A touch ranger or toucher for short is a variant of a Ranger using high Expertise investment in order to reduce the energy cost of the duplicates Necromancer Touch skills Vampiric Bite and Vampiric Touch. This allow to spam these normally expensive skills at a greatly reduced cost. A touch ranger typically maximizes Expertise (16) and Blood Magic (12).
This particular gimmick has several advantages:
- life stealing is armor-ignoring, making it effective in PvE against foes and bosses with very high armor rating.
- Rangers have high armor against elemental damage, and Expertise grants access to several blocking stances (notably Whirling Defense), making them quite resilient.
- Health recovered from the life stealing further strengthens durability.
- touch skills are difficult to defend against in general.
As a result, the build sees use in PvP, Alliance Battles, Competitive Missions and general PvE. Touch rangers used to be played in HA or GvG but not anymore because organized teams typically carry simple counters that make touch rangers less effective.
|Expertise: 12+1+3 |
Blood Magic: 12
Runes and insignias
The most basic requirement for these builds to work is a Rune of Superior Expertise attached to a headpiece. The "spare" slots (i.e. those left over after the Expertise rune) are usually filled with a Superior Vigor, the cripple reducing Rune of Restoration in PvP to aid survivability against being snared, and a combination of Runes of Attunement and Radiant Insignias for extra energy (with a Rune of Minor Wilderness Survival if appropriate).
Blood Magic staves, wands and foci are the main weapons of touch rangers due to the ideal mods, additional energy, attribute requirement and dark damage, which ignores bonuses to physical and elemental resistance typically found on warriors and rangers.
Aggressively built weapon sets might combine 15% extra damage, more energy and a 20% chance for +1 Blood Magic, while defensive sets might include a +10AL staff or focus to mitigate damage. Multiple weapon sets can be held in inventory for various circumstances, including of Enchanting mods to extend enchantment durations, high and low energy sets to modify energy by between -7 and +42 (to hide energy from mesmers), and high and low life sets to modify life by -50 to +60 (to manage sacrifice amounts).
A +45 health 'while enchanted' item is particularly interesting to reduce the health sacrifice of Blood Renewal (cast while not yet enchanted), which then immediately grants the +45 health to offset health just sacrificed. Foci can be obtained that also incorporate '+5AL while enchanted' or '-2 physical damage while enchanted' for additional defense while waiting for the ending heal of Blood Renewal to be given.
The main two skills are currently Vampiric Bite and Vampiric Touch. Previous to the release of Factions, the skills used were Touch of Agony and Vampiric Touch, with the health sacrifice of the former being recovered by the latter. The original Prophecies combination is less energy intensive, but it is also less effective than the now far more common post-Factions variant. Ranged options currently exist in several forms:
- Barbed Signet and Oppressive Gaze can be used to inflict damage and conditions on tight groups of foes.
- Blood of the Aggressor, which steals life and can also weaken a foe at range.
- Poison Tip Signet with a potential 80 poison damage added to the next wand attack (actually any weapon). A Rune of Minor Wilderness Survival is required to take Wilderness Survival up to 4.
- Life Siphon, which is slow but efficient. At rank 12, it will steal a total of 132 life if it lasts the full duration of 22s.
Aside from the previously stated touch damage skills, a touch ranger is largely defined by the choice of elite skill. The most common elite is Offering of Blood, which converts some health to energy, and that energy is used to steal back the lost health, and so on. Another classic elite skill in use is Escape, which grants mobility and defense that is second to none. Additional elites that are occasionally used include Life Transfer and Vampiric Spirit.
Touch Rangers use their Expertise skills to protect themselves and their allies. If the elite is aggressive like Offering of Blood, stances such as Whirling Defense, Lightning Reflexes and Dodge can be taken to block attacks and move quickly. If the elite is Escape, additional stances can be dropped to make space for more utility skills. In addition to defensive stances, touch rangers can take Throw Dirt for personal defense as well as to protect allies. Throw Dirt can be followed by Oppressive Gaze to further debilitate foes with Poison and Weakness.
Healing and recovery
Although touch rangers are infamous for their life-stealing touch, self-healing is also available. Blood Renewal is the most powerful self-heal available and is most effective when it is in constant use and refreshed immediately after it expires. Troll Unguent is another option, in which case Wilderness Survival should be raised to 4 with the aid of a Rune of Minor Wilderness Survival. In either case, the effectiveness of self-healing is greatly enhanced by foresight and defensive tactics.
A second threat to a touch ranger's well-being that they have a great deal of control over is conditions. There are 3 main options for condition removal: Antidote Signet, Plague Touch and Plague Sending. In the hands of a typical touch ranger with no points in the Curses attribute, Plague Touch and Plague Sending will transfer a single condition at a time to an enemy or cluster of enemies at the cost of little energy and perhaps some health. Antidote Signet is the simplest method to cure conditions quickly and for free, simply removing them.
Utility skills cover skills that benefit allies, or remove beneficial effects from an enemy.
- Blood Ritual is the main beneficial skill, boosting the energy regeneration of another ally. To get around the forbidden self-targeting, a pair of rangers can boost each other and double their energy regeneration.
- Throw Dirt will blind any foe, including those attacking allies the ranger might want to defend.
- Well of Blood will heal the ranger and their allies whenever they can find a corpse to exploit.
- Blood Bond is a strong healing skill in the right circumstances that will particularly aid Minion Masters and physical attackers.
- Demonic Flesh and Awaken the Blood both boost the touch ranger directly, the first by radiating damage and the second by boosting Blood Magic by 2.
- Distracting Shot, which requires a bow. Distracting Shot can interrupt and disable an enemy skill for 20 seconds, which can sometimes prove decisive.
- Enchantment strips such as Rip Enchantment, Strip Enchantment and Gaze of Contempt. While removing enchantments from enemies isn't usually beneficial for the ranger directly, it may debilitate the enemy or aid an ally's attack.
PvE offers a plethora of useful skills to touch rangers. Among them:
- Signet of Corruption is a good tool to recover energy when used in combination with area effect skills such as Barbed Signet or Life Transfer, Oppressive Gaze.
- "I Am Unstoppable!" from the Norn provides immunity to knockdown and to cripple, as well as increased armor, making it a viable option in most areas.
- Dwarven Stability from the Deldrimor also provides immunity to knockdown if drunk, and doubles the duration of stances such as Whirlwind Defense, making the toucher more resilient and increasing damage.
- Light of Deldrimor deals holy damage and works well because of its low cost and the fact that the toucher is usually in close quarters.
- Tryptophan Signet from the Ebon Vanguard provides a snare for easier touching.
PvE also provides with various effect and consumables that can increase expertise and blood magic even further, reducing the cost and also increasing the effectiveness of the vampiric touch skills. Expertise can reduce the cost of 15 energy skills to as low as 4 at rank 18 (and 3 at rank 20). This can be done through a combination of two of the following:
- Ranger of Melandru blessing
- Golden Egg (5min)
- Candy Corn (10min)
- Grail of Might (30min)
- Lunar Blessing (randomly, no ending)
Unless somehow fighting at range with spells and degen, a touch ranger needs to be in melee range to touch his target, and this can be prevented if the target is able to keep their distance either through kiting or the use of snares. To counter kiting the ranger can use speed boosts such as Dodge or Escape to catch the target, but to counter snares depends on the type being used. The less dangerous form is the cripple condition, which is easy to remedy with Antidote Signet or a condition transfer.
The most dangerous form of snare the ranger faces are hexes, which the ranger is unable to remove. Snare hexes are carried by Elementalists, Mesmers, Ritualists and Assassins. The best a touch ranger can do against hex snares is play defensively, use their self healing, wait for the hex to expire, or possibly try to interrupt and disable a hex snare with Distracting Shot if they have it. Alternatively if there are support characters with hex removal, they might be able to help. Snare hexes are a very common threat in PvP to all characters, and the vulnerability is not unique to touch rangers.
Touch rangers are heavily reliant on energy and its efficient use, so another devastating counter they face is having their energy depleted by Mesmers and Necromancers. Mesmers can steal and burn energy with a wide variety of Domination and Inspiration skills. Necromancers can inhibit energy regeneration with Malaise and Wither, deplete energy with Depravity, or negate the effect of a ranger's Expertise with Atrophy and Wail of Doom. To survive, the ranger has a very inexpensive self-heal in Blood Renewal, an inexpensive stance in the form of Escape, energy recovery in the form of Offering of Blood and a variety of energy-free signets.
|Team roles (edit)|
|Type||General team roles||Specific team roles||Hero team roles|
|Damage||Spiker • Nuker||Bomber • Dagger spammer • Touch ranger • Starburster • Trapper||—|
|Pressure||Lineback||Barrager • Beast master • Cripshot Ranger • Pressure Ranger||—|
|Support||Healer • Protection||Battery • Bonder • Flag runner • Hybrid monk • Imbagon • Infuser • Orders||—|
|Control||Shutdown • Tank||Minion master • Perma • Spirit spammer||Mesmer Midline|
|Utility||Caller • Toolbox||Gimmick||—|