Assistance with a Spiked Chain Ranger

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Hello CharOp,

I'm having a go at a Ranger in my buddy's game, and while I'm pretty happy with where it stands now (@lvl7) I'm trying to figure out where I want to go with it.  Some context: It's a Dark Sun game, we're using inherent bonuses and are super poor as far as magic items go, so i'm looking to be as gear independant as possible.

I'm focusing on Spiked Chain as my weapon of choice, which opens me up to a huge amount of feat support (between light blades and CA tricks, and flails and sliding/proning tricks, and the rest of the chain MC feats), and that's where I'm starting to get bogged down.  So if anybody out there with some Spiked Chain experience has any advice, it'd be much appreciated. 

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Dark Sun Ranger, level 7
Thri-Kreen, Ranger
Fighting Style Option: Marauder Fighting Style
Ranger Option: Prime Shot
Dark Sun, Inherent Bonuses
Last of the Clutch (+2 to Endurance)
Theme: Mercenary

STR 19, CON 11, DEX 19, INT 8, WIS 13, CHA 10

STR 16, CON 11, DEX 16, INT 8, WIS 13, CHA 10

AC: 21 Fort: 19 Ref: 19 Will: 15
HP: 53 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 13

Acrobatics +11, Athletics +13, Nature +11, Perception +9, Stealth +11

Arcana +2, Bluff +3, Diplomacy +3, Dungeoneering +4, Endurance +4, Heal +4, History +2, Insight +4, Intimidate +5, Religion +2, Streetwise +5, Thievery +6

Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Mercenary Attack: Takedown Strike
Thri-Kreen Racial Power: Thri-kreen Claws
Hunter's Quarry Power: Hunter's Quarry
Wild Talent Cantrip: Body Equilibrium
Ranger Attack 1: Twin Strike
Ranger Attack 1: Marauder's Rush
Ranger Attack 1: Off-Hand Strike
Ranger Attack 1: Jaws of the Wolf
Ranger Utility 2: Begin the Hunt
Thri-Kreen Utility 2: Mantis Jump
Ranger Attack 3: Ruffling Sting
Ranger Attack 5: Two-Wolf Pounce
Ranger Attack 7: Lashing Leaves

Two-Weapon Defense
Level 1: Two-Weapon Fighting
Level 2: Spiked Chain Training
Level 4: Light Blade Expertise
Level 6: Swift Blade Style

Spiked chain
Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier) x1
Hide Armor x1
Adventurer's Kit
Backpack (empty)
Flint and Steel
Belt Pouch (empty)
Climber's Kit
Grappling Hook
Silk Rope (50 ft.)
====== End ======
For what it's worth (which probably isn't much), I think the Character Builder lets you use Flail Expertise when using it as a double weapon.
My DM rules it as both a flail and a light blade.
I do not see a lot of ranger based flail abuse in your future, so while you focus on the light blade bit, what makes this better than two rapiers other than cost ?

Plus, given that it's an item-poor Dark Sun game, "cost" is a strong enough reason not to need any other reasons, at least given that he still gets the advantages of light blade support.
Slightly better damage die, reach, it eliminated the need for two weapon fighting style and allowed me to take Marauder for the +1 speed (giving me a speed of 8 thanks to being a Thri-Kreen) and AC.  In theory I liked the idea of the Spiked Chain fighting feats, but upon further reflection they seem kinda trappy and sub par compared to the Ranger Powers they'd be replacing, though I'm intrigued by Chain Ward (I suspect it's still probably not worth it, though). But I could be missing something, which is why I've come here for pointers.
Rangers don't powerswap until Hurricane. Marauder means you're limited in your paragon path choices by a bit. What're you wanting to take there?

Pathfinder and Blade Dancer both look nice. If I switched back to two weapon, then Storm Warden is also pretty fantastic. Nothing else really stood out to me.
Some more light blade based opportunities will open for you if you MC rogue.

Some more light blade based opportunities will open for you if you MC rogue.

Spiked Chain Training is a MC feat, so unless you have a way to pick up multiple MC's, that's a fail.
Yeah, that'll work. Why did you take two-weapon fighting? It's +1 damage, yeah, but you don't get the feats it's a prerequisite for until late paragon. You would do better with cunning stalker to get yourself extra attack AND damage more of the time. Oh, and the mercenary theme is pretty bad. I'd suggest... many many things... before it would come up. Ironwrought, for instance. Or Iron Wolf. Or Reaver, that's a good one for mobility and gives some extra multi-target damage.

I took two-weapon fighting to qualify for Swift Blade Style. 

As for themes, I grabbed Merc largely for takedown strike, but I'll look into the other themes you've mentioned. 
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