Ziana's Archer

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Ziana's Archer

Designed to be fairly robust on the battlefield, offering decent group utility and high damage output, as well as being useful in non-combat situations with her skillset and high perception. Tactics relies on high mobility and making use of Prime Shot on selected targets. She makes an ideal scout for the party, and is a capable ranged striker.

Elf Ranger - Archer
Battlefield Archer
Dark Wanderer (Some may prefer Demigod)

Stats:
L1: 10 13 20 10 15 8
L30: 12 16 28 12 22 10

I have been convinced that it's worthwhile putting points in Con at the cost of one Wisdom modifier, in order to attain Armor Specialization: Hide at 11.

An alternate stat array foregoing AS:Hide would be 10 11 20 10 16 8.

Skills:
Nature, Perception, Athletics, Endurance, Stealth
(I like Acrobatics, but Endurance is useful for a couple survival-oriented feats.)

Basics at Level 1: (wearing Hide Armor)
HP: 30 Surges: 7 AC: 18 F/R/W: 12/16/12 Insight: 12 Perception: 19 BAB: +7 Init: 5
Elven Accuracy, Group Awareness, Wild Step, Hunter's Quarry, Prime Shot
Defensive Mobility

Feats
Organized by type in order of preference with comments

Damage
Weapon Proficiency: Greatbow - Longer range, more damage. Top notch.
Weapon Expertise: Bow (Assumed to be +1 from PHB2)
Weapon Focus: Bow - Reliable damage bonus per hit.
Martial Mastery - Reuse an encounter power when you spend an action point
Called Shot [Dragon 368]- +5 damage with Prime Shot
Prime Quarry - +2 to hit your Quarry with Prime Shot
Improved Prime Shot - +2 attack with Prime Shot. Replace Prime Quarry
Hawkeye Warrior - +1 to hit target of your Elven Accuracy for the encounter: great on solos.
Hunter's Advantage - +2 damage with Hunter's Quarry when you have CA.
Wintertouched/Lasting Frost: powerful combo when combined with a Frost Bow. +5 damage to most foes and +2 to hit thanks to CA. High opportunity cost however (2 feats + dedicated enchant).
Wild Elf Luck [FRPG] - better than Elven Precision
Lethal Hunter - Effectively +1 damage per round per tier.

Survival
Toughness - bonus HP, helps stay alive at low levels.
Armor Spec: Hide - +2 AC over leather
Combat Anticipation - +1 defenses against all but melee attacks
Skill Training: Endurance - for related feats (optional: drop one of the other recommended skills at character creation for Endurance)
Martial Freedom - +5 against slow/immobilization
Martial Resolve - Roll at start & end of turn against daze/stun/weak/immobilization/slow. Replace Martial Freedom (optionally, keep both)
Uncanny Dodge - No +2 to hit you when enemy has Combat Advantage.
Defensive Advantage - +2AC when you have CA. Great if you're using Prime Shot from point blank range.

Kiting/Utility
Quick Draw - Invaluable for designating your Quarry plus getting your bow out in the same turn. +2 Initiative bonus.
Fleetfooted - +1 speed is constantly useful
Running Shot, Fast Runner - Lets you run every turn, without penalty to attack. Increase your mobility by 4 squares/move.
Secret Stride - full movement while stealthed.

Defensive feats can be dropped in favor of offensive ones, depending on how much danger you are facing; however my opinion is it's better to survive and do slightly less damage. Dead rangers do no damage.

Running shot, Uncanny Dodge, and Fast Runner form a complementary set, which enable the archer to run each turn without penalty (no combat advantage to-hit bonus to enemies, no to-hit penalty to self), and at +2 movement for a total of +4 base speed. This is for utility purposes: having superior mobility during combat and being able to keep all enemies at range. The relative value of this tactic should be considered carefully in actual play. If it's unnecessary in order to remain at range or acquire targets quickly, then one or all of these feats can be dropped in favor of others. Uncanny Dodge may retain its value regardless.

Feat Progression (This is me actually committing to some, rather than just saying "Hey, these are nice!")

1 Toughness
2 WeapProfGreatbow
4 Martial Freedom
6 W. Expertise: Bows
8 Weapon Focus: Bow
10 Lethal Hunter
11 Armor Spec: Hide
12 Lasting Frost
12 Wintertouched - replace Toughness
14 Fleet-Footed
16 Prime Quarry
18 Called Shot
20 Uncanny Dodge
21 Martial Resolve - replace Martial Freedom
21 Martial Mastery
22 Imp Prime Shot - replace Prime Quarry
22 Combat Anticipation
24 Predatory Action
26 Hawkeye Warrior
28 Hunter's Advantage
30 Bleeding Precision

Recommended Powers:

At Will
Twin Strike: 2 attacks
Nimble Strike: shift 1

Encounter
1 Fox's Cunning - reaction attack
3 Disruptive Strike - Interrupt, save a party member
7 Biting Volley - 2 attacks, Extra crit, or Hawk's Talon - +WisMod to hit.
*11 P: Combined Fire
13 Pinning Strike - Utility
*17 Arrow of Vengeance - Reaction attack
*23 Manticore's Volley - Good damage; alternately Dazing Volley for utility.
*27 Hail of Arrows - Very useful when facing a group

Daily
1 Hunter's Bear Trap
*5 Spitting Cobra Stance - This is fantastic, and worth keeping to high levels.
9 Attacks on the Run (Ranger's Recovery also nice)
15 Confounding Arrows - Nice utility
19 Two-in-One Shot
*20 P: Quarry's Bane
*25 Ranger's Resurgence - Decent damage, and reuse an encounter.
*29 Five Missile Dance

Utility
2 Yield Ground
6 Serpentine Dodge or Weave through the Fray
10 Shed the Mark - drop mark effects at will
12 P: Archer's Glory
16 Evade the Blow - avoid dying!
22 Master of the Hunt
26 Never at a Loss

* - keep at 30
No replies means I've either done something embarrassingly wrong, or there's nothing to nitpick.
No replies means I've either done something embarrassingly wrong, or there's nothing to nitpick.

Or it might just have gotten cycled off the front page so fast no one saw it.

Honestly, it looks reasonably decent. But I've barely looked at Rangers. (Can recite the rules for Wizards backwards and forwards however!)

I think your feat ordering is a little strange - shouldn't you take those epic feats at the start of epic as they're (theoretically) stronger than your 7+th pick paragon feats?

I'm also mildly confused by Blind Fight. It helps melee characters, but it only works with adjacent foes, meaning it isn't that useful for a ranged character.

I would also consider Trickster as an epic destiny - it probably has more to offer than Demigod.
I think your feat ordering is a little strange - shouldn't you take those epic feats at the start of epic as they're (theoretically) stronger than your 7+th pick paragon feats?

I actually ordered all applicable feats by desirability in a spreadsheet. Those remaining paragons are, to my mind, more use than the epic level ones.

I'd probably swap Alertness and Light Step out to gain paragon feats quicker, then acquire them again later.

I'm also mildly confused by Blind Fight. It helps melee characters, but it only works with adjacent foes, meaning it isn't that useful for a ranged character.

At the bottom of the list, the feats start offering much less benefit. There's a few things that fell off the bottom that I could consider: Devastating Critical, Agile Athlete, Far Shot, Seize the Moment, Point Blank Shot, Sly Hunter and Elven Precision. I find that all of them are of limited application or very situational.

Being dependent on movement, I figure one of my big weaknesses, is stealthed/invisible enemies sneaking up on me. That's a stealth attack and potential slowing/stun type effect. Having blind-fight means I can make a proper attack before shifting & running.

It's not one I'm terribly attached to, and might consider alternatives.

I would also consider Trickster as an epic destiny - it probably has more to offer than Demigod.

Yes, I'm undecided, and leaning a bit towards Trickster now. I do like the stat bonuses from DG though.
Personally I'd take Demigod for an Archer/Ranger, mostly because of the Divine Miracle, never running out of encounter powers might be big help in a big battle, also the "Increase two ability scores of your choice by 2 each" helps ;)
Actually, I missed Fast Runner on the feat list, probably because I saw "charge" there. Screw Blind Fight, Ziana can now run 12 squares per turn. It appears to be an "untyped bonus", so it stacks with Fleet Footed.

Seriously thinking about Toughness now too. Dead rangers do no damage.
Suggestions from others have lead me to reconsider just how bad Elven Precision is. It may be more attractive than some of the other feats I have listed.
I'm curious if you could give a rundown (again) for Lethal Hunter.

Also, I don't see Defensive Mobility on your feats list, and choosing the Archery path gives you it for free.
Yes, I only listed feats I'm selecting, Def. Mobil. is a given.

Lethal Hunter isn't terrible, but it's so small that it may be overshadowed by other utility or defensive feats.

1d6 to 1d8 is an average increase of 1/round. That increases to 2 and 3 per round with tiers.

3 damage per round to your Quarry at epic levels, when you've got powers like Lightning Shot (2W+Dex/3W+Dex, bloodied), Dex around +7/8, and a Flaming Longbow +4-6 with +4/5/6d6 damage on a crit, I think you can see what a minor fraction of total damage Lethal Hunter will be.

Weapon Focus at least offers +damage (1-3) per HIT, and rangers are capable of multiple hits per round.
One difficulty I am having with my Elven Archer is knowing which skills I should be trained in. Currently my list matches yours with Nature, Acrobatics, Athletics, Perception, and Stealth. But skills are so damn nice in 4e (DAMN YOU WOTC! ) that it is hard to know if I have selected correctly. We have a cleric, so I didn't bother with Heal, but what about Endurance or Dungeoneering? What are your views on those two?

As for your particular run down here, it is looking good for as far as I have gotten with my guy (which is level 2). It is sad that Weapon Focus is just heads and tails better than Lethal Hunter. I would love to select Ranger and Elf specific feats, but frankly all of the Ranger-specific feats suck.

With my stats, I went with the 16/14/14 build, but am now regretting it and wish I went 16/16/12 (with the third stat going to con). I am probably going to ask my DM if I can swap this around. Having a high Wis is really nice. I don't like buying the 18 Dex though, because it will leave your Con hurting big time. Even though you may rely on mobility to stay out of melee, enemies still have a tendancy to hit the Archers.

All in all I am loving my Archer and am glad that Rangers are finally playable.
Dup Post
I'd say WF is preferable to Tougness at first level. While a +5 HP is nice, with 14 for CON, and a 17 AC, the +1/Dam seems preferable. I'd probably wait on Toughness until Paragon Path, personally.

I'd also suggest Improved Initiative instead of Quick Draw. A +4 to Iniative as oppose to a +2 is nicer, and freeing up the Minor Action when drawing your weapon, 'specially as a ranged attacker, seems less valuable to me. (+8 to Iniative as oppose to +6 make me giddie). That said, being able to draw your Weapon, Quarry a target, Shoot, and Move is, in the words of Borat, "Very Nice"
While I presented an optimized list of stats, and the feats and powers I present are based on damage output, combat utility, and survivability, Ziana is a character concept in addition to a functional template. I'm a role-player as well as a gamer.

So given that Ziana is a woodsy explorer type, picking Nature over Dungeoneering is a given for me, and taking Athletics, Acrobatics, and Endurance are part of that. So are feats like Light Step and Alertness.

If you anticipate spending a lot of time in dungeons, dungeoneering might be better. Heal and Endurance are nice, but possibly skippable. And any skill you don't take at the start you can get as a feat later. Stuff at the bottom of my list above are largely optional. I believe the value of Stealth is very high, assuming you're able to make use of cover to gain combat advantage every round. +2 attack is quite significant.

Ya, I didn't think it was worth it to go 18 dex at the start, thus my Rounded stats above. The difference is 5% to hit and 1 damage/hit. Archers really only need to focus on Dex and Wis, but I needed 15 Con for Hide Specialization, and 13 Str for Student of Battle.

And yes, Archers are very viable in 4e
If you don't take Quick Draw, then Improved Initiative is better than Danger Sense. I take QD for the combination of +2 init and getting those minor actions for marking a quarry at the start of combat. You make a good point about the relative value of it.

I'd say WF is preferable to Tougness at first level. While a +5 HP is nice, with 14 for CON, and a 17 AC, the +1/Dam seems preferable.

First level is where very small bonuses have the greatest relative value.

With 14 Con that's 26HP. +5 is a 19% increase.
Average damage with longbow is 5.5/hit. +1 from WF:B is an 18% increase.

There is a saying: The cheetah is running for his lunch, but the gazelle is running for her life. I'd rather have a greater chance of living past level 1, at the cost of some damage, than do more damage but die during the encounter. Dead rangers do zero damage.
Not about changing your stats, Ziana what do you think about a starting Stat array of 11/13 18/8 18/10.

You'd have to wait until Epic to take AS: Hide, but its maximizing your WIS your shift Exploits, like Nimble Strike.
Dead rangers do zero damage.

Tru Dat.
I am just wondering why you didn't take Disruptive Strike for a Ranger Power 3?

I personally really like how I can make an attack when it isn't my turn to give a penalty of -6 to an attack that would hit myself or a friend. Was it just because the other powers allow two attacks?

I'm not judging, I'm just looking at level 3 right now on my character atm and I am torn between three of the 4 powers, so I am trying to make a decision. Thanks!

PS. Also why Hit the Dirt at 22 instead of Master of the Hunt for Wisdom Modifier to damage rolls?
Disruptive Strike IS a good choice for E3, and would definitely make you appreciated by any wizard, warlock, or cleric you help protect. However, since I'm so keen on kiting, I liked Cut & Run better for the additional mobility, plus it does more damage (two attacks). Likewise, Thundertusk Boar Strike is a double attack, and offers enemy repositioning (3+Wis Mod).

It's not an easy call. TBS and C&R have much higher chance to hit at least once (compare the Careful Attack vs Twin Strike debate), and also do more damage on average. Disruptive is very situational, has a lower chance to hit, but reduces the enemy's chance to hit potentially saving a party member from taking a blow.

So you can take Disruptive, and most likely save it until the end of each encounter, worrying that you *might* need to try to save a party member's life. If such a situation does arise, in that case it could be very useful. Or, you could take something higher damage that you know you can use early on in each encounter, to help eliminate enemies quickly.

In this case I lean towards taking the higher damage ability; but you aren't mistaken at all to consider Disruptive worthy of taking: should it be needed, it could be a lifesaver.

With Hit the Dirt vs Master of the Hunt, I went the other way: safety vs damage. HtD is a personal life-safer, if you're facing a powerful aoe attack. I'm going to add MotH to the list as an alternate, you're right, it's a strong choice, especially since it lasts for the encounter. (I think when I made this list, I wasn't sure how stance powers worked). That'll be +4 or +5 damage per hit for many hunters.
Considering Excruciating Shot vs Splintering Shot:
ES: Dam: 3W+Dex, Effect: weakened (50% damage), save ends. Miss: half damage.
SS: Dam: 3W+Dex, Effect: -2 attack to end of encounter. Miss: -1 attack TEOE.

They're the same damage, so the only difference is the effect.

Say McVillain hits 60% of the time for 20 damage. His base average DPR is 12.

ES drops his DPR to 6 in the first round. At the end of his turn, he has a 55% chance of removing the effect (roll 10 or higher to save), or a 45% chance of continuing. If I'm calculating my probabilities right (and feel free to correct me!), each round I can multiply by 45% again to calculate the chance of the effect lasting that many rounds: eg the chance of 5 rounds is (.45)^5, or less than 2%.

So I'll multiply the lowered DPR by the chance of continuing, plus the chance of resuming by the full DPR. So in 2nd round, it would be 9DPR (45% chance of being 6, 55% chance of being 12). Round 3, 11DPR. (20% chance of being 6, 80% chance of being 12). By round 4, it rounds close enough to 12 to be back to normal.

With Splintering Shot, there's a 10% reduction in chance to hit, so 50% * 20 = 10 average DPR. That continues until the end.

After 4 rounds, the base average damage done would be 48. With ES, it's 39, and with SS, it's 40. Thereafter, SS provides the advantage. At 10 rounds, base damage done by McVillain would be 120, with ES 111, and SS 100.

To my mind, ES and SS are to be used against major foes: they're dailies after all, and you want to put them on something hard-hitting. So to me, it makes sense to want a more modest damage decrease that lasts the encounter, rather than a more significant one, that's really only effective for about 3 rounds.

Splintering Shot seems to provide a clear advantage to me.
Thank you for the enlightening response!

I play very aggressively normally, I like to blow my powers as often and as soon as I can in order to drastically change the tide of battle asap. I would most likely use Disruptive Strike immediately in combat on the first attack vs. any class member other then the Defenders.

I will take it for now, potentially having a chance to prevent damage early on I think and at a later level retrain it for Thundertusk Boar Strike I believe.

I am so happy that such a number cruncher is playing an archery ranger and is posting on the forums. This is making my life so much easier lol.
Just wanted to say I found this thread very useful. Thanks!
I've found it useful, also. I've linked it in other threads.

GH
I've made some slight adjustments.

I'm genuinely torn between the two sets of stats, but leaning towards the optimized set. It means giving up Student of Battle and a point in athletics, but the extra damage should pay off. Both sets can get Armor Spec: Hide at 11 now.
I have to be adding wrong...what if your HPs at level 30, Ziana?
I've made some slight adjustments.

I'm genuinely torn between the two sets of stats, but leaning towards the optimized set. It means giving up Student of Battle and a point in athletics, but the extra damage should pay off. Both sets can get Armor Spec: Hide at 11 now.

I'm having the same dilemma. I am really torn between balancing out my archer's stats and having that 20 in Dex. I've crunched the numbers, spent way too much time thinking about it, and I still can't decide.

Option 1:
Str 13, Con 14, Dex 18, Int 8, Wis 16, Cha 10
Final stats*- Str 15, Con 16, Dex 28, Int 10, Wis 26, Cha 12

Option 2:
Str 10, Con 13, Dex 20, Int 8, Wis 15, Cha 10
Final stats*- Str 12, Con 16, Dex 30, Int 10, Wis 24, Cha 12

*Final Stats include Demigod bonuses to Dex and Wis

Option 1 advantages:
  • +3 Str (+1 melee attacks, melee damage, athletics checks; +30 lb. of carrying capacity)
  • +1 Con at early levels (+1 fort defense, starting hp, healing surge, endurance checks, able to take hide armor specialization at 11th without any investment in Con) [This will be shored up before Paragon tier.]
  • +2 Wisdom for most of career (+1 to Will Defense, Nature, Dungeoneering, Perception, Heal, Insight, and numerous ranger powers)


Option 2 advantages:
  • +2 Dex for entire career (+1 to ranged hit, ranged damage, initiative, AC, reflex save, acrobatics checks, stealth checks, thievery checks)


I started out convinced that option 1 was best. But I continue to be increasingly tempted by option 2.
If it's an archer, you really don't need the 14 str. I was pushing towards 13 for both Student of Battle and the bonus to athletics, but neither are seeming that important anymore. Con can largely be replaced with toughness. Your option 2 is the same as my new optimized set above, and I agree, it's extremely tempting. Rangers are strikers, our damage output is our primary value, and an extra 5% to hit and +1 damage throughout will pay off nicely. Defensive oriented feats can balance that so we're not "glass cannons", and if we're really hurting in a skill we can take a focus feat.
All true. I find myself a little stretched for feats with everything I want to do with this character, but Toughness and the defensive feats (especially Combat Anticipation) are well worth the investment.

By the way, I didn't complement you on this build in my previous post. It's great and has been very helpful as I put together my own elven ultimate archer. I especially like your idea with the kiting feats (running shot, fast runner, uncanny dodge). I didn't notice that synergy until I read this thread; great idea!
Thanks! :D I spent wayyyy too long comparing all the feats and trying to prioritize them; still not entirely decided. :P
Thanks! :D I spent wayyyy too long comparing all the feats and trying to prioritize them; still not entirely decided. :P

I know the feeling. I've got a TWF Ranger, and I want about 10 feats in the Heroic levels.

I'm also trying to decide on Bastard Sword vs. Scimitar. I play at a store, and we'll probably be starting Living Forgotten Realms in the fall. I'll probably take you more rounded Elven Ranger Archer and use something very similar to it for a pregenerated PC, for people that show up and don't have a PC.

GH
I have to be adding wrong...what if your HPs at level 30, Ziana?

12 (Ranger) + 13 (Con) + 5 (Toughness)
Why is Skill: Endurance 3rd from the top? Is there something to that skill i'm missing?
It's a skill I don't want to be without as part of my character build; partly just for the possibility of being in hostile environments, partly dealing with diseases, and partly just for RP. Skip it if you like.
I have to be adding wrong...what if your HPs at level 30, Ziana?

12 (Ranger) + 13 (Con) + 5 (Toughness)

I think you mean 12 (ranger) + 16 (Con) +15 (Toughness) + 145 (Levels) = 188
Ya, the level 30 summary is out of date. I wasn't taking toughness originally.

Edit: updated, apparently I didn't have the AC value right either (I blame CharacterForge!). I've traded Evade the Bow for Longstrider, which being a stance allows for +2 speed for an entire encounter. This will stack nicely with the other kiting oriented abilities, leading to a max speed of 16 per move action.
Ziana,

Although I LOVE your Archer build, I do have a question on the math of your ultimate build stats.

STR 10, is 2 points.
CON 13, is 5 points.
DEX 18, is 16 points.
INT 10, is 2 points.
WIS 13, is 3 points.
CHA 8, is 0 points.

This, after +2 to DEX and WIS gives the stats that you have to:

STR 10
CON 13
DEX 20
INT 10
WIS 15
CHA 8

However, instead of costing the normal 22 points to buy your stats, you have appeared to have spent 28 points. Unless I am missing something, how did you come up with those starting stats?
I may be a dumbass, and am often called one, so thanks for your time!

Zwicky69
Ziana,

Although I LOVE your Archer build, I do have a question on the math of your ultimate build stats.

STR 10, is 2 points.
CON 13, is 5 points.
DEX 18, is 16 points.
INT 10, is 2 points.
WIS 13, is 3 points.
CHA 8, is 0 points.

This, after +2 to DEX and WIS gives the stats that you have to:

STR 10
CON 13
DEX 20
INT 10
WIS 15
CHA 8

However, instead of costing the normal 22 points to buy your stats, you have appeared to have spent 28 points. Unless I am missing something, how did you come up with those starting stats?
I may be a dumbass, and am often called one, so thanks for your time!

Zwicky69

The starting array in the PHB (option 2) is listed as 10 10 10 10 10 8 so you don't have to pay to get a 10 hence the missing 6 points.
Ziana,

Although I LOVE your Archer build, I do have a question on the math of your ultimate build stats.

STR 10, is 2 points. 0 points
CON 13, is 5 points. 3 points
DEX 18, is 16 points. 16 points
INT 10, is 2 points. 0 points
WIS 13, is 3 points. 3 points
CHA 8, is 0 points. 0 points

Made the corrections next to you points, so you can more easily see that it adds up to 22.
Personally I'm baffled as to why an elf wouldn't take elven precision. You put it way way on the bottom of your list and said it was situational. I completely 100% disagree.

You should be using your Elven Accuracy Encounter power every single encounter. Therefore in not adding +2 to the second roll with Elven Precision you miss out on a 10% bonus to hit with a power. Stat wise this is 4 dex points your missing on a daily "must" hit power. This is not situational. This is every situation. Period. Plusses to hit are very hard to come by.

For example.
My level 1 Elf Wizard has played 7 encounters. I've used Elven Accuracy in 6 encounters. (stupid me for not using it in the first encounter lol) Out of the 6 times I've used it I hit 4 times. And out of the 4 times I hit, I hit twice by 1 or two points. One of those times was on a Roll to hit for Sleep on an enemy leader who promply became unconcious ending the encounter.

I haven't done the math on this feat and what is the true percentage of bonus overall is for the character... but from what I have read its compareable to the human Action Surge feat which is also a must have if your human.

This is a must have feat.
Made the corrections next to you points, so you can more easily see that it adds up to 22.

Sorry, my bad on the 5 point cost for the 13 CON, it should have been 3. And as i said, Im a dumbass... Plus, my DM friend said to start ALL stats at 8, even though the PHB clearly states that 5 stats start at 10, and one starts at 8....doh! Thanks a bunch for the clearup Harris...
This is my first post and my first look at the 4th edition rules, so I apologize in advance for anything stupid I may ask .

I am trying to determine where you arrive at 30 hit points at first level for your Ranger-Archer. On page 30 of the Player's Handbook, it states that "Your hit points are determined by class and level...Add your Constitution score to your hit points."

Looking at your character, I get the following values:
Ranger = 12 Hit Points
Constitution = 13 Hit Points
Level = 1 Hit Point
Adding these number together gives 12 + 13 + 1 = 26 TOTAL hit points at first level. Are there some additional modifiers that I am missing?

Thanks for the help,
Don
I'm going from memory here. Hit Points are determined initially by:

12 (Class) +13 (CON) + 5 (Toughness) = 30
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