Ah, the Ranger. A bursty, mechanically-intensive class in Guild Wars 1, and a train wreck of a profession in GW2. Rangers have long been staples on teams for their ability to 1v1 with great efficiency and hold onto nodes nearly indefinitely in small engagements. Not due to their builds, masterful pet control, or even their rakishly good looks, though. It all comes down to their ability to spam dodges either while pushing out considerable condition damage, or healing for hundreds to thousands of health a second... completely recovering from your best efforts to slay them. Well... every single gorram Ranger you see runs a tanky Spirit or Beastmaster build, and for good reason. The Ranger trait lines are a complete mess, and their utilities aren't too pretty either. Building to survive or building to spam Shortbow 1 are by far the most efficient ways to play the class in sPvP, but what happens when you start lumping together as many damage boosting effects as you can? You get a glass cannon and a crazy fun Ranger build!
This build focuses on pumping out as much damage as it possible can, preferably from range. Though the Ranger weapons tend to lack abilities that can frontload damage, your sustained single-target pressure is fantastic, and you gain a lot of utility from your equipment. As such, we’ll be using trait points and the Amulet/Jewel combination to try and pump out as many offensive stats as possible, throwing caution to the wind. Condition clears? Who needs ‘em?! Stunbreaks? Pfffft. Vigor uptime/Sigils of Energy/access to protection? YOLO! This build will bring on the pain, but at great personal cost. As such, only bring this build into a team when you know your teammates will protect you 24/7. Or just play it in solo queues for hilarity.
Marksmanship (30 points) – The Marksmanship line is very awkward, but does actually have some useful traits, unlike many of the other lines for Ranger (see below). In order to maximize damage and round out the builds offensive/defensive capabilities, we’ll be focusing on Signets, so you’ll want to bring major traits IV (Signet Mastery), X (Eagle Eye), and XI (Signet of the Beastmaster. This lets us bring utilities that can help sway a fight, and enjoy the 300 power provided by this trait line. Skirmishing (30 points) – Crit chance, crit damage, and a lot of wonky traits. Points are invested in this line primarily to actually make your attacks hurt rather than tickle. Major traits are completely up to you, but given the lack of anything useful, I’d recommend IV, X, and XII to give you an extra dodge roll every now and then, lower cooldowns on your Longbow’s stealth and knockback shots, and a nasty stun from Hilt Bash that you can follow up with an empowered Maul. Nature Magic (10 Points) – Splash 10 points in Nature Magic for a bit more power and a touch more health. These last 10 points can be spent anywhere, but given the nerf to the Wildrness Survival 5-point minor trait, spend these points somewhere more useful.
Greatsword (Sigil of Fire) – A wonky weapon, but quite well-rounded. This baby packs a reasonably hard-hitting auto attack that gives a ½ second evade on the 3rd hit in the chain, Maul, which is the only ability that can be reliably hit for solid damage with a Ranger, a leap for gap closing or escaping, a potent low-cooldown block/knockback, and a *very* short-ranged daze/stun. Overall an excellent weapon for this build as you can bring on the pain or move about the battlefield like a prancing walrus.
Longbow (Sigil of Fire) – Another somewhat confused weapon set that has incredible auto-attack damage and some reasonable utility. The Longbow is the weapon you want to have out most frequently, plinking away at helpless targets from 1500 range, for 3,000+ damage a shot. Pop Rapid Fire once the enemy is in close range, but avoid using it until then as it actually does less damage then auto-attacking your enemies past the first range-interval of Long Range Shot. Use your Point Blank Shot and Hunter’s shot to control your enemy and keep them guessing so that you can unload from range or sneak in a 10k Maul Crit when they’re trying to figure out where you’ve disappeared to. Barrage… is… your only AoE so I guess use it at teamfights. Barrage really isn’t too good.
Armor Runes – 6x Rune of the Scholar What else would you expect? Your goal is to sit back at range and tear Mesmers, Thieves, and other squishy targets multiple new orifices. As such, you’ll be able to maintain the damage boost for being above 90% health, so abuse it!
Heal Skill – Heal As One This build works with whichever heal you are most comfortable with, but I personally opt for Heal As One. You lack the tankiness to sustain fights long enough for Troll Unguent to be a good choice, and want to be moving around constantly, losing a lot of the benefits provided by Healing Spring. You’ll definitely feel the lack of condition-cleansing, but being able to heal a hefty chunk of your healthpool every 20 seconds definitely has its uses for a glass Ranger like yourself.
Signet of the Hunt – Without reliable access to Swiftness and no runes of Speed/Traveler, you’ll want to use your utility slot to bring a passive move speed increase, that just so happens to double as an on-demand burst ability. Popping this signet will hamstring your movements, but cause your next attack to do 1.5x the damage, which can results in some seriously painful hits from Maul. Signet of the Wild – While the passive is active you’ll heal for a pathetically low amount every second, but every bit counts, right? We bring this Sigil for the active, though, which provides you with a much-needed source of Stability, a massive 25% damage boost for you and your pet, and a growth spurt that will finally allow you to slam-dunk and win the begrudging respect of your high school’s basketball team. With the most recent patch, you can finally interact with the environment while the active ability is in use, so use this to stomp downed warriors/engineers and wield Elementalist Ice Bows for obscene amounts of damage! Signet of "PLEASE DON’T KILL ME!!!” – This utility slot is reserved for either Signet of Stone (Endure Pain), or Signet of Renewal (Contemplation of Purity) based on what you’ll be up against. For condition-heavy or hybridized team compositions, bring Signet of Renewal so that you have access to a full condition clear for you and your teammates. If facing a team of burst thieves, Mesmers, and warriors, however, bring Signet of Stone so that you can survive long enough to punish their glassy builds and avoid spending the majority of the match waiting on your respawn timer.
Elite – Rampage As One Stability, Swiftness, Fury, and the potential for some Might stacks? Sure! This elite is definitely selfish, but actually gives you a chance against your power-based Warrior and Necromancer overlords. Bring the Spirit of Renewal for team play, but definitely run Rampage As One if you’re solo-queuing or feeling trolly. (Note: It has been clinically proven that popping RaO will *immediately* net you an encounter with a Necromancer packing Corrupt Boon, a Mesmer running Arcane Thievery, or a Thief with Larcenous Strike to take away your precious stability. Use this Elite at your own discretion.)
Wolf - The staple of PvP Rangers everywhere. This furry companion brings an AoE 2 second fear, a semi-controlalble knockdown, and has high enough Power and Vitality to survive most fights while throwing out some reasonably large crits. Never leave the mists without man's (or creepy gremlin thing's Asura's) best friend. Jungle Spider - A ranged pet that stays out of the fray and has access to 2 separate long-lasting immobilizes. Trade this pet out for whatever you wish, but locking down a target for 4-8 seconds in a fight can give you plenty of time to escape or lay into them.
Sit back, target squishier DPS classes, and reap the rewards. Be very vocal with your teammates that if a thief gets on top of you, you will die; that if a warrior gets on top of you, you will die; that if a Guardian gets on top of you, you will die; that if a butterfly flaps its wings within 600 range of you, you will die. You have a few tools to survive and get away, but definitely not enough to deal with constant blocks, blinds, stuns, and dodges. So grab a nice defensive position where your teammates can reach you if you start screaming like a little girl, and start 3-shotting the enemy DPS. Left unchecked, you are a God Walking Amongst Mere Mortals. If pressured, you are a pansy that should’ve just run a tanky condition spec with 2-5 Spirits. If you must skirmish with a foe and fight in melee range, try to stay behind your target as much as possible to make hitting you difficult and take advantage of your flanking bonus. For the unsuspecting, a quick Hilt Bash into Maul + Signet of the Hunt can insta-gib most anything you encounter if they’re below 50% health. Live free, and kite hard. The more you can fire away at people from max range, the better.