Harry Callahan: a Seeker|Ranger Controller, OR, How to Play a Hunter with Dailies

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Harry Callahan, Elf Seeker|Ranger/Sylvan Archer/Destined Scion



"So, do you feel lucky, punk?" --Harry Callahan


Build Goals:


   In short, the goal is to build the best Controller possible without significant mechanical or thematic deviation from the Seeker class. This is Practical Optimization, of course, so it goes without saying (or does it?!) that the ultimate goal of the build is to be fun to play. The result is something like a less accurate and less damaging Hunter that, in exchange, brings some major control that the former lacks. The goal is not actually to build an accurate representation of Dirty Harry- I named the build what I did because a)I love Harry Callahan, and b)it implies a sort of counterpart relationship to Auspex7's John McClane build, which is partially where the idea came from.

   Before the Hunter was published, I was trying to build a Seeker that would effectively fill the controller role in a party. The Seeker has one big, glaring problem: it is a Controller with weak power selection. More than any other role, Controllers rely on powers more than features to be successful, and so this is crippling. Seekers have some good Daily powers and some good Utilities, but there are quite a few levels at which there aren't any good choices. The Encounter powers are almost universally bad. The most serious encounter control power in epic tier is an AoE daze. The Seeker has multiple paragon tier encounter powers that do nothing but damage. There are only 38 encounter attack powers available to the Seeker; the tiny power selection makes every poorly designed power that much more disappointing. (The Fighter, by contrast, has almost as many poor encounter powers, but he has 141 to choose from.)

   The answer to this problem is to hybrid the Seeker, so that it has a wider selection of powers. The Ranger offers powers with a surprising amount of control, and meshes most naturally with the Seeker. The Cleric comes close, but the cost of maintaining a weapon and an implement and the lack of an at-will that offers control make it an inferior choice.

The Build:


Build Frame

As the thread title suggests, you're a Seeker|Ranger. Because you have dual primary ability scores, you (sadly) can't be human, so you're an Elf, which is almost as awesome. Before we get to the interesting parts of the build, here's a breakdown of the build's fundamentals across all levels of play:

L1 Snapshot:
Strength: 11
Constitution: 13
Dexterity: 18
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 18
Charisma: 8

AC:16 Fort:12 Ref:14 Will:15
HP: 30 Surges: 7
+7 to hit
+4 damage

L10 Snapshot:
Strength: 11
Constitution: 13
Dexterity: 20
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 20
Charisma: 10

AC:24 Fort:19 Ref:22 Will:23
HP: 77 Surges: 7
+16 to hit, not including Eagle Eye Goggles (+1)
+8 damage, not including Bracers of Archery (+2)

L20 Snapshot:
Strength: 12
Constitution: 14
Dexterity: 23
Intelligence: 9
Wisdom: 23
Charisma: 11

AC:33 Fort:29 Ref:32 Will:33
HP: 130 Surges: 8
+25 to hit, not including Eagle Eye Goggles(+2)
+16 damage, not including Bracers of Archery(+4)

Level 30 Snapshot:
Strength: 12
Constitution: 15
Dexterity: 28
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 28
Charisma: 10

AC:44 Fort:37 Ref:43 Will:45
HP: 185 Surges: 8
+36 to hit, not including Eagle Eye Goggles(+3)
+24 damage, not including Bracers of Archery(+6) or Primal Eye(+9)

You'll want to patch that Fortitude with a Belt of Vim if you can get one. If you can't, fit in Epic Fortitude somewhere, and if you can't do that... just try to use Stealth defensively on turns when you can't "hide" with Feywild Jaunt/Land's Passage. You should be doing that either way, though.

Initiative Mod:
Level 1: +4
Level 10: +14
Level 21: +25
Level 30: +32

Variations:
   If you want a little more Striker without losing much control, you can change the race to Drow and the PP to Darkstrider. Becoming Hidden shouldn't be too difficult for you, relatively speaking, but if it is, you can drop Hidden Sniper and Superior Will for MC Rogue and Acolyte Power to grab Hide in Plain Sight.


Feat Progression

Level 1: Weapon Proficiency (Superior crossbow)
Level 2: Speed Loader
Level 4: Crossbow Expertise
Level 6: Hobbling Strike
Level 8: World Serpent's Grasp
Level 10: Improved Initiative

Level 11: Weapon Focus (Crossbow)
Level 12: Psychic Lock
Level 14: Improved Defenses
Level 16: Hidden Sniper (or Vicious Advantage if concealment is not easily attainable- I use Armor of Dark Deeds)
Level 18: Hybrid Talent: True Seeker's Bond
Level 20: Superior Will

Level 21: Deft Aim, retrain: Improved Initiative --> Superior Initiative
Level 22: Long Step
Level 24: Martial Mastery
Level 26: Primal Resurgence
Level 28: Bow Mastery
Level 30: Primal Eye

Feat Variations:
   There is some wiggle room with the feat progression. The easiest feat to drop is probably Long Step, or Psychic Lock if you can't get a Mindiron Weapon. After that... you could maybe drop Epic Fortitude, or Grounding Shot, or Primal Eye.

   Feats I wish I could fit: Epic Fortitude, Grounding Shot, MC Psion (for orb proficiency, to help force failed saves), MC Rogue + Acolyte Power (Hide in Plain Sight)


Powers:


   As a controller, your powers are your life's blood, so we're going to talk about them at length! Hurray!

At-Will Powers
Twin Strike:
With Hobbling Strike and World Serpent's Grasp, this will let you slow and prone a single target in heroic, provided you hit that target both times. Since only one hit is required to slow, sticking a slow on a single enemy is something you can do very reliably. Before you pick up Hobbling Strike, you might want to take Grasping Spirits as your other At-Will, so that you can slow at-will in early heroic.


Biting Swarm:
Your RBA power, this will allow you to deliver a solid hit penalty  that also applies to enemies adjacent to your target. Provided you're able to grab the Mindiron enchantment, Psychic Lock will increase the penalty to the target to -4. You will have many powers that grant RBAs, starting with Inevitable Shot and Guardian Arrow at L1. This power is meant to be used with those, and is extraordinarily accurate and damaging thanks to Primal Eye and the Eagle Eye Goggles, which you should also try to pick up.


Encounter Powers:
Disruptive Strike:
You'll keep this Immediate Interrupt throughout your entire career, and you'll use it deal extra damage and undo enemy turns. At level 30, if the target is not already subject to Psychic Lock, this power applies -13 to the triggering attack.


Shaft Splitter:
One of the reasons we took the Sylvan Archer PP, this is another Disruptive Strike that, in exchange for dealing more damage and targetting Reflex, applies only to ranged attacks and has a fixed penalty.


Feyjump Shot:
You will keep this power throughout your entire career also, mostly because there aren't any better Seeker encounter powers that aren't obsoleted by Ranger powers. This is the power for which you reserve your Elven Accuracy reroll. It won't be useful in every encounter, but if at any point Team Monster has a frontliner trying to keep you from reaching a vulnerable, potent target (read: Soldier keeping your Striker from engaging the enemy Controller) this can win the encounter, provided you land both shots. Boom, the Soldier is dazed and far away from the party, and the Controller is dazed and adjacent to your Fighter. You win. If you can, invest in Dice of Auspicious Fortune for the sake of this power.


Varies:
Your fourth encounter power will change relatively frequently.
Heroic: Before you get Disruptive Strike, you'll have Fox's Cunning when hybrid power selection allows it, and Possessing Spirit's during the levels when you must have a Seeker E1 power. (3-6)
Paragon: Swarming Spirits is one of your first encounters with real, hard control. Enjoy it. You replace it at L17 with the excellent Entrapping Arrows, which gives you AoE movement denial and an out-of-turn attack that you can use in the same round as your Immediates. If you want more burst damage and you don't need Entrapping Arrows' control, Pounding Barrage will give it to you.
Epic: If you find that encounters are going long enough for you to wish you had another use of Disruptive Strike, (unlikely) Interrupting Volley at L27 is your pick. If you picked up Pounding Barrage in paragon and were pleased with it, retrain to Manticore's Volley. Otherwise, stick with Entrapping Arrows, unless you have found that your DM doesn't often put melee enemies on the map before they can engage, in which case you can take the enlargeable Roaring Missile instead.


Daily Powers:
Heroic:
Your heroic tier Dailies don't offer that much hard control. They probably won't trivialize an encounter, but they can definitely swing one in Team Hero's favor, if applied with discretion. Your pickings at L1 are still slim, though. Guardian Arrow is soft control, but it's potent soft control. Biting Swarm means you can use it to spread attack penalties if the target disobeys, and if the target does obey, you're effectively shunting monster damage away from what would otherwise be a priority target. If you have a Knight, you have a sweet Catch-22. If you don't like it, though, Swarming Bats is a decent alternate choice to provide some AoE and battlefield control. Ensnaring Shot is awesome movement denial AND a free lunch, and Thousand Arrow Awareness is moveable soft area denial which, if it is ignored, still lets you spread attack penalties.


Paragon:
Here is where you pick up most of your hard control. You have to wait for L15, but Confounding Arrows is so good that you'll keep it forever. Remember that you can miss one of your three shots and still get the stun, and if your first two hit you can hit a second target with the third shot if an extra daze(save ends) would be helpful. At L19 you get Captivating Missile, which is a dominate that is an RBA, which means it gets the accuracy bonus from Eagle Eye Goggles and you can use it on granted attacks from Entrapping Arrows or Inevitable Shot. At the end of the tier you also pick up Named Arrow from your PP, which is another stun- if you know the target's name. This is campaign dependent, obviously, but I think it's pretty likely that you'll know or be able to find out the name of a large number of the enemies you'd like to use this against. If you go all day fighting mindless, nameless monsters, it's still a daze.


Epic:
Not a whole lot happens here. At L25 you finally lose Ensnaring Shot for Wave of Sleep. Wave of Sleep is an AoE daze that turns into unconsciousness at the first failed save. You don't have any good way to guarantee failed saves, though, so it's not amazing. The real reason you're training out of Ensnaring Shot is that at this point, you can already make it very difficult for enemies to close with your party without using a Daily slot to do it. You lose it pretty shortly afterwards though in order to pick up your capstone, which can go one of two ways, depending on your preference. Baleful Shot is really just another stun for you, though it is a little more reliable than your other two. It comes with an attack penalty for every other critter in the encounter when you stick it, which is nice, and it still dazes on a miss. Try not to miss. (That's a joke folks, haha! I'll be here all week, try the mahi mahi.) Five-Missile Dance is so much damage that it's worth passing up a stun- you don't want to stun the solo, after all, since the (save ends) won't stick, and 2[W]+mods five times is enough to kill something that isn't a solo, and death is the ultimate action denial. You're accurate enough that you can count on a lot of hits, misses still deal half damage, and you can even get a push, a prone, and an immobilize (save ends) as icing.


Utility Powers:
Encounter Utilities
Invigorating Stride: - 1/enc easy-access mobility and healing, a gimme. This power kicks off your trend of defensive utilities, which serve to reduce your burden on the party and preserve your ability to exercise control.

Natural Terrain Understanding: - 1/enc, probably at the beginning, unless you have a Taclord with you (which is ideal); direct control of the grid is invaluable. An exceptional choice for you in that it is not primarily a defensive power.

Feywild Jaunt: - 1/enc, you're un-targetable during Team Monster's turns and you get a free teleport out of the deal. It's a trade-off, though, since you can't use Disruptive Strike or its ilk while you're Jaunting. Being un-targetable means that Team Monster can't do something to screw with your ability to do whatever needs to be done next round.

Elf-Eyed Archery: - 1/enc, you can get around the Quarry limitations, which is important for making sure you can use Twin Strike to slow+prone any target you need to. This comes with your PP and seems lackluster, but is still a useful tool to have.

Land's Passage: - 1/enc, you and maybe an ally are simply not available for Team Monster to target- and unlike Feywild Jaunt, this only activates when and if you're attacked, which means that it's guaranteed to waste your enemy's actions. Jaunt, by contrast, will usually just force enemies to attack your allies instead. Be very mindful of initiative order when you bring an ally with you- they'll have to delay after you to get their normal turn, and that might not be desirable.


Daily Utilities
Encaging Spirits: - Your class feature is only a Daily since you're hybrid, but it's a nice panic button for if you get stuck in melee. Note that enemies you use this on are automatically primed for World Serpent's Grasp proning.

Howling Winds: - 1/day, for a whole encounter, you are fantastic at forced movement, which you're normally bad at. This is basically a patch slot- you are bad at forced movement, and sometimes you will really wish you weren't. Ideally this won't happen more than once per day- try not to use this power unless not using it will seriously inconvenience you and your party.



Trained Skills:
Perception +33
Stealth +29
Nature +31
Dungeoneering +29

   Basic stuff. Excellent party scout, with 43 Passive Perception. Stealth is high enough to use it defensively (try to get an item bonus somewhere), and Nature and Dungeoneering gives you lots of knowledge check intel, which is often useful for choosing how to handle an encounter from the outset.

Items:


   I don't think that item rarity is a big deal. It mostly highlights a situation that already existed, which is that enchantment availability is more under DM control than are other elements of your character's build. Item independence, therefore, is a good goal for any build, perhaps more so now that the item rarity rules have led some DMs to further restrict how their players are equipped.

   That said, I wanted to take a moment to list some of the magic equipment Callahan would like, in decreasing order of importance:
Show
   Mindiron Superior Crossbow - This allows Callahan to stack attack penalties on his attacks, expanding his abilities as a Controller and his general utility for the party he's in.
   Leather Armor of Dark Deeds - This is a wonderful defensive tool when combined with the Hidden Sniper feat. Once you make an attack with CA (possibly by targeting a dazed or blind enemy, or by attacking with concealment gained from some other means) you will gain concealment and CA until you spend a round without attacking.
   Eagle Eye Goggles - A lot of your powers grant you basic ranged attacks, and you can inflict -4 attack with them, or the occasional dominate (save ends). You want those RBAs to hit, and this is a huge bonus at later levels. At those later levels, however, your attacks hit on a 5 without these- if you find yourself being dominated by monsters instead, you may find that a Circlet of Arkhosia is a better use of the head slot. If so, you can drop Superior Will for another feat slot.
   Belt of Vim/Diamond Cincture - Your Fortitude sucks, patch it with one of these. If you can't get them, it costs you a feat slot in the form of Epic Fortitude. Pass on either of those options and melee monsters will just be that much more difficult to deal with.
   Bracers of Archery - You want your item bonus to damage. Damage is how you make up for the control you don't have compared to a Wizard, so you better have the basics down.
   Stone of Wind - Slotless, use this to land your daily (save ends) stuns.
   Dice of Auspicious Fortune - See Stone of Wind.
   Backlash Tattoo - You have crippling RBAs, another out-of-turn use for a very reasonable price is wonderful. Note that the target of this attack is unrestricted.
   Magical Ammunition - Over-using magical ammunition (or other consumables) can screw up your expected wealth, but it can provide some valuable options. Double Arrows can help land something you really need to land. Firestorm Arrows can help you sweep minions. Surprise Bullets can get you CA when you couldn't otherwise, Dispelling Bolts can save the day, the list goes on.
   Power Jewel - This is a very cheap item that will let you reuse Disruptive Strike in encounters that go long. Definitely worth having a couple just in case.
   Boots of Eagerness - Excellent for the first half of your career, when you can't shift as a minor and you don't have better boot enchantments to compete for the slot. Boots of the Fencing Master are also a good choice.
   Forceful Bow - If for some reason Mindiron+Psychic Lock is not an option for you (you can't access the enchantment, or your DM is enraged by damage type/keyword conversions) then the Forceful Bow is what you want. There's no crit damage, sadly, but adding an optional push onto every single one of your attacks is fantastic. With some push boosters like Gauntlets of the Ram and Avalanche Boots, you can negate attacks with your interrupts or shove enemies back into zones.
   Swiftshot Crossbow - This is my weapon of choice in heroic tier. It lets you procrastinate on taking Speed Loader, effectively front-loading your feat progression. The Minor Action RBA as a Daily power is fantastic too.

The Attitude:


OR, How to play 'Dirty' Harry

 
  This is the area in which I am least confident. My opportunities to play-test Callahan have been limited, and as such I'd welcome any anecdotes from those who take the time to do so. Still, I have played a fair amount myself (mostly heroic tier) and I have read a lot here about upper-tier combat. Hopefully my insights here are still useful.

Action Management:
   You don't have difficulty managing actions during your turn. You can shift 2 as a minor action, and you don't really need your minor actions for anything else- you can feel free to use both your Move and your Minor to shift in and out of cover, or use a few Minors to drink a Potion of Clarity, or spare a Minor on a Perception check.

   The trouble is between turns. You have Disruptive Strike, Shaft Splitter, Feywild Jaunt, and Land's Passage, none of which can be used in the same round. So, here's what you do:

   Between rolling initiative and T1, you need to find out as much as possible about your enemy. Never forget your knowledge checks- you've got great Nature and Dungeoneering, find a friend with Arcana. If you lost initiative, make a note to make friends with a Taclord (who has Arcana trained!), and make careful note of how the enemy moves, who they target, what kind of powers they have, and so on.

   Now, if you lost initiative, you're just deciding between Disruptive Strike, Shaft Splitter, and Land's Passage. Hopefully you will have learned by now who is a priority target and/or whose attacks are the least desirable, and you will use one of your offensive powers on them. The exception to that rule is if you are being attacked in melee by a low-priority target or you need to save an ally from the effect of an area power and the enemy's roll was too high for you to turn it into a miss, in which case you use Land's Passage to avoid the attack and reposition.

   If you won initiative, and you likely did, things are trickier. If you learned a lot from your knowledge checks and you're confident that Team Monster doesn't have a Controller AND you won't get focus-fired, you don't use Feywild Jaunt. Then, you just follow the decision-making process that I explained in the 'lost initiative' paragraph to decide between your three Immediates.

  If you won initiative and you aren't confident that Team Monster doesn't have a Controller or other means of focus-firing you, or you're the least bit suspicious about what might come out of that trap door behind you, Feywild Jaunt on your turn. The ability to safely watch Team Monster's T1 and do reconnaissance and THEN choose your position is great. The recon, by the way, should help you figure out whose attacks you most need to use your Disruptive Strikes on, as well as picking targets for your other control powers. Land's Passage can do the same thing but is a little riskier, as you can be bluffed into thinking you're safe and using your immediate for that round on a Disruptive Strike. Then you're caught without access to your get-out-of-jail-free card, and you go from proactive attack to reactive defense, which makes you a worse Controller.


Power Management:
   The key to playing Callahan effectively is to know when to use what. You have a lot of tools at your disposal. Here is a list of obvious cues and the power(s) with which you should answer them:

   Melee enemies trying to engage the party should not be allowed to do so. Entrapping Arrows can keep a bunch of them locked down, and is recoverable with Martial Mastery. You're limited to one free action attack per turn, but unless monsters find ways to all move on the same turn, you'll be able to punish each one in the zone that attempts to move. Ensnaring Shot works much the same way but lasts longer, and you can always slow and prone a single enemy with Twin Strike. NOTE: Locking a melee monster down outside of melee does no good if they are the only targets, since your melee allies will likely engage them anyways in that case.
   Ranged enemies are tricky, as we don't have much forced movement. Feyjump Shot is a wonderful exception to that rule, letting us teleport a ranged monster into a melee thug's position AND removing the melee monster AND dazing both, making it difficult for them to escape or re-engage, respectively. Prime targets for swapping positions with Feyjump are Aura-based monsters, especially Leaders. Don't use on melee lurkers or skirmishers unless you don't have another choice. Remember that Feyjump Shot can still force a teleport 3 if there isn't a second target in a good position to switch. Captivating Missile can also pull ranged enemies into melee.
   Melee monsters trying to avoid engagement, which is to say Lurkers and Skirmishers, are often capable of moving and attacking with a single standard action, and so dazes and prones are not as effective. Slow, too, loses its potency when their movement powers are independent of their speed. Hard control like immobilize, restrain, stun, and dominate are the answer here. Shut them down with your big guns and let your party finish them off quickly.
   Melee monsters who have engaged are, for the most part, not bothered by having their movement shut down. Forced movement or attack penalties are your best options here. For the former you're leaning on Feyjump Shot, Space-Shifting Bolts or, if the situation is very dire, Captivating Missile, but you've also got Disruptive Strike and Swarming Spirits to force misses. If you can get them out of melee, they become Melee monsters trying to engage the party, and should be treated accordingly. Note that immobilizing, dazing, and proning enemies in melee can still be valuable, as you can prevent them from focus firing, and force their attacks onto unattractive targets like a Defender.
   Others: Biting Swarm. If there are circumstances that render your attempt at action denial inert, (such as monsters that teleport liberally, or very close quarters, or having expended key powers) you have control options that don't care about context. -4 to hit is -4 to hit, and stun (save ends) is stun (save ends). Your big to-hit penalty is at-will and always potent, and you can stun or dominate five times per day thanks to Primal Resurgence. Similarly, Disruptive Strike and Shaft Splitter are both great reactive action denial.


Mobility and Stealth:
   You can shift 2 twice per turn. If you find a piece of superior cover, use it defensively by becoming hidden at the start of your turn, shifting out of cover, attacking, and then shifting again and Stealthing to re-hide. Try not to break LoS when you plan on using off-turn attacks, however- this means that this is a tactic for after the first few rounds of an encounter.
   Being able to shift twice per turn, not to mention your pseudo-teleport powers, also means you can extricate yourself from melee easily. Don't be afraid to get close to a fight in order to quarry something that you need to prone with Twin Strike. Oh, and if it ever comes down to it, you can kite like... something built explicitly to kite.

Special Thanks To:


Clint Eastwood, whose badassery frustrates my ability to describe it every time I try- may he forgive me for naming an Elven build after him, even though not all Elves are wussy things.
Auspex7, whose John McLane build shows off the format I poached- he's the CharOpper I try to emulate most, and he provided excellent feedback while I put this together, some of it here in this thread.
Lordduskblade, whose Ranger expertise helped me broaden my perspective on how this build could work.
The rest of the ##4eCO IRC crowd, who endured my whining about the Seeker and then my excitement about the Seeker|Shaman and then the Seeker|Cleric, and who helped me look over at least four iterations of the build.


The rest of the ##4eCO IRC crowd, who endured my whining about the Seeker and then my excitement about the Seeker|Shaman and then the Seeker|Cleric, and who helped me look over at least four iterations of the build


Was it only 4, it seemed like 30....

j/k...glad to see you finally "get off the couch" and post this thing.
Ranger|Seeker works well in general (trade damage for slight bump in control) nice to see a build focus on the control aspect. Especially one based on Dirty Harry!
This really came together well. I'm about to go pick up my daughter from school, but I wanted to stop in real quick to say, "awesome job with this!", and to bump this up to the top so people don't miss out on it.

I'll write a pretty full review/commentary soon-- either in the next couple of hours, or by tomorrow morning, at the latest.

Your write-up is awesome, by the way. The commentary before the build snapshot does a fantastic job of explaining the "why" behind the build. I comment on your knack for spitting out awesome one-liners a lot in IRC, but this really shows that it's a result of a talent for cutting away the fat, and clearly seeing the bottom line. This does a great job of clearly and concisely explaining what the build looks to do, how it does it, and how effective it is at its role as a result.

Very well done. More to come.
Wow. Right after I clicked 'submit', my wife called and said she was going take care of the stuff I was about to leave to do. Wheee @ free time.

Here's the review...

1. Name "Harry Callahan" is a great guy to name a build after-- especially as this relates to McLane. The only snag is that some folks may not realize who it is. "Dirty Harry" probably gets more recognition from the layman. Of course, this is all moot if the build doesn't fly, so let's talk about the build now.

2. Defenses: AC drifts between L+14 and L+13 for most of the build's career. Personally, I'm 'OK' with AC being L+14 for a ranged build. L+13 makes me a little "eeehhhhhhhhh". I'm not sure where you could really pull from to bring that up, though. You've done a great job with the feat progression. Honestly... I suspect that making it a point to prioritize weapon and armor slots above all others probably keeps you in the L+14 range all the time. This is an example of a build where I would actually recommend "Magic Armor +X", simply for ease of upgrading and maintaining current max AC value. Fort is L+9 for the whole ride, which isn't spectacular, but really... every build has a weak NAD, and Fort is the best choice for this guy's soft spot. Reflex is dead on target at L+12 for the career, and Will is above target, which is ideal for this build.

Looking at Defensive features of the build, the picture goes from "OK" to "pretty f**king awesome". ALL of the Heroic tier Utility powers provide defensive value, and Natural Terrain Understanding + good initiative = you often won't even have to check to see if your AC is being hit, because your front line is between you and Team Monster's melee, anyway. If you get swarmed... Feywild Jaunt fixes everything.

3. Initiative op: It's awesome when you don't have to work for it, isn't it? Controllers obviously want strong Init, and this gets Init covered easily, and early in its career.

4. At-Wills:

I agree 100% with your notes.

One thing I wanted to point out: if you hit with both Twin Strike attacks, and use Quarry on the first hit, your target is slowed by the time the second shot hits-- so Hobbling Strike + World Serpent's Grasp will Slow + Prone on the same Twin Strike.

Related fun fact, which everybody knows, but few people will probably think about while glancing over the build: The guys you're most likely to want to Slow + Prone are the guys who start closest to you (read as: melee)... so having to Quarry the closest guy is juuuuust fine for this build.

5. Encs & Daily powers:

Great picks, great explanations. Nothing to add at all.

6. FUN FACTOR:

Honestly... who wouldn't like to make 2 attacks, and Slow + Prone when both hit? Who wouldn't enjoy the crap out of Feywild Jaunt?

This build does some really cool, fun stuff. It looks like a blast to play, and it is potent enough to hold its own at any table.
Nice job. I had just started thinking today about how to make a level 11 Seeker / Ranger who was worth it and saw your article on the front page. This is a really nice build. Many of the things you've chosen are rated poorly for Rangers but if your are specializing in control they make a great picks. I've decided to change it slightly but it is a nice find. The biggest change is the paragon path

Githzerai Hybrid Seeker | Ranger / Ocular Adept level 11

The Ocular Adept paragon path is more valuable for crossbow users than longbow/greatbow users since the load free property of the spirit eye saves you from having to take the Speed Loader feat. The action point benefit is also nice, a free RBA is always good. Also the encounter power is nothing to be scoffed at 2[W]+Wis damage against 2 creatures + a random effect. Plus a fly six squares a move action is a great getaway tactic. Githzerai doesn't provide any particular benefit over elf, I just felt it fit the flavor better for the psionic feel of the paragon path. There is one additional benefit this paragon path provides for a hybrid ranger / seeker.
Ocular Adept counts as both a ranger and a seeker paragon path letting the encounter power be a valid trigger for both hybrid hunters quarry and hybrid inevitable shot.


FEATS
Level 1: Weapon Proficiency (Superior crossbow)
Level 2: Crossbow Expertise
Level 4: Ambush Tactics (retrained to Primal Eye at Level 11)
Level 6: Hobbling Strike
Level 8: Inescapable Shot
Level 10: World Serpent's Grasp
Level 11: Inevitable Volley

Ok, small changes here. This build loves making RBAs so I wanted to make it easier for him to do so and pump them up. Primal Eye is a no brainer, adding 5 damage to his many RBAs. Then I took Inevitable Volley to double the potency of Inevitable Shot. Inescapable shot isn't strictly necessary but I wanted to make sure that there was nothing stopping me from taking advantage of Inevitable Volley's full potential.

POWERS
Hybrid at-will 1: Biting Swarm
Hybrid at-will 1: Twin Strike
Hybrid encounter 1: Possessing Spirits
Hybrid daily 1: Guardian Arrow
Hybrid utility 2: Begin the Hunt
Hybrid encounter 3: Disruptive Strike
Hybrid daily 5: Ensnaring Shot
Hybrid utility 6: Natural Terrain Understanding
Hybrid encounter 7: Feyjump Shot
Hybrid daily 9: Thousand Arrow Awareness
Hybrid utility 10: Feywild Jaunt

Honestly I'm torn on the power selection and if Thousand Arrow Awareness works on forced movement. My goal is to maximize the number of ranged basic attacks this character gets out of turn. Guardian Arrow and Thousand Arrow Awareness both provide this but I'm wondering if Spitting Cobra Stance might be a better candidate. The only reason I took Thousand Arrow Awareness rather than Spitting Cobra Stance is because I want to be at range 10 or 20 whenever possible.  I would love suggestions for powers I could choose that would help me maximize opportunities for RBAs.

As a die hard Seeker fan boy I can simply say this:

Excellent...   (Mr. Burns voice)
For my next trick I will be doing that obnoxious multi-quote of a single post thing, but for the sake of aesthetics I will be liberally pruning your post, which, by the way, was full of warm fuzzies.

Personally, I'm 'OK' with AC being L+14 for a ranged build. L+13 makes me a little "eeehhhhhhhhh". I'm not sure where you could really pull from to bring that up, though. You've done a great job with the feat progression. [...] Fort is L+9 for the whole ride, which isn't spectacular, but really... every build has a weak NAD, and Fort is the best choice for this guy's soft spot.

Confession time... I wrote the L30 snapshot when the Feat Progression still included Epic Fortitude. Actual L30 Fort should only be 37 BUT! Ideally I would be rocking a Belt of Vim, and the feats I dropped for Epic Fortitude and Grounding Shot were Hybrid Talent and Long Step, which drastically increase my ability to use Stealth defensively. Keep in mind that I'll be trying to maintain concealment with Hidden Sniper and Armor of Dark Deeds (or whatever other concealment-granting item I can get my hands on).

One thing I wanted to point out: if you hit with both Twin Strike attacks, and use Quarry on the first hit, your target is slowed by the time the second shot hits-- so Hobbling Strike + World Serpent's Grasp will Slow + Prone on the same Twin Strike.

I thought I had mentioned this in my discussion of Twin Strike, but it looks like I only alluded to it. I'll make that more explicit, thanks.

Looking at Defensive features of the build, the picture goes from "OK" to "pretty f**king awesome".

They make me extremely happy. I'm a little worried about the interaction between Land's Passage, Feywild Jaunt, and my Disruptive Strike-ish powers. Do you think that a normal encounter will go long enough for them all to be useful? Do you think that it's reasonable to expect to be able to predict when you won't need to use one of the two I'm-not-here utilities, and thus when you can afford to wait and try to land a Disruptive Strike?

@FlashedArling:
That looks like a perfectly workable variation. Enjoy the Gith initiative bonus! I'm not sure why you're taking Begin the Hunt over Invigorating Stride though. Even if you never need the shift, using your second wind as a move action is beautiful all on its own.

@MC, Awesome, and Dielzen:
Thanks, thanks, and... thanks?
Feywild Jaunt, Disruptive Shot x 2 (kinda), and the other escape power = you only need 4 rounds for them to all be useful. My inclination is to say that you want to be using Feywild Jaunt on Turn 1 so you don't get slapped with a debilitating control effect during the T1 & T2 volley, and then cycle the 2 Immediate attacks, going with your escape as your 4th 'trick'.

To elaborate a little... Feywild Jaunt protects you from every enemy on the grid, and gives you the ability to observe what each bad guy does. If you used one of the Disruptive attacks first, you've blown your 'out' for the round, and are still subject to control effects. The free round of observation also helps you identify the targets you really want to interrupt with the 2 attacks.

I think you're more than good to go having all 4 on the same build.
I'm probably going to be quoting you directly when I write up the playstyle notes, which will include sample turns.

I was envisioning an opening turn in which I avoided being targetted by moving out of the penalty box and Stealthing on T1, then Disrupting any monster who tries to inflict those control effects on my allies. Jaunt would come on T2 or T3, after my interferenence had attracted Team Monster's attention.

I don't have much experience playing ranged characters, though; if I'm still dependent on terrain to gain the total cover/concealment I need to stealth, should I plan on consistently being able to attempt to become hidden?
I'm probably going to be quoting you directly when I write up the playstyle notes, which will include sample turns.

I was envisioning an opening turn in which I avoided being targetted by moving out of the penalty box and Stealthing on T1, then Disrupting any monster who tries to inflict those control effects on my allies. Jaunt would come on T2 or T3, after my interferenence had attracted Team Monster's attention.

I don't have much experience playing ranged characters, though; if I'm still dependent on terrain to gain the total cover/concealment I need to stealth, should I plan on consistently being able to attempt to become hidden?



I wouldn't plan on being able to use Stealth 50% of the time (assuming useful terrain) until you get Hybrid Talent to give you the Minor action shift. Up until that point, about half the time is really your best case scenario.

On the bright side, this build should be very safe even without Stealth coming into play.

For that matter, this guy wants to be able to target bad guys without penalty so he can take advantage of those Immediates. It may be a good thing for him to be somewhat out in the open by about the 3rd round.

@MC, Awesome, and Dielzen:
Thanks, thanks, and... thanks?


np, dawg!
Nice.  Similar to the Ranger|Cleric I'm playing.

Some more tricks:

Grounding Shot will help you avoid penalties after you knock your target prone.

A forceful bow or the feat that lets you turn a d6 of quarry into a push can lead to pretty ridiculous control:  Twin Strike an enemy, push it 1-8 squares and knock it prone.  Can ruin a melee mob's day very quickly.
*Raises hand* Question!

I know NOT going hybrid for this screws up the whole plan, but what would happen if you MC Ranger somewhere down the line instead, starting out as Seeker? Although looking at the feat list there's not a lot of room to fit it there, especially if you take the power swap feats.

It looks like a great build I could suggest to the Seeker in the game I joined recently (for which I made a pure Cunning Bard in the end, for those that remember me asking for help, was simpler for everyone involved), but I doubt DM would want a swap to hybrid, but a MC could still be done, if it's viable at all.

@FlashedArling:
That looks like a perfectly workable variation. Enjoy the Gith initiative bonus! I'm not sure why you're taking Begin the Hunt over Invigorating Stride though. Even if you never need the shift, using your second wind as a move action is beautiful all on its own.



Well for two reasons. First is I don't get Elf-Eyed Accuract which for a super range build would be nice. I really wanted my first action to be choosing the furthest melee enemy I can find, and keep him totally helpless for a few rounds as he is prone and slowed unable to reach anyone, which is hard when he has to be my quarry and thus the closest enemy. I really want there to be some way this character could quarry someone further back, even if it is limited.

The second is because I thought we had 2 leaders in the party, making my extra healing superfluous. However we just lost one and the other is a hybrid runepriest so healing myself in a pinch is going to be necessary. Plus since the character is a githzerai this triggers shifting fortunes meaning as a move action I heal a surge, gain +2 to defenses, and shift 8 squares. Not a bad deal so I think I'll take it after all.

Are there any other ways besides Elf-Eyed Archery, or taking Hybrid-Talent Beast Mastery that will let me target creatures who are further back?

EDIT: Actually I realized a second reason to take Invigorating Stride, the level 12 utility "Soaring, All Seeing" grants you a fly speed of 4. If you possess a fly speed you can shift while flying. So that 8 square shift can be in any direction, even straight up. Making it a very good "Get out of there" combo. 
@embertiger:
   I had Grounding Shot at first, but then I got rid of it. Barring other party members who knock things prone, I will only need it after I've hit something twice (once to slow, once to knock prone- doesn't have to be with Twin Strike, as long as the first hit is a Ranger power) and then need to hit it again before it stands up on its turn. That seems real situational to me, but that may be due to a lack of play experience.

   Forceful Bow is out because Mindiron+Psychic Lock is much better by my reckoning, but Staggering Strike (the Ranger feat in question) looks great. I looked at it before but forgot about it after being unable to immediately find a place for it in the feat progression. I'll try again to find a place for it. Maybe I could lose Long Step?

@Kelindril:
   If you MC Ranger instead of Hybriding, you lose the ability to prone at-will, a good encounter power, and 1 or 2 feats, and you have to settle for worse Dailies and Utilities (not bad enough to consider them a loss, though, unlike the encounter power that you can't swap out with Novice Power- remember, you only really want 1 Seeker encounter).

  You do gain... well... Encaging Spirits is an encounter power now, there's that. It works great with World Serpent's Grasp.

@FlashedArling
   Wow, Invigorating Stride really is awesome for Githzerai, I never noticed that interaction. As for your question, there are two simple ones: the heroic tier feat Second Shot lets you quarry the second-closest enemy instead of the closest, and the Peerless Hunter feat in epic lets you quarry a second target within 5 squares when you quarry something. Combined with your mobility, you should be able to make that happen.
   Of course, if you feel you don't need the Minor action shift from True Seeker's Bond, spending your Hybrid Talent on Beast Mastery instead is a strong and really flavorful option.
*Raises hand* Question!

I know NOT going hybrid for this screws up the whole plan, but what would happen if you MC Ranger somewhere down the line instead, starting out as Seeker? Although looking at the feat list there's not a lot of room to fit it there, especially if you take the power swap feats.

It looks like a great build I could suggest to the Seeker in the game I joined recently (for which I made a pure Cunning Bard in the end, for those that remember me asking for help, was simpler for everyone involved), but I doubt DM would want a swap to hybrid, but a MC could still be done, if it's viable at all.


You're actually better off starting as a Ranger then MC and power swap some stuff from the Seeker. The Ranger has better powers and features all around. The feat cost is higher if you MC though.
You're actually better off starting as a Ranger then MC and power swap some stuff from the Seeker. The Ranger has better powers and features all around. The feat cost is higher if you MC though.

Oh, this is an excellent and very true thing. If you can't hybrid, do this. The only real downside is the loss of your Seeker RBA At-will- the attack penalty on Biting Swarm is an important tool for a controller.
You're actually better off starting as a Ranger then MC and power swap some stuff from the Seeker. The Ranger has better powers and features all around. The feat cost is higher if you MC though.

Oh, this is an excellent and very true thing. If you can't hybrid, do this. The only real downside is the loss of your Seeker RBA At-will- the attack penalty on Biting Swarm is an important tool for a controller.


Which is easily countered by picking up a psychic weapon and psychic lock. Or the combo that I like: Lighting/thunder weapon + Mark of Storm for lots of forced movement. -2 or more to attacks is great. Shoving an enemy down a pit from 15+ squares away: priceless.
One thing I wanted to point out: if you hit with both Twin Strike attacks, and use Quarry on the first hit, your target is slowed by the time the second shot hits-- so Hobbling Strike + World Serpent's Grasp will Slow + Prone on the same Twin Strike.



That's going to be shaky...
If you can make multiple attacks in a round, you decide which attack to apply the extra damage to after all the attacks are rolled.



i.e. you've already hit with the 2nd attack by the time you get to choose to slow your target...
Thanks for the reply, sorry for the derail.

*Offers cookies*
@Kelindril:
Not a derail! Your question was pertinent- asking how drastically you can change a build while retaining functionality is the same as asking what is the core of the build's functionality is. That's a worthwhile question.

i.e. you've already hit with the 2nd attack by the time you get to choose to slow your target...

   Excellent catch. I was worried there for a minute, but I don't think there's a problem.
   Once you have made all the attack rolls for the round, (assuming you hit twice) you can choose to apply Hunter's Quarry to the first one, so that when the second hits the target is already slowed. In other words, Hunter's Quarry doesn't say that you have to apply the extra damage after all the attacks are rolled, only that you have to choose when to apply it after all the attacks are rolled.

   Still, immediate reactions and interrupts make this process way more complicated than any DM would actually care to deal with:
   "I use Twin Strike. I hit once, and use my Hunter's Quarry damage..."
   "Ah, no, wait. You haven't used Shaft Splitter yet, so you might have another attack roll this round. You have to wait to decide when you use your Quarry."
   [the round proceeds, and a monster that would have been dead if you had applied Hunter's Quarry knocks you out]
   "Well you can't use Shaft Splitter now, so you can apply Hunter's Quarry."
   "Okay, I apply it on my first hit. The monster who killed me died before it could kill me. I'm alive... and I want to use Shaft Splitter."
   "Well okay, but that means you didn't get apply Hunter's Quarry yet."

(That last paragraph was mostly for lulz, feel free to ignore it.)
this was a good read. thanks, OP!

i went through a VERY similar evolution from the sounds of it. started with ranger/shaman (accompanied by both a real panther and a spirit panther, which was actually pretty cool), then shaman/seeker, and finally ended up with ranger/seeker. i was trying to fill the second striker role and wanted to do something that had been done somewhere less than a zillion times (so no straight-up Battlefield Archer for me, thanks).

i still haven't finished it, but a lot of things are the same. i've decided to really crank the RBA, so Primal Eye, for example, makes an appearance much earlier in my build. and i've used Darkstrider for the PP (though Ocular Adept is tempting), which really does work out nicely to give you a ton of modifiers to your attacks. a number of races work, but the new drow stats might seal the deal since it'll help you get hidden once more per encounter. And MC'ing to Rogue for Hide in Plain Sight.

In the end, the damage output is not bad, and you do get a decent bit of control in the deal.

Not sure I will ever finish it enough to post it, but just wanted to chime in with some ideas for others that might be considering a similar path.
glad to see you finally "get off the couch" and post this thing.

I agree verily. I'm not saying that you're lazy (that's a different build), just that it's nice to see your work make it into this forum.

And solid work, at that.

Ok, I've had a chance to play out my variation and it has some problems. The main one is the daily power selection isn't that useful. I never had a decent opportunity to use these powers. This could partially be due to party composition since with 2 strong defenders the field enemies are locked into place pretty quickly. Making all of the powers which control movement less useful. I've decided the following dailies are more useful.

Flying Steel, given this builds ability to slow&knock prone at-will you should have no problem keeping an enemy stuck in one place. This means the enemy cannot escape to gain cover. The only thing to watch out for is that its allies can try and provide it cover. Given the difficulties I've found that my character had in today's solo fight I've dubbed this power "Solo, please die".

Nature's Vengence, this compares favorably to Ensnaring shot. Get yourself a defender to stand next to it and keep it from escaping and now the enemy is stuck with the choice of eating 5 damage or doing nothing. This does have the problem that this is a status condition applied during their turn. So an enemy restrained or immobilized by this power will get to save almost immediately, giving it a 55% chance of the condition doing nothing to stop it from moving on its next turn. Meaning even if it stays in the zone there is a decent chance you could spend several rounds of it attacking, getting immobilized, and then saving immediately without the 5 damage coming into play. But it does have the nice benefit that the damage happens if it is immobilized by anything, not just by this power. It also discourages OAs and other immediate attacks.I also believe if they use a burst or blast power they take damage for each ally they hit although your DM might disagree. 

 
Okay, update time! I finished playstyle notes and added a section on items that you want to get if you can. Please tell me if there was anything I missed or I explained poorly or that you particularly enjoyed.

Thanks, owangaloma. It's interesting to see the different build choices that come when you approach the build looking for a Striker with control rather than a Controller with damage.

Thank you, Nazim.

@FlashedArling
What level were you playing, and which Daily powers did you have? I'm guessing that you were playing upper heroic, which means you had Guardian Arrow, Ensnaring Shot, and Thousand Arrow Awareness. I'm also guessing that you rarely had a situation when Team Monster had melee mobs that were trying to close distance and engage, or where you needed to hold a chokepoint. A few thoughts: you can use Feyjump shot to teleport two mobs out of the melee scrum, and then pin them down with Ensnaring Shot or Thousand Arrow Awareness. Your allies can deal with the rest the mobs until the ones you locked down manage to get free. If you have other forced movement in your party, you can continually disengage and move Thousand Arrow's zone between you and Team Monster, forcing them to take extra attacks over and over. Still, if you never have a bottleneck, Spitting Cobra Stance might be better for you than Thousand Arrow.

Nature's Vengeance does nothing to actually keep enemies within its zone. If you use it on a melee monster and your allies are far away, it can just move out of the zone and attack. If you use it on a melee monster who is already in melee, then it works as intended- unfortunately the monster no longer cares that it's immobilized, because it's already where it wants to be. The 5 damage offers no significant control, as no monster will choose not to attack to avoid 5 damage. Ensnaring Shot makes sure that monsters are immobilized during their entire turn, which means there's no chance to move until you with the OA. Flying Steel offers no control and the effect is easily ended. Against a Solo in an open field it's good, but in a good game that should happen very rarely, since it's pretty boring.
The game has just hit 12th level. The problem is that my party has 2 defenders and they are both exceedingly good at locking down targets. If I move away targets they will pursue them. So having so many powers that keep enemies at bay isn't going to work. I'm going to keep Ensnaring Shot because we have a wizard with Wall of Fire and the two combined will completely trivilize an encounter.

I've had some problems deciding on a level 1 encounter power. Possessing Spirits is my current pick, the kicker is I hit a monster with the Fighter's mark in order to give him a free attack as well despite the enemy being at -2 to hit. Since Come and Get it makes this a pretty common situation I don't feel bad about getting 3 attacks and a potential double daze.

Guardian Arrow has the problem that the enemy won't survive long enough to get many basic attacks off on it. If it is a solo it will have the 3 melee guys adjacent to it making it easy for it to ignore the guy I'm protecting. So instead I'm considering either Sure Shot to have one super accurate striker attack or Rime Strike as all the defenders are resistant to cold and should have an easy time keeping enemies inside my cold zone.

You are undervaluing Flying Steel. It is very easy for this build to keep an enemy from moving by keeping it slowed and prone. If a defender is also engaging it then it really cannot get away to find cover. Without the ability to move it cannot end the effect by itself. The only thing that it can do to end the effect would be to have an ally give it cover and given the other control we have in the party it shouldn't be hard to again keep them away. However I now see Nature's Vengeance just doesn't do enough, if I want a damaging zone I'm better off with having Rime Strike as my level 1 power. For now I've abandoned a little bit of control in order to pick up the level 9 Attacks on the Run.

As for feats I have further departed from your build by taking an Assassin multiclass. The extra 2d6+6 damage per encounter is alright but what is more enticing is the access to ki foci. Taking a +1 Rain of Hammers Ki Focus lets me use Twin Strike once per day as a minor action.

I guess my problem is the build around levels 9-15 offers a lot of movement control but that is battlefield dependent. I can't seem to figure out how to add in a bit more hard control to make up for that fact. So I swapped out control for damage.

Other items of use
If you multiclass Assassin or Monk consider the Rain of Hammers Ki Focus for the extra Twin Strike
Boots of Eagerness are pretty handy for upper heroic and lower paragon. Especially since two of your utilities are move actions which wouldn't be hurt by using them as minor actions.
A Forceful Weapon enchantment may be a good alternative if you can't get mindiron. Not only is your quarry slowed and prone but now he is 2 squares further away, he has to waste his entire turn just to get back where he was before. Add in Avalanche Boots or Gauntlets of the Ram  and twin strike will push 4-6 squares as well. Sure Staggering Strike would be simililar but wouldn't push as far and not with every attack. I like the idea of RBAs that push 3 squares as well.
A Power Jewel is always going to be useful for regaining Disruptive Strike
If you are going to get a tattoo  you should grab a Backlash Tattoo since your RBA is awesome
Big multi-quote goooooo!

If I move away targets they will pursue them. So having so many powers that keep enemies at bay isn't going to work.

I was assuming that you could move some targets away and keep them there while the rest of your party did not pursue them, and instead focused fire on the targets that you didn't move away. If that's not the case, then Ensnaring Shot does lose a lot of its value.

I've had some problems deciding on a level 1 encounter power. Possessing Spirits is my current pick, the kicker is I hit a monster with the Fighter's mark in order to give him a free attack as well despite the enemy being at -2 to hit.

Good call here. Possessing Spirits was my favorite pick after Fox's Cunning, and it's even better when you can combine it with strong mark punishment like you're doing. Be careful that you don't use up the Fighter's immediate action and leave other monsters free to ignore his Combat Challenge.

As for feats I have further departed from your build by taking an Assassin multiclass. The extra 2d6+6 damage per encounter is alright but what is more enticing is the access to ki foci. Taking a +1 Rain of Hammers Ki Focus lets me use Twin Strike once per day as a minor action.

What feat did you drop for the MC?

[Snipped stuff about Guardian Arrow and Flying Steel,  the key thing you said is:] I guess my problem is the build around levels 9-15 offers a lot of movement control but that is battlefield dependent. I can't seem to figure out how to add in a bit more hard control to make up for that fact. So I swapped out control for damage.

The point of Guardian Arrow and of Flying Steel is not to generate a lot of out-of-turn attacks. I took Guardian Arrow because I could use it to encourage the enemy to divide attacks instead of focus-firing. I didn't take Flying Steel because, unlike Thousand Arrow Awareness, it doesn't encourage enemies to do something I want them to do. It's just a (pretty good) way to generate extra attacks, and if I wanted to do that, I'd probably just take Spitting Cobra Stance.

That said, I haven't play-tested this build. If the control really is excessively battlefield-dependent, and is too situational, than that's a problem, and little more damage focus is probably the correct alternative. I would like some more corraborating evidence from other games before I change my analysis, but rest assured that I'm taking your objections very seriously.

Other items of use:

These are great suggestions, and I'll incorporate them into the first post.

I have to say, I am not that impressed with this build.  The biggest strength is the at will push/slow/prone, but given the relatively low "to hit" bonus and having only elven accuracy to re-roll (which means you will save it for a stun) your chance of making that work reliably is slim. 

Likewise your defenses and hit points mean any creature that gets in range of you can really mess you up pretty badly.  And the low number of surges means that you are going to have to rely on Comrade's Succor or an Item Set to keep from running out of surges by the end of module. 

Even worse, since your at-will is very effective in terms of giving really annoying conditions to creatures, and your Will is at best 50/50 vs. will attacking controllers, you are what we call DOMINATE BAIT. 

Typical Boss Bad Guy facing off with your party at level 20:

Aboleth Master.  25% you go after him based upon his initiative modifier.  On a 7 or higher, he dominates you.  You are now PWNing the rest of your party with your control powers, and likely making it impossible for you to take advantage of your leaders' out of turn saving throws (cause the abololeth is making you stun him/push him out of range).  If instead of making you totally trash your party he just lets you kill yourself, you die in two rounds (average damage of aboleth standard action plus your own twin strike). 
Great build. 

Pretty much perfect blending in Seeker and keeping him as a controller w/striking.
At your range you could own just about anyone one just by kiting him all by yourself.

@LiamDeclan Appreciate it! Yeah, it kites really, really well. I designed him with a standard party in mind, though, so I imagine kiting something would be difficult- usually your target will just attack your melee allies.

Typical Boss Bad Guy facing off with your party at level 20:


Thank you for checking out the build! I've been hoping someone with some epic-tier experience would chime in here, because I have none whatsoever. I thought my build had pretty solid hp/surges for a Controller, but I could be wrong. Do you have any ideas about how I could do more to protect against encounters like the one you described?

I have a few ideas myself, please tell me what you think. HP can be padded with the Auspicious Birth background, which my build lacks because I don't like to assume people get to use it. Domination prevention would likely be solved (or at least reasonably ameliorated) by swapping my Eagle Eye Goggles for a Circlet of Arkhosia. I can handle my RBA hit rate against tofu falling to 75% w/CA.  

As for the Aboleth Master, I would very likely be one of the party members who beat its initiative. First thing I'd do to a Big Bad like that is Captivating Missile its slimy ass (is that word allowed here?),  relying on Reliable+AP, Elven Accuracy, or Auspicious Dice to ensure the hit. When its turn came around, it would find itself next to my Defenders/Strikers having just provoked some OAs, and being in no condition to throw its range 10 dominates at me, especially since I'm stealthed somewhere between 5 and 15 squares away, terrain permitting.

Again, though, I don't have experience with epic play. Is that opening round unlikely to go the way I imagine it? Oh, and if I come across as sarcastic or anything, please forgive me- i don't mean to be. I'm sincere, and I really don't mind that you said you weren't impressed with the build. I don't think it's very impressive myself, especially compared to a good Wizard/Invoker, but I do have a fondness for it. 

Let's see... the Circlet is very solid.  You could probably drop Superior Will if you did that too, opening up a feat slot.   I havent looked much at ranged builds so I don't know off the top of my head what I'd slide in there, but there has got to be a good way to get your to hit back up (and up for everything instead of just RBA). 

If you go before the Aboleth, you are probably in good shape - especially with Dice/EA.  So I'd want to lock that down with a skill power (or another initiative bump of some kind. 

Stall tactics always great -  particularly when you are playing a themed character who can banter with the villian before you actually throw down; "I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking "did he use all his daily powers or not?" Now to tell you the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement. But being this is a (insert bow type), the most powerful bow in the world and will blow you head clean off, you've gotta ask yourself a question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?"

In my experience if your party hasn't stopped the boss cold after round one, things get real bad real fast. 

So far as HP/Surges/Defenses, I never think of that stuff as "by role".  I try to imagine if the boss picked on just me, every fight, could I take it?  So my revenenant ranger 22 (who has similar hp and surges to your build), relies on 1/2 damage, resist ALL and "keep acting while below 0" effects to shore up his health.  My Battlemind has those ridiculous amounts of temps.  When I was playing a fighter he went for plate and shield (and the feats to make shield apply other places) and defending weapon so most of his defenses were in the 40 range, and those that weren't (will) could be prepared against (circlet). 


Since you are going to be Stealthing a lot, look at Sehanines Mark of the Dark Moon boon.  Against creatures that cant see you, half damage on hits, no damage on misses.  Note that it doesn't say craetures from which you are hidden, which means tremorsense etc. doesn't negate it's affect the way it does the other benefits of stealth. 

I am recommending this build for the Hall of Heroes.
I updated the recommended shopping list with the Circlet of Arkhosia and some other useful things, and added Five-Missile Dance to the Epic-tier Daily section, per LDB's recommendation.
Sorry for the double post, but I forgot to respond to JB's post. (I responded to McDeebz in the thread he linked, if anyone was concerned about me ignoring him. :P)

I havent looked much at ranged builds so I don't know off the top of my head what I'd slide in there, but there has got to be a good way to get your to hit back up (and up for everything instead of just RBA).

I'm not convinced this is necessary. L20 is a place where builds tend to lag on accuracy scaling (it jumps by +3 at L21), and I'm confident that Leader buffs/debuffs, CA, and things like EA/Dice/Stone of Wind will get me through patches like that.

If you go before the Aboleth, you are probably in good shape - especially with Dice/EA.  So I'd want to lock that down with a skill power (or another initiative bump of some kind.

Stall Tactics is awesome. I don't think I need it, though, bad enough to train bluff and then give up Feywild Jaunt/Howlings or a feat slot prior to L20- I've already got a good chance of going first, and ideally I'd have a Leader helping me out. Another party member who was INT or CHA would be better suited to help via Stall Tactics or Strategist's Epiphany.

So far as HP/Surges/Defenses, I never think of that stuff as "by role".  I try to imagine if the boss picked on just me, every fight, could I take it?

That's not a bad philosophy; it's true, though, that ranged characters are targetted less frequently. I have Long Step+Minor action shifting, perma-concealment, several defensive Immediate Interrupts per encounter, -4 to hit at-will, and high Stealth. I rely to some extent on a competent Defender, but so do most dedicated ranged characters. I think I'm in a good place defensively, but maybe your campaigns are more intense than mine.

The Mark of the Dark Moon Boon is both fun to say and extremely cost efficient, I think. I don't know much about Boons. Can I just buy the level 3 version as a L30 character? Thanks for the heads' up; the fact that it's a boon, though, means that just up and buying it might be somewhat DM-dependent. Can you bring those to and LFR table, or a con?


My options are wide open on the neck slot. Elven armor gives me +6 Stealth, Amulet of Elegy lets me slap a -6 on the saving throws against my Captivating Missile, Cloak of Distortion gives me fantastic defenses against ranged attacks, and Timeless Locket gives me extra nova capacity and +6 initiative.

So I started playing a variant of this character in my buddy's new campaign. I'm going elf hybrid ranger|seeker using a Greatbow for extra damage mostly. We've only had 1 encounter so far and while I didn't do as well as I expected, I didn't die lol. The build uses the same stats and same training in skills. At-will powers are Twin Strike and Biting Swarm. Encounter power is Steel Forest for the AoE effects and the Daily power is Guardian Arrow. Since I'm the only controller, I have to sacrifice damage for more controller-ish powers and feats.

The encounter was farily quick, as we got jumped by 6 Kobolds (no minions). Even with a +4 Initiative modifier, my lowly roll of 4 didn't help me much and put me just behind every kobold that attacked. And because of this, I was hit by two attacks (one critical) and Immobilized for a whole turn. So turn 1 = Twin Strike against two adjacent foes (1 hit, 1 miss). Luckily I made the save and was no longer held in place. The swordmage in our group gave me some respite with additional sheidling but it wasn't enougth against another un-marked Kobold as it did another 5 damage, which dropped me to a nice round total of 9 HP. The leader in our group gave me some unconditional love with their encounter healing and I was able to shift out of that really bad spot and deliver Biting Swarm against the buggers. Combat was smooth from there as I alternated between more damage and control though my Guardian Arrow was wasted on a Kobold with less than 10 HP left.

Things I really need to know when to use Encaging Spirits, which would've helped me a lot in that tight situation, and to really utilize my encounter powers. There was at least two other times where I missed on a ranged attack yet didn't use the Elven Accuracy power (doh!). Also of note, when combat is under-way, it's harder to get a few monsters into a cluster to make the most effect of Steel Forest (which I ddn't use at all).

All in all, there were some good things and some things that I need to work on but I think the build itself is pretty solid.
Thank you very much for your account! It's definitely appreciated.

I've been doing some playtesting myself (my opportunities to do so are few) and I've encountered the same problem: In early heroic, you often don't have the resources to be a good controller. A few things I've observed to help out at level 1:

Take Fox's Cunning instead of Steel Forest at level 1, and when you get to level 3, retrain it back to Steel Forest or Possessing Spirits, and get Disruptive Strike. If you want you can pick up Escaping Shot at L3 instead, and just keep Fox's Cunning as your E1, but you do want to pick up Disruptive Strike eventually.

Use Grasping Spirits instead of Biting Swarms until you have both Hobbling Strike AND World Serpent's Grasp.

Use Swarming Bats as your first level Daily, then retrain it to Guardian Arrow when you pick up Ensnaring Shot as your D5. Try to save Guardian Arrow for use on a Solo or Elite.

Your accuracy is way, way, way, more important than your damage. If you really don't want to pick up a Superior Crossbow for that +3 proficiency bonus, that's okay, but your first feat should be Expertise then. The accuracy increase will likely net you more damage than having a less accurate d12 anyway. In general, though that d12 isn't worth the feat. Here is a list of heroic tier feats that you really should take before you take Greatbow prof: Improved Initiative, Hybrid Talent: True Seeker's Bond, Expertise, World Serpent's Grasp, Hobbling Strike. 
Thank you very much for your account! It's definitely appreciated.

I've been doing some playtesting myself (my opportunities to do so are few) and I've encountered the same problem: In early heroic, you often don't have the resources to be a good controller. A few things I've observed to help out at level 1:

Take Fox's Cunning instead of Steel Forest at level 1, and when you get to level 3, retrain it back to Steel Forest or Possessing Spirits, and get Disruptive Strike. If you want you can pick up Escaping Shot at L3 instead, and just keep Fox's Cunning as your E1, but you do want to pick up Disruptive Strike eventually.



Yea, I only saw the AoE effect and it being the only one so I went for it but as it turns out, there just isn't enough situations that it'll really be applied to (espically when I go middle of the road in the Initiative count). So at 2nd level, I'll be swapping out those encounter powers.


Use Grasping Spirits instead of Biting Swarms until you have both Hobbling Strike AND World Serpent's Grasp.

Use Swarming Bats as your first level Daily, then retrain it to Guardian Arrow when you pick up Ensnaring Shot as your D5. Try to save Guardian Arrow for use on a Solo or Elite.



Those changes will probably have to come as I level up. So probably Grasping Spirits in place of Biting Swarm at 3rd level (2nd lvl is reserved for changing Steel Forest into Fox's Cunning) and at 4th level I'll swap out Guardian Arrow for Swarmping Bats. Thanks for the suggestions though. With no playtest, I figured a more generalized path was better than almost straight Ranger-powers at low heroic. Experience, however, is a better teacher .


Your accuracy is way, way, way, more important than your damage. If you really don't want to pick up a Superior Crossbow for that +3 proficiency bonus, that's okay, but your first feat should be Expertise then. The accuracy increase will likely net you more damage than having a less accurate d12 anyway. In general, though that d12 isn't worth the feat. Here is a list of heroic tier feats that you really should take before you take Greatbow prof: Improved Initiative, Hybrid Talent: True Seeker's Bond, Expertise, World Serpent's Grasp, Hobbling Strike. 



Hmm...sorta was looking at the Greatbow but I could trade that out for Bow Expertise and go Longbow instead at 2nd level. For the 2nd level feat, Hybrid Talent is a good option but why True Seeker's Bond? I like shift 1 = Minor action but wouldn't the Hybrid Talent be better used with one of the Ranger features like Hunter's Fighting Style or Prime Shot? Or is that Minor = shift 1 make the difference? 

Prior to your suggestions, my feat progression in Heroic looked like this:
Show

1st - Weapon Proficiency (Greatbow)
2nd- Bow Expertise
4th - Hybrid Talent
6th - Hobbling Strike
8th - World Serpent Grasp
10th-Improved Initiative


Your suggestions:
Show

1st - Bow Expertise
2nd- Hybrid Talent
4th - Hobbling Strike
6th - World Serpent Grasp
8th - Improved Initiative
10th-? weapon focus, distant advantage, cunning stalker, Armor Proficiency (Hide), Weapon Prof. (greatbow)?
Now that the Dragon 400 playtest stuff is out, I'm considering doing a human variant on this build that goes Twin Strike, Biting Swarm and Clever Shot (via the Archery Mastery feat) at Lv 1 with Staggering Strike to deliver slow/can't shift/push 1/prone at-will. That's the vast majority of a stun for most melee 1 mobs with proper tactical positioning. (I suppose it could still charge someone exactly 3 squares away or crawl 1 and make an attack, but fine - hit at -2 and grant CA on the latter. Have fun with that.) There's a loss to Dex, but with Spitting Cobra Stance and Thousand Arrow Awareness as my Ranger Dailies, I'm not as concerned about the slight accuracy deficiency. Haven't specced it past Heroic yet. Any thoughts?
Sorry I haven't updated this! Yes, Archery Mastery is something this build has to consider, and almost certainly should take it over Twin Strike/Hobbling Strike/WSG. Staggering Strike won't work with Clever Shot however, since it doesn't hit and thus can't trigger Quarry.
Quick question, I've been playing an Elf Seeker for a few levels, but after seeing this build I wanted to try it out. But when I through it into Character Builder I noticed that even with the Bloodbound Hybrid Talent, the minor shift doesn't show up. Is this just poor wording on the builder's part:

 [Bloodbond (Hybrid) - Gain the Encaging Spirits power], [True Seeker's Bond - Gain the remainder of the Seeker's Bond Chosen option]

or does the shift not get included?
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