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Are rangers underpowered and lack definition?

Rangers are my favorite class, fluffwise. In the crunch however, at least in context of IE games, they seem to be subpar to a simple true class fighter. Yes, fixed Archer is a solid kit, and of course nerfed Cleric/Ranger is still one of the more powerful classes, but even devs felt the need to give special boosting equipment to a Stalker, who is arguably almost strictly better than pure Rangers. What's worse, unlike Bards and Druids (other non-power classes), they don't bring anything particularly useful and unique to the party. They play just as a fighter, just with worse fighting skills and a couple of weak prebuffs.

* Of their Druidic spells, only AoF makes any difference and that only at really high levels.
* Sneaking is a good skill, but not really dependable until the end of BG1 and much less useful in the sequels.
* Charm animal doesn't deserve a mention;
* Free dual wielding is indeed a real advantage over vanilla fighters in BG1, but after that goes away.
* I guess racial enemy is authentically useful, but, thankfully, enemies are varied, so it's a bit of a one-trick pony and most difficult fights are generally against humans and similar.

And for those minor, mostly flavour boons, they are nerfed with;
* Slower progression
* Capped proficiences to specialization
* Silly alignment restriction
* Real danger of falling and losing powers - even accidently due to a failed charm and AI.

I don't believe that all classes should or can be equally powerful, but Rangers don't play any different to regular fighters and seem like their weak country cousins. Paladins offer more for the same restrictions and have even better kits to boot.

Do I miss something crucial about them? Are there mods which make them more distinct? Something giving a tactical advantage justifying sacrificing the penalty to their main role of killing things?

Post edited by TrollopsAndPlugTails on
Skatan
«1345

Comments

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 13,794
    They're a little bit worse than fighters, at least in the EE games where grandmastery is much better than specialization (in the original BG2, GM only gave +1 to hit and damage compared to specialization; now it gives +3 to hit and damage and an extra half attack per round). Still, they have most of the same strengths as fighters, and their disadvantages compared to fighters don't damage their role as tanks and damage dealers. They also get two free pips in dual-wielding, which frees up room for other proficiencies and can make them a little more versatile in terms of which weapons they use.

    Being 10% worse than a strong class still makes it a pretty strong class. I'd prefer an unkitted fighter to an unkitted ranger, but not by that much.

    StummvonBordwehrAerakarJuliusBorisov
  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,144
    edited October 2018
    Being a ranger in IWD is slightly better than playing one in the BG saga. Not only because they get to enjoy all those nifty druid spells, but also the tracking ability. Not really all that powerful, but still nice for actual roleplaying.

    Personally, I very much prefer the rangers of later editions over AD&D's Robin Hood class. One of my all-time favourite builds included a CE true lycanthrope ranger of Malar with Favourite Enemy: Humans in NwN. Lots of fun, that one.

    As far as mods goes, there are a couple of great ones. Faith and Powers for instance completely redoes the ranger kits into terrain types. So you have mountain rangers, arctic rangers, jungle rangers, ect. The mod also opens up the ranger class for all races and specific alignments. The beast master kit can even be evil! Which is always a plus in my book. ;)

    JuliusBorisov
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,702
    That really depends on what you want out of your rangers. Calling them sub-par to fighters is kinda weird, seeing as they fulfill a different role. I could just as easily say that Fighters are subpar to Rangers, because Fighters can't stealth or ever cast divine spells. Rangers are scouts who can also fight, and when it comes to that, I think they are unequaled among single classes (except for Bards, but Bards are a whole beast of their own).

    OrlonKronsteenStummvonBordwehrAerakarJuliusBorisov
  • Well, rangers can't really cast divine spells that matter neither. If they reached level 4 or 5, this ability would be more useful than simply a bit of flavour. By the time they have more than 1 casting of doom or lightning (which actually would be useful if BGII didn't happen mostly indoors) they have no business wasting time on spells when they have much higher impact hacking things. Things like protection from fire only see use because they have nothing else to do when clerics and mages cast their buffs and would be more in place as a kit ability of a caster kit, say, a cleric of Kosstuth. There are more potions of fire resistance than you'll need (here again relative power is greater in IWD, but it never compelled me to replays the way BG does).

    Said utility of scouting is severly limited: by the existence of traps, by all-seeing mages and monsters, finally by the risk involved, especially at lower levels. It certainly doesn't deserve a primary role designation and is very far from being a mandatory function for a party to have; certainly if anything all games have a surprisingly narrow choice of fighters for the needs.

    I played barbarians, dwarven defenders, paladins (not that I am a fan fluffwise, but it's nice to play a narrow minded fanatic from time to time) and in all those cases the gameplay changed considerably enough to not be just second fiddle to the main murder machine. I mean, the majority of players don't even take account of Minsc's class and put him into full plate - partly because that's more advantageous than sneaking (and invisibility potions are common), partly because there are few choices for actual fighters that aren't objectionable for some (roleplaying or not) reason at least to some parties.

    If I want a sneaky fighter I play a fighter/thief or something like swash. Even a Blade or Skald makes more sense to me than a Ranger. If I want an outdoorsy, tough caster Fighter/Druid is leaps in front of them; I would probably put even some Druid kits if only for the significantly different experience. I did play a Stalker twice for fluff, but by the time their backstab is up to the job and they can survive coming out in the middle of an enemy group, bosses start to become immune. I like snraky chacters, I grew up to venerate outdoorsy, tracking types, so I like all Ranger NPCs. I can enjoy non-powerhouse classes if they offer different gameplay, but with pure rangers, most of the time one might as well ignore all their abilities.

  • TrollopsAndPlugTailsTrollopsAndPlugTails Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2018
    Those two pips made me roll a Stalker on my first playthrough ;) Their usefulness however slightly wears off; given slower progression, it doesn't take much XP for the fighter to become only one behind most of the time. It's a good headstart at the cost of long term power, usually a bad trade. Good kits have something going for them at all levels, even if what it is changes in time.

    Regarding the favoured enemy, it certainly can be a boon - vampires should certainly be killed effectively, too. Once you set it at the beginning however, do you even remember about it? As a passive ability it certainly works regardless, but other kits dedicated to killing certain enemies - undead or mages - usually have active abilities or resistances so important they are impossible to forget - level drain or magic. That makes for more engaging play than simple boost against selected (usually rather rare) enemy.

    As I said, my beef isn't simply with them being comparatively underpowered - bards are laughing stock comparing to F/M - but that they don't play differently enough from fighters or add something really good to the party you would probably not get otherwise.

    As for FaP (they should have really thought about that acronym beforehand...), I have it on my radar. Seems a bit actively developed and ambitious, so for now I'll stick to Deities of Faerun. I really like what they are trying to achieve and the completeness and consistency is commendable even if some of the kits will turn out dominated by others. The danger I see is that kits they come up with following laid logic might not be as interesting to actually play as other existing/mod kits they are likely to drop, make incompatible or at least out of place.

    I don't want to give up an Archer or other kits. I just wish they were made more unique or powerful (beastmaster).

    semiticgodStummvonBordwehrOrlonKronsteenAerakar
  • QuickbladeQuickblade Member Posts: 879
    Mods help.

    1. Mods to allow double-damage when attacking from stealth/invis.
    2. Mods to allow all (fighter) types to reach grandmastery. I personally dislike artificial caps like that. I think that if a Wizard wants to spend 24 levels to get grandmastery in staves and nothing else, good for him/her. Woe for the fighter, you might say, but the fighter gets there before all others because the ranger/paladin have an average exp penalty of ~18% (ranging from 12.5% to mostly 20%), and every other class aside from those 3 has a slower proficiency progression.

  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 5,145
    The versatility of NOT having to worry about grandmastery, along with the free pips in 2wf and stealth make for an awesome character for soloing. It's a bit annoying until you get the bag of holding, but it makes for a very versatile one man army later in the game. The only annoyance is that there is no Ranger/Thief dual class to help with traps and locks. That dual would have so many synergies it'd be ridiculous! I also think there should be a thiefy bard class too...

    ThacoBellAerakarJuliusBorisov
  • QuickbladeQuickblade Member Posts: 879
    Balrog99 said:

    The only annoyance is that there is no Ranger/Thief dual class to help with traps and locks. That dual would have so many synergies it'd be ridiculous! I also think there should be a thiefy bard class too...

    Enough modification and you could get a Cleric/Thief to do it (which has become my new favored class with mods). Spell Revisions has some cleric and mage buff spells that give the Fighter extra attacks/round, for example, if not directly modding the multi-class to have the increased attacks through the 2da files directly. Then implement mods to remove the overly tight weapon restrictions (which IMO don't make particular sense anyways), like Item Revisions or Tweaks. Then implement a mod that gives the Ranger/Druid spells and the Charm Animal ability. I guess you'd have to use Shadow Keeper to set the Favored Enemy. You'd have a problem with picking HLA, but that can also be modded easily.

    I recently started thinking about this from the standpoint of "Ok, What would it take to be a Ranger, but be able to use all the thief skills".

    Bonus points: Both Cleric and Thief are well on the bottom of exp/level, both are the only 2 class archetype to hit the level 40 cap before the 8M exp cap (well, monk = Cleric and Bard = Thief). So you can get a lot of levels in the both of them relative to ranger.

    Balrog99
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,362
    Balrog99 said:

    I also think there should be a thiefy bard class too...

    Plug and I'm out.

    ThacoBelltypo_tillyelminster
  • The versatility argument doesn't speak to me - a fighter can do that better due to faster levelling. I rarely blindly pursue grand mastery first above all - usually at least a pip in ranged and complementing (slash vs crush) weapon, minding special effects (so, usually, maces). It is only a question of a mindset.

    I don't think the power gap is large; I am a bit at a hurdle how to make them more unique in gameplay without making them overpowered. Universal backstabbing (raised for stalkers) might be overdoing it and isn't exactly a thing one would associate with all rangers. I don't think a lot is really needed; perhaps something among:

    1) access to fourth level spells. This is still below really good, powerful stuff (chaotic commands, pixie dust, iron skins, insect plague) and contains mainly further protection spells and Cure Serious Wounds. At three slots they won't be doing a lot of casting, but at least some of will remain useful for most of the game. It always fealt weired that you had to wait long for casting abilities just for them to cap fairly soon.

    2) increased running speed. Why barbarians and monks, specifically, and not ranges who are supposed to be the ones living on foot?

    3) making tracking an inherent ability gained at levels 10, 20, 30. This is far from powerful IMO - in fact I never picked that HLA. Having it for free would mean it would actually see some use, adding to that unique feel.

    4) gaining gradually increasing resistances against fire/cold. Nothing extreme - even if it capped at 20-30%, with items and possibly spells/potions it would open the road to the tactic of area bombing the enemy and rushing into that Death Fog/Firestorm in the appropriate dragon armour. It's how I tend to use Minsc anyway (especially in light shadow dragon scales), but this is not due to any particular ranger advantage.

    5) immunity to poison at high level. Seems powerful, but not really - I don't think there are many poisoning enemies in ToB. gradual resistance would be better, but it's probably impossible to implement.

    All of these would emphasise their versatility, giving them something special to do, without stepping on fighter's toes as damage dealers and barbarians/DDs as tankers.


    A bit off topic, but I am in turn firmly behind proficiency restrictions, not only for balance reasons. You don't get those pips for free - it is supposed to represent increased experience in using a given weapon. A single pip in daggers is something barely more than 'stab with the pointy end' level; grand mastery can be only obtained by practice against increasingly tougher opponents. A mage won't realistically have many occasions to use that dagger in combat. That doesn't mean I don't think they shouldn't be relaxed for clerics and especially thieves in the context of BG games which are heavily combat focused, lending both need and opportunity to 'level up'. Giving rangers grand mastery would be flushing the baby with the bath water.

    OrlonKronsteen
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,059
    Rangers get the job done, don't get me wrong, but personally I think giving them a companion animal would do a lot for them.

    A player character Bhaalspawn can get something like Drizzt's Guenivar through their stronghold quest, but summoning it once a day isn't quite enough imo.

    Beastmaster can also use the Summon Familiar ability, which is a more persistent companion, but that kit's drawbacks are pretty nasty.

  • QuickbladeQuickblade Member Posts: 879

    A bit off topic, but I am in turn firmly behind proficiency restrictions, not only for balance reasons. You don't get those pips for free - it is supposed to represent increased experience in using a given weapon. A single pip in daggers is something barely more than 'stab with the pointy end' level; grand mastery can be only obtained by practice against increasingly tougher opponents. A mage won't realistically have many occasions to use that dagger in combat. That doesn't mean I don't think they shouldn't be relaxed for clerics and especially thieves in the context of BG games which are heavily combat focused, lending both need and opportunity to 'level up'. Giving rangers grand mastery would be flushing the baby with the bath water.

    I might be a bit weird, but I do have my casters, even mages, using staves and slings. A LOT.

    True, they don't get to Grandmastery even if I allow it through mods, because as you said but I cut, there is more than one weapon to take training in. Aside from axes and daggers (and warhammers?), you need training in at least 2 weapons, 1 melee and 1 ranged, if not 2 or 3 melee weapons. Getting specialized in 2 weapons (my default is staff and sling) takes a Mage 18 levels, and I like balancing proficiency levels, not be a godlike master of 1 thing and a clueless moron about everything else.

    Mages get Stoneskin, Mirror Image, Tenser's, and weapon summoning spells like BBoD or MMM. In SCS they're going to get focus fired on so defenses should be up anyways. In vanilla they can melee just fine adding extra damage through weapons while the meatshields are taking hits.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,702
    If a fighter goes for the weapon spread that rangers get, that means they are passing on getting grandmastery. Which just makes them worse rangers, as they cannot stealth, get racial enemy, or cast spells.

  • TrollopsAndPlugTailsTrollopsAndPlugTails Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2018
    Oh, I don't get the spread that rangers get, but frankly by ToB I didn't really need those extra ranger pips. All you really need is specialization in one ranged, one crushing and one slashing/piercing weapon - and grandmaster in at least one of those, probably two by the finale. If you run a full party, there will always be someone else - with fewer pips to spend - who'll be thankful for the weapons you don't take. The offhand weapon isn't that important - its specialization doesn't give extra 1/2 attack AFAIK. For individual specific fights you can really take a weapon for effects only - especially if you have a single pip in it - and it won't make a big difference. I like axes and the (OP) berserker kit, so ranged is often folded into the main weapon for me anyway.

    I am starting to warm up to giving them innate tracking every 10 levels and replace the HLA with a +1 to backstab (so stalkers can also profit!) for a single turn (or less if OP).

    Post edited by TrollopsAndPlugTails on
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,362
    Can someone remind me what Tracking actually does? Is it like IWD? "You see troll tracks and some kind of large webs in the vicinity" etc.?

    If so, there needs to be something in/related the area files for it to work, right?

    If so, do the BG1/SoD/SoA area files have the required information?

    In other words would giving Tracking to rangers at level 1 actually be meaningful in terms of gameplay?

    semiticgodThacoBell
  • WatchForWolvesWatchForWolves Member Posts: 170
    AFAIK(I never used it myself) it just creates red arrows on the edges of your screen, pointing towards enemies.

  • DJKajuruDJKajuru Member Posts: 3,125
    I don't know about you guys , but at lower levels hiding in shadows makes a ranger way better than a fighter when facing enemy spellcasters, kobold commandos and even flesh golems. At higher levels it really depends on your party composition and playstyle.

    ThacoBellAerakar
  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 685

    Can someone remind me what Tracking actually does? Is it like IWD? "You see troll tracks and some kind of large webs in the vicinity" etc.?

    If so, there needs to be something in/related the area files for it to work, right?

    If so, do the BG1/SoD/SoA area files have the required information?

    In other words would giving Tracking to rangers at level 1 actually be meaningful in terms of gameplay?

    It gives you information about what enemies will be in this area. Only text nothing more. It not working in most of soa, because its a hla and nobody created the relating text to bg1 and bg2 soa. Absolutely bring some color but only in rp terms.

  • TrollopsAndPlugTailsTrollopsAndPlugTails Member Posts: 47
    edited October 2018
    ^ As said - not nearly powerful enough for HLA IMO but would be a wonderful excuse to meta knowledge.
    It's a bummer it doesn't work in bg1 and soa - I thought it's a universal algorithm, after all the game spawns all creatures once you enter the area, does it not? Do you know which files contain this info and if matching to area is automatic based on naming patterns (hopefully) or if there is another table somewhere that needs updating?
    And as a replacement HLA they could get permament backstab +1 instead and I would be very happy.

    Would it be overdoing it you think? It seems to me that a fighter/thief would be still better in terms of power, and first of all, utility. Slightly less robust, but with both Fighter and Thief HLAs, which are crazy good (whirlwind is MUCH better with grand mastery!)

    I agree that rangers are better than fighters most of BG1; that's because pure fighters really start to leave the rest behind somewhere around L13 (or later) - once they get grandmastery and slower levelling of rangers and choir boys begins to show. In a full party of my IWDEE playthrough a dwarven battle rager accounted for almost 50% kills - and I had a paladin, dwarven defender and a cleric/ranger with me.

    [Deleted User]
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,362
    edited October 2018
    Yeah I'm not sbout to write monster fluff text for every frackin area in the game. But, I do have a dim memory of something like this:

    AFAIK(I never used it myself) it just creates red arrows on the edges of your screen, pointing towards enemies.

    What does that, if not Tracking?

  • WatchForWolvesWatchForWolves Member Posts: 170
    Tracking does that, this is what I meant.

  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,362
    edited October 2018
    I quoted that because several people stated that is not what Tracking does...

  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 685
    Hmm about ranger, the class is bad designed for infinity engine game. Its all about combat, and another problem is the fighter/thief multiclass exist. Like barbarians problem is the hilarious berserker class.

    [Deleted User]
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 4,771


    I agree that rangers are better than fighters most of BG1; that's because pure fighters really start to leave the rest behind somewhere around L13 (or later) - once they get grandmastery and slower levelling of rangers and choir boys begins to show. In a full party of my IWDEE playthrough a dwarven battle rager accounted for almost 50% kills - and I had a paladin, dwarven defender and a cleric/ranger with me.

    Fighters get higher THAC0 from higher levels, higher THAC0 and damage from Mastery. They get higher AC (usually). They get no stealth.

    I love rangers for fluff and RP, but I find it very hard to state they are better than fighters. Ever.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,702
    @Skatan Rangers scout better than fighters.

    DJKajuru[Deleted User]
  • Rik_KirtaniyaRik_Kirtaniya Member Posts: 1,485
    Skatan said:

    Fighters get higher THAC0 from higher levels...

    Fighters and Rangers have the same THAC0 progression tables, so level-wise, they have the same THAC0. The bonus that fighters can get is only due to weapon mastery.
    Skatan said:

    They get higher AC (usually).

    Unkitted rangers have access to the same armour selection as unkitted fighters. So, they both have the same AC, provided they are using the same equipment.

    ThacoBell
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 4,771

    Skatan said:

    Fighters get higher THAC0 from higher levels...

    Fighters and Rangers have the same THAC0 progression tables, so level-wise, they have the same THAC0. The bonus that fighters can get is only due to weapon mastery.
    Skatan said:

    They get higher AC (usually).

    Unkitted rangers have access to the same armour selection as unkitted fighters. So, they both have the same AC, provided they are using the same equipment.
    1: Fighters have a leaner EXP curve for levels than rangers, thus they get their level based THAC0 sooner.
    2: Ranger kit, like stalker, get armor restriction. Though I wrote our "usually" which was indeed an exaggeration.
    ThacoBell said:

    @Skatan Rangers scout better than fighters.

    True, that's why I stated for fighters that they do not get stealth.

    Rik_Kirtaniya
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