Ranger - Archer path

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Zymth
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Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Zymth » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:45 pm

The ranger-archer path, and really ranger in general, is extremely underpowered at BGTSCC.

It's been my experience that most power comes from the 96 prestige classes that exist on this server, and ranger is harmed in a way that many other classes aren't by the fact that it's an extremely late-blooming build requiring you to go far deeper than most other classes to get a payoff. The animal companion, spell durations, and favored enemy damage, don't really become functional until 16-21, and even then, all they do is bring the ranger back up to where everyone else is at, only the other classes don't have to use buffs and juggle a hundred variables to achieve that level of power.

The ranger necessitates that you take 21 levels of ranger, whereas, for example, the fighter can get +8 damage and +4ab with only 12 levels of fighter, allowing them to multiclass for far greater versatility without any trade-off in power.

Here's a list of things that I think would have to happen for Ranger to be a competitive class:

1. Natural bond and epic animal companion are granted feats.
At level 8 my animal companion has 30 hp and dies in two hits. Regrettably it has no value at all, and in fact has negative value in that it's a 'class feature' that is occupying a space that would otherwise be filled by class features with actual utility. If there's no interest in adding these animal companion feats for free, an alternative suggestion would be to allow rangers to forgo the animal companion class feature altogether in exchange for improvements to their combat paths.

2. move improved rapid shot from level 11 to level 6
One of the problems with ranger as I said is that it's a late blooming build that isn't a lot of fun early in the game. Improved rapid shot becomes available at level 6 for fighters, but ranger is stunted in its own supposed area of expertise (archery path), offering this a wopping five levels late.

3. Weapon mastery: longbows at level 11.
+2ab and +2dmg is shocking value for a single feat, and should be split into two for fighters in my opinion, but its addition only causes ranger to lag that much further behind, and since the archery path is pretty underpowered to begin with, granting this at 11 would help.

3. Improved spell durations
Embrace the wild: 10 minutes / level
Camoflauge: 10 minutes/level
Nature's fervor: 10 ... ect ect

Really, so many of the ranger spells are either 1-offs or have super-short durations that they demand that you go deep into ranger, forgoing multiclassing benefits. Even then the durations strike me as insanely short (+1ab with ranged weapons for 21 minutes isn't a great bargain for a level 21 character.)

There's also a really glaring lack of symmetry between the underdark and the surface in that rangers on the surface aren't required to spend precious levels on a prestige class to use their class features, while underdark rangers are. Cavestalker doesn't solve this problem because it eats into ranger levels, causing you to acquire your epic ranger feats late. Also, I'm not sure if the cavestalker favored enemies grant you a further +1 to damage, but if they don't you sacrifice the extra damage from not being able to go 30 ranger, as well.

One possible solution with regards to cavestalker would be to make it count towards your eligibility for bane of enemies, and also your eligibility for ranger bonus feats, though I don't understand why we can't just manually remove ranger HIPS and replace it with, say, shadowdancer's HIPS, for underdark characters in the corresponding areas.

There's a lot more to cover but that's already a wall of text. Looking forward to your thoughts, thanks for reading.

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Hammer_Song
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Hammer_Song » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:54 pm

I’d say ranger is almost perfectly balanced for this server. It’s an incredibly flexible class.
Remember BG doesn’t create class balance by comparing to favoured souls or bards.
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KOPOJIbPAKOB
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by KOPOJIbPAKOB » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:55 pm

Trust me, rangers don't need any buffs, especially archers. Moreover, they need one obvious nerf, which is fixing double one-shot exploit. Rangers are extremely powerful. For example, Ranger 21/Assasin 9 (ranged) is an immortal classic of powerbuilding, one of the most powerful builds ever you can create.
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Zymth » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:57 pm

I've actually gotten 2 rangers through epic and I've found them woefully underpowered. If you can demonstrate mechanically what makes them so great, that would go a long way in moving the discussion forward. The melee path is definitely better than the archer path and far more viable; the melee path massively eclipses the archery path and you can afford to multiclass in a prestige class to shore up the build's weaknesses, which was a point I made in my thread. That build basically acknowledges the animal companion is a total write-off, which I discussed in my post, and it relies heavily on the poorly-balanced HIPS which is granted unconditionally by one of the myriad of prestige classes, which I also discussed in my post.

Also, it has the glaring weakness (which I noticed you didn't include in your assessment) that its offense is only great vs a very short list of creature types.
Last edited by Zymth on Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Hammer_Song » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:05 pm

Maybe you could link your builds instead and we can check. In the ten years I’ve been here, I’ve had a str based ranger who also took archery feats, so he was equally able with melee or ranged. I’ve had a r13/as8/ea5/f4, who tore everything up at range and a little while back started a str based shield using brutal thrower with archery style. I’ve found all feel easy.
The only thing I guess is that they struggle a little more against non-favoured enemies - but str based helps a lot, as do things like PTWF and assassin levels with many shot.
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Zymth » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:10 pm

KOPOJIbPAKOB wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:55 pm
Trust me, rangers don't need any buffs, especially archers. Moreover, they need one obvious nerf, which is fixing double one-shot exploit. Rangers are extremely powerful. For example, Ranger 21/Assasin 9 (ranged) is an immortal classic of powerbuilding, one of the most powerful builds ever you can create.
It's great if you want a massively stunted attack bonus compared to every other archer build in the game, short spell durations--

Why don't we just call a spade a spade here, builds with HIPS magically seem like they're brilliant and OP because HIPS is OP, that's not a statement about ranger, it's a statement about HIPS.

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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by KOPOJIbPAKOB » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:24 am

Zymth wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:10 pm
KOPOJIbPAKOB wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:55 pm
Trust me, rangers don't need any buffs, especially archers. Moreover, they need one obvious nerf, which is fixing double one-shot exploit. Rangers are extremely powerful. For example, Ranger 21/Assasin 9 (ranged) is an immortal classic of powerbuilding, one of the most powerful builds ever you can create.
It's great if you want a massively stunted attack bonus compared to every other archer build in the game, short spell durations--

Why don't we just call a spade a spade here, builds with HIPS magically seem like they're brilliant and OP because HIPS is OP, that's not a statement about ranger, it's a statement about HIPS.
Alright, I'll try to elaborate beyond "I just saw how it works".

To start with, ranger already has hips, it simply doesn't work indoors.
Long story short, power wise, ranger has sky-high AB, decent damage and good survivability as well as many interesting features. It doesn't need to wait until late game to be powerful, even in early game you have high BAB, high fort. saves, decent hp, magic, with manyshot (at lvl 6) as well high damage. But it's simplier to do a level 30 calculation.

So features the said build I mentioned has on lvl 30 (very roughly):

Attack bonus: 27 (bab) + 10 (agility or wisdom) + 2 (bane of enemies) + 5 (favored enemy) + 1 (Hawk's eye spell) + 4 (your +4 bow you'll have by that moment) + 2 (a couple of AB incresing feats you'll have, like weapon focus) = 51 (43 with manyshot, still really solid). Add here that attacks from hips ignore dodge and dexterity armor unless the target has uncanny dodge.

Damage: 1-8 (longbow base) + 4 (enhancement bonus of your weapon) + 5 (favored enemy) + 2-12 (Bane of enemies) + 1-6 (arrows) + 1-4 (bonus damage many epic bows have) = roughly around 14-39 (we don't count here str bonus if you have a mighty bow). The trick is this damage is multiplied by 2 with manyshot, so it's actually 28-78, which means 53 on average which is incredibly good. Also, in the build I mentioned you have 9 levels of assasin with death attack multiplied on manyshots, so add 10-60 damage here (unless target is immune to sneak attacks or you shoot from a large distance). Now as well keep in mind you have 2 one-shot feats that can be fired simultaneously and multiply your damage by 3 (because it's a bow with x3 multiplier). And at last, with 27 BAB and rapid shot on, you're having 7 attacks per round and 3 attacks per first flurry. Powerful, isn't it?

Despite this power, ranger is not a glass cannon, it's resilient as heck. In terms of mobility/survivability/quality of life, you have:
- Camouflage (lets you run with full speed during stealth outdoors, insanely powerful feat)
- Spellbook with many useful spells with high CL (including some fun custom ones like programmed image)
- Since we talk about rangerssin, there's also assasin spellbook here, it's useful as well, assasin as well provides uncanny dodge feat
- High fort. saves and 8 hp per level with toughness feat, means you'll have at least 300 hp in the end which is very good for a sneaker/archer
- Animal companion (not overly powerful, but neat)
- 6 skill points per level, assasin also opens access to UMD
- Not sure about AC, it should be around 40-45 ish, which is nice

And in the end, important part, ranger is that very class that lets you have sky high Hide/MS AND Spot numbers at the same time, thanks to class feats, buffs and tons of skillpoints to distribute. You can say I talk about ranger-ssin combo - I do. But take ranger 30, it's not much weaker, it even has larger AB and non-sneak damage as well as few bonus feats, it still has outdoors hips, so it's fairly powerful too. Hope it explains stuff!
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YourMoveHolyMan
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by YourMoveHolyMan » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:22 am

Favored enemy bonuses from the feats only apply to damage, not AB. Bane of foes does however apply +2 AB to favored enemies.
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Zymth » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:17 am

I just discovered that all the ranger spells that are meant to target arrows actually function on cooldowns and are not the 1-offs I thought they were (we gotta update the wiki.) One of them is actually very potent and makes ranger a lot more appealing as an archer. I still think I made some fair points earlier, however, particularly regarding the asymmetry of rangers in the UD to rangers in the surface, and the pointlessness of the animal companion without both the feats.

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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by chad878262 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:21 am

Ranger Archers are quite strong even staying fully pure. They are not supposed to be as strong as Druids with the way D&D is designed (pure casters are stronger than everything else in D&D the higher in level you get... This is obviously a bigger issue on a PW when eventually everyone gets to 18+ where melee/ranged is always going to be weaker.) This said, Ranger and Paladin are perhaps the most well balanced classes on this server. Maybe it is because they are ~1/2 casters with a greatly improved spell list.

If you are finding your Ranger too weak you perhaps need to take a closer look at he spell list, your selection of Favored Enemies or your playstyle. Ranger Archers can do devastating damage and get very high attack bonus (+1 Aid, +1 Blessed Aim, +1 Aid = +3 long duration from spells). On top of this, they can use Stealth to get a massive bonus to attack in the first round and have HiPS to gain the bonus when in outdoor natural area's after the initial attack. Finally, they can still get there best benefits while mixing in other classes. Want Ranged Mastery? R26/F4 is totally doable. Want Full HiPS? R21/A9 or R22/A8 is great with manyshot! Want both? R23/F4/SD3 will work just fine! Want mostly full HiPS and full CL? R26/CS4 or R21/CS9 are great options!

There is a LOT you can do with Ranger and sorry but your complaints are not valid because Rangers are VERY strong as Archers, STR Based dual wielders or (thanks to Deadly Defense) DEX based dual wielders. They really don't need a buff at all.
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Deathgrowl » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:01 am

Yes. Casters are supposed to be more powerful than non-casters, as Chad says. BUT, and there is a significant BUT here: Casters are also supposed to be useless when they run out of magic. They are at their most powerful when they haven't cast anything. Approach the game more as you would PnP (you can't just sit down for 5 seconds to rest every 20 minutes to get all your magic back), and you'll see that yes, druids are very powerful, but rangers can go all day.
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Zymth » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:04 pm

chad878262 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:21 am


If you are finding your Ranger too weak you perhaps need to take a closer look at he spell list, your selection of Favored Enemies or your playstyle. Ranger Archers can do devastating damage and get very high attack bonus (+1 Aid, +1 Blessed Aim, +1 Aid = +3 long duration from spells). On top of this, they can use Stealth to get a massive bonus to attack in the first round and have HiPS to gain the bonus when in outdoor natural area's after the initial attack. Finally, they can still get there best benefits while mixing in other classes. Want Ranged Mastery? R26/F4 is totally doable. Want Full HiPS? R21/A9 or R22/A8 is great with manyshot! Want both? R23/F4/SD3 will work just fine! Want mostly full HiPS and full CL? R26/CS4 or R21/CS9 are great options!

There is a LOT you can do with Ranger and sorry but your complaints are not valid because Rangers are VERY strong as Archers, STR Based dual wielders or (thanks to Deadly Defense) DEX based dual wielders. They really don't need a buff at all.
Provided you get all the ab spells going you're looking at -3ab vs the other premiere archer builds, and that's when those other build have no buffs going, so one thing you an't say for ranger is that its ab is a selling point, at l east that's my position. The short spell durations are terrible, too, and there are a lot of dispels, at least in the underdark. As I said in my original post, even if you get all ranger's tricks going, which is a huge juggling act, it only gets them close to what the other archer builds can do, except ranger's perks are massively circumstantial whereas fighter/AA/Elemental Archer/Assassin's perks are in no way circumstantial.

Only 1 of the cool-down ranger-spell attacks seems to have any value. It's quite good, mind you, but I don't think that that single shot is enough to compensate for the various shortcomings I mentioned in my original post. They also activate in a weird and unreliable way by summoning an invisible 2nd archer that does the extra shots, and this can function really inconsistently. What would be nice is if they were instantaneous effects that either created stacks of arrows with the desired spell effects, or somehow temporarily buffed your bow. This way we could avoid the whole 'summoning a 2nd archer' convention.

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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Zymth » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:14 pm

A middle ground regarding the ranger's animal companion would be to grant epic animal companion if a ranger selects nature's bond. As I said earlier I'd either offer a kit that replaces it with path boosts, or give ranger ways to bring its level up.

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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by chad878262 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:19 pm

Zymth wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:04 pm
so one thing you an't say for ranger is that its ab is a selling point
30 (BAB) + 10 (assuming 26 DEX and Cats Grace or 26 WIS and Owl's Wisdom) + 4 (EB) + 1 (WF) + 1 (Epic Prowess) + 3 (Ranger Spells) = 49 before using any of the buffs that are available to everyone else (Gr. Heroism Potions, Bless Potions, Prayer, whatever). 2 of the 3 Ranger spells are much more difficult to replicate as well since you can't buy potions or scrolls of the custom ranger spells. Point being you are at 41 AB AFTER Manyshot penalty on top of the fact that you have HiPS. Very few HiPS'ters have AB rivaling the Rangers...
Zymth wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:04 pm
he short spell durations are terrible, too, and there are a lot of dispels, at least in the underdark.
Very much wrong. I played a low caster level Fighter/Mage/Thief combo type in the Underdark for a very long time and dispels were not that common. Breaches are more common and not that many ranger spells are on the breach list. As to durations, there is a feat called Extend Spell... That alone makes most the Ranger buffs last for an hour which is more than enough considering the rest timer is about 20 minutes at max level.
Zymth wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:04 pm
As I said in my original post, even if you get all ranger's tricks going, which is a huge juggling act, it only gets them close to what the other archers build, except ranger's perks are massively circumstantial whereas fighter/AA/Elemental Archer/Assassin's perks are in no way circumstantial.
And as I said, this premise is wrong... on so many levels. Ranger / Assassin competes quite favorably against Fighter/AA/EA/Assassin you just posted. Yes the build you posted will get ~ +10 damage from Fighter Feats/ AA feats and EA feats. But against FE's the Ranger will get an average of + ~12 average damage against FE's. On top of this they get 2 uses of One Shot vs the others and have their reserve feat spells that can give them significant advantage. Simply put, with 5 FE's (for a Ranger/Assassin) you will pretty much have the entire Underdark PvE and some PvP covered (Dwarves. :P ). so your 'circumstantial' bonuses will apply pretty much all the time. You can type things like "massively circumstantial" but that does not make the statement accurate.
Zymth wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:04 pm
Only 1 of the cool-down ranger-spell attacks seems to have any value. It's quite good, mind you, but I don't think that single shot is enough to compensate for the various shortcomings I mentioned in my original post.
"Seem to have any value"... I would suggest you stick around for a bit more than 2 weeks before making assumptions on what is good or not. This applies to spells, feats, classes, races and just about anything else since what 'seems' to be good or bad is not always the case since it is a CUSTOM server. Perhaps ask questions about how to do better in a given area where you are struggling or ask about ways to improve your build, rather than making the massive leap to stating a class sucks / needs to be buffed. Power creep is a very bad thing and causes a ripple effect that can have negative impacts in several other areas. Simply put, Rangers are quite strong and more than capable of soloing the vast majority of content when played by an experienced/skilled player. That is enough IMO to say they are in no need of a buff.
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Re: Ranger - Archer path

Unread post by Zymth » Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:13 am

Let's compare the non-ranger variant to the ranger variant.


Non-ranger (13 fighter, 8 assassin, 9 AA)

13 fighter: 19 (13 BAB + 1 WF + 1 GWF + 2 WM + 2 EWF)
8 assassin: 6 BAB
9 AA: 14 (9 BAB + 5AB)
-------------
39 ab total.



Ranger (30)

30 ranger: 33 (30 BAB + 1 WF + 2BOE)
: 1 Hawkeye
: 1 Aid
: 1 Blessed Aim
------------
36 ab total.

The ranger fully buffed has -3ab vs the unbuffed fighter variant. Ranger's AB is highly circumstantial, dropping by a further 2 vs non-fe, and the buffs (most of which the fighter version has access to as well) all have horrific, abyssmal durations. Even after adding the buffs, which are subject to dispels, the ranger is missing 3 points of attack bonus, hits like a wet noodle vs non-f.e., doesn't have full HIPS, doesn't have the AA bonus damage, and on and on and on.

Ranger doesn't compare to the other ranged builds. The things that are supposed to make ranger cool--the spells and the animal companion--are very, very low value. As I've shown here, not only do the ranger buffs not even get you to where the other archers are, but ranger buffs actually impose a cost: they take time to cast, don't last very long, they require constant oversight, and they are subject to dispels.

Then there's all the other stuff I said about the lack of symmetry between the UD and the surface with regards to ranger (i.e. cavestalker being required for underdarkers to be rangers properly.) The class needs a ton of work. The special shots tied to ranger spells don't fire properly except for 1, which is on a minute cooldown. Pretty much everything in my original post stands.
"Seem to have any value"... I would suggest you stick around for a bit more than 2 weeks before making assumptions on what is good or not.
This forum account is 2 weeks old. Does that logically entail that I've been playing here for only two weeks? You know what they say about assumptions, right?

btw, 'circumstantial' means there are a narrow set of conditions under which all of the ranger's advantages actually apply, whereas the fighter variation utilizes all of its advantages in virtually every circumstance. A fighter doesn't magically lose 15 points of damage and 2 ab when he bumps into a non-FE, his AB isn't on a timer that expires shockingly quickly, he can HIPS anywhere, ect ect.

These circumstantial limitations are supposed to set ranger apart and allow that class to actually outperform the competition when those narrow sets of circumstances are met, but the abundance of prestige classes has disturbed this balance and given other classes everything that ranger has, and more, without all the pesky limitations.
Last edited by Zymth on Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:46 am, edited 3 times in total.

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