Note: this article is intended to provide guidance for experienced characters playing a new ranger or experienced rangers looking for additional options. If this is your first time playing Guild Wars, please see "Getting started in Guild Wars Prophecies, Factions, or Nightfall."
A Ranger's Place
Sometimes armed with a bow, sometimes with a hammer, sometimes with a staff, another weapon or even their pet, Rangers have a number of useful roles, including setting traps to defend a location, using their multitude of interrupts to keep a caster under pressure, or simply piling on the damage with their high powered bow combined with preparations and Nature Rituals. Having extraordinary elemental protection in their armor and equipped with a number of stances, many choose to join the melee either with a weapon or with touch-based skills. Ranger animal companions are often brought as another body for blocking. Some rangers forsake damage with a bow and preparations to focus on their pet entirely with pet attacks and calls. These 'proper beastmasters' are rare however.
Being a Ranger
Due to their distance attacks, fairly good armor, and variety of defensive stances, rangers have a relatively high survivability in battle. Meanwhile, they can be focused to shut down a target or to spread their damage out.
A focused build either has high-powered attacks coupled with preparations and enchantments to further increase the damage or interrupts to keep their target helpless. As arrows can be dodged, snares are extremely useful to keep arrows from straying as are skills that decrease arrow flight time. Snares can be used defensively as well to kite an opponent. This works especially well against warriors who may chase uselessly after you while you pelt them with arrows if they have no way of removing the snare. High-powered rangers often will team up with each other and focus attacks in order to create a damage spike.
On the other hand, a ranger may choose to spread the damage. Barrage or Incendiary Arrows are powerful tools at accomplishing this, and they may be very useful against clumps of mobs in PvE as well as taking out clumps of minions or ritualist's Binding Rituals. In the Jade Quarry mission, a single Barrage ranger can often take out entire quarries and guard posts if positioned correctly. Another way to spread the damage is by spamming conditions. Using preparations such as Apply Poison or Melandru's Arrows or by using a fast recharging attack such as Poison Arrow or Crippling Shot, the ranger can cycle through targets, taking one shot at each before moving onto the next. However, if spamming conditions, beware of monks using skill such as Martyr that can quickly render the technique useless.
Occasionally, a ranger will focus on strengthening his or her pet. Pets can perform just about any task the ranger can do, but in melee form. However, the pet does follow an AI algorithm, and thus timing skills or coordinating targets can be more difficult than if done with the bow equivalent. Also, by placing points into Beast Mastery, the ranger often must sacrifice either its own offense (in the way of Marksmanship) or defense (Expertise stances or Wilderness Survival healing). The advantages of bringing a pet is that they provide another attacking body for free, they can body block while allowing the ranger to stay at range, they are often ignored in PvP and thus can often catch a caster off guard, and they can be buffed to be extremely durable. At 16 Beast Mastery also, pet attacks can deal damage that can match, even exceed with some pet attacks, the damage of a warrior.
In many zones, trappers are in demand. Traps are unique to the ranger and mostly occupy the Wilderness Survival attribute. Each trap causes some condition and usually some damage to any hapless foe that walks over them. Traps can be stacked, allowing their usually small damage to be compounded and multiple conditions to be inflicted simultaneously. A well organized group of trappers can even take on many of the most difficult zones in the game simply by setting traps then pulling enemies over them. In PvP, traps are often used to create defensive zones. Since rangers are often on the lower end of a player's priority, the easily interruptable nature of traps is less of an issue. Expertise is extremely useful for heavy trap use as are skills to decrease recharge time (such as Serpent's Quickness) or prevent interruption (such as Mantra of Resolve). See the General trapping guide for more details on being a trapper. Traps may be useful to rangers who aren't specializing in the category for their conditions, but they shouldn't be relied on for heavy damage if not stacked with other traps.
Nature Rituals must be used with care. All are global in the sense they affect both friend and foe. Thus, one should only bring and use them when they are certain their team will have the greater advantage of the effects. They are most effective when they augment the strategy your team is using or cover a weakness your team may have. For example, Favorable Winds is great on a team with numerous bow rangers, whereas Fertile Season may act as spike defense for a pressure focused team. Rituals such as Frozen Soil must be used with great care, as they will often end a PvP match quickly, but not always in favor of the team who placed them. In PvE, know what foes you will be facing, as they often focus on one or two strategies that may occasionally benefit from your spirits. For instance, if you know that the monsters that you are up against are resistant to fire damage, packing a nature ritual such as Winter for your group's elementalists could tilt the battle in your favor
- Beast Mastery: This attribute is a must for beastmasters, but rarely needed for any other purpose. Without increasing it, a pet is about as useful as the corpse it will provide when it dies. However, be aware there are non-pet related skills here that may be of specialized use.
- Expertise: This attribute is essential for most uses of the ranger. Having only three pips of energy regeneration, Expertise is required for spamming attack skills or traps without running out of energy. In addition, most of the best defensive stances a ranger has are based on Expertise.
- Marksmanship: Bows and most bow attacks rely on this attribute. Most rangers use a bow and require a good number of points into this attribute. However, touch rangers and trappers often forgo this attribute and carry energy granting equipment instead.
- Wilderness Survival: Many of the utility skills of a ranger can be found in this attribute. Self-healing Troll Unguent, most traps, poison-inflicting skills, preparations, and a number of nature rituals can be found here.
Types of Rangers
The following are a few examples of popular ranger roles.
Standing for Barrage/pet, the BP ranger is focused on damaging a clump of foes while using the pet to hold them off. When used with multiple similar rangers, the pets can form a wall while the barrage damage adds up quickly. Spirits such as Favorable Winds and Winnowing are often used to add to the damage. Other builds often focus on using Barrage without a pet, utilizing enchantments such as Conjure Flame or vampiric bowstrings to add to the damage. Using Barrage in PvP can be dangerous, as hexes such as Spiteful Spirit will trigger for each arrow fired.
Instead of focusing on damage, an interrupt ranger attempts to keep a target shut down by using a multitude of bow-based interrupts. Interrupting with a ranger is generally significantly harder than with a mesmer since blindness and spells such as Guardian or Aegis will often result in a miss or block and arrow flight time makes it hard to interrupt quick casting skills. Another effective tactic used by interrupters is to Daze their opponents with skills such as Broad Head Arrow or Concussion Shot, making it extremely difficult for the Ranger's target to cast spells. Interrupts are great against both PvP opponents as well as tough bosses with deadly skills, but often lack the power necessary to take down an opponent without assistance from the team.
Bows naturally have fairly high damage, and coupled with damage-adding preparations, nature rituals, enchantments, and vampiric bowstrings, each arrow can deliver significant damage to an opponent. Skills such as Marauder's Shot add even more to the high power. Teams that include multiple of these rangers often target the same opponent for a spike of damage and can be quite effective in PvP against unprotected foes.
In both PvP and PvE, foes can be pulled or lured towards the team where a team of trappers has stacked a number of hidden traps. Those entering these deadly zones are hit by numerous conditions and damage in a short amount of time, usually rendering them useless if not dead for an amount of time and pressuring enemy monks to keep them healed. A pure trapper often doesn't even carry a bow, favoring a wand/offhand combination to gain more energy. Having high expertise is almost required as to set traps as often as possible. The General trapping guide should be able to further explain the details and intricacies of the skills and strategies involved.
The Touch Ranger has become a staple of rangers and is often despised as a "lame" build. Using Expertise to lower the cost of the necromancer's Vampiric Touch and Vampiric Bite skills, the ranger spams their target with these skills, hitting with armor-ignoring life stealing (allowing them to heal at the same time). Furthermore, the skills do not count as attacks or spells, nor do they inflict damage, rendering a large number of defensive measures such as stances and damage reduction ineffective. Instead, foes must utilize more indirect methods of defense such as snares and energy denial.
A ranger may choose to focus on increasing the strength of their pet. They may either fight along side the pet as a Bunny Thumper or stay back and guide the pet as with a Tank Master skill set, with skills such as Call of Protection and Predatory Bond. Beastmasters must pay particular attention to themselves and their pet. If the pet dies, the beastmaster is much less effective, and if the beastmaster dies, the pet will only attack foes that approach it or that you target with the pet command panel and does not have any skills.
Though not as common as the other types of rangers and not as well received by PUGs they are still widely used for solo farming, tanking, pressure, or damage. The secondaries of choice are often melee professions such as Warrior, Dervish, or Assassin (Paragon can be used as well but is not typically a melee profession) with the rare exception being Mesmer for the use of Illusionary Weaponry. Often a stance ranger will bring a minimum of two to four stances (sometimes one or more from the secondary professions but most are usually from the ranger line, specifically the Expertise skills though not limited to them) that can constantly be recycled keeping up a 75% chance to avoid damage from melee/ranged attacks which in turn drastically lessens damage taken, while the remaining skills typically consist of secondary profession attacks, a self heal, and/or condition removal or a resurrection skill.
The Ranger has quite an arsenal of condition based attacks at his disposal, and many decide to take advantage of that fact and take a whole slew of them. Condition spam rangers have access to many different conditions to throw at their enemies, including bleeding, poison, cripple, burning, and dazed. Alone, each condition is fairly weak, but as they add up, they cause more and more damage. This is made more lethal when the ranger uses condition preparations in conjunction with condition bow attacks, bestowing two conditions at once. The only set back of some conditions is the maximum degeneration of 10. If used in conjunction with a degeneration hexer, some conditions end up adding little to a target's pain besides a few more icons at the top of their screen.
Choosing a Secondary
While some builds such as the Touch Ranger require a specific secondary, a ranger can be quite effective without one. See the Secondary professions for a Ranger for detailed comparisons on possible secondaries.
Expertise applies to all weapon attacks including dagger attacks, allowing the ranger to act as an assassin quite effectively. With higher elemental armor than the assassin and a number of defensive stances, such a ranger may arguably have more survivability than a similar assassin. However, Expertise must be relied on to make up for the lost pip of energy regeneration and the lack of energy flowing from Critical Strikes. Damage output will also be lower due to a lower chance of landing critical hits.
People use dervish as their secondary for running purposes like for running from Beacon's Perch to Droknar's Forge. People might also use a scythe with Expertise to lower down energy costs on weapon attacks.
The usual reason for this combination is to stack on the Conjure series of enchantments to the already powerful bow. These enchantments circumvent the lack of preparations with Barrage, and they are simply extra damage for those choosing to pound a target as hard as possible. You may be successful using the Elementalist's Ward spells to get some area defense when foes close in you, or by focusing on the Earth Magic or Water Magic skill-lines for armor-increasing spells which may improve chances of survival. However, keep in mind that Expertise does not affect spells.
The mesmer secondary combines fairly well with the ranger. The two classes have an endless supply of interrupts. Distortion and Mantra of Resolve are popular on trappers to help cover the easily interrupted drawback of traps. Epidemic and Fevered Dreams combine well with the ranger's ability to apply numerous conditions on a target. However, one must pay special attention to using a large number of mesmer skills, as they tend to be quite expensive to the three pips of energy regeneration and are not reduced by expertise.
The survivability of a Ranger can be further increased by adding Monk as a secondary. Skills such as Vigorous Spirit trigger for each arrow fired with Barrage or Dual Shot. Since rangers are often one of the few survivors of a bad battle in PvE, Rebirth can be quite useful to bring back the party from the brink of destruction. Mending Touch is affected by expertise as it is touch range, providing low cost condition removal for themselves and other players. Offensively, Judge's Insight can add armor penetration to bow attacks.
The large majority of rangers that choose this secondary use the infamous Touch Ranger build. However, other uses to this build include using hexes such as Mark of Pain to spread damage. Also possible to combine Edge of Extinction and Spiteful Spirit to farm enemies such as those that attack at distances that don't use spells to attack.
Most people who choose paragon as secondary tend to use 2 shouts to combine for both a deep wound and a critical; "Find Their Weakness!" and "Go for the Eyes!". Other shouts can be used to provide a variety of support, ranging from damage reduction to reducing pressure from party-wide degeneration. Rangers with Paragon secondary may also use Spear attacks, Expertise, and Rampage as One to deal out massive damage in a short amount of time with very little energy used.
As ritualist spirits are often expensive and have a large recharge, they may benefit greatly from the energy reduction of Expertise and the recharge from Oath Shot. Another use includes using weapon spells like Splinter Weapon to improve the damage from Barrage. Another use is for the hard res skills in Restoration Magic: Lively Was Naomei, Flesh of My Flesh, and Death Pact Signet. Lively Was Naomei is used most of the time when the party has the spirit Frozen Soil up.
Using defensive stances and relying on their mid-grade armor, a ranger can do quite well in melee. However, they must watch out for skills such as Wild Blow, Wild Strike and Wild Throw ending their stances and thus leaving them vulnerable to heavy physical damage. If bringing a pet, the elite skill Ferocious Strike can supply extra strikes of adrenaline to the ranger, allowing them to be quite devastating. Also can be combined with a hammer, IAS skills and massive amounts of knockdown, famously known as a Bunny Thumper, which is quite deadly.
Armor & Runes
All Ranger armor is a mid-grade 70 with an extra 30 against elemental damage, providing them excellent defense against enemy elementalists and moderate protection against physical damage. Armor can be further focused against fire, cold, earth, or lightning and also since the addition of Nightfall, you can even upgrade it with energy or health mods. The cold-protective armor may be especially useful when using Winter whereas the fire protection may be helpful if using Greater Conflagration. Stance armor is also particularly useful for those who can keep them up consistently.
Bows come in various forms, and a ranger should carry different bows for different situations. Shortbows have a short flight time and fast reload speed, making them good for close combat or trying to get as much damage shot out as possible. Recurve Bows have short flight times, like the Shortbow, making them good interrupt bows (Skills which increase arrow speed, such as Read the Wind, make these two bows almost instant interrupters). Longbows and flatbows on the other hand are slower and more inaccurate but have a very long range. These bows are extremely useful for pulling, and even non-rangers in PvE should carry one for that purpose. Other bows fall between, and a ranger should decide which bow to use based on range, reload speed, and accuracy.
Offensively, try to take the highest ground possible that gives you the best view at your enemies. Higher ground allows you to shoot farther and thus gives you a great advantage against foes below you. However, in PvP, foes may hide under the bridge you are on or run far enough away to prevent you from hitting them, thus depending on your role, you may need to sacrifice height for a clear path to chase a running foe. Also, the closer you are, the less flight time your arrows have, so if accuracy is important, you may need to close some distance.
The best defensive tactic available to a ranger is to keep your distance. Distance is your friend, as with the exception of armor-ignoring spells and enemy rangers and paragons, little can damage you if you can keep away from them. If you have a bow, you should be running around the outskirts of battle, not in the middle of it. However, melee is often inevitable, so don't rely on distance to always protect you. Defensive stances are incredibly useful, especially against foes unprepared to circumvent them. However, many foes in PvP come prepared with skills that cannot be blocked. Other defensive tactics include blinding your foe, or simply running away from them, often using a stance to increase movement speed (kiting).
|Effective profession guides|
| Warrior • Ranger • Monk • Necromancer • Mesmer • Elementalist|