Do you enjoy ranged or rapid attacks with a little bit of primal power? Rangers might be right for you!
The Ranger is a class in an interesting place. It’s primarily a Martial class with a little bit of divine spellcasting for added support, but they tend to skew in very specific offensive directions depending on the subclass you pick. That specificity often gets doubled or even tripled down on. Which is, I think, why the Ranger gets considered “underpowered.” They can be highly specialized–but, with the right spell selection, they can be a force to be reckoned with.
Let’s dive on in and take a look.
So one of the things Rangers are best known for is how much they hate certain foes. Favored Enemy is a defining feature of the class–pick a creature type, and you are great at tracking them down and killing them. Or talking to them too, I suppose.
And the older (higher level) you get, the more you hate other creatures too–almost as much as you love nature. Which is the other big defining thing about Rangers: their prowess in the natural world. Whether it’s stalking prey or just wandering around looking for food or shelter, Rangers are at home in the uncivilized places of the world.
Because of all this, Rangers tend to be good at taking on one powerful opponent or with preparation, Battlefield Control but it’s really the subclasses that help determine how much you lean into whichever archetype you’re going for: Aragorn, Legolas, or Drizzt.
Beast Master Rangers pick up an animal companion that acts independently allowing you to be in two places at once, effectively. Sure, you are limited to Beasts of 1/4 challenge or lower, but they can add a presence wherever you need on the battlefield, and at higher levels you’ll be able to buff them and make multiple attacks alongside them, giving you one of the few ways besides “be an 11th Fighter” to get three attacks with your attack action.
Gloom Stalkers are basically Batman. Batmen? They focus heavily on fear and darkness, even disappearing entirely when in darkness and facing creatures with darkvision. Mixing a little Rogue in with your Ranger, these shadowed sentinels excel at stealthy skirmishing. If you want to be able to sneak anywhere, this is the subclass for you.
Horizon Walker Rangers, on the other hand, are much more about having the right tool for the job. With a bonus spell list that focuses on mobility–and one of the better mobility features out there, nothing keeps Horizon Walkers from getting where they want to. They can teleport, hasten themselves, and as one of their signature moves, they teleport from spot to spot, making attacks all the while. It’s a real cool mechanic, both flavorful and useful. This subclass mixes mobility and resilience into the Ranger.
Hunter Rangers are probably the most common ones. They are the classic ranger, re-imagined in 5th Edition. Their abilities are basically an extension of the 3.x Ranger ideal. Pick a fighting style (only on this case it’s pick between fighting one big guy, lots of little ones, or defend yourself at all odds) and then level up that ability as you go. Very straightforward, but still powerful. You’ll never be hurting for class feature choices with this one.
Monster Slayer Rangers are like the Hunter but to the extreme. Hunters might focus on taking out enemies, but Monster Slayers focus on killing *monsters* — which means you’ll be shutting down enemy abilities, and interfering with spellcasting and especially against monsters that try to escape. If you want to punch above your weight where the supernatural is concerned, this is the archetype for you.
And that’s the Ranger. Like I said, they’re in an interesting place–their abilities aren’t necessarily weak, just, highly specialized. But if you can leverage them, you’ll find Rangers to be satisfying and capable of more than just shooting a bow real good or fighting with two swords instead of one.
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