GW2 Ranger PvE Class Guide by Lorek and Cell

GW2 Ranger PvE Class Guide written by Lorek and Cell of [rT]. This is a third in a series of PvE class guides written by members of a [rT], a dungeon speed running guild. Updated on January 9, 2016.

Introduction

The Ranger is a sturdy medium armor class with decent mobility and various useful utilities for dungeon runs. Its class mechanic is the pet – an animal companion over which the player has a degree of control. Rangers offer good personal DPS and can buff their group’s damage output with certain traits and utility skills. Ranger melee weapon options can be difficult to learn to use effectively and often require a good knowledge of encounters to avoid dying and being a burden to your team. It is nonetheless a good profession to have in your party in many situations. This dungeon-oriented guide covers the Ranger’s weapon and gear choices, utility skills, pets and builds with a strong focus on what are presently the most efficient options. It is aimed at people with little knowledge of the class but more experienced players might find some useful tips here as well.

Weapons

Mainhand Sword

The sword is the Ranger’s most powerful melee weapon. This is the weapon you will use most because of its raw DPS. In addition, sword offers additional evades/movement skills which offset its user-unfriendliness a little.

Autoattack Chain

Although only two of its three attacks cleave (hit 3 targets), the autoattack deals the most damage out of all Ranger weapons. Its main drawback is that the #2 and #3 attacks prevent you from dodging, as well as making your character leap towards your enemy. This alone makes sword nonviable for fights where staying at max melee range (i.e. far enough from the target that you have to autoattack manually, but close enough to still hit e.g. Grawl Shaman in the Volcanic Fractal) is advisable. A way to circumvent the animation lock is to turn off the autoattack and attack manually, which gives you a greater degree of control. If you want to leave the autoattack on, you can use your offhand or utility skills to break the autoattack sequence and dodge mid cast. Depending on the encounter, this can be a reliable way of dodging while still retaining the convenience of autoattacking.

Hornet Sting/Monarch’s Leap

Hornet Sting/Monarch’s Leap is a 2-part chain. The first part is a backward dodge with a long cast time, which makes it only useful for attacks with long and obvious windups (e.g. Giganticus Lupicus’s AoE lifedrain in phase 3), the second part is a forward leap, similar to Warrior’s Savage Leap. While of limited use in combat situations, it is a great out-of-combat mobility tool enabling you to traverse long distances faster. Turn 180 degrees and use #2, then turn around again and use the leap. Use your weapon swap to cancel Monarch’s Leap just before the end to prevent your character from dealing damage with it. This will help you avoid getting into combat when skipping groups of trash.

Serpent’s Strike

Serpent’s Strike has an inbuilt evade, which can save you if you are immobilized and is useful if you want to maintain the 10% damage bonus from Steady Focus. Keep in mind that the evade time of this skill is a bit shorter than the total time of the animation. Be careful not to roll off ledges when fighting in high places (e.g. Cliffside Fractal, Solid Ocean Fractal).

Greatsword

The greatsword is the Ranger’s second strongest weapon. It allows for a greater degree of mobility than the sword at the cost of dealing slightly less sustained damage. It is however useful in fights where constant movement and control of your character’s positioning is necessary. The greatsword has great burst damage as well as plenty of utility which offset the low damage of its autoattack.

Autoattack Chain

The autoattack chain includes an evade on its 3rd attack, however, it is currently bugged and if you try to dodge after executing the 3rd attack, your dodge has a chance to ‘fumble’, meaning you will stop mid-roll and receive fewer evade frames.

Maul

Maul is a strong single-hit attack that strikes 5 foes in a pretty large area, applying vulnerability. It is a DPS increase and is best used as soon as it goes off cooldown.

Swoop

Swoop is a rush type of move, excellent for closing in on your enemies and skipping trash in dungeons. Remember to turn off autotargetting in your options panel when using movement skills to skip past enemies, or you will instead automatically target the closest mob with your skill and rush straight to them. When skipping through narrow paths with many enemies, use weapon swap to cancel your Swoop just before the end. This will stop your character from attacking and getting into combat, allowing you to skip faster.The attack portion of the skill also includes evade frames meaning it can be used instead of dodging when in melee range.

Counterattack/Crippling Throw

Counterattack/Crippling Throw is a long-lasting block with a counterattack component. It works similarly to the Warrior’s Riposte in that if you block a ranged attack (or are far enough from your target’s hitbox while in melee), your character will continue blocking and not execute the counterattack. This can save you e.g. if you are trapped in GiganticusLupicus’sNecrid Trap, or are out of dodges to avoid its Life Drain moves (both AoE and single target). It is also a great tool for skipping past ranged enemies. If you block a melee attack with it, your character kicks the enemy, pushing it back and stripping one defiant stack. This can be extremely useful when interrupting channeled skills of trash mobs and bosses, such as Ascalonian Necromancer’s life drain in Ascalonian Catacombs. If you find yourself targeted by such a skill, activate Counterattack and run up to the enemy, your character will interrupt the caster. Alternatively, Counterattack can be interrupted early by throwing your weapon at the enemy. This cripples them and deals decent damage.

Hilt Bash

Hilt Bash is a handy crowd control skill which, in addition to stunning or dazing your enemy, increases the damage of your pet’s next attack by 50%. The bonus persists for 20 seconds and is applied even if you do not hit any enemy with the skill. It is similar in functionality to Signet of the Hunt’s activated ability, but the two do not stack with each other.

Spear

The spear is your main direct damage weapon for underwater combat. It is very similar to the greatsword in that it is a good middle ground between damage and utility with evades, reflects, blocks and movement skills.

Autoattack Chain

The autoattack chain has an inbuilt evade similar to that of the greatsword’s autoattack chain, one difference being that you are locked in animation when executing the third attack and are unable to move.

Swirling Strike

Swirling Strike is a personal projectile reflection skill with a short cooldown and duration. It can be useful when fighting Krait or other ranged enemies.

Dart

Dart Is a movement skill similar to greatsword’s Swoop. Use it to skip past trash faster as well as against bosses as it applies 5 stacks of vulnerability for 10 seconds.

Counterstrike/Counterthrow

Counterstrike/Counterthrow is a long-lasting block with a projectile component. Unlike other block skills, if you are hit with a projectile while channeling the skill, your character will counterattack, kicking your enemy and pushing it back. The Counterthrow part is a projectile dealing moderate damage.

Man O’ War

Man O’ War is a multi-hit attack which immobilizes your target. Keep in mind you have to remain stationary while executing this attack and movement will interrupt it.

Offhand Weapons

Axe

The offhand axe is a useful choice for your offhand weapon, particularly in party compositions lacking sufficient projectile defense. The range of Whirling Defense (skill #5) is small and your party will have to stack on your position to benefit from it. This also makes the skill nonviable for fights with a lot of splash AoEs (such as GiganticusLupicus). Path of Scars is a strong DPS boost which also works as a pull which can be used to group enemies together or lure them closer to the party. While the tooltip says the pull distance is 450, the skill sometimes pulls your targets the full 1200 units.

Horn

Another strong choice for your offhand slot, the warhorn provides a party-wide buff of Fury, Might (1 stack) and Swiftness, as well as a blast finisher, all in one skill. Hunter’s Call is a minor DPS boost when used in melee, which you can save for when you need to break your sword autoattack chain (see above), or when approaching your enemy or repositioning. If your party has sufficient access to Fury, consider equipping a different offhand for more DPS or utility

Torch

The torch, while not as useful as the other offhand choices, can be used if your party lacks fire fields to blast for Might. Bonfire (#5) provides a long-lasting fire field which can help maintain Might stacks in prolonged fights.

Dagger

Consider using the dagger for dodge-heavy fights, such as The Mossman or Legendary Archdiviner in Fractals of the Mists, Crippling Talon can be used to break your autoattack sequence (as described above).

Other Weapons

Axe

The axe is a low-damage, low-utility ranged weapon. Due to its hybrid nature and low autoattack damage it is a suboptimal choice in dungeons and you are better off using the sword/greatsword. One niche use for the axe is in Twilight Arbor to destroy Volatile Blossoms. The bouncing autoattack takes care of the Blossoms effectively if you lack other ways of dealing with them (Such as Guardian’s Staff or Ele’s Dagger in Air Attunement).

Longbow

Longbow is the go-to ranged weapon for power builds.The autoattack deals more damage the farther away you are from your target, meaning you will usually want to burn your other cooldowns and swap to a melee weapon when engaging a boss. Barrage and Rapid fire provide a strong burst of damage and vulnerability and should be used at the start of the fight (preferably with Signet of the Wild and Quickening Zephyr active). The remaining two skills are situational at best and you will not use them much in dungeons. Please refrain from spamming Point Blank Shot on cooldown, use it as an interrupt, to strip defiant stacks, and reposition the boss where you want it to be instead.

Shortbow

Shortbow is a mediocre condition damage weapon which sees more use in PvP than PvE. Since condition builds are at the moment inferior to pure damage builds in dungeons, you are better off using the longbow for your ranged weapon.

Harpoon Gun

Harpoon gun is yet another hybrid weapon. It combines condition-oriented attacks with a direct-damage AoE skill and a strong single-target shot. It is a good weapon to have on swap because of the long-lasting AoE Blind on Ink Blast. The effect persists for 6 seconds, applying blind every second, but is not a combo field of any kind.

Gear and Nourishment

Armor & Weapons

The most optimal option for normal group runs (be it PuGs or friends/guild runs) is full Berserker’s gear with Runes of the Ranger or Runes of the Scholar. The 6 piece bonus from Runes of the Ranger is considerably easier to maintain, and the precision the runes offer will help you reach the critical chance cap easier. Runes of the Scholar offer a slightly stronger damage bonus (which can be difficult to maintain) and increase your power instead of precision. Overall, the difference in performance is negligible and dependant on whether you can maintaint the Scholar bonus for any significant amount of time, if not, use Runes of the Ranger.

For your weapon sigils, use Sigil of the Night and Sigil of Force/Slaying for night-time dungeons. For day-time dungeons, use a Sigil of Accuracy, Frailty, Strength, or a Slaying sigil with a Force sigil. For dodge-heavy encounters, and especially if you’re just learning the class/encounters, consider using Sigils of Energy.

Food & Nourshiments

You should choose your food according to what type of enemies you are going fight. Slices of Candied Dragon Roll/Omnomberry Pies/Omnomberry Ghosts are a great overall choice, and especially so for fights where maintaining your Scholar Rune bonus might be a problem. The lifesteal buff has a 2 second internal cooldown but it quickly adds up. Otherwise, Plates of Steak and Asparagus are a great all-purpose alternative. If you want the best food available, use Plate of Truffle Steak.

For your Utility Nourishment, your first choice should always be the appropriate dungeon potion. In other cases, such as Ascalonian Catacombs, use sharpening stones of the best quality you can afford. In Fractals of the Mists, you can use Skale Venom for Weakness as well as additional Vulnerability.

Other Consumables

You can get your hands on various additional consumables that, while in no way necessary to complete any content, can make things such as skipping and pulling easier for you and your team. See this guide for a comprehensive list of these items, this section only lists the most useful and commonly used ones:

  • Tonics – Various tonics can be used in combat to resurrect a pet that dies. Swap to your second pet to start the cooldown, use a tonic and then quickly exit the transformation as soon as possible. Wintersday toy tonics are good for this as they cost next to nothing.
  • Ash Legion Spy Kit – 10 seconds of Camouflage that is cancelled if you move, 60 second cooldown. Use it to drop aggro or stand on pressure plates (e.g. in the underground Facility Fractal)
  • Order of Whispers Spy Kit – 3 seconds of Stealth, 60 second cooldown. You can move freely while stealthed which makes it useful for skipping.
  • Harpy Feathers – 3 seconds of Stealth, 6 second cooldown, blinds foes in a small area around you, which will put you in combat. Can be chained with Order of Whispers Spy Kit for a total of 9 seconds of stealth.
  • Fire Elemental Powder – Summons an Ember to fight for you for 5 minutes or until it is destroyed. It has a hefty cooldown of 30 minutes. The Ember is a decent DPS boost as well as a good source of fire fields for the group.
  • Ogre Pet Whistle – Summons an Ogre Pet to fight for you for 5 minutes or until it is destroyed. It has a long cooldown of 30 minutes but provides a minor DPS boost and serves as a stunbreaker when knocked down.
  • Pot of Hylek Poison – This is a bundle with 2 abilities, the first of which gives you 10 seconds of Swiftness on a 15 second cooldown. Useful for skipping since Rangers have limited access to permanent Swiftness.

Builds

Ranger has a number of useful traits which benefit your own DPS output and survivability as well as providing support for your party. Below is the current meta power-based build and the meta condition-based build:

Power Build

gw2-ranger-build-specialization

Markmanship

The Minors are all focused around the Opening Strike mechanic, which is lackluster in PvE. However, a little more Vulnerability and a guaranteed critical on your opener are not bad.

Clarion Bond is a powerful trait which gives you access to much-needed blast finishers. Remember to start every fight with your pet stowed, as entering combat and unstowing your pet that way counts as swapping and triggers the trait.

Steady Focus is a straightforward DPS boost which requires you to maintain full endurance. With decent access to vigor, blocks, and evades, this is rather easy to do. Alternatively, you can swap this trait for Moment of Clarity and use it with Storm Spirit for the longest CC in the game.

Predator’s Onslaught is another DPS boost, although its conditions are easier to meet. Many of your weapon skills cripple your opponent, and in a party setting having at least one movement-impairing effect constantly applied should not be difficult.

Skirmishing

The first two minors focus on swapping weapons. Since your rotation involves swapping practically on cooldown, you will maintain a decent amount of fury and swiftness. The third trait increases your Critical Strike Chance by 10% when attacking from behind or from the side, so try to always position yourself in such a way that you meet this requirement.

Use Primal Reflexes to keep your endurance high. You can swap this trait for Trapper’s Expertise when running Healing Spring to reduce its cooldown and make the Regeneration last longer. If you do not really need to dodge you can choose Sharpened Edges for maximum DPS.

Spotter is a great party buff and you should always have this trait slotted (unless there is more than one ranger in the party, then you can take Strider’s Defense instead).

Quick Draw is an extremely powerful trait which enables you to more frequently unload your powerful burst skills, such as Maul, Path of Scars or Rapid Fire. The bonus only lasts for a few seconds after swapping, but the good news is it only works on skills that have a cooldown (so cannot accidentally waste it on an autoattack, for example).

Beast Mastery

Beast Mastery minors focus on your pets, making them tougher, allowing them to deal more damage and enabling them to use their skills more frequently.

Companion’s Might is a workaround for the lack of Fortifying Bond (since we cannot dip 3 points into Nature Magic anymore). If you use “We heal as one!”, “Sick ‘Em!” and “Strength of the pack!” a lot, consider picking Resounding Timbre to reduce their recharge. Also use Resounding Timbre when running long distances to get more Swiftness.

Natural Regeneration gives your pets some much needed survivability. When running greatsword, use Two-Handed Training instead. It increases your damage output and gives you more access to Fury. The recharge reduction increases both your DPS output and your utility.

Zephyr’s Speed gives you 3 seconds of Quickness when you swap Pets. This trait also activates when your pet unstows upon entering combat (same with Clarion Bond).

When you feel you could use more crowd control, consider swapping Zephyr’s Speed for Beastly Warden, as this trait has great control potential. The Taunt activates the moment you press F2, not when your pet finishes activating its ability. You can use this trait simply to strip defiant stacks, group mobs up, or reposition bosses.

Weapons and Utilities

For this build, you will want to use the sword/axe + longbow combination. These weapons give you good sustained DPS, strong burst skills, and some Crowd Control. For fights where using the sword is a bad idea, or where you could benefit from more utility and defense in addition to the sword’s DPS, do not hesitate to use the greatsword instead of either weapon sets.

You should choose your utility skills depending on what you want to do, but for general DPS you will want Signet of the Wild, Spirit of Frost, Quickening Zephyr, and “Strenght of the pack!”. If you have a Mesmer in your party and enough DPS to finish a fight within one Timewarp, swap Quickening Zephyr for “Sick ‘Em!”.

The rotations for this build are as follows:

Sword/Axe + Longbow – the go-to DPS rotation for general PvE

Precast Frost Spirit and “Strength of the Pack!“ before engaging. If the fight is short enough (less than 25 seconds), swap your pet off cooldown to trigger Zephyr’s Speed. For longer fights, you should coordinate pet swapping with your rotation so that you use it when you are on sword or about to unload your LB burst.

Keep in mind that Quick Draw only lasts a few seconds after swapping, so make sure that when you swap back to sword, Path of Scars is ready or almost ready to be used again, else you will waste the opportunity to use it twice.

Greatsword + Longbow – for fights where the sword would get you killed. Use Two-Handed Training instead of Natural Regeneration.

Sword/Axe + Greatsword – a more defensive setup which still has great DPS potential. Use Two-Handed Training instead of Natural Regeneration.

Variants

For very short fights (<15 seconds), Nature Magic outperforms Beast Mastery. The build is as follows:

http://dulfy.net/gw2traits#build=AgUB5AKUBHg~

gw2-ranger-build-specialization-2

This build becomes stronger the more boons you have on you, as well as giving your pet much more survivability and DPS potential via Fortifying Bond. Start with your pet stowed to trigger Clarion Bond and do not pet swap unless your pet is about to die.

Axe/Torch Condition Build

This build focuses on quick application of large stacks of Burning and Bleeding using Bonfire (Torch #5) in conjunction with the Quick Draw trait. This build provides a great alternative to the Power-based sword/axe build, however, in some encounters it is ill advised to run it. This build does not have the stereotypical downside of Condition builds, which is the time it supposedly takes them to ramp up their damage. The Burning and Bleeding applied by this build is heavily frontloaded and it only takes a few seconds for this build to start pushing out large numbers. Power builds still have stronger burst capabilities, but in places like Fractals of the Mists where bosses and some non-boss enemies take longer to down, this build outperforms its Power-based alternative.

Axe/Torch is not without weaknesses, however. This build requires your enemy to stand in your Bonfires and Traps to really deal damage. This can be mitigated to a large degree by your team staying in melee range to prevent the Boss from moving too much, or using your pet to hold aggro and take the beating for the team (which is easy with Bark Skin). You have to keep in mind that some enemies have greatly reduced incoming Condition Duration (Alphard, Serpent of the Waves in Arah P2). Therefore, if you only have enough money for one set of Ascended gear, Berserker’s gear is much more universal. The survivability and in-combat mobility can also become an issue, as apart from the 20% increase of Endurance regeneration and Bark Skin, this build lacks the inbuild evasiveness of Sword and Greatsword builds. Nevertheless, this build is a fun and powerful alternative, especially for people who refuse to deal with the problems of Sword autoattack and want something more user-friendly. This build is also much more powerful when soloing or low-manning content, as it gives you stronger base damage, more user-friendly weapons, and better pet tanking capabilities.

Skirmishing

The first two Minor Traits focus on weapon swapping, something you will want to do as often as possible. The last Minor Trait increases your Critical Strike chance when flanking your foe, which synergizes well with your Adept Major trait, Sharpened Edges, which gives you a chance to apply additional Bleeding on every Critical Strike. Spotter is chosen as the Master Trait as it provides great offensive support for your team. If you have another Ranger in your party who already has this trait slotted, feel free to take Hidden Barbs to further increase your Bleeding damage. Quick Draw is the trait that defines this build and enables it to deal massive Burning damage. This trait allows you to keep up Bonfire with little to no downtime.

Wilderness Survival

This traitline gives additional Condition Damage and survivability to both you and your pet. The Minor Adept trait increases your Endurance regeneration by 20%, which is always handy as this build lacks Vigor and evade skills. The Master Minor Trait gives you and your pet Protection for 2 seconds after you finish dodging, which can help mitigate some damage that your pet will inevitably take, especially if you use it for tanking. You will have to dodge earlier than usual to make good use of it, as the Protection is applied after you dodge. Bark Skin is an extremely powerful Trait which greatly increases the survivability of your glassier pets and makes your already tanky pets, such as Drakes and Bears, exceedingly durable. It can also prevent heavy attacks from oneshotting you, provided you are above 90%. This trait is your incentive to keep your hit points high. Your first two Major Traits are pretty straightforward and increase the Condition output of your pet and you respectively. The Grandmaster Trait is a tossup between Posion Master and Wilderness Knowledge. This build lacks sufficient Poison output that would really make Poison Master shine, but it still provides a small DPS boost. Wilderness Knowledge lowers the cooldown of your Survival Skills, as well as giving them additional functionality in the form of contition cleansing and Fury. Use this trait if you need to use Troll Unguent and Entangle often.

Beast Mastery

This traitline enhances your pet and your mainhand Axe. The Minor Traits increase your pet’s stats and lower the cooldowns on their skills as well as the cooldown of your pet swap. The first Major Trait increases your pet’s Bleeding output. This can be swapped for Resounding Timbre when using “We Heal as One!” and “Strength of the Pack!”, or Go for the Eyes if you need your pet to tank some hits or need the Blind application that this trait provides. The Major trait gives your pet a negligible survivability boost in the form of weak regeneration and increased Healing Power, feel free to swap this for Wilting Strike if you find yourself needing Weakness. The Grandmaster Trait reduces the cooldown on your Axe skills (decent), makes Winter’s Bite hit five targets (situational at best), as well as giving you 150 Ferocity (negligible).

Gear

For this build, you want to run a mix of Viper’s, Rampager’s, and Sinister gear. The runes you want are Runes of Balthazar as they massively increase your Burning output. For your weapons, you want to use an Axe and a Torch, though occasionally you might want to use a Viper’s Sword instead (for absolute min-maxing against enemies with projectile defenses, such as Leurent’s Elite Guard in Twilight Arbor Forward). For mobility purposes, having a Sword and a Greatsword in your inventory is always handy, as is a Warhorn for more Swiftness and a Blast Finisher for prestacking Might and Stealth. There is a couple of sigils that fit this build and the difference in performance between them is minimal. You want to use a Sigil of Geomancy or Earth on your first weapon, and Agony on your other weapon. Sigil of Geomancy provides you with a neat Bleeding spike, but be careful when skipping, especially in stealth, since if you happen to get in combat, swapping weapons when surrounded by enemies (or using a consumable, such as Harpy Feathers or Pots of Hylek Poison) will reveal you or keep you in combat for longer than you would like. Sigil of Earth is a good alternative but takes a while to ramp up its damage. Sigil of Agony gives you more Bleeding duration, which will bring it up to 76% with proper food. For the rare occasions where you fight underwater, you want to use two Harpoon Guns, both with Sigils of Agony and Earth, as your damage underwater mostly comes in the form of Bleeding. This also means that your Runes only help with the Burning you get from Sun Spirit and your Healing Skill.

Equip your Axe in your main hand slot and leave the offhand slot empty. Your torch should go into the offhand slot of your second weapon set. This way you only need one Axe and one Torch to be able to swap weapons and proc Quick Draw.

Consumables

This build realies heavily on the use of Nourishment to deliver its damage. The absolute best Nourishment combination are Rare Veggie Pizzas or Koi Cakes (+20% Condition Duration and +70 Condition Damage) and Toxic Focusing Crystals (+100 Condition Damage, +10% Condition Duration). These items are relatively pricy, however, and you might want to use budget alternatives for more casual runs. These include Super Veggie Pizzas (+18% Condition duration, +60 Condition Damage, a small downgrade from the most powerful version at a fraction of the price) and Master Tuning Crystals (adds +6% of your Toughness and +4% of your Vitality as Condition Damage). You can also use Skale Venom if your team lacks Vulnerability, as this build generates a lot of hits and Vulnerability affects Conditions, or if you do not have any of those, appropriate damage potions to increase your meager Power damage.

Utility Skills

Choose your Healing Skill according to your preferences and the content you are doing. Remember that Runes of Balthazar make your Healing Skill apply 6 seconds of AoE Burning (at +100% Burning Duration), so if you know that you will not need to use it, take something that recharges quickly and include it in your rotation to deal a little more damage. If you are in an organized party that prestacks Might and Fury, use “We heal as One” to transfer your Boons to your pet and massively increase your pet’s damage output.

Your first two Utility slots will almost always be occupied by Frost Spirit and Sun Spirit. Both increase your party’s damage output and should pretty much always be present on your skillbar. Remember that your Spirits pulse their buffs for approximately 13 seconds after they die, so you can use their activated abilities early to proc the cooldowns and still get the full benefit of their passives. This is especially useful for Sun Spirit as you can place it next to your enemies and instantly detonate it for strong AoE and single target Burning, this also applies to Bosses with a lot of AoE damage, such as Bloomhunger, where the Spirits tend to die quickly. Frost spirit should still be placed away from combat to provide maximum upkeep.

If you have two Rangers in the group, have each Ranger bring only one Spirit. This opens up a Utility slot for you to use for more damaging abilities, such as Viper’s Nest (your go-to DPS option if you have a free slot, use it with Poison Master) or Spike Trap (your CC/Bursty option, use it to strip stacks of Defiant or disable groups of trash mobs).

Your final Utility slot should be occupied by Flame Trap, which provides you with a strong spike of Burning and another Fire Field to use in combat. Your Elite skill will vary between encounters. Entangle is your go-to DPS and control option, “Strength of the Pack!” gives both you and your pet Stability (great), Might, and Fury (not that great in organized groups when using “We Heal as One!”, decent in pug groups), while Spirit of Nature can save a potential party wipe.

Rotation

The rotation relies on frequent weapon swapping to trigger Quick Draw and using it in conjunction with Bonfire. You will also want to spam your Condition-applying skills, prioritizing Burning application. When used correctly, this build gives your team a near-permanent Fire field and a great damage boost in the form of Spirits and Spotter while also dealing heavy damage. For a sample rotation, see the video below:

You can use skills like Entangle and Throw Torch when running up to the boss, and then immediately start stacking Burning on the target.

Druid Variant

The Condition build can also be used with the Druid Specialziation. The build looks as follows:

For Sigils, change Sigil of Earth for Sigil of Water for more healing procs. This will let you charge your meter faster. Celestial Avatar can with practice be incorporated into your standard Condition rotation. As entering and leaving it counts as weapon swapping, you only want to use it AFTER you have swapped weapons and used your Bonfire, preferably after you’ve unloaded your heavy-hitting skills and are waiting for them to come off cooldown. You can then use CAF, cast Rejuvenating Tides to proc Grace of the Land, and leave the form. Use your Glyphs as often as possible to trigger Grace of the Land, cleanse Conditions, and heal your allies. This build favors everyone staying close together and can be problematic to use in high-level FotM where you are punished heavily for bunching up. Nevertheless it has strong wipe-saving potential and helps further increase the damage your party is able to deal. The video below shows a sample rotation you can use on bosses, note that you do not have place your spirits under the boss, you can precast them as you are running in. If you want to detonate your spirits, however, place them right at the boss as shown in the video.

Pets

Rangers have a limited degree of control over their companions. Your pet can only be stowed out of combat and will appear automatically whenever you are attacked or attack an enemy yourself. It is advisable to keep your pet in Avoid Combat mode in dungeons to prevent it from accidentally aggroing things and wiping your group, unless fighting numerous trash mobs where constantly spamming F1 can become tedious. Pets by themselves are not attacked by enemies unless it is the pet that starts attacking first, so you do not have to worry about your pet not having Stealth. However, there are exceptions to this where your pet will be attacked on sight, e.g. in Arah, where Orrian Turrets will attack your pet as soon as it comes in range, so try to avoid getting into combat and keep your pet stowed when skipping.

A general tip for using pets is to swap them when they are low on health before they are downed in order to avoid triggering the long pet swap cooldown (60 seconds instead of the normal 20). If your pet does die, you can use a tonic to cheat the cooldown (see the consumables section, the effect is a bit unreliable).

Be mindful of bosses with bouncing projectiles (such as The Mossman in the Swampland Fractal) or enemies which have to be attacked at max melee range and choose your pets accordingly, i.e. switch to a ranged pet if a boss has to be fought at max melee range. Bear in mind that it is sometimes better to let your pet die and not revive it for the rest of the fight, this holds especially true for bosses that steal health from players to heal themselves.

Pets are divided into families which determine their attributes and skills. Your pet’s attributes do not depend on your gear and the only way of increasing them is to invest points in the Beastmasteryspecialization, which increases your pet’s stats. In general, your pets’ contribution to your DPS output is relatively low and you should not expect them to be your main source of damage.

Commonly Used Pets

Feline: Felines (Jungle Stalker, Jaguar, Snow Leopard, Lynx, Tiger) are the definition of glass cannon. Their low vitality and toughness does not allow them to endure enemies’ attacks for long, but their damage output against single targets is higher than that of other pet families. They are the go-to pet for stationary bosses that can be normally fought in melee.

Out of the five pets in the family, the Tiger is the most powerful option. Its F2 skill has a short cooldown, deals high damage and provides your party with virtually permanent Fury. The Jaguar deals great DPS with its Stalk skill, which significantly increases its critical chance and Ferocity for a period of time, making it a decent choice for your second pet. A good other choice is the Jungle Stalker for its Mighty Roar, which grants your party 5 Might stacks at a respectable duration. If you decide to use both Tiger and Jungle Stalker in an organized group, always start with your Tiger if your party pre-stacks Might, and only swap to Jungle Stalker if you the encounter drags on and your team is unable to reapply Might easily. 

Drake: Drakes (River, Marsh, Salamander, Reef, Ice) represent the middle ground between damage and survivability, as well as offer some much-needed AoE damage and blast combo finishers. They are excellent for trash fights (their autoattack hits three targets) as well as bosses where your pet will inevitably take some punishment (e.g. various bosses in Fractals of the Mists). Drakes’ Breath abilities combo well with “Strength of the pack!” (this rings especially true for Marsh and River Drakes, which do not require their targets to be piled up as neatly as the other three Drakes), in addition to being decent AoE burst skills in their own right.

Drakes’ AI often makes them use their Tail Swipe ability as soon as they are swapped to. You can use it to your advantage by swapping your pet while standing in a fire field while in combat.

Reef Drake’s Sonic Shriek ability changes to Sonic Barrier underwater, a self-targeted 5 second bubble that reflects projectiles similar to the Mesmer’s Feedback, consider using it in the Aquatic Ruins Fractal.

Bristleback: The Bristleback is only availanle if you have Heart of Thorns. It is a sturdy, long ranged, high damage pet. Some of its skills are condition oriented (Bleeding) which means it benefits from traits which increase your pet’s condition potential. Its F2 skill is a very strong burst attack which should be spammed on cooldown. This pet is a great choice to go with the Tiger, and your best choice for a ranged pet.

Niche Pets

Ursine:Bears (Brown, Black, Polar, Arctodus, Murrelow) have garnered a bad reputation because of many players using them to tank while safely ranging their enemies with bows. While the stereotype is not unfounded, there are encounters in the game in which bears can shine. Their high vitality (bears have over 50,000 hit points), decent toughness and a large hitbox makes them effective tanks. Because of their high stats, enemies often choose to attack the bear instead of other players, which makes it easier to control aggro. Brown Bear can be useful if your team has trouble dealing with conditions, and the Black Bear has an AoE Weakness attack which can help if your team has survivability issues. The remaining pets from this family are best left at home. See the Miscellaneous Tactics section for more information on bear tanking.

Spider: Spiders (Forest, Jungle, Cave, Black Widow) are your go-to ranged pets if you do not have HoT or need their utility. Use spiders in places where you need to max-melee bosses or where pets would be instantly killed by AoE. Jungle Spider and Black Widow have an on-demand immobilize which can be helpful in fights such as Legendary Shoggroth in Arah P1 or the Shaman event in the volcanic Fractal. However, if you equip both pets at the same time and use their F2 ability, the ability of the pet in reserve will look as if it were on cooldown as well. This is a visual bug and the skill can be used normally. This also applies to several other HoM pets and their regular equivalents.

Pink/Black Moa: Pink Moa has an AoE Daze attack which can be used to disable groups of enemies. The attack dazes enemies in a cone in front of the pet, so be careful where your pet is facing when using it.

Smokescale: The Smokescale has mediocre damage but its F2 skill can help with skipping trash if your team has no Stealth sources. You will need your team to help blast the Smoke Field if you want to stack maximum stacks of Stealth.

Utilities

Unfortunately, the Ranger has a relatively limited choice of useful utility skills compared to other classes when it comes to dungeons. That is not to say that there are no good choices at all, though some skills will probably never see serious play in dungeons in their current state. Nevertheless, the Ranger has access to a number of options which greatly enhance both personal and party DPS, as well various skills that have certain niche uses. Always swap your utilities depending on the encounter to help your team get through content faster and smoother.

Healing Skills

We heal as one!

The first healing skill that every Ranger has access to, it is useful for bosses that deal strong spike damage. The secondary effect of this skill makes it great at buffing your pets. This should be your default healing skill when running dungeons and not using the Druid specialization.

Troll Unguent

A very strong heal-over-time skill useful for fights with a lot of sustained damage. It is a good overall choice in places where enemies hit often but not too hard, as it allows you to regain your Scholar Rune bonus relatively quickly and maintain it in pressure situations.

Healing Spring

This trap combines decent personal healing with one of the longest water fields in the game. The field applies Regeneration and removes Conditions from up to 5 players in its radius, making it excellent for condition-heavy areas. Keep in mind, however, that because of its size and duration, the water field can get in the way of other combo fields (most importantly fire), so use it wisely. If you find yourself low on health, a clever use of the field is to drop it and use your leap finishers (Swoop, Monarch’s Leap) when it triggers. This will result in a healing combo that will help you get back on your feet.

Water Spirit

Water Spirit is a Spirit Healing Skill which is inferior to the other three choices. The healing it provides is not enough to offset the drawbacks (the spirit is immobile, can be killed by enemies effectively robbing you of your healing skill) and you are better off using one of the other three options.

Utility Skills

Spirits

Spirits provide party-wide buffs ranging from powerful to borderline useless. Every spirit has a 75% chance to trigger its benefit on hit, which in turn triggers an internal cooldown. The only Spirit which does not have this internal cooldown is the Frost Spirit, which makes it a must-have for every Ranger’s skillbar. Keep in mind that spirits are destructible, do not have much health even when traited, and are immobile.

Triggering the spirit’s active ability kills the spirit. You can use this to trigger the cooldown early when you need to move from place to place quickly.

Frost Spirit

This skill is one of the reasons to take a Ranger into dungeons and should be virtually welded to your bar. It provides your party with a damage boost of 7.5%. It is the only spirit which does not have an internal cooldown on its passive buff. Use it everywhere and place it carefully. Frost Spirit’s activated ability is an AoE Chill around the Spirit. You only want to use it when the fight is over to trigger the cooldown early.

Storm Spirit

This Spirit can help tremendously with stacking vulnerability, and its activated ability is a strong AoE attack with a long Daze component. Use it in conjunction with the Moment of Clarity trait for one of the longest (6 seconds) Ccs in the game. Be careful to position the spirit properly as it can be difficult to actually hit your target with it.

Sun Spirit

Sun Spirit is a decent DPS increase for any party member who uses Condition Damage, but even in full Berserker parties it is a welcome addition. Do not be afraid to place this spirit right underneath the boss and detonate it, especially if the fight is not long.

Stone Spirit

This Spirit provides the party with a spotty coverage of Protection. Do not bother with this skill unless your party has severe survivability issues.

Survival

Lightning Reflexes

This skill combines a stunbreaker, evasion, Vigor and a bit of damage into a package that also removes Immobilize. Slot it if you feel you still need more dodges, as well as for faster skipping with Hornet Sting and Monarch’s Leap. After you turn 180 degrees, use Hornet Sting quickly followed by Lightning Reflexes and turn around again to use Monarch’s Leap.

Muddy Terrain

This skill provides a short AoE Immobilize and a pulsing Cripple field. Use it in places where controlling enemy movement is important (Grawl Shaman event in the Volcanic Fractal, Legendary Shoggroth in Arah P1, Rampaging Ice Elemental/Dredge Powersuit in the Underground Facility Fractal).

Quickening Zephyr

QZ provides a burst of Quickness coupled with a stunbreaker and 6 seconds of Superspeed. This skill is a powerful tool for bursting down enemies and can also be used to skip faster.

Sharpening Stone

This is a condition-based utility skill best left for condition builds, do not bother with it in dungeons.

Signets

Signet of the Hunt

This Signet provides a 25% boost to your movement speed. Since Rangers have decent upkeep of Swiftness, the passive effect is hardly useful. Its activated ability increases the damage of your pet’s next attack by 50%. The bonus persists for 30 seconds and does not stack with Greatsword’s Hilt Bash skill. The DPS boost this skill provides is negligible at best and, unless your access to swiftness is for some reason limited, this skill is best left at home.

Signet of Renewal

A useful tool to have if your party struggles with Conditions. Make sure your pet is alive when you want to use it.

Signet of Stone

This skill provides the Ranger with a safety net which can help if you are just starting out and learning how to deal with the quirks of Ranger melee weapons. Also consider slotting it if you want to have your pet tank enemies for your group.

Signet of the Wild

This signet heals you and your pet every second for a small amount, which additionally stacks with Regeneration. While the passive effect is mediocre, it is the activated ability that makes this skill shine. For 8 seconds, you and your pet grow bigger, deal 25% more damage, move faster, and gain 5 stacks of Stability. This is a powerful offensive burst utility, especially useful when using weapons conjured by the Elementalist or using your burst skills.

Shouts

“Sic ‘Em”

This skill makes your pet deal more damage and move faster for a short amount of time, as well as applying Revealed on your target. This skill can be an ok boost to your pet’s DPS if you have a free slot on your skillbar (e.g. when you already have enough Quickness to kill bosses before it runs out and you do not need to slot in QZ). The effect ends prematurely if the target dies or disappears, the pet is issued any command (even Attack My Target) or if the pet dies. When using Jaguar, use its Stalk skill before you activate “Sic ‘Em!”, this will allow you to combine the benefits of both skills for a strong DPS boost for your pet.

Other Shouts

Other shouts range from useless (“Guard!”) to very niche (“Search and Rescue” and “Protect Me”). Usually there should be no space left on your bar for any of those. “Protect Me” can give you more survivability but can be a surefire way to kill your pet. “Search and Rescue” can work on defeated allies if the target was only downed when you activated the skill.

Traps

Traps, with the exception of Spike Trap, give Rangers access to short-lasting combo fields (Ice, Fire, Poison), deal low-to-moderate direct damage and apply conditions to any enemy who steps in them after they have finished arming. Spike Trap can be useful when you need to disable a group of enemies, while Flame Trap can help if for some reason your party lacks Fire fields.

Elite Skills

Entangle

Entangle counts as a Survival skill, which means that traits affecting those skills will affect Entangle as well. It is a niche Elite that spawns roots around nearby foes, pulsing Immobilize and Bleeding and dealing negligible damage. It is a good way to immobilize certain bosses fora short while (Imbued Shaman in the Volcanic Fractal, Legendary Shoggroth in Arah P1 to prevent it from hiding). Communicate with your team when using the skill to avoid wasting other party members’ Immobilizes.

Strength of the Pack!

Previously known as Rampage as One, this Shout provides the Ranger with a 10 second buff which pulses 3 seconds of Swiftness, Fury and 3 stacks of Stability. In total, the skill pulses 4 times. Additionally, your pet gives you short-lasting might whenever it hits and vice-versa for the duration of the skill. This is a great way to buff your pet. The skill is also great for skipping trashmobs with lots of control abilities.

Spirit of Nature

This Spirit heals your allies for a small amount every second in a moderate range. The activated ability revives up to three downed allies in a 600 range and removes 5 conditions from 5 targets. Consider using it in parties struggling with condition removal or if your teammates often get downed in combat, as it can serve as a rough equivalent to the Warrior’s Battle Standard.

Misc Tactics

Combat Positioning

Always be mindful of your positioning. Sword autoattack pushes your target, if your team stacks in a corner or at a wall, always position yourself so that you will not push the boss out of the stacking spot. Otherwise always try to flank your enemy to benefit from the 10% additional Critical Strike Chance (if using a build with Skirmishing).

Flanking your enemies also has the benefit of being able to tell if an attack is targeted at you or someone else. Standing behind the boss will also allow you to more easily outmaneuver attacks you would otherwise have to dodge. Moving and dodging with the sword will cost you precious DPS as you will either be unable to attack on the move or lose the 10% bonus from Steady Focus, and clever positioning will go a long way to minimize that.

Pet Tanking

Because of how easily they grab enemies’ attention, bears (and to an extent drakes) can be used to tank certain encounters for a while to help lessen the pressure on your team. Always discuss the tactics you want to use with your team beforehand though to avoid unnecessary confusion. To increase the survivability of your pet, you can slot in Signet of Stone and activate it when your pet is about to take a big hit. Keep in mind that bears have their own Endure Pain skill (which, unfortunately, you have no control over), so watch your pet’s health bar to make sure it is not active the moment you want to use your Signet. To boost your pet’s survivability even further, consider the Wilderness Survival Specialization for Bark Skin, which decreases the damage your pet takes when you are above 90% health by a whopping 50%.

You can successfully use your pet to tank bosses such as the Champion Ettin and Little Tom (have your team hide behind your bear to avoid being hit by its projectiles) in the Uncategorized Fractal, The Mossman in the Swampland Fractal (though watch out for his bouncing projectiles, bring projectile reflection/absorption). The rest of your team can then relatively safely DPS the target from behind for as long as the pet is alive. Remember that your healing skills affect your pet as well and can greatly increase its lifespan.

Druid

The Druid is the newly introduced elite specialization which enables the Ranger to assume a more supportive role in the group. Namely, it focuses on heavy burst healing, strong crowd control, and boosting your team’s damage output with damage modifiers. The class mechanic is the Celestial Avatar Form, which is another set of weapon skills accessible after accumulating enough Astral Force. These skills lack severely in the damage department but make up for it with enormous healing values (even in setups with no additional Healing Power), as well as various useful effects. This mechanic is available in addition to the core Ranger mechanic (pets). The Druid can also use the staff as its specialization weapon.

Staff

The staff is a weapon strongly focused on healing, mobility, and support. It has long range on most of its skills (1200) and every skill heals or supports allies to some degree. Staff is not a high-damage weapon, and should only be equipped in fights where sustaining your party or raid is absolutely necessary.

Solar Beam

This is a beam attack which ticks three times, dealing damage to enemies and healing allies caught in the beam. This attack rewards careful positioning as it enables the Druid to rapidly charge Astral Force with just a few attacks.

Astral Wisp

This skill targets an enemy and sends out a wisp which deals damage on impact and heals allies around the target for a few seconds. Great for melee-heavy parties and a good tool for generating Astral Force.

Ancestral Grace

This attack combines a number of different effects which makes it amazing in many different situations. Ancestral Grace is a low-cooldown (15 seconds if untraited) mobility skill (1200 range) with full evade frames, which delivers a blast finisher and heals 5 allies for a decent amount at its destination. This skill is almost always useful. Use it for skipping trash, evading attacks, straight up healing, or blasting combo fields.

Vine Surge

This is a skillshot-type skill which sends out roots in a straight line, removing movement-impairing conditions from allies as well as dealing damage and immobilizing enemies caught in the area of effect.

Sublime Conversion

The staff also provides a unique way of dealing with projectiles. This skill creates a wall which does not reflect or absorb projectiles, but instead converts them into healing bolts for your allies. It only lasts 5 seconds but the cooldown is quite low, and can be used twice in a row with Quick Draw with only one second of downtime. The wall is also a Water Field, which can be used for leaping and blasting by you or your allies.

Celestial Avatar

The Celestial Avatar Form (CAF) becomes available after fully charging your Astral Force (AF) meter. Every tick of damage you deal (pets excluded) fills the meter by 3/4%, while every tick of healing (excluding overheal, Regeneration you apply also counts) you dish out is worth 1.3/4%. This strongly favors builds which can tick healing and damage frequently, esepecially those based around the staff. Any accumulated Astral Force is lost when you down, you also lose half of your remaining meter when you leave the form, and have to fully charge it again to reenter. The form itself lasts up to 15 seconds has a 10 second cooldown during which you can still generate AF. It is not possible to charge the meter by healing while you are a Celestial Avatar, meaning that you will have downtime between entering during which your healing abilities will be greatly diminished. Have that in mind and plan accordingly. You get access to 5 new weapon skills:

Cosmic Ray

Skill #1 is a small AoE healing hit whic haffects up to 5 targets. Use it to heal allies which are far away from you, though keep in mind that there is a slight delay before the beam acutally descends and heals your target. This can amke it a challenge to heal allies which move around a lot.

Healing Seed

Healing Seed is a decent AoE Condition removal tool. It afects up to 5 targets, removes 2 conditions and blinds enemies caught in the blast. However, this skill can be even harder to land than #1, as there is a delay between casting and the seed’s detonation. Also remember that this skill is a Light Combo Field and place it accordingly.

Lunar Impact

This is a powerful burst heal with a large AoE and a Blast Combo Finisher. This skill also dazes any enemy caught in the impact for two seconds, which can be further increased to 4 with Moment of Clarity. Use this skill if your allies are spread out and urgently need healing. This skill is a good candidate to use with Quick Draw for a series of strong AoE heals.

Rejuvenating Tides

This is another extremely powerful healing skill. You become a walking Water Combo Field and pulse strong healing to allies around you every second. This skill synergizes very well with the trait Grace of the Land as it enables you you to apply five stacks of the buff very quickly to allies around you. This is another great skill to use with Quick Draw, as well as Glyph of Unity.

Natural Convergence

This skill is a bit of an odd one out as it has no healing component. You pulse damage and Slow to enemies around you three times, then deliver a stronger hit which also immobilizes your enemies. Use this skill on trash fights or when you need to immobilize your enemies, otherwise you should spend your time in CAF healing and increasing the damage output of your allies, not dealing damage yourself.

Glyphs

The Druid gets access to Glyphs as its specialization skill type. In normal mode, they provide offensive effects, hard and soft CC, and small healing to allies. When used in Celestial Avatar mode, they have more selfless, supportive effects.

Glyph of Rejuvention

This is the Druid’s healing skill. In normal mode it hleas you for a decent amount and everyone around you for a small amount. In CAF, this effect is reversed. The AoE healing component in normal mode makes it decent at generating Astral Force. This will be your defeault healing skill in raids.

Glyph of Alignment

This Glyph damages and applies a number of conditions to foes around you in normal mode, and heals allies and removes 2 conditions from them in CAF. This glyph has a short cooldown which makes it great at proccing Grace of the Land via the Verdant Etching trait.

Glyph of Equality

This is a decent power-based AoE hit with a 2 second Daze component. In CAF, this skill acts as an AoE stunbreaker for your allies. Since the Druid has access to enough CC as it is, this skill is only marginally useful.

Glyph of the Tides

This Glyph pushes your enemies back in normal mode and pulls them toward you in CAF. The normal effect can be useful in the Vale Guardian Fight to fend off Seekers, while the CAF mode can be useful if you want to ball up trash.

Glyph of Empowerment

This is the Glyph you will be using the most. It gives your allies a 10% boost to their direct damage for 6 seconds and has a decent recharge when traited (16 seconds, which is a tie with Glyph of Alignment). Use it on cooldown but try to sync it with your raid’s offensive cooldowns, such as Time Warp.

Glyph of Unity

This is the Druid’s Elite Glyph. It tethers you to your enemies and damages them whenever you take damage (normal mode) or tethers you to allies and heals them whenever you are healed (CAF). The CAF version is a great panic button especially in conjunction with Rejuvenating Tides or Troll Unguent. Otherwise use this Glyph in normal mode to trigger Verdant Etching.

Build

Below is a build which can be used to succesfully heal in raids, as this is the area where the Druid really shines. 5 man content such as Fractals or Dungeons do not really require you to run any healing and often you are better off running a condition or power Ranger build.

Gear

There are various stat combinations which work great in raids, depending on your skill level, the skill level of your raidmates, and your tactics. Druid skills have strong base healing numbers and you do not need any additional Healing Power, but it is a perfectly viable alternative to run at least some pieces with Healing Power to make your heals stronger. Good alternatives are Zealot’s (Power, Precision, Healing Power), Magi (Healing Power, Vitality, Precision), and Cleric’s (Healing Power, Power, Toughness). Remember that not every stat combination is available in every equipment slot, feel free to fill the gaps with Berserker’s or other stats. When running Cleric’s, make sure that your raid’s tank has more Toughness than you, or you will steal aggro from them.

There is a couple of options when it comes to runes. Runes of the Scholar are a good choice for more offensive Druids, while Runes of the Monk are some of the best healing runes available, Runes of the Druid are also a good option if you do not want to run AC. Stay away from runes with Boon Duration as you do not generate enough Boons to benefit from them.

For weapons, you can run staff for strong Astral Force generation and utility, or if you are confident in the abilities of your raidmates, you can use sword/axe or greatsword and use the standard DPS rotation for the most part. Your other weapon set is also up to you. If your raid has enough DPS and you can afford to go full healing, you can run double staff. If want to run a more offensive build, run Longbow.

For Sigils, there is again a few options to choose from. Sigil of Force is always a good choice if you want more damage. Sigil of Water is great for generating more healing ticks to charge Astral Force faster, especially if you are stuck on Sword, the same goes for Sigil of Renewal. Sigil of Transference is a good, if somewhat expensive, option to put on your staff to increase outgoing healing. The usefulness of this Sigil is somewhat diminished by the fact that it does not increase your healing while in CAF, however.

Nourishment

As with gear, there is more than one good option here. Truffle Steaks (or cheaper Plates of Steak and Asparagus) are great if you want to forgo bonus healing in favor of pure damage. Delicious Rice Balls are the best healing food you can get, and are good even if you have no additional sources of Healing Power. The +10% outgoing healing bonus is great with the Druid’s high base healing numbers. For Utility Nourishment, you can run Sharpening Stones for more damage, or Furious Tuning Crystals for more Healing Power.

Traits

The first two specializations are the same as in the Ranger Power-based Build. You can of course swap Steady focus for Moment of Clarity to make use of your strong Stuns and Dazes. This build also makes use of Quick Draw, but instead of using it only for your strong burst skills, you can also use it on your healing skills as entering CAF also counts as swapping weapons. Good skill candidates for this trait are skills #4 and #3 as their strong effects can benefit greatly from reduced cooldowns. Tracking the cooldown of Quick Draw can be problematic at first but getting it right can significantly increase your performance.

In the Druid specialization, you want to take Cultivated Synergy as your Adept Trait for more healing ticks. For your Master Trait, take Verdant Etching. This trait reduces the recharge on your Glyphs and makes them spawn a Healing Seed on your location. This Seed applies Grace of the Land to your allies if you have it equipped. Grace of the Land should always be your choice for the Grandmaster Trait. It increases your allies’ damage output by a good amount and is easy to apply to most if not all members of your raid. It also offsets the DPS loss of going into CAF.

Pets

Standard DPS pets are great for the first wing of the raid. Those include Bristleback, Tiger, Jaguar, and Jungle Stalker, in that order. The reduction in damage taken makes even the glassiest pets durable enough to survive without dying.

Gameplay

As a Druid in a raid, your task is to keep your raidmates alive, buff their damage output, and deal damage yourself. The effectiveness of your healing and buffing largely depends on your and your raidmates’ positioning and environmental awareness. It is a good idea to stay bunched up so that you do not have to search for a person that is low on health. Depending on your raid’s skill level, you can use your CAF more as a means of buffing than healing i.e. enter, buff your raid with Grace of the Land by using Rejuvenating Tides (twice if with Quick Draw, try to position yourself so that it affects those members of the raids that do not yet have the buff), and go back to attacking with your sword. Syncing your buffs with your raidmates offensive cooldowns is recommended. Camping staff in general is ill advised. Use it to generate AF and for mobility, or if you need to heal when CAF is on cooldown, otherwise try to spend as much time as you can in your DPS weapon set. Position your spirits so that they are always in range of your raid (this can be tricky if your raid moves a lot and largely depends on your tactics). Spam your Glyphs in normal mode to buff your allies with Grace of the Land when CAF is on cooldown (remember about the delay on Seed of Life if your raid moves a lot).

Below is a sample rotation which can be used if you want to run Druid in dungeons (assuming you do not have full Astral Force when engaging a boss, if you do have full meter, start by buffing your allies with Rejuvenating Tides):

About the author

Lorek and Cell are Retaliate [rT]’s resident ranger players. Retaliate is a European high-end PvE guild that has held a number of dungeon speedclear records and is home to many highly skilled group and solo players.

Lorek is an officer responsible for trialing new rangers who want to join the guild. He has taken part in several dungeon and boss kill records, such as the infamous 7 second kill of GiganticusLupicus. Cell is a member of [rT] and a passionate ranger player. He has spent most of his in game time playing this profession, has numerous boss and dungeon solos under his belt, and possesses extensive knowledge of all things ranger- and dungeon-related.

We are open to suggestions/comments/abuse. Just send us an in-game mail at Lorek.7104 or Oocelloo.5247.

  • Iris Nguyen

    Lorek and Cell, thank you for lending your wisdom to us newb rangers. This guide is fabulous and your rangers are so manly!

  • Taku

    Awesome guide but one thing I want to mention. Entangle can be used after the Imbued Shaman bubbles since it’s an unblockable attack.

    • Haviz

      The initial attack isn’t unblockable, you have to use it before he goes into bubble state.

  • Leman

    I agree, Iris! Lorek is so fabulous and manly! I’m loving this guide. I can feel ranger and me becoming one.

  • frag971

    Really waiting for Elementalist and Thief guides! 😀

  • HadesClutch

    Long-Bow and Sword/Knife for life.

  • Berserk Long Bow and Axe Warhorn FTW!!

    • ananedhel of arnor

      Agree!

  • ManMan

    Long Bow ranger can do 3000 damage range attack 100% up time, not quite sure less then 50% up time melee attack has better dps totally.

    • Sty

      Long bows can also hit up to five foes with the trait “piercing arrows”, while sword or greatsword can hit up to three foes.

      This guide lacks a proper comparison between long bow build and sword/greatsword build.

      • Rosencopter

        Because it doesn’t matter what build you use in open world pve. You can use whatever you want and nobody would care. However, in dungeons if you use longbow that would be suboptimal and you will be slowing the group down so it matters.

        • Sty

          I disagree.

          First, if you want to argue that longbow is suboptimal, you have to properly prove it. Comparing builds is not an easy problem and “optimality” probably depends on the situation for the ranger.

          Second, the melee builds described here are only relevant with specific group compositions and specific strats, as they obviously lack of sustainability and are only focused on dps.

          Third, in most instances, the build you use does not matter except if you want to rush with your group. To my knowledge, doing the dungeon as fast as possible is not mandatory.

          So is it a pve guide (and in that case, it is missing a few informations) or is it an instance-rushing guide?

          • Orichalon Hades

            i dunno, the fact that the “meta” for dungeon run atm is stack, stack and stack, something that REDUCE in damage the closer you are to the target is, well, sub-optimal.

            • Sty

              It does not make much sense. Damages of the skill 1 are indeed reduced when you are close to the target. So what? How do you come to the conclusion that it is sub-optimal if you are not comparing damages between the long bow at close range and another weapon?

              What really matters is the attack speed, as the skill 1 with a long bow is a lot slower than with a sword or a greatsword. But you also have to take into account skills 2/5 in the dps cycle and the fact that long bows can hit up to 5 targets. It is not that simple to draw a definite conclusion.

              I’m not here to say that long bow has the highest dps in every situation and that every ranger should use it. However, just discarding this weapon without properly explaining why swords or greatswords can be more interesting (if playing “meta” or if rushing) is not satisfying.

              • SoPraMim

                There are a few problems with longbow builds at the moment. You can either maximize your dps with Eagle Eye or hit multiple targets with Piercing Arrows. The alternative to have both traits equipped is to drop Spotter (which then again might not be that bad a choice as you are too far from your party for them to benefit from Spotter).
                Then you have might stacking… again you are too far from your party to benefit from their bonuses and Ranger doesn’t have acess to a lot of might on his own. So, let’s say you have 2 stacks of might (i’m being generous here) opposed to 20 stacks on melee. I’ll give you that rapid fire stacks vulnerability, so the target will have 20 stacks of vulnerability instead of 10 and as RaO has a decent fury uptime, let’s consider this 80% as opposed to 100% in melee. Then again, you won’t be able to benefit from the bonus from banners of Discipline and Strength, Empower allies, as well as retaliation, quickness or any other boons/buffs offered by your party. Not to mention all the other stuff already discussed.
                If you run calculations you’ll find out that the dps when using a sword is nearly 40% higher than at max range with longbow, and this is just considering your dps alone, neglecting the increased crit chance of your party from Spotter.
                I’ll give you that if your whole party is at max range your dps will be similiar to melee as you’ll be able to share boons but this can only be true for specific situations and certainly not in dungeons.

              • Sty

                I think that your first assumption is wrong: rangers with long bow should not play at max range, but at medium range (~500). At medium range, you get buffs from banners, might from guardian, all incoming shouts and your allies can benefit from spotter. You can’t get buffs from blast finishers though.

                Your first dps source is rather rapid fire (available every 3.6 seconds), than long range shot. As staying at medium range only reduces damages from long range shot (reduction of about 15% compared to high range), it is not that penalizing.

              • SoPraMim

                The cooldown on rapid fire starts counting when the attack is over, so it’s only available every 8s (with Quick Draw equiped). The highest dps you can get is actually from barrage considering all the attacks hit and then from point-blank shot (though you probably want to use this to push the target against a wall so he doesn’t actually get pushed). The highest dps rotation would be:
                – barrage- point blank -rapid fire – long range x7 -point blank – rapid fire – long range x4 –
                Assuming 15 stacks of might and 20 vulnerability for ranged and 25 might/ 10 vuln for sword, there is still a 25% higher dps with sword (for the 4/5/0/5/0 build). I didn’t account for the pet, however it would also have a higher dps as u can properly trait it. Quickness also gives you the highest burst when you’re using sword as u’re using only the auto-attack. The conjure weaps also result in a higher dps when melee due to dmg modifiers and especially if u trait for signet of the wild (the 6/5/0/3/0 build).

              • Sty

                I was wrong about the cooldown on rapid fire. I used the activation time in my clever calculations, I don’t know why.

                I made a few tests to roughly approximate the damage gaps between the four weapon sets (6/5/0/3/0 build, no assumption on the party). Results: highest dps with sword/axe, about -11% dps with sword/warhorn or greatsword, about -18% dps with longbow compared to sword/axe (medium range without point blank shot ; about -7% dps compared to greatsword).

                In a dungeon, this “ranking” can vary, notably depending on your ability to meet the conditions for your passive damage bonus (90% hp with rune of the scholar and full endurance with steady focus).

          • It’s a dungeon-running guide, which is exactly what it says it is at the beginning. Such a guide is going to teach you how to do the most amount of damage in the least amount of time while (obviously) not dying. There is no room for opinion about “most” and “least” because NUMBERS.

            • Sty

              I disagree, as you are mixing dungeon-running and speed-running. This is a speed-running guide, which fits your previous definition (despite being called “ranger pve class guide” ).

              And then I agree with you! Speed-running is about numbers! So where are the numbers in the guide? If you want to convice somebody that a weapon set is worse than another in terms of damage, it may be a good idea to show him comparative numbers (like in the warrior pve class guide for instance) or at least to find convincing arguments (like in the other guides i have read so far).

              • Lasse

                I’m gonna assume you play the ranger regurarly, so you of all shouldn’t need a sheet of numbers to know that the sword outclasses the longbow in terms of dps in 99% of every dungeon encounter where the rest of your team is also in melee.

                It should also be obvious that, for balancing reasons, a range weapon shouldn’t out-dps a melee weapon unless there are drawbacks. Longbow got tons of drawbacks, mainly its dependency on various trait to even be somewhat useful.

                Why on earth would you wanna trait an already subpar weapon in a dungeon when you’re only gonna miss out on Spotter in the process? That’s a PARTY DPS LOSS. You expect warriors to bring banners because they boost the party dps, and you should expect a ranger to bring spotter for the same exact reason (that goes for frost spirit aswell).

                I found myself running the sword outside dungeons in PvE aswell, because, you know, open PvE is faceroll no matter what you use. I don’t even get why you bother commenting about this only being a “dungeon guide”. Why would you need a guide for open PvE?

              • Sty

                I really don’t get why you can’t have spotter if you are playing longbow.

                Anyway, most of your remarks have been answered below. Of course, the sword outclasses the longbow in terms of dps. That’s not the question. According to my few tests, longbow at mid-range appears to provide about 20% dps less than the sword, while allowing to maintain damage bonuses more easily (for instance +10% from rune of scholar, +10% from steady focus). Conclusion?

                There are real arguments for discarding longbow in dungeons, notably if your teammates use blast finishers a lot. But what this guide wants to teach me is that longbow “deals more damage the farther away you are from your target [which] makes it undesirable in dungeons.” Not really satisfying.

    • Dahkeus

      You’re missing something huuuge here: When you stand at long range with a bow like that, you miss out on all the buffs your party is providing. Not only does melee do more DPS without buffs compared to bow damage without buffs, but you’ll get more might/fury while in melee than you will at the max distance a bow needs to succeed. This will offset any downtime you get as melee

      Consider also the other reasons that melee DPS is superior to the longbow:
      – Small rooms will not reduce your dps by hindering your range.
      – You will not require your group to run a long distance to rez you if you get downed.
      – You will benefit your team more when you use Healing Spring both by being in range of melee as well as being able to blast the water field with warhorn.
      – It is much easier to hit multiple enemies with a cleave than by lining up a piercing attack.
      – Multiple enemy damage does not require an additional trait.
      – Enemy position will almost never allow you to hit more than 3 targets with piercing anyways.
      – You are not vulnerable to terrain causing line-of-sight issues while melee.

      The longbow is a great weapon for plenty of situations, but with the current boon sharing range limitation and dungeon design, it’s really just sub-optimal compared to melee once you get familiar with melee and fight mechanics enough to survive.

      • Man Man

        Ranger can switch weapens, so for a very few cases like sub boss fight for stack. no problem to do that. But other than that, for 80% of the play time(I don’t see any dungeons that small and force us to do stack more than 10% of the time ). melee attack cannot hit mobs more than half of the time. As range attacker, Ranger is kiting mobs(closing and leaving party members, so we are still sharing boons), hitting mobs 100% of the time. Not standing in 1500 far away as your assumption.

        Zerker melee ranger really needs party rez alot. so this build isn’t realistic, but it is possible for Zerker range ranger survive in very hard situation(and still do 100% up time range attack).

        Run a long distance to rez range attacker? In most case, range attacker come to the front line to rez party to prevent team elimination.

        All about situations, sure there is about 10% time, ranger may need to switch to a sword and stacking. but for the rest of the time, don’t see the DPS increasing compare to long bow.

        • SoPraMim

          You’re considering raw dmg rather than damage per second. The dps from the sword comes from the attack speed (one of the fastest auto-attacks in the game if not the fastest – less than 2s for the whole sequence). As for the longbow the skill coefficients don’t make up for the slow activation time of the skills.
          As for the boons, it’s impossible to share all the boons even if you keep moving closer and farther from group members. You won’t get any might from elementalists which usually makes up at least half the party’s might stacks (or from any other blast finishers). You also won’t be able to keep/share other buffs that have short durations (are mantained by pulses) such as banners or empower allies/spotter 100% of the time.
          As for the survivability of a zerk melee ranger, it depends on your skill when using evades and also on your party. Similarly to an elementalist, a melee ranger requires a party with a high dps. If you have a good party, then most fights will be over before you even get below 90% health.

          • Rosencopter

            Not to mention if you stay ranged you are depriving your party of Spotter and Frost Spirit. Which is pretty selfish.

            • ManMan

              You only have to come back to even 600 distance every 9 seconds to refresh boons (e.g. Spotter ) . Spirit has 1000 Radius, quite hard to not share it……….

              Why do you guy always assume range ranger are standing 1800 away stand still to shoot arrow?

              I do use melee ranger. I even didn’t use longlow before “Zephyr’s Speed” became Grandmaster and weaken “Quickness” effect (so ranger’s melee attack is really nerfing…..)

              I still do play melee ranger, just to point out the overall/real fight DPS from melee may be better then range in ranger’s case.(sure, in an ease target stand still burst attack case, melee wins)

              • Nike

                If you dont want to play optimally don’t play optimally no one will stop you. But you should stop trying to misinform people that you’re making a good choice.

        • asdf

          You’re making an assumption that someone who plays melee ranger doesn’t
          know how to dodge and/or use the several sword/dagger evades built in.

          It
          may be unrealistic to you(someone who doesn’t bother/know how to dodge
          or use your weapon evades), but it sure is for someone who knows what
          he’s doing and at the point using a bow will never ever outdamage
          (personal & party wide) a proper sword/gs/offhand axe damage
          rotation.

          • ManMan

            First I don’t refuse to use melee, the one who refuse to use others weapon is the writer. That is the wrong point that I tried to point out.

            If you dodge/evade, you stop attacking(Ha Ha, you are not stack in the same position) .Totally half of your time isn’t attacking. Sure in a stand still test, melee has 150~200% dps than range. But consider range attack can to almost 100% attack time, The different isn’t that big. The best melee ranger can do only less than 2/3 dps compare to a melee warrior. If that serious group need a high dps melee position, why not add a warrior?

            Dodge? At least I can solo melee the Corrupted Troll in HOTW P1.

            Anyway, I fight dungeons with random groups, Not the trained group who follow commander tag fight like a zombe(I am playing game, for fun). Stack melee fight with random groups has a very high chance team elimination.

            Again,I don’t refuse to use melee (for fun, I did use great sword to raise a ranger to level 80), the one who refuse to use others weapon is the writer.

            • asdf

              I don’t think you actually read the writeup at all.

              For Longbow:
              “Use it only if your team insists on ranging or if you need a knockback skill and then only swap to it when you need to use it.”

              Even lupi can be done with melee ranger, if you’re saying a team will wipe if you go melee on your ranger, going bow instead of melee in the same situation will give the same results, them getting wiped.

              The only difference is you’re holding back the total party DPS even more.

              Now if everyone agreed to all range is a totally different situation and it that case it’s already stated by the writeup(my quote above) what to do.

            • Lasse

              The writer isn’t refusing anything, he/them are simply using what’s best.

              No one is gonna force you to change your weapons of choice, but don’t come here and tell us that the longbow isn’t a DPS loss, because that’s a load of bullshit.

      • starylight

        Longbow has greater advantage to dps single one if you get yourselves traited and choose right pet.(MOA and Jaguar)And you have already high damage to boost without group beneifts when you’re at max range,get a chance to provide your team from CR as well.Don’t use it at narrow place and normal encount,that’s not a good option to deal with multi-enemy.

  • \///

    I just wish sword wouldn’t turn you into a jumping monkey. I don’t have much problems with dodging as with attacks without selecting target … and auto-targetting is of course turned off due to gs swoop :/.

  • RKC

    This guide fail to mention the Devourer, I used one instead of an spider cos they are also range and have high armour

  • Eliska

    Thanks for this! I have been a bearbow ranger for too long, and it’s the main reason why I haven’t played my ranger much.

  • Crd

    I think this comment section is the perfect display of why Ranger are not more prevalent in PvE. The guide lays out a nice guide and shows that if used properly rangers definitely have a spot in PvE groups (maybe not at the expense of another ele but that’s a discussion for another day).

    And the comments? A lot of people arguing it’s a bad guide because they prefer longbow or main hand axe. People saying it’s not complete because it only includes dungeons/fractals and not how to bearbow world bosses (made me laugh though).

    It’s so funny how PLAYERS and not design are the main reason Rangers are hated (I mean, besides sword-auto and frost spirit dying so fast if you don’t place it perfectly), vs Necromancers where it’s not their fault.

    • Sty

      I did not read a single comment arguing that the guide is bad, which is nice because the guide is really good. I truly hope that you do not bearbow on tequatl or the three-headed wurm because… you should not.

  • Thanks for this guide. Ranger is the only class I have that isn’t 80 and I’m leveling it currently. It’s great to see how much rangers can contribute in a group if you look at what’s actually there instead of wishing the class played the way you wanted it to (bearbows lol).

  • PHergert

    Is the longbow more viable now due to the changes they’ve made to the damage/range thing?

    • SoPraMim

      LB is more viable but not due to the changes on the auto-attack. The decrease of the cast time on Barrage and Rapid Fire will make these skills have a very respectable dps, so you can start the fight with LB 5, LB 2, and then camp on sword/x while you w8 for the cooldown on the Longbow skills. This results in a higher dps and u apply more vuln as well.
      As for LB as your primary or only weapon, if you’re playing with pugs and there is might stacking nor boon sharing I would say LB would be a safe choice, however, unlike with sword, u can’t maintain the Predator’s Onslaught bonus 100% uptime so it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth a higher survivibility (with LB) or a higher dps (with sword/x).

      • Mark

        ^ This is pretty much correct.
        To add to that I would say do not trait for LB as:
        1) Should first of all only be using it as a secondary weapon when barrage is on CD
        2) You should still keep spotter traited for the party buff as well as Predator’s for overall DPS (or Remorselessness if your party desperately needs vulnerability).
        -You might however want to put in Quick-Draw instead of Companions Might in skirmish line to barrage more often if your party gives enough might.

        (Of course if you’re in a pug like SoPraMim pointed out and can’t survive very well then you may want to use LB as primary and give it some traits).

  • Updated for sept feature pack

  • George Blair

    Great guide. However, when the RANGER, a typically ranged class in a MMORPG, does more damage with a melee weapon than a BOW, I dunno. Something is rotten.

    • RabidCoqui

      Melee should always do more damage since there is typically bigger risk. To match the expectations, they would have to nerf ranger melee damage but keep ranged as is… don’t think many would want that.

    • Mark

      What RabidCoqui says pretty much sums it up. If melee doesn’t do something more than ranged, then going melee is not worth the additional risk (especially for a medium armor, medium HP class).
      The longbow does do massive amounts of damage at the moment, not as much dps as melee, but consider this: being able to deal heavy damage to a target at more than 1500 range – giving you a first strike advantage and allowing you to do it from relative safety (if you’re positioned well).

      The reason why this doesn’t prevail in PVE is due to the advantages of stacking and the AI mechanics which do not punish/give enough risk to players in melee to give the advantages to being glued to lesser damaging ranged weapons like in WvW/PvP (similar reasons why berzerker or assassins is the meta gear – the risks normally associated with being a glass cannon/melee in PvP/WvW are greatly diminished in PvE).

  • Janrabbit

    Are the builds on this site ever going to get updated to reflect the changes to traits?

    It’s really difficult to try and bodge together a similar build using the spedcializations now

    • Guide has been updated 🙂

      • Janrabbit

        YAY thanks 🙂

  • Daryl Lim

    Is the cripple from Barrage (and Crippling Throw if GS) enough to sustain Predator’s Onslaught for any significant amount of time or will you need other teammates to contribute?

  • Melisa Haruno

    I need help finding Ranger pets and their location could you put up a easy link somewhere to find them?

  • Pandawaffles

    So would I use this guide for normal PvE gaming as well or just dungeons?

  • Boo

    From what I know, ‘Lead the Wind’ is superior to ‘Predator’s Onslaught’ as 10% attack speed deals more dmg over time than a 10% DMG increase, atleast in Boss battles. Even then, in shorter fights like 5 secs, although the difference is very minimal, technically, the increase in attack speed is still better than dmg increase. Not to mention, ‘Lead the Wind’ reduces the recharge time and adds piercing attacks. With the sum of these 3 effects, I believe ‘Predator’s Onslaught’ is second to ‘Lead the Wind.’

    Pls correct me if I’m wrong; I am still new to the game and I don’t know how other factors may affect how it works.

    • Boo

      Also, here is my calculations (With my current lvl):

      Ex1 10% dmg increase= 530.2 in 3/4 a sec (one attack)
      Ex2 10% attack speed= 482 in 0.675 a sec

      Ex1 = 5302 dmg ( 10 attacks in 7.5 secs)
      Ex2 = 5302 dmg (11 attacks in 7.425 secs)

      I forgot to mention how 10% dmg also affects skills but I believe the 20% recharge reduction more than enough makes up for it. Here is my calculations over time with Rapid fire

      Ex1: 2211 dmg in 12.5 secs( including the animation)
      Ex2: 2010 dmg in 10.5 secs

      Ex1: 4422 in 25 secs
      Ex2: 4020 in 21 secs
      Now, if i was to make it in the same time span (25 secs), I did 4/21 times 4020 plus 4020, which would result in 4785. In the end, 4785>4422 in 25 secs.

      But who knows, I might just be a stupid idiot who can’t calculate.

      • Cell

        Hey nice to see that you share ur thoughts and I’am rly sorry that I just reply that late.So at first this guide is for max level character nevertheless I can tell u “Predator’s Onslaught” (even before it got buffed for 5%) is the way to go because:

        1st: “Lead the Wind” just gives u the attackspeed increase while wielding a longbow instead “Predator’s Onslaught” gives u the 15% dmg buff on every weapon (so there is a way longer uptime)

        2nd: “Predator’s Onslaught” buffs the pet dmg also.

        3rd: 15% arent only 15% dmg increase in the end. So the multipliers are to be multiplied. Lets say u are alrdy at 50 % dmg increase by using sigills, ur traits and buffood so the calculation for the additional 15% dmg increase would be:

        1,5(50%) x 1,15(15%) = 1,725

        menas u got a bonus of 1,075 (7,5%)

        so I think the main Arguments are written down now but there is even more:

        4th: The use of the other effects like 20% recharge reduction and piercing attacks can only be used rarely there arent many situations (dungeons, fractals or in raids) where enemy line up for piercing arrows and the recharge reduction gives u not a rly good benefit(maybe for using barrage more often) at least for our rotations (thanks to “quick draw”).

        So hopefully I could help and sorry for my bad english o/
        greetings Cell

  • Matheus14fn

    Does it make any sense to use Druid trait line if you have 0 of healing power stat? Something like a berserker druid? Just using the traits to buff your allies and your/pet damage + remove conditions? Or it is better to stick with the old build with beastmastery?

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