Guide to playing as a ranger
|Note: This article is geared towards new players. Please keep its contents to those which new players can reasonably use.|
Rangers are an extremely versatile profession, able to support combat operations by delivering precise long-range fire on selected targets, while denying the enemy freedom of movement. Their roles vary as they can set traps to ambush unsuspecting foes, spam a variety of interrupts to neutralize casters, bring in a pet to add additional melee damage, spread conditions with numerous bow attacks and preparations, or simply focus on ranged damage per second with either their bow or reduced cost attack and touch-based skills. Rangers have great survivability, using a bow as their primary weapon will not only keep them at a safe distance, but Rangers also have decent armor versus physical damage and a high inherent armor bonus versus elemental damage. Rangers may also use numerous stances to block incoming attacks and increase both run and attack speed. Rangers have a unique ability to summon nature spirits that influence both friend and foe alike.
The ranger's primary attribute is extremely useful. Many bow attacks cost a significant amount of energy, and with a ranger's (typically) small energy pool and mere three pips of energy regeneration, the pool can quickly dry. This attribute lowers the cost of all ranger skills as well as all touch-range and attack skills. Also, many of the defensive and energy-renewing skills are found in this attribute.
Rangers are the only profession that may bring along a dedicated pet. Most of the skills found in this attribute are solely for increasing the power and survivability of the ranger's pet, though a couple abilities benefit both you and the pet. In addition, simply increasing the rank raises the base damage and critical hit chance of the pet. However, should the ranger choose not to bring a pet, there are only a few skills in this attribute that can be used. Beast Mastery is a bit more limited attribute in terms of flexibility, even when utilizing the pet, but more than makes up for it by excelling in its two main functions - Beast Mastery mostly offers the ability to have your pet soak up enormous amounts of damage, or deal more damage than most warriors. One (in)famous example of utilizing abilities that affect both you and your pet is the Bunny Thumper, which uses the elite skill Rampage as One to maximize hammer attacks, and utilizes the pet to inflict the dazed condition to knocked down foes (which comes easily due to the design of the Bunny Thumper build.)
This attribute influences all bow-based skills along with bow damage and critical hit chance.
While most rangers use a bow, there are a few roles in which a bow is not needed, whether it be using a different weapon such as a hammer or daggers or using a staff for energy on a Trapper or Touch Ranger.
This attribute contains a variety of skills. Most traps, preparations, nature rituals, and condition-causing bow attacks are found here as well as the most popular ranger's self-heal, Troll Unguent.
 Understanding the Profession
- Rangers can play almost anywhere in PvE.
- When farming, Rangers often work in groups of "B/Ps" Barrage or "Barrage/Pet." This team uses the Elite skill Barrage to deal AoE damage, pets to act as tanks, and supporting professions to augment the Rangers' damage output and keep everyone alive. This can be used to farm the Fissure of Woe and the Tomb of the Primeval Kings, to name a few spots.
- With the right skill set, Rangers can be the toughest profession in the game. High elemental defense is augmented by blocking and running stances, the most common and probably best of which is Natural Stride. Rangers are also flexible enough within their own profession that they often have free reign to choose their secondary profession. The most popular secondary profession by far is Monk to gain the use of Mending Touch.
- Despite the flexibility available, bow-based Rangers have a very rigid optimal build:
- The optional slot is for an elite bow attack. This skill set offers unparalleled survivability in PvP along with the ability to spread poison rapidly and the potentially game-altering power of Distracting Shot. It is important to note that while this build looks fairly homogeneous, the chosen elite skill will alter the play-style required by a large degree.
- Rangers can also use traps to their advantages. Traps can cause foes to be blinded, crippled, set on fire, or dazed, and if used strategically they can be of great use. In missions such as the Zaishen Elite, other players will automatically expect a trapper.
- Rangers can also utilize nature rituals to disrupt the opponent. While potentially effective, nature rituals are stationary and weak.
 Staying alive
One extremely effective strategy to staying alive for rangers is kiting.Other option is to use stances like Whirling Defence or Escape. Using traps before fight can slow down melee foes and deal damage.
 Playing in a Party
- Rangers are normally the interrupter characters in the group, interrupt high damage dealers like elementalist bosses and other dangerous skills, like resurrection skills.
- Rangers serve mainly as a long-distance shooter and/or puller to help the party pull in small group of foes rather than a large group to increase their chances of survival, but this can as well be done with the groups warrior, as he'll want the aggro.
- Spreading pressure if facing a difficult-to-kill group with many monks.
- Assist in spikes.
- Generally doing damage from safe distance = faster kills and easier work for the monks.
- Rangers can also be used as trappers to create a death zone in difficult areas such as FoW, or running to new zones or luring away enemies (if you can't pull a small group, you can lure most of the mob away so there is only a small group left).
- Your role will vary greatly depending on your chosen elite, but interrupting key skills and pressuring enemy monks through rapid poison spreading will nearly always be a major part of it.
 What to avoid
- Even though the ranger is a very versatile profession with a variety of different builds, avoid running hybrid builds that takes from two or more builds (such as mixing traps and bow attacks); such hybrid builds tend to be less effective as a whole.
 Play Styles
A barrage Ranger uses the elite skill Barrage or standard skill Volley to fire arrows at multiple enemies at once. Barrage rangers are very useful in situations where a party is fighting clustered groups of enemies in PvE, and there are a number of builds focused around this skill. Some Rangers use their pets to help them cluster enemies while they try to assault the pet. This is called Barrage/Pet, or B/P for short. The addition of damage-boosting buffs such as Favorable Winds, Winnowing, Judge's Insight, Order of Pain, Mark of Pain, Splinter Weapon and Conjure Flame combined with a Fiery bow, greatly increase the damage output of barrage Rangers. However, barrage Rangers are less effective in areas with small amounts of enemies spread apart, like in most PvP. MMs, however, are vulnerable because the minions tend to clump together. Also note that Barrage can be useful in the Zaishen Elite.
A very useful application of the Ranger is the use of bow attacks and preparations that inflict some sort of condition in addition to damage. Preparations like Apply Poison or bow attacks like Burning Arrow and Incendiary Arrows will cause a health drain or health "degeneration" on a target over a period of time when hit with an arrow.
Rangers have a large number of bow-based interrupts. With foresight and proper timing, a ranger can render a target impotent. In addition, some bow attacks such as Concussion Shot and Broad Head Arrow are sources for the rare Dazed condition, making interrupting casters much easier. If working with a mesmer or using mesmer as secondary, skills like Migraine or Frustration helps interrupting much like the dazed condition does. Interrupters are popular in PvP, as they are capable of disrupting a large portion of a team's activities, but they do not have the same kind of damage potential as other roles. Still, the trade-off is worth it. In PvE, Broad Head Arrow interrupters are particularly effective against nuker bosses, and Choking Gas interrupters are particularly effective against groups of casters.
Notable interruption skills:
- Distracting Shot - if the interrupted action was a skill, it becomes disabled for up to 20 seconds.
- Savage Shot deals extra damage if it interrupts a spell.
- Magebane Shot (elite) if the interrupted action was a spell, it becomes disabled for 10 seconds.
- Broad Head Arrow (elite) always inflicts dazed. Note that the increased flight time will make it nearly impossible to hit an alert target at any kind of range.
- Concussion Shot also inflicts dazed if it interrupts a spell.
- Choking Gas causes bow attacks to interrupts spells cast by the target and all foes adjacent to the target. Note that this skill will require Practiced Stance and an IAS to use effectively.
Rangers are very adept at denying enemies the opportunity to use their skills against your party. This role can really benefit a party when fighting high-level bosses that use especially devastating spells with longer initialization times like Glint, Kuunavang, and Zhu Hanuku. This role usually involves the use of a recurve bow and/or Read the Wind to maximize the chances of a successful interrupt.
Rangers have several speed buffs (such as Dodge, Storm Chaser, and Escape) that will increase their running speed temporarily, and grant the Ranger the ability to block a large portion of incoming attacks. They make decent "runners" (people who bypass monsters instead of fighting them to reach new areas) when combined with a secondary profession like a Monk, Assassin or Dervish. The Ranger has no innate defense against knockdowns, specific conditions (see: Antidote Signet), and hexes, which all limit his or her abilities as a runner, however it should be noted that all these drawbacks can be easily remedied through the use of one's secondary profession skills.
The Ritualist skill lines include a number of powerful, but usually costly binding rituals. Fortunately for Rangers, the Energy cost of those rituals is reduced by Expertise, which allows them to repeatedly create an army of spirits very effectively. While in PvP spirit spamming is often unreliable (slow casting times, fragile spirits), in PvE the build is extremely effective either in a party or solo. Skills such as Signet of Spirits, Pain, Bloodsong, Shadowsong and Vampirism are examples of rituals commonly used on the Ranger build. The PvE skill Summon Spirits is commonly used to move spirits around, either offensively or defensively (for example to take spirits out of AoE spells). The main advantages to this build are the high damage potential, the ability to solo or use spirits as decoys to protect your party members, and access to the Ritualist reusable resurrection skills, Death Pact Signet or Flesh of my Flesh.
The Ranger has the unique ability to lay hidden traps that activate without warning when an enemy passes over them. This tactic is heavily used in the Underworld or Zaishen Elite challenge to release a variety of conditions upon an enemy, draining its life extremely quickly. This tactic is also very effective for creating kill zones at choke points.
They all have similar characteristics in they take two seconds to activate, are easily interrupted, and remain hidden until triggered (or expire after 90 seconds). Most traps will cause damage and/or a condition and can be stacked on top of each other. A dedicated trapper (or two or three) with something to decrease the skill recharge (such as Trapper's Focus or Serpent's Quickness) can create a death zone that will destroy the first hapless soul to walk into range. This is useful for creating ambushes, but due to their easily interruptable nature, trappers need some method to cope with laying traps mid battle. Skills to prevent interruption, such as Trapper's Focus or Mantra of Resolve or stances to block attacks are required to prevent being neutralized while under pressure. Note that many trappers will bring a staff or wand/offhand instead of a bow for the energy bonuses.
Traps are occasionally used in PvP in a defensive manner, to protect a spirit nest (a stack of spirits) or the Guild Lord, or in an offensive manner to snare a flag runner. In less-organized forms of PvP such as AB, a dedicated and knowledgeable trapper can do quite a bit of damage by trapping various "mobbed" places such as the bridges in Ancestral Lands and Kaanai Canyon.
Expertise affects touch-based skills. In the necromancer's blood magic two touch skills, notably Vampiric Touch and Vampiric Bite, have given rise to a build still active in PvP. These two skills have a high energy cost, but due to the effects of Expertise, touch rangers will not pay as high of a price. Touch rangers move into melee range upon which they spam both of these skills, causing a large amount of life stealing to the target while simultaneously healing the toucher. Life stealing does not count as damage or healing, therefore it ignores armor and bypasses most forms of protection. Even with high Expertise, the energy drain is significant, so touch rangers usually bring a high energy staff instead of a bow and use skills such as Offering of Blood to keep the energy pool filled. Speed-increasing stances such as Dodge and Zojun's Haste are useful to maintain touch range, because the touch skills are not attacks and so the stances do not end until they time out. Typical methods to counter attacks and spells or prevent damage do not work against the life-stealing touch attacks. The best defense against touch rangers is distance by either kiting or using snares until a party is ready to focus on them.
Due to the expertise attribute, rangers can use many attack skills and weapons efficiently, as they don't have to use up nearly as much energy as most other professions would. A ranger carrying a scythe can make use of the weapon's high damage output, without having to suffer from the high energy cost scythe skills usually require. Hammers are also often seen in ranger hands. The use of melee combat skills might seem awkward as the ranger does not have 80 armor like warriors, but with their increased armor against elemental damage and stances that effectively reduce the amount of physical damage they receive (by means of blocking) like Escape, Whirling Defense or Natural Stride, they are very capable of surviving a frontline position. Since the nerf to the PvP version of Escape, melee rangers are no longer as common in PvP.
Dervish: The scythe is among the deadliest weapons. With the ranger's expertise, they deal large aoe damage in a short period of time, while keeping their energy pool from sinking too quickly. This kind of ranger is also known as a escape scythe or R/D. R/D are commonly used in a powerful team called sway.
Assassin: Thanks again to Expertise, rangers enjoy a reduced cost for the assassin's numerous dagger attack chains. However, with a lack of runes and one less pip of energy regeneration, energy management can still be a chore. Still, if for whatever reason your party needs someone to play the role of assassin without actually having a primary one, a ranger can fill in better than most other professions.
Warrior: The warrior secondary can be used well by a Ranger. Using Rampage as One can add a lot of pressure to a target, both from the increased attack speed and the pet. Hammers give a ranger (Bunny Thumper in this case) access to good knockdowns. And with free adrenaline and reduced energy cost from Expertise, attack skills and pet skills can be spammed quite frequently. Rangers may also be found with a sword and shield in what is known as the "Stance Tank", utilizing stances to absorb damage, in some cases achieving greater survivability than basic warriors when fighting groups of enemies.
Paragon: The paragon secondary can be used well by a Ranger. Spear Mastery gives a ranger (Pack Hunter in this case) an alternative to spreading conditions and utilize an Animal Companion for additional damage and utility.
By combining methods to increase the damage of each arrow, rangers can pile on a large amount of damage in a short amount of time. Spells such as Conjure Flame, preparations such as Glass Arrows, and spirits such as Favorable Winds combined with a high-damage bow attack such as Sloth Hunter's Shot or multiple-shot attacks such as Dual Shot can quickly add up. Often, multiple rangers will sync their attacks, causing a damage spike that can quickly kill an undefended target.
While previously less popular, utilizing almost strictly pet-related skills is slowly gaining popularity within the community, partly because of the pet controls recently released, allowing rangers to have more control of their pet than they did for a long time. Another reason is because the damage dealt by pet-attack skills rose dramatically, and already were very able to soak up damage with Call of Protection alone, being improved further with Symbiotic Bond and Otyugh's Cry. Yet another reason is because of what many beast-masters consider the 'bread and butter' skills of beast-mastery: Enraged Lunge (elite), Call of Protection, and Symbiotic Bond, though some will feel confined by the harsh restrictions of Enraged Lunge and Symbiotic Bond at times, making them very slightly less common than Call of Protection.
While Charm Animal is required to be able to acquire a pet, once you have captured a pet in PvE, you can remove the skill, freeing up a skill slot. This makes running a Beast Master easier in PvE.
 Choice of Secondary Professions
- Can wield a spear and shield for higher survivability with high damage per second output when combined with a pet.
- Gives the ranger access to Deep Wound at range via "Find Their Weakness!" and/or spear attacks.
- "Go for the Eyes!" combines well with Keen Arrow (especially if multiple party members are carrying attack skills with effects on a critical hit).
- Gives access to multiple resurrection skills, notably We Shall Return!.
|Guides for all Professions|
|Core: Warrior • Ranger • Monk • Necromancer • Mesmer • Elementalist|
|Factions: Assassin • Ritualist Nightfall: Paragon • Dervish|