This guide is an updated version of Lordduskblade’s Thrill of the Hunt. LDB did the vast bulk of the work, before leaving the boards, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. Selling Points: Why You Would Want To Play A Ranger
Right now, there are a whole bunch of other classes in this game (especially Strikers), so every class needs to have a niche they can fill in order to be a worthy choice. Allow me to elaborate on what makes Rangers worthy picks:
Rangers hit very hard - When it comes to single-target damage, you are the master of your domain. To boot, Rangers don't have to choose between a high consistent offense and the ability to conjure up huge amounts of damage on a moment's notice: you get lots of both. If you like nothing more than laying the smack down on your opponent, this is your class. Rangers are self-reliant - Another cool aspect about Rangers is that they have offensive and defensive features that don't require allies to assist them. As long as you're not knee-deep in enemies like a Defender would usually be, you can pretty much take care of yourself, which is a nice skill to have.
Rangers are always on the offensive - Rangers have one of the greatest power selections geared toward breaking the mold in terms of when you can attack and why. If you like to constantly roll your d20 to attack your opponent again and again (even on their turns), you're in the right place.
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 BoVD - Book of Vile Darkness 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 HoEC - Heros of Elemental Chaos HoS - Heroes of Shadow HotF - Heros of the Feywild HotFK - Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms HotFL - Heroes of the Fallen Lands MM - Monster Manual MM 2 - Monster Manual 2 MME - Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium MOTP - Manual of the Planes MP - Martial Power MP 2 - Martial Power 2 NvCS - Neverwinter Campaign Setting 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 GlossaryShow
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 TofuTM). 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.
Your power source is Martial, and your role is Striker. Martial characters are already predisposed toward aspects associated with the Striker role (such as hitting harder than other classes that share the same role), and Strikers further that tendency, since they're supposed to be the damage-heavy guys that bring the monsters down. Put those together, and it's not a big surprise that you are considered to be the most damaging Striker in the game. That being said, your job entails more than just hitting people hard. Here's a breakdown on how well you do at each aspect traditionally associated with the Striker role: Burst/Nova/Spike Damage - This is usually defined as the maximum amount of damage you can come up with on short notice, and you're great at it, thanks in large part to your Daily and Encounter powers allowing you to attack more times per Standard Action or even attack outside your Standard Action altogether. A Beastmaster gives some of the bonuses available to you up, so they're only good at it. Damage Per Round (DPR) - You're one of the best in the business at dealing consistent damage to your target. This stems in large part from the fact that you're making multiple attacks per round, which gives you a greater chance of connecting as well as a higher damage ceiling, should they all connect. Beastmasters are a bit behind on the punch each attack will carry, so they're just good at this. Debilitating Effects - Another way to approach the "put down a single target" goal of the Striker is by making your target so unable to do anything it's like he's not there. You have some pretty nice status effects as riders on your powers, but overall this really isn't your forte. Survivability- One of the key aspects of a successful Striker is how well he can handle it when enemies come after him. Given that Melee Rangers receive extra HP or AC for free, Ranged Rangers get a hefty bonus to AC against OA's, Beastmasters have a whole other HP source (and the Ranged Beastmasters never even have to leave the edge of their weapon's normal range to be effective), and that you have a plethora of interrupts at your fingertips to mitigate or negate enemy attacks, you're actually pretty good at staying upright. Targeting Capacity - The fact that your Striker bonus damage feature only affects the closest target, plus that a lot of the bonus damage abilities that make you the king of damage force Melee characters to fight without allies and Ranged ones to get in close means your targeting capacity is average overall, even with your pretty nice suite of mobility-oriented powers. If you're heavily into stealth, can consistently get the drop on your opponent, or you use a Beast companion as a homing beacon with hit points, you're probably better at this. Secondary Role EffectivenessShow
Controller - There are a few powers that will let you control the positioning and the actions taken by your enemies on the battlefield, but they are not that common outside of Archers, who get enough to consider this a secondary role. Defender - If you're a Melee Ranger, you have the ability to step in for a Defender and hold the line, at least for a while. Your high damage should help you cut into the number of threats quickly. Additionally, some of you can build to make this a bit easier by either working with a Beast companion or selecting an array of choices that will make your character tougher. Leader- You have a small collection of Utility powers that can at least let you perform some emergency Leading if need be, including some healing and movement enabling. Not your forte at all, but at least you're not terrible at it.
Baseline Mechanics: Profile of the Hunt
You have the dubious honor of belonging to the so-called "V-class" group (along with the Cleric, the Paladin, and the Warlock), which is a group of classes whose builds have different primary ability scores, but the same secondary ability score. This means that you have to choose between having access to the depth and breadth of the power list, or enjoying strong rider effects on those same powers. Which of these two options you should choose depends on your build, though the latter will win out most of the time. Your baseline mechanics are otherwise largely unremarkable compared to others of your role, except for the impressive amount of weapons you're proficient with out of the box, though you do have an interesting bonus accuracy mechanic in Prime Shot or Running Attack. Game MechanicsShow
Hit Points - 12 + Con score at level 1, and 5 each level thereafter. You get the standard-fare HP for your role, which lets you take a hit or two. Healing Surges - 6 + Con modifier. Again, standard fare for your role, but it's ameliorated a bit by the fact that you will usually have some build points to dedicate to your Constitution. Defense Bonuses - +1 to Fortitude and Reflex. This is nice in that it covers two defenses, and one of them will be low in most Ranger builds.
Armor - You get up to Hide armor, and no shields, which means that offense will be your bread and butter. Weapons - All Simple + all Military for melee and ranged weapons is about as good as it gets for weapon proficiencies, which you share only with the Fighter.
Hunter's Quarry - Extra damage for targeting your nearest foe for the whole encounter, at the cost of a minor action. While not as damaging or as flexible as some other features, it does have an advantage in that it's a fire-and-forget deal, and that the Ranger's multiple attacks make it easier to land the extra damage.
Unless you're a Beastmaster, you get to pick one of these features. They cater to different styles of Rangers, so evaluate and pick the one that suits you best. Prime Shot(PHB) - The "stand and fight" class feature, it hands out a bonus to Ranged attacks when you are closest to the target. The feat support makes the bonus quite substantial, and even allows you to apply it to Melee attacks. It may seem marginal at the beginning of your career, but it will count for a substantial portion of your damage later on. Running Attack (MP 2) - This feature hands out an attack bonus when you move and hit. While it seems nice on paper because it can apply to Melee Rangers in Heroic Tier and because it has solid feat support, the fact of the matter is that the power selection for it is not the top-notch stuff. Because of that, I rank it lower.
Archery Style (PHB) - At this point, the only real reason to pick this Fighting Style is because the Battlefield Archer Paragon Path requires it, because Hunter Style offers everything it has and more. Fortunately for it, Battlefield Archer is one of the premier picks for a Ranged Ranger, so that does count for a lot. Beast Mastery (MP) - I'll be blunt; this path has some issues. You give up Prime Shot or Running Attack, and you forgo access to what are likely the best pure Ranger paths for each build. That, and the Beast powers just plain stink. However, you get an additional HP source, the ability to use it to break restrictions on your Hunter's Quarry, and a great flanking buddy for your party. You can make it work, if you remember to not take Beast Powers. Hunter Style (MP 2) - This style offers plenty of awesome features: drawing and sheathing weapons just because you can is pretty cool, and a whopping +4 to AC for provoking OA's for using Ranged attacks is nice to have, too. Marauder Style (MP 2) - This style hands out more speed and defense for dual-wielding, which basically makes it the mobility-oriented counterpart to Two-Blade Style. No oversized dual-wielding means a bit less damage overall and you lose access to some of the heavyweight Paragon Paths, but it's not a bad choice at all. Two-Blade Style (PHB)- This path gives you some more durability in the form of Toughness, and it also allows you to dual-wield one-handed weapons, which is a great recipe for what is one of the most damaging character builds in the game, if not the most damaging character build outright.
Themes: Hunting With a Purpose
Themes are a way to get a nice little extra boost to your particular build or to fill in an area lacking with your character. For Rangers, the melee options are both more plentiful and generally more useful than the ranged ones. Consequently, I have divided the themes between a "melee-only" category (for those themes where the encounter attack is melee only) and an "either/or" category, for those themes that are useable by both melee and ranged Rangers. I only rated themes that were deemed black and above (with an emphasis on those that were blue and higher).
Sohei, with its extra minor action attack, will be the most popular choice for melee Rangers. However, Iron Wolf Warrior, Ironwrought, Sarifal Feywarden, Elemental Initiate and even Mercenary (prone builds), are all very good options. Ranged Rangers will gravitate toward Fey Beast Tamer (if you like pets) or Outlaw, Gloomwrought Emissary, and Seeker of Illefarn (for those who don’t want a pet).
Elemental Initiate (HoEC) Very nice theme for melee Rangers. Immediate reaction attack v. Reflex, +1 bonus to Will, free skill training and ki focus proficiency. One of the better choices. Guardian (D 399) Not your typical striker theme, but a nice easily triggered immediate action attack is nothing to sneeze at. Guttersnipe (D 399) Solid theme with some unusual elements. Running Slash gives some Skirmisher qualities with a melee weapon. Iron Wolf Warrior (D 400) Some very good features, combined with no action encounter attack options that prone make this a strong option for melee Rangers. Ironwrought (HoEC) Very nice (no action) extra damage power, which triggers an additional +1 to hit on melee attacks, until the end of your next turn. You also get resist to all damage while bloodied and some useful skill bonuses, but those are just gravy. Mercenary (D399) All about Takedown Strike, the no action knock prone power. The Theme of choice for melee Rangers with the prone damage package (i.e. Headsman's Chop, Gauntlets of Brutality). Bloody defense bonus is good if you are also using the Bloodfury/Battlecrazed weapons. Reaver (BoVD) Very solid Theme that gives you some nice benefits (+1 to hit) for doing what you do best -- dropping enemies. The level 2 utility is also very good, similiar to Resume the Hunt, but 8 levels earlier. Getting temps for using the encounter power is nice too, especially with an expanded crit range. Not useable in LFR. Sohei (D 404) Likely the most popular theme for Melee Rangers, due to Sohei Flurry, which allows melee Rangers to add yet another minor action attack to their arsenal. The utility powers are pretty useful to, as ways out of the worst conditions in the game are good to have. Son of Alagondar (D 402) A no action dazed adder, a bonus to allies when you flank and some temp HPs when you are bloodied make this a solid option for melee Rangers.
Either Melee or Ranged Useable
Bregan D'aerthe (NvCS) Drow-only. Levitation powers can be useful, especially in heroic tier. Not great, but not terrible either. Cultist (BoVD) Attack power is ok. Some decent daily utilities. BoVD, so prohibited in LFR. Devil's Pawn (NvCS) Hellfire and Brimstone is a good power, but most melee Rangers should be using their minor actions for attacks. Fire resist is one of the more useful resistances to have. Fey Beast Tamer (HoFW) A very good “pet” theme. Depending on the aura, get free CA, a damage boost, a defense boost or some free teleports. Plus another creature to use on the battlefield, for all the positive (and some negative, i.e. complexity) effects that implies. Gloomwrought Emissary(D 400) Strike from the Shadows is a very good power which can trigger off of both melee and ranged powers, as weakened is one of the more underrated status effects. Some decent utilities too (Jibber Feint and Ghostwalker). Halaster's Clone (D 409) No added attack power, but it has a few very good feature/powers that make the theme a viable choice. +4 power bonus to initiative is great (unless you get the bonus somewhere else) and the level 2 utility that lets you use an immediate action (and spend a surge) to turn a dominate/stun into dazed can literally be a life-saver. Harper Agent (NvCS) This theme is all about the Harper Pin, the free, rare magic item you get for having the theme which gives you a nice choice of 3 different utilites to use every encounter. Infernal Prince (D 406) Pretty good choice if you have a way to gain the Fire keyword for your attacks. Not useable in LFR. Outlaw (D399) The no action daze on an at will or basic attack makes this one of the better themes for ranged Rangers, but it can be picked up by melee Rangers who want a dazing power. Pack Outcast (NvCS) Do you fancy yourself a (were) Wolf or do you have some build that requires you to be in an animal form? Ok, well there here is your theme. Primordial Adept (HoEC) The level 10 feature is the big (only) attraction here, but it is a very good one for elemental weapon users -- a +2 constant power bonus to damage rolls. Very nice. Sarifal Feywarden (D405) Any fey, but drow. Sarifal's blessing lets you activate an aura that gives enemies vulerabilities (and you and allies resist) to cold, fire, lightning, necrotic, or thunder. Very, very nice -- and it scales. The +1 Fort bonus is just icing on the very good cake. This will be the choice for Frost users and anyone else who uses the listed elemental damages. Open to ranged Rangers who don't mind being up close. Seeker of Illefarn (D 402) A viable choice for ranged Rangers, as the level 6 utility is quite good for them. A re-roll on a 1, a bonus to Perception and to defenses in round 1, along with auto non-surprise are all good too. Windlord (HoEC) More of a utility theme, since its attack power will do less damage that your at will, but a viable one for both melee and ranged Rangers nonetheless. The slide that gets attached to your attack at 10th level can really help with hard to get enemies, especially with a fly built into the attack power. The 10th level encounter fly utility is a great choice, especially for melee Rangers. This is likely the broadest and easiest path to flight prior to mid-paragon for most Rangers.
Skills: Talent for the Hunt
You actually get a solid amount of skills (5 in total), which puts you in a pretty select club of guys who are great in and out of combat. You only get full choice for 4 of those skills, but that's OK: you want to pick up at least one of the two alternatives they're forcing on you anyway. Class SkillsShow
Acrobatics - A very useful skill, that can combine well with Athletics to make you one of the slipperiest characters in the business. Usually better for Archers because of their focus on Dexterity. Athletics - As mentioned above, this combines with Acrobatics to make you almost immune to any movement-related business your DM may have for you. Extra sweet for Melee Rangers because of the stat it uses. Dungeoneering - You have to pick either this or Nature, but you won't get complaints from me; all Rangers depend on Wisdom to some degree, and a monster Knowledge-type skill is always appreciated. Endurance - Most of you may not have the Constitution to have this at a sky-high level. Still, folks who have a racial bonus to the skill may consider it, and you'd better take this if you don't plan on taking Heal. Heal - A very sweet skill to deal with everything from first aid to disease, and it keys off an important attribute to you. A good choice. Nature - You have to pick this or Dungeoneering, though both of those skills are so useful, that it's no big deal (a Knowledge-type skill is always nice to have). You may even want to pick them both. Perception - This may be the best skill in the game, and the way your character is built guarantees you a respectable Wisdom at the very least. Don't leave home without it. Stealth - Another useful skill, it also keys off Dexterity, making it preferable for Archers over Melee Rangers, though they can also use it.
Insight - Its reliance on Wisdom makes you able to stack up some decent numbers on it, and it helps make you a complete character by giving you something to do on a social skill challenge. Thievery - Opening locks, picking pockets, and disabling traps is a pretty good skill to have, and it's easy to grab (just take the Rogue Multiclass feat, for example).
Your choice of ability scores will vary depending on your specific build, but these guidelines hold true for just about every Ranger out there. Strength - This is your main stat if you are a Melee Ranger or if you're a Balanced Ranger that plans on doing substantial Melee work, and you should boost it every chance you get. If you are a Ranged Ranger, however, you can afford to dump this pretty low. Recommended Starting Score: 10-18, before racial adjustments. Constitution - Adds HP and healing surges, which are always good to have. Axes require some Constitution investment. Hammers require even more dedication to it, and certain Archer builds like it, too. You likely can't afford a top-notch score here, but this should be the stop for all your leftover build points. Recommended Starting Score: 10-14, before racial adjustments. Dexterity-Regardless of the Ranger build you're going for, you need at least a solid starting score here. Only Heavy Armor Melee Rangers can afford anything but a top-notch score in this stat (and even then, they don't want it to be low). If you're not one of them, keep it high and boost it every chance you get. Recommended Starting Score: 13-18, before racial adjustments. Intelligence - One of your designated dump stats. It has a redundant function with Dexterity on the defensive side of the ball, grants you a bonus to skills you will (hopefully) never have to use, and it aids no weapon group. The only use for it is MC, which requires a smidgen of dedication; otherwise, avoid it. Recommended Starting Score: 8-10, before racial adjustments. Wisdom - Buffs all your secondary effects, and helps your Will defense from going down the tubes. Very important for all types of Rangers, though Ranged Rangers can typically afford to dedicate more stat boosts to it than Melee ones can, and can thus live with a lower starting score. Recommended Starting Score: 10-16, before racial adjustments. Charisma - Useless for fighting, it boosts the same defense as Wisdom, and sees no use in your skills. Pretty useless to you overall, and arguably a step ahead of Intelligence when determining the Ranger's ultimate dump stat, though some rare builds might want to put a little investment here. Recommended Starting Score:8-10, before racial adjustments.
Races: Born To Hunt
Here's the short list of what I'd pick for each of the "iconic" builds, apart from Human, which is universally awesome: Melee Ranger, Str/Dex - Half-Orc. Melee Ranger, Str/Wis - Longtooth Shifter. Ranged Ranger, Dex/Con - Revenant. Ranged Ranger, Dex/Wis - Elf. Races - Player's HandbookShow
Dragonborn - +2 Strength is good for Melee Rangers, +2 Charisma is pretty worthless, as are the skill bonuses. However, the racial power makes up for it somewhat by giving you something to do at a distance. Overall, a good choice for Melee, though it is horrible for Ranged. Dwarf - The mobility is lacking, which will become an issue when you can get Scale Armor to have speed 6, and its calling card (second wind is a minor) is effectively covered by one of your own Utility powers. Still, potential bonuses to Strength and Constitution with the ability to stay upright and its support can't be all bad. Eladrin - +2 Dex is good for most Rangers, +2 Int is an uber-waste, but the +1 class skills and teleport are nifty. They make statistically strong Ranged Rangers, and they have a lot of support to go Melee, and that does count for something. Elf - Fantastic stat bonuses for a Ranged Ranger in Dexterity and Wisdom, and they're not bad for a Melee Ranger, either. The higher speed and reroll ability only sweeten the deal. A prime Ranger candidate. Half-Elf - +2 to Constitution and Wisdom is solid as far as secondaries go, though it faces a bit of an issue in that its prime ability to redeem itself for classes its ability scores don't line up for (Dilettante) is kind of useless for a Ranger. A decent choice, but not great. Halfling - The limited weapon options hurt, but the +2 to Dex and Con, as well as abilities to raise your AC compensate for it. Last but not least, your racial support is nice, so you should consider the little folk for Ranged Rangers (they're pretty iffy as Melee Rangers). Human - A very nice choice. +1 to all NAD's is a nice defensive boost, the bonus feat is always a great boon for the rather feat-starved Ranger, and a bonus skill always helps. A third At-Will is really not that necessary for a Ranger, but Heroic Effort is very nice to have. A very strong choice overall. Tiefling - Mediocre attribute bonuses, average skill bonuses at best, and though Infernal Wrath is a Striker-oriented ability, it keys off stats you have no interest in. *sigh* It has some positive points in its racial support and the like, but it's still not a good choice.
Deva - +2 Int is bleah, +2 Wis is nice, and so is the power, but not much else. I'd rather have the Elf if I wanted an emergency boost for a single roll. Gnome - Having a Dexterity bonus has done a lot to salvage the race, but it's still not a #1 pick by any stretch of the imagination. Goliath - +2 Str, +2 Wis and some sweet resistance to all damage make you an awesome Melee Ranger candidate. Half-Orc - +2 Str and +2 Dex means you're great at any Ranger you want to be (especially Melee), and the racial power packs even more damage, which is right up your alley. About as good as it gets for the Ranger class. Shifter, Longtooth - +2 Strength and +2 Wisdom is godly for Melee Rangers, and even decent for Ranged ones. Regen and damage bonus while bloodied is icing on the cake. A great choice. Shifter, Razorclaw - With bonuses to Dexterity and Wisdom, this race makes a strong case for a Ranged Ranger. Additionally, the shifting ability is mobility heaven (too bad it's only while bloodied...). A bit overshadowed by the Elf, but still top-tier.
Githzerai - Though similar to Elves with regards to their attribute bonuses, they trade in some of that shifty elusiveness for some straight-up toughness, making them more appealing to Rangers willing to take a risk, and better at Melee overall. Minotaur - With the advent of its latest (and most official) write-up, the Minotaur gets the same stat boosts as the Longtooth Shifter if you choose, making him a super awesome Melee Ranger. You get an additional healing surge as icing. Too bad the racial power is pretty useless since it's so hard to actually hit something with it... Shardmind - Simply not meant to be Rangers statistically, since the best they can do is buff Wisdom, and only Wisdom (Int and Cha are pretty useless to you, after all). Wilden- Whoa. This makes a very strong case for a Ranged Ranger, especially with Aspect of the Hunter, which can help you shift toward or away from an enemy and hand you a hefty damage bonus to boot.
Bladeling (MOTP) - A decent pick for either type of Ranger, this race sports a strong Melee power in Razor Storm, as well as bonuses to Dexterity and Wisdom. A good choice overall, but it doesn't get the top rating because a lot of other races have the same stats and are better supported. Changeling (EPG) - Though +2 to Charisma does you little good, +2 Dexterity is very useful, and the other abilities can come in handy if you dip into the Rogue class. A solid pick overall, but much better suited to another style of character. Drow (FRPG) - +2 Dex, +2 Wis, and CA-oriented powers make a strong case for a Ranged Ranger, though not so much for a Melee Ranger (sorry, Drizzt fans, but he's not the most optimized Ranger out there). Genasi (FRPG) - +2 Str is great for Melee, +2 Int... not so much. The manifestations are lots of fun for you, though. Firesoul, Stormsoul, and Watersoul in particular are good for you. Kalashtar (EPG) - +2 to Wisdom is solid, but +2 to Charisma is absolutely useless, and its abilities seem to be more Leader-oriented than anything else. Not the line of work for them. Mul (DSCS) - Bonuses to Strength and Constitution, and access to either Dwarf or Human racial support make this a pretty darn good Melee Ranger race. Revenant (HoS) - Solidly placed stats in Dexterity and Constitution, and it has some potential in that it can mooch off another race's goodies. Not a bad idea. Shade (HoS) - Free Stealth, decently applicable racials are the good news. Losing a surge for no good reason stings, though. Thri-Kreen (DSCS) - Its ability scores can fit virtually any Ranger build, it has a higher-than-average base speed, and it throws in a minor action attack as icing. One of the best races you can pick. Vryloka (HoS) - Lifeblood is a high-quality target transition power, and you have Strength or Dexterity, depending on your needs (a very good thing). Though Charisma as a second bump and Blood Dependency are not all that good, this is still a pretty solid Ranger race. Warforged (EPG) - These guys are tough as nails, have a Strength bonus, and a bunch of useful racial abilities. A very strong pick for a Melee Ranger.
Gnoll (D 367) - Dexterity and Constitution are good bonuses to have, and that high speed and charging bonuses make you a "shoot first, ask questions later" kind of Ranger. Overall, very solid, especially after the Dragon article, which actually makes charging a good idea if you're Melee. Shadar-Kai (D 372) - About the same as Elves, but with teleportation instead of re-rolls and less feat support. Still a pretty good deal if you ask me.
Bugbear (MM) - +2 Strength, oversized, and "sneak attack" make a fantastic case, and +2 Dexterity only sweetens the deal. A fantastic choice for any Ranger style. Bullywug (MM 2) - Swampwalk looks promising, the stat bonuses are all right, and the Rancid Air aura is interesting (if conditional). Could be good, with some support. Doppelganger (MM) - All of the negative aspects of the Tiefling... none of the positive ones. Avoid like the plague. Duergar (MM 2) - It's the Dwarf... minus some of the toughness, the ability to get a Strength bonus, and all the great racial support. Skip. Githyanki (MM) - Meh. +2 Con is OK, +2 Int is a waste, +2 initiative is nice, but I'm just not sold. Goblin (MM) - Slightly weaker than the Halfling because of no racial feats, it has the same racial stat allotments, which are good, but not spectacular for Rangers, especially because being Small hurts. Hobgoblin (MM) - These guys are about the same as Half-Elves, sans the beauty that is Dilettante, so they're a pretty bad idea for Rangers overall. Kenku (MM 2) - A solid choice, but they are obviously better suited to be Rogues. Kobold (MM) - Small Gnolls. Small is not the greatest thing to be as a Ranger, though. They do have that great racial power that allows them to shift as a minor action, which is nothing short of fantastic for a Ranged Ranger, so they make up for it better than most of the other short ones. Orc (MM) - Another good Melee candidate, he has the same stat allotment as the Goliath, and has a self-healing ability. Nice.
Since the Ranger is a V-class, I've taken the liberty of separating the powers based on how they can be used, whether it's with Strength, Dexterity, both, or with a Beast. This section basically boils down to what your second At-Will is, since in the vast majority of the cases, your first At-Will should be Twin Strike. If it's not, be warned that there is basically no Ranger build that doesn't give up a significant portion of their At-Will damage by not taking that power.
Hit and Run (PHB) - A Melee Basic Attack that makes the first square of your move action not provoke. Rather underwhelming overall, since most Melee Rangers like to plant themselves next to an enemy and unload a ton of attacks on them, rather than running away. Marauder's Rush (MP 2) - Basically an MBA with extra damage you can use on a charge. While most Rangers aren't known for being particularly charge-happy, this provides a solid second option for Melee Rangers when a move action isn't enough to reach a given target. Shield of Blades (PHH 2) - A Melee Basic Attack that hands out +2 to AC is rather odd on a Ranger, but you never know; it might just get you out of a pinch. Throw and Stab (MP 2)- So... you get another two-attack At-Will, with a slightly more bizarre sequence. This power took quite the blow to the jaw from errata, as it can no longer perform the focus-fire function a Ranger is typically looking for. That said, it can be useful for spreading the love around when that's the way to go, minion-blasting, or just moving around. A potentially sweet second option, though it is limited a bit by requiring a thrown weapon.
Fading Strike (MP 2) - This At-Will is very interesting in that it can be used in Melee or Ranged, yet always key off of Dexterity. It also offers a bigger shifting distance than Nimble Strike. The problem is that it fails to accomplish what Nimble Strike does so well for pure Archers, which is disengage before attacking, so it has a different niche, which is to take an actual Melee weapon and hit someone with it. With that in mind, it can be a nice tool in the arsenal of a Melee Ranger that favors Dexterity. Hunter's Teamwork (PHH 1) - A vanilla Ranged attack that offers you CA if the target is surrounded by allies. This is strictly worse than Careful Attack, because the bonus to hit is conditional and it's not like getting Combat Advantage is impossible as a Ranged character (ever heard of Distant Advantage? Cunning Stalker? Frost? I could go on). Nimble Strike (PHB) - A great power to disengage from a pesky Melee opponent, this power will make sure you never stay in Melee for too long. A strong pick for pure Archers. Warning Shot (D 383)- A Ranged attack that has Control-oriented implications if the target moves where you designate. It's a potentially very damaging power overall (as it can deal a little more damage than Twin Strike if the condition is met), but you can bet it won't be triggered all that often, and its immediate action trigger means you'd have to choose between it or all of the great Archer powers with the same trigger.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Careful Attack (PHB) - Errata has brought a lovely new gift for what once was the Ranger's most maligned At-Will: an ability modifier in damage. Now, this attack offers an untyped +2 to hit over a basic attack, which actually makes it worth looking at. Twin Strike (PHB)- The foundation of the Ranger throne as kings of damage, this power allows you to apply all your static damage bonuses twice, which gets even more powerful as time goes on. There is no real reason to not use this power, frankly.
Circling Strike (MP) - You can draw many parallels from this power to the Warlord's Wolf Pack Tactics... except that it only applies to your Beast. Given the fix to Careful Attack, this lost some shine. Predator Strike (MP) - This power starts off pretty well compared to most other at-wills, but it loses a lot of steam later on in your career, since the Beast's damage scales very poorly compared to that of a character. Not recommended, unless you're playing a Level 1 one-shot campaign.
Just a reminder: because the Ranger is a V-class, the powers have been separated into the following categories for your convenience:
• Strength-based • Dexterity-based • Strength- or Dexterity- based • Beast powers.
Level 1, Encounter
Dual-wielders like Off-Hand Strike here. Archers will usually pick between Fox's Cunning and Two-Fanged Strike, and thrown weapon users can make a strong case for Hurling Charge. Level 1 Encounter ListShow
Dire Wolverine Strike (PHB) - A vanilla close burst attack. It's pretty decent, but AoE isn't really your shtick. Hurling Charge (MP 2) - Though it requires a thrown weapon attack, the ability to lay down a charge in tandem with another attack is certainly appealing for a Ranger. Off-Hand Strike (MP) - This power allows Melee Rangers to crank up some more damage in one turn. Only dual-wielders can take it, though. Plant to the Hilt (D 377) - Two swings, and a slide which depends on how you did with the attack. A solid power. Precise Assault (MP 2)- This power is basically Hit and Run fused with Careful Attack, with a free move action and more weapon damage. Very solid.
Hindering Shot (D 383) - Swing + slow. While it isn't the flashiest thing out there, it's still effective. Hunter's Pounce (MP 2) - Another one of those odd Dexterity-based Melee attacks. The attack itself is underwhelming, but Ranged characters like slowing enough to appreciate it. Rapid Volley (MP) - I see absolutely no reason to take this power, considering the options available at the same level. Singular Strike (MP) - A decently damaging power under fairly feasible circumstances. Meh. Skirmish Shot (MP 2)- A generic shot, but it has a free move action attached. Solid enough.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Evasive Strike (PHB) - A souped-up version of Nimble Strike that can be used in Melee, it offers a bit more damage and a much bigger shift. Solid enough. Fox's Cunning (PHB) - A pretty nice counter-attack that takes place outside of your turn, it even comes with an attack bonus attached to make sure it lands. However, Archers who stay back (like Beast Archers often do) probably won't like it as much. Two-Fanged Strike (PHB)- Basically a more damaging Twin Strike. A strong choice overall, though it's quickly outclassed by additional attacks as you level up.
Enclose the Prey (MP) - A slightly stronger version of Circling Strike. Not really worth your time. Feral Ambush (MP 2) - A generic Beast power that rewards you for flanking with it, which you should be doing all the time. Uninspiring. Ferocious Insight (D 387) - A single attack Beast power that lets you chase after your opponent as an immediate. The action economy that provides makes it not be terrible, but it's not exactly a first choice. Hunting-Partner Strike (MP) - Apart from the shift, this is superior to Enclose the Prey in almost every way. A solid power overall, if a bit plain. Synchronizing Strike (MP)- Multiattacking with your Beast, and your attack will hit Reflex. Not bad.
Level 1, Daily
Jaws of the Wolf seems to be a safe bet for a Melee Ranger. This isn't the greatest level for Archers (no double-up attacks), but at least Skirmishing Stance, Split the Tree, and Sure Shot give you something to choose from. Level 1 Daily ListShow
Isolation Strike (MP 2) - So... you get a spread-the-love attack that pushes if you don't attack your Quarry? Um... how about not? Jaws of the Wolf (PHB) - Very strong damage for when you get it. You'll probably be one-shotting standard opponents with this power through the first half of Heroic Tier. Off-Hand Parry (MP) - With Jaws of the Wolf being available here, you would be mad to pick this power, which is just plain weak even without the comparison. Sudden Strike (PHB)- This trades some of the raw damage that Jaws of the Wolf has for a bit of mobility and weakening the opponent. It could be worse.
Commanding Confrontation (MP 2) - Don't be fooled by the Ranged entry attack: this power is made for Melee Rangers to rack up some meaty damage bonuses against a given Quarry target. That said, the round you spend setting this up cuts into the power's stock. Guardian Arrow (D 383) - Lets you play Defender for a bit. A tad risky, but it can sure rack up the damage. Split the Tree (PHB) - Decent, reliable (roll twice, take better result) damage for two targets. While multiple targets aren't what you're here to blast, the fact of the matter is that pickings at this level are so slim you might not have a choice. Sure Shot (MP 2) - The best power for an Archer looking for that raw damage edge, it features a reroll on the attack as well as on the damage rolls to make it very unlikely for the dice to ruin your day. That said, it's worth noting that it scales terribly.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Boar Assault (MP) - A swing, and a decent amount of THP for every time you hit. Gaining THP isn't a priority for you, but it IS free... Hunt's End (MP) - Only the expanded critical threat range saves this power from being Red. Hunter's Bear Trap (PHB) - Decent damage, some ongoing damage as a boost, and a slow, all in one solid package. Not terribly bad. Scything Blow (MP 2) - You get to use a Twin Strike that knocks prone against two targets. I'd rather have focus firing, but double attacking two targets hardly makes for an incompetent power. Skirmishing Stance (MP 2)- Some nice buffs for continually moving about (too bad the damage bonus only applies to 1 attack...). Obviously better on Ranged Rangers than Melee ones, though they probably appreciate the +2 AC a bit more.
Distracting Team (MP 2) - A solid Beast power that doesn't get wasted against minions and the like. Solid. Driving the Quarry (MP) - This looks more like an Encounter power than a Daily. Partnered Savaging (MP) - This power will be doing comparable damage to Jaws of the Wolf for Beastmasters in the early going. Extra sweet for those among them who choose not to dual-wield, though I don't recommend your not dual-wielding. Seismic Strike (D 387)- The damage is just plain pitiful, but having an At-Will way to knock the opponent prone as a minor action (even if it is through the rather uninspiring medium of the Beast's attack) works well with too many things for this to be truly bad, though it's not exactly good.
Level 2, Utility
This is a pretty average suite of powers overall, but it has its bright spots in Invigorating Stride and Yield Ground, with Beastmasters getting a big selection of goodies here (especially Feline Escape, Slither's Stride, Tenacity of the Tusked, or Wolf Trip). Level 2 Utility ListShow
Archer's Stairway (D 383) - This power has a nice, action-movie sort of feel to it, and it's got a pretty good (non-combat) effect to boot, so it's worth a look. Avian Grace (D 392) - Long jumps will take quite a while to beat your normal speed, rarely will you be able to fly, and it's a Daily. Nah. Begin the Hunt (MP 2) - This power would be good if it somehow allowed you to circumvent the "nearest enemy" restriction of your Hunter's Quarry class feature (if your DM makes your encounters nice and straight-up, it is good). As it is, it's far too easy to end up burning it on an inconsequential enemy. Bending Branch (D 377) - You're not as likely to be the target of a forced movement effect as your Defender, but here's a nasty counter for it if you are. Bridge of Roots (HotFK) - Basically a zone that lets you ignore terrain effects within it. That can certainly be useful, if not quite universally so. Crucial Advice (PHB) - A reroll for a skill with a +Wisdom bonus will be appreciated by anyone, and you do have a decent skill set. Solid enough. Entangling Roots (HotFK) - Disallowing charges and imposing difficult terrain on your enemies in a zone can certainly make an Archer harder to approach, provided he stays within said zone. Equestrian Maneuver (D 392) - This can be rather useful, given that in most cases the Horse will have to be Large and as such can present problems moving about in cramped dungeon tunnels. Feline Escape (D 392) - A quality defensive interrupt power, and a very good selling point for the Cat companion. Ferret an Opening (MP) - The only use I see for this power is preserving your CA after moving out of a flanking position to allow someone else to enter it. Yeah... no. Fox Shift (MP) - A rather weak benefit, with a conditional trigger. Pass. Hearten the Beast (MP) - Though free saves (with potential bonuses) for your companion as an at-will is powerful, it is balanced by the steep cost of a standard action activation. Pass. Hunter's Privilege (MP) - +3 untyped damage for winning initiative? Not bad. Invigorating Stride (MP 2) - Not only is this a nice shifting power, it allows you to second wind and attack in the same turn, every encounter. Either effect would have been good on its own, but together they're great. Oak Skin (HotFK) - Resist all equal to your Wisdom for one fight per day. This degree of damage prevention is sweet, though a bit dependent on how high your Wisdom modifier actually is. Pack Alertness (MP) - A rather situational scouting power. Better if you have the right companion. Path of the Monkey (D 392) - How often is +4 to Acrobatics and climb speed really going to come up in combat? Not enough to justify this, especially as a Daily. Ranger's Agility (HotFK) - The ability to shift 2 at-will for one fight a day can help generate some charge space, and a speed bonus isn't worthless, but it won't be what the average Ranger is looking for. Reptilian Perseverance (D 392) - Not much reason to take this given the existence of Bending Branch. Safe Passage (HotFK) - A whole-party speed buff, with the ability to ignore difficult terrain as icing. Dependant on the encounter, but could potentially be useful. Slither's Stride (D 392) - Shifting 2 as a move is not quite as helpful to Rangers at it is to other Strikers, but a mobility edge like this is welcome at almost every party. Stalker's Mist (HotFK) - A zone that heavily obscures your opponent's line of sight while leaving your allies' intact that you can move around is pretty darn good, actually. Tenacity of the Tusked (D 392) - Shave off a good chunk of damage when you get hit, and can even negate secondary effects of the attack if you drop it to 0. That's worth a look if you ask me. Terrain Advantage (MP 2) - A very nice bonus to defenses when you occupy difficult terrain. Not too sure how often that's gonna happen, though. Better for Elves because they don't have to sacrifice extra squares to get in and out. Unbalancing Parry (PHB) - A bit conditional (your AC isn't exactly at tank-level), but the effect is pretty good, and it doesn't cost you an action. Ursine Brutality (D 392) - A push effect on every attack, which can be solid. Web Trick (D 392) - Being at At-Will makes it easier to land in an opportune moment, but then you look at what you gave up for it (a L2 Utility) and when this comes up (not that often), and you see why it's not quite something to throw a parade over. Wolf Trip (D 392) - Whoa. This can either result in a lost action for your opponent, or getting stuck prone near you. Either way, it's a great add-on for Wolf Beastmasters. Yield Ground (PHB)- A pretty nice pick for all Rangers, it offers defense and out-of-turn mobility, but you do have to eat a hit to actually get it off.
Noteworthy Skill Powers (Blue and above)
Agile Recovery(Acrobatics, PHB 3) - Forever changes standing up to a Minor Action. Pretty cool.
Grit and Spittle (Endurance, D 385) - Though burning up a healing surge hurts, granting yourself mass saves
Nature Sense (Nature, PHB 3) - Some builds can milk a Nature check subbing for initiative, and a hefty defensive boost to start the combat makes it pretty decent. Just be aware that of the limiting environmental condition, as it can only be used in a natural environment.
Level 3, Encounter
Archers will likely look to pick up Disruptive Strike at this level. Melee Rangers might select it as well, but they have the alternative option of Ruffling Sting for even more minor-action damage. That said, there also are a couple of other nice powers to look at here. Level 3 Encounter ListShow
Avenging Charge (MP 2) - And the Barbarian officially goes green with envy. Not quite as awesome as Disruptive Strike's debuff or Ruffling Sting's on-demand damage, but reasonably close to either. Confusion of Blades (D 377) - Trying to exploit this power can get you in a whole heap of trouble. Not worth it in my opinion. Leonine Surge (MP) - Knocking prone and extra damage is obviously good if both attacks, but the disadvantage should you miss twice gives me a bit of pause. Still solid, though. Ruffling Sting (MP) - Swing + CA for your next swing, as a minor action. The effect feels a bit underwhelming, but its on-demand nova muscle more than makes up for it. Sustaining Strike (MP 2) - Essentially, it's a Two-Fanged Strike that doesn't get expended on minions (and lends you a +2 to hit, to boot). Solid enough, though I'd rather have an additional attack. Upending Throw (MP 2)- Knocking prone on Ranged attacks is nice, especially if you play to engage in Melee soon afterwards. Being a single attack knocks it down a couple of pegs, though.
Covering Volley (D 383) - A single-attack AoE with the damage of a Ranged Basic Attack?! Not. Interested. EVER. Parting Strike (MP 2) - Another of the Melee Weapon Dexterity attack series, this one is pretty solid, since it slows the target then gets you far away, without consuming your move action. Too bad it only attacks once... Scattering Volley (MP) - This family of attacks is still terrible (and will be for quite a while). Stalking Strike (MP 2) - While hitting and hiding is fun, this seems like it would be more at home on a Rogue than on you. Thwarting Shot (MP)- A weapon attack against Fortitude that slows and debuffs... not bad.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Cut and Run (PHB) - This power is equal parts Hit and Run and Twin Strike. It's a fairly decent power, but there are better things available here. Disruptive Strike (PHB) - An attack outside my turn that has a sure-fire trigger, can be used in Ranged as well as Melee, and makes the opponent's attack against me or an ally miss in addition to dealing damage? Super awesome. Shadow Wasp Strike (PHB) - A vanilla attack against Reflex, which can only be used against your quarry. Garbage. Thundertusk Boar Strike (PHB) - A mighty push effect after two decent swings. This is pretty sweet for Archers; you can probably consider it Blueif you do a lot of Ranged fighting.
Beast Latch (MP) - Swing + slow, and allows your Beast to follow your quarry around. Could be worse. Encircle the Prey (MP 2) - Essentially Paired Predators, trading in some damage for sliding and shifting. A solid choice overall. Paired Predators (MP)- With the right Beastmaster build, this is doing more damage than Partnered Savaging (your L1 Daily). Sweet.
Level 5, Daily
Melee Rangers get a nice toolbox, highlighted by Frenzied Skirmish, though there's plenty of competition here for it. Ranged Rangers get the neat Spitting-Cobra Stance, though Flying Steel is arguably just as good. Level 5 Daily ListShow
Bloody Throw (MP 2) - Two swings, and a thrown weapon attack for somebody else. Solid enough. Frenzied Skirmish (PHB) - While the damage isn't jaw-dropping (by your standards), the ability to move your speed without provoking, then lay on Ranger damage with a daze + slow aftereffect combo makes it a thoroughly impressive total package. Snarling Wolf Stance (MP 2) - While this power looks amazing at first glance, it does have some drawbacks in that it doesn't provide damage right away, and it costs a minor action, which are hard to come by on a Melee Ranger. If you can get past that, though, this can be quite good. Two-Wolf Pounce (PHB) - 3 attacks, though the last one hits a different target, and some solid movement. Not bad at all. Wounded Beast (MP 2)- The fact that you can use it when you get bloodied is very nice, and it heals you to boot. That said, the competition here is rather stiff.
Close-Combat Shot (MP) - A more damaging version of what Spitting Cobra Stance can do at more range, and more times per encounter than this power. Unimpressive. Excruciating Shot (PHB) - A hard shot, with a (save ends) debuff. Nice. Flying Steel (D 383) - Though it looks impressive at first glance, it has a couple of caveats in that the enemy can get cover by hiding behind one of its allies, and you're gonna have to move around to keep the effect alive. Still, if you can around that restriction, this can be a good, steady source of damage. Hunter's Confrontation (MP 2) - A ranged smack that allows you to knock prone every time you hit the target with a Melee attack. Better for Hunters and others who like both Melee and Ranged. Splintering Shot (PHB) - Not as strong a debuff as Excruciating Shot, but more damage on a miss and the debuff is truly permanent, not just (save ends). I like this one a little better. Tag the Prey (MP) - Weak. A lot of the powers at this same level are better. Tracing Shot (MP 2) - So... you get a lesser (and less stackable) bonus than L1's Commanding Confrontation, and for roughly the same attack damage? Nah...
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Adaptive Assault (MP) - Two swings, with a (save ends) debuff or some ongoing damage attached (both if you hit the same target). Solid, especially for Bleeders. Spitting Cobra Stance (MP)- Even with the errata limiting this to an immediate reaction, this trigger is still feasible, and it'll help you pile on some nice extra damage throughout an encounter. I like this a bit more than Flying Steel, but they're pretty close in power level.
Beastly Protector (D 387) - It requires you to be bloodied, it's a single action Beast attack on your turn, and all it does is provide a mild disincentive for enemies attacking you. Not a great idea. Bloodied Frenzy (MP) - A bit conditional, but it's a decent attack outside your turn that immobilizes. Coordinated Charge (MP 2) - A charge from you and your Beast companion. This feels like an Encounter power more than a Daily. Lacerating Maul (MP) - This is marginally above Hunter's Bear Trap. Pass. Predatory Charge (D 381)- A nice double charge for you and your Beast companion. Likely the power of choice at this level for a pure Beastmaster, though I'd go for one of the stances described above instead.
Level 6, Utility
This level is actually the blind spot in your Utility levels list; there's just a few good ones among the choices here. Melee Rangers will likely favor Death Threat for action economy or the Athletics utility Mighty Sprint, and Ranged Rangers will like Weave Through the Fray's "get away from me" clause, though Healing Lore stands out as a good universal option as well. Level 6 Utility ListShow
Arrow of the Savior (D 383) - Flavor gold, but how often does this situation really come up? Battle Runner (MP) - Could see use from a lot of Ranged Rangers. Boundless Energy (MP) - I don't think Endurance is THAT important... Clever Teamwork (MP 2) - Big shift for your companion, but a normal one for you. Meh. Death Threat (D 377) - It gets you free CA and saves you a minor action once every encounter, and that's pretty cool. It can also combine with L10's Resume the Hunt to give you a great kick-start on getting your second target down, which makes this better if you have the above mentioned power. Defensive Posture (MP) - Your pet's version of the Shield spell. A nice power to have around. Evade Ambush (PHB) - Not being surprised is nice, but as a Daily, this is not that good... Harrying Hunter Stance (D 384) - +2 to Quarry damage for flanking with your Beast and not needing to flank with your Beast for CA are decent benefits. Healing Herbs (MP 2) - One of the few ally-healing powers on your list, it has the perks of not spending a surge or any important actions. Solid enough. Healing Lore (HotFK) - Minor action healing at range 5 that can affect you or an ally? Heck yes. Invigorate the Beast (MP) - Not a bad pick if your Beast is getting hammered a lot. Leaf Wall (HotFK)- While it seems kind of weird on what is a dedicated Striker, this is basically a zone you can use to hem your opponent in, and get free combat advantage to boot. A pretty sweet choice, though it's not exactly the easiest power to use.
Off-Hand Defense (MP 2) - +1 AC for a Stance is rather underwhelming (you can forget about the +2 AC; you want to attack with both your weapons). Serpentine Dodge (MP) - One of the stronger shifting powers in the Ranger's arsenal to allow you to slip by a crowd and target the enemy you want, it even packs a defense bonus on top of it. Awesome. Skilled Companion (PHB) - Congratulations; you are officially an advice machine. Solid enough.
Stealthy Escape (MP 2) - Rerolling Stealth checks with a bonus is nice, especially when you have a chance of not expending it. I'm not the biggest fan of its being a Daily, but it's still solid. Step of Morning Mist (HotFK) - Yeah, it's a Daily, but a teleportation effect with a huge bonus to defenses is worth something on a Ranger. Thorn Ward (HotFK) - A movable zone for a pinch of autodamage if an enemy ends its turn within it. It's all right, I guess. Weave Through the Fray (PHB)- This power might force the enemy to charge or not attack at all, and the right positioning will put you just out of his reach, all but disabling an attack. A nice defensive pick.
Noteworthy Skill Powers (Blue and above)
Eyes of the Deep Delver (Dungeoneering, PHB 3) - Blindsight for a turn, just because you can. Usually, one turn is all you need. Mighty Sprint(Athletics, PHB 3) - Speed +4 is nice. Ignoring difficult terrain is also nice. An Athletics bonus for whatever stunt you may want to pull off along the way is just gravy. This is a pretty nice pick. Natural Terrain Understanding (Nature, D 385) - Though Leader-y in theme, +2 to all defenses and a free shift 2 for allies is greatly appreciated, especially on a per-encounter basis. Tumbling Dodge(Acrobatics, PHB 3) - An example of a power that gets better as time goes on. Right now, you're likely getting a +2 bonus to all defenses at best (which is still good), whereas later on you'd be looking at +4 or so. Nice. Warning of Peril(Perception, PHB 3) - Your Passive Perception officially covers a huge area. A great scouting aid outside of combat, though marginal in it.
Level 7, Encounter
Biting Volley for Ranged and Lashing Leaves for Melee are the definitive picks at this level, especially the former. Level 7 Encounter ListShow
Assess and Strike (MP 2) - This power is very similar to Claws of the Griffon, except it trades a touch of the damage for accuracy. About the same, if you ask me. Claws of the Griffon (PHB) - This power packs some hefty damage, so it's a nice choice. Deceptive Steel (D 384) - I'm not sure how many times a Ranger will OA per encounter, but it should come up at least once per fight, and this is a beautiful follow-up for when you do. The only thing that keeps it from the higher echelon of powers at this level is that you can't really pick who's getting the double whammy. Jackal Ploy (MP) - Hits Reflex, rolls twice, and has a decent effect, but you only deal damage once... Lashing Leaves (D 377) - Two swings, compounded by a nasty Wisdom-based damage buff for the entire party (get your inner Leader on). Much better than any dual-wielder power here if you ask me, especially if you pump Wisdom aggressively. Sweeping Whirlwind (PHB) - Another close burst, but this one pushes some and knocks folk prone. This is about as close as you'll ever get to being a Controller as a Melee Ranger. Surprising Throw (MP 2) - Essentially a slightly more damaging Ranged basic attack, with the option of gaining CA a little more easily than normal. Underwhelming. Toppling Rush (MP 2) - A solidly damaging single shot attack that lets you move your speed and knock someone down. Not at the level of muscle of a double attack, but solid regardless. Twofold Flinch (MP)- Not that bad an effect, but it doesn't deal any actual damage... why is this not a Utility power?
Biting Volley (MP) - 18+ crits and hitting Reflex make this a premium attack for Archers. Finishing Cut (MP 2) - A vanilla attack that gets bigger if your target is bloodied or prone. Considering that double attack powers bring more muscle, the only real use I can give this power is that it's a Dexterity-based Melee attack. Hunter's Shot (MP) - Vanilla attack that's rather reliable (roll v. AC and Reflex once each, take the one that hits). Rather similar to Hawk's Talon overall, and that's not a compliment. Pinning Shot (D 383) - A Ranged Basic that immobilizes the target and an adjacent enemy. I love immobilization on Archers, but it's tempered by the pathetic damage this deals. Spikes of the Manticore (PHB)- Allows for some strong Ranged damage, but I prefer the greatly increased critical rate and accuracy of Biting Volley over 1d10 or 1d12 damage on one of the two attacks.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Hawk's Talon (PHB)- Unless your Wisdom is in the stratosphere, this power is more than likely a waste, and even then its damage cap is pretty limited.
Beast Rush (MP) - Not much more useful than Synchronized Strike, but not bad. Fetch (MP 2) - Awesome name; the power itself is kind of lame, though. Harried Quarry (MP)- A meh setup buff. It's not very appealing IMHO.
Level 9, Daily
Attacks on the Run dominates this level for Melee Rangers, though it faces some competition as far as Ranged Rangers go in the form of Jarring Salvo and Springback Shot. Level 9 Daily ListShow
Caging Strike (MP) - A swing with some ongoing damage. I'd gladly trade ongoing 5 for Slow, and that makes your L1 Daily, Hunter's Bear Trap. Avoid, unless you're going for a Bleeder-style Ranger. Dire Bear Maul (D 375) - While this power is a bit tricky to use at full steam (you're going to need a high Fortitude and a high Reflex to be able to milk it for what it's worth, and not being able to otherwise attack can limit your options), this can help you lock up and butcher a given target while allowing little chance of escape. An actual option for Melee Rangers. Furious Fling (MP 2) - Free Quarry, and a solid Ranged attack with a little ongoing damage tacked on. Basically Bleeder-only, and only if they're into Thrown Weapons. Shocking Assault (MP 2) - ...So, you get a solid, damaging charge that immobilizes. The fact that charge support is cool for Rangers now saves it from the cellar. Swirling Leaves of Steel (PHB)- Strictly weaker than Fighter Dailies of the same level; if you want AoE (which, again, isn't your job anyway), power-swap for something better.
Close Quarters Shot (PHB) - A solidly damaging shot, but not much else. Pales in comparison to Attacks on the Run. Invigorating Confrontation (MP 2) - 5 + Wis modifier in THP is a sweet benefit for your Melee attacks, but having to toss a Ranged attack (essentially waste a turn for the Melee Rangers who can actually take advantage of the effect) for it makes it less appealing, though still solid. Jarring Salvo (MP) - 3 Ranged hits (with no modifier), all of them push and attack Fortitude. A pretty good choice, actually. If you don't want Attacks on the Run, you should probably pick this instead. Murderous Aim (D 384) - Brutal 2 on your Quarry damage amounts to +1 damage now, but it gets better with levels, so it's not too bad. Spray of Arrows (PHB) - Again, AoE, which is not your job. Springback Shot (MP 2) - An immediate interrupt shot that negates an enemy attack (unless the enemy has Reach 3+), and substitutes it with one of your own, plus a guaranteed immobilize effect. Genuinely competitive with Attacks on the Run. Thousand Arrow Awareness (D 383)- A pretty bad entry attack, and an effect that feels like a weaker version of Spitting Arrow Stance. Meh.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Attacks on the Run (PHB) - The dominating choice for Rangers in general. Stop what you're doing; behold your beautiful bride. Marked for Death (MP 2) - Two dice of extra Quarry damage is a solid buff to get, and it can be used by all stripes of Rangers. I'm not too crazy about the opening attack, though. Passing Ambush (MP) - Bleah. Too conditional to be taken seriously, and around half the damage of Attacks on the Run (since it only makes one attack). Avoid like the plague. Ranger's Recovery (MP)- A decent recycling power, it offers you the option of more damage or recovering an Encounter power (hint: you should usually take the power). Depending on the power you get back and/or the actions you have available, this could be worth a lot... or not.
Bounding Beast (MP 2) - Spreads out two Beast-only attacks. Unimpressive at best. Menacing Cry (MP) - A low-damage AoE that immobilizes. Who died and made you a Controller? Shepherding Slice (D 387)- A decent shift followed by a weak attack, and the ability to slide the enemy as an At-Will minor for the rest of the encounter, provided you hit with a Beast attack. While this can have a bit of potential shenanigans, it's a lot of work for little returns compared to other powers here.
Level 10, Utility
This level actually has a pretty crowded field, with lots of good, solid powers you can take. Ranged Rangers will probably favor Defensive Volley or Hunter's Thorn Trap, whereas Melee ones will probably be looking at Resume the Hunt. That said, there are a couple of other nice powers (such as Root Gate) that anyone can use here, too. Level 10 Utility ListShow
Agile Escape (MP 2) - If mobility denial makes you unhappy, this is a very solid power to have. Blood of the Fallen (D 377) - It's healing that doesn't consume surges or actions, and you get it for doing your job. The only downside it is that it the enemy you drop must have been your quarry. A good use of your Utility power slot. Companion Emplacement (MP) - It's not that much better than a normal move action in actual effect, but it comes out as a minor, and lets you move your companion around with little risk of retribution, which is a fairly good deal, especially if you're riding your Beast. Defensive Volley (D 383) - An ally damage-prevention power that you can use every Encounter. That's pretty sweet. Expeditious Stride (PHB) - One turn of big movement; better for Archers. Eyes of the Owl (HotFK) - Rather encounter-dependent, but free darkvision for the entire party can be a significant boon. Hunter's Thorn Trap (HotFK) - A sweet tool for a Ranged Ranger looking to stave off an enemy's pursuit, or a Melee one trying to keep a slippery opponent down, this provides a hidden zone that will slap on a bit of autodamage and an immobilize effect if an enemy steps in the chosen square. Probably at its best for Archers who aren't real big fans of moving. Hunting Party (MP) - Good to know someone has your back when you miss, eh? Think of it as a compensation damage bonus for missing, except that the method of delivery is through your allies. That said, it's utility is limited for most Rangers, who will like to fight solo pretty soon. Open the Range (PHB) - The effect is not worth being a Daily. Padfoot Advance (MP 2) - Some very stealthy flavor, if only for a turn. Prime Shift (MP) - This stance allows you to dance around the target of your Prime Shot. Solid enough. Quick Recovery (MP) - This power could potentially get rid of your Beast's negative stat effects before they really come into play, which makes it fairly solid. Resume the Hunt (MP 2) - You get to move your speed after a kill, with the entry square being OA-free, and then you get a bonus to all defenses. A great way for a Melee Ranger to get close to his next victim in a hurry, especially when combined with Death Threat at L6. Root Gate (HotFK) - This can effectively fast-forward your party's movement across a battlefield, while allowing you to bypass zones, annoying terrain, and the like. That's actually pretty good if you ask me, and it's great if your DM likes placing enemies far away from you, or has weird terrain (bridges, chasms, that sort of thing). Shed the Mark (MP) - At-will respite against an annoying battlefield condition. Kind of corner-case, but hey, it's At-Will. Undaunted Stride (PHB) - Ignoring difficult terrain could provide a decent tactical advantage. Verdant Flames (HotFK) - A zone for free combat advantage that last all fight long without a need for sustaining (you can also move it around if you have to), and it even brings a bit of auto-damage with it. That's pretty cool, especially for Archers, since CA is usually harder to come by for them. Weathered Resilience (MP 2) - There's a power that does this with less strings attached at lower level. That said, having two of them allows you to have the effect on for two fights a day, which can be big.
Noteworthy Skill Powers (Blue and above)
Crowd Cover (Stealth, PHB 3) - A pretty cool way to mess with enemy Ranged combatants, but it has its limitations (only works against ranged attacks, cover only provides +2 to all defenses). That said, it can be pretty cool if it does work. Incredible Stride(Athletics, PHB 3) - Whoa. +4 speed for the encounter is a big buff, and it obsoletes Longstrider for any who trained Athletics. A very nice choice. Reactive Surge(Endurance, PHB 3) - Healing in response to getting Bloodied? And it's there every encounter? Very nice. Spot the Path(Nature, PHB 3) - Party-wide difficult terrain ignoring is sweet.
Just a reminder: because the Ranger is a V-class, the powers have been separated into the following categories for your convenience:
• Strength- or Dexterity- based
• Beast powers
Level 13, Encounter
Off-Hand Diversion is the order of the day for Melee Rangers. Ranged Rangers love themselves some immobilization with Pinning Strike. Level 13 Encounter ListShow
Armor Splinter (PHB) - Two swings that slap on an AC debuff that can go from inconsequential to absolutely devastating, depending on your Wisdom. Good stuff for Wisdom-based Melee Rangers. Bloodlust Strike (MP) - A conditional attack, and multiattacks are likely dealing a whole heck of a lot more damage at this point. I'll pass. Nimble Defense (PHB) - Armor Splinter's defensive counterpart, its outlook is lost on a class as offensively oriented as the Ranger, especially when it only buffs AC. Off-Hand Diversion (MP) - Dual-wielding Rangers in general should consider this a prime pick; the more attacks you can squeeze off in one turn, the better, especially when it comes with free combat advantage for your whole party. Quick Throw (MP 2) - The most damaging minor action attack on the Ranger's list... but you can't focus-fire with it (seriously?!). Somewhat better for certain types of characters, but not my first pick for any Ranger build. Storm in the Trees (D 377) - Though not as focus fire-oriented as some other picks, this does attack 3 times as an Encounter power... Strength of Earth (D 381)- A move, then you swing against Reflex and knock prone. Serviceable.
Answer with Steel (MP 2) - A "don't get close" sort of power with a Melee weapon. Nice to have, since it gets you away from the trigger. Hammering Volley (MP) - Though still bad, at least this member of the "Volley" family has a decent debuff for Archers attached. Knockdown Shot (PHB) - Hits Reflex, and knocks prone. Not bad. Thread the Needle (MP 2) - While a bit odd in its outlook (only Hunters would consider a Dexterity-based attack that shoots and then engages the enemy in Melee), it does have some respectable damage if you complete the sequence. Warding Shot (D 383)- Some OK control ability in this power. I don't like the bland entry hit, though.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Pinning Strike (PHB)- Immobilizing is gold for Archers. Their prime pick.
Herd the Prey (MP) - This doesn't even have the damage to justify it as a L1 Encounter power choice, and that's what you're about, being a Ranger. Avoid like the plague. Knockdown Pounce (MP) - Allows your Beast to shift a lot, and a knockdown attack. Decent. Ravaging Tide (MP 2)- A single attack Beast power with some lame automatic damage. Very bad.
Level 15, Daily
Melee Rangers pick up Blade Cascade. End of story. As for Ranged, Confounding Arrows is very, very good, almost to the level of the former. Level 15 Daily ListShow
Barreling the Fish (MP 2) - Even though its critical hit rate is nothing short of epic, it's only one attack per target. Not strong enough to be a Daily. Blade Cascade (PHB) - Even with the errata limiting it to 5 attacks, this is still the premier pick for any dual-wielding Ranger; it's just too good to pass up. Questing Blades (D 384) - A decent hit, and the ability to hit the lowest of 3 defenses. While this will likely up your hit rate dramatically, I can't really justify a single hit power with Blade Cascade doing rounds at this level. Steeling Flurry (MP) - A rather vanilla multiattack AoE. Could be worse (at least it attacks twice...). Stunning Steel (PHB)- Hits Fortitude for some weak damage (for a Daily), and stuns (save ends) if both attacks hit. It would probably receive a LOT more attention if it weren't at the same level Blade Cascade is...
Armor-Piercing Shot (MP) - It hits Reflex and it's Reliable, but so is a Rogue L1 Daily that carries the same weapon damage multiplier (granted, that attack is Melee, but 14 levels of difference should have netted you more than just a range increase). Garbage. Bleeding Wounds (PHB) - A triple shooter that hands out a progressively larger amount of ongoing damage. It's pretty good, but Confounding Arrows is just plain better. Confounding Arrows (PHB) - Three hits that will deal more damage than Bleeding Wounds in the round you shoot, and they STUN (I repeat: They STUN). Not a contest, really. Overwhelming Confrontation (MP 2) - Another power in the "Ranged buffs Melee" lines, the dazing effect is nice, though you likely will not use the stun all that often (if you want stun in Melee, there's a power on the Melee list that does it better). Tracking the Target (D 383) - Punishes enemies for clustering. Who do you think you are, a Wizard? Tracking Shot (MP) - +Wis on your next attack is a very underwhelming buff for a Daily at this levels. Slap it on as a (save ends) debuff or something so it at least attempts to attract my attention... Trick Shot (MP 2)- Spread-out fire with unreliable (and unimpressive) effects? Not my cup of tea.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Arterial Strike (MP) - Thoroughly unimpressive, and only Reliability and an aftereffect save it from being a detriment to your character, considering what's available. Deadly Nightshade (MP 2) - While still very underwhelming, this power at least slaps on a debuff with its ongoing damage. Reactive Shot (MP 2)- Kill things before combat even starts! Sweet (and a great RP power, too).
Aligned Strike (D 387) - A beast attack + a Ranger attack is strictly inferior to two Ranger attacks (and at this level you get one that lets you make 5), and this power doesn't even let you hit the same target twice. Trash. Blood Frenzy (MP) - A decent buff for your companion after a decent swing from you. It's OK. Fearsome Beast (MP 2) - Turning your Beast into a Defender-lite is a good way to get the bang for your buck on the additional HP source. Still, the entry attack is trash. Scent of Fear (MP)- This is your first taste of what you will be doing all the time at Epic; minor action Beast attacks. If you take it, retrain it out quickly during Epic tier, as it will become useless the second you pick up the Quick Beast Command feat.
Level 16, Utility
This continues Level 10's tradition of solid utility powers. I like Evade the Blow or Ranger's Parry for Melee and Howling Winds or WaryShooter for Ranged, though they do face some competition. Reflexive Dodge (Acrobatics) is also a strong choice, but see comment as it can generate a rules debate. Level 16 Utility ListShow
Back on Target (D 383) - A reroll with a bonus for an ally is good, but being a Daily makes it just OK. Blade and Bow (MP 2) - Your Ranged buffs your Melee, and vice versa. Basically a souped-up version of Manticore's Fury, which is OK for this level. Curving Shot (MP) - A Daily reroll for an At-Will attack power? When Twin Strike is already rolling twice? I would go so far as to say this power is insulting (have you seen the Barbarian's Combat Surge and the Warlock's Dark One's Own Luck at L6?!). Embrace the Wild (HotFK) - An all-fight-long buff for you or an ally, though its utility varies depending on the fight. Evade the Blow (PHB) - This is awesome to use against creatures that look to keep you at the edge of their reach, and for Archers to disengage from Melee. Howling Winds (HotFK) - Free action sliding for a whole fight? This is a potential gold mine for a Ranged Ranger, and it can even be decent for a Melee who has the Wisdom (and minor action) for it. Iron Endurance (HotFK) - Your healing surge value + 10 is a lot of THP to be had, though its being a Daily is kind of limiting. Longstrider (PHB) - Though somewhat obsoleted by a Skill power that has everything this offers and more, it's still an option for those who choose not to train Athletics. Mirror of Steel (D 377) - It doesn't protect you from AoE's, eats up your Stance slot, and only provides a +1 to all defenses? Pass. Momentary Respite (PHB) - A collection of decent benefits. Being a Daily and costing a Standard action is just too high a price for them, though. Pack Stealth (MP) - It allows you to hide in normal cover/concealment v. total cover/concealment, and to boot, it lets you bring your Beast along. Solid enough. Ranger's Parry (MP 2) - +4 to AC and Reflex is a big defensive buff, and 10 THP as the cherry on top only makes it better. While not as potentially awesome as Evade the Blow, you can use it more often, and the effect can save you from more situations and types of attacks. Shared Healing (MP) - Some healing for the Beastie and for you. Sweet, especially for a Striker. Stalker's Senses (MP) - Another underwhelming stance. Tree Runner (MP 2) - Don't know how often you have to actually run up trees, but this is awesome for when you do. Vengeful Oath (MP 2) - The trigger is kind of awkward (sometimes, allies LIKE to be bloodied, and other times, you're too busy to want to disengage), but the effect is strong enough to make it a choice. Wall of Earth (HotFK) - A large wall you can use to hem people in, as well as knock them prone, and it can make some difficult terrain should you fail to sustain. Not your typical cup of tea, but not exactly a bad thing, either. Wary Shooter (MP) - Look for Prime Shot with impunity while this effect lasts. Wolfjaw Blows (D 375) - A nice and mean Stance power, this can help set up Headsman's Chop and other prone shenanigans with you or other party members, or just plain help out your allies by letting them all share in the combat advantage you had over an enemy. A nice pick. Word of Warning (HotFK)- A solid bonus to your party's initiative (though it won't stack with things like a Warlord's Combat Leader or a Battle Harness), and free CA for the first round of a fight. Solid.
Noteworthy Skill Powers (Blue and above)
Deepening Gloom(Stealth, PHB 3) - This is a nice one; making yourself invisible to the target instantly slaps on a hefty penalty for his attack, and given that this is an interrupt, it could potentially negate a hit. Nightshade Draught (Nature, D 385) - Anything that keeps you from dropping dead is appreciated on a Ranger, especially when it allows you to operate at full efficiency (just remember to heal ASAP). Reflexive Dodge (Acrobatics, PHB 3) - This power can be incredibly useful, but can generate a rules debate. As an immediate interrupt, it is normally possible to use the shift attached to the power to turn a hit on a close or area power into a miss by shifting outside the area of effect. This would seem to go against the "spirit" of the power by avoiding damage, instead of halving it. So for home games, you might want to run the power by your DM, before selecting it.
Level 17, Encounter
If you're Melee, Untamed Outburst is the power for you. Ranged characters favor the awesome triple-shooter Pounding Barrage or the immediate-application negate + respond Duck and Draw. Level 17 Encounter ListShow
Canopy of Blades (D 377) - The damage is lame (just a little more than a Twin Strike), but the hefty bonus to all defenses makes up for it. This is not that bad an idea. Cheetah's Rake (PHB) - A close burst attack that knocks prone and immobilizes. You're not a "spread the love" kind of guy, so it's not that great for you, but it's not a bad power overall. Reproving Strike (MP 2) - The whole "vengeance" fluff angle is decent, but a single-strike power just doesn't cut the mustard for a Ranger. Two-Weapon Eviscerate (PHB) - Two hits, one target; if you hit, more damage, and weakening. It's pretty decent, but there are meatier options to be had here. Untamed Outburst (MP) - Two stronger-than-average attacks that come with a bonus to hit and some dazing if both hit. The power of choice for dual-wielders. Wolverine Claw Strike (MP 2)- Don't spread out your damage when you can focus fire. Strictly worse than L13's Nimble Defense IMHO, since the AC buff and single-target damage are lacking compared to it.
Arrow of Vengeance (PHB) - An out-of-turn attack that's easy to trigger, and it comes with an attack bonus. Duck and Draw (MP 2) - This power allows to get close in Melee, then retreat when attacked while leaving a parting gift attack. If you like getting your Prime Shot bonuses, this is a great power for you. Entrapping Arrows (D 383) - While the entry damage is piddly, you do get a very strong control buff (you basically play Fighter for a turn). Not flashy, but solid. Pounding Barrage (MP) - Three shots, with extra damage and immobilization thrown in if more than one hits. This power is awesome. Suppressing Shots (MP 2) - Needless to say, I'm not a fan of the initial attack (though it does immobilize...). However, the zone it creates is brutal. Not the top choice, but not a waste of space, either. Triple Shot (PHB) - This power has been made obsolete by Pounding Barrage (read: DON'T TAKE THIS POWER RIGHT NOW), BUT you might want to consider it later on; one of the latter Encounter power lineups (L27) is missing a triple shooter, and though this is bland, it's better than nothing...
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Blow-Through Assault (MP)- It's a souped-up version of the Fighter's Cleave. The problems are that it's (a) not what you're looking for in a power and (b) not that strong anyway.
Blade and Fang (MP) - This is conditionally weaker than L3's Paired Predators. What it's doing all the way up here at L17, I have no idea... Hounding Beast (MP) - Your Beast follows folk around. Whatever. Lights Out (D 387) - Two blinding attacks bring something that are rare in the Ranger list (status effects), but the inability to focus fire and the fact that it has a Beast attack included hold it back. Swooping Raptor (D 384) - For some Beasts, it's marginally better than Paired Predators at L3. For others, it's about the same. Skip this one.
Level 19, Daily
Melee folk get the brutal Cruel Cage of Steel to round out their nova arsenal. Ranged Rangers who like some control can check out Surprising Arrow Stance, though if you're looking for more damage muscle you're probably better off looking to pick up another of the previous list of Dailies (Bleeding Wounds or Reactive Shot will likely do the trick). Level 19 Daily ListShow
Cruel Cage of Steel (PHB) - Another fantastic dual-wielder power, this lays a serious hurting on your opponent, and it carries an accuracy bonus along with a lethal cocktail of status effects. For Two-Blade Rangers, the L19 power list ends here. Driving Offensive (MP) - Weaker than Cruel Cage of Steel, but daze (save ends) is nothing to sneeze at. Ringing the Bell (MP 2) - Ongoing damage and a daze is nice, but a single-attack power when Cruel Cage of Steel is up for grabs? Not. Gonna. Happen. Threefold Assault (MP) - This power is interesting because it's made for Thrown Weapon Rangers, who don't have many powers designed specifically for them. With the proper context in mind, it's actually a pretty decent power. Wounding Whirlwind (PHB)- Multiattacking AoE with ongoing damage tacked on. It's all right (for an area attack).
Barbed Arrows (MP 2) - Spreads out two attacks, and the debuff is lacking. Not what you're looking for. Dead Stop (MP) - A pretty conditional trigger, but everything else is good (who doesn't like to stop charges?). Frantic Assault (MP 2) - Basically a better version of L1's Commanding Confrontation, since the "damage buff" is a bit higher and it hits enemies in an area around you. Still, wasting a round in order to get the buff is harsh. Great Ram Arrow (PHB) - Decent damage, and a push effect that can go from low to huge, depending on your Str. Best for Balanced builds, but the fact that it's a single attack holds it back. Surprising Arrow Stance (D 383) - Spitting-Cobra Stance's bigger, meaner brother, it packs a bit more damage per hit along with a Fighter-esque mobility-stuffing after-effect. It can produce a few extra attacks and provides a decent measure of control, but not all Archers are in the market for that. Two-in-One Shot (PHB) - While it has some nice accuracy on the second attack if you hit with the first, this power offers little in additional punch (and actually less of that than Attacks on the Run). Serviceable enough. Unrestrained Aggression (MP 2)- Big area attack that hands you a free action Quarry and some lame damage. Can I have the free Quarry and put it on another Daily instead?
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Claim the Prize (MP)- Not worth your time, as are all Daily powers that only attack once as a standard action during your turn at this point as a Ranger.
Crippling Spiral (MP 2) - Finally, a Beast power that's actually good! Negating fly speed while double attacking and allowing your companion to shift has potential if you ask me. A bit niche (thrown weapon Beastmasters?), but still worth using. Ferocious Roar (MP) - Haven't we gone over this already? This time, it's arguably more egregious to select this power, considering how poorly Beast damage scales compared to Ranger damage. Gnawing Assault (MP) - Another unimpressive Beast power.
Just a reminder: because the Ranger is a V-class, the powers have been separated into the following categories for your convenience:
• Strength- or Dexterity- based
• Beast powers
Level 22, Utility
Your Utility power capstone power list is very strong; there are a lot of good powers, and even though none of them truly stands out, that's because the difference in power level for most is pretty minimal. I am most partial to Master of the Hunt for its raw damage and Adamant Recovery for its universal Revive button but this indeed is a great list. Level 22 Utility ListShow
Adamant Recovery (MP) - A good "emergency" button to have in your back pocket. Goes a long way towards making you more self-sufficient. Daunting Agility (MP 2) - Shifting your speed with an Athletics bonus attached can be useful, though it is rather overdue. Fade from Sight (MP 2) - A decent Stealth-related Utility. Not at the level of Forest Ghost, but it can be used more frequently. Fleet Hunter's Stance (D 384) - Shifting 1 square after every multiple attack power essentially guarantees 1 extra shift per turn, and it can even help you maneuver about to avoid wasting actions because you burned your minor actions and killed an enemy. Very solid. Fleet of Foot (MP 2) - Not provoking OA's for moving is nice to have, as is not granting CA while running. Pretty cool. Forest Ghost (PHB) - Given the proper setup, this means encounter-long invisibility, which will make you almost impossible to hurt, which makes Archers in particular salivate over it. Hit the Dirt (PHB) - A decent "get out of the way" power. Hunt the Herd (MP) - Not that great, but if you have a lot of Close Bursts, you should pick it. However, the fact that you can take advantage of this power makes me question your previous selections. Master of the Hunt (PHB) - Depending on your Wisdom, this can go from worthless to godly, but it tends toward the latter. Preternatural Senses (MP) - Blindsight can get you out of a lot of jams, and your Stance slot is not as occupied as, say, a Fighter's. Consider it. Selfless Sacrifice (MP) - The effect is not strong enough to be a Daily. Skip. Safe Stride (PHB) - A no-strings-attached Encounter movement power that allows you to shift a distance that can go from pitiful to large, depending on your build. Sharpen the Senses (MP 2) - Detecting invisible creatures is sweet, as is the Perception bonus. Speed of the Zephyr (HotFK) - Not really sure you need this much speed, but if you think you do, here it is. Stepping Through the Veil (HotFK) - A sweet power for the Ranged Rangers in the audience, it rewards your ability to stay away from enemies by making you invisible. Tested Analysis (MP 2) - You get a marginally stronger version of the Correcting Aim feat. Solid, but it faces very stiff competition. Veil of Winter (HotFK) - A movable zone that straight-up blocks line of sight for your enemies while not affecting your allies in the slightest is potentially worth having. Verdant Silence (D 377) - The only issue I have with this power is its requiring a healing surge (don't know if you noticed, but you don't have many to spare...). Wild Dash (MP) - A shift by your beast outside your turn that can avoid an attack or block an enemy's step. Solid. Wrath of Root and Soil (HotFK)- While the difficult terrain this zone creates affects friends and foes, which is kind of a bummer, this can be a nasty "keep-away" tool for an Archer that doesn't want to be engaged, since it can restrain anyone foolish enough to end its turn in the zone and makes the terrain more difficult to traverse. That said, fliers are unaffected by it.
Level 23, Encounter
Melee Rangers love their minor action attacks, so Nonchalant Collapse is the natural choice. Ranged Rangers get another awesome triple shooter in Manticore's Volley. Level 23 Encounter ListShow
Avalanche of Fury (MP 2) - While generic in that it's damage and nothing else, the fact that you don't expend it until both attacks connect is worth something. Blade Ward (PHB) - Soooo... you get +1 to your weapon damage multiplier over Disruptive Strike, and the attack debuff is guaranteed, but the debuff goes down by 3, you have to be dual-wielding, and you can't protect allies? I waited 20 levels for this?! Cloak of Thorns (PHB) - Two debuffing swings, and a "Don't you dare attack me" sort of aftereffect. It's good on you, but it would be something fearsome if you could somehow compel the opponent to actually attack you and suffer the beating in wait for it. Crashing Blades (D 377) - This is strictly weaker than L17's Untamed Outburst. Garbage. Nonchalant Collapse (MP) - A minor action swing against Fortitude that knocks prone. Awesome, especially because it lets you squeeze in some more 'oomph' on nova turn. Ricochet Throw (MP 2) - While the thematics of the power are very cool, the mechanics themselves do not impress.
Dangerous Friends (D 383) - Again, punishment for clustering. Not impressive. Dazing Volley (MP) - The first member of the "Volley" family to not abysmally suck, due mainly to dazing and the solid weapon damage dice. Still not what you should be looking for, though. Flickering Blades (MP 2) - Another Dexterity-based Melee attack. Spreading out the damage is not what you're looking for, though. Hammer Shot (PHB) - A big weapon damage attack against Fortitude, and a LONG push effect. Its problem lies in that it's just one hit. Hobbling Shot (MP) - This is about equivalent with Hammer Shot (hitting AC is not quite the same as hitting Fortitude, but immobilizing is better than pushing, most of the time). I'd take my chances targeting AC, if I were to pick one, but it's a pretty close call IMHO. Manticore's Volley (PHB) - Some potentially Daily-esque damage. The dominating choice for Archers in an otherwise unremarkable level for them. Windwalk Strike (MP 2)- Spreads out the damage, but at least you get to shift your speed and grab free Combat Advantage.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Wolf Howl Strike (MP 2)- Essentially a "charge" that allows you to have CA if you were hidden if you're Melee, or a move-and-shoot (with the same CA benefit) if Ranged. Unimpressive.
Chase Down (MP) - Swing + slide. A theme that is far too common among Beast powers, and not significant enough for you to care. Overwhelming Fury (MP)- A decent enough Beast power.
Level 25, Daily
At this level, Melee Rangers will likely gravitate toward Circling Cascade, though some might choose to stick to what they have. Unfortunately for Ranged Rangers, they don't even have that choice: nothing in this list is really worth having. Easily the most underwhelming Ranger Daily level. Level 25 Daily ListShow
Circling Cascade (MP 2)- Another triple-hitting power for the Melee Ranger's collection. It also offers some solid shifting and dazing if you land the whole sequence. While good, it's not quite as good as L19's Cruel Cage of Steel, and that may give some Rangers pause.
Deadly Sidestep (MP 2) - Hits outside your turn for good damage, dazing, sliding, and it knocks prone to boot. Potentially devastating, though it does require a Melee weapon. Incapacitating Confrontation (MP 2) - Another "Ranged buffs Melee" power, weakening can pack some decent defensive kick, but I think you likely are sacrificing a bit too much to get it. Pinning Arrow Rain (D 383) - An AoE that can immobilize with solid damage, or restrain with better damage if you hit the target twice. While this is a bit Controller-ish for my taste and it obviously doesn't deal the big damage, there's no denying it's solid. Pulverizing Shot (MP 2) - To put it simply, a trap. The lack of static bonuses means that (in all likelihood) your Twin Strike can outdamage this power, improved critical rate be damned. True-Eye Shot (MP) - The whole "Ranged sight" bit is unnecessary; your weapon's range will be likely as long as your line of sight, and a standard-action, single-shooting power that is saddled with an attack penalty is utter crap. Unstoppable Arrows (PHB)- Again, AoE is NOT your job, especially if it's just a generic one.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Ambusher's Reaping (MP) - A solid shot vs. two foes, with a conditional trigger. Eh. Bloodstorm (PHB) - Strictly inferior to Attacks on the Run in almost every way. Do not take this. Ranger's Resurgence (MP) - Though it only offers one attack, the power-recursion shenanigans cannot be ignored completely (the extra damage will almost never be better than going for another Ranger Encounter power). Tiger's Reflex (PHB)- Glorious, if and only if you can force opponents to attack you. Best if you can attract attention consistently via positioning or any marking power you can pick up. It's much better on a dedicated Defender, though.
Aid the Beast (MP 2) - A serious contender for "best Beastmaster power ever". While it does run off Ranged weapons, it's Strength-friendly, and free attacks from the Beast as a minor action plus free attacks from you as a minor action means you can actually rack up the damage this encounter. Fearsome Roar (D 387) - It hits Will, but a single Beast attack is terrible for a Daily. It has a daze and opens up an AoE option as well, but these are things the average Ranger quite simply does not care about. Primal Rampage (MP) - Can be used on a charge, and packs debuffs. A good choice for Beastmasters. Pursuit of the Wild Hunt (MP) - You turn your Beast into a Fighter. Combine with an actual Defender for some chuckles. Thunderfury Charge (D 381) - A charge from you, then your Beast companion gets a piece of whoever was in your way. Serviceable. Vengeful Fangs Stance (D 384)- Aid the Beast faces competition on the "best Beastmaster power ever" front: this buffs your companion to the point where he will likely be making a significant damage contribution during the combat (gasp!). A very nice (and very overdue) choice for Beastmasters.
Level 27, Encounter
Death Rend is the dominant choice power for Melee Rangers. Ranged Rangers get a sweet out-of-turn attack in Lightning Shot. Level 27 Encounter ListShow
Death Rend (PHB) - The dual-wielding Ranger Encounter power capstone. A must if you're using that combat style. Seeking Roots (D 377) - Are you seriously comparing this power to Death Rend? Honestly... Skewering Shot (MP 2) - Unimpressive by itself, but throw in an allied forced movement specialist and the damage that this power can put out will be better, but still not enough to trump Death Rend. Steel Breeze (MP 2) - Again, it spreads out your damage, but slapping on a daze effect on 3 separate enemies can do a lot for your party. Unstable Gash (MP) - A Controller-ish power, it offers more damage if the target attacks. Meh. Wandering Tornado (PHB)- About comparable with the Fighter's Cruel Reaper (less damage, but much more shifting distance). This is about the only multiattacking AoE Encounter power you get, so it's not the worst choice you can make at this level (but it sure isn't the best).
Hail of Arrows (PHB) - At this point in your career, you probably won't be in many large encounters, so this is just OK. If you face armies of minions on anything above a semi-regular basis, this power is an 'I win' button. Interrupting Volley (D 383) - Basically, this is a vanilla Ranged attack with Disruptive Strike as an aftereffect. If the initial attack was better, this would be rated higher. As it is, I'd just keep Disruptive Strike. Lightning Shot (PHB) - An easy-to-trigger, out-of-turn attack with solid damage. I like this about as much as Arrow of Vengeance because of the offensive bent to its trigger. Rolling Fire (MP 2)- The last of the Dexterity-based Melee attacks, it once again spreads out your damage, but at least hands you a free shift to compensate. Not really what you're looking for, though.
Beastly Vise (MP) - Immobilization is good, as it means another round of flanking with no effort from you, but there's just no excuse for a standard-action, single-attack power at this point in your career. Catch and Drop (MP) - A decent 1-2 punch power. Two-Beast Strike (MP 2)- Some decent damage, and you get to keep the power if the Beast attack misses. Solid enough.
Level 29, Daily
Capstone time! Ranged Rangers get a bona fide monstrous power in Five-Missile Dance here. The pickings are slimmer for Melee Rangers - while Follow-Up Blow, Weave a Web of Steel, and Ultimate Confrontation are good, they do have their flaws, and I wouldn't be completely surprised if a Ranger decided to skip out on all of them. Level 29 Daily ListShow
Culling Out (MP 2) - A charge for decent damage with a "drag" effect. Not at the level a capstone should be. Follow-Up Blow (PHB) - With the latest errata, this stance is actually rather average, since the free attack is at a penalty, and you can only generate one at a time. You can take it if you like, but it's nothing special any more. Gauntlet of Steel (MP 2) - A "hit as you go" power. Solid, but compare it to the competition and you'll see why it's lacking. Suffering's End (MP) - Conditional big damage single attack that is strong on a miss, which is its only saving grace. Twin-Strike Tornado (MP) - A large-radius AoE that only attacks once. NO. Weave a Web of Steel (PHB)- An absolutely brutal counter move, this power basically negates your opponent's attack and substitutes it with two attacks of your own. That's good to have if you ask me.
Five-Missile Dance (MP) - The Ranged Ranger's long-overdue answer to the Melee Ranger's Blade Cascade. A proper captsone power, and one that you would be nuts to miss out on. Imprisoning Arrows (D 383) - A decent power that can rack up plenty of extra attacks against a target as the fight wears on. Not quite as good as Five-Missile Dance, though, especially with the rather lame initial attack. Three-in-One Shot (PHB) - While it definitely doesn't pack the power of Five-Missile Dance (which is the power you should take), this offers some solid, reliable damage if the first attack hits. Not all that terrible. True Arrow (MP 2) - A single attack at L29? What were they thinking?! Ultimate Confrontation (MP 2)- Don't be fooled by the fact that this is a Ranged Weapon attack; this power is made for Melee Rangers to set up a big, bad nova turn. It can quite possibly add silly amounts of damage to a concentrated turn of offense (provided you can string a few hits together), and as such is a good power for Melee Rangers.
Strength- or Dexterity-based:
Huntmaster's Bloodbath (MP)- Only Bleeder builds need apply, and they'd be better-served with something else, frankly.
Brutal Tempest (MP 2) - By the gods, is this bad. Less range and much less damage than Twin-Strike Tornado, which is already Red. I may have to invent a new rating below it just to quantify how bad this power really is. Huntmaster's Mauling (MP) - A decent 1-2 punch with the Beast. Just not up to par with what the other powers have to offer.
The emphasis here is on 'recommended' feats: I won't be talking about feats that are rated lower than Black, because they're likely just not a good idea for your character or an outright trap. Overall, you have certain priorities when it comes to feats, which are described as follows: 1. Damage bonuses - You are a damage-oriented Striker first and foremost, and every damage bonus you pick up is at least doubled, because of your multiple attack capacity. Stuff like extra attacks and improved critical hit rate fall within this category. 2. Accuracy bonuses - Of course, all the damage in the world won't help you if your hit rate is in the gutter, so you need some accuracy bonuses to get your damage across, even if they're conditional ones, as long as the condition can be met regularly (like the Prime Shot enhancers or the Prime Punisher feat). 3. Defense bonuses - Rangers in general like getting up close and personal with their enemies, so a modicum of defense is a necessity in order to ensure you survive to deal their damage. This mainly focuses on your AC, which is most likely to be targeted in the frontline, but don't neglect the other 3 (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will, commonly referred to as non-AC defenses or NAD's). 4. Power recovery - Recovering powers allows you to string together some crazy attack chains as well as letting you pull off more stunts throughout the encounter, so they're a pretty good choice once your baseline abilities are squared away. 5. Miscellaneous - Once you've taken care of the 4 above points, you can pretty much grab whatever you want, if you have the room. Archers particularly prize any mobility-denial feats you can get your hands on, whereas Melee Rangers are more partial to improving your ability to position yourself. Class FeatsShow
Agile Running Attack (MP 2) - Ignoring difficult terrain while moving about is nice to have, but not really a necessity. Beast Protector (MP) - Virtually every Beastmaster should have this feat, because it makes your Beast a source for more attacks from you just by standing there. Beast Rider (D 384) - While it's certainly not a must-have for every Beastmaster ever, there are certain things that can be pulled off thanks to this feat that are actually quite nice. Flank on the Run (MP 2) - Manuever into flanking position, essentially at will. Sweet. Hunter's Aim (MP) - Cover and concealment can be annoying if you're trying to shoot from the back rank; this takes all that away. Especially synergistic with a Raptor companion. Hobbling Strike (MP 2) - Slowing on an Archer means your Melee opponents will likely never get close enough to engage you, and that is awesome, especially when you only give up 1 die of Hunter's Quarry damage to do it. A cool trick to keep in your back pocket. Lethal Hunter (PHB) - This feat is not out of this world, but hey, extra damage is always good. It shines a little brighter in Paragon and Epic than it does at Heroic. Manticore's Fury (MP 2) - If you're gonna go for a Balanced Ranger, this is the feat for you. Martial Freedom (MP) - A strong bonus to fight off annoying status effects. Solid enough. Martial Ploy (MP 2) - A reroll is usually significantly better than a flat +2 bonus, though you would prefer to be the recipient of this ability rather than the source. Predatory Action (MP) - One round of double Quarry damage. Not really worth the slot until around Paragon or Epic, though. Scion of Onat (D 387) - The skill training is nice to have (even if most won't use Streetwise for much), but the real cool part is the ability to heal your Beast when you are healed. Second Shot (MP 2) - Rather conditional, but hey, increased targeting capacity is nice. Staggering Strike (MP 2)- If you're willing to trade some damage for control, this will give you some pushing for your arsenal.
Bleeding Precision (MP) - An untyped ongoing 5 damage (or +5 to your ongoing damage) is never a bad rider effect to have on your Dailies, and it sure makes Bleeder builds very, very happy. Called Shot (D 368) - One of the major reasons why keeping Prime Shot as an Archer is worth it, and it’s pretty good for Melee Rangers, too, thanks to Prime Punisher. Deft Blade (MP 2) - If you want accuracy, hitting Reflex on basic attacks is a heck of a way to get it. Distracting Companion (MP) - Under the right circumstances, this can be -2 to hit forever against your opponent. Debuffs for doing your job as a Beastmaster Ranger? That's cool. Flanking Beast Master (D 387) - Rather feat intensive, but +1 extra to hit when flanking is hard to pass up. Hunter's Resurgence (MP) - A nice grab... if you have the room for it, which is rather doubtful. Impaling Spear (MP 2) - Hitting Reflex can add accuracy to your basic attacks, and it can even serve as a way to make charging work on a Ranger. Poisonous Beast (MP 2) - Hooray for poison damage. That said, you still shouldn't look to attack with your Beast until Epic. Prime Punisher (D 373) - Melee Rangers, behold: A use for your Prime Shot class feature! And an incentive to pick up the Prime Shot feats. A Melee Ranger with the full tree can be busting out +2 to hit, +5 to damage quite easily on enemies not adjacent to any other party member, making you a high-quality finisher. Prime Quarry (MP) - +2 to hit from Prime Shot makes it a pretty sizable bonus, and definitely worth going after. Protective Beast (MP) - A bonus to AC when sitting next to your Beast (or on it). Could be worse. Retreat Technique (MP 2)- Requires a particular sort of power to be used on an every-turn basis, but it's pretty cool if you do get it to work.
Coorecting Aim (MP) - +2 to hit after a miss is a pretty decent use of a feat. Epic Recovery (MP) - An extra second wind per encounter is only good for a Dwarf, since most folks aren't all that likely to even blow their first one, but you never know... Expert Skirmisher (MP 2) - A must for the Running Rangers in the audience. Improved Prime Shot (MP) - It's Prime Quarry... sans the Quarry condition. A solid use of your retraining feature. Martial Mastery (MP) - Last I checked, power recovery was kind of good. Pretty nuts for any character, especially one that can attack as many times as you can (Archers recover their triple shooters and immediate action shots, Two-Blade Rangers recover their minor action attacks, you get the idea...). Martial Resolve (MP) - A very good way to help yourself out of certain conditions. If you have Martial Freedom, you're probably going to retrain it into this. Peerless Hunter (MP) - Quarrying two targets for a single action can save you a few minor actions. This is even better for Battlefield Archers than it is for most other Rangers, because its Quarry cap is much higher than for most, and you hand out a bonus to hit for your whole party against a Quarry. Prime Hunter (MP) - While similar to the Prime Punisher feat tree at first glance, keeping allies and enemies away from your intended target makes it harder to guarantee this bonus. That said, it can be good if you or your allies have a mechanism to make that happen. Quick Beast Command (MP) - This is the favorite feat of any Beastmaster. It ramps up your Beast's usefulness in a dramatic fashion. You need this if you plan to keep pace with the other combat styles in the damage department. Rending Tempest (MP) - This feat adds extra weapon damage after using a dual-wielder power, which can snowball quite impressively on a nova turn. As such, nova Rangers should consider this feat a must-have. Resilient Beast (MP 2) - Makes your Beast more able to stand and soak hits for you. Slashing Storm (MP 2) - Your Wisdom in automatic damage all around you for hitting with a melee attack? Tasty. Surprise Action (MP) - A bit conditional, but the ability to take a whole turn in the surprise round instead of a single action rocks.
Armor Proficiency (PHB) - Dexterity-based builds have no need for this feat. Those who aren't will want to look at Scale or Plate. Blindfighting Warrior (HotFK) - Helps you compensate against effect that rob you of your sight, which can be nice to have, if a bit encounter-dependent. Bow Expertise (HotFL) - A scaling bonus to hit, and some neat extra damage against isolated opponents, too. Crossbow Expertise (HotFL) - Ignoring cover is pretty nice on someone who spends quality time in the back rank. Cunning Stalker (HotFK) - CA when you have isolation against your target. Not the easiest thing to make happen, but it's amazing if you can do it. Distant Advantage (PHB 2) - A nice feat for Archers in Heroic Tier, especially Beastmasters (because they don't get Prime Shot or Running Attack). Somewhat overshadowed by the Frost Weapon combo after Heroic, though. Great Fortitude/Iron Will/Lightning Reflexes (PHB) - A feat bonus for one NAD, that scales with tier. Good... if you can afford them. Grounding Shot (PHB 3) - This prevents people from messing with your shots by dropping prone, and it's even better if you have allies that like knocking people prone, like Polearm Fighters. Headsman's Chop (PHB 3) - A hefty damage bonus against prone enemies, it'll get a whole lot better should you find a way to consistently knock enemies down and keep them down. Heavy Blade Expertise (HotFL) - Great attack bonus scaling, and a bonus to OA's as some icing. Improved Defenses (HotFL) - A nice, scaling bonus to your NAD's. Something that I highly recommend you grab. Improved Initiative (PHB) - Helps you go first, which is always good to get your damage and the like across. Doesn't stack with Quick Draw. Light Blade Expertise (HotFL) - A scaling accuracy bonus, and some extra damage if you have CA. Excellent. Master at Arms (HotFL) - A +1 to hit per tier increases your base competence by a lot, and action economy on your drawing isn't half bad either. Nimble Blade (PHB) - If you like Light Blades, you want this feat. Power Attack (PHB) - Use with caution; you might want a bit of insurance before you jeopardize a hit. Hammer and Scimitar wielders are the usual beneficiaries, as are folks whose hit rate is simply too high for this to majorly affect them. Quick Draw (PHB) - A sweet feat for Balanced Rangers (Str/Dex), as it allows them to bypass some of the detriments of their weapon style, and nets you some initiative bonuses while you're at it (doesn't stack with Improved Initiative, though). A strong pick, though most Hunters won't have to worry about it: they get it by default. Resilient Focus (HotFL) - +2 to all saving throws can be pretty useful. Silvery Glow (D 386) - While it makes you worship a specific Deity and is worthless without Permafrost, this actually provides a little extra damage over Weapon Focus, which is excellent for a Ranger. Skill Power (PHB 3) - A nice way to expand your Utility repertoire, and keep a useful power in your back pocket. Speed Loader (PHB 2) - Makes Crossbows a lot more appealing. Spring Step (PHB 3) - Prevents people from knocking you prone, then hovering 1 square outside your reach, forcing you to crawl and attack. Superior Fortitude (HotFL) - A scaling bonus to Fortitude, and it throws in some resist all against ongoing damage as a bonus. That's pretty sweet. Superior Reflexes (HotFL) - Gets you free combat advantage on the first turn of every fight, as well as a scaling bonus to Reflex. Pretty nice for everyone, and just about every Ranger should meet the pre-requisites. Superior Will (HotFL) - A big bonus to Will, and a better chance to shake off dazing and stunning. This one if tempting even if you're patching your NADs with Improved Defenses. Timely Respite (PHB 2) - A free saving throw when you second wind can be pretty darned cool. Toughness (PHB) - More HP is awesome. Two-Blade Rangers get this for free, so they don't have to worry about it. Marauders likely want it. Archers and Hunters may want to pick it up if they plan on abusing Prime Shot (hint: they should). Beastmasters can pretty much live without it, though. Two-Weapon Defense (PHB) - A +1 bonus to AC and Reflex for a feat is a pretty good deal. Two-Weapon Fighting (PHB) - It provides a nice bit of extra damage, and it opens up access to some nice feats as well. Vicious Advantage (PHB 3) - A nice way to expand your probabilities of getting CA, especially if you took a feat like Hobbling Strike. Weapon Focus (PHB) - Damage bonus, which is absolutely golden for a Striker, especially when you can potentially get the bonus twice in one turn. Weapon Proficiency (PHB) - Most Rangers will pick this feat up, as Bastard Swords, Craghammers, Double Swords, Greatbows, Superior Crossbows, Triple-headed Flails, and Waraxes all require it. Wintertouched (PHB) - Useless until you pick up Lasting Frost, but mighty when you do. Best when retrained into or picked up right at the end of Heroic Tier. World Serpent's Grasp (HotFK) - While it will likely have little synergy with the Ranger by default, this rockswith Hobbling Strike, since it can turn your Twin Strike into an At-Will prone.
Agile Opportunist (PHB 2) - A nice feat to work with your Leader if he can slide you around the battlefield. Armor Specialization (PHB) - Scale Armor Specialization is spectacular, but Hide and Plate Armor Specialization are just OK. Still, more AC never hurt anybody. Critical Targeting (D 387) - A neat encounter-long bonus to damage on a crit. Pretty cool. Danger Sense (PHB) - Rerolling initiative every time can help save you from those bad rolls. Deadly Axe (PHB) - A spiffy extra-damage feat for Axe wielders. You may want to pick this up at Epic, though; it doesn't do all that much without the 10% critical rate. Fleet-Footed (PHB) - +1 to speed is a pretty nice use of a feat... provided you have the room. Grazing Shot (PHB 3) - The average Archer won't be making too many RBA's without outside help (and will be plenty accurate anyway), but there are a couple of builds who can benefit from this feat. Hammer Rhythm (PHB) - Rewards you for having a big Con score. Great, for the handful of Rangers who have high enough a Con to use it. Heavy Blade Opportunity (PHB) - It allows you to punish enemy tactics (by using your Twin Strike instead of a Melee Basic on a OA), which is nice to have, but not mind-blowing. Lasting Frost (PHB) - This feat grants you permanent CA and +5 damage if you combine it with Wintertouched and a Frost weapon; cold resistance is a hurdle, but it can be overcome. Light Blade Precision (PHB) - A bit conditional, but extra damage is always welcome on a Ranger, especially a Light Blade wielder. Point-Blank Shot (PHB) - A nice way to stop enemy frontlines from hampering your shots. Repel Charge (PHB 3) - This is a very nasty way to severely hamper opposing chargers. Extra brutal if you face another party of PC's with a charger (such as a Barbarian or even a fellow Ranger that uses Marauder's Rush) in the lineup. Reserve Maneuver (PHB 2) - Versatility notwithstanding, this feat also allows you to swap out a lackluster Paragon Path power for something a touch more... palatable. Scimitar Dance (PHB) - Scimitars are sub-par weapons, but if your Dexterity is high, this can help make up some of their deficiencies. Steady Shooter (PHB) - +3 to crossbow damage for standing still. Works well for Beastmaster Crossbow users, though most other Ranged Rangers won't exploit it to the fullest since they're moving around to get that even bigger Prime Shot damage bonus (via Called Shot) instead. Two-Weapon Opening (PHB 2) - A major factor in why Two-Weapon Fighting is even worth mentioning. Free hits on a crit? Yes, please. Unfailing Courage (D 377)- Healing on an AP is a good deal if you ask me.
Axe/Bludgeon/Flail/Heavy Blade/Light Blade/Pick/Spear Mastery (PHB) - Whatever your weapon may be, now's the time to pick up the mastery feat. Improved criticals result in a very healthy effective damage bonus thanks to the fact that you attack twice. This feat is an absolute must for you. Bow Mastery (PHB 2) - Lets Bow and Crossbow users get in on the 10% crit rate fun. Blind-Fight (PHB) - Helps you deal with Invisible enemies in Melee. This is a pretty good idea, but you also have Utility powers that cover this need pretty well. Epic Fortitude/Epic Reflexes/Epic Will (PHB 2) - Now this is what I call defense-boosting. If you have the room for them, this is the best way you can keep yourself from getting hammered by certain types of attacks. Epic Resurgence (PHB) - A pretty sweet power recovery feat, especially for a multiattacker like you. Long Step (PHB 3) - A solid feat for most, and vital for any Ranger that likes to charge. Superior Initiative (PHB 3) - A nice upgrade for Improved Initiative. Prime real estate for retraining into. Triumphant Attack (PHB) - Encounter-long debuffs on a critical is very sweet, especially for someone who attacks as much as you do, but your available feat slots are few and far between. Unfettered Stride (PHB) - Ignoring difficult terrain permanently is never a bad thing to have.
Bolstering Breath (PHR: DB) - Making your Dragon Breath ally-friendly is something to consider as a front-liner. Draconic Hunter (PHR: DB) - A great self-setup buff from your Dragon Breath is nice to have. Dragonborn Frenzy (PHB) - Damage bonus while bloodied. Nice to have around. Glorious Victory (PHR: DB) - A free heal when you drop an opponent once per encounter. Sweet. Hurl Breath (PHR: DB)- Ranged AoE capability on a Melee Ranger can be decent as an opener.
Corrosive Breath (PHR: DB) - An AC debuff for your racial power can serve you well. Dragonbreath Warrior (MP) - Some solid element-based damage for using a good racial power every encounter? I could pay a feat for that. Frost Breath (PHR: DB)- Mass slowing can be nice to have.
Dissolving Breath (PHR: DB) - A penalty to all defenses when you use your racial power can be sweet. Draconic Restoration (PHR: DB) - Getting your Dragon Breath back on a second wind is pretty solid. Draconic Triumph (PHR: DB) - Getting Dragon Breath back on a kill is awesome.
Clutch of Darkness (FRPG) - Puts a little more range behind your racial abilities. Darkfire Targeting (MP) - A nice damage bonus for using a good racial power. Drow Beast Mastery (MP) - Not essential, but useful. Ruthless Hunter (FRPG)- Hand Crossbows are officially an option for you.
Darkhunter (MP) - Since it allows you to do Quarry damage more than once per round, this is sweet for those Rangers who have close burst powers (but that’s not that good an idea). Merciless Killer (FRPG) - A very sizable bonus to damage against bloodied targets that grant you CA.
Dodge Giants (PHB) - After a certain point in time, almost everything you will be fighting will be Large or higher, so it's a +1 untyped bonus to AC and Reflex after that, which is a pretty good deal for a feat. Dwarven Weapon Training (PHB) - Pick this before Weapon Focus, and retrain it out at Epic tier (unless you're using a Superior weapon, in which case you just pick Weapon Focus up at Epic). Resilience of Stone (MP 2) - Make it even harder for them to drop you. Thundertusk Companion (MP)- Makes Boars a bit more of a competitive option as Beast companions.
Dwarven Durability (PHB)- This feat is not as strong for you as it is for other classes because of your lower reliance on Constitution, but two surges and a boost to surge value doesn't suck.
Stoneheart Warrior (MP) - Free action second wind is made of WIN.
Eladrin Soldier (PHB)- Pick this before Weapon Focus, and retrain it out at Epic tier (unless you're using a Superior weapon, in which case you just pick Weapon Focus up at Epic). Not as good as Dwarven Weapon Training because Longswords and Spears aren't exactly prime Ranger weapons.
Feywild Warrior (MP) - This allows you to flit about the battlefield while busting out Dailies. Pretty cool.
Brutal Accuracy (MP)- A bit of extra damage on your Elven Accuracy reroll. Solid.
Hunter's Advantage (MP) - A conditional bonus to your Hunter's Quarry damage, though you can meet said condition pretty easily with stuff like Frost Weapons. Running Shot (PHB)- A rather good mobility booster, if you combine it with some other goodies at this tier (such as Uncanny Dodge) so you essentially have no penalty for running through the battlefield.
Hawkeye Warrior (MP) - A free +1 to hit all fight long for using a good racial power? Awesome.
Firepulse Master (D 367) - Makes a good racial power even better. Extra Manifestation (FRPG) - Adds versatility to your racial arsenal. Primordial Surge (D 367)- Considering that the Ranger style you favor is a close-range combatant, this is a huge amount of THP to have available, especially early on in your career. A very good grab.
Shocking Flame (FRPG)- Free elemental damage, and this one scales! Never leave home without it; I wouldn't (you should be manifesting one of the two types favored by this feat 24/7 anyway).
Double Manifestation (FRPG) - Versatility meets power. Win. Elemental Warrior (MP) - A decent power recovery feat.
Githzerai Blade Master (D 378)- This feat is arguably even better than Eladrin Soldier or Dwarven Weapon Training, because the damage scales and the weapons made available to you are more up the Melee Ranger's alley.
Githzerai Mobility (D 378) - A hefty bonus to all defenses against OA's will help keep you safe while you move about or if you shoot someone in Melee. Iron Hands (PHB 3) - Free damage for using a defensive racial power? I'm in. Tempered Iron Mind (D 378)- Gets you what you need, when you need it, which is always helpful.
Adamantine Mind (PHB 3) - Buffs your racial power. Solid. Iron Body (PHB 3) - Another buff for your racial power. Could be worse.
Fearless Seeker (MP 2) - Counter your quarry's attack with some sweet resistance. Nice. Goliath Greatweapon Prowess (PHB 2) - A decent damage bonus for pure Beastmasters, 'cause, boy, do they need it. Markings of the Blessed (PHB 2) - Rerolling a save is never bad. Markings of the Victor (PHB 2)- Rerolling an attack every encounter? Sweet!
Unyielding Stone (PHB 2)- A nice jump in THP when you use your racial power. Can make you hilariously hard to bring down.
Ancient Stone (PHB 2) - Another way to make yourself even tougher.
Anger Unleashed (PHB 2) - An attack bonus for getting bloodied is never bad. Furious Charge (MP 2) - Your racial power works especially nice on a charge. Sweet for those Marauder's Rush-spamming Rangers. Savage Assault (PHB 2) - Debuffs on your racial power. Solid. Thirst for Battle (PHB 2)- +3 initiative, and a healing surge. Nice.
Strength from Pain (PHB 2) - Big damage for a turn when you're bloodied (or two turns if you bloody yourself). Nice. Unrelenting Assault (PHB 2)- Damage on a miss is nothing to sneeze at.
Ferocious Critical (PHB 2) - A very powerful feat for a multi-attacker like the Ranger, it offers a sweet accuracy and damage bonus when you get lucky.
Halfling Short Bow Hunter (D 381) - A nice way to compensate for the Shortbow's weaker punch. Lost in the Crowd (PHB) - You never want this feat to trigger if you're an Archer, but you'll be grateful you had it if it does. If you're Melee, this feat is a sweet way to keep yourself up and running. Lucky Skirmisher (MP) - Allows you to run away easier. Great for an Archer. Nimble Dodge (MP 2) - Turns up the awesome meter on your racial power way, way up. Prime Beast Strike (D 381) - +1 to hit and damage for you or your Beast for being closest (now would be a good time to invest in a Raptor Companion...). This is about as close as a Beastmaster gets to Prime Shot. Second Step (D 381)- After you make 'em miss, get the hells out of there!
Halfling Beast Mastery (MP) - Makes your Beast pretty slippery, just like you. Underfoot (PHB)- Pretty useful to you in your quest to get next to the enemy you want to drop.
Fortune's Warrior (MP) - CA is not that hard to get right now, but hey, it's free. Better for Archers.
Action Surge (PHB) - A hefty self-buff for Humans, it brings you a lot of accuracy right when you need it the most. Stubborn Survivor (FRPG) - Saving throw bonuses are good (and hard to find), so more fuel for playing human (and for burning your AP's). Twilight Training (MP 2)- I'm not sure how often having low-light vision comes up in the average game, but this is fairly important for being a dungeon-delving scouting character.
Action Recovery (PHB)- Could prove useful.
Timely Revival (MP) - A powerful way to keep yourself on your feet, and to actually use your second wind for a change.
Bloodied Ferocity (PHB 3) - Lashing out when you get bloodied is an awesome benefit. Goring Shove (PHB 3) - Combined with Opportunity Gore, this wreaks havoc on enemy tactics. Opportunity Gore (D 369) - Makes Minos serious mobility stoppers. A nice pickup for your party dynamics and for doubling as a Defender when the situation warrants it. Bear in mind this feat will likely have an expiration date, though, as Goring Charge's accuracy scaling is terrible. Springing Charge (PHB 3)- In all likelihood, a charge from you killed the enemy, so free repositioning and a free attack is very welcome.
Beast Within (PHB 3) - +1 to hit AND damage while bloodied is sweet. Vicious Ferocity (PHB 3)- Combined with Bloodied Ferocity, this is a powerful benefit, essentially netting you a free Twin Strike when you get bloodied up.
Mythic Senses (PHB 3) - This feat lives up to its name in a big way. It can result in a gigantic initiative bonus for you. Uncanny Scent (PHB 3) - Strictly better than Blind-Fight for you. Sweet.
Bloodthirsty Hunter (DMA 2009) - Saving actions is always nice. Expert Chainfighter (DMA 2009) - On the surface, this looks like a better version of Spiked Chain Training, but remember than it only applies to Twin Strike, not the rest of your power selection... Life on the Edge (DMA 2009)- I consider this even better than Action Surge, since you get almost the same bonus to hit and some damage out of the deal. Good stuff.
Reactive Jaunt (DMA 2009) - Get yourself out of a jam ASAP. Nice.
Eldeen Companion (EPG) - Your Beast shifts with you. Most useful if you’re a Longtooth, but welcome regardless. Shifting Companion (MP 2) - Eldeen Companion, for those who don't have access to Eberron. Sturdy Shifter (EPG) - A good batch of THP's when you shift is nice to have. Wild Senses (PHB 2)- Reroll tracking checks, and +3 initiative. Sweet.
Beasthide Shifting (PHB 2) - A little damage resistance while shifting. Nice, especially combined with the regeneration if you're a Longtooth. Cliffwalk Shifting (PHB 2) - Increases your movement options, which is always nice to have.
Warforged Tactics (EPG) - The conditions for it are easy to fulfill, and it hands out a hit bonus. No reason why you shouldn't have this feat if you're a 'forged in Heroic Tier, BUT be sure to retrain it out for Prime Punisher once you hit Paragon Tier, because Prime Punisher is almost strictly better thanks to the feat support for Prime Shot.
The Combat Style feats are an interesting brand of feats in that their purpose is to improve specific powers. In your case, you'll mostly be looking to improve Twin Strike, though some other select buffs are worth looking at. The At-Will powers improved by the feat will be noted in the case of the Arena feats and the Technique feats from Dragon 373, as well as for the Lesser Style feats in MP 2.
Catspaw Style (Predator Strike) (D 368) - An at-will that can knock prone? Certainly worth the Charisma investment. Draji Palatial Practice (Circling Strike) (DSCS) - It requires you to somehow train Intimidate, but slapping on a penalty to hit as part of an At-Will is worth the work. Exotic Fighting Style (Twin Strike) (D 368) - This is a nice shifting benefit for double weapon users (mostly Beastmasters or Marauders, but you'll find the occasional Two-Blade Ranger wielding a Spiked Chain). Starlight Duelist Style (Hit and Run) (D 368) - The use you could give it is Eladrin-only, but it's one of the best ways to get you out of a situation you didn't want to be in. Swift Blade Style (Twin Strike) (D 368) - A very nice pickup for Light Blade dual-wielders (or even dagger-tossers), and yet another reason to pick up Two-Weapon Fighting. Trickster's Blade Style (Nimble Strike) (D 368) - This allows you to play all sorts of cool positioning games along with your party Defender. Nice. True Arrow Style (Careful Attack) (D 368) - Now that Careful Attack is an At-Will that's actually worth using, this has a pretty strong benefit, though it might not see that much play (Careful Attack won't miss much on an Archer). Turathi Assault Style (Twin Strike) (D 368) - It's a nice little boost for your Twin Strike. Unfortunately, it either requires a rather high score in what is a dump stat for you, or a sub-optimal race. Urikite Staff Practice (Hit and Run) (DSCS)- A decent bit of extra damage for using a rather niche At-Will.
Technique Feats (D 373)
Bloodhound Style (Careful Attack) - An At-Will slow when combined with Permafrost. Channel your inner Defender with this power. Cruel Cut Style (Predator Strike) - You trade in the extra damage for ongoing damage. Unless the enemy has a way of evading said ongoing damage, this is always a winning deal, because you'll deal the damage at least once, and then have the chance to do it more than once. Hunting Wolf Style (Hit and Run) - Can help get you out of major jams unscathed. Impending Doom Style (Twin Strike) - Requires Intimidate training as an entry fee, but an attack debuff from the most damaging at-will in the game is a pretty nice benefit. Lolthdark Style (Twin Strike) - Essentially a Drow racial feat as well as a Technique Style feat, but the benefit is very good, as you lose none of the benefits of your Cloud of Darkness while maintaining your mobility. Vigilante Justice (Circling Strike)- A decent extra damage benefit if you got hit, which is likely to happen if you continue to pincer your opponent.
Adamant Arrow Student (Nimble Strike) - A push in addition to a shift can help you keep distance against even the peskiest Melee foes. Adamant Arrow Hunter - A decent benefit if you encounter a lot of cover (better for those who took Running Attack or are Beastmasters), plus you get to trade the use of some powers for a RBA. I'm not a fan of most powers on the second list, which limits its appeal.
Arkhosian Fang Style (Bastard Sword, Broadsword, or Greatsword)Show
Arkhosian Fang Student (Marauder's Rush) - +2 to hit against Bloodied enemies can be very useful if you plan on using and abusing the Marauder's Rush, and it keys off a weapon you're likely to actually use (the Bastard Sword). Nice. Arkhosian Fang Duelist - A spiffy bonus to hit if you miss an attack with an Encounter power, and you can use certain powers instead of an MBA while charging. The last part is just OK, because only one of those powers is really worth taking (and that would be Death Rend, all the way up at L27).
Desert Moon Style (Heavy Blades with High Crit)Show
Desert Moon Student (Careful Attack) - Given that Careful Attack is actually worth a damn right now, a free shift 2 after the hit is a very formidable tool, especially for Balanced Rangers. Desert Moon Skirmisher - A decent shift as an immediate reaction if you are missed, plus a bonus with a really bad list of power. You're here mostly for the benefit of the feat itself.
Elsir Hammer Style (One-Handed Hammers and One-Handed Picks)Show
Elsir Hammer Student (Throw and Stab) - A nice benefit to have on your thrown attack portion of Throw and Stab. Elsir Hammer Stalker - The powers it buffs stink, but the whole "chase the target marked by your Defender" bit can be appealing.
Harrowing Swarm Student (Nimble Strike) - A -2 penalty to hit makes this At-Will even more appealing (and better at its job, which is to get you out of Melee unscathed). Harrowing Swarm Scout- Now this is nice: not provoking OA's for shooting in Melee is a godsend for Prime Shot Rangers. Too bad the power list is so lame...
Hunting Spear Style (Fading Strike) - At-Will slowing is a Defender-y sort of thing, though a Hybrid Archer can certainly turn it to his advantage by slowing the opponent when he gets too close, then continuing his Ranged assault. Hunting Spear Skirmisher - The power list for it is OK, but the benefit is very good: +2 to damage against creatures larger than you will see loads of play, especially after Paragon.
Ironstar Student (Marauder's Rush) - Essentially a more conditional, but more stackable, version of Rattling for this At-Will. I can roll with that.
Kulkor Battlearm Style (Versatile Axes, Hammers, and Maces)Show
Kulkor Battlearm Student (Hit and Run) - A solid damage bonus, but you won't be using this At-Will all that often anyway. That said, it's worth noting that it qualifies you for a quality Paragon Path if you MC Fighter. Kulkor Battlearm Hunter - A Defender side-effect on a Ranger that loves nothing more than to continually zip about the battlefield is of questionable value, but you might actually use some of the powers that benefit from this sytle.
Midnight Blade Stduent (Throw and Stab) - The list of throwable light blades is better than for most other weapons (with the Dagger as the poster boy), so this feat offers a solid benefit. Midnight Blade Marauder - +1 shifting distance when you hit with an Encounter or Daily is nice, and Rangers who prefer Dexterity can actually take some Melee powers and be effective with this.
Mountain Thunder Style (One-Handed Flails, Hammers, and Maces)Show
Mountain Thunder Student (Marauder's Rush) - Having an already sturdy power hit a NAD can only increase its stock. A pretty nice feat.
Nerathan High Blade Style (Versatile Heavy Blades)Show
Nerathan High Blade Student (Hit and Run) - A solid damage bonus, but it requires you to put yourself in a sticky situation and then use an At-Will you're unlikely to spam. Nerathan High Blade Duelist - Not giving up +2 to hit against CA is nice, but the other effect is... weird (Heavy Blade Mastery requires Strength 21, why wouldn't you be pumping it?).
Reaving Axe Student (Marauder's Rush) - This feat has a marginal benefit, but the real reason why we're here is the feat that follows it. Reaving Axe Slayer - Wow, this feat is good. It lets you poach some of the Ranged Ranger's Immediate Action shots (you will need a thrown weapon, though), and hands you a brutal benefit on a critical. Nice.
Rending Chains Student (Hit and Run) - A decent sliding benefit, it would be better if Rangers actually wielded Polearms. Rending Chains Flayer - A decent mobility denial effect for all attacks, and as strong a power list as you'll find on a Weapon Style feat, but the benefit they receive is of dubious value (you need Strength for Flail Mastery anyway).
As the name implies, these feats give you capacities beyond and above those a normal Weapon Proficiency feat would grant you (including scaling powers you can swap yours for), but they also burn up your Multiclass slot, so choose carefully. Bola Training (D 368) - Your damage will take a nasty hit, but you can make a dual-Bola wielding Archer that can immobilize At-Will with this, which will make it hell for Melee enemies to get adjacent to you. Pretty solid. Blowgun Training (D 373) - While the damage dealt is piddly, you do have decent range, the high crit property (rare among Ranged weapons), and some sweet Utility and Daily powers you can grab. Pretty solid overall. Spiked Chain Training (DMA 2009) - If you're going to pick up any of these feats as a Melee character, this is the first one you should be looking at. 2d4 damage is the most a Light Blade will deal in this game, and while the powers aren't all that appealing to swap in for, that's the case with virtually all the exotic weapons. If your build has the Dexterity for Light Blades and it doesn't require Multiclassing, take this feat. Whip Training (D 368) - Again, the damage is very lacking, but it does offer the gift of Reach as well as a nasty attack debuff when you hit someone. The Utility power is the only thing worth looking at, though.
Dragonmark feats are different from other Heroic Tier feats in that you: (a) can only have one of them at a time, and (b) they usually come with an associated race, which I will be noting. Note that the feat doesn't actually force you to be of that race, so if your DM agrees, you can take this feat while being a member of another race. Aberrant Mark of Contagion (Any) - An encounter-long penalty to saves against ongoing damage when you hit with a Daily can be pretty solid. Mark of Detection (Half-Elf) - Re-rolling Perception checks and sensing auras make you an awesome scout, plus you get some spying rituals. However, the Paragon support is just not up your alley. Mark of Finding (Human or Half-Orc) - The benefit is not all that impressive (good for maintaining your Prime Shot bonus, plus some ritual casting, but that's it), but the Paragon Path it offers access to is a pretty good one. Mark of Handling (Human) - You get a sweet bonus for your Beast (+2 speed and +1 AC is nice to have), the benefit of Mounted Combat, and access to the best Beastmaster path in the business. Most Beastmasters will want this feat. Mark of Storm (Half-Elf) - The benefit is awesome for Archers who are willing to wield a Lightning weapon in order to take advantage of it (they combine to form a better version of Forceful with actual critical hit bonus damage, and it can be used on a Crossbow), and if you take an unconventional (aka Dex/Con) focus, you can take advantage of the Paragon Path's support as well. Nice.
Rangers are blessed with a pretty good selection of Paragon Paths, many of whom have an offensive outlook, which is what you should be looking for. If you're looking for Paragon Paths that other classes have to offer, the Multiclass section is where you'll find them. Ranger Paragon PathsShow
Arena Champion (D 368) - A nice revival feature and a decent AP benefit, but that's where the fun ends for this Path. The attack powers suck (basically augments to your Melee Basic Attack), and the attack buff feature is not worth burning a Standard Action for it (who uses total defense with any kind of regularity?). Avoid. Avalanche Hurler (MP) - Thrown Weapon Rangers aren't the stereotypical Ranger, but this path is a pretty decent incentive to make one. A die size increase while throwing leans you in favor of Ranged over Melee, but the whole point behind the path is versatility. The powers aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread, but Quick-Draw Trick is cool (and it's always available). Battlefield Archer (PHB) - A mighty Paragon Path for any Archer, this offers an attack bonus for your whole party under the latest interpretation, the ability to Quarry multiple targets, and an Action Point every encounter with its Utility power. The attack powers are also decent, especially the Encounter one. Basically the only reason to select Archery Style. Beast Stalker (PHB) - If the Battlefield Archer is a credit to the Archery Style, this is an insult. The AP feature is basically the only thing worth a damn about this Path. Blade Dancer (MP) - This path is interesting in that it takes a defensive outlook (which is kind of weird considering the very offensive bent of the Ranger). It also prefers Heavy Blades and/or Light Blades. The features are pretty solid, though, as are the powers, with a mindblowingly good Encounter attack power as the highlight. A very good path, and certainly excellent for the right Ranger. Darkstrider (MP 2) - This path likes getting the drop on enemies and whacking them hard. To that end, you get bonuses to damage when they're not looking and blindsight. This is only a real option for Ranged Rangers because of the MAD it would afflict a Melee character with, and it's extra tasty for a Beastmaster Archer who can stand still and shoot while hiding. A bit of a niche path, but still very effective with the proper setup. Feral Spirit (MP) - The universal Beastmaster Paragon Path, it offers some generic (but useful) features for your features, and the powers (apart from the Encounter power) are pretty solid. A solid choice overall. Giantslayer (MP) - Considering that most enemies will be Large or larger, this PP's additional effects will actually see plenty of play, so put that worry to rest right now. That being said, the features are unimpressive, unless you're getting grabbed all the time and you love to provoke OA's. The Daily power stuns, but that's about the end for you. It's OK overall. Harrowing Swarm Archer (MP 2) - A Paragon Path that keys off of ongoing damage. This is kind of feat-intensive (you need Bleeding Precision and Harrowing Swarm Student in additional to the usual bells and whistles an Archer carries), but it has great potential, especially if you have a bit of luck and can keep the effects on. High Forest Scout (FRPG) - A lackluster Ranged PP, compared to what is available. To be honest, it feels like a rough draft of the Sylvan Archer. Horizon Walker (MP) - Though this PP may have been part of the Apocalypse Twins combo once upon a time, it's not that hot for actual Rangers (Standard Action single attack powers? WHY?!) unless you're an Archer, in which case it's solid. Huntmaster (MP 2) - I'm not the biggest fan of the Hunting Spear style, but it can't be denied that the features for L11 are rock-solid (+2 to hit vs. your Quarry, and +1/2 level to damage on an AP). Everything else about the path is pretty mediocre IMHO, though, unless you feel like subbing in for your Defender and slapping on a perma-mark on your Quarry. Impilturan Demonslayer (FRPG) - Though they only work at maximum effect against demons (and boy, are they awesome against them), this PP's abilities are very solid against everyone. Unfortunately, demons aren't a bread-and-butter enemy in most campaigns, at least not until Epic Tier. Lone Wolf (MP 2) - This Paragon Path focuses on making you a better 1-on-1 Fighter. The major perk is the +2 to hit against enemies you isolate, though a feature to help you do that and a decent shifting power aren't bad either (the attack powers kind of suck, though). Pack Runner (MP) - Decent overall abilities and powers for Wolf Beastmasters, though it loses a bit of utility at Epic, when you can and should be spending your minor actions on free Beast attacks instead of shifting about for +1 to hit. Pathfinder (PHB) - This Paragon Path injects a bit of Defender into your Ranger, handing him a very strong and permanent source of THP and some powers that involve stickiness and staying upright. It also provides a sweet action advantage benefit on an AP, which can be used for nova muscle if you so choose. While it may not be a traditional way to make you a better Striker, it certainly enhances your capabilities to a point where it is deserving of a very strong ranking. Reaving Axe Savant (MP 2) - This path basically centers around imposing conditions and taking advantage of them, such as prone, immobilized, and the like. Status effects aren't exactly your forte, so this PP is not all that, and the style doesn't key off your favored attribute. Ruthless Punisher (MP) - Since humanoid foes are common, specializing in them is not off-base. The fact that it offers a Wisdom-based boost to your damage and your ongoing damage as well as some very solid powers make this a very strong Paragon Path, and it's definitely the Path of choice for Bleeder builds. Sharpshooter (MP) - The ability to make OA's with a Bow or Crossbow is useful. A free basic attack when you use an AP is nice, too. The multitargeting emphasis of the powers is not as good as single-target multi-attack powers, but you can bear it. Shinaelestran Guardian (MP 2) - It has two very good features at Level 11, but the L16 one is very underwhelming. It also has one awesome Utility power and some decent attack powers. I think it's solid, but it lacks the one defining thing that would make you want to take it IMHO. Stormwarden (PHB) - One of the heavyweights in the DPR business, the Stormwarden has two automatic damage class features and a strong stance power to dish out consistently high damage. The attack powers are nothing special (multitargeting...), but they're not bad, and the Daily at least attacks twice in that close burst. Snow Tiger (MP 2) - This is a path focused wielding light weapons, such as Daggers and Kukri. The AP benefit is cool, and some decent powers to boot. Not a bad path at all. Wildcat Stalker (MP) - This Paragon Path is about as conditional as they come; the only feature that is fairly universal is at Level 16. The powers are similarly mediocre. To boot, the Beast you have to pick to use this path blows, too. Not a good pick. Wyrm Hunter (D 369) - The features are conditional to Dragons (duh), and the powers aren’t multiattacks. Lame overall.
Here, I'll be marking the race that corresponds to the Path along with the source. We'll only be concerning ourselves with the recommended Paragon Paths here, that is to say, those rated Black or higher. If it's not on the list and it's in my sources, it's not a good idea. Adroit Explorer (Human - PHB 2) - This Path actually has some very solid features, especially when you're Bloodied. The features don't have the traditional +damage shenanigans, but they can see use, and smacking someone with your prized Encounter power as an immediate reaction is awesome, and an additional action point every day is gravy. An excellent path. Blade Banshee (Eladrin - MP) - The features are nice overall (+Wis to damage ftw!). The powers all require a Longsword (boo), but they're pretty solid. The outlook of the Path (AoE's, status effects) is more suited to a Controller or a Defender than it is for a Striker, though. Blade of Cendriane (Eladrin - MOTP) - Surprise! Another Eladrin Ranger Paragon Path. The teleporting focus makes it better for a Swordmage than it is for you, though you get some use out of it since you have Fey Step and can you dual-wield Longswords (plus, every power the Path provides has the Teleportation keyword). Bloodfury Hunter (Shifter - MP 2) - A Shifter Paragon Path with some serious power-ups for the Shifting power (with Longtooth Shifting, you get +2 to hit and your Wis+2 to damage). You also get your Wisdom again on an AP. The attack powers are pretty lame, but it's still a pretty cool Path overall, if a bit niche. Bloodfury Savage (Half-Orc - PHB 2) - The stat synergy is awesome (Str and Dex ftw), the features are nothing to write home about (speed, rerolling Intimidate checks, and resist all?), but the powers offer plenty of damage bonuses (too bad, because they're only single-swing attacks...). Average overall IMHO. Mithral Arm (Dragonborn - D 385) - The Dragonborn's version of the Adroit Explorer, it also has a nice suite of power recovery toys, as well as some healing and defense to round it out. A pretty good pick. Sylvan Archer (Elf - MP) - While this class-race specific path has some features and powers that are pretty cool (including one that amounts to a second use of Disruptive Strike), some of them stink up the place (negating cover on an AP and +2 to Perception? Really?). Not as good as Battlefield Archer or Sharpshooter because of that, but a good choice overall.
Again, we will only concern ourselves with Paths that would make you an effective Ranger. I also note the expected (note: not required) race for the Path, as well as the Dragonmark Feat you have to take to gain access. Lyrandar Wind-Rider (Half-Elf, Mark of Storm) - The powers are at best marginally useful to you (you'd need Implements and a Dex/Con Archer build to make them truly worthwhile), but +1 to hit and +Con to damage for using a Lightning Bow is one heck of an incentive, plus a Utility power that grants flight can certainly be useful. Tharashk Wayfinder (Half-Orc, Mark of Finding) - While I'm not a fan of the Encounter attack power, the rest of the Paragon Path is a solid fit for an Archer Ranger who is dedicated to not letting enemies get too close. The free Combat Advantage lets you pick an enchantment other than Frost, and the Daily can be a solid setup for a nova. Vadalis Griffonmaster (Human, Mark of Handling)- Easily the best Beastmaster-oriented Paragon Path released to date. The Vadalis-bred Griffon is an awesome companion (and a mount) that can FLY and take you with it, while featuring a great array of attack, defense, and HP, and the path's powers are pretty good (though I'm not too keen on the Daily attack power, and the L16 feature is plain). If you're a Melee Beastmaster, this is your Paragon Path.
As is the norm, we'll only talk about Epic Destinies worth having (Black or higher) here. Beastlord (MP) - This path is pretty sweet for Beastmaster Ranger, with the main perks being the ability to attack with your Beast as a minor action, and effective immortality as a capstone if you play it smart. Champion of Prophecy (EPG) - Pretty similar to Demigod, but with an emphasis on milestones. Not quite as good IMHO, but that's a high standard to meet. Chosen (FRPG) - Pretty similar to Demigod overall, and can be even better if you find a Utility power you like more than Divine Regeneration. Darklord (D 372) - So... you wanna be the Grim Reaper? All things aside, this is a pretty strong ED. I don't like the lack of ability score boosts, and rituals will likely be covered by another party member, but reviving people you drop has some crazy potential. Dark Wanderer (MP) - Though the fluff is made of win, the powers and features are a bit below other ED's. The features that hurt enemies at a level below yours won't come up much during Epic, though recovering a Daily power just because is cool. Deadly Trickster (PHB) - This is a nice choice for Archers and other Dexterity-based Rangers, especially because of the rerolls. Not burning a power when you roll 18+ is sweet, too. Demigod (PHB) - Still arguably the best Epic Destiny for any character, and you are no exception, especially if you're not in heavy armor. Destined Scion (HotFK) - Another off-shoot from the Demigod tree, a straight-up attack and save bonus along with the two ability score bonuses make it a strong choice. Eternal Seeker (PHB) - The mix-and-matching part is very appealing, and it only gets better as more material is released. Right now, it's looking very impressive overall. Free Soul (D 376) - A decent slippery ED for Revenants. Godhunter (MP) - Since most of the capstone enemies you will be facing at Epic tier will be higher level than you, these features are very strong. Harbinger of Doom (PHB 2) - Another solid, but not spectacular ED. Nothing really jumps out at you from this one. Harper of Legend (D 367) - Not a bad choice for an ED, but there are better candidates. Heir of Siberys (D 388) - A branch off the Demigod ED tree, this one offers a variety of effects to choose from as a Utility power. The powers for Finding, Handling, Scribing, and Shadow look particularly promising for a Ranger. Hordemaster (DSCS) - An interesting spin on the classic Demigod Epic Destiny, this one has some nice Leader-y flavor and powers you could use to good effect. Indomitable Champion (HotFL) - Essentially an expansion of the Demigod chassis, this ED offers some hefty extra HP and a bonus to NAD's, in addition to some neat defensive abilities and the traditional double stat boost. Invincible Vanguard (MP 2) - This is an ED revolving around charging. There's a niche build among you that likes to charge, but the vast majority of Rangers won't be able to take advantage of all the features. Keeper of the Everflow (HoS) - A quality ED, it gives an ability score bump along with a variety of effects you can mix-and-match to fit the situation (and there's a good straight standby effect you can rock, too). Legendary Sovereign (MP 2) - This is an ED better suited for Paladins and Warlords than you, but you can still make use of it. It has a solid revival feature, and Sword of Kings is very nice to have. Martial Archetype (MP) - Really conditional entry pre-requisites, but you get some nice stuff out of it if you're looking to diversify what you can accomplish with the Martial power source. The thing is, IMHO there's not all that much you'd want to grab to justify Paragon Multiclassing. Prince of Hell (D 372) - Decent offensive and movement powers (teleportation with free damage? Tasty...). Not the worst idea, though the attribute bonus is garbage for you. Punisher of the Gods (D 372) - While powerful, this Epic Destiny is a consistent headache for the designers, receiving multiple versions of errata. I can't give it a top ranking in its current incarnation, especially because I don't think it will remain constant either. Prison of the Winds (D 371) - This is a Ranged Ranger Epic Destiny, but man is it a good one. It meshes extremely well with Archers (especially ones that pick Constitution over Wisdom) with attribute boosts and powers that let you play your "move-and-shoot game" with impunity. Nice. Raven Knight (D 380) - While I would only recommend this option for Ranged Rangers, I recommend it very strongly. The attribute bonuses match up well with them, the abilities are arguably better than Demigod (at least on the offensive end), and their Daily power is a sweet damage-buffing rider. An excellent choice. Reborn Champion (D 365) - If it weren't for the fact that this doesn't provide you with the increased competence ability score buffs bring, it would be very competitive with Demigod, Chosen, and the rest of the big boys. As it is, it's good, but just a step behind. Redeemed Drow (D 367) - Though it is essentially a racial ED, it's a pretty solid one, with power recovery (though giving up the racial kind of stings), and some nice toughness-oriented features. Star-Favored Champion (MP 2) - The features are pretty solid, especially the automatic 20 on any save, and the "basic attack as a minor if you miss" one. Sign of Hope is very underwhelming, though. Storm Sovereign (D 372) - Decent enough, but a Constitution bonus and the features aren't really your focus at all (more along the lines of a Defender, honestly). Winter Sovereign (D 372) - If you're a Fey character that likes Permafrost (think Elven Archer or the like), this is likely a cool ED for you. If you like (save ends) effects, it gets a little better. Solid overall.
Here, I'll be talking about what weapon types, what armor types, and what Beast Companion work best for you. Magic gear is in the next post.
Weapon Groups: Elements of the Hunt
Axes - The members of this weapon group deal good damage, and their feats only require a mediocre Con investment, which frees up your stat points to travel elsewhere. To boot, they're also available as Ranged weapons, which means you get a two-for-one with the weapon-specific feats. Recommended AxesShow
Battleaxe(PHB) - Good damage (1d10), and you don't have to buy proficiency in it. Solid. Double Axe (AV) - While it doesn't offer more damage over the Battleaxe, it does give you extra AC, and you only have to buy enchantments for one weapon. Handaxe(PHB) - The damage is rather piddly, but being Heavy Thrown and Off-Hand makes up for some of it. Waraxe(AV) - Why yes, I would love to be able to wield a d12 in one hand, thank you.
Bows- The default weapon group for an Archer. While the Superior Crossbow does give you roughly equal damage in a vacuum, the Crossbow costs you an extra feat, and doesn't have an extra damage Expertise feat, so the Bow wins out once all the variables are considered. That, and it also has the option of going for control through some of its properties. Recommended BowsShow
Greatbow(PHB) - Big damage, and very big range. Nice. Longbow (PHB) - The best weapon for Ranged Rangers barring Weapon Proficiency. Shortbow (PHB) - Small Archers really have no choice in this regard, but some of them have racial support to compensate. Additionally, this weapon is likely the one of choice if a Ranger wants to MC Rogue and is not an Elf. That said, I still don't think it's as good as the above two.
Crossbows - The other default weapon group for an Archer. They're pretty comparable to Bows as far as damage goes, and some of them also have the option of opening up some nice multiclass options for a Ranged Ranger. Recommended CrossbowsShow
Hand Crossbow (PHB) - While it seems like a Thrown Weapon with more range at first glance, it does have the feat support to make it a very palatable option, especially if you MC into Rogue. Superior Crossbow (AV) - Bastard Sword stats on a Ranged weapon are very nice to have, though the loading time will require another feat to fix.
Flails - Some very decent damage, right on par with Heavy Blades for one-handed weapons and with Hammers for the Heavy Flail. The Dex investment required for Weapon Mastery is a bit too high for some Two-Blade Rangers and the feat support blows for a Striker, but some of the powers you can mooch off other classes (namely, the Fighter's Rain of Blows) make this a nice pick. Recommended FlailsShow
Alhulak (DSCS) - A high proficiency bonus, and decent damage. A pretty good weapon to have, considering it's feat-free. Cahulaks (DSCS) - While the stats certainly aren't the best, this is a very versatile weapon. Flail (PHB) - Similar to a Warhammer or a Battleaxe overall. Serviceable enough. Triple-Headed Flail(AV) - Statistically identical to a Bastard Sword, its only flaw is that Weapon Mastery will be a bit too Dexterity-intensive for Rangers who like Wisdom over Dexterity.
Hammers - Deals a load of damage, even a little on a miss if you spend a feat, and give you more toughness due to their higher Con needs. Requires devotion to Con as a secondary stat, which means they are only accessible to a fringe of Two-Blade Ranger builds. Recommended HammersShow
Craghammer (AV) - 1d10 brutal 2 averages out to almost the same thing as 1d12, so this is a decent choice. Throwing Hammer (PHB) - Heavy Thrown is nice to have for Melee Rangers, as is miss damage, so this is very decent.
Heavy Blades - Their (usually) high proficiency bonus means a better hit rate, which means more chances for you to deal your damage. Weapon Mastery also requires a minimal Dexterity investment, which makes all Melee Rangers happy. They also have some decent feat support, should you have the room. Recommended Heavy BladesShow
Bastard Sword (PHB) - The best weapon most builds can grab, and it's quite worth the feat. Broadsword (AV) - About equivalent to the Battleaxe. Good at first, but outclassed by the Longsword later. Drow Long Knife (EPG) - If you're going for a Thrown weapon, you're looking at the best stats of the bunch. Longsword (PHB) - The classic Heavy Blade, it's actually a pretty good weapon for a Ranger.
Light Blades - If you pump Dexterity all the way up, this is your weapon of choice because of its great feat support. Beastmaster Rangers especially like these if they decide to go into Melee with two weapons, and thrown weapon specialists like them (Daggers in particular) because of their versatility and accuracy. Recommended Light BladesShow
Dagger (PHB) - The quintessential Light Blade. Don't underestimate its low damage die: its versatility can be a great boon to a Ranger, and you'll also find that most good Ranger powers don't rely that heavily on the damage dice. Double Sword (AV) - Decent damage, an AC bonus, and some cash saved by only counting as one weapon for the purpose of buying enchantments. Katar (PHB) - Essentially a Short Sword with high crit. Not quite as good as its cousin the Rapier because it costs a feat, but it's a good upgrade over the Short Sword if you have one of those to spare. Rapier (PHB) - This Light Blade is not off-hand, but that's not a problem for Two-Blade Rangers, and it does pack plenty of punch. Short Sword (PHB) - While unimpressive at first glance, you'll find that some builds can use it to great effect. Spiked Chain (PHB) - While this may seem like it's in the wrong section, Spiked Chain Training makes this the most damaging Light Blade in the game, as well as a Double Weapon with Reach. A very powerful tool in the hands of a Ranger.
Maces - Strictly weaker than Hammers at the moment. Picks - No real support yet. So put it down. Polearms - Considering your focus on Wisdom, a Beastmaster Ranger using a Polearm to punish enemy tactics is not really that out of the question as far as stats are concerned. Unfortunately, this approach will likely require Paragon Multiclassing into a class such as Fighter, so it pigeon-holes you quite a bit, and removes the possibility of dual-wielding to boot. Not worth it IMHO. Slings - While the damage and the range as compared to the big-boy Ranged weapons takes a hit (and not having access to the Bracers of Archery really, really hurts), being able to use a shield while attacking at Range and its Expertise feat make this more worthwhile, and it meshes fairly well with Rogue MC. Recommended SlingsShow
Dejada (DSCS) - Solid damage, average range, but being one-handed is what makes this respectable.
Spears - Control is not really most Ranger builds' shtick (some Beastmasters can dabble in it). It is a pretty decent weapon choice if you want a thrown weapon specialist. Recommended SpearsShow
Gythka (DSCS) - Basically a Double Trident with an AC bonus attached for a feat. Not a bad choice. Javelin (PHB) - Big range, and mediocre damage for its proficiency bonus, but it's at least better than the Handaxe and Throwing Hammer. Tratnyr (PHB) - The range of the Javelin and the damage of the Trident, combined into a harmonious whole. Trident (AV) - The versatility of throwing or attacking is nice, even if the range is disappointing. As a plus, it doesn't require a feat.
Staffs- While there is feat support to make this option not a waste of time, that support will take feats you're probably better off spending somewhere else.
Armor: Preservers of the Hunt
Cloth - No real reason to wear this over the other two varieties of Light Armor. Stay far, far away. Leather - This has some nice properties that you can't get anywhere else, and can be nice if you're not a fan of the skill check penalty Hide carries. Still, I like every point of AC I can get my mitts on. Hide - The light armor with the highest AC, and that does count for a lot. Add in the fact that Armor Specialization deals with its only flaw in the skill check penalty, and I'd be hard-pressed to recommend anything else for most Rangers. Chain - If you're venturing into Heavy Armor territory, it means your Dexterity is too low to keep you upright in light armor. This is a decent choice for only requiring a feat, but having a speed penalty and a check penalty is not my idea of optimal armor. Scale - Now THIS is more like it! It has more AC than Chain and no skill check penalty, and the Armor Specialization feat even eliminates the speed penalty. If you're going for a Heavy Armor Ranger, this is your calling. Plate - You can't beat this base AC value in heavy armor. Unfortunately, it also comes saddled with a hefty skill penalty, as well as the customary Heavy Armor speed penalty. To boot, it also requires a heavy feat investment and some ability score pigeonholing. Not for the majority of you. Shields- Don't know if you noticed, but most of the Ranger builds require both of your hands to be occupied with weapons, tossing shields out the window. To boot, you're not proficient in them anyway. Conclusion: Not a good idea.
Beast Companions: Brothers in the Hunt
Bear (MP) - Though slow, this companion has a veritable truckload of HP, which means he will be hard to take down, as well as being among the hardest-hitting of companions. The weaker attack bonus means that combat advantage will be key in making its attacks land. This partner can work as the tough, physical counterpart to an Archer, as it can absorb more attacks than most of its fellows. Boar (MP) - Boars are fairly vanilla companions, with the only perk being +2 damage while charging, which is just not gonna happen too often. Only Dwarves should consider this as an option (because of the racial support available), though the Boar does have the advantage of getting a damage bonus on most of the better Beastmaster powers. Overall, though, avoid. Cat (MP) - It has more speed than most companions, which is a solid tactical advantage, but nothing jumps out to say, "Pick me!" It feels like a slightly weaker version of the Wolf overall, which basically says "pick the Wolf instead". Horse (D 392) - This companion's huge move speed and mount capability says it all; this makes for an excellent counterpart to an Archer, who (understandably) doesn't want to be all that close. Lizard (MP) - This guy has the best AC among the companions, which is good, and he also has a +2 bonus to hit on opportunity attacks. The only real flaw is that its Will defense is a bit low, but I can live with that. Raptor (MP) - Though weak combatants (their HP is dead last among the companions, and the Strength-based Beast powers are wasted on them), they are great to have because of their high accuracy, and their ability to fly means that you can Quarry any enemy you want using them as a starting point. A particularly good pick for Archer Beastmasters. Serpent (MP) - Solid all-around defenses, and a bonus to damage on OA's. Not bad, though I feel that what really makes it vaiable is the feat support (poison damage is good, though it does cost a feat). Simian (D 392) - While the attributes for it are kind of weak all-around, it provides a bit of action economy, which can count for a lot on a Ranger, who is typically action-strapped. Spider (MP) - The climb speed is a big-time conditional tactical advantage, but nothing else is a big deal about this companion (the poison damage burns a feat, and the Serpent gets it, too). Vadalis-Bred Griffon (EPG) - This is a special case in that it requires you to take a Paragon Path in order to select this beast companion, but believe me when I say it's worth the investment. Easily the best companion in the game. Wolf (MP) - The most damaging Heroic Tier companion with Combat Advantage (which is easy as pie to get as a Beastmaster), it also sports a high move speed and decent defenses. A strong choice.