PvP Class Analysis: Ranger
As per request I have decided to start a series of nine articles based on each individual class in Guild Wars 2 PvP. The PvP scene is continuing to grow in numbers and with more and more people starting up, people want to know what to expect from each class.
With the meta changing several times per year (after a season is completed), keeping these up to date with the meta wouldn’t be ideal. Due to this, I will try to keep these as generic as possible based on what the class is as a whole, but will sprinkle in my feelings about it during the current meta as well.
I have spent a lot of time on my ranger over the past few months so I thought I’d begin with this class. The ranger may not be the bright, shining star many were hoping it would be after the Heart of Thorns release, but it is definitely a viable class that has seen worse days.
This trait line is the most offensive line you will find for the ranger itself (not the pets). Although it lacks variety in viable options, many of the traits have been great in the past for longbow rangers. In the current meta, offensive rangers are a rarity, so you won’t be seeing this very often as we have in the past. Some builds, however, may try to make up for lack of damage the current meta build by taking this line.
[simple_tooltip content=’Use Signet of the Wild when your health drops below the threshold.’]Enlargement[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’Cast Call of the Wild when you swap pets’]Clarion Bond[/simple_tooltip] are the two to choose from. Cripple may be a nuisance with [simple_tooltip content=’Apply cripple to foes you hit while they are below the health threshold.’]Predator’s Instinct[/simple_tooltip] but just isn’t efficient for any builds. Crowd-control (CC) is an ever-growing pain in most MMOs, including Guild Wars 2, which makes Enlargement very appealing. In the past this has been the trait to go for, however, Clarion Bond can be used if you are great with pet control and making full use of the blast finisher.
In the past taking two or three signets on a ranger wasn’t uncommon, thus making [simple_tooltip content=’Activating a signet grants might to you and your pet. Signets recharge faster.’]Brutish Seals[/simple_tooltip] a popular choice. Times have changed making this less tempting when you compare it to [simple_tooltip content=’Damage is increased when endurance is full.’]Steady Focus[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’Gain an attack of opportunity for you and your pet on interrupting a foe. Daze and stun durations you inflict last longer.’]Moment of Clarity[/simple_tooltip]. Moment of Clarity is great pickup if using a greatsword as the daze/stun duration is increased and your mauls will hit with force.
Unlike the adept and master, the grandmaster trait line has an obvious selection based on your weapons of choice. If you are a longbow ranger, taking [simple_tooltip content=’While wielding a longbow, your attack speed is increased and your arrows pierce. Longbow and Harpoon Gun skills recharge faster.’]Lead the Wind[/simple_tooltip] is the way to go. The velocity increase and cooldown reduction on the longbow is a must have if you opted for this line. Not using a longbow? [simple_tooltip content=’Regain opening strike whenever you gain fury. Opening strike deals more damage.’]Remorseless[/simple_tooltip] over [simple_tooltip content=’You and your pet deal increased damage to disabled or movement-impaired foes.’]Predator’s Onslaught[/simple_tooltip] is an easy choice to make in this line, however, without a longbow you may want to rethink taking the Marksmanship trait line anyhow.
Skirmishing is probably the biggest wildcard trait line for the ranger. Compared to the other trait lines, it’s not as clear in what it can do for you. Unlike other lines, there is no pattern of being strictly for damage, sustain, or pet damage and control. While it may fall in the category of conditions, it lacks variety in what you can do with that condition damage, unfortunately.
A chance to have a chance at one bleed stack (critical hit chance into a 66% chance at this trait going into effect): [simple_tooltip content=’Chance to cause bleeding on critical hits.’]Sharpened Edges[/simple_tooltip] is already looking a bit sketchy. [simple_tooltip content=’When you successfully evade an attack, gain vigor.’]Primal Reflexes[/simple_tooltip] is a good choice if you aren’t looking for a condition-based build, since it is the only adept trait line not based on just that. Lastly, [simple_tooltip content=’Boons and conditions caused by traps last longer. Traps recharge faster and offensive ones cause cripple.’]Trapper’s Expertise[/simple_tooltip] is the main pick if you’re going for a trap ranger, obviously, with reduced recharge and duration increase.
[simple_tooltip content=’Increases precision of nearby allies.’]Spotter[/simple_tooltip], [simple_tooltip content=’Chance to destroy projectiles while executing a melee attack. Sword skills recharge faster.’]Strider’s Defense[/simple_tooltip], and [simple_tooltip content=’Bleeding you cause is more dangerous.’]Hidden Barbs[/simple_tooltip] aren’t the greatest master traits the ranger is offered. The obvious choice for condition-based builds would be Hidden Barbs while most other builds would find comfort in Strider’s Defense if wielding a sword.
Although a condition ranger with a shortbow isn’t a common sight these days, [simple_tooltip content=’Damage and condition duration is increased for a while after dodging. Short bow skills recharge faster and your arrows pierce.’]Light on Your Feet[/simple_tooltip] would be the best choice. Any other build with this grandmaster line would be mainly preference. Both [simple_tooltip content=’When swapping weapons, the next ranger weapon skill you use will recharge faster.’]Quick Draw[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’While your health is below the threshold, you gain might.’]Most Dangerous Game[/simple_tooltip] have their perks but if I had to choose one, I’d go with Quick Draw since you don’t plan to be below 50% health most of the time.
This trait line is just as it says: your pet doing the work for you. A great line for many builds in the past and can be used in the current meta if you so desire. Pets do a lot of work in many builds, so this is a highly recommended line.
[simple_tooltip content=’Your pet gains toughness. Your pet’s command F2 ability causes blindness to foes around it.’]Go for the Eyes[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’Your critical hits grant might to your pet. Critical strikes from your pet’s basic attack cause bleeding.’]Companion’s Might[/simple_tooltip] are the two traits in the line for your pets, both of which are decent choices. If you’re a power or condition build, Companion’s Might has a decent outlook in fights, however, Go for the Eyes is overall the better of the two with the blind and toughness your pet will gain. Blinds are always a great asset for downed state stomps and overall blinding important abilities from your enemies. If you are using Strength of the Pack, which you should be in this meta, [simple_tooltip content=’Shouts apply regeneration and swiftness to allies. Reduces recharge on shouts.’]Resounding Timbre[/simple_tooltip] is likely the path the go down.
I find weakness to be a fairly undervalued condition, even with its limited potency in the current meta. This makes [simple_tooltip content=’Your pet inflicts weakness on their target(s) when executing a command F2 ability.’]Wilting Strike[/simple_tooltip] a valuable trait, giving out a four second weakness to enemies that were hit by the F2 ability. [simple_tooltip content=’Greatsword and spear damage is increased, and those skills recharge faster. Greatsword and spear attacks have a chance to grant fury on hit.’]Two-Handed Training[/simple_tooltip] is a worthy choice for greatsword users while [simple_tooltip content=’Your pet gains natural health regeneration and improved healing.’]Natural Healing[/simple_tooltip] is probably the lesser of the two pet-affecting traits in the line.
The grandmaster line is often the reason for taking Beastmastery. [simple_tooltip content=’Your pet taunts foes near them when executing a command F2 ability.’]Beastly Warden[/simple_tooltip] is an extremely strong trait for the ranger and a possible take here. A two second taunt that is rarely avoided is a valuable asset to bring to a team. [simple_tooltip content=’You and your pet gain might and quickness when you swap pets.’]Zephyr’s Speed[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’Gain ferocity while wielding an axe in your main hand. Winter’s bite is now an AoE skill. Axe skills recharge faster.’]Honed Axes[/simple_tooltip] aren’t too shabby for what it’s worth. I would advise giving Zephyr’s Speed a shot since three seconds of quickness with might when swapping pets is nothing to shy away from. This trait is often a pickup for many rangers as well.
Nature Magic plays hand-in-hand with your pet and sustain. This is a great defensive line that many rangers will use in all metas given its versatility for both you and your pets.
[simple_tooltip content=’You and your pet deal more damage per boon that is on you.’]Bountiful Hunter[/simple_tooltip] isn’t the greatest of traits but if the other two somehow provide no use to you, you can’t go wrong with it. [simple_tooltip content=’Gain quickness when your health drops below the threshold. Gain power based on your healing.’]Instinctive Reaction[/simple_tooltip] is the second offensive trait in the adept line which provides for another source of quickness. This also gives a small power boost if you are big into your healing stats, converting 7% of it towards power. Lastly, [simple_tooltip content=’When you begin reviving an ally, you use search and rescue on them. Increase revive speed.’]Allies’ Aid[/simple_tooltip], the best choice if you are a tankier, team-play build, is a great option for rangers in our current meta. This will call your pet to your side to help resurrect your ally.
[simple_tooltip content=’Dodging removes blindness, crippling, and poison from you.’]Evasive Purity[/simple_tooltip] is another one of those traits you just can’t go wrong with. Dodging to remove conditions? I’m on board. [simple_tooltip content=’Pets grant vigor to nearby allies when activated.’]Vigorous Training[/simple_tooltip] is a great team fight oriented trait to take, dishing out vigor to your allies when you swap your pets. Both of these traits are the stronger ones in this line and are based on your preference. [simple_tooltip content=’Call of the wild also grants regeneration, and warhorn skills recharge faster.’]Windborne Notes[/simple_tooltip] is of use when using a warhorn, but otherwise useless.
In the age of the spirit ranger, [simple_tooltip content=’Your spirits have increased health and grant a boon to allies around them. Spirit-activated skills affect a larger area.’]Nature’s Vengeance[/simple_tooltip] may have been the way to go, but that time is years behind us. [simple_tooltip content=’When you receive damage, nearby foes are weakened and you gain protection.’]Protective Ward[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’Your pet heals allies in an area when executing a command F2 ability.’]Invigorating Bond[/simple_tooltip] are the two to look at and with both providing two defensive-like capabilities, it can be a tough choice. In the end, the heal may be beneficial, but the weakness and protection bundled together in one package make this the better of the two for most builds.
Perhaps the most defensive trait line of them all, Wilderness Survival packs in condition traits along with it. This is another widely used line that you will see with many builds in the current meta and one to strongly consider for your builds.
[simple_tooltip content=’Create Muddy Terrain when you take falling damage. You take less damage from falling.’]Soften the Fall[/simple_tooltip] isn’t PvP oriented, so looking past that with [simple_tooltip content=’Gain regeneration when you suffer from bleeding, poison or burning. While you have regeneration, you take reduced damage.’]Oakheart Salve[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’Pets deal extra condition damage and have their condition durations increased.’]Expertise Training[/simple_tooltip], what’s the better of the two? If your pet isn’t even remotely attuned to condition damage, there is no reason to take Expertise Training unless you’re looking to increase your F2 condition duration. If you’re unsure, take the Oakheart Salve and you’ll be set.
[simple_tooltip content=’Gain condition damage while wielding a torch or dagger. Torch and Dagger skills recharge faster.’]Ambidexterity[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’While you are above the health threshold, your strikes inflict poison. While your pet’s health is above the health threshold, its strikes inflict poison.’]Refined Toxins[/simple_tooltip] are both offensive traits with Ambidexterity being the better of the two when wielding a dagger or a torch. [simple_tooltip content=’Incoming disables are transferred to your pet instead.’]Shared Anguish[/simple_tooltip] is one of the stronger traits for the ranger and if you’re going defensive, this is the way to go. There is no shortage of CC in the current meta or any future one, for that matter, and finding ways around it is essential.
The grandmaster is similar to the master in terms of its structure. Both [simple_tooltip content=’Pets periodically take conditions from you.’]Empathic Bond[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’Survival skills have reduced recharge, grant fury, and remove conditions.’]Wilderness Knowledge[/simple_tooltip] are more defensive-like with[simple_tooltip content=’After swapping pets, your pet’s first attack will inflict poison; your poison damage is increased.’] Poison Master[/simple_tooltip] being on the offensive with poison output. I am an advocate of Empathic Bond as the condition removal is extremely strong and you can’t go wrong with more of it. It’s not healthy for your pet, but that’s why you have two of them! If you’re going the way of survival skills, Wilderness Knowledge is a great pick up.
The newest addition to the ranger with the Heart of Thorns release, this line is crucial… a must have for any viable build in the current meta.
Note: You must own the Heart of Thorns expansion to use this trait line.
Arguably the strongest adept line for the ranger, things get a bit tricky right from the start. [simple_tooltip content=’Using a healing skill heals allies around you and your pet.’]Cultivated Synergy[/simple_tooltip] has a nice ring to it, but a small heal doesn’t get the job done in a condition dominated meta. Both [simple_tooltip content=’Becoming celestial avatar removes conditions from you.’]Druidic Clarity[/simple_tooltip] and [simple_tooltip content=’Reduces recharge of staff skills. Daze nearby foes when you swap to staff.’]Primal Echoes[/simple_tooltip] are extremely strong and have their benefits. Primal Echoes is great for the daze and reduced recharge on staff skills, however, Druidic Clarity is more than likely the route to go with all of the conditions coming from necromancers and revenants at this point in time. If the power meta comes back, Primal Echoes might be the best way to go, but only time will tell.
The master tier is about as strong as the adept with plenty to choose from. [simple_tooltip content=’Grants superspeed and stealth to nearby allies when leaving celestial avatar form.’]Celestial Shadow[/simple_tooltip] isn’t used frequently but isn’t anything to stay away from as it does provide for some cover to allies when things get rough. [simple_tooltip content=’Reduces the duration of movement-impairing conditions. Your movement speed is increased as long as you have none of these conditions.’]Natural Stride[/simple_tooltip] is also a really great trait with the reduction of soft CC and an overall movement speed increase when none are active. Finally, [simple_tooltip content=’Reduces recharge of glyphs. Activating a glyph skills plants a seed.’]Verdant Etching[/simple_tooltip] which is arguably the strongest of the three, is your go-to choice. Glyphs are an essential use to rangers with the druid trait line and the cooldown reduction is part of it. On top of this, the added condition removal keeps you from using the celestial avatar form when it’s not entirely needed for condition removal.
Lastly, the grandmaster is in the same boat as the adept and master in how powerful the traits are. [simple_tooltip content=’Allies you heal with celestial avatar abilities gain increased damage.’]Grace of the Land[/simple_tooltip] is a fairly offensive trait for your allies, allowing them to dish out more damage with every heal landed onto them. [simple_tooltip content=’Healing an ally causes their next attack to heal them and blind their target.’]Lingering Light[/simple_tooltip] is probably the weakest of the three, but is still useful with its heal and blind. [simple_tooltip content=’Striking a stunned, dazed, knocked down, or launched foe summons roots to entangle them.’]Ancient Seeds[/simple_tooltip], arguably the strongest, is a free entangle to your enemies if you land your damage at the correct time. This trait is essential if you’re playing a ranger build that is looking for moving enemies off of the nodes and grabbing decaps for your team.
There are a few viable heals on the ranger, something you wouldn’t say half a year ago. [simple_tooltip content=’Heal yourself and your pet. You each gain a copy of the other’s boons.’]Heal as One[/simple_tooltip], [simple_tooltip content=’You and your pet regenerate health over time.’]Troll Unguent[/simple_tooltip], and [simple_tooltip content=’Create a spring that heals you, your pet, and your allies. It also cures conditions on allies.’]Healing Spring[/simple_tooltip] are all acceptable and play their own role in what you may be looking for.
Heal as One is a fairly popular choice with its relatively significant self-heal and boon share between both you and your pet. Also, on a 20 second cooldown, it’s available often and there when you need it. The downside for this pick would be the one second cast time which can be interrupted if players know what to look for. Lastly, there is no team support with this heal, which makes this less relevant when in team fights. However, overall it is considered the best of the heals the ranger has to offer.
Troll Unguent is similar to that of Heal as One in that it is a self-heal on a relatively decent cooldown. One thing to note about this heal is that it is overtime, so using this when you’re already at 5% health may not benefit you significantly when being focused down. This heal provides more health back to you more than any other heal the ranger has, but lacks team support, condition removal, and isn’t an instant burst.
Healing Spring is the most effective heal a ranger has in terms of team support and condition clear. In fact, this is the only heal as ranger has with condition clear and on top of that it serves as a water field for you and your teammates to blast into for additional effects. On the downside, this isn’t a significantly large heal, has a small radius, and is on a very long cooldown of 30 seconds. Overall, Healing Spring is extremely good for team support and sustaining in our current condition-based meta.
I thought I would pick and choose a few utilities to talk about. Many utilities crossover from meta to meta and may always find a place regardless of what you’re going up against.
[simple_tooltip content=’Signet Passive: Improves toughness for you and your pet.
Signet Active: You and your pet takes no damage from attacks. You and your pet are still susceptible to conditions and control effects.’]Signet of Stone[/simple_tooltip] is a utility that you may find yourself squeezing into the utility line if need be. Although our current meta is dominated by conditions, we still see thieves, guardians, and power revenants roaming the map looking to pick up some kills. With its 80 second base cooldown, you will need to be careful when using it!
[simple_tooltip content=’Signet Passive: Cures a condition every ten seconds.
Signet Active: Your pet pulls all conditions from nearby allies to itself.’]Signet of Renewal[/simple_tooltip] has seen better days in terms of usage, but it’s one I would like to point out due to its effectiveness. With a minute cooldown, it brings a stun break and full condition transfer to your pet which is not a bad thing to consider. As for passive use, one condition clear per ten second isn’t as great as Empathic Bond, but it is something to say the least.
[simple_tooltip content=’Signet Passive: Grants health regeneration to you and your pet.
Signet Active: You and your pet grow larger, dealing more damage and gaining stability.’]Signet of the Wild[/simple_tooltip] is the last signet I would like to briefly talk about due to its potency. You can never go wrong with stability and this signet will provide that along with increasing your damage output by 25%. In the age of the power ranger, this signet was often sought out and although its prime may be behind us, I still think it is in the book of usable utility skills. There is plenty of CC in this game you could avoid by taking this in your utilities.
[simple_tooltip content=’You and your pet gain quickness.’]Quickening Zephyr[/simple_tooltip] is an underused utility that should get a little more attention. It brings a stunbreak that gives you six seconds of quickness and superspeed. However, if you’re in the survival skills department and need a lower cooldown stunbreak, [simple_tooltip content=’Evade back with a crack of lightning, dealing damage and gaining vigor.’]Lightning Reflexes[/simple_tooltip] isn’t a bad choice either. This will break any hard CC along with immobilize, granting you vigor and being an evade itself.
With Heart of Thorns we were introduced to a new set of utilities: glyphs. One I would like to highlight is [simple_tooltip content=’Draw your enemies in or knock them away.’]Glyph of the Tides[/simple_tooltip]. I, like many others, play ranger in hopes of getting our team decaps and this glyph is imperative to doing just that. Pairing this utility with Ancient Seeds can give you what you need in that one CC itself. Given that it can push back up to five targets, this is great for peeling enemies off of your teammates as well. In your Celestial Avatar form, pulling enemies to you may not be as significant, but pairing this with your teammates following up can provide for some massive damage spikes.
[simple_tooltip content=’Entangle foes around you with vines. Entangled foes bleed and are immobilized until the vines are destroyed.’]Entangle[/simple_tooltip] is a bit of a wildcard in most metas. You would think this elite ability would be great, however, it seems that soft CC is increasingly difficult to land. With elementalists running diamond skin, evade wells piling onto every point, there is no telling when you’ll be able to land this ability.
[simple_tooltip content=’Use nature energy to connect to foes or allies.’]Glyph of Unity[/simple_tooltip] is our newest addition to the elites and has some interesting mechanics. When focused down you may think it wouldn’t be such a bad idea given that you’re dishing that damage back out to enemies, but the stability from [simple_tooltip content=’Rampage with your pet, gaining stability, fury, and swiftness. You and your pet also grant might to each other when you attack.’]Strength of the Pack[/simple_tooltip] might be a better choice. Stability seems to be the more popular choice given that there is no shortage of CC in our current meta.
What’s a good guide without talking about what rangers are weak against? Generally speaking, no class in Guild Wars 2 PvP is weak against a specific class in every meta (thief vs mesmer, you had a good run). Given that, the analysis below is based on the current meta.
Our meta is heavily dominated by conditions which can call for heavy condition clear on the side of ranger builds. The Celestial Avatar form is the main source of condition clear and without it, rangers are vulnerable. You can take advantage of this by condition bombing them when they leave this form.
On top of this, rangers are also fairly susceptible to power damage if they’re not careful. Power revenants, thieves, and guardians are the main source of power damage in our current meta and given the high amount of interrupt potential all three of these classes have, they can take advantage of interrupting some of the ranger’s core abilities that may help you counter them such as the heal, Rejuvenating Tides, and Strength of the Pack.
Lastly, on top of interrupting ranger abilities, they struggle with dealing with massive CC combos. Aside from Strength of the Pack, Celestial Avatar’s stun break, and a utility stun break, they are dealt with quite easily if players are able to chain their CC.
What To Expect in the Current Meta
The ranger has played a variety of roles over the years but has settled into one that is once again fairly unique. You’ll find yourself, if playing a meta build, being relatively tanky with plenty of support for you and your teammates.
A role often sought out with this build includes pushish nodes solo to grab decaps for your team. This is made possible by your CC from the greatsword or longbow, glyphs, and Ancient Seeds. Even if this isn’t your specialty, a single decap in our current state can make the difference between a win and a loss.
Not your forte? Ranger still has plenty to offer for team fights with the Celestial Avatar form allowing you to dish out massive heals and condition clear for your teammates. Ranger is a fairly strong class given what it has to offer. It may not be the best in any specific categories, but holds its own and can be a valuable addition to any team.
Tips and Tricks
Pet control is single-handedly what makes the difference between a good ranger and a great ranger. What can you do with your pet control that others cannot? Are you able to pair your CC with a Bristleback’s Spike Barrage? Learning how to be a great ranger includes the pet as well!
One thing that has been imperative in past metas with different ranger pets is faking enemies out with pet abilities. Spotting pet abilities in action doesn’t take a keen eye since most of the time it is blatantly obvious (at least in 1v1s). In higher tier play, a single dodge roll being wasted on an enemy believing your pet is about to howl for a fear could be a major deal. Pet abilities work in a way that you can call for the F2 ability (pet active) to begin the animation but are able to cancel it with a simple F3, which calls your pet back to you. The animation will still display but the ability will never go on cooldown if done properly.
As mentioned before, pet control is crucial. Adding to that, making sure to you take complete advantage of swapping pets will up your value. You don’t want your pets to die from enemy damage, which can hurt your overall added efforts to any fight. With that being said, take control of your F2 abilities and use them when possible. Of course you don’t want to continuously spam your pet’s active ability whenever it’s off cooldown, but you cannot sit around being afraid to use it because “you may need it at a later time”.
Lastly, in regards to pet control, make sure your pet isn’t roaming around on its own. Your F1 allows for you to pick and choose who you want your pet to primarily focus, which is a big deal, given that many pets abilities you don’t control can have quite the impact. Often times you won’t want your pet focusing who you are focusing because you may be playing a different role at that point in time. Quite often I’ll have my Smokescale seek out a high priority target for its added CC and damage while I may be attempting to knockback enemy bunkers sitting on the point.
Bullet Point Tips
- Allies’ Aid is cancelled if you swap pets mid-resurrection
- You are able to begin the Natural Convergence (Celestial Avatar) cast and cancel it while still obtaining stability
- Strength of the Pack affects both you and your pet, but will not have an effect on your pet if you pet swap during the cast
- Sublime Conversion (staff) serves as a water field, don’t forget to use your finishers with it!
Streams To Watch
From an honest perspective, ranger has gotten the shaft in most metas in Guild Wars 2 PvP. That being said, they have held their ground and counted where it matters for our current meta. From the old spirit ranger to power ranger to bunker druid, several metas have found a place for the ranger to exist. Even though its been years since this class has been the best of the best, it is viable at all levels of skill and is to be taken seriously in the mists. I hope my overview has given some insight on the ranger and where it currently stands in the meta.
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