Hunters: Our arrows shall blot out the sun. Fancy fighting blind?
So, you want to be a Hunter? Spend your life in the wilderness, tracking game, running down beasts and men alike? You'll want to listen close and learn well, young one. The life of a Hunter can be hard, but the rewards are great.
Selling points: why you would want to play a Hunter
Weapon-using controllers aren't common, and those there are, are poorly supported. Playing a Hunter lets you access broad support from both Martial and Primal sources, as well as that available to your parent class, the hugely-well-supported Ranger.
Accuracy: like many of the Essentials classes, the Hunter is extremely accurate. Built-in Expertise, Weapon Talent, and +3 proficiency weapons allow you to hit often, with a number of your at-will stances boosting this even further. With the right options and combat situations, you could be hitting on a natural 2. And no-one likes missing.
Single-target control: your at-will control options are all single-target save for Rapid Shot which is good for minion-clearance and not a lot else. As a single target controller, you're very strong, but the downside is that out of the box, your multi-target and battlefield control is weak. But against single targets, you're solid. You can slow, slide and knock prone at-will from first level, and your encounter power dazes or immobilises, and slows on a miss. A number of utilities can net you a little more mass-control, but you'll never be a Wizard or Invoker.
Damage: perhaps unsurprisingly, as a class based on the Ranger you're not bad at putting down damage to single targets, and picking the right options can get you miss effects on your at-will attacks for more. You'll never be a primary striker, due to your complete lack, out of the box, of anything over 1[W] in damage, but your single-target damage is not to be discounted for its reliability.
This Handbook will use the following system for ratings:
Red - Garbage, or completely overshadowed by another option.
Purple - Situationally useful, but overall pretty meh.
Black - OK. You could do worse than pick this.
Blue - Good stuff. You probably want this.
Sky Blue - You want this. Period.
Gold - Why haven't you taken this yet? A defining choice for a build, or even the whole class.
Green - A difficult option to rate - mostly flavour, usually. Particularly used for non-optional choices, class features etc.
This Handbook covers the following sources:
AP - Arcane Power
AV - Adventurer's Vault
AV 2 - Adventurer's Vault 2
D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX
DMA 2009 - Dragon Magazine Annual 2009
DP - Divine Power
DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting
FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
HotFK - Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
HotFL - Heroes of the Fallen Lands
HoS - Heroes of Shadow
MM - Monster Manual
MM 2 - Monster Manual 2
MOTP - Manual of the Planes
MP - Martial Power
MP 2 - Martial Power 2
PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB 2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB 3 - Player's Handbook 3
PHR: DB - Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn
PHR: TF - Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings
PHH 1 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 1
PHH 2 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 2
PrP - Primal Power
PsP - Psionic Power
SAC - Seekers of the Ashen Crown Adventure Module
AP - Action point.
BBEG - Big bad evil guy.
Burst/Nova/Spike Damage - Generally understood to mean the highest amount of damage a character can inflict in the space of a single round. Usually, calculations for this allow 1 round of setup before the actual damage.
CA - Combat advantage.
DPR - Damage per round, which is generally meant to mean the character's expected damage value using At-Will powers against a standard enemy of the same level (eloquently described by Adslahnit as the Official CharOp Inanimate Block of Tofu™.
E-class - Refers to the class design for Martial characters introduced in the Essentials product line, which usually focuses on basic attacks and has limited options for Encounter or Daily resources.
ED - Epic destiny.
HP - Hit points.
LX - Level X.
MAD - Multiple attribute dependency, which is defined as needing 3 or more ability scores for a given build.
MBA - Melee basic attack.
MC - Multiclass or multiclassing.
NAD - Non-AC defense.
OA - Opportunity attack.
PP - Paragon path.
RBA - Ranged basic attack.
SAD - Single attribute dependency, which is defined as a build that really only needs 1 ability score.
THP - Temporary hit points.
UEONT - Until End Of Next Turn
Thrill of the Hunt: the Ranger's Handbook by LordDuskBlade
EBola Hunter, an Essentials Bola Hunter by ibixat
Major credits to LordDuskBlade, from whose excellent Ranger's guide I am appropriating a LOT of relevant material. Thanks LDB.