Bows, two weapons, beasts… find out what really makes the best Ranger as we take a look at the data, and uncover what goes into your best builds.
Rangers are one of those classes that has a surprising amount of versatility, but is also kind of in a weird spot right now for 5th Edition. They’re the least popular class overall. But, with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything on the horizon, and its promised fixes for a few key class feature challenges (notably the way pets/animal companions are changing), it looks like Rangers might be on the rise once more. But what makes a ranger besides their bow? Well, according to the latest data on what tends to be the most popular for rangers, it looks like a whole lot of what people want out of their ranger is to make complementary skill checks and otherwise be a little bit like a rogue. But we can only run the numbers.
You’ll have to make them all add up.
First things first, let’s take a look at what kind of Rangers are the most popular ones out there:
As with most classes, Rangers tend to be multiclassed, but only by a slim margin. Not quite as slim as Rogues, which is what the majority of Rangers are multiclassing as–fewer still look at Fighter or Monk to help complement typical Ranger weaknesses. Which tells us a lot about how people are playing their Rangers. For the most part, it looks like people playing Rangers want enough skills to pay the bills while they deliver long distance death to single targets. It’s even reflected in the most popular subclass choice:
Looking at the numbers, Hunter is the best ranger out there by now, though with Gloom Stalker hot on its heels, one has to wonder how long that dynamic will hold out. Hunters are all about dealing damage. Their Hunter’s Prey ability does a ton of work for them, granting them extra damage that plays real nicely with a Rogue’s sneak attack. At 7th level, Defensive Tactics probably gives you more viable defensive options. And if you somehow make it to 11th, you can pick up multi-attack. It is a combat-focused class for sure, but combined with a Rogue Multiclass for even more expertise, and you’ll be sure to succeed at just about everything.
This makes a lot of sense. Rangers are one of the more damaging builds out there right now. Sure it’s hard to justify some of the class features, but a sharpshooter ranger with sneak attack will be rolling out the hits (critical and otherwise) day in and day out. Which means people a few people will have a hard time figuring out what a Ranger does, but once they do…. watch out! Let’s look at how the stats play out.
Surprising practically no one, the most popular Ranger has pumped their Dexterity score, and has a statline that looks like this:
- Str: 10
- Dex: 15
- Con: 13
- Int: 12
- Wis: 14
- Cha: 08
Not surprising that the Dex would be highest, since it’s arguably one of the most important stats in the game. You can use it to make melee attacks, determine your armor class, make ranged attacks, determine your initiative bonus–whatever class you’re playing, you’ll benefit from a high dexterity.
Almost as much as you will from casting those Ranger Spells. We’d better pick which spells we know. Time to check out our list of chart-toppers.
Predictably, Hunter’s Mark and Cure Wounds are at the top of this iceberg, with Hunters Mark winning a fairly large lead over Cure Wounds, which is the single most popular spell in D&D right now. The other spells on our list are Pass without Trace, Speak with Animals, and Hail of Thorns (which is a surprising one to see). At higher levels, Zephyr Strike does a great deal of work, meaning our ranger is going to be trying to do as much damage as possible.
Now all we have left to do is pick out gear:
So, dagger, shortsword and leather armor it is. Little surprise there. We might even have a Longbow depending on our starting package. Let’s instead check out what kind of feats we might take with our new forest friend.
Sharpshooter you say? Sure. Most everyone wants to add that extra damage to their attacks. And Sharpshooter lets you get truly ridiculous with ranged attack rolls. Alert and Dual Wielder are distant seconds at, signalling what kind of Ranger most folks are playing as. Our Ranger just needs a few quirks and he’s ready to go!
How does your ranger measure up? Let us know in the comments, and as always, Happy Adventuring!