The Art of Shredding: The Ranger Build Handbook

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The Art of Shredding: The Ranger Build Handbook


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The relationship between hunter and hunted knows nothing of alliances. -Dogged Hunter, Odyssey


So... you guys think you're are all good at hacking and slashing, huh? Well, let me tell you, you haven't seen anything yet! When I'm done with you, enemies will tremble in fear before you, because they know whoever crosses you doesn't stick around too long. You'll be able to take enemies apart in ways you didn't think were possible, to the point that you'll be positively shredding them. That said, don't think this will be a cakewalk! Only the toughest and the best make it through, so anyone who wants out better speak up now! ...None of you are leaving? Good! Let's get started...

NOTE: This build handbook is intended to be a companion to the Ranger's Handbook. Here, I'll be evaluating choices as they apply to a given build rather than the more general approach taken by the main Handbook.

This Handbook will use the following system for ratings:


Red - Garbage, or completely overshadowed by another option.
Purple - Situationally useful, but overall pretty meh.
Black - OK. You could do worse than pick this.
Blue - Good stuff. You probably want this.
Sky Blue - You want this. Period.
Gold - Why haven't you taken this yet? A defining choice for a build, or even the whole class.

This Handbook covers the following sources:


AP - Arcane Power
AV - Adventurer's Vault
AV 2 - Adventurer's Vault 2
D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX
DMA 2009 - Dragon Magazine Annual 2009
DP - Divine Power
DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting
FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
HotFL - Heroes of the Fallen Lands
MM - Monster Manual
MM 2 - Monster Manual 2
MOTP - Manual of the Planes
MP - Martial Power
MP 2 - Martial Power 2
PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB 2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB 3 - Player's Handbook 3
PHR: DB - Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn
PHR: TF - Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings
PHH 1 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 1
PHH 2 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 2
PrP - Primal Power
PsP - Psionic Power
SAC - Seekers of the Ashen Crown Adventure Module

Glossary

AP - Action point.

BBEG - Big bad evil guy.

Burst/Nova/Spike Damage - Generally understood to mean the highest amount of damage a character can inflict in the space of a single round. Usually, calculations for this allow 1 round of setup before the actual damage.

CA - Combat advantage.

DPR - Damage per round, which is generally meant to mean the character's expected damage value using At-Will powers against a standard enemy of the same level (eloquently described by Adslahnit as the Official CharOp Inanimate Block of Tofu™).

ED - Epic destiny.

HP - Hit points.

HQ - Hunter's Quarry.

LX - Level X.

MAD - Multiple attribute dependency, which is defined as needing 3 or more ability scores for a given build.

MBA - Melee basic attack.

MC - Multiclass or multiclassing.

NAD - Non-AC defense.

OA - Opportunity attack.
 
PP - Paragon path.

RBA - Ranged basic attack.

SAD - Single attribute dependency, which is defined as a build that really only needs 1 ability score.

THP - Temporary hit points.


Props to:


Everyone posting
Coming soon...

Battlefield Archer/Sharpshooter: The Master Marksman



"Bet you can't put it through the eye."
"Left or right?"
- Femeref archers

So, hotshot, you think you can aim a bow? Well, we'll see about that! After I'm done with you, maggot, you'll shoot at the moon and expect to hit it. But that's a long way off, boy! You'd better pray you get through my training. Heck, you're probably gonna have to pray, boy!!! Now, repeat after me: hup-two!, hup-two!...

Pros: Excellent Ranged capacity, fairly good defense, good burst damage, Healing and Buffing options via Cleric MC (multiclass) or increased Stealth and damage via Rogue MC, high mobility, good DPR (damage per round)

Cons: Low/no Melee capacity, requires MC into Cleric or Rogue for maximum effectiveness, MAD (multiple attribute dependency), lower durability

Styles, in order of synergy:
1. Archery Fighting Style. The only choice if you want to be a Battlefield Archer.
2. Beast Mastery. Sure, you give up Prime Shot and all the tasty feats to enhance it. But you get someone to hold the line for you. Not as great at close-combat archery, but less likely to be in it. And it sure makes Hunter's Quarry easier to get. IMHO this is better than Archery for Sharpshooters, especially with Beast Protector.

Recommended Gear:
Weapon: A Greatbow or a Superior Crossbow is a must. Some Short Swords are nice for Melee, but hardly required.
Armor: Hide is the best choice here, since you do buff Dex regularly and it provides the best AC among the the light armors. If you're completely averse to having skill check penalties, Leather is not too far behind.
Companion: A Raptor makes applying Hunter's Quarry to the foe you want that much easier, and can stay out of combat while it's at it, too. If you feel you will be lacking in a proper front-line, a Lizard offers an accurate OA, and a Serpent offers an extra-damaging one.

Epic Destiny: Demigod. Beastlord could be good, Godhunter is nice, and so is Dark Wanderer, but Demigod still reigns supreme.

Stat Array, in order of importance:
1. Dexterity. Your bread and butter. You are an archer, so you have to have good aim (I hope). If you want, you can even learn some backdoor tactics to make your life easier.
2. Wisdom. You have to be pretty good at spotting targets to shoot them. It also helps if you feel like joining the clergy after you're done here.
3. Constitution. Running from Melee attackers is something you will do, so you might as well start now! Now, after me: hup-two! hup-two!...
4. Strength. Just enough to clear the mandatory physical.
5. Intelligence. Your job is to follow the orders, not to make them up, boy! Put that book down. Unless, it's a prayer-book, in which case, read on, Brother...
6. Charisma. Shut the hells up and aim, soldier.

Recommended Ability Scores, before racial adjustments:
1. Str 10, Con 13, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8. This is the default array, and the one I personally prefer.
2. Str 11, Con 13, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8. This array hands you a bit more Wisdom for your rider effects. Favored by Battlefield Archers.

Battlefield Archer Features and Powers

Features:

L11 - Archer's Action. Hooray for rerolls! Even if they cost AP's.
L11 - Battlefield Experience. It gives a +1 bonus to attack rolls against your quarry. And if that wasn't enough, you get to quarry up to your Wisdom modifier in targets. This is awesome.
L16 - Battle Surge. Sure, you're not s'posed to be deep enough in combat to benefit from this, but that doesn't take anything away from the fact that it's a MASSIVE conditional AC buff. Feels a bit... lacking compared to some of the other L16 PP features out there, though.

Powers:

L11, Encounter - Combined Fire. This is about as powerful as the Ranger's Lightning Shot... with the exception that it arrives 16 levels earlier. OK, no complaints here.
L12, Utility - Archer's Glory . Can you say AP's every encounter? Win. :D
L20, Daily - Quarry's Bane. Some solid AoE, that can potentially whack every creature in the encounter.


Sharpshooter Features and Powers

Features:

L11 - Rapid-Fire Action. An extra attack on an AP? Sweet.
L11 - Opportunity Fire. The meat of what this build can do, this makes you glad you took the Beast Protector feat.
L16 - Seeking Arrow. Ignoring cover and concealment is not game-breaking, but it sure isn't useless.

Powers:

L11, Encounter - Stab and Shoot. A decent melee attack, with some Ranged thrown in? OK!
L12, Utility - Perfect Aim. An OK buff on yourself, but what makes it sweet is the fact that it's an Encounter power.
L20, Daily - Escalating Barrage. Damage for everyone! Sweet.


Recommended Skills

Acrobatics - A very useful skill, and gives you access to Unfettered stride at Epic.
Dungeoneering/Nature - The skills are good, and so is your Wisdom. You're not crying too much about having to pick one.
Heal - Your Wis is good, and this skill is useful. Not a bad investment by any stretch of the imagination.
Perception - Your Wisdom is great, and this skill is too. Take it.
Religion - You get this for free from Initiate of the Faith. This skill is cool, but you likely don't have the Int to use it properly.
Stealth - Gives CA, has extensive out-of-combat use, and keys off your main stat. Godly. Take it.
Thievery - Comes to you via Sneak of Shadows. Keys off your main stat, and has extensive out-of-combat use, as does Stealth. A great choice.


Recommended Races - PHB

1. Elf - *insert hallelujah chorus sound here*. This race descended from the heavens to be Archers. They do everything right.
2. Eladrin - Real good, but the +2 Int is wasted, as are the skill bonuses... The teleportation is too good to ignore, though.
3. Human - This would be a rather distant third, as this build is not in need of heavy feat investment or additional at-wills, and it does need 2 attributes to be pretty high. However, the Human racial feats are the race's saving grace; since the Battlefield Archer is an AP factory, Action Recovery and Action Surge, which are are normally quite good, become almost ridiculous.


Recommended Races - Other

1. Githzerai/Shifter, Razorclaw - Though second fiddles to the Elf, they trump all the other races, so here they are.
2. Drow - No Wis bonus, but the flaws just about end there. Has lots of ways to get CA, and has the almighty +2 Dex. These guys prefer Crossbows over Bows.
3. Bugbear/Gnoll - With racial features better suited for Melee characters, these might sound odd, but they pack the +2 Dex, and offer some other things too.


Powers

L1, At-Will
Everybody wants Twin Strike here. Multiple attacks are what the Ranger does. Nimble Strike is also good here, as it allows you to safely disengage from Melee.

L1, Encounter
You likely want Two-Fanged Strike here. It's the most single-target damage amongst the L1 Encounter powers available to you, and that's what Rangers are all about.

L1, Daily
My choice here is Hunter's Bear Trap, which offers good damage, some ongoing damage, and slowing, which is all well and good for you; you don't want anybody getting too close.

L2, Utility
The utility of choice here is Yield Ground. You will get hit eventually, and this gives you a free repositioning opportunity, and a bonus to defenses to boot.

L3, Encounter
This level is a tough choice, but Disruptive Strike IMHO is too good to pass up; an immediate interrupt attack that makes the enemy miss and triggers when you or an ally is attacked is fantastic. The competition at this level is stiff, though.

L5, Daily
You get the mighty Spitting Cobra Stance here. With that Stance, you get the equivalent of Threatening Reach and Reach 5; that is nothing short of fantastic, and you're keeping this bad boy for as long as you live.

L6, Utility
Weave Through the Fray offers you even more skittish maneuvers. Beastmasters could pick up Defensive Posture to help their pet out.

L7, Encounter
Biting Volley has improved crits, so fire away with it; this is the only taste you're getting of it.

L9, Daily
Attacks on the Run is the hands-down favorite. The damage it carries is unmatched for the Dailies at Level 9. However, I actually recommend you swap it for the Cleric's mighty Weapon of the Gods, which can add even more power to your attacks.

L10, Utility
Hunting Party is the favorite here; it takes the sting off the misses, and it gives your allies some star time.

L13, Encounter
You drop Two-Fanged Strike in favor of Pinning Strike, because a Brute that can't reach you is a Brute that can't hit you (or the other squishy members of the party).

L15, Daily
You get a very solid power here by swapping Confounding Arrows for Hunter's Bear Trap. This bad boy packs three swings, offering more damage and stunning with a succession of hits.

L16, Utility
Beastmasters get Shared Healing, which is pretty solid. Archers get Wary Shooter, which makes getting Prime Shot that much safer. If you multiclassed Rogue, now's the time to pick up the godly Hide in Plain Sight power, which will turn you into a bad-a$$ sniping machine.

L17, Encounter
Pounding Barrage is the Archer power of choice, which is worth losing Biting Volley for because it packs A LOT OF DAMAGE and possibly immobilizes the target, which means he can't come over and engage you in Melee.

L19, Daily
Nothing here is really worth your time.

L22, Utility
You have a choice between two things here: mobility or damage. Depending on which you want, you either pick up Safe Stride or Master of the Hunt, respectively.

L23, Encounter
You get Manticore's Volley, which can also pack some huge damage. It's worth losing Pinning Strike for it.

L25, Daily
You don't really have anything to blow you away here: Ranger's Resurgence comes close, but I'm not sold.

L27, Encounter
Lightning Shot triggers outside your turn, and it packs some decent damage. It's time to say goodbye to Disruptive Strike.

L29, Daily
You finally get your riposte to the Melee guys' Blade Cascade, the awesome Five-Missile Dance, for which you sacrifice Attacks on the Run (or Confounding Arrows if you picked up Weapon of the Gods).


Heroic Tier Feats

Action Surge - The reason you play a Human. Can get crazy with the Battlefield Archer's ease at obtaining AP's.
Brutal Accuracy - Elves just got MEAN.
Darkfire Targeting - Hooray for more damage!
Drow Beast Mastery - A useful ability to have, but hardly priority 1.
Elven Precision/Wild Elf Luck - WIN. Beautiful WIN. TAKE THIS FEAT.
Human Perseverance - Save ends effects are annoying, so any chance to get rid of them by yourself is good (and rare).
Improved Initiative/Quick Draw - Speed kills... your opponents, in this case.
Initiate of the Faith/Sneak of Shadows - Essential to the build IMHO, as it affords some interesting options.
Lethal Hunter - Meh right now, wait until Paragon at least; there, it shines.
Predatory Action - More damage from your AP. Looks good to me, especially with all the AP's you should have as a Battlefield Archer.
Ruthless Hunter - Single-handedly makes Hand Crossbows an option.
Toughness - I don't think anyone has ever complained about having too much HP. You don't get this for free, so it might be something you want to pick up.
Two-Fisted Shooter - This makes Hand Crossbow criticals real nice if you dual-wield them (apart from the awesome mental picture of being a gunslinger in D&D...).
Vengeful Beast - You're not supposed to get hit, but this is cool for the times that you do.
Weapon Focus - Damage bonuses for the win!
Weapon Proficiency - Both the Superior Crossbow and the Greatbow look tasty.
Wintertouched - Only Black, you say? Bear in mind that it is utterly worthless without Lasting Frost (only 4 creatures in the whole MM have cold vulnerability), so it's an iffy choice at best at this time.


Paragon Tier Feats

Action Recovery - Solid feat. What pushes it into greatness is the Battlefield Archer's propensity to obtain AP's.
Armor Specialization - Nice to have, especially because it gets rid of Hide's check penalty.
Bleeding Precision - Add "ongoing 5 damage (save ends)" to your Dailies!
Called Shot - This Prime Shot buff really makes you glad you stuck with it.
Danger Sense - If you have a spare feat, this isn't bad. But IMHO Improved Initiative is enough.
Darkhunter - A must-have for Drow Rangers.
Defensive Advantage - Quite good, but you'll live without it.
Fleet-Footed - +1 speed is very nice for you.
Great Fortitude/Iron Will/Lightning Reflexes - Not priority 1, but take all of them if you can, starting with Lightning Reflexes to reinforce the strong defense.
Hunter's Advantage - A conditional damage boost is still a damage boost.
Lasting Frost - Constant CA with Wintertouched and a Frost weapon, therefore, it is pure GOLD for you, as it's pretty hard for you to get CA. Beware the cold resist, you have no answer for it.
Master of Fire and Darkness - You get Cloud of Darkness AND Darkfire every encounter? Sweet.
Merciless Killer - +5 to damage under feasible circumstances pushes the boundaries for broken. Take this feat.
Point-Blank Shot - Since Ranged is your bread and butter, you should look to negate any tactical advantage your opponent may want to use against you, such as cover by moving behind allies.
Prime Quarry - Makes close combat worth the risk.
Running Shot - Makes an Elf extremely hard to catch.
Secret Stride - Pretty good.
Seize the Moment - Do your best Rogue impersonation.
Steady Shooter - Allows the Crossbow user to post up and snipe away.
Sturdy Beast - You want your Melee backup to last as long as possible, so this is a wise investment.
Uncanny Dodge - More radar-y goodness. Also helps with the Elf run-and-gun shenanigans.


Epic Tier Feats

Blind-Fight - Fighting invisible enemies sucks. Take this if you think so too.
Correcting Aim - +2 to hit after missing your Quarry is very solid.
Hawkeye Warrior - +1 to hit after using Elven Accuracy for the rest of the encounter? IMHO too good to pass up.
Improved Prime Shot - Even more accuracy at point-blank range.
Martial Mastery - More power recovery is never bad.
Quick Beast Command - Losing Prime Shot was probably worth it just so you could enjoy the awesomeness of this feat.
Staggering Shot - It may not look like much at first glance, but this makes sure you do not get engaged by a particular enemy. Worth a look.
Unfettered Stride - This feat got thrown for a loop when the Boots of Teleportation showed up, therefore, it is no longer a priority, unless you want to do something else with your Feet slot.


Here are some Level 1 Characters with the above suggestions in mind:

Sample Character - PHB

Female elf Ranger 1 (Beast Mastery)

Attributes: Str 11, Con 13, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 8

HP: 25; Bloodied: 12; Surges: 7 (6 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 17/12/15/14

Speed: 7; Initiative: +4

Basic Melee: Short sword (main hand) (+3 vs. AC, 1d6 damage)
Basic Ranged: Greatbow (+6 vs. AC, 1d12+4 damage)

At-Will: nimble strike, twin strike

Encounter: elven accuracy, two-fanged strike

Daily: hunter's bear trap

Trained Skills: Acrobatics (+8 in hide), Heal (+9), Nature (+11), Perception (+11), Stealth (+8 in hide)

Feats: Weapon Proficiency (greatbow)

Gear: 2 short swords, longbow (60 arrows), hide armor, standard adventurer's kit, 3 gp

Cat Companion:

Attributes: Str 14, Con 12, Dex 16, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 6

HP: 22; Bloodied: 11; Surges: 2 (5 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 15/12/14/13

Speed: 7

Basic Melee: Claw (+5 vs. AC, 1d8+3 damage)

Trained Skills: Athletics (+7), Stealth (+8)


Sample Character - Other

Male githzerai Ranger 1 (Archery Style)

Attributes: Str 11, Con 13, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 8

HP: 25; Bloodied: 12; Surges: 7 (6 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 17/12/15/14

Speed: 6; Initiative: +6

Basic Melee: Short sword (main hand) (+3 vs. AC, 1d6 damage)
Basic Ranged: Longbow (+6 vs. AC, 1d10+5 damage)

At-Will: nimble strike, twin strike

Encounter: iron mind, two-fanged strike

Daily: hunter's bear trap

Trained Skills: Acrobatics (+10 in hide), Heal (+9), Nature (+9), Perception (+9), Stealth (+8 in hide)

Feats: Defensive Mobility (Ranger), Weapon Focus (bows)

Gear: 2 short swords, longbow (60 arrows), hide armor, standard adventurer's kit, 3 gp

Stormwarden: The Master of Cuts



For what are leaves but countless blades/To fight a countless foe on high. -Elvish hymn

Hey! You! Yeah, you, wild boy! You boys pay attention, I'm gonna show you how to turn that lack of attention span you seem to suffer from into your best friend. You guys don't really care who you're swingin' at, so I'll teach you to swing at everything you see. You'll also get those loony fairy buddies in your head to help you out, zapping folks with lightning and whatnot. Hey! Over here, ADD. Eyes on me. Now, as I was saying...

Pros: Highest DPR (damage per round) capacity, good burst damage, high mobility, automatic damage, damage on a miss, high Melee/Ranged capacity, easy to build

Cons: High MAD (multiple attribute dependency), middling defenses, lower durability, mediocre MC (multiclass) options, weak rider effects on powers

Styles, in order of synergy:
1. Two-Blade Fighting Style. You can't take this PP without this.

Recommended Gear:
Weapon: Scimitars are what offer the most DPR for you, so that's what you should be wielding. Alternatively, Bastard Swords or Triple-Headed Flails also have their perks. A Longbow for Ranged is not a bad idea; your Strength and your Dexterity should be within 2 points of each other for your entire career.
Armor: Hide is the best option, packing more AC than the rest. If skill penalties don't let you sleep at night, Leather is your thing, but beware; this build is poorly defended as it is.

Epic Destiny: Deadly Trickster looks nice, as does Demigod. Don't ignore Dark Wanderer or Godhunter, either. This build has the luxury of being able to choose its Epic Destiny, rather than the other way around.

Stat Array, in order of importance:
1. Strength. Even though you hang out with a bunch of fairies, they need not apply for your job: you need muscle, boy!
2. Dexterity. You gotta be quick to slash at a lot of people at the same time. Try to catch one of your fairy buddies and make 'em teach you, that should be good training...
3. Wisdom. You have to try and keep some wits about you, at least the little you have left.
4. Constitution. Hacking through people can be tiring, so don't wilt, you wuss.
5. Intelligence. There's a reason you can't sit still for more than 10 seconds. Hey, come back here!
6. Charisma. Your tiny attention span means you're not the most tactful person on the planet, so leave the sweet-talk to the pixies, eh?

Recommended Ability Scores, before racial adjustments:
1. Str 16, Con 12, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8. This is the default array, and the one I personally prefer.
2. Str 16, Con 13, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 8. Only races with bonuses in Wisdom (aka Elves and others with the same stat spread) can truly afford this array.

Paragon Path Features and Powers

Features:

Level 11 - Blade Storm. Untyped automatic damage you say? Yippee!.
Level 11 - Stormstep Action. Free teleport on AP spending can compensate for a large distance between you and a target, or get you where you want to be, OA-free.
Level 16 - Twin-Blade Storm. MORE automatic damage? All right!

Powers:

Level 11 Encounter - Clearing the Ground. Bleh. Strictly weaker than Sweeping Whirlwind for anyone whose Wis is out of the dumpster, and 4 levels later? Yuck.
Level 12 Utility - Throw Caution to the Wind. +2 attack, -2 defense is a good trade-off for a Striker.
Level 20 Daily - Cold Steel Hurricane. Twin-attacking AoE that lets you shift a bit and get your second wind back. Solid enough.


Recommended Skills

Acrobatics/Athletics - Both are very useful skills. Take them both.
Dungeoneering/Nature - Your Wis is OK, so this skill is not astronomical, but it's still useful.
Endurance/Heal - These skills are OK, and your Wisdom and Constitution should be pretty close. Take either, but not both.
Perception - Your Wisdom is not likely to be sky-high, but this is one of the most useful skills in the game. Pick this. Period.
Stealth - Great skill, and off your best stat. TAKE IT.


Recommended Races - PHB

1. Elf - I doubt many are surprised to see this race up here. +2 Dex, +2 Wis, a racial reroll, move 7 that ignores difficult terrain while shifting, +2 to Nature and Perception... this race was tailor-made for the Ranger class, and this build is no exception.
2. - Human - As usual, good at everything. The +2 can go to either Dex or Str, though Str is more useful in Heroic Tier. The bonus at-will is less wasted here, since this build is a capable Ranged force. The +1 to Fort, Ref, and Will helps a lot, and the feat can be used for a jump-started build. Overall, solid.
3. - Halfling - Though +2 Cha is utterly useless, not getting hit as often by OA's is good, since you tend to zip about the battlefield, and forcing an enemy to reroll an attack is REALLY good. He can still use Scimitars, so your DPR (Damage Per Round) won't suffer :D


Recommended Races - Other

1. Bugbear - 100% pure win for this build. +2 Str, +2 Dex, 1d10 scimitar, "sneak attack"... take this race, no questions asked.
2. Githzerai/Shifter, Razorclaw - with a stat spread similar to the Elf, you'd think that they would be Sky Blue. They're close, but not quite there. The Githzerai's +2 to initiative is nice, as is the Razorclaw's Shifting, but the Elf and Bugbear are just too good at this.
3. Gnoll - What?! Gnolls?! That's right, folks. +2 Dex and +2 Con is good, and the Gnoll has move 7, extra damage while bloodied, AND a nice charge bonus. The charging-in sort of style suits this path just fine, too. You're probably gonna have to re-flavor the Paragon Path to justify it RP-wise, though...


Powers

L1, At-Will
You want Twin Strike here. Multiple attacks are what the Ranger does. The second At-Will varies according to your fighting style: you might like Nimble Strike to slide out of Melee quickly if you do a lot of archery, and pure Melee guy prefer Hit and Run for some mobility in a pinch.

L1, Encounter
The power of choice is Off-Hand Strike; the melee basic as a minor action is cool, and racks up more damage when you start accumulating static bonuses to damage.

L1, Daily
You pick up Jaws of the Wolf, and here's why: it's pretty vicious damage at Level 1, probably enough to one-hit-KO a standard opponent if both attacks hit.

L2, Utility
The choice for you here is Hunter's Privilege. Your Dexterity means your initiative is really high, and getting a +3 bonus to damage for a good initiative is tasty. You might want to power-swap it for Pass Forward, though; the mobility that power brings is beautiful.

L3, Encounter
Ruffling Sting is the power of choice here; your Wisdom is not high enough to make the other powers' effects worthwhile, and Ruffling Sting offers Combat Advantage.

L5, Daily
You pick up Frenzied Skirmish for some increased mobility and debuffs here.

L6, Utility
You get Weave Through the Fray for some skittish maneuvers, though it's kind of meh with your low Wisdom. If you Multiclassed Fighter, this is the time you'd want Battle Awareness to crank your initiative to the stratosphere (and assure a trigger for Hunter's Privilege).

L7, Encounter
Claws of the Griffon packs Daily-esque damage, so it's a solid choice for you.

L9, Daily
Attacks on the Run is the hands-down favorite. The damage it carries is unmatched for the Dailies at Level 9, and it even gives you a free move action.

L10, Utility
Hunting Party is the favorite here; it takes the sting off the misses, and it gives your allies some star time. If you don't want this, Shed the Mark provides some respite from a rather common front-line condition, while still allowing you to shift.

L13, Encounter
You drop Off-Hand Strike in favor of Off-Hand Diversion, which is better for you than Armor Splinter because of your low Wisdom; it packs more damage and a roughly equivalent debuff.

L15, Daily
The one, the only, the mighty Blade Cascade is available here, so go ahead and kiss Jaws of the Wolf goodbye.

L16, Utility
Evade the Blow is the power of choice for you here; makes 'em miss, after all.

L17, Encounter
Untamed Outburst is the power of choice here for you, since it packs an attack bonus, 2[W] per hit, and a daze if both attacks connect, so you drop Claws of the Griffon for it.

L19, Daily
Cruel Cage of Steel is what you want here, letting go of Frenzied Skirmish.

L22, Utility
Another level where your low Wisdom makes you suffer; fortunately, Adamant Recovery exists to provide a "save your arse" button, Wis-rider free. If you don't want that, Hunt the Herd lets you put those Close Burst attacks you got from your Paragon Path to devastating use.

L23, Encounter
Nonchalant Collapse is your power of choice here, replacing Ruffling Sting.

L25, Daily
Two-Bladers don't really have anything to blow them away here: Ranger's Resurgence comes close, but I'm not sold.

L27, Encounter
Death Rend is about as strong as some other classes' dailies; no way you can pass it up. You can discard Untamed Outburst for this mighty power. However, look to power-swap once you hit L29; the Fighter's Trip Up power makes your damage output quite ridiculous on nova turn.

L29, Daily
Follow-Up Blow is the best thing that's ever happened to you as far as novas are concerned, so Attacks on the Run has got to go.


Heroic Tier Feats

Action Surge - The reason why you're playing a Human, apart from the bonus feat.
Brutal Accuracy - The Elves packing the oomph.
Elven Precision/Wild Elf Luck - Win. Nothing else needs to be said.
Halfling Agility - Makes you harder to hit. Useful.
Human Perseverance - Save ends effects are annoying, any chance to get rid of them by yourself is good (and rare).
Improved Initiative/Quick Draw - Speed kills... your opponents, in this case. Since your Ranged is about as good as your Melee, Quick Draw looks more attractive.
Lethal Hunter - Meh right now, wait until Paragon at least; there, it shines.
Lost in the Crowd - Situational AC buff, but the conditions are easy to meet.
Lucky Skirmisher - Protection while positioning!
Sneak of Shadows/Student of the Sword - Nice expansion upon your abilities. I lean towards Student of the Sword, as Scimitars and Longbows are not usable for Sneak Attacks and Fighter powers are a tad more useful to you.
Two-Weapon Defense - +1 AC, +1 Reflex, 1 feat. Nice.
Two-Weapon Fighting - +1 damage with main-hand is nice, but what makes it cool is that it opens up the above feat.
Weapon Focus - Damage bonus, which is very nice to have, especially when you're swinging away as much as you are. Frankly, a must-have.
Wintertouched - Only Black, you say? Bear in mind that it is utterly worthless without Lasting Frost (only 4 creatures in the whole MM have cold vulnerability), so it's an iffy choice at best at this time.


Paragon Tier Feats

Action Recovery - Pretty darn good.
Armor Specialization - Nice to have, but not essential to life as a Stormwarden.
Bleeding Precision - Add "ongoing 5 damage (save ends)" to your Dailies!
Defensive Advantage - Only take it if you have Wintertouched and Lasting Frost and you wield Frost weapons. If you do take it, it can be useful.
Great Fortitude/Iron Will/Lightning Reflexes - Not priority 1, but take all of them if you can, starting with Iron Will.
Heavy Blade Opportunity - Twin Strike on OA's? I'll take it.
Hunter's Advantage - A conditional damage boost is still a damage boost.
Lasting Frost - Constant CA with Wintertouched and a Frost weapon, and that is important to you, since your to-hit is not quite as high as, say a Pit Fighter's. Beware the cold resist, you have no answer for it.
Prime Punisher - Now Melee Rangers have Prime Shot, too!
Scimitar Dance - This feat is a major contributor to the fact that Stormwarden is the current King of DPR (Damage Per Round). Take it ASAP.
Seize The Moment - CA is always nice, take it when it's available.


Epic Tier Feats

Blind-Fight - Fighting invisible enemies sucks. Take this if you think so too.
Correcting Aim - +2 to hit after missing your Quarry is very solid.
Epic Resurgence - As a likely candidate for non-Demigod, any power recovery ability you get is gold. Think about it, at the very least.
Hawkeye Warrior - +1 to hit after using Elven Accuracy for the rest of the encounter? IMHO too good to pass up.
Improved Prime Shot - Even more accuracy at point-blank range.
Martial Mastery - More power recovery is never bad.
Peerless Hunter - 2 quarries, 1 minor action. Solid.
Prime Hunter - +1 to hit under reasonable circumstances? I'm sold.
Rending Tempest - This carries the promise of some good extra damage if you blow an AP; no reason why you shouldn't have it.
Heavy Blade Mastery - You very likely want this.
Triumphant Attack - A tasty debuff on crits. Sweet, if you can afford it.
Two-Weapon Flurry - You qualify for this so easily, you might as well take it. BTW, I read this + HBO as 3 attacks using Twin Strike on an OA (which is not shabby at all), which is nice if you get OA's, but useless if you don't.
Unfettered Stride - This feat got thrown for a loop when the Boots of Teleportation showed up, therefore, it is no longer a priority, unless you want to do something else with your Feet slot]


Here are some Level 1 Characters with the above suggestions in mind:

Sample Character - PHB

Male elf Ranger 1

Attributes: Str 16, Con 12, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8

HP: 29; Bloodied: 14; Surges: 7 (7 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 17/14/15/12

Speed: 7; Initiative: +6

Basic Melee: Scimitar (main hand) (+5 vs. AC, 1d8+3 damage [1d8+11 on a crit])
Basic Ranged: Longbow (+6 vs. AC, 1d10+4 damage)

At-Will: hit and run, twin strike

Encounter: elven accuracy, off-hand strike

Daily: jaws of the wolf

Trained Skills: Acrobatics (+8 in hide), Athletics (+7 in hide), Nature (+8), Perception (+8), Stealth (+8 in hide)

Feats: Quick Draw, Toughness (Ranger)

Gear: 2 scimitars, hide armor, longbow (60 arrows), standard adventurer's kit, 3 gp


Sample Character - Other

Male bugbear Ranger 1

Attributes: Str 18, Con 12, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8

HP: 29; Bloodied: 14; Surges: 7 (7 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 17/15/15/11

Speed: 6; Initiative: +6

Basic Melee: Scimitar (main hand) (+6 vs. AC, 1d10+4 damage [1d10+14 on a crit])
Basic Ranged: Longbow (+6 vs. AC, 1d12+4 damage)

At-Will: hit and run, twin strike

Encounter: off-hand strike, predatory eye

Daily: jaws of the wolf

Trained Skills: Acrobatics (+8 in hide), Athletics (+8 in hide), Nature (+6), Perception (+6), Stealth (+10 in hide)

Feats: Quick Draw, Toughness (Ranger)

Gear: 2 scimitars, hide armor, longbow (60 arrows), standard adventurer's kit, 3 gp

Master Infiltrator: The Silent Death



"Not even my shadow knows where I am." -Escape artist

I've heard that some of you are quite good at hiding. No, that's not a bad thing, you moron, come back here! I'm not calling you a chicken; sometimes, it's in your best interest to hide, especially if you can get a good shot in. Here, take this crossbow. Now, come with me...

Pros: SAD (single attribute dependency), great Ranged capacity, good DPR (damage per round), doesn't get hit often

Cons: Requires Rogue MC exclusively, low Melee capacity, is party-dependent (aka needs people to distract/engage opponents), tricky to build

Styles, in order of synergy:
1. Archery Fighting Style. With Prime Shot getting all the buffs it has, all you have to do is ask your allies to leave you a clear shot.
2. Beast Mastery. Behold, you have someone to hold the line for you!
3. Two-Blade Fighting Style. More HP and bigger Melee weapons are OK, but hardly necessary.

Recommended Gear:
Weapon: A Superior Crossbow is the best choice for most. Drow might want Hand Crossbows. Short Swords for Melee can't hurt.
Armor: Hide is the best choice; you should have the Constitution to take Hide Specialization and eliminate the check penalty.
Companion: A Raptor to Quarry the foe you want is the best choice here, IMHO.

Epic Destiny: You have quite a few choices here: Dark Wanderer, Deadly Trickster, Demigod, and Godhunter all look good. So far as fluff is concerned, Godhunter looks downright tasty.

Stat Array, in order of importance:
1. Dexterity. Some coordination helps you get hidden and stay there, as well as your shooting. So stop whining about all the gymnastics training and shooting practice, you wimp!
2. Wisdom. You need good eyesight to be a sniper, which is what you are.
3. Constitution. Some steady aim will get you far. So more cardio for you!!!
4. Strength. Just because you can shoot doesn't mean you're skipping the mandatory physical, you maggot!
5. Intelligence. You see it, you take aim, you shoot it. Not too much of a complicated thought process involved there.
6. Charisma. *flinch* No wonder you're always hiding...

Recommended Ability Scores, before racial adjustments:
Str 10, Con 13, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8.

Paragon Path Features and Powers

Features:

L11 - Infiltrator's Action. An extra move action on an AP almost turns the AP into another turn for you.
L11 - Skilled Infiltrator. You get... skill bonuses. Nice, but hardly life-changing.
L16 - Invisible Infiltrator. You should call this "CA-on-a-stick". Extraordinarily useful, especially for Ranged folks like you.

Powers:

L11, Encounter - Distracting Wound. OK damage, and grants CA to all your allies, which can be even better than just a +2 to hit.
L12, Utility - Impossible to Catch. Encounter Invis power at L12?!?! Sure, I'll take it.
L20, Daily - Painful Puncture. Eh. It's not bad, but not that good.


Recommended Skills

Acrobatics - Extremely useful, and gives you Unfettered Stride at Epic.
Dungeoneering/Nature - The skills are good, and so is your Wisdom. You're not crying too much about having to pick one.
Heal - Your Wis is good, and this skill is useful. Not a bad investment by any stretch of the imagination.
Perception - Your Wisdom is great, and this skill is too. Take it.
Stealth - The skill that drives your build forward. In other words, essential.
Thievery - Your freebie from Sneak of Shadows, and boy, is it ever useful.


Recommended Races - PHB

1. Elf - If it's Ranged, Elves will likely be good at it.
2. Eladrin - Real good, but the +2 Int is wasted, as are the skill bonuses... The teleportation is too good to ignore, though.
3. Human - This is not that distant a third choice, as the build isn't feat-intensive, but it is SAD. The Human racial feats are top-notch, though.


Recommended Races - Other

1. [color=DeepSkyBlue]Drow[/color] - +2 Dex is great, and this guy has every CA-granting trick in the book. And the racial feats are just icing on the cake.
2. Githzerai/Shifter, Razorclaw - Though second fiddles to the Elf, they trump most other races, so here they are.
3. Bugbear/Gnoll - These guys were made with Melee in mind, but they do well here.


Powers

L1, At-Will
Everybody wants Twin Strike here. Multiple attacks are what the Ranger does. Nimble Strike is also good here, as it allows you to safely disengage from Melee.

L1, Encounter
You likely want Two-Fanged Strike here. It's the most single-target damage amongst the L1 Encounter powers available to you, and that's what Rangers are all about.

L1, Daily
My choice here is Hunter's Bear Trap, which offers good damage, some ongoing damage, and slowing, which is all well and good for you; you don't want anybody getting too close.

L2, Utility
The utility of choice here is Yield Ground. You will get hit eventually, and this gives you a free repositioning opportunity, and a bonus to defenses to boot.

L3, Encounter
This level is a tough choice, but Disruptive Strike IMHO is too good to pass up; an immediate interrupt attack that makes the enemy miss and triggers when you or an ally is attacked is fantastic. The competition at this level is stiff, though.

L5, Daily
You get the mighty Spitting Cobra Stance here. With that Stance, you get the equivalent of Threatening Reach and Reach 5; that is nothing short of fantastic, and you're keeping this bad boy for as long as you live.

L6, Utility
Weave Through the Fray offers you even more skittish maneuvers. Beastmasters could pick up Defensive Posture to help their pet out.

L7, Encounter
Biting Volley has improved crits, so fire away with it; this is the only taste you're getting of it.

L9, Daily
Attacks on the Run is the hands-down favorite. The damage it carries is unmatched for the Dailies at Level 9.

L10, Utility
Hunting Party is the favorite here; it takes the sting off the misses, and it gives your allies some star time.

L13, Encounter
You drop Two-Fanged Strike in favor of Pinning Strike, because a Brute that can't reach you is a Brute that can't hit you (or the other squishy members of the party).

L15, Daily
You get a very solid power here by swapping Confounding Arrows for Hunter's Bear Trap. This bad boy packs three swings, offering more damage and stunning with a succession of hits.

L16, Utility
All the Ranger powers here are irrelevant; Now's the time to pick up the godly Hide in Plain Sight power, which will turn you into a bad-a$$ sniping machine.

L17, Encounter
Pounding Barrage is the Archer power of choice, which is worth losing Biting Volley for because it packs A LOT OF DAMAGE and possibly immobilizes the target, which means he can't come over and engage you in Melee.

L19, Daily
Nothing here is really worth your time.

L22, Utility
You have a choice between two things here: mobility or damage. Depending on which you want, you either pick up Safe Stride or Master of the Hunt, respectively.

L23, Encounter
You get Manticore's Volley, which can also pack some huge damage. It's worth losing Pinning Strike for it.

L25, Daily
You don't really have anything to blow you away here: Ranger's Resurgence comes close, but I'm not sold.

L27, Encounter
Lightning Shot triggers outside your turn, and it packs some decent damage. It's time to say goodbye to Disruptive Strike.

L29, Daily
You finally get your riposte to the Melee guys' Blade Cascade, the awesome Five-Missile Dance, for which you sacrifice Attacks on the Run.


Heroic Tier Feats

Action Surge - The reason you play a Human.
Acolyte Power - What makes the build tick.
Brutal Accuracy - Elves just got MEAN.
Darkfire Targeting - Hooray for more damage!
Drow Beast Mastery - A useful ability to have, but hardly priority 1.
Elven Precision/Wild Elf Luck - WIN. Beautiful WIN. TAKE THIS FEAT.
Human Perseverance - Save ends effects are annoying, so any chance to get rid of them by yourself is good (and rare).
Improved Initiative/Quick Draw - Speed kills... your opponents, in this case. I lean heavily towards Improved Initiative here.
Lethal Hunter - Meh right now, wait until Paragon at least; there, it shines.
Predatory Action - More damage from your AP. Looks good to me later on, but not right now.
Ruthless Hunter - Beautiful. Just... beautiful.
Sneak of Shadows - Essential to the build IMHO, as it lets you have some invisbility madness, as well as powers that take advantage of that CA, not to mention the Paragon Path requirement.
Skill Focus - Yep. You might actually need this. Stealth is the front-runner for this feat.
Two-Fisted Shooter - This makes Hand Crossbow criticals real nice if you dual-wield them (apart from the awesome mental picture of being a gunslinger in D&D...).
Vengeful Beast - You're not supposed to get hit, but this is cool for the times that you do.
Weapon Focus - Damage bonus, which is nice to have, especially because you sacrificed 1d10 for 1d8...
Weapon Proficiency - ...unless you picked the Superior Crossbow up, which you have no reason not to (does not apply to Drow).
Wintertouched - Only Black, you say? Bear in mind that it is utterly worthless without Lasting Frost (only 4 creatures in the whole MM have cold vulnerability), so it's an iffy choice at best at this time, made even worse by the fact that at Paragon, you should be invisible most of the time.


Paragon Tier Feats

Action Recovery - Solid feat. More reasons to play Human.
Armor Specialization - Nice to have, especially because it gets rid of Hide's check penalty.
Bleeding Precision - Add "ongoing 5 damage (save ends)" to your Dailies!
Called Shot - This Prime Shot buff really makes you glad you stuck with it.
Darkhunter - A must-have for Drow Rangers.
Great Fortitude/Iron Will/Lightning Reflexes - Not priority 1, but take all of them if you can, starting with Lightning Reflexes.
Lasting Frost - Constant CA with Wintertouched and a Frost weapon, therefore, it's OK for you, as it's pretty easy for you to get CA. Beware the cold resist, you have no answer for it.
Master of Fire and Darkness - You get Cloud of Darkness AND Darkfire every encounter? Sweet.
Merciless Killer - +5 to damage under feasible circumstances pushes the boundaries for broken. Take this feat.
Point-Blank Shot - Since Ranged is your bread and butter, you should look to negate any tactical advantage your opponent may want to use against you, such as cover by moving behind allies.
Prime Quarry - Makes close combat worth the risk.
Running Shot - Makes an Elf extremely hard to catch.
Secret Stride - Pretty good.
Seize the Moment - Do your best Rogue impersonation.
Steady Shooter - +3 damage for abusing Hide in Plain Sight and staying in one spot? OK!
Uncanny Dodge - More radar-y goodness. Also helps with the Elf run-and-gun shenanigans.


Epic Tier Feats

Blind-Fight - Fighting invisible enemies sucks. Take this if you think so too.
Correcting Aim - +2 to hit after missing your Quarry is very solid.
Epic Resurgence - As a likely candidate for non-Demigod, any power recovery ability you get is gold. Think about it, at the very least.
Hawkeye Warrior - +1 to hit after using Elven Accuracy for the rest of the encounter? IMHO too good to pass up.
Improved Prime Shot - Even more accuracy at point-blank range.
Martial Mastery - More power recovery is never bad.
Quick Beast Command - Losing Prime Shot was probably worth it just so you could enjoy the awesomeness of this feat.
Staggering Shot - It may not look like much at first glance, but this makes sure you do not get engaged by a particular enemy. Worth a look.
Unfettered Stride - This feat got thrown for a loop when the Boots of Teleportation showed up, therefore, it is no longer a priority, unless you want to do something else with your Feet slot.


Here are some Level 1 Characters with the above suggestions in mind:

Sample Character - PHB

Male elf Ranger 1

Attributes: Str 13, Con 14, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8

HP: 31; Bloodied: 15; Surges: 8 (7 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 17/13/15/13

Speed: 7; Initiative: +6

Basic Melee: Short sword (main hand) (+4 vs. AC, 1d6+1 damage)
Basic Ranged: Crossbow (+6 vs. AC, 1d8+4 damage)

At-Will: nimble strike, twin strike

Encounter: elven accuracy, two-fanged strike

Daily: split the tree

Trained Skills: Acrobatics (+8 in hide), Heal (+8), Nature (+10), Perception (+10), Stealth (+8 in hide)

Feats: Quick Draw, Toughness (Ranger)

Gear: 2 short swords, crossbow (40 arrows), hide armor, standard adventurer's kit, 8 gp


Sample Character - Other

Male githzerai Ranger 1

Attributes: Str 13, Con 14, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8

HP: 31; Bloodied: 15; Surges: 8 (7 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 17/13/15/13

Speed: 6; Initiative: +8

Basic Melee: Dagger (main hand) (+4 vs. AC, 1d4+1 damage)
Basic Ranged: Longbow (+6 vs. AC, 1d10+4 damage)

At-Will: nimble strike, twin strike

Encounter: iron mind, two-fanged strike

Daily: split the tree

Trained Skills: Acrobatics (+10 in hide), Heal (+8), Nature (+8), Perception (+8), Stealth (+8 in hide)

Feats: Defensive Mobility (Ranger), Quick Draw

Gear: 2 daggers, longbow (60 arrows), hide armor, standard adventurer's kit, 21 gp

Borderlands Marshal: Captain of the Hunt



We have been patient. We have planned our attack. We are ready . . . now. -Eladamri, Lord of Leaves

I've heard that some of you boys have been bossing your fellow students around! What am I gonna do with you... I have an idea, I'll have you go to the Warlord school's exchange program. At least your orders will actually be useful once you're done there. Now, pack your bags, you're going off to Bossy School!

Pros: Well-rounded options, wide variety of weapon choices, does not overlap with other Strikers.

Cons: Requires Warlord Multiclass (MC) exclusively, lower damage.

Styles, in order of synergy:
1. Beast Mastery. More people to boss around!
2. Two-Blade Fighting Style. A solid choice overall, especially if you don't want to give up too much damage.

Recommended Gear:
Weapon: You have some major leeway on your weapon choice; Bastard Swords, Scimitars, Waraxes, Craghammers, or Triple-headed Flails all work here, as can Double Swords, Scourges or Katars if you're not a Two-Blader. A Handaxe, Javelin, or Throwing Hammer can be useful for Ranged combat. If your Dexterity is high enough, a Longbow also looks good.
Armor: Depending on much you value Dexterity, you could find yourself in Hide, Scale or Plate armor.
Companion: As usual, a Wolf is solid, especially if your Wisdom isn't too hot. A Cat also offers good speed and damage.

Epic Destiny: Demigod, though you should consider Dark Wanderer or Godhunter.

Stat Array, in order of importance:
1. Strength. You could use the strength training, if you want to be a warrior, that is.
2. Dexterity. Quickness will help if you're not planning on weighing yourself down with heavy armor, and it's also nice if you use a sword or a flail.
3. Constitution. You'd better be tough if you wanna stick around. Also helps if you plan on wearing heavy armor and lugging axes or hammers around.
4. Wisdom. Your wits are also something you should keep sharp, since your skills depend on them.
5. Intelligence. You don't have to be a genius to point out which guy needs to get stabbed, especially if you gathered some intel on them first.
6. Charisma. It's a good thing you know what you're talking about; no one would listen to you otherwise.

Recommended Ability Scores, before racial adjustments:
1. Str 16, Con 13, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8. Scale Armor wearers favor this array; it works for Axes, Heavy Blades, or Flails.
2. Str 16, Con 16, Dex 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8. Plate Armor wearers favor this array; it's basically Axes or Hammers only here.
3. Str 16, Con 12, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8. Hide Armor wearers favor this array; Flail and Heavy Blade wielders have almost exclusive preference here.

Paragon Path Features and Powers

Features:

L11 - Reinforcing Action. +4 to the weakest defense? A touch underwhelming...
L11 - Grim Satisfaction. +1 to hit for the rest of the party? Sweet.
L16 - Open Quarry. More like "open season". Will make other Rangers in the party love you long time.

Powers:

L11, Encounter - Tag Quarry. A solid power that allows you to bypass the one-quarry limit, and it can be used at range without being a Dexterity-based attack. Nice.
L12, Utility - Pack Hunter Stance. Look at me! I have Wolf Pack Tactics!
L20, Daily - New Victim. Beautiful. A 3[W] free action cruncher that also bypasses the one-quarry limit, and can also be used at range without Dexterity. Where do I sign up?


Recommended Skills

Acrobatics - Weaker than Athletics, but it gives you Unfettered Stride at Epic. Not a bad pick, but not the best, unless you're a dedicated Dex character, in which case consider it Blue.
Athletics - Nice skill for you. Pick it.
Dungeoneering/Nature - Pretty good skills, but your usually middling Wisdom makes you just OK at them.
Endurance/Heal - OK skills, and your stat for them will be OK. Pick one, but not both.
Perception - Even though your Wisdom isn't great, this skill is. Take it.
Stealth - Gives CA, has extensive out-of-combat use, but it keys off Dexterity, making it good, rather than great. If you are a dedicated Dex character, however, this is Sky Blue goodness.


Recommended Races - PHB

1. Human - That +2 is for Strength. Though the at-will is largely useless, everything else about the race helps you out a lot. The prime pick for this build.
2. Elf - *gasp* Human is better than Elf in a ranger build?! Heresy!!! Elf is still good though, gets +2 Dex and +2 Wis, which helps a Flail or Heavy Blade wielder, and the reroll and move 7 make a strong case.
3. Dwarf - Same argument as the Elf, with different points. +2 Con favors heavy armor and Axes/Hammers, and the toughness it brings is certainly appreciated.


Recommended Races - Other

1. Bugbear - +2 Strength is the main selling point. Oversized, +2 Dex, and the encounter power are just gravy.
2. Minotaur - +2 Strength and Oversized place it on the same footing as a Bugbear. +2 Con makes you a giant mountain of plated fury. Not as good as Bugbears IMHO, but very, very close.
3. Shifter, Longtooth - +2 Strength, like the other two, but +2 Wisdom is likely not as essential as Dexterity or Constitution, as it doesn't help toward any weapon feats, even though it affects many Ranger powers.


Powers

L1, At-Will
You want Twin Strike here. Multiple attacks are what the Ranger does. The second At-Will varies according to your fighting style: you might like Nimble Strike to slide out of Melee quickly if you do a lot of archery, and pure Melee guy prefer Hit and Run for some mobility in a pinch. Beastmasters like Circling Strike because it makes flanking easier.

L1, Encounter
The power of choice is Off-Hand Strike; the melee basic as a minor action is cool, and racks up more damage when you start accumulating static bonuses to damage.

L1, Daily
You pick up Jaws of the Wolf, and here's why: it's pretty vicious damage at Level 1, probably enough to one-hit-KO a standard opponent if both attacks hit.

L2, Utility
The choice for you here is Yield Ground for repositioning and defense outside your turn, or Hunter's Privilege, if your Dexterity is high and your Wisdom is low. A +3 bonus to damage for a good initiative is tasty.

L3, Encounter
If you have the Wisdom for it, Disruptive Strike is amazing for you. if not, Ruffling Sting is the power of choice here. Beastmasters prefer Paired Predators here.

L5, Daily
You pick up Frenzied Skirmish for some increased mobility and debuffs here.

L6, Utility
You get Weave Through the Fray for some skittish maneuvers. If you Multiclassed Fighter and your Wisdom is low, this is the time you'd want Battle Awareness to crank your initiative to the stratosphere (and assure a trigger for Hunter's Privilege).

L7, Encounter
Claws of the Griffon packs Daily-esque damage, so it's a solid choice for you. If you're a Flail wielder, however, you can pick up Rain of Blows instead, which hands you four (yep, four) attacks in one standard action.

L9, Daily
Attacks on the Run is the hands-down favorite. The damage it carries is unmatched for the Dailies at Level 9, and it even gives you a free move action.

L10, Utility
Hunting Party is the favorite here; it takes the sting off the misses, and it gives your allies some star time. If you don't want this, Shed the Mark provides some respite from a rather common front-line condition, while still allowing you to shift. This is also a good level for some power-swapping; Strider Stance looks very solid.

L13, Encounter
You drop Off-Hand Strike in favor of Off-Hand Diversion or Armor Splinter, depending on how much investment you have in Wisdom.

L15, Daily
The one, the only, the mighty Blade Cascade is available here, so go ahead and kiss Jaws of the Wolf goodbye.

L16, Utility
Evade the Blow is the power of choice for you here; makes 'em miss, after all. However, this is prime-time for a power-swap; Warlord's Banner is a mighty power.

L17, Encounter
Untamed Outburst is the power of choice here for you, since it packs an attack bonus, 2[W] per hit, and a daze if both attacks connect, so you drop Claws of the Griffon for it. If you're a Flail wielder, you should replace Disruptive Strike instead.

L19, Daily
Cruel Cage of Steel is what you want here, letting go of Frenzied Skirmish.

L22, Utility
Another levels where your low Wisdom makes you suffer; fortunately, Adamant Recovery exists to provide a "save your arse" button, Wis-rider free. If your Wisdom isn't that low, Master of the Hunt and Safe Stride are also options.

L23, Encounter
Nonchalant Collapse is your power of choice here, replacing Ruffling Sting. If you wield Flails, Off-Hand Diversion has got to go.

L25, Daily
There's nothing to really blow you away here: Ranger's Resurgence comes close, but I'm not sold. Primal Rampage has a whip-thin advantage over Attacks on the Run for Beastmasters.

L27, Encounter
Death Rend is about as strong as some other classes' dailies; no way you can pass it up. You can discard Untamed Outburst for this mighty power. However, look to power-swap once you hit L29; the Fighter's Trip Up power makes your damage output quite ridiculous on nova turn.

L29, Daily
Follow-Up Blow is pretty cool, but Warlord Multiclass offers you the awesome Defy Death, which gives your allies some love AND comes with a tasty 7[W] surprise. A toss-up, if you ask me.


Heroic Tier Feats

Action Surge - The reason why you're playing a Human, apart from the bonus feat.
Acolyte/Adept Power - A touch of power-swapping will do you some good.
Armor Proficiency - Extremely important for you, since your Dexterity is not a main stat. The only question is if you want to go for Scale or Plate.
Beast Protector - Makes your Beast even more effective, because attacking it provokes an OA from you.
Brutal Accuracy - Makes Elven Accuracy even better.
Coordinated Opportunity - Meshes well with Beast Protector. If you don't want Beast Protector, you probably won't miss this.
Dirty Fighting - If you can consistently get the drop on people, this is a huge damage bonus.
Dwarven Weapon Training - Trumps Weapon Focus in Heroic Tier, as it grants a higher damage bonus. Just remember to pick up Weapon Focus at Epic tier; this damage bonus doesn't scale.
Elven Beast Mastery - Gives your beast the mobility edge you have, and expands upon Elven Accuracy.
Elven Precision/Wild Elf Luck - Rerolls are great. Buffing them is even better.
Human Beast Mastery - +1 to all defenses from a feat is real nice, even if it's only for your companion.
Human Perseverance - Save ends effects are annoying, so anything that betters your odds of getting rid of them all by yourself is good (and rare).
Improved Initiative/Quick Draw - Initiative bonuses are nice, but you may not have room for it.
Lethal Hunter - Meh right now, wait until Paragon at least; there, it shines.
Nimble Blade - A bonus to hit is rare, and this allows you to get it rather easily.
Predatory Action - More damage from your AP. Looks good to me, but not at Heroic Tier.
Student of Battle - If you don't have this, you don't have a PP.
Thundertusk Companion - Gives Dwarf Boar Beastmasters a boost.
Two-Weapon Defense - +1 AC, +1 Reflex, 1 feat. Nice.
Two-Weapon Fighting - +1 damage with main-hand is nice, but what makes it cool is that it opens up the above feat.
Vengeful Beast - Makes hitting you a bad idea. Combine with Beast Protector for an eternal lose-lose situation.
Weapon Focus - Damage bonus, which is nice to have. You're rather tied up for feats, but this is one of the must-haves.
Weapon Proficiency - You need this for your weapon of choice, unless you wield Scimitars or are a Dwarf.
Wintertouched - Only Black, you say? Bear in mind that it is utterly worthless without Lasting Frost (only 4 creatures in the whole MM have cold vulnerability), so it's an iffy choice at best at this time.


Paragon Tier Feats

Action Recovery - Pretty darn good.
Armor Specialization - This is Blue for Hide and Plate users, as +1 AC for 1 feat is not earth-shaking. Scale users build shrines to this feat.
Bleeding Precision - Add "ongoing 5 damage (save ends)" to your Daily's "Hit" line. Pretty sweet.
Called Shot - More damage for the Prime Punisher users.
Danger Sense - If you have a spare feat, this isn't bad. But IMHO Improved Initiative/Quick Draw is enough.
Deadly Axe - This feat is what makes the Waraxe every bit as good as the Bastard Sword for you. Take it as soon as you can.
Defensive Advantage - If you have the Wintertouched/Lasting Frost/Frost weapon combo, this is great. If not, skip it.
Distracting Companion - A -2 to hit debuff for flanking with my beast? Are you serious? OK, then I'll take it.
Dwarven Durability - Awesome for a Melee character. Take it if you can.
Great Fortitude/Iron Will/Lightning Reflexes - Not priority 1, but take all of them if you can, starting with Great Fortitude to reinforce your strongest defense.
Hammer Rhythm - Miss damage on Hammers is sweet.
Heavy Blade Opportunity - You probably won't be granted many OA's, but this feat will make each of them memorable.
Hunter's Advantage - Conditional and elf-only, but +2 damage is +2 damage...
Lasting Frost - Constant CA with Wintertouched and a Frost weapon, therefore, nothing to sneeze at. Beware the cold resist, you have no answer for it, which is why this is not Sky Blue.
Light Blade Precision - Double Sword users appreciate this feat to close the damage gap somewhat.
Prime Punisher - Now Melee Rangers have Prime Shot, too!
Prime Quarry - If you took Prime Punisher, this is a free +1 to hit.
Protective Beast - +1 AC is nothing to sneeze at.
Scimitar Dance - Makes Scimitars an option single-handedly.
Sturdy Beast - More HP and surges for your beast is usually worth a feat.


Epic Tier Feats

Axe/Bludgeon/Flail/Heavy Blade Mastery - Ah, sweet capstone. 10% crit chance is lethal, and beautiful.
Blind-Fight - Fighting invisible enemies sucks. Take this if you think so too.
Correcting Aim - +2 to hit after missing your Quarry is very solid.
Hawkeye Warrior - +1 to hit after using Elven Accuracy for the rest of the encounter? IMHO too good to pass up.
Improved Prime Shot - Even more accuracy at point-blank range.
Martial Mastery - More power recovery is never bad.
Peerless Hunter - 2 quarries, 1 minor action. Deal.
Quick Beast Command - There is NO reason you should not pick this up. It is a HUGE boost to your damage capacity and your beast's overall potential.
Rending Tempest - This should be your favorite feat in Epic Tier; it adds hilarious amounts of damage to your nova turn.
Triumphant Attack - A tasty debuff on crits. Sweet, if you can afford it.
Two-Weapon Flurry - If you can take it, it's a good OA buff.
Unfettered Stride - This feat got thrown for a loop when the Boots of Teleportation showed up, therefore, it is no longer a priority, unless you have something else in mind for that Feet slot.


Here are some Level 1 Characters with the above suggestions in mind:


Sample Character - PHB

Male human Ranger 1 (Beast Mastery)

Attributes: Str 18, Con 13, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8

HP: 25; Bloodied: 12; Surges: 7 (6 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 16/16/14/13

Speed: 5; Initiative: +2

Basic Melee: Flail (main hand) (+6 vs. AC, 1d10+4 damage)
Basic Ranged: Javelin (+6 vs. AC, 1d6+4 damage)

At-Will: careful attack, hit and run, twin strike

Encounter: off-hand strike

Daily: jaws of the wolf

Trained Skills: Acrobatics (+6 in chain), Athletics (+8 in chain), Heal (+7), Nature (+7), Perception (+7), Stealth (+6 in chain)

Feats: Action Surge, Armor Proficiency (chain)

Gear: 2 flails, 2 javelins, chain armor, standard adventurer's kit, 15 gp

Wolf Companion:

Attributes: Str 14, Con 14, Dex 14, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 6

HP: 22; Bloodied: 11; Surges: 2 (5 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 15/13/13/14

Speed: 7

Basic Melee: Bite (+5 vs. AC, 1d8+2 damage, 1d8+4 damage with CA).

Trained Skills: Endurance (+7), Perception (+7)


Sample Character - Other

Male bugbear Ranger 1 (Two-Blade Style):

Attributes: Str 18, Con 12, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8

HP: 29; Bloodied: 14; Surges: 7 (7 HP)

AC/Fort/Ref/Will: 17/15/15/11

Speed: 6; Initiative: +6

Basic Melee: Scimitar (main hand) (+6 vs. AC, 1d10+4 damage)
Basic Ranged: Longbow (+6 vs. AC, 1d12+4 damage)

At-Will: hit and run, twin strike

Encounter: off-hand strike, predatory eye

Daily: jaws of the wolf

Trained Skills: Acrobatics (+8 in hide), Athletics (+8 in hide), Nature (+6), Perception (+6), Stealth (+10 in hide)

Feats: Quick Draw, Toughness (Ranger)

Gear: 2 scimitars, longbow (60 arrows), hide armor, standard adventurer's kit, 3 gp
Coming soon...
Coming soon...
Coming soon...
I'd like to humbly nominate Fudge Pinstripes, the Sticky Elf Ranger / Cleric -> Warpriest.

Thanks, -- N
I was actually gonna post the Dwarf, I liked him better...

But the build is SO going in dude.

Nomination accepted. :D
I think a pathfinder build ranger shouldn't be overlooked. It's definitely a role-mixing paragon path that adds a lot of defendery powers and a good deal of durability to a TWF ranger rather than the over the top offense that Stormwardens get, but it's certainly worth a look and is a bit more flexible in terms of ability and weapon choice than Iron Vanguard.
Agreed.

Included (that's why I left extra space ;))

Now, is there anyone who will defend the Beast Stalker?
Show us some of that Ranger/bloodmage/demigod pushing tbh :P
You should list Feat Choices also.
I'm kind of thinking you didn't reserve enough spaces

You should probably include Daggermaster as a viable paragon path choice for ranged rangers

Pros
Higher D.P.R. than Battlefield Archer
Can replace mediocre Ranger powers at levels with useful rogue powers
Only way to get a improved critical with ranged weapons
Has at least 2 melee powers (critical opportunity, deep dagger wound and any from multiclass feats) so you can fight in melee if needed
Can take shield proficiency and use a shield for higher AC/reflex (unless your DM rules for some reason you need multiple daggers to do some ranger attacks)
Daggers have a +3 proficiency bonus
Nimble Blade Feat

Cons
Lower D.P.R. than Ranger/Pit Fighter
Lower Range than a bow (but of course you can keep a backup bow for long distance battles)
Doesn't get the action point every round that Battlefield Archer gets
You should think about the Archery Ranger --> Master Infiltrator build. Going inviable after every kill = near constant Combat advantage. Picking up Thievery training with the Sneak of shadows feat makes a DEX ranger better at stealing and trap picking than a rogue. Adding Quick draw basically gives the ranger an extra makeshift Encounter power at level 1 (Twin Strike: One shot with Longbow and Hunters Quarry, the 2nd with a thrown dagger + sneak attack damage.) Great for flexibility, and good (but not great) for pure damage output.
Wow, this is some great feedback. Thanks, guys. I'm glad this Handbook has gotten such a great response. Now, on to the issues:

Aoihasu - could you give me a link to that build? I haven't seen it yet...

Dispaminite - Yes, I intend to. My Internet was against me last night...

Haynen - I still have one space left, so Daggermaster will be discussed.

Padpaw - that's an interesting build, I can probably shuffle things around to fit it in. Could you PM me a more in-depth description for it?
Pit Fighter build finished. PEACH. I'm particularly interested in critiques about my ratings/choices for powers and feats.
Daggermaster

Perhaps I should write some of this

There are a few reasons some rangers would want to take Daggermaster as a paragon path

1.) Dagger Precision is one of the few ways a ranger can get an improved critical range on ranged weapon based attacks
2.) Allows a ranger to use rogue exploits
3.) If the ranger dual wields daggers, it allows the ranger to be a ranged/melee hybrid that doesn't have to switch weapons

Recommended Gear: Dagger (a lot of 'em, until you can afford magic weapons, where it drops to 2), hide armor.

Prospective daggermasters who are not interested in being a ranged/melee hybrid should probably use a longbow (shortbow if small sized) until level 11
There is really no advantage for ranged rangers to use daggers before getting Dagger Precision

Of course if you are choosing daggermaster for roleplaying reasons feel free to ignore this advice
I'm interesting in seeing your opinions on the Battlefield Archer build, since thats what I'm currently playing.
I think you should probably add Orc, Bugbear, Minotaur, and Warforged to the races of a Pit Fighter. Bugbear and Minotaur are better then Humans, Dwarfs, and Elves because of over-sized weapons alone and Orc and Warforged would go with battleaxes like a Dwarf and are probably marginally better but no where near the sky blue classes.
Haynen - Feel free to PM me anything you have on the build. I'll definitely take it into consideration.

And, um, why would you NOT want to be a Ranged/Melee hybrid Daggermaster? You get huge benefits out of it, enough to actually make a Str/Dex archer worthwile.

Grailhawk - This has made me reconsider my format. I will now just add (what I think are) the top three races for any given build. This should help. And BTW Human Pitfighters rock because Pit Fighters are starved for feats; trust me, my build has a grand total of 0 negotiable ones...
On almost all of these builds, I'd rate INT/CHA as the same color. If anything, I would think CHA might be higher, mostly because a Ranger isn't going to even attempt any of the Int skills (Arcana, History, Religion), but they might be forced into helping with some of the CHA skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Streetwise).

Granted, for 99% of the builds, it will be a matter of which gets the 8 and which gets the 10.

GH
A solid point, but +1 on an untrained skill you attempt to use at most once per session is irrelevant, and it's really a question of personal preference. I prefer Int 10, Cha 8, so I label it as such. Int 8, Cha 10 is just as viable.
Grailhawk - This has made me reconsider my format. I will now just add (what I think are) the top three races for any given build. This should help. And BTW Human Pitfighters rock because Pit Fighters are starved for feats; trust me, my build has a grand total of 0 negotiable ones...

Yes human Pit Fighters rock and FYI its the race I use for the build, but I think that it is less optimal vs. either the Bugbear and Minotaur. The Pit Fighter build as a striker prioritizes damage out put, but then needs to overcome both MAD and Feat starvations.

Of the 4 races the Shifter is the best for damage out put because of the bonus Longtooth shifting gives it. Next up are the Bugbear and Minotaur who will have the same WIS and STR score as the Shifter and be using a weapon with a better damage die (That may even make up the difference between them and the bonus the Shifter gets from his racial power but lets just keep it simple and give it to the shifter since the the other effect of the racial power is just that good).

Of the 4 races the Shifter, Bugbear and the Minotaur feel the effect of mad much less then humans who's wisdom score will be at least 4 lower then the others thats -2 damage.

Finally humans get there one place to shine they get the bonus feat that makes the build work at level one slightly earlier then the others. This said the Bugbear and Minotaur will still even out damage out put even when the human has weapon focus and they don't because of the over-sized weapon.

Anyways thats all I have to say about the subject do with my advise as you will.
Pretty solid argument, grailhawk. Thanks for the lowdown.

I'll flip Humans with Bugbears/Minotaurs. I've been a Shifter player since Eberron came out in 2004, so I picked Longtooth Shifter Pitfighter immediately. Therefore, I haven't really given the amount of thought to other races as you seem to have done.

Any other comments?
Since you asked, you might want to look at the Fighter power Rain of Steel (Lv5) Unyielding Avalanche (Lv 15) and Reaper's Stance (Lv 25). Using them you can match a Stromwarden's DPR. That said how they will work on a Ranger who can moves in and out of combat much better then a Fighter I don't know, but for theoretical analysis they add a lot of damage.
Wow, this is some great feedback. Thanks, guys. I'm glad this Handbook has gotten such a great response. Now, on to the issues:

Aoihasu - could you give me a link to that build? I haven't seen it yet...

Dispaminite - Yes, I intend to. My Internet was against me last night...

Haynen - I still have one space left, so Daggermaster will be discussed.

Padpaw - that's an interesting build, I can probably shuffle things around to fit it in. Could you PM me a more in-depth description for it?

hmm Ive just seen the idea mentioned ask tsuyoshikentsu ^^;
It was based around the level 3 encounter thunderboar tusk or something and the bloodmage abilities
Aoihasu- Hmm...

That sounds pretty cool, but I'm gonna have to see it first...

Since you asked, you might want to look at the Fighter power Rain of Steel (Lv5) Unyielding Avalanche (Lv 15) and Reaper's Stance (Lv 25). Using them you can match a Stromwarden's DPR. That said how they will work on a Ranger who can moves in and out of combat much better then a Fighter I don't know, but for theoretical analysis they add a lot of damage.

Unyielding Avalanche comes in at the worst possible moment: Blade Cascade is at that level, and NOTHING can trump that power, IMHO. Reaper's Stance, however, sounds like it could have some good stuff going for it. Unfortunately, most of the effects are lost, because they only apply to Fighter powers. The 1[W] and 10 ongoing is still pretty good, but it's not up to snuff versus Attacks on the Run or Follow-Up Blow (I would pick it as the Battlefield Archer capstone if I could get all the abilities from it, it would double Dex to damage, and give you some "get away from me", AND give you "Bow Mastery"? O.o No wonder it's Fighter-only...).
On the Daggermaster build is there a reason for backstabber being ranked higher then weapon focus . Isn't a +1 (or with Twin strike +2 per round) bonus to every attack better then +2 - 4 once per (Heroic Tier at least) encounter? Or is there something special about the build that I'm missing?
Yeah, you're right...

I'll drop it to blue, because the only time it really hits the jackpot is when you get Assassin's Point, and by then it's kinda late...

Feedback like this is greatly appreciated. I'm in a bit of a rush most of the time (got a big poster presentation coming up ^^; ), so if you catch any mistakes I make (and I will make 'em), let me know.

Thanks.
You should think about the Archery Ranger --> Master Infiltrator build. Going inviable after every kill = near constant Combat advantage. Picking up Thievery training with the Sneak of shadows feat makes a DEX ranger better at stealing and trap picking than a rogue. Adding Quick draw basically gives the ranger an extra makeshift Encounter power at level 1 (Twin Strike: One shot with Longbow and Hunters Quarry, the 2nd with a thrown dagger + sneak attack damage.) Great for flexibility, and good (but not great) for pure damage output.

I posted such a build: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1067019&highlight=steady+sanguine
Thanks for the link. I'll find a way to squeeze it in :D.

Do you have any modifications for it, or is this the final version? Either way, I think I'll fiddle about with it a little, if you don't mind.

BTW you get points for originality in my book :D.
Thanks for the link. I'll find a way to squeeze it in :D.

Do you have any modifications for it, or is this the final version? Either way, I think I'll fiddle about with it a little, if you don't mind.

BTW you get points for originality in my book :D.

I used that template for another build and noticed a few errors in the level numbers placed -- they're still right, but there's a couple places where I have a feat gained at say 17, instead of 18 or such. Ultimately, that's my final build barring a few cosmetic issues, though.

I struggled long and hard to make a viable, versatile, crossbow ranger.
Pretty solid argument, grailhawk. Thanks for the lowdown.

I'll flip Humans with Bugbears/Minotaurs. I've been a Shifter player since Eberron came out in 2004, so I picked Longtooth Shifter Pitfighter immediately. Therefore, I haven't really given the amount of thought to other races as you seem to have done.

Any other comments?

My advice would be to separate the MM and the PHB races.

Some GMs do not allow MM races, so just because a Human isn't as good as a Minotaur/Bugbear in a MM campaign, doesn't mean that they don't absolutely rock in a PHB races only campaign.

And I'd either throw the Dragon races in with the MM or put them in a separate category.

GH
Nice points, GFH. Will do.

BTW I have an Eladrin "Arcane Archer" build I just brewed up (thanx Aoihasu for the inspiration), and it looks pretty viable, so look out for that one, eh?
Finished builds:

Pit Fighter
Battlefield Archer
Stormwarden
Blood Mage
Daggermaster
When will you do Battlefield Archer?

Huh?

Huh?

Huh?

Huh?

Huh?

Huh?

Huh?

Huh?



:D


Sorry about the delay, I'll at least start it right now.
Blood Mage

Recommended Gear: Longsword (2), Longbow, Hide armor.

In the blood mage section you recomend 2 longswords

Why are you recomending 2 longswords for a character that has 10 or 11 Str?

TWF isn't going to work for a 10/11 Str ranger