fighter vs ranger

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I know this has been discust several times I'm sure?
Which one is better? The fighter gets a ton of feats so he doesn't need the free feats that the ranger gets. But the ranger gets the favored enemies, a couple decent spells, more skill points, & a weak animal companion. Also the ranger prefers light armor while the tank wears the heavy.
Did I miss something? Please explain your reasoning.

I'm gonna rip your head off and make it my puppet! (NWN 2)

Unless the campaign is focused on fighting a specific type of creature, the bonuses from favored enemy won't come up often enough to be good.


Hitting with a weapon in each hand deals about the same amount of damage as hitting with one weapon in two hands. Even with the two-weapon fighting feats coming free, it's not worth taking the -2 to hit unless you have a significant source of extra damage, like sneak attack.


A ranger's animal companion gets about half as many hit dice as it should have to be used in combat. If you can use the urban companion alternative class feature (Cityscape web enhancement) in conjunction with the improved familiar feat (note the extra options in Complete Warrior), you should do well.


The best way to use ranger levels is to take the swift hunter feat (Complete Scoundrel) so you can add your ranger levels to your scout (Complete Adventurer) levels to determine your skirmish damage.


If you can use the strong-arm alternative combat style (Dragon 326), ranger can be an excellent entry to deepwarden (Races of Stone).


The wildshape ranger variant (Unearthed Arcana) is an excellent entry to master of many forms (Complete Adventurer).


The mystic ranger variant (Dragon 336) is very good, but I think getting up to 5th-level spells at 10th level was an error.


The value of fighter is going to vary drastically based on your feats. This is something of a classic. Putting a couple levels in fighter to help qualify for a prestige class is probably the most common use of the class.

It also depends on your style of play, your ability rolls and if you actually have another tank in your party.

But the biggest problem you could have with fighter is being limited to certain feats, so if you're playing only based on core books, fighters are probably the worst class, since most of those feats aren't worth the requirements they have. And don't really bring that much.

Other than that really low skill points as you mentioned yourself makes you useless outside of combat, and if you have another tank in party you're even useless in combat.

First time I've played DnD, I was playing with fighter, had rolled 15, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, I couldn't qualify for most feats, so in order to save my skin, I had to multiclass with Ranger, and was lucky enough to roll highest value on dice for HP, 2 or 3 times. But in fight I couldn't actually get ahead of other ranger in group, who was changing between ranged and close fighting, and next to Barbarian, I couldn't actually do anything worthwile, so I would usually act as a wall between sorcerer and enemies. Skill points I've got from ranger made me at least somewhat useful since I've spent most of them on spot, listen, search and heal. In social situations I was useless really as a character at least.

In long campaigns fighters become really boring, they don't have any options. So if you aren't going to multiclass stay away from it.

Ranger can do fine on his own even later on in the game if he choses to go for ranged fighting, while Fighter is only good on low levels, the higher the level the less useful he is. And bonuses from feats like +1 to attack and +1 to damage become oblivious too.
I know this has been discust several times I'm sure?
Which one is better? The fighter gets a ton of feats so he doesn't need the free feats that the ranger gets. But the ranger gets the favored enemies, a couple decent spells, more skill points, & a weak animal companion. Also the ranger prefers light armor while the tank wears the heavy.
Did I miss something? Please explain your reasoning.


It's more a matter of tier mismatch.

The Ranger is a pretty solid "Tier Four" class: "Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competence without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribute to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well." Other Tier Four classes include the rogue, barbarian, warlock, warmage, and scout.

Using the Wild Shape variant ranger gives it such a powerful ability and opens up a lot of options to it that it goes all the way up to Tier Three: "Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Can be game breaking only with specific intent to do so.  Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time." Other Tier Three classes, for comparison, are the three martial adepts, the bard, the beguiler, the dread necromancer, and the psychic warrior. (This is the rough level I aim for when desinging a new class.)

The fighter, meanwhile, is usually regarded as a strong Tier Five. "Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly." A core-only fighter is a weak Tier Five or possibly a Tier Six. (There is a Zhentarium variant fighter in Exemplars of Evil, I believe, which basically gives the fighter some serious Intimidate support, to the point of bumping it up all the way to Tier Four. But it's a setting-speicific change and requires a specific set of feats to do, so it's less a property of the class and more a property of that ability.) Other Tier Fives are the monk, swashbuckler, soulknife, paladin, and knight.

As for why? The minmaxboards records - which summarize a lot of discussion here, on BrilliantGameologists, and there - give the following explanations.

Ranger (normal) - Tier Four
 The ranger might be the most average class in D&D. It doesn't suck but it doesn't really do anything too well. I'd generally avoid the two weapon fighting combat style and stick to the archery combat style to be an effective ranger. -Ninjarabbit

Cons: Rangers are limited to light armor and only have a d8 hit dice, a problem to those who went the two weapon fighting route. Rangers by themselves don't have a high damage output, especially when fighting against non-favored enemies. Rangers suffer from MAD: needing a decent dex, con, wis, int, and str to be effective. The ranger's animal companion is way too weak to even consider using in combat. Rangers are half-casters so their spells won't be too reliable in combat without a few tricks. -Ninjarabbit

Pros: Rangers get 5 bonus feats total and they don't have to meet any prequisites for their combat feats. 6 skill points/level and a pretty good set of class skills are a very nice thing. Rangers have enough class variants across many splatbooks to keep things interesting. Rangers multiclass well with scouts, paladins, and monks thanks to the class-combo feats. Rangers do have a solid spell list, especially if you have access to certain splatbooks. -Ninjarabbit 

I would also like to reinforce that last point - the splatbook-enhanced ranger spell list is freaking amazing in their hands, and it often goes underappreciated. -Tempest


Ranger (wild shape) - Tier Three
The wildshape ranger trades his combat style feats for fast movement (as a barbarian) and wildshape (as a druid, small and medium animals only). This is generally considered a step up from the normal ranger. -Ninjarabbit


Cons: The wildshape ranger is pretty much a liability before level 5, assuming str and dex were dumped. He's limited to small and medium animals when wildshaping, limiting combat option when compared to the druid. Also since you aren't going to get any more wildshape forms after level 5, it severely limits the incentive to keep taking ranger levels. The wildshape ranger still has the sucky animal companion. -Ninjarabbit

Pros: The wildshape ranger is able to dump his str and dex scores, getting rid of the MAD that rangers normally have. Wildshaping creates much more flexibility in combat: pouncing as a leopard, tripping as a riding dog, grappling as a black bear, constrictor snake, or crocodile, weapons and armor as a baboon, and more. He still gets the normal ranger goodies like 2 bonus feats, spellcasting, 6 skill points/level, and evasion. The wildshape ranger can qualify for PrCs like Master of Many Forms and Warshaper. -Ninjarabbit

-Tempest would also like to note that through class feature variants, the wild shape ranger also qualifies for PHB2 shapeshift, which removes the low-level liability and the weak animal companion. It's not as powerful as Wild Shape, though it is absolutely faster and easier to use.


Fighter - Tier Five
 Cons: Feats are inferior to good class features. Rarely can one throw a bucket of feats at an enemy unless they are very strong feats...

... but strong feats can be taken by any other character as well. -Solo
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Note that the Fighter is actually quite high in Tier 5, bordering on Tier 4.  But one of the main markers of the low tiers is a lack of flexibility.  An archer Fighter is quite good as a damage dealer... not as good as an equivalently optimized Barbarian Charger, but still quite effective.  However, that's just about all he is.  His class makes him good at dealing damage with arrows, but when the situation calls for something else (i.e. there's not a clear shot, or it's not a combat situation) his class offers him critically few options.  The same is true of most other kinds of Fighter... though the class itself can make many builds, any one build is generally either inflexible (due to specializing in just one trick) or ineffective (due to not specializing in that one trick).

A further note about the Fighter is that a lot of his tricks (shooting, charging, tripping) can be accomplished by about level 6-8.  That's great when you get your first trick, but if you try to diversify (for example, adding Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Shock Trooper, and Leap Attack to an archer build) you're adding another trick that would be good at level 6-8... but now it's level 16.  Having two level 6-8 tricks at level 16 is as bad as a caster getting twice as many 4th level spells at 16.  It's not nearly as good as getting level appropriate abilities (in that metaphore, 8th level spells). -JaronK 

Pros: One of the best non magical damage dealing classes, especially with regards to archery.  Though it requires a Barbarian dip to shine as a charger, their feats are useful for that too.  Fighters make excellent short dips for many non magic builds.  Fighters can also make very effective trippers, though Fighters can't really be effective at all of these at once (Fighters in general can be good trippers, chargers, and archers, but no one Fighter can be great at all of those).  Note that the Zhentarium Fighter is clearly Tier 4, mostly due to Imperious Command. -JaronK


 I hope that elaborates a bit more on their differences. Note that you can use the tier system regardless of the role the class plays.

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

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DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

OK. Couple of things I need to know:

1) What is a splatbook?

2) "The wildshape ranger trades his combat style feats for fast movement (as a barbarian) and wildshape (as a druid, small and medium animals only). This is generally considered a step up from the normal ranger. -Ninjarabbit"

Where is the wildshape ranger? I've never heard of that.

3) What does "MAD" stand for?

Sorry for all the "newb" questions. I've never seen or heard of any of this.

I would like to thank you for all the info though. It's much appreciated.

I'm gonna rip your head off and make it my puppet! (NWN 2)

"Splatbook" = Extended library of books.  These are all the other books in DnD that support the three core rulebooks.  Most of these focus on one type of character but often times something can be found in an "off-type" book that is useful for certain character builds.  The term refers to this later support giving core classes abilities to "splatter" a core only character.

MAD = Multiple/multi Attribute Dependency.  Generally a character who has abilities/features that make additional use of three or more ability scores.


I'll note that while I understand the MAD concept I'm not overly worried about it but then again I'm someone who views unmodified 14s as "high" ability scores.  Perhaps the real issue with MAD is the availability of stat boosting items where a class that really uses just one ability score (often wizards, clerics, or sorcerers with regards to their casting stat) that powers many of their abilities finds it MUCH cheaper to increase one ability score then to increase a number of ability scores  which provide less punch for each +1 modier earned.
Where is the wildshape ranger? I've never heard of that.

It's a class variant found in Unearthed Arcana, I believe.
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I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
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"Splatbook" = Extended library of books.  These are all the other books in DnD that support the three core rulebooks.  Most of these focus on one type of character but often times something can be found in an "off-type" book that is useful for certain character builds.  The term refers to this later support giving core classes abilities to "splatter" a core only character.

As I recall, the term "splatbooks" actually refers to the asterisk (sometimes called a "splat) used as a wildcard when writing the names of a series of similarly-named books.

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As I recall, the term "splatbooks" actually refers to the asterisk (sometimes called a "splat) used as a wildcard when writing the names of a series of similarly-named books.

You mean like in the "Complete *" or "Book of *" or "Races of *" style series.  I guess I can see that although given the power creep that most expansions tend to bring I still like thinking about "splatbooks" as being those things you need to make a character as powerful as it can be made.

Splatbook etymology comes from a splat *, but not as a variable note. In the game industry,  the splat (asterisk) is sometimes used by game publishers to designate supplementary material in catalogues.



MAD is multiple attribute dependency - compare the wizard (Intelligence is all they need) to the monk (strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom). This isn't a bad thing some of the time if it's done right - both the wizard and the monk are problematic because they can concentrate their ability score points or are forced to spread them too thin by virtue of their class design.

Good examples, in my opinion, of how to design MAD classes include the Warlock (variable: Although it looks like you need Dex and Cha, it really doesn't require either depending on how you build it) and the warblade (covers the usual physical ability base, but also rewards Intelligence, producing a technical fighter that doesn't need to be a genius to still excel). 

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Splatbook etymology comes from a splat *, but not as a variable note. In the game industry,  the splat (asterisk) is sometimes used by game publishers to designate supplementary material in catalogues.

I've heard both explanations (the one I noted and the mark used to denote supplements), though I can't say which one is truly correct.  It's even possible that both are partially correct.
MAD is multiple attribute dependency - compare the wizard (Intelligence is all they need) to the monk (strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom). This isn't a bad thing some of the time if it's done right - both the wizard and the monk are problematic because they can concentrate their ability score points or are forced to spread them too thin by virtue of their class design.

Good examples, in my opinion, of how to design MAD classes include the Warlock (variable: Although it looks like you need Dex and Cha, it really doesn't require either depending on how you build it) and the warblade (covers the usual physical ability base, but also rewards Intelligence, producing a technical fighter that doesn't need to be a genius to still excel). 

I think it's a matter of flexibility.  Only needing a single ability score (like the wizard) or always needing several (like the monk) are bad because in addition to affecting the functional power of the class, they also restrict viable builds.  When used well, MAD rewards high abilities in certain scores without requiring them in every design (though in most cases, one or two ability scores remain fundamental).

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
I do feel somewhat as though "MAD" can be something of a misnomer. Take the Monk. Getting Wis to AC is insanely powerful, not a drawback, even if you're a character focused in the physical stats. The issue is not the Wis to AC, it's the fact that that replaces armour. Actually, a Monk with a Potion of Mage Armour can get an AC far in excess of what most low-level characters will get whilst still remaining mobile, even with only a moderate investment into Dex and Wis (compare +2 Dex, +2 Wis, +4 Mage Armour with +1 Dex, +8 Full Plate - not bad, and sure you're burning expendables or relying on the party mage, but one Full Plate is 50 potions).

Remember that even if you have low scores in both, you can get stat-boosting items for both far cheaper than a twice-as-powerful single one (4k + 4k vs 16k, etc), or you could get a Cat's Grace and an Owl's Wisdom spell cast on you.

Getting back on topic somewhat, a Ranger suffers slightly from the same problem since he'll want a smattering of Wis to be able to cast spells (or more importantly, use items of those spells). One thing you have to consider, though, is the level range. At levels 1-4, the Fighter is pretty neat because his bonus feats give him many more options than other classes. He has better HP than the Ranger, though the Ranger gets better skill points. Meanwhile, the Fighter is going to have to comb books to find meaningful things to spend his 21 bonus feats on by 20th level, without getting any of the features of other classes.

Another thing is the setting. As mentioned, Rangers get more skill points. Favoured Enemy can be great in e.g. undead-heavy campaigns.

Monks are good because casters can buff them? Not a compelling arguement. Casters can buff anyone. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

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Sure, but casters can't buff Fighters with Mage Armour. The only point I was making was that sure, Monks can't wear armour, but an armour bonus to AC is easy to get (at the very least you can get Bracers of Armour for half the price of other AC-boosters) whereas an untyped Wisdom bonus is far less so.

The only point I was making is that MAD is not necessarily an issue (take the aforementioned Warlock). Wiz vs Monk is not a fair comparison, because Wizards are just awesome. Incidentally, I'd hate to play a Wizard with a low Dex and Con. They might need them a bit less than the Monk, especially when they get the good buffs, but it's a bit less clear-cut than one stat vs four.

Anyway, I digress.
Sure, but casters can't buff Fighters with Mage Armour. The only point I was making was that sure, Monks can't wear armour, but an armour bonus to AC is easy to get (at the very least you can get Bracers of Armour for half the price of other AC-boosters) whereas an untyped Wisdom bonus is far less so.


Bracers of Armor +5: 25,000gp.
Breastplate (+5 AC): 200 gp.
Mithral Breastplate (same check penalty as the bracers): 4200 gp.

I know which I'd prefer.

Seriously, the monk needs Wisdom to AC because he doesn't get armor. They get rough equivalencies on enhancement bonuses too (i.e it costs as much to get Bracers of Armor +1 as it does to enhance your breastplate to +1), but the base AC increase from armor and/or shields well outweighs the monk's wisdom to AC.

The only point I was making is that MAD is not necessarily an issue (take the aforementioned Warlock).


The warlock isn't MAD. It's variable-ability dependent, and usually doesn't require more than one (with the unspoken +Constitution being omnipresent). If you're using targeted blasts for damage or buff invocations, you're focusing on Dexterity; if you're using saving-throw essences and spell invocations, you're probably focusing on Charisma, and if you're using Eldritch Glaive you're probably using Strength.

Compare to the monk. Even with Intuitive Attack, you need at least three ability scores - Wisdom (with Intuitive Attack, this covers most of your offense as well as contributes to your defense, but the lack of good defensive abilities), Dexterity (again, no armor, plus helps with Initiative and Evasion), and Constitution (since you're a d8 HD class on the frontlines).

The only time you're going to find a well-designed class that depends on three ability scores is if you find one that doesn't actually depend on the third. Warblade comes to mind (you can easily make a warblade with 8 Intelligence and it won't really faze him much).

Wiz vs Monk is not a fair comparison, because Wizards are just awesome. Incidentally, I'd hate to play a Wizard with a low Dex and Con. They might need them a bit less than the Monk, especially when they get the good buffs, but it's a bit less clear-cut than one stat vs four.


Let's look at the other Tier Five classes, and see how many ability scores they depend upon. That's a fairer comparison, isn't it?



  • Fighter - Varies depending on build, but usually Strength OR Dexterity and Constitution. (Also gets heavier armor and a d10 HD)

  • Ninja - Basically a carbon-copy of the monk, but with lower HD. (On the flipside gets easy access to miss chances on top of the same Wis-to-AC ability.)

  • Healer - No. Just.... no.

  • Swashbuckler - Dexterity, Intelligence, Constitution (d10 HD and light armor, still better than the monk)

  • Soulknife - Strength or Dexterity (depends on the build), Constitution (but still gets higher HD than the monk).

  • Expert - Are we seriously comparing the monk to an NPC class?

  • OA Samurai - See Fighter, they're basically identical (lighter armor but better skills, and the daisho gives you "cheaper" weapon upgrades)

  • Paladin - Strength, Charisma, Constitution, Wisdom. (No one ever takes enough levels in Paladin to make the Wisdom-dependency matter. Also gets heavy armor and d10, so slightly less dependence on Con than the monk)

  • Knight - Strength, Charisma, Constitution (but gets abilities to make heavy armor and shields worth using, and has d12 HD).

  • CW Samurai (with Imperious Command available) - Strength, Charisma, Constitution (lower dependence on Con since Imperious Command makes Charisma lead to action-denial)


See a trend in the number of ability scores required? In most of them, it's 2+Constitution (with better base defensive stats, meaning lower dependency on Con than the monk). With the monk, it's 3+Constitution (with poorer base defensive abilities), or 2+Con if you give up a feat.

And that sets aside all of the other system-resulting problems with the monk. 

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.


Bracers of Armor +5: 25,000gp.
Breastplate (+5 AC): 200 gp.
Mithral Breastplate (same check penalty as the bracers): 4200 gp.


Very true - but a 1/day item of Mage Armour costs something like 360gp. Hell, a continuous item of Mage Armour (basically Bracers of Armour +4) has a cost of 2k. That's more of an issue with item pricings, though.

I was merely noting that after the armour, it's easier to buff a Monk's AC. He can use Wis-boosting items AND Dex-boosting items even if his base Wis is low, where a Fighter can use only Dex or neither (if in heavy armour). He can get an Armour bonus where the Fighter already has one. Does it balance out? No, it doesn't.  The only point I was making was that that's because the Monk sucks, not because of anything else. If you want to give me a glass-cannon class with no AC but awesome other abilities (e.g. Wizard...), it doesn't necessarily need to boost its AC to be good.

With the point-buy system and the item bonus pricing we have, getting the same benefit from two stats is better than getting it just from one. The Monk's a terrible terrible example but I think the Swashbuckler is a better one - the Int bonus to damage stacks with Str. Is the Swashbuclker Str-dependant? She gets exactly the same bonus from Str as other classes (though free Weapon Finesse encourages finesse fighting). She's not dependant on it because she can use Int instead - but personally, I think I'd prefer a high-Str Swash.

The Warlock is still relevant, because it's still keyed to Dex and Cha. All we're saying is that we can forget about DCs and dump Cha. The same holds for Favoured Souls and Spirit Shamen. They're still "MAD" in the traditional sense, though I'll admit there is a difference in that the benefits provided work in seperate areas - whereas the Monk can only really do melee combat.

I just don't like the term MAD because I don't think being keyed to multiple stats really has much to do with whether a class is good or bad - that's just down to whether the class is good or bad.
I just don't like the term MAD because I don't think being keyed to multiple stats really has much to do with whether a class is good or bad - that's just down to whether the class is good or bad.

It's one of a variety of factors, but it certainly influences effectiveness, multiplying the "goodness" or "badness" of a class that exists through more specific class features.

For example, consider how it would affect the wizard if they had to use different ability scores for different schools of magic (something like the 3.0 psion), or how much easier it would be for the monk if they could use Wisdom for attack and damage, instead of Strength and Dexterity.  The wizard is clearly worse off, while the monk is better off, even if the functions of their special class features are otherwise unchanged.

And since how class abilities depend on ability scores is part of the class' design, it is part of determining whether that class is particularly good or bad.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.


Very true - but a 1/day item of Mage Armour costs something like 360gp. Hell, a continuous item of Mage Armour (basically Bracers of Armour +4) has a cost of 2k. That's more of an issue with item pricings, though..



Id rather pay 200gp than 360 or 2k. Especially if you factor that my cheaper item can be enchanted to do other stuff too. That mage armor item can't. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"


Bracers of Armor +5: 25,000gp.
Breastplate (+5 AC): 200 gp.
Mithral Breastplate (same check penalty as the bracers): 4200 gp.


Very true - but a 1/day item of Mage Armour costs something like 360gp. Hell, a continuous item of Mage Armour (basically Bracers of Armour +4) has a cost of 2k. That's more of an issue with item pricings, though.

I'll need to check the pricing on a 1/day Mage Armor item (you'll want a Caster Level over 8th which increases the price but a "continous item of Mage Armor" is going to cost you at LEAST 16,000 gp (the same as +4 armor) and probably more as a slot less item.

You're pricing that continous item of Mage Armor incorrectly.  This is also done with True Strike items to theoretically give someone a dirt cheap +20 on attacks.  The Mage Armor item isn't as bad but runs into the same problems.  Mage Armor gives an armor bonus and those have their own pricing system.
 

Because of its shorter base duration, True Strike would certainly cost more. I do seem to recall some sort of "special case" for spells like Mage Armour but I don't remember the details. Anyway it doesn't really matter, I got completely off the point. Far from trying to argue that Monk were good, that Mage Armour were better than actual armour (though note that the point I was making in favour of the former was that it stacks with Monk AC, whereas actual armour doesn't), I was merely rambling about how I feel "MAD" gives people the wrong impression.

The thing is that getting Wis to AC is clearly a bonus (as getting it to attack and damage would be), regardless of whether you have a high Wis or not. Consider instead if I could take some sort of option which let me use the average of Wis and Dex for AC, instead of just Dex. If my Wis is lower than my Dex, that's going to give me a worse AC. Many people would therefore assume that it's often going to be a bad idea, but unless you're already dependand on a high Dex for other things (e.g. finesse fighter) it would almost always be a good idea, since I can get a 14 Dex and a 14 Wis for the same price (in point-buy terms) as a 16 Dex and a 10 Wis, and I can boost both more cheaply than boosting one more. (The other exception would be if I could otherwise get away with 8 Wis, since otherwise there's a sort of up-front cost I would have have to pay which mightn't be worth it).

The Wizard in Slagger's example would obviously be worse off, but that's because you're moving a bonus he already had to an attribute which he's probably not already using (though if you moved it to e.g. Dex you could potentially make a very powerful, low-Int Wiz). Sure, he's MAD. However, what if we gave the Wizard Wis to AC? Many people would look at that and say, "Hey, he uses Int for spells, Wis for AC, needs a decent Dex and Con... he's very MAD" whereas actually he's no worse off than he was before.

That's all I meant; I'm not saying the term can't be appropriate, just that I feel it can be a source of misinterpretation for some people.

Sorry for derailing the thread by failing to phrase this in a way which didn't make me sound like I thought the Monk was a powerful class or something socially unacceptable like that.
Back to the ranger.  I have alway preferred, thematically, the ranger variants that trade spellcasting for other features.  The two I most like are the ones that grant a series of four feats instead of the four levels of limited spellcasting.

How do those variants impact (if at all) this discussion of a ranger's ability/effectiveness vs a fighter's?
The Ranger's spellcasting is poor, but remember that it also lets you use items like Wand of CLW.

The no-spells variant from Complete Warrior is the one which springs to my mind. Personally I'm not keen at all on it since you really don't seem to gain a lot. The Fast Movement at L6 is nice but not enough IMO (as above, you could always just cast Longstrider) and I prefer the Unearthed Arcana variant for that (give up combat style, get fast movement and wild shape). Nature's Blassing (L11) is nice, a +4 bonus to Wis, Con or Dex which seems to be untyped, but only lasts for one minute (and is 1/day). Not incredible. A L13 Ranger can already cast Neutralise Poison and Remove Disease, so Healing Touch is even less impressive, though it doesn't mention any limits so I guess it could be infinite uses per day. That's pretty much immunity to disease for the party. Freedom of Movement is even worse, though, since you'd get it one to two levels earlier as a standard Ranger, with the option to memorise something else, and the ability to get more spells at L19+ or from a high (18+) Wis.

If there's another similar variant I don't recall what it is, but generally spellcasting is pretty cool in a lot of ways. As far as the CW variant goes, it seems to give abilities roughly equivalent to a single spell of each level (Longstrider, Bear's/Cat's/Owl's, Neutralise Poison/Remove Disease and Freedom of Movement) without any of the flexibility, ability to use items, ability to share effects with animal companion, or progression at higher levels (or with higher Wis, etc).
I know this has been discust several times I'm sure?
Which one is better? The fighter gets a ton of feats so he doesn't need the free feats that the ranger gets. But the ranger gets the favored enemies, a couple decent spells, more skill points, & a weak animal companion. Also the ranger prefers light armor while the tank wears the heavy.
Did I miss something? Please explain your reasoning.





Which one is better?

A: I would say a well played/build Ranger is better, but their is always that one guy in the room who swears up and down Fighters are awesome. Reason I say is:

-Ranger still gets full base attack
-6 Skills a level compared to the Fighters 2
-Animal Companion (Your Robin)
-Combat Style (meh)
-Better saves
-Spells starting at 4th level
-Nice variants like th Unearthed Arcana Wildshape variant (which lets you qualify for prestige classes like Master of Manyforms).
-Some abilities like favored enemy, woodland stride that are good when the situation comes up
-Evasion (for the love of god don't take 9 levels in Ranger though).

The only thing you truely miss out on is all those feats and you get d8 hp a level. In my opinion don't amount to much compared to what you gain.


I'm the local fighter fanboy.  I quite enjoy the fighter for the ability to take a bunch of specialized feats and still have room for more.  You can be a dedicated tripper and still have feats for weapon focus/specialization which nets +3 attack and +6 damage by level 12 if you include the PHP 2 feats.  This is as good as rage for attack and damage, but it is constant.  Archery was already mentioned, but the big thing is that very few classes can stand in single combat with a fighter.  I've also found ways to play fighters in long campaigns and not get bored or singled out, it just takes creativity in your solutions.  

As for rangers, I do like them, and I think they get some nice features that are overlooked, like evasion and hide in plain sight.  I also think that favoured enemy can be very usefull if you know you DM's style well.  Also, 2 weapon fighting does have some good uses.  With 2 feats and a pair of sickles, you can trip the heck out of everything, or use a dire flail and disarm like a boss.  Also, with improved shield bash, you can dual wield very effectivley, or dual wield a greatsword and armour spikes.  Also, against a favoured enemy, dual wielding is actually very effective.

Of course, fighters dual wielding works well with the +6 damage they'll have and the feats they can afford to burn to get it, but I digress.  

In the end, The ranger will be very versatile with spells, skills, and combat competancy, but you'll be hard pressed to beat anybody at a single task.  Fighters can specialize and really be good at a couple things, but versatility take creativity.  I'd say neither is really superior.
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