Content of the article: "Are “on hit” ranger spells underpowered?"
I'm trying to put together a not terribly underpowered ranger, using optional class features and the hunter subclass (built the PC at level 8, and I plan to MC after that because nothing above that is really worth it in my opinion), because I really like the concept of the wilderness explorer. Looking at the spells available, I see that some are "On strike" types – you concentrate, and they trigger one time once you hit, and that is it (not sure why many people have trouble with this part, but whatever).
Let's take Hail Of Thorns, for example: it is 1d10, half for a dex save. I've seen someone comparing this to a divine smite for a Paladin, but the comparison really doesn't add up because you cannot choose to trigger this only on a critical hit, and you can always lose concentration before actually triggering the spells, effectively losing the spell slot without having any effect. Also, being a concentration spell drops Hunter's mark, which is terribly bad at higher levels. The only advantage of it is being an area, although a really small one (10 ft radius). The upcasting potential (1d10 for every level) is nice, but, again, compared to a smite falls behind because of the aforementioned issues.
A similar case can be made against lightning arrow – lackluster damage for a third level spell, allows a save (instead of a ranged attack for the spells itself), and suffers from similar issues as Hail of Thorns. That adds up with the fact that Ranger spells DC are terrible because you need to max the weapon attack status (usually dex).
Am I missing something here, or are the offensive (up to 3rd level, mainly) spells for a ranger really that bad (apart from the base class itself, which most people seem to agree as being horrible)? Conjure barrage has ridiculous damage for a 3rd level spell with a bad save DC, flame arrow adds a little bonus that may be mostly wasted due to missed attacks… how are rangers expected to deal damage out of Colossus Slayer and Hunter's Mark / Favored Foe?
As a bonus, when building a ranger, should I focus most of my (rather limited) spell list on utility, because the combat options are terrible apart from Hunter's mark and Spike Growth?
- Reduction By Dominance, or How Certain Strategies Are Not Quite So Optional
- Ranger Concentration Spells
- Favored Foe and why it isn’t really about Hunter’s Mark.
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