Catharsis, or The Ranger Handbook

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Table of Contents: Wherein I Say What I Am Going To Say

  • [b]The Basics and Links: All That Buggering Introduction Stuff
  • Races: Otto's Choice
  • Archery or TWF? Just Like 3.5E
  • Powers: All Praise Jonathan Coulton
  • Skills and Feats (Emphasis on the Latter)
  • Equipment: Huge Piles of Cash
  • Build Options: An Expansion on Archery vs. TWF
  • Combat Tactics: Alone and Alongside
[/b]
The Basics and Links: All That Buggering Introduction Stuff

With the release of 4E, we've seen eight new classes and four defined roles for them to fill. There's the Defender, designed to pin down enemies and take their hits; this is also known as the Tank (MMO) or Big Stupid Fighter (TML20) role. There's the Controller, intended to screw around with the battlefield and the enemies' positions within it; you may have heard of this as God (TML20) or the Crowd Controller (MMO). There's the Leader, who gets to improve things for his allies as an inversion of the Controller; this is arguably a variant on God (TML20) or the Buffer (MMO).

And then there's the role shared by the Ranger, the Rogue, and the Warlock: the Striker. They're the ones capable of bringing the offense to a single monster, whether directly or indirectly, and have also been called Glass Cannons (TML20 and MMO). All three are capable, far more so than the other classes in 4E, of dealing large piles of damage at a consistent rate. The Ranger's particular shtick, unlike that of the Rogue and Warlock, is less mobility than Lots of Attacks and Lots of Damage. Seriously, many of the Ranger Powers grant multiple attacks at a time, something no one else gets. It still does have mobility to help it keep up with its foes, however. A number of its powers suffice as well to hold enemies in place. But if you're playing a Ranger, your goal is first and foremost to deal Lots of Damage.

So as a Ranger, what ability scores should you focus on? Depends on whether you're playing a predominantly melee or ranged character. If you go with melee, you'll want to focus most on Strength; most if not all of the melee Powers you'll get depend directly on it. You'll still want some Dexterity, both for weapon-specific feats (more on that later) and for Reflex and initiative. If you go with ranged, you'll instead want to focus on Dexterity; as with melee, most if not all of your ranged powers use that ability score. Depending on your setup, you may wish to employ Strength as a secondary ability or instead dump it in favor of Constitution. Either way, Wisdom is a secondary ability score you'll want to care about. Not only do half of your available Trained Skills depend on it, but it's also a secondary variable in several of your Powers (melee or ranged) and it shores up your otherwise lower Will defense.

Key:
I'll be grabbing Dictum Mortuum's style here for grading options; the effects are rather obvious and pleasing to the eye.
Red: A poor choice, and likely a trap. Stay from it.
Purple: Still a poor choice, but less bad than Red. It might still be useful in some circumstances, but such will likely be situational.
Black: In the middle, mediocre, neither particularly good nor particularly bad. Your choice, really, though it's useful for providing flavor.
Blue: A good choice, and one you'll want to make if you can fit it in. Which may or may not be easy, depending on the circumstances.
Sky Blue: Awesome. Take it like your life depends on it; your character's life certainly will.

Links:
Weapon Mastery and You (Titanium Dragon): An analysis of the weapon groups based on exclusive feats and powers.
How Badly Have I Screwed Up My Ranger? (Moody Loner): Not a guide, but a good first discussion on the subject.
-More to come, likely-
Races: Otto's Choice

Player's Handbook Races
To complement the eight classes in the Player's Handbook, WotC made up eight races. Six are old stalwarts; only the gnome and half-orc didn't make it. 'Course, the gnome still shows up in the Monster Manual, and the half-orc had vicious delusions about being a regular orc and thus was assimilated. (Half-elves have at least had the excuse of being popularized by Tolkien.) But neither was known for exploits or statistics related to Rangers, so that's no big loss. Rounding out the pack are Dragonborn and Tieflings. The former are some amalgam of draconic characters from all sorts of sources, though I can't understand for the life of me why the females of a reptilian have to have breasts. In any case, they're good for tanking. The latter were instead yanked directly out of Planescape and fitted with some new "Bael Turath" origin; it's still better than Planescape.

Dragonborn: Yes, I know I called them tanks above. That doesn't mean that they don't make decent melee rangers. With +2 Strength and +2 Constitution, you'll be capable of dealing damage and taking it too. The other benefits aren't as good, however. The skill bonus applies to stuff you're NOT looking for, and Dragonborn Fury and Draconic Heritage are more suited to dedicated tanks. (You're a secondary tank AT BEST.) Dragon Breath doesn't help, either, considering that it's an AoE. AoE is not your job, and other classes - especially Wizards and Clerics - can do it MUCH better than you can. Stick to evisceration.

Dwarf: Again with the stuff more suited for tanking! They're not Red, but most of the features of Dwarves are incidental to your role. They get +2 Constitution and +2 Wisdom, which doesn't help directly but does increase your hit points and boost the secondary effects of your Ranger powers. (It's not worth as much as +1 attack/damage, though.) The skill bonuses are neat, being associated with actual class skills. But the rest? Pshaw. Cast-Iron Stomach is highly situational - how often will you be poisoned, hmm? Dwarven Weapon Proficiency is worthless (you're ALREADY proficient with both weapons). Encumbered Speed shouldn't matter, considering that you're not the bugger in Plate. (The speed reduction doesn't help either.) And Stand Your Ground shouldn't matter for you considering that TANKING IS NOT YOUR JOB.

Eladrin: Oh, look, more useful benefits! Getting +2 Dexterity is good for any Ranger, regardless of focus. +2 Intelligence doesn't matter, but you take what you can get. The skill bonuses look poor...until you consider that Eladrin also get an extra trained skill. And trust me, you'll want all the skills you can get. Eladrin Weapon Proficiency is of course useless for the same reason as Dwarven Weapon Proficiency. Eladrin Will helps to shore up your otherwise poor Will defense. Fey Origin and Trance are situational, but Eladrin get SO MANY features (incidental or not) that you won't really care. And Fey Step? Hey, you're supposed to be mobile; teleportation is thus rather nifty.

Elf: One of the top two races for Rangers. They've got both +2 Dexterity AND +2 Wisdom; getting a boost to two associated ability scores is a feature unique to Elves. (In the PHB, at least.) There's also the speed boost, unlike the speed reduction of dwarves, that aids in mobility. And the skill bonuses (both in Ranger skills), Wild Step, Elven Accuracy, Group Awareness...what's not to like about Elves?

Half-Elf: You'd think that if Elves were Sky Blue, and so were Humans (see below), then Half-Elves would at least be Blue, right? WRONG. None of the features of Half-Elves relate to Rangers at all. +2 Constitution and +2 Charisma is useless for you, Dilettante is a waste of space (you'll want to focus on your own at-wills for the attacks, not someone else's), Dual Heritage is simply not worth it when you've got other good feats to choose from as well...really, Half-Elves are better suited to tanking than to being Rangers.

Halfling: Halflings have a similar relation to the Ranger as Dragonborn did. Except that more of their abilities synergize with the class. +2 Dexterity is always nifty; +2 Charisma is sort of like the +2 Intelligence for Eladrin. They're small, so they can't wield longbows or bastard swords, but shortbows and scimitars (Scimitar Flurry!) are arguably good enough for them. Both Nimble Reaction and Second Chance are great for mobile characters like Rangers; while not directly related to it, they're good at keeping you from being hit and subsequently pinned down. The skill bonuses (one associated, one not) and Bold aren't as nifty, but Halflings still may be better Rangers than Dragonborn.

Human: ...And this is the other fantastic PHB race. No, you don't get two associated ability scores, but you do get to CHOOSE your one associated one. Plus, you get another skill (score!), another feat (score!), a bonus to your non-AC defenses (score!) and an extra at-will power (for versatility). Not much more to say, really; Humans are at least a Blue choice for every class in the game.

Tiefling: Once again, we have an example of some bastard offspring of humanity that retains none of its versatility or applicability to the Ranger class. As with Half-Elves, none of their features relate to the class, being better suited to the trifecta of W-classes.


Note: I'm a bit iffy on declaring Dragonborn Black but Halflings Blue; if someone convinces me one way or the other I might change that opinion.

Monster Manual Races
The Player's Handbook has eight races, so given past precedent we might expect, say, six races in the Monster Manual?

Well, no, instead we got SIXTEEN - double that in the Player's Handbook. And that's rather nifty.

Bugbear: Bugbears get both +2 Strength and +2 Dexterity, which is VERY GOOD on its own for a Ranger. And then with Oversized (more damage per attack!) and Predatory Eye (*coughSneakAttackcough*)...Bugbears are rather mean Rangers.

Doppelganger: It's more of the "nothing that benefits Rangers" deal here.

Drow: Drow have +2 Dexterity and +2 Charisma, which is neat. (Again, the latter is incidental.) Lolthtouched is also fun for stomping some nearby enemy (Cloud of Darkness is arguably better), but Drow suffer from simply not having enough racial features to run with. (Maybe the 4E FRCS will change things.)

Githyanki: I'm not rating them Red due to Danger Sense, Githyanki Willpower, and Telekinetic Leap. All three still aren't worth a bonus to Strength or Dexterity, however.

Githzerai: Unlike their brethren, Githzerai make rather good Rangers. They're pushing Sky Blue, but they simply don't have enough features that link directly to the Ranger to solidly hit it. The skill bonuses are fun, along with Danger Sense and Iron Mind, but they're not quite good enough IMO. Perhaps some other text will expand on them; then they'd be Sky Blue.

Gnoll: Gnolls are better Rangers than you might think. Not only do they have +2 Dexterity (+2 Constitution is always nice as a secondary score), but they have a speed boost as well. No one else in the Monster Manual does. The other features are more suited for tanking, but those two alone are fun.

Gnome: Gnomes are not Red only due to Reactive Stealth and Fade Away. Even then, those powers are better suited to Rogues than to Rangers.

Goblin: Despite having +2 Dexterity, Goblins are iffy for Rangers. Goblin Tactics is the best feature they get otherwise, and it's still quirky in that it triggers on a miss rather than an attack. (If you're a ranged Ranger - which you'll likely be with +2 Dexterity - being attacked in melee means that you have bigger problems.)

Hobgoblin: Yeah, nothing that relates to the Ranger class here. Moving along.

Kobold: They're the Small equivalent of Gnolls. Really, just take a look at that +2 Dexterity and Shifty. Dancing around in melee is so much fun with one of Pun-Pun's kin.

Minotaur: This is another iffy judgement. Minotaurs get the same ability bonuses as Dragonborn (+2 Strength, +2 Constitution), but also have associated skill bonuses (better than Dragonborn) and Oversized (better than Dragonborn). So they might be as good as Halflings.

Orc: Exactly the same situation as Dragonborn. They get the same ability bonuses and nothing else related to Rangers. Solid Black.

Shadar-Kai: They've got the same ability bonuses as Eladrin, and share similar sorts of boosts. In fact, Shadow Jaunt is better than Fey Step, considering that you're insubstantial (half damage) for a turn.

Longtooth Shifter: With +2 Strength and +2 Wisdom, what's not to like? They've also got associated skill boosts and Longtooth Shifting. While the latter requires you to be bloodied for activation, being a Ranger is all about DAMAGE; a small boost (along with scaling regeneration) is nice (but not fantastic) for a melee Ranger. They don't have enough benefits to be Sky Blue, but the 4E ECS will likely change that.

Razorclaw Shifter: Like their cousins, the Razorclaw Shifters have a couple good features but arguably aren't QUITE good enough to be Sky Blue.

Warforged: Wait, why are they Blue but similar folks (Dragonborn, Minotaurs, Orcs) aren't? Because there's more going for them, that's why. The Monster Manual is not the only word on Warforged; WotC actually realized a web enhancement of sorts here. Which means that Warforged can wield various component items. Like, oh, Warsoul weapons. (If in doubt with a Warforged character, always go with Warsoul weapons; each grants a stacking +2 bonus to initiative.) Embedded components are also fun if you find yourself needing to swap between a lot of weapons; you may want to start out with two Warsoul weapons (+4 initiative) before dropping them and Quick Drawing your embedded stuff. Some of the feats are fun too. While most rely on boosting Warforged Resolve, all such feats give some small benefits to it. Warforged Tactics is also fun, as it's a bonus to attack rolls (and such are very rare).
Archery or TWF? Just Like 3.5E

-Reserved-
Powers: All Praise Jonathan Coulton

-Reserved-
Skills and Feats (Emphasis on the Latter)

-Reserved-
Equipment: Huge Piles of Cash

-Reserved-
Build Options: An Expansion on Archery vs. TWF

-Reserved-
Combat Tactics: Alone and Alongside

-Reserved-
More people should list Keirsey or Myers-Briggs types in their profiles instead of those stupid "The test says I'm a LF Elven Paladin" things.

They, you know, actually say something about who you are.

ENFP Champion, Idealist here :D I've found I usually get along great with you rationals. It's the Guardians I absolutely cannot stand. We're just oil and water. We're philosophical, flexible, and creative...they're...boring and simple minded :p

In fact, I should put that in MY signature.
As long as this is deviating off topic in this manner... I'm also an INTJ, at least most of the time. The I is close to the I/E boundary though.

Looking forward to another handbook, especially as I *haven't even read the ranger class yet*, and having an idea about what the good powers are going in will make my life easier. =)
They, you know, actually say something about who you are.

This is very nearly exactly why I don't. Just sayin'.

As far as the topic goes - I am so not a CharOp expert. I am, on the other hand, perfectly willing to throw stat blocks and feat progressions out for y'all to debate and improve.

And as Ranger is the one class that I've actually played and beat on a character concept (see How Badly Have I Screwed Up My Ranger?) I actually have some starting points for y'all here.

As far as races - definitely elf or human on the top tier, with Dwarf being a strong contender for a melee ranger.(call them tier 1.5, as they give a bonus in one stat needed and Con, which you can work with.) Halfling and Dragonborn would work for the second tier, and Tiefling and Half-Elf on the bottom. Not saying you can't make them work, but with no stat bonuses in applicable stats besides Con, you'll have to work at it. In my non-expert opinion, of course...feel free to coreect my misapprehensions.

Feats will obviously depend on the build and paragon path - Stormwarden, Battlefield Archer, or multiclassing into fighter and taking Pitfighter. There is also the interminable light/heavy armor debate - I would suggest heavy armor for the Pitfighter build and light armor for the archer and Stormwarden builds - Stormwarden since you're pumping Dex anyway for Blade Storm/Twin Blade Storm, and archer to encourage you to stay the hell out of melee.

I can start throwing some stat blocks out too, but this is getting long and I need coffee.
Looking forward to this, I have already done a lot of poking and prodding with Ranger builds and it will be great to see all of them critically compared to each other.

Right now I am very partial to TWF Stormwarden builds for a few reasons:

1. Great offensive power with great consistancy
The build deals 2*Dex mod damage with no attack roll. It deals Dex mod damage on each miss. It has a powerful Encounter stance. It can do damage at both melee and range. This build is not just about doing damage, but doing it all the time.

2. Good versatility.
Seeing as you are pumping both Str and Dex, you have the ability scores to still use your Bow. Getting chewed up in melee? Drop back and start making pin cushions.

The biggest problem I see for this build is cash, actually.
Looking forward to another handbook, especially as I *haven't even read the ranger class yet*, and having an idea about what the good powers are going in will make my life easier. =)

Yeah, I figured that it needed to be done, and that I should look at the Ranger class myself instead of ogling at the Wizard. I'm arguably learning as much as you folks here.

@ Moody Loner: I'd take a bit of issue with the Dwarf at Tier 1.5. The problem is that Wisdom is a secondary ability for all Rangers; none of the class's attacks rely directly on it, though it's used for a couple of secondary effects. I'd instead argue that Dwarves are at the same level as the Halfing and Dragonborn; while the latter get singular boosts to the Ranger's primary ability scores, the Dwarf gets boosts to Wisdom (the Ranger's secondary) and Constitution (everybody's tertiary). It's a tradeoff, really. I'll also be mentioning the MM1 races, though in a separate section. (There are a couple of good races in it.)

Oh, and interesting thread; I'll post a link to it in the first post when I can.

@ Unearth: Yeah, that's one concept I was thinking of. I hadn't looked at Stormwarden itself much, but I had seen Scimitar Dance and wondered if there was anything else that functioned similarly.

One thing I was thinking of, actually, was to see whether the use of thrown weapons was a viable strategy in order to use both melee and ranged powers. The section on magic items specifies that all magic thrown weapons automatically return to you after being thrown (page 232). Problem is, however, that either your feat options for specializing in said weapons are tough to get (Axes and Hammers require significant Constitution) or the weapons themselves don't have high damage dice (both available Light Blades deal 1d4 each).
I think the weapons are too lackluster without even looking into the feats. If you consider that you should only be behind 1 magic level behind in bonuses, then you would likely be better off with an at level bow and either using scimitar (which does damage whether you hit or not) or bastard sword (+1 hit to offset the lower magic bonus).
I'm thinking of making an elf ranger archer with no Str-based melee capacity. Dex >= Wis > Con >> rest.

The part I'm having a deuce of a time figuring out is which PP to go for. Here's what I've short listed so far - do you have a recommendation?
Battlefield Archer
Stormwarden
Daggermaster
Divine Oracle

I'm vastly more interested in the at-will and encounter powers than dailies. I hate resource management intensive characters, and would prefer something I can rely on every fight.
Off Topic: I'm INTJ as well, Rational Mastermind.

On topic: What most people here seems to be chattering about when I hear Ranger is Blade Cascade. I'm trying to build an Old Master type ranged Ranger, mostly Dex and Wis, so I'm much more interested in the ranged abilities.

I'm going to go give them another readthrough and see if there are many gems.
I'm thinking of making an elf ranger archer with no Str-based melee capacity. Dex >= Wis > Con >> rest.

The part I'm having a deuce of a time figuring out is which PP to go for. Here's what I've short listed so far - do you have a recommendation?
Battlefield Archer
Stormwarden
Daggermaster
Divine Oracle

I'm vastly more interested in the at-will and encounter powers than dailies. I hate resource management intensive characters, and would prefer something I can rely on every fight.

Is there a reason Daggermaster or Divine Oracle is there? I don't really see how they benefit your main focus at all.

Battlefield Archer is...alright. To be honest, I'm overly thrilled by the PP. Archer's Action is ok, Battle Surge is meh, and Battlefield Experience is decent. It is nice being able to tag multiple quarrys so you don't have to run up to the guy if he is in the back. The +1 attack is very nice though. The powers are good though, the best you'll find for an archer anyway.

Stormwarden seems poor for someone who doesn't focus on strength. At first you might think 'Hey, I can pick up scimitar dance and deal a bunch of dex mod damage even without pumping strength!' Sure, but you won't get your Hunter's Quarry damage, and the Scimitar Dance really isn't that good when your hit chance is in the floor. Sure, you'll do damage, but it's only good when you are also dealing good damage when you are hitting too.

One unlikely PP I'd look into is...Pit Fighter.
...
No, really. Yes, you can't use the two attack powers at all. But the abilities you get are really, really, good.

Armor Optimization: This one is pretty good, +1 AC, who can argue?

Extra Damage Action: Now this one is a pretty awesome ability. Not only do you add half your level in damage, you add it to every attack made with a standard action this turn. Imagine a round where you use a triple attack with your extra action and then a double attack. That's 5 attacks each doing a lot of damage. At level 15 (first level you can do this), this is a possible 35 damage bonus if all of your attacks hit. It actually makes a good case for being Human and getting Action Surge.

Dirty Fighting: Add Wis mod to damage to every attack, when we have a plethora of 2/3 attack powers? Yes, please! There are few ways for archers to increase their damage so significantly. It is worth considering.
INTJ also I've been tested 4 times over 20 years and come out an INTJ every time, so I figure that's pretty solid.
Might as well post what I'm doing with my ranger. It's human, so 18s and 16s were a little too rich for my blood.

Right now:
Stats: Str 14, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 10
Initiative +5
Class abilites: as ranger. I choose the TWF path.
Sneak attack +2d6
Hp 32 bloodied 16 healing surge value 8, healing surges per day 8
Trained Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, Nature, perception, Stealth, and Thievery.
Feats: Quick-Draw and Sneak of Shadows
Weapons:
Scimitar + 4 d8+2
Short sword +5 d6+2
Dagger +3 d4+2
Long bow +5 d10+3
Crossbow + 5 d8+3

Armour = Leather
Ac: 15, Fort 14, Reflex 15, Will 13,

My Plan:
Feats: Skill training Bluff, Skill focus Bluff, Skill focus Stealth, Improved initiative, (Pp) Size the moment, Secret Stride, Sly hunter, Steady Shooter, ???, Haven't really planned much beyond 20th.
Paragon Path: path finder.

State boost plan: (4)Cha/Str, (8)Cha /Str, (14)Str/Dex, (18)Str/Dex,
Might as well post what I'm doing with my ranger. It's human, so 18s and 16s were a little too rich for my blood.

Right now:
Stats: Str 14, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 10
Initiative +5
Class abilites: as ranger. I choose the TWF path.
Sneak attack +2d6
Hp 32 bloodied 16 healing surge value 8, healing surges per day 8
Trained Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, Nature, perception, Stealth, and Thievery.
Feats: Quick-Draw and Sneak of Shadows
Weapons:
Scimitar + 4 d8+2
Short sword +5 d6+2
Dagger +3 d4+2
Long bow +5 d10+3
Crossbow + 5 d8+3

Armour = Leather
Ac: 15, Fort 14, Reflex 15, Will 13,

My Plan:
Feats: Skill training Bluff, Skill focus Bluff, Skill focus Stealth, Improved initiative, (Pp) Size the moment, Secret Stride, Sly hunter, Steady Shooter, ???, Haven't really planned much beyond 20th.
Paragon Path: path finder.

State boost plan: (4)Cha/Str, (8)Cha /Str, (14)Str/Dex, (18)Str/Dex,

This is absolutely disgusting. Your character is not only not optimized, it's darn near unplayable in how bad it is.

Why take an offhand weapon as a TWF ranger? Why boost Cha at all? Why The stat array that leaves all of your attacking options weak with no real benefit? Why the crossbow/steady shooter? Why Bluff? Why leather and not hide? etc.

Why gimp your character so horribly?
This is absolutely disgusting. Your character is not only not optimized, it's darn near unplayable in how bad it is.

Thats a pretty strong statement, especially considering that unplayable is almost impossible in 4e, and you don't actually back anything you say up with any evidence.
Why take an offhand weapon as a TWF ranger?

??? Your not serious are you? Practically all melee ranger powers require an off hand weapon. A short sword allows me to deal sneak attack damage. Why the TWF route? Two reasons, 1) It gives me 5 extra HP per trier which is better then a situational +2 AC boost. 2) I need it to qualify for my Paragon path...You have gotten your books right?
Why boost Cha at all?

Why to boost my bluff, of course.
Why The stat array that leaves all of your attacking options weak with no real benefit?

Str melee attacks. This is lower becuase when I am in melee I try to be flanking, or have combat advantage, which allows +2 to hit. That makes up for a 4 point of str. Dex at 16, I couldn't afford a 16 or 18 with the 22 point buy. I suppose I could have gone with a 16 in dex modified to an 18, but +2 to attack and damage for 5 hp and 2 healing surges didn't really seem worth it, especially since I could make up the dex later, and get an enhanced weapon. Also I plan on getting combat advantage a lot which will make for the +2 to hit. Con at 15, lets see HP and healing surges...If I have to explain their importance you have no business offering any kind of optimization advice. int dump state, no real use. Wisdom, good for secondary effects and half my skills, why not? Charisma, why for bluff of course.
Why the crossbow/steady shooter?

For sneak attack at range!? You do know that sneak of the shadows is the rogue MC feat right? You also know that sneak attack requires certain weapons, don't you? As for steady shooter, backstabber would be a better choice.
Why Bluff?

I see you haven't actually read this skill, I'll enlighten you. Bluff allows me two things each once per encounter: 1) I can fain in combat which gives me combat advantage. (please tell me i don't have to explain combat advantage.) 2) It allows me to distract an opponent, which then allows me to hide in plain sight, making me practically invisible!
Why leather and not hide? etc.

Well lets look at this. Leather offers me +2 AC costs 25gp, has no check penalty, and weighs 15lb. Hide offers me a +3 AC bonus costs 30gp, has a check penalty of -1 and weighs 25lb. So for 5 more gp, a -1 to three skills, and 10 more pounds of weight I get a hole +1 to AC...I'm not seeing how this is the uber goodness, especially when I currently have more HP then our paladin.
Why gimp your character so horribly?

Well what would you suggest?
For starters, how about this for stats:

Str 16+2
Con 12
Dex 16
Int 08
Wis 12
Cha 10

The fact that you put your level up ability boosts into a -10- is strictly sub-optimal. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I'd recommend reading some of the handbooks for other classes to get a general idea of how to optimize and hopefully you can extrapolate from both that and this guide, once it is finished.
Bluff allows me two things each once per encounter: 1) I can fain in combat which gives me combat advantage. (please tell me i don't have to explain combat advantage.) 2) It allows me to distract an opponent, which then allows me to hide in plain sight, making me practically invisible!

Seems like a huge investment (and sacrifice of alternatives) for Encounters which are opposed (one of which is opposed by all that can see you).
Thats a pretty strong statement, especially considering that unplayable is almost impossible in 4e, and you don't actually back anything you say up with any evidence.

Oh, but it's accurate considering you won't be hitting well and won't be doing much damage when you do. As a striker, that's kind of terrible.

??? Your not serious are you? Practically all melee ranger powers require an off hand weapon. A short sword allows me to deal sneak attack damage.

I mean of course why take a weapon that has the "Off-Hand" property, being thus, an off-hand weapon. A short sword allows you to deal sneak attack damage once per encounter. You might pick up a second scimitar so that after that you are capable of dealing better damage.

Why the TWF route? Two reasons, 1) It gives me 5 extra HP per trier which is better then a situational +2 AC boost. 2) I need it to qualify for my Paragon path...You have gotten your books right?

You do realize I never asked why you went TWF right?

Why to boost my bluff, of course.

Which you shouldn't be taking anyway. It wastes a feat to get training in it, provides almost no boost because you have better ways of gaining combat advantage and concealment that don't require you to give up your standard action (especially as a ranger), and forces you to grab some Charisma wasting points to be of any value. Terrible skill here.

Str melee attacks. This is lower becuase when I am in melee I try to be flanking, or have combat advantage, which allows +2 to hit. That makes up for a 4 point of str.

No it doesn't. With a 14 in Strength you won't be hitting as often or as hard.
1) Strength mod gets added to damage each attack on most of your powers, that's more damage your giving up than in other builds.
2) Combat advantage alone does not make it up. As a striker to be doing your job you need a high main attack stat+combat advantage to be doing decent enough damage. Anything below a 16 in your main attack stat is absolutely terrible.

Dex at 16, I couldn't afford a 16 or 18 with the 22 point buy. I suppose I could have gone with a 16 in dex modified to an 18, but +2 to attack and damage for 5 hp and 2 healing surges didn't really seem worth it, especially since I could make up the dex later, and get an enhanced weapon.

Again you seem to think hitting is as easy as in 3.5. Newsflash, it's not. A 16 is good for a secondary attack stat though. This can be left alone.

Also I plan on getting combat advantage a lot which will make for the +2 to hit.

No it doesn't. Combat advantage as a striker should be strived for every or nearly every round along with having a high attack stat, not instead of. To hit is a huge factor in 4ed.

Con at 15, lets see HP and healing surges...If I have to explain their importance you have no business offering any kind of optimization advice.

This is a waste. A huge waste. You have no need for Constitution to be up at 15, especially when your Strength is only at 14. You can drop it down to 12, get 4 points back, and lose very little. Your Fort is actually better because you'll be boosting Strength, your HP will be down by 3 total... wow, that was a huge loss. And your number of surges and surge value is fine for your role. The fighter should be taking the hits, 12 con is plenty for you.

int dump state, no real use.

Agreed.

Wisdom, good for secondary effects and half my skills, why not?

This is alright, but again, that Strength absolutely needs to be higher. It can probably be dropped to 12, but you can keep it at 14 if you really really want to.

Charisma, why for bluff of course.

Which as noted above is a huge waste of resources and time for very little reward for this character.

For sneak attack at range!?

Alright, so you use up your one sneak attack per encounter from range, and now that short sword was doing what again? Taking Steady Shooter for +3 damage on one attack each encounter is absolutely terrible. Another wasted feat. You shouldn't need to sneak attack at range, because you only get one per encounter, and hopefully you'll be in melee with combat advantage with the guy you want to do massive damage to. This is a waste.

You do know that sneak of the shadows is the rogue MC feat right? You also know that sneak attack requires certain weapons, don't you? As for steady shooter, backstabber would be a better choice.

Yes, I know what sneak of shadows is. Have you read it? You do realize you get one sneak attack per encounter, right? Answer me something, is it worth wasting a feat to gain +1, +2, or +3 damage total per encounter (what steady shooter and backstabber would do)? The correct answer is, no.

I see you haven't actually read this skill, I'll enlighten you. Bluff allows me two things each once per encounter: 1) I can fain in combat which gives me combat advantage. (please tell me i don't have to explain combat advantage.) 2) It allows me to distract an opponent, which then allows me to hide in plain sight, making me practically invisible!

I see you in your excitement only skimmed the power, and didn't read it carefully. Both actions can only be done once which you correctly caught. What you missed is that each takes a standard action. There are better ways to gain combat advantage or concealment without having to waste your standard action. This is a terrible skill that you're wasting way too much effort on.

Well lets look at this. Leather offers me +2 AC costs 25gp, has no check penalty, and weighs 15lb. Hide offers me a +3 AC bonus costs 30gp, has a check penalty of -1 and weighs 25lb. So for 5 more gp, a -1 to three skills, and 10 more pounds of weight I get a hole +1 to AC...I'm not seeing how this is the uber goodness, especially when I currently have more HP then our paladin.

10 pounds of weight is negligible for a Str-based ranger (again, it needs to be higher) as with a 16 you can carry 160 pounds, and for an 18 you can carry 180. The +1 AC makes a large difference in your survivability, especially as a melee striker, and the armor check penalty means far, far less.

Also, that's partly an issue with your con being too high to be worthwhile and your paladin not being tanky enough.

Well what would you suggest?
I would suggest that you take a starting array of either

Str 18
Con 12
Dex 16
Int 8
Wis 12
Cha 10

or

Str 16
Con 13
Dex 16
Int 8
Wis 14
Cha 10

with a preference to the first one.

Drop the crossbow and use your longbow exclusively for ranged attacks. Pick up another scimitar for use with Quickdraw after your one sneak attack. Take hide armor. You can keep the dagger, but it's mostly meaningless. Drop skill focus bluff and skill training bluff. Drop either Quickdraw or Improved Initiative (they don't stack). Take skill focus thievery in late paragon, not early heroic. Without Skill training bluff, skill focus bluff, steady shooter, and either II or QD you have 4 more feats open. Take Blade Opportunist, Action Surge, Two weapon fighting, and two weapon defense.

Work from there.
Is there a reason Daggermaster or Divine Oracle is there? I don't really see how they benefit your main focus at all.

Thanks for the reply, Unearth! I simply forgot to take Daggermaster off the list. At one point I was thinking of trying a hybrid ranger/melee, then scrapped it for archery. Pit Fighter is awesome. Flat out. Thanks for pointing it out!

So my revised short list is now Battlefield Archer, Divine Oracle, Pit Fighter.

Battlefield Archer pros: 2 good abilities, two good encounter powers (which I prefer to dailies), can get good Dex, Wis, and Con right off the bat, which will help get Hide Specialization for +1 AC early, wide open multiclass choices, can focus totally on bow/ranger/elf feats and focus is good.
Battlefield Archer cons: Battle Surge doesn't make me jump up and down, and I'd have to take the blechy archery path.

Divine Oracle pros: two good abilities, one decent encounter power, multiclassing cleric leverages high Wis very well, gives me access to attacks against a different defense, more options at every level if I sink feats into multiclass, access to healing, can take TWF track for Toughness.
Divine Oracle cons: two meh dailies, one meh ability, lots of cleric Wis vs Will powers want Cha that I don't have here, feats spent on multiclassing means less available for archery.

Pit Fighter pros: three awesometastic abilities, can focus on bow/ranger/elf feats, can take TWF track for Toughness, and might even be able to use melee powers with the +1 to hit from fighter multi feat.
Pit Fighter cons: Str required takes away from Con, which lowers Fort and delays or prevents access to Hide Specialization, multiclass feat is useless and precludes a useful multiclass, two useless powers and the other is a daily, best ability doesn't come until 16th which is getting late (I like my awesome now!).

This requires more thought. (And input! )
-blarg
Damn! Strategy Rose, that was a savage beating!
You know, it seems like TWF rangers have a bit of a problem with drawing actions...

You need a minor action to draw both weapons, and a minor action to mark a target. So at the start of combat you can either spend your entire turn marking and drawing, or make a charge attack and not mark the target, sacrificing 3.5 damage.

Without the second weapon you'd still be able to charge after marking.

Quickdraw is perhaps a good idea?
Quick Draw would only allow a Ranger to draw both weapons in a single attack if his/her/its attack was a Twin Strike.

I can't find speeds for drawing weapons, though. Can I get a page number?

-- Griffinhart
Or any other power that utilized two weapons. Then again, if he was only attacking with one weapon, he wouldn't need the second weapon anyways.

As to where rules on drawing weapons are, I have no idea. I'm pretty sure it's a minor action though.
Yes, drawing/sheathing is listed as a minor action on p.289.

Kudos to Rose for an excellent example on how to deliver a civilized pummeling.
I said yesterday that I'd provide some stat blocks and feat progressions, and didn't get to it.

For stat blocks, let's take a look over at Haldrik's Point-Buy Ability Array Optimization thread.

Allow me to quote:

16, 16, 12, 12, 10, 8 - Total modifiers +7
Excellent choice!
The "16 16" array is optimal for a class or build that requires two primary abilities. The optimal total of modifiers is also excellent at +7. (If desired, the extra 12 can neutralize the 8 penalty, while maintaining the mod total and defenses optimization.)

This would be my stat block option of choice for a melee or missile specialist. Sure, you can crank Strength or Dex, but unless you're going Pit Fighter and heavy armor you're going to want a decent Dex. Strength isn't as important for missile rangers, and a high Strength might even tempt them into that awful, awful melee...but having a good Wisdom would come in very handy for a missile ranger - especially for those "slide x + Wisdom modifier" mobility exploits to get you out of melee.

But if you want to be able to do both, as I am trying to do...may I advocate:

16, 14, 14, 13, 10, 8 - Total modifiers +7
Excellent choice!
The "16 14 14" array is the best choice for a "MAD" (multiple-ability dependency) class or build, that must invest in three or four abilities. The array supplies one primary, two secondary, and even an auxiliary ability. The total modifiers +7, also benefits a well-rounded and robust generalist character.

With the elf mod, that gives you 16s in Strength, Dex, and Wisdom - not super in any of them, but the generally accepted minimum in your attack stats and a 16 Wisdom as well. Humans can pull a 16 in Str and Dex, and a 14 in Wis. Not stellar, but capable in both roles and with mobility. Yes, I am well aware I didn't do this with my ranger - might have been more optimal had I done so.

As far as feats - how's this progression for a multi-role ranger? (from my post in Multi-Role Ranger Build)

0. Toughness
1. Quick Draw
2. WF Bows
4. WF Heavy Blades
6. TWF
8. TWD
10. Elven Precision
11. Heavy Blade Opp - Retrain something for Scimitar Dance
12. Scimitar Dance if I can't bear to retrain, otherwise Combat Anticipation
14. Alertness
16. Running Shot
18. Uncanny Dodge
20. Danger Sense
21. Armor Specialization: Hide
22. Evasion
24. Defensive Advantage
26. Don't know.
28. Heavy Blade Mastery
30. Two-Weapon Flurry

See what you can do with that.
For your second given array, you can also do 16, 16, 14, 11, 10, 10 if you're insane like me and can't bear having an ability penalty. Also, if you're a melee Ranger, putting that 13 (or 11, if you go my way) into Con opens up Scale armor (at Epic, if you go my way).

As for your feats, what about non-Elves? Human would probably take Human Preserverance in place of Elven Precision. Dunno 'bout any others.

Also, Epic Resurgence for 26? Unfettered Stride (for non-Elves)?

-- Griffinhart
Yes, my feat progression was for an elf - swapping out for race-specific feats would be assumed.

This is also assuming a scimitar-weilder that uses missle weapons as well, but uses two-weapon melee as the starting build.
I would like to apologize to On_the_wings_of_TPK. I still believe that the content of my posts were accurate, but my tone was highly aggressive an unnecessary. We should work toward optimization, and that tone won't do anything other than make people angry.

I maintain that my build advice is sound, but apologize for the method in which I presented it.

Hope your character does well.
0. Toughness
1. Quick Draw
2. WF Bows
4. WF Heavy Blades
6. TWF
8. TWD
10. Elven Precision
11. Heavy Blade Opp - Retrain something for Scimitar Dance
12. Scimitar Dance if I can't bear to retrain, otherwise Combat Anticipation
14. Alertness
16. Running Shot
18. Uncanny Dodge
20. Danger Sense
21. Armor Specialization: Hide
22. Evasion
24. Defensive Advantage
26. Don't know.
28. Heavy Blade Mastery
30. Two-Weapon Flurry

I Really like this but since I dont have a PhB in front of me ...I have a question ... is WF Bows a pre req for any feat down the line
It is not a pre req for any additional feats.
It's a shame Charisma is completely pointless for Rangers - I'd like to play a Dragonborn TWF Ranger (twin battleaxes, whee!) and it feels like the second racial ability boost is going to waste. Ah well!

Most of the axe powers are based on Con or Str, right?
@Wraith235: I don't think WF Anything is a prereq for anything. I could be wrong though. I haven't memorized the weapon feats yet, 'cuz they're so different this time around.

@WombleHunter: Yes.

@Moody Loner: I'm not so sure if the Weapon Focus feats are really worth it. They only confer +1 damage, and even though in 4E damage dealt/taken is a lot lower, it's still only +1 damage...

ETA: Also, TWFlurry is basically useless for a TWF Ranger. Heavy Blade Opportunity is far superior.

Unless you want to abuse a potential infinite loop to generate attacks when an enemy provokes an Opportunity Attack...

-- Griffinhart
WF is good with Rangers Exploits.

WF = +1 to 3dam/attack. That can mean +6DPR with Twin Strike, +9DPR with three-in-one shot, or easily +100DPR or more with Hail of Arrows and a lot of minions.

Lethal Hunter is a flat +1.05DPR to your Quarry (1d6/2=3.5, 1d8/2=4.5, plus 5% crit).

(Math thanks to Ziana)
Lethal Hunter is per Quarry die, though. So at Epic, it's also granting +3.15DPR. Also, it still has the potential for dealing much more damage than WF. (+24 > +18 > +3/attack)

Though yeah, that doesn't beat flat +3DPAttack. Guess I know what I'm taking for my melee-only (or as close to as possible) Ranger...

-- Griffinhart