Optimization Advice for Hybrid Ranger/Rogue

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So, I've been a long-time reader on the CharOp forums, but not much of a poster... I'm finally breaking my silence to see if anyone can help with a striker build in my weekly tabletop game.


Before I post my build, here's my deal:


* This is an 8th-level hybrid Ranger/Rogue, which I'm hoping to lead into the Darkstrider PP when we hit 11th. I want to try and bump my accuracy and damage capacity, and add a little bit of a control/debuff element, without too much cheese or major adjustment.
* Themes aren't allowed
* We rolled for our stats using a homebrow stat-rolling system, so my stats are PRETTY HIGH in some cases.
* We're running through Scales of War with a 6-man party, so the gold and items are spread out pretty thinly


Here's what I'm looking to do:


* Maximize my accuracy and damage-dealing capacity
* Slot in a little debuffing/inflicting status effects with minimal impact on attack/damage capability
* Still qualify for Darkstrider at 11th - unless I can be convinced there's something WAY more awesome that I should go for instead


 
And some supporting information... 


* My character is built as a sniper, with the aim (*rimshot*) of hiding early and often in battle to score sneak attack. If I can't get that, I'll usually Quarry, get into a good position and start Twin Striking with my crossbow or blades.
* My character is the primary damage-dealer in the party, and according to the DM is the most *reliable* damage-dealer. To hear him tell it, if I stop focusing on damage, it's going to make fights a LOT longer and harder.* The party is VERY light on control - besides me, we have 2 Leaders, another Striker, and 2 Defenders. We had someone playing a Wizard, but his character died and he wants to build something "simpler" - frankly, he was a pretty awful Wizard.
* Lack of control is something that gets us in trouble often (and thus makes it hard to fight according to my role), so if there's any way I can dip into debuffing or control without seriously impacting my primary role (see above note about being a reliable damage-dealer), that'd be peachy keen.





Thanks in advance to anyone who has advice or can help with this!  Without further ado, here's my current build:



Jyron, level 8
Wood Elf, Ranger/Rogue
Hybrid Ranger Option: Hybrid Ranger Fortitude
Background: Explorer/Guide
Wood Elf Option: Sense Threat



FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 15, CON 18, DEX 21, INT 12, WIS 20, CHA 10

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 15, CON 17, DEX 17, INT 12, WIS 17, CHA 10


AC: 23 Fort: 20 Ref: 21 Will: 20
HP: 65 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 16

TRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +15, Athletics +11, Endurance +13, Nature +18, Perception +17, Stealth +14

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +5, Bluff +4, Diplomacy +4, Dungeoneering +9, Heal +9, History +5, Insight +9, Intimidate +4, Religion +5, Streetwise +4, Thievery +9

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Hunter's Quarry Power: Hunter's Quarry
Ranger At-Will Attack: Twin Strike
Rogue At-Will Attack: Deft Strike
Rogue Encounter 1: Impact Shot
Rogue Daily 1:Spinning Blade Leap
Ranger Utility 2: Stalker's Mist
Ranger Encounter 3: Disruptive Strike
Ranger Daily 5: Tracing Shot
Rogue Utility 6: Chameleon
Rogue Encounter 7: Snap Shot

FEATS
L1: Crossbow Expertise
L2: Weapon Proficiency (Superior Crossbow)
L4: Hybrid Talent - Rogue Tactics - Cunning Sneak
L6: Backstabber
L8: Speed Loader

ITEMS
Magic Superior Crossbow +1
Repulsion Leather Armor +1
Magic Rapier +1
Badge of the Berserker +1
Bracers of Archery (heroic tier)
Elven Chain Shirt

I don't really like Hybrid rogues and Striker|Striker hybrids usually don't do so well. Why aren't you playing a straight class build like Shoot to Thrill?
First of all, community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758... is the answer to your request. 
* Slot in a little debuffing/inflicting status effects with minimal impact on attack/damage capability


Archer Ranger already got enough conventional control out of the box. Plus damage is the best control in most cases, anyway.
If you absolutely want to sacrifice some damage for more control, then Ranger|Seeker would be an option. 

* My character is built as a sniper, with the aim (*rimshot*) of hiding early and often in battle to score sneak attack. If I can't get that, I'll usually Quarry, get into a good position and start Twin Striking with my crossbow or blades.





While being hidden is important for your Darkstrider feature, you don't need to be hidden to apply Sneak Attack. You just need CA.
Furthermore, since you're a hybrid, you will have only one encounter power to apply Sneak Attack to in total: Snap Shot. Your Sneak Attack wont even apply to Basic Attacks. So, basically Ranger MC Rogue gets more without even sacrificing anything by hybriding.
And you can't Twin Strike with your melee weapons, since you dumped STR.

Due to rules revisions on the Sneak Attack class feature, you can no longer sneak attack with a SXB (although you can still use Snap Shot), and have to stick to a hand crossbow, or else take Treetop Sniper to use a longbow.

Impact Shot is not that great, I would even take Two Fanged Strike just to have a credible nova (TFS+Snap+AP Twin Strike).
Likewise, Tracing Shot and Spinning Blade Leap are both not all that great either for you. I would rather recommend Blinding Barrage and Spitting Cobra Stance. 

Also, please do yourself a favor and take Master At Arms over Crossbow Expertise. 

* My character is built as a sniper, with the aim (*rimshot*) of hiding early and often in battle to score sneak attack. If I can't get that, I'll usually Quarry, get into a good position and start Twin Striking with my crossbow or blades.



If you want to be a cloaked sniper, might as well be a Cloaked Sniper (it's a Paragon Path). Way better than Darkstrider while retaining all of the flavor.

And I agree, get off the fence, either go full Ranger or full Rogue.

But if you really want to up your stealth game, you could go Rogue|Warlock/Assassin or Rogue|Assassom/Warlock with Hybrid Talent: Cunning Sneak and the Cursed Shadow feat for permanent stealth. In that case I'd highly recommend Champion of the Vigil as a Paragon Path (expanded crit + rerolls for all attacks is nothing to sneeze at).

For a more standard and proven option, can't go wrong with Shoot to Thrill.

Thanks for all the advice so far, everyone. 

The choices I've made with this character have largely been to shore up weaknesses in our party.  I have some melee options spiced in because, to put it bluntly, our frontline used to be almost non-existent.  More often than not, our defender would go unconscious, and then our predominantly ranged party would be utterly screwed.  My character became a secondary front-liner to avoid a total party wipe.

Unfortunately at this point, my DM's not going to allow me to make any major changes to my character - I'm locked in as a Ranger/Rogue hybrid, and have to get by with retraining at each new level.  Additionally, as I mentioned, I have to share gold and items with about 5 other people, so I can't afford to completely replace my inventory.

I know that probably complicates things a bit, but it's the reality of being in a long-term campaign. 

Responding to a couple really good questions:

Why aren't you playing a straight class build like Shoot to Thrill?


If you absolutely want to sacrifice some damage for more control, then Ranger|Seeker would be an option.



We needed a trapsmith and dedicated sneaker/scout at the start of the campaign, along with someone who had good tracking and Nature skills, but and the other striker was adamant about playing a Warlock.  Go figure.

Then somebody died and rerolled as an Artificer with Thievery, so... meh.  Trained out Thievery and washed my hands of it.  I'm not really in a position to change classes at this point, by writ of the DM saying it doesn't make sense for my character to do so.

Also, please do yourself a favor and take Master At Arms over Crossbow Expertise.



I shoot from around cover a lot, which makes ignoring cover and superior cover almost essential.  I can't tell you how many times ignoring that -2/-5 penalty from not having the feat has utterly saved the party... no joke.

Due to rules revisions on the Sneak Attack class feature, you can no longer sneak attack with a SXB (although you can still use Snap Shot), and have to stick to a hand crossbow, or else take Treetop Sniper to use a longbow.



One ray of sunshine here: My DM has house-ruled that I can use my Superior Crossbow for sneak attack.  Also, I'm allowed to apply either sneak attack or Hunter's Quarry to an RBA once per round, but not both.
What exactly is the rest of your party?

Anyway, here's what you should tell your DM:
"I would like to make some major changes to my character, such as changing to a straight class and getting new equipment that's equal in value to my current one, because I believe this group needs it in order for it to do well in the long run and it will be more fun for everyone this way."
The rest of my party:

Artificer
Pacifist Cleric
Warden
Invigorating Fighter
Warlock

Hence my dilemma.

Anyway, here's what you should tell your DM:
"I would like to make some major changes to my character, such as changing to a straight class and getting new equipment that's equal in value to my current one, because I believe this group needs it in order for it to do well in the long run and it will be more fun for everyone this way."



Under normal circumstances, I totally would - but the DM who runs this campaign is the sort who's likely to have a good laugh at this statement, print it out, frame it, and then chuckle fondly to himself every time he passes it in the hallway.  :p

I shoot from around cover a lot, which makes ignoring cover and superior cover almost essential.  I can't tell you how many times ignoring that -2/-5 penalty from not having the feat has utterly saved the party... no joke.


This kind of confused me - are you saying that you are shooting from cover yourself, or are shooting enemies who have cover? You only take a penalty if the target has cover, not if you have cover (I apologize if this seems obvious, just the way you worded it made me wonder).
This kind of confused me - are you saying that you are shooting from cover yourself, or are shooting enemies who have cover? You only take a penalty if the target has cover, not if you have cover (I apologize if this seems obvious, just the way you worded it made me wonder).



A lot of the people we fight conveniently end up behind boxes, around corners, or shooting through grilles and portcullises.  It makes the feat REALLY useful, believe me.
The rest of my party:

Artificer
Pacifist Cleric
Warden
Invigorating Fighter
Warlock



How much do your leaders enable your party? From your descriptions, the problem seems to be that everyone else simply isn't pulling their weight. 
Pacifist Clerics in particular are can be problematic. While CharOp is (IMHO) unfair to them, they absolutely do not belong in a group that needs to kill things quicker. In a group like yours, it's possible that the presence of the Pacifist Cleric actually makes things worse because that character is adding nothing but healing, which wouldn't have been needed if the encounter wouldn't have been made harder to account for the extra character.
You might want to try out optimising as a group.
Not sure how much CharOp can help you when everything is already set in stone. Your character is still decent though, and there's some worthwhile ranger powers coming up for archers and you will be just fine, even if not optimal.

Other than that you mentioned you wanted some control. You could pick up a Mindiron Crossbow eventually and the Psychic lock feat to use Disheartening Strike and give a -4 to hit to an enemy.
Yeah, fair point.  There isn't a WHOLE lot I can do to change at this point, but I can at least start making some incremental changes to move away from melee and more toward my core archer role.  I feel like the frontline is strong enough that I can safely do that now.

* We're running through Scales of War with a 6-man party, so the gold and items are spread out pretty thinly

Have your DM reread the "Adapting the Adventure" sidebar included in most Scales modules (I know for sure it's in the next one you'll do to end heroic tier). They specifically note that you should add extra treasure and monsters for larger parties. Even the laziest DM can just add one standard monster to each encounter and one item packet each level.

Sorry I always do this and it's off-topic, but it's a pet peeve of mine.
Oh, he's doing that - the challenge is more in getting everyone to share our resources and fight the urge to get the latest-and-greatest stuff.

Thank you VERY much to everyone who's contributed so far.  Currently, I'm committed to rolling back my melee powers and focusing on sniper-centric powers, as I originally intended (but which circumstance and party makeup prevented).  I guess my remaining question is: would Cloaked Sniper or Darkstrider be better for my character?

PROS FOR DARKSTRIDER
* I'm going to be spending a lot of time hidden, so an extra 8-9 damage on Twin Strike and other powers would be fabulous
* 8-9 squares of blindsight is pretty rad on paper
* Cloaked in Shadow and Death in the Dark are pretty neat powers

PROS FOR CLOAKED SNIPER
* Crossbow Savant would free up my Speed Loader feat
* No Darkstrider PP means I don't have to pick up a multiclass feat at 10th level to qualify (Dungeoneering skill)
* Unseen Shot is pretty nice, because a) I'm going to be hiding a lot, and b) I'm going to miss attacks once in a while


Anyone have anything to chime in on these?  Paragon-level combos that dovetail with these PPs (and that may help me decide) are much appreciated.

PROS FOR CLOAKED SNIPER


Didn't see a mention of the E11 ... a minor action attack that can daze is pretty nice.
* We're running through Scales of War with a 6-man party, so the gold and items are spread out pretty thinly

Have your DM reread the "Adapting the Adventure" sidebar included in most Scales modules (I know for sure it's in the next one you'll do to end heroic tier). They specifically note that you should add extra treasure and monsters for larger parties. Even the laziest DM can just add one standard monster to each encounter and one item packet each level.

Sorry I always do this and it's off-topic, but it's a pet peeve of mine.



Hah, it's what I would have posted too.  Scales of War actually (mostly) perfectly follows loot distribution rules, so magic items should be exactly on target.  Any sensible DM would figure out the extra magic items on their own, even if it wasn't explicitly stated at the beginnings of modules 1, 2, 6, and 7.

That said, my DM in Scales is completely ignoring gold, so pretty much all the characters have two empty slots and have outdated Big Three items - at 19, several are using a +2 neck and a +3 weapon.  His justification is that if he was letting us buy stuff, he wouldn't have a chance in the encounters as written - we'd blow everything up before he could do anything.  He's not entirely wrong that we're not having any real difficulty with the combat, so it's perhaps not as vital as it's sometimes made out to be on CharOp.  And it's a low-op game.

Take your superior crossbow and shoot yourself in the head. Then roll up a shoot to thrill. Or punch your DM in the face for being a dick who doesn't care about the fun of others.

Cry Havoc!  And let slip the hogs of war!


PROS FOR DARKSTRIDER
* I'm going to be spending a lot of time hidden, so an extra 8-9 damage on Twin Strike and other powers would be fabulous
* 8-9 squares of blindsight is pretty rad on paper
* Cloaked in Shadow and Death in the Dark are pretty neat powers

PROS FOR CLOAKED SNIPER
* Crossbow Savant would free up my Speed Loader feat
* No Darkstrider PP means I don't have to pick up a multiclass feat at 10th level to qualify (Dungeoneering skill)
* Unseen Shot is pretty nice, because a) I'm going to be hiding a lot, and b) I'm going to miss attacks once in a while


Anyone have anything to chime in on these?  Paragon-level combos that dovetail with these PPs (and that may help me decide) are much appreciated.

It's a tough call, but I like Darkstrider better. The primary reasons for picking CS seems to be getting extra feats, which although helpful doesn't sound very exciting. Darkstrider you actually seem to think is cool, which should count for something. I think you'd have more fun with it, and they're both good so go for the fun one. Not really a CharOp answer, but there you go.
Thanks, all!  After thinking it over, I'm going to go with Darkstrider.  While the minor daze power, feat buyback and "remain hidden on miss" rider for Cloaked Sniper are pretty good, the Darkstrider Edge, blindsight out to 8-9 squares, and the other powers feel like they'll dovetail nicely with my strategies.  Plus, thematically, it's pretty damn cool (which isn't very CharOp, but still counts for something).

He's not entirely wrong that we're not having any real difficulty with the combat, so it's perhaps not as vital as it's sometimes made out to be on CharOp.  And it's a low-op game.



Maybe it's just my DM knowing the game backwards-and-forwards, or rolling like a fiend, but it feels like we nearly die practically EVERY fight.  :p

Take your superior crossbow and shoot yourself in the head.



You forgot to say whether I should use Hunter's Quarry or Sneak Attack.

Maybe it's just my DM knowing the game backwards-and-forwards, or rolling like a fiend, but it feels like we nearly die practically EVERY fight.  :p


Since he's the one who did suggest this build to you (and furthermore calls it "the most reliable striker build", which is bullshit²³ ), he most likely knows very little about the game.
As it sounds, he imposes all those restrictions on you, because he's afraid, that if you were allowed to play by the actual rules and with all resources his DMing wouldn't suffice to bully you anymore.
Those restrictions and his attitude combined with unexperienced players who don't know how to optimize, can very well cause some TPKs.
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