The Ranger is one of the most diverse classes to play in Guild Wars. No other profession says "Jack of All Trades" like the ranger. With a few attribute and skill changes the ranger can move from a ranged damage dealer, to a pet master, morph into a disruption dealer, or set nasty little traps around the field of battle. While the ranger is not designed to be a tank, they can certainly hold up in a fight. In fact, only the warrior has a comparable armor class. While this can be a plus, it also means that a ranger is more dependent on his weapons and armor than any other profession except the warrior.
The Ranger has a myriad of skills at his disposal which allow him to combine preparation skills, such as adding fire or poison to his arrows, with other attack skills such as dual shot. These combinations allow the ranger to throw some serious damage at his enemies from a range. While the ranger excels at his attacks from range, he has several skills that allow him to survive should the battle come into melee range by raising evasion, increasing speed, or blinding the attacker. He's also fully capable of disrupting and hindering the enemy with skills that interrupt or silence casters, and weaken, slow, or blind attackers. In addition, the ranger is also the only profession that allows for taming and raising animal companions (pets) to assist in combat. Add in a few skills for laying AoE traps across the map for your enemy and you have a very well rounded profession that can help his team to victory in any number of ways.
While playing a ranger may seem as simple as standing away from the fray and launching arrow after arrow into the enemy, a savvy player will quickly realize that it is more complex than that, requiring not only sound strategy, but good energy management, skill management, and attribute allocation as well. The Ranger is as dependent on his weapons and armor as he is on his skills, so a good ranger will not only spend time questing for skills but better equipment as well.
At creation a ranger has armor rated at 15AL + 10AL versus elemental damage. As they advance they will eventually acquire armor rated at around 70AL + 30AL versus elemental attacks. Of course there is some variation on the stats. The Ranger has the strongest armor in the game except for the warrior, who is equivalent. The Rangerís armor is optimized to protect the wearer from ranged elemental attacks, where the warriorís armor is optimized to protect against physical damage. Keep this in mind when attacking and let the warriors take the brunt of the melee attacks if possible.
In addition to physical and elemental damage protection, the rangerís armor also offers a few other bonuses. Much of the armor has stats that increase energy or masks that grant bonuses such as a +1 to an attribute. New armor is available to the ranger at levels 5, 10, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 20. Since armor is important to the ranger, it is highly suggested that armor be upgraded at every level except 19 where it is better served to save up your money and supplies to get your level 20 armor as quickly as possible.
As of this writing, Rangers have four attributes, Expertise (their primary), Marksmanship, Wilderness Survival, and Beast Mastery. A fifth attribute, stealth, was planned at one point, but it seems to have either been shelved or dropped all together. As for the attributes; most bow skills are tied to Expertise or Marksmanship, enhancements and traps are tied into Wilderness Survival, and all skills related to pets are linked from Beast Mastery.
Expertise is the Ranger's primary attribute. Every rank in Expertise reduces energy costs on any attack skills, preparations, or traps by 4%. At skill rank 12, energy costs are reduced by 48%. It is highly advisable to have a high Expertise rank as it not only increases the power of all its linked skills but also reduces energy cost on other attack skills as well, even from other professions or attributes.
A Ranger who focuses on high Expertise will not only experience a lower energy cost on all attack skills but also have access to many defensive and disruptive skills with a few attack skills placed in. To many people only glancing at the expertise line, it may seem rather weak as most skills only aid in defense or lower the enemyís abilities. Truth be told, Expertise is one of the more important attributes in the game. The disruption skills are key to bringing down some of the tougher enemies, while the defensive skills will keep you alive more often than you may realize. Add in the reduction of energy cost, and this attribute line becomes almost irreplaceable.
Marksmanship is another important attribute to a ranger and most rangers will be found with points not only high in Expertise, but also in Marksmanship. First and foremost, the Marksmanship attribute increases the effectiveness of all skills linked to it. The more points you can drop in Marksmanship, the higher damage your ranger is going to be dishing out.
Most skills in Marksmanship pack a lot of punch, and if youíre looking for skills to make you a more effective damage dealer, you need look no further than the Marksmanship line. The skills found here will not only deal extra damage, but allow for quicker shots, slowing and crippling of enemies, as well as additional attacks (in some cases attacking more than one enemy.)
As always, Wilderness Survival affects the power of all linked skills such as preparations, traps and rituals. Wilderness Survival offers more skills than any other attribute the ranger has access to. While Wilderness Survival is a hard attribute to focus a build around, it can really stack with skills from your other attributes and offer nice support.
Wilderness Survival is where youíre going to find most if not all of your preparations, traps, and rituals. These skills either add additional damage such as fire or poison to your attacks, allow you to place traps for unsuspecting enemies to run into, or grant your ranger additional survival techniques such as removing poisons or hexes. Wilderness Survival is a great skill to focus as a third or fourth attribute. These skills donít stand up very well on their own, but pick one or two and they can really improve your other skills or allow even greater flexibility for your ranger.
The final ranger attribute is Beast Mastery and again, it improves all skills linked to it. Beast Mastery is the attribute that allows your ranger to charm, control, or affect other animals of the wild. Most skills in this line are intended for strengthening your pet. As of this writing there are three different animal companions to be tamed; the lynx, the moa bird, and the warthog. Each of these animals has slightly different attack abilities but for the most part, are fairly indistinguishable other than their graphics. All three of these pets are used as melee combatants.
The pets are great for adding an extra body to the fray. They work well as an added sustained dot attack and as they level, they become much more powerful and useful. Yes, you do have to train and level your pet just as you do any other character in the game and they do start out rarely weak, however, these pets can be quite useful, especially in soloing or in cases where another tank is needed for a battle.
The Charm Animal skill must be equipped to first charm your pet and to also bring it into battle. The many other skills found in the Beast Mastery line serve to make your pet either more resilient or more damaging. The skills range from healing and rezzing your pet, to either strengthening your petís armor or increasing its damage.
While most skills in the Beast Mastery line are for your pets, there are a few other skills that could make this a valuable third or fourth attribute even if you choose not to bring a pet into battle. These include skills such as Primal Echoes, and Energizing Wind, which grant healing and energy bonuses, and Edge of Extinction, which creates an AoE attack upon death of an enemy. Again, this is an attribute that is hard to make a primary focus unless youíre going to let your pet do most of the battle, but it can be a very useful attribute nonetheless.
Building a Ranger
When building a ranger itís important to first decide on what role you want to play. Unlike some other classes, the ranger isnít as straightforward. A little forward thinking would serve you well as you level and save you from having to use too many refund points at a later date.
The main accepted roles of the ranger are for long-range damage, disruption, beast mastery, or a mix of the three. I would strongly advise considering the type of role you would like to fill upon character creation and choose a secondary profession that compliments that nicely. For disruption, a mesmer or necromancer profession would fit well. Should you want to focus on damage, an elementalist or warrior would be a better fit. Of course nothing is set in stone, so study all the professions and find what would compliment your play style and be the most fun for you.
The easiest role for a ranger to play is the long-range damage dealer. This role basically consists of heaping as much damage as possible on your opponent in the shortest amount of time. Make sure that you have the strongest bow that you can find as this will have almost as big of an impact on your damage as your attributes will. To inflict the highest amount of damage, itís important to find skills that stack together well. Look for skills that add damage to your attacks, speed your attack rate, etcÖ and use those skills with other damage modifying attacks. For example, you could use Read the Wind with Ignite Arrows and Dual Shot. This would serve to speed your attack rate, inflict fire damage on all attacks, and fire two arrows at once.
The more complicated role is the disruption role. First letís define disruption. Basically, your main purpose is not to inflict large amounts of damage on your opponent but to cripple them so that their damage or defense is reduced allowing your other teammates the opportunity to both survive longer and kill them off quicker. The ranger, if played well, can excel at disruption. He has the ability to silence casters, lower armor values, slow attack rates, slow movement speed, etcÖ Some of the key skills for disruption are Pin Down, Concussion Shot, Debilitating Shot, etcÖ When building a disruption character, search for skills that disable or weaken your opponent and learn to use them at the appropriate time. Timing can be as important as skill selection with this role.
The final role is Beast Mastery. Beast Mastery can be a great line to supplement another role but is tougher to use as your primary purpose. Pets have an annoying little habit of doing whatever the heck they want. Currently there are no pet commands with which to control your pet, so you just have to hope it does something useful. There is a whole set of skills for adding different types of damage or additional health or armor class to your pets but as a whole theyíre not the strongest attack, especially in PvP against an intelligent opponent. They do serve well as an added Damage Over Time attack and can run well in a small supporting role, but I wouldnít currently suggest creating your build around one. Pets can be a great help in PvE however. Theyíre great for using as tanks while you stand out of harms way and launch attack after attack and are a nice addition for solo exploration.
Of course, itís not required to focus entirely on anyone of the above builds. Successful players may find that focusing on one or two things may benefit them well. I suggest always having at least one defensive skill on your bar for helping you escape a tight situation. An example build utilizing several focuses might be Read the Wind, Ignite Arrows, Dual Shot, and Power Shot for damage, Pin Down and Concussion Shot to help disrupt enemies and Escape for defense in case the ranger gets cornered.
The Ranger/Warrior combination gives you access to all physical attacks making you the ultimate physical fighter. Adding Warrior as a secondary class gives you access to all of your normal bow disciplines, but also hammer, sword, or axe disciplines, as well as the warriors tactics line. Players who choose the Ranger/Warrior are looking to deal damage no matter what the situation. These characters excel at dealing damage from a range, but with their good armor can also deal out some decent melee damage as well.
For those who want to play the ultimate ranged damage dealer, the Ranger/Elementalist may be a good combination to look at. This character will be able to unleash an arsenal of damage from a distance using arrows or elemental damage. While his energy levels will be lower than a primary elementalist, the rangerís armor bonuses will allow him to survive far longer. Adding a secondary elementalist grants access to all skills from the Air, Earth, Fire, and Water lines. It would be best to focus on just one of the lines and find skills that compliment your purpose.
Players who choose Necromancer as a secondary profession have several options available for them. This player is perfectly suited to deal large amounts of disruption to the enemy. Both the Ranger and the Necromancer have a large amount of skills that allow them to weaken, hex, slow, or silence their enemies. Secondary Necromancers may also want to consider using skills that affect the dead such as raising bone minions. A damage-dealing ranger who also commands an army of undead minions can be a terror on the battlefield.
The Ranger/Mesmer is yet another good combination for dealing mass disruption across the battlefield. Secondary mesmers will gain access to the mesmerís disruption attributes. The Domination line normally reduces the efficiency of casters. The Inspiration line normally alters the buffs and energy storage of enemies, and the Illusions line normally reduces physical abilities and attacks.
An extra monk is always welcome in any party. Players who choose to add the monk to their secondary lines gain the powerful healing and resurrection abilities of the monk. In addition to the healing abilities, monks also have a surprisingly strong smiting line of spells. As a secondary class, a secondary monk is far better served by using his healing line as the ranger can deal far more damage than the smiting line can do.
- Define your role and create your build to fit that role
- Pick Complimentary skills and Secondary Professions
- Keep energy management in mind when selecting skills
- Know your enemies; learn their skills and which skills can counter them
- Conversely, know what your enemies can do to counter you and how to adjust
- Donít overextend yourself during battle, remember to stay with your team and in healing range
- When in PvE missions, always bring your healing signet
- Play to your strengths. Rangers work best from a good range
- Use skills such as Concussion Shot, Pin Down, Debilitating Shot, Distracting Shot, etc... for disruption based builds
- Stack Preperations with damage attacks for extra damage
- Use skills such as Read the Wind, Power Shot, Ignite Arrows, Dual Shot, etc... for damage based builds
- Don't forget a few defensive skills in case of an emergency
- Timing can be everything on the disruption skills, learn your casting times and the casting times of enemies
- Most importantly, remember this is a game, and about fun. If a particular profession or role frustrates you, find one that is fun. HAVE FUN!