marauder’s Escape
Class Features: Crushing Roots, Aspect of the Serpent
Dailies: Forest Ghost, Disruptive Shot
Feats: Rate of Change, Thorned Roots, Biting Snares, Forest Bond, More than Disruptive

I never had the time to cast Gushing Wounds, and in Hell Pit mobility is very important, so I substituted Longstrider Shot with Marauder’s Escape.

As I can’t quite control the distance between me and the enemies, I dropped Aspect of the Falcon for Aspect of the Serpent. However, I wasn’t worrying too much about the rotation, as after using Encounter powers, I was dodging and moving instead of using at-wills.

Cast Forest Ghost to lose some aggro.

That’s it, have fun.

Obviously, this build (forget about the comments about the equipment) can be used in its own right, if you like being a trapper and you don’t want to renounce the mobility that comes with Marauder’s Rush/Escape (thanks to Pjgg78 for pointing this out).

 

 

Hunter Ranged

With Mod 19, Hunter Ranged is IMO roughly on par with Stance Switching Warden, with the advantages that being a completely ranged dps brings (thinking about the second boss in Infernal Citadel, or the last part of Bel).

At wills: Aimed Shot, Rapid Shot
Encounters: Constricting Arrow, Commanding Shot, Longstrider Shot
Passives: Seeker’s Vengeance, Aspect of the Falcon
Dailies: Forest Ghost, Disruptive Shot
Feats: Longshot, Critical Action, Predator, Commander in Chief, More than Disruptive

Rotation Single Target:
Commanding Shot, Disruptive Shot, Constricting Arrow, Longstrider Shot, then Aimed Shot until Commanding Shot is ready. Rinse and repeat.

If the enemies die quickly, use Rapid Shot instead of Aimed Shot (e.g. Throne of the Dwarven God?).

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 Aimed Shot until Prey and More than Disruptive have run out, one charge of Rapid Volley to keep Prey up. Then keep using Aimed 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.

Don’t ever use Hunter’s Teamwork / Careful Attack. As explained in the Hunter Trapper build above, they are not viable.

As both Constricting Arrow and Commanding Shot apply Strong Grasping Roots, Thorned Roots may be better than Critical Action. However, roots do not count as Encounter power and are not buffed by the Longshot Feat.

Suggestion:

  1. The Critical Action feat needs to be buffed.
  2. 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!

 

Storm Warden

This build consists in a Ranged Warden that focuses on electricity based ranged AoEs. It’s not very good for dungeons, but I’m told it’s a blast for solo play. One example of such build is in Typo (Yarrow) and Viking’s guide, make sure to check it out.

 

Other Ranged Builds

If you’re interested in Ranged builds you should check out Typo (Yarrow) and Viking’s guide, where the discussion is a lot more focused on ranged combat.

 

Equipment

See A Poor Ranger’s Guide to Gear on this website.

 

Races

Unless you can pick Dragonborn, race does not matter that much. However, as things stand in mod 16-19 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.

 

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?

  • Tomás
    April 28, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    I have an wood elf warden, i,d put all my ability scores in dex and int?? Ty

    • Sorek
      May 6, 2020 at 10:43 pm

      If your build is Melee Warden, and you follow the standard rotation 1 Encounter + 3 seconds of at-wills, yes. If you’re using any other build described in the guide, then no, put them in Strength and Dex. Good luck

  • Pjgg78
    May 14, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    First of all thank you for this great guide, always good to have some variety and alternatives to play around and break the routine. I’m not a big fan of the standard melee warden because it tends to get a bit boring and very similar to Assassin Rogue gameplay, wich i also have, so i tend to go with stance changing builds even if they’re not the best performing ones. From the wardens my favourite is SS2. However the best performing stance changing build appears to be Hunter Trapper. I tried it and it does feel a bit stronger than SS2 but i miss the flexibility and mobility from Marauder’s Rush/Escape. My question is would i lose much or even break the build mechanics if i replaced Longstrider Shot with Marauder’s Rush/Escape or is it actually viable with only a minimal loss in DPS output?

    • Sorek
      May 16, 2020 at 10:08 pm

      That is a good question. I’ll try it and let you know as soon as I have a chance. It would definitely not break the build, you’ll just have to adjust the rotation to factor in the different cooldown time, but that’s all. All in all, I’d say you’re losing some dps, but I don’t know how much. You could try to use Hindering Strike, Marauder’s Escape, Longstrider’s Shot, and see what happens. Good luck

      • Sorek
        May 20, 2020 at 4:17 pm

        I did some testing, and I seem to deal around 4 Mil, so a dps loss of around 7% over the HT build. Obviously the test isn’t accurate as Steel Breeze and Thorned roots (from Constricting Arrows) deal damage to other mannequins as well, while Marauder’s doesn’t. And it’s not a dungeon.

        Another point is that you have to be very careful to jump when using Marauder’s Escape, otherwise you’ll get further than 25′, and lose bonuses such as Aspect of the Falcon and Gravestalker’s Rings.

        If you like it, go for it, it doesn’t break the build if you remember to jump when using Marauder’s Escape.

        • Pjgg78
          May 20, 2020 at 11:23 pm

          Thanks for taking the time to test it. I’ll try it and see how it goes.

          • Sorek
            May 25, 2020 at 11:55 am

            Fyi, for Hellpit I am playing a trapper with aspect of the serpent and marauder’s escape instead of aspect of the falcon and longstrider shot. I’ve also unequipped the companion gear that gives +12k combat advantage in favour of more arpen and defence (after scaling the caps are still 85k, see Rainer’s video). I am finding it a little bit easier than with melee warden, as I dodge a lot (steel breeze helps) and roots have time to deal full damage.

            Also, as of now it looks like the hunter trapper build above will be pretty cool in mod 19. Hunter Ranged will get a boost too.

  • Hikarikaze
    May 24, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    i haven’t played neverwinter for a year and a lot has changed. I have dragonborn Ranger, and plan to make a hunter trapper. there was possible to have 2 builds on 1 char, so melee warden as the second would be perfect i guess. BUT i couldn’t find any detailed info about boons and feats. any tips on that? cause i entered the game and my char was completely rerolled 😀

    • Hikarikaze
      May 24, 2020 at 12:22 pm

      and all my purple gear which i was fighting for during couple of months is trash now ;(

      • Sorek
        May 31, 2020 at 9:59 am

        Yes, you can have 2 different loadouts on the same character, e.g. one Warden and one Hunter.

        The Feats for each build are described in each section, near the powers (at-wills, Encounters,…).

        Have you checked out the bonus sections at the end of the guide? There’s one about boons, and one about equipment.

        Let me know if you have any specific questions

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