Finally, we get to ther ranger’s overview. I already made some posts about that class, so I cut it short in the introduction. I just want to mention, that the one who made the text-routines for Internet Explorer has to be an idiot, because I had to switch to IE temporary and while I wrote all this, the browser did its best to tell me to be replaced as fast as possible.
This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.
Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the ranger’s case HU for Hunter and BM for Beast Master). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.
- If you’re a caster, a ranger will provide half its level to your spell-slots per day
- The first levels doesn’t provide you that straight benefits, second level brings you a fighting style and already some of the best ranger spells, you can go for archetype (here the HU is the better choice) and a strong offense trait in 3rd level and 4th will bring you an ability score improvement
- 5th level excels with Extra Attack in case your other class won’t provide it, afterwards ranger will stoß being that useful for multiclassing into, except you want another strong HU defense feature at 7th and the ability improvement a level after
- If you want ranger as a main-class, you can aim for level 16th or 17th without much trouble, but you can also leave it at 12th to grab another Hunter feature and ability score improvement and leave it at that
- the capstone is ignorable
- Weapon Proficiency: Always have the better tools due martial weapons.
- Fighting Style (Archery, Dueling, Two-Weapon Fighting): More damage is more damage after all.
- Spellcasting: Most of your damage comes from these spells, which buffs yourself quite good. Hunter’s Quarry is pretty insane for 1st level.
- Extra Attack: More attacks means more damage.
- Feral Senses: If you can detect the enemy, you can kill it.
- Foe Slayer: Not too great of a capstone, but increase accuracy and or damage.
- Hunter’s Prey (HU): Increase the amount of attacks or damage.
- Multiattack (HU): In certain circumstances this dishes out more damage than your regular attacks (depending on the number of enemies). Sadly, it’s unfocused, but it can provide the slaying of pre-damaged goons.
- Superior Hunter’s Defense [Stand against the Tide] (HU): If you’re mobbed and someone misses you, you can redirect the attack with new attack roll to another target. Less defensive than the name would suggest.
- Ranger’s Companion (BM): The more obvious companions do more damage than you.
- Bestial Fury(BM): More attacks overall.
- Foe Slayer: Sadly only for Favored Enemies and since you get your last one(s) at 14th level, you might not get a use of it, when the campaign takes a much different turn at the end.
- Spellcasting: Mostly a heolp to manage your hit points and such better, not that strong in the ranger’s case.
- Vanish: Hide as a Bonus Action is pretty much the reason why you want to multiclass into rogue for 2 levels. Sadly it comes a bit late at 14th level, but for any Archer and Hit-and-Run style ranger it’s still an effective way to manage their actions better.
- Foe Slayer: Since you can decide to use it after the role, you can make missed attacks into hits, after having an idea of the AC of the opponent.
- Exceptional Training (BM): Somehow mitigate the downs of the companion management a bit.
- Bestial Fury(BM): Transfer one attack of yours into two attacks of the companion.
- Share Spells (BM): Use one spell and target you and your companion, less actions for more effect.
- Spellcasting: The most powerful spells are concentration, so rangers might want to stay back, since they lack proficiency in con-saves normally.
- Primeval Awareness: Uses spell slots.
- Ranger’s Companion (BM): Uses up your own actions.
- Spellcasting: You at least you have some minor support here and much more in the control department, so debuffs are your main-support, since enemies who have to deal with them are much less dangerous.
- Exceptional Training (BM): Help Action for your Bonus Action and the companions actual action.
- Share Spells (BM): Helps your companion and it’ll need all help it can get.
- Hit points: A d10 is above the average d8.
- Armor Proficiency: Only the shields are to mention here.
- Natural Explorer: Not much, but when running away in your specialized environment is much more likely. Normal pace and stealth, so if you fight in the long run, you can be pretty annoying.
- Fighting Style (Defense): One of the few valuable ways to enhance your AC most of the time. Especially since the ranger lacks much protection in general.
- Spellcasting: You can heal yourself and has some lesser protection spells.
- Land’s Stride: Natural hazards and terrain are your friends now and you get even advantage to saves when those are magically influenced.
- Hide in Plain Sight: While having your camouflage you can hide about anywhere with this. So if things goes south, go to the wall and be never seen again…
- Vanish: Did you really need even more ways to make it hard to track you? – Yes, indeed!
- Feral Senses: It works as an ambush-detector, so you won’t be less often surprised by those who are confident in their stealthiness.
- Defensive Tactics (HU): Makes it harder to hit you when provoking opportunity attacks, subsequent attacks of the same enemy or at least gives you advantage to saves of one of the m0st common conditions you’ll run into.
- Superior Hunter’s Defense [Evasion, Uncanny Dodge] (HU): Gain either half damage for a single weapon attack per round or half to none damage to every saved dexterity saving throw. Pretty useful.
- Ranger’s Companion (BM): Since you get another when making a short rest, you can sacrifice it when necessarily.
- Skills Proficiency: You get 3, which is more than most classes.
- Favorite Enemy: Know thy enemies. And their language. And then track them!
- Natural Explorer: Makes it so much easier to move in nature for you and your party.
- Spellcasting: A lot of cool and trendy outdoor spells here, hard to choose from this list.
- Primeval Awareness: Up to you how useful it is. At least you can identify if the threat might be immediate when signs show up (like burning houses, which might suggest the presence of a dragon, fiend or elemental nearby).
- Land’s Stride: Makes it a bit easier on the scout duty.
- Hide in Plain Sight: Scouting in the enemy’s camp? Sure, just use a minute, have a decent Dexterity (Stealth) score and you can pretty much move freely.
- Vanish: All things included, you can scout about anything without leaving reasons to track you. Great for information gathering.
- Ranger’s Companion (BM): The utility of having a beast companions is great if you bring a bit of imagination into it. Especially since it brings your scouting skills too the max or can even help by standing night watch, while being inactive during the day (like an owl).
- Favorite Enemy: Since you only have limited number of choices here and no way to change them, you’d better know what the campaign will bring you.
- Natural Explorer: Pretty much the same, only in this term with terrain-types.
Offense: Good (BM) to Great (HU)
Resource Management: Decent
OK, this class is complicated. Especially the Beast Master brings some easy mechanism into play, which are pretty complicated if you want to use them at best. But the ranger beats the monk and the fighter class in being good at fighting (even not as great as them) and being uber-useful out of combat, especially in a natural environment. The spells brings some diversity and can bring stable and dangerous boosts to the combat if needed while having access to some neat controlling mechanism, which provides some special tools if you need them. But sadly not enough and too single enemy focused to make a good support.
Worrisome are the resource management and the fact, that this class get problems when built up melee focused, since it seems to lack some answers a melee would normally need, especially in terms of survivability, so I’d rather compare the meleeness of the class more to a rogue, while the ranged abilities does rival a ranged focused fighter pretty well. Well, it’s a ranger.
I do think, that some level rangers for multiclassing purposes are good, but the class peaks at staying single-classed.
Overall the ranger is a class which does what it does pretty well, but seems to cover more fields of expertise adequate than it really does. The danger lies here to think, that you can do too much too well. Stay in safety when possible, use your features to get as much advantage beforehand as possible and do it sneaky and fast, whenever the situation arises. If you do so, you shouldn’t run into more problems than any other class and possibly even a lot less.