Expert's Dexterity: "Elite Stance. For 1...16...20 second[s], you attack 33% faster and
your Marksmanship attribute is increased by 2 your non-bow martial weapon goes pewpew because who the fuck still uses a bow in PvE."
Are you a primary Ranger in PvE? If yes, this is basically the only elite you need other than Shadow Form. No weapon spells to make the most use of your only adequate AoE, no gimmicks to make you even more durable, no need to apply conditions (not even Dazed) one enemy at a time or three if you're lucky, don't you even dare and try to make preparations worthwhile. This is the one. Run this whenever you don't run Shadow Form on your primary Ranger. You're a primary Ranger, you can be in the front lines easily. You barely take any damage! Yes you can use Drunken Master if you're an alcoholic, but you'll be a nightmare to be around. Besides, have you seen the recharge on that thing? Imagine that getting stripped early, dayum. Nah man, this is the skill you use.
- 4-man literally everywhere: take Stefan, Reyna, and Orion
- Alesia is on Run. When not uselessly kiting, she also has pretty much no energy. Hard res unnecessary now.
- 6-man before Crystal Desert: take Little Thom, Stefan, Alesia, Claude, and Dunham
- Reyna is outclassed by a mile, and Orion overcasts himself to an unusable state thanks to Incendiary Bonds.
- 6-man in the Crystal Desert: take Little Thom, Stefan, Lina, Claude, and Dunham
- Alesia runs out of energy on flat heals, while everyone already carries a self-heal. Lina brings the prots.
- 8-man up to Thunderhead Keep: take everyone except Orion.
- Basically add the lesser of three evils; Alesia and Reyna.
- 8-man up to the Ring of Fire: take Stefan, Aidan, Lina, Mhenlo, Claude, Dunham, and Cynn
- Little Thom cannot deal nearly as much damage as Cynn. Aidan is the best Ranger henchman. Mhenlo brings heals.
- 8-man in the Ring of Fire: take Little Thom, Stefan, Alesia, Lina, Mhenlo, Claude, Dunham
- Little Thom returns as Cynn is walled by all the titans. Without burning, Aidan isn't cutting it. More heals.
Sometimes I get asked how on earth you're supposed to do certain missions with just henchmen and one player. Dunes of Despair is one of those missions that can be extremely difficult due to how the bonus was designed. Henchmen can only be flagged as a group, unlike heroes, so splitting up is either going for the bonus solo and placing all trust in very limited AI, or tricking the mission to the point where splitting is not required. Believe it or not, this mission is harder in normal mode than it is in hard mode. Henchmen carry elite skills and are level 20 in the latter, but are stuck with non-elite skills at level 17 otherwise. In Hard Mode, henchmen carry skills such as Skull Crack, Word of Healing, Power Block, and Aura of Faith. In normal mode your only hopes are the likes of Savage Slash and Protective Spirit.
So how to go about it then? The trick I advise you to use is killing Goss Aleessh after the enemy Ghostly Hero is killed. But before you do that, hold out for the first waves of Forgotten. They are Arcanists, and they hit hard, but at this early stage you should have little trouble taking them out. After this, rush back to Goss and kill him asap, which will teleport your Ghostly Hero back outside of the fort. Tell him to wait there and then go back inside. You should have just enough time to succeed. From this point forward, the Hero is safe, and you can go past the shrine towards the bonus. Don't rush, enemies aren't too powerful now and you should have around 7 more minutes to safely do the bonus. In Hard Mode you should have no trouble with the same strategy. Of course if you don't just use Prophecies, there are a lot of skills you could use as a player to make this mission more trivial.