sPvP Ranger Build

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 02:04 PM

sPvP Ranger Build
This is a Ranger build I've been using for a while in sPvP. It might not be considered part of the current flavor-of-the-minute 'meta' build, but it's proved to be a reliable build that racks up wins fairly consistently, especially if you've got a half-competent (or better yet, good) team backing you up. Even when you lose a match, when this build is played well, it's not unusual to find yourself at the very top of the scoreboard and pulling in top stats left and right. In fact, I enjoy playing this build so much, my Ranger has become one of my go-to characters for sPvP, even if it's not the most popular classes to play (unless it's Daily Ranger Winner day). It's a variant of a general Survival build, with focus on doling out lots and lots of Condition Damage. Additionally, when played well, this can be a very tough-to-kill build; it's not quite a specialized 'bunker' build, but it's pretty good for holding out on your own while capturing and defending a point before backup arrives to help. I've gone one on one against tanky Guardians, and up against even two or three Necromancers all at once and have come out of those duels and skirmishes victorious, if just a little bit worse for wear.

This set of skills, specializations, and equipment is essentially what I'm using right now.

Skill Setup –

The Shortbow is the main weapon; its autoattack (skill 1) is used to quickly build up stacks of bleeding on your target when you hit them from the side or behind. Skill 2 adds in five stacks of poison (4 seconds), and skill 3 is useful for jumping backwards away from AoE circles (or simply evading an attack). Skill 4 inflicts cripple on the enemy, and your pet's next three attacks inflict (even more!) bleeding. I particularly like skill 5 despite its long cooldown time; depending on where you're positioned relative to the enemy, it either dazes (interrupts the enemy's attack) if you're situated in front of the enemy, or stuns (interrupts an attack and disables movement and skills except stun-breaking skills) if you hit from the side or behind. This can temporarily stop an onslaught attack and give you time to heal yourself or lay into the enemy some more, depending on how much health you have.

The dual Axes were chosen for skill 2 (5 stacks of bleeding), skill 4 (crowd control, pulling can interrupt an attack), and skill 5 for its reflects (acting as a deterrent to projectile attack users).

The main pet is Juvenile Krytan Drakehound, for its Crippling Leap knockdown attack, and its other [F2] crowd control attack, Intimidating Howl (immobilizes up to 5 enemies within 600 range for 2 seconds). The secondary pet, Juvenile Wolf, also has the Crippling Leap knockdown attack. Its [F2] crowd control attack is Terrifying Howl (inflicts fear on up to 5 enemies within 600 range for 2 seconds). This serves as a nice way to potentially fear enemies off a contested point (or off a cliff to their death when playing on the map Skyhammer), and as a last-ditch effort to prevent yourself from being stomped while downed, after you've used your downed skill 2 (Thunderclap), which gives allies a chance to heal you and get you back up on your feet when the enemy fails to stomp you in time.

I have Troll Unguent for the healing slot, Sigil of Stone for slot 7, Sharpening Stone for slot 8, Lightning Reflexes for slot 9, and Entangle as the Elite skill.

Troll Unguent as a heal skill isn't amazing, it's more of a healing-over-time skill that doesn't heal for a large amount all at once (so it won't necessarily save you when you're about to go into Downed state), but since it is considered a 'Survival' skill, it removes two conditions thanks to a certain trait (discussed later). Sigil of Stone is a must-have, for those moments when you know there's heavy *raw damage incoming (though it doesn't block conditions and crowd control skills). Sharpening Stone is there just to ensure more stacks of bleeding on whatever target(s) you hit with the five attacks immediately after its use. Lightning Reflexes is for evading attacks, getting out of being immobilized and functions as this build's stunbreaker. Entangle was picked for the (mass) crowd-control, immobilizing (and bleeding!) enemies for all sorts of purposes (trapping them in your allies' AoE circles and traps, slowing them down when they're chasing after you, etc.)

* 'Raw damage' means direct damage from standard attacks, not damage from conditions.

Specializations and Traits as follows –

Wilderness Survival for Wilderness Knowledge (using a Survival skill removes 2 conditions, grants 6 seconds of fury, and skill recharge rate is reduced by 20%), Shared Anguish (crowd control skills are transferred to your pet instead, 60 second recharge), and Oakheart Salve (gain regeneration when suffering from bleeding, poison or burning; while you have regeneration, you take 5% less damage; 10 second recharge)
Beastmastery for Honed Axes (+150 ferocity while wielding an axe in your main hand, skill 3 becomes an AoE skill, and Axe skill recharge rate is reduced by 20%), Natural Healing (+450 Pet healing and improved healing per second), and Companion's Might (critical hits grant might to your pet. Critical strikes from your pet's basic attack cause bleeding.)
Skirmishing for Light on Your Feet (damage and condition duration is increased 10% for 4 seconds after dodging, Shortbow skill recharge rate is reduced by 20%, and arrows pierce), Hidden Barbs (Bleeding damage is increased by 20%), and Sharpened Edges (66% chance to inflict 2 seconds of bleeding on critical hit).

Rationale for Specialization and Trait Choices –

This build relies heavily on stacking as much bleeding as possible on your opponents and doing some considerable direct damage as well, while staying up on your feet by removing and/or diverting incoming conditions, hence the word Survival as part of the build name.  Besides stacking bleeding on the opponent, the chosen runes and sigils also adds several more conditions (torment, vulnerability, and poison) to the ones already provided by the weapons and the pets.

Since four of the five skills from 6-0 are Survival skills, thanks to the trait Wilderness Knowledge, each of those skills have their recharge rate reduced and when used, removes 2 conditions. This is good for countering other condition-based class builds to bide some time (even if it's for a little bit; everything that helps with staying alive is a good thing, I'd think). Shared Anguish diverts crowd control to your pet every so often, which can be a decent skill to have, especially since crowd control skills are so heavily used in sPvP. Likewise, Oakheart Salve was chosen to mitigate incoming conditions somewhat, and the regeneration it provides also adds on the effect of 5% less incoming raw damage.

Beastmastery's Honed Axes trait was mainly picked for the reduced skill recharge rate, but when going for higher output of straight-up raw damage (+150 Ferocity), the extra chance of landing critical hits is nice. Natural Healing was picked for the boost to healing, just to help with staying alive. The trait Companion's Might is yet another potential source of inflicting 6 seconds' worth of bleeding on a target, if they're being attacked by your pet with its basic skill 1 attack.

In Skirmishing, the trait Light on Your Feet is the most important trait for this build. It reduces the shortbow skills' recharge rates, makes the arrows pierce (to hit multiple enemies), and adds the 10% increase to raw damage and condition duration for four seconds after dodging. Hidden Barbs is also very important for this build, as it increases bleeding damage by 20%, making your shortbow autoattack much more obnoxious to deal with when you're focusing most of your attacks on whoever looks like they'll go down first. Sharpened Edges was also picked for its focus on bleeding the target dry, especially if your critical chance is fairly high.

The equipment chosen also plays heavily into this build, especially when delving into increasing raw damage output and critical chance; at least two of the traits listed are tied to critical hits.


Equipment, Sigils, and Runes –

Currently, I have a mix of Ascended and Exotic armor pieces, half with the Verata prefix (Sinister stats – Condition Damage/Power/Precision) and the other half with the Rabid prefix (Condition Damage/Precision/Toughness). I'm going after the full set of Verata's (Sinister) Ascended armor, for the boost to Power (raw damage output) in place of the Toughness stat found on the Rabid gear. While going with a full set of Sinister armor might remove the extra toughness provided by the Rabid pieces, the secondary Power stat helps out with doing more raw damage beyond the damage already being caused by conditions. I think trading in the Toughness for Power, if you have all the condition removing/reducing traits in the Wilderness Survival specialization equipped, as long as you're good about dodging attacks, using the Sigil of Stone when you know you're going to be hit hard, using the Survival skills to remove conditions as needed, and knowing when to back out of a fight when need be, losing that extra Toughness from the Rabid stat armor isn't really a big deal. For the weapons, all three of them (Shortbow and both Axes) have Sinister stats, to maximize condition damage, raw damage, and increasing critical chance as a whole. The Precision stats overall brings the chance of critical hits up to nearly 50% (≈47% in the image shown below, with what I currently have equipped).

I have the same two sigils equipped on both weapon sets; Sigil of Geomancy and Sigil of Frailty. The Sigil of Geomancy inflicts 3 stacks of bleeding for 10 seconds on enemies (in melee range) when you swap weapons. It's good for when you're stuck in the middle of the fray and most of your Shortbow skills are on cooldown – swap to your dual axes and if enemies are close enough, they'll get hit with the sigil's effect. The Sigil of Frailty is used to add yet another condition for enemies to deal with; when you hit them with any attack, there is a 50% chance to inflict 10 seconds of vulnerability (with a 2 second cooldown).

For the rune, I have Superior Rune of the Krait equipped, since it focuses on increasing Condition Damage and Bleeding duration; it also inflicts enemies with a couple of extra conditions when you use your Elite skill (45 scond cooldown). Overall, it adds +175 Condition Damage to your stats and increases Bleeding duration by a total of 20%. When using your Elite skill (slot 0, Entangle), it applies Bleeding, Torment, and Poison for 8 seconds to enemies within a 360 unit radius of your character. One could argue that the Torment condition that comes with this rune and chosen Elite skill is rendered somewhat moot because that condition works best on moving (rather than immobilized) foes, but the extra bit of Poison on top of the constant, ongoing stacks of bleeding you're trying to keep up on your enemies is a nice touch.

Finally, the Amulet I currently have equipped is the Rabid amulet. As mentioned before, I prefer Sinister stats to Rabid stats in general, but for some reason, the Sinister Amulet has to be unlocked for sPvP and it costs 10 gold to do so (quite a hefty chunk of change, in my opinion). Unless you're willing to shell out the extra gold to unlock it, I'd stick with using the Rabid amulet.

Build Modifications –

This build can be modified quite a bit to fit different kinds of play styles. Since there is so much variety to the changes one could go with for this sort of build, I'll start with the currently listed Specialization lines and the changes that could be made with those.

In Skirmishing, Sharpened Edges could be swapped out for Primal Reflexes (when you successfully evade an attack, gain 5 seconds of vigor), if you want to focus on dodging attacks more often for more survivability, rather than increasing the potential bleeding output on critical hits. If you tend to stick together near others in a fight, you could use the Spotter trait (+150 Precision to allies in a 600 unit radius) rather than Hidden Barbs, though I'd advise to stick with Hidden Barbs because this build relies heavily on stacking bleeding (and adding on a few extra conditions) on the enemy. However, I'd stick to the Light on Your Feet Grandmaster tier trait, because that directly affects your main-hand Shortbow abilities, as well as it having the temporary bonus to damage and condition duration after dodging.

In Beastmastery, Companion's Might can be switched to Go for the Eyes (+300 Toughness for your pet, [F2] skill causes 5 seconds of blindness to enemies within a 240 radius). From what I've noticed with how I've got things set up, my pets don't completely run out of health all that often, and since people don't usually target pets in a fight, it's probably better to stick with trying to push for dealing more raw damage and getting critical hits instead of inflicting blindness when using the [F2] skill (which is best reserved for certain situations anyway, ex: Juvenile Wolf's [F2] Fear skill while you're downed). For the Master trait, personally, it's a toss-up for me between Natural Healing (currently equipped, for a little more survivability) and Wilting Strike (Pet's [F2] skill inflicts Weakness on their target). Again, the Wilting Strike trait is dependent on the [F2] pet skill, which I find to be rather situational anyway, so I personally prefer Natural Healing. I'd definitely stick with Honed Axes for the Grandmaster trait, since Zephyr's Speed only provides two boons and only activates when you swap pets and Beastly Warden is yet another [F2] skill-dependent trait. I suppose the Wilting Strike and/or Beastly Warden traits are worth a shot if you do use the pet's [F2] skill a lot, though.

In Wilderness Survival, Expertise Training (+350 Condition Damage and +20% Condition Duration for your pet) could be a good alternative to Oakheart Salve, especially if you want to push the condition damage-dealing aspect of the build even further. I think I might try that out sometime myself, but I do like how Oakheart Salve grants regeneration and temporary reduced incoming damage when hit with certain conditions, which helps with staying alive. For the Master trait, I've seen some people recommend Ambidexterity with an off-hand dagger equipped (for the +150 Condition Damage and reduced skill recharge rate). Personally, I feel like the off-hand dagger skills are underwhelming, and while those skills do inflict poison and bleeding (skills 4 and 5, respectively), the dagger doesn't benefit from the Honed Axes trait from the Beastmastery specialization. Additionally, off-hand Axe provides a crowd-control effect (pull and interrupt an attack) and reflects projectiles (even though it's a channeled skill that requires you to stay in place). Shared Anguish transfers crowd control skills to your pet (even though there's a 60 second cooldown on the effect) – the less crowd control you're affected by, you'll probably likely stay up on your feet for longer. After all, it's pretty hard to stay alive for long when you're getting knocked around left and right or rooted in place in multiple AoE circles over and over. I'd stick to Wilderness Knowledge for the Grandmaster trait. Even though Empathic Bond lets pets remove 3 conditions from you at a time at 10 second intervals, this trait's effect is simply not quick enough to keep up with the inevitable slew of incoming conditions during a fight, while Wilderness Knowledge gives condition removal on demand through using Survival skills.

For a while, I unknowingly (accidentally) had the Nature Magic specialization equipped in place of Beastmastery, with the traits Bountiful Hunter (you and your pet deal 1% more damage per boon on you), Evasive Purity (dodging removes blind, cripple, and poison), and Protective Ward (when you receive damage, gain Protection for 4 seconds and inflict 6 seconds of weakness to enemies within a 240 unit radius). The only real 'good' trait I can think of was Evasive Purity; the trait Bountiful Hunter can be decent if there so happens to be a mesmer or guardian on your team sharing lots of boons with allies that fall in range of their utility skills, but otherwise, I don't think it does very much to contribute to this sort of Condition Damage-centric build. As a whole, I feel the Nature Magic specialization beyond the three traits listed is underwhelming for everything but a healing (support) build. However, if you decide on trying out a healing and/or support Ranger build (especially with the new elite Druid specialization), Nature Magic is probably worth looking into. As for me, I like to go on the offensive; kill the enemy before they can kill me.

Equipment Modifications –

If you want to put more emphasis on better survivability but want to retain the focus in Condition Damage, you could go with Carrion (Condition Damage, Power, Vitality), Rabid (Condition Damage, Precision, Toughness), and/or Dire (Condition Damage, Toughness, Vitality) stats. Or perhaps you could mix your combination of gear up – a Rabid piece here, a Carrion piece there, etc. and choose different stats for your armor and weapons depending on what you want. For example, Dire stats makes it easier to take more of a beating, while Carrion gives you a slightly larger health pool (Vitality) and focuses on raw damage (Power) instead of increasing armor rating (Toughness). Other viable equipment (exclusive to the Heart of Thorns expansion, I believe) with Condition Damage as a Major stat include Viper's (Power, Condition Damage, Precision, Expertise) and Trailblazer's (Toughness, Condition Damage, Vitality, Expertise) gear.

The same goes with amulet choices, most of which need to be unlocked, especially if the stat combinations came from HoT.

As far as alternate runes choices go, considering the emphasis on stacking bleeding, though general increases in Condition Damage is good as well. Rune of the Afflicted (+175 Condition Damage, +20 Bleeding duration, 15% Poison duration, creates a Death Nova when Downed) may a decent alternative, though the increase in Poison duration is useful only for Shortbow skill 2. Rune of the Berserker (+175 Condition Damage, +100 Power, +5% Damage, +5% Condition Damage) is worth a try, especially if you want to seriously go on the offensive generally and hit with both raw and condition damage. Rune of the Undead (+175 Condition Damage, +100 Toughness, 7% of Toughness is converted to Condition Damage) might also be worth experimenting with, as it increases both Condition Damage and tanking potential from the emphasis on Toughness. If you're going to try out Rune of the Undead, consider using it with Rabid, Dire, or Trailblazer's gear for that secondary Toughness stat.

For other sigils to experiment with, Sigil of Agony (20% increased bleeding duration) could work really well in this bleeding-heavy build; I might just test that one out sometime. Superior Sigil of Accuracy (+7% Critical chance) would work for people who want to land more critical hits, Superior Sigil of Bursting (+6% Condition Damage) further increases condition damage, and Superior Sigil of Force (+5% Damage) increases raw damage output. If you're really good at staying alive and not getting downed at all, Superior Sigil of Corruption (Gain 5 charges of +10 Condition Damage if you kill an enemy player; max 25 stacks, ends on getting downed) might be a possible option to play with. Superior Sigil of Earth (60% chance on Critical hit to inflict 5 seconds of Bleeding, 2 second cooldown) might also play well with this build, if you run this build with more focus on landing critical hits. On the other hand, if you want to go for more survivability and potential additional sources of condition removal, you can try out Superior Sigil of Generosity (60% chance on Critical hit to transfer a condition to your foe) and Superior Sigil of Purity (60% Chance on hit to remove a condition, 10 second cooldown) in the secondary sigil slots.

Keep in mind, like other runes and equipment, some sigils have to be unlocked for sPvP by purchasing them with gold (ex: Superior Sigil of Bursting, etc.).

As always, you don't need to use this exact build, but feel free to try it out and modify it to your heart's content to more closely match your playstyle, and have fun!

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