Content of the article: "Let’s argue: Ranger is poorly balanced but not for the reasons Wizards seems to think"
In combat, the Ranger is a solid all-rounder. Martial weapons, d10 hit dice as a boon to their survivability, some excellent buff spells like Hunter's Mark and Zephyr Strike. The ranger is a versatile dex-based mid-frontline fighter who can switch between ranged and melee effortlessly. You're like a more robust and reliable (though less mobile and hard-hitting) rogue. In every game I've played with a ranger, they end up doing fine as a DPS character in the party. They just reliably lay down solid (if unspectacular) damage every turn, up until tier 3 and 4 when they don't get further bumps to their damage depending on subclass. Most people don't play at these tiers though, and even in this situation their issues aren't so great here that they're crippling.
Despite this, the primary defining features of the class are either useless in the vast majority of situations (Favored Enemy/Natural Terrain) or are greatly outdone by other classes' features (Primeval Awareness/Vanish). The UA Variant adds a great deal of power to the Ranger (Tireless gives a first level character more than twice as much HP and is a huge buff to any Druid, Barbarian or Monk that decides to multiclass while Favored Foe adds a ton of damage to them). It does this at the cost of the skills that are meant to give the Ranger mechanics that support their flavor. The Ranger's damage and survivability was fine at most people's tables already though.
This brings me to what was not fine. Their features hinge on a section of the game that has no support from Wizards and the features that should be generally useful like Hide In Plain Sight and Vanish (and even the Variant UA's Fade Away) are so bad they don't impact the game at all. That's the issue, in my opinion, with the ranger; they have no impact, including the things they should ostensibly be good at because features like Natural Explorer just remove mechanics from the game when used and do nothing when not. Imagine a TTRPG that had combat and exploration reversed and so combat was a trivial thing that is glossed over while exploration had multiple books, where a class had an ability that was "If you fight a dragon, it dies". It doesn't make you feel good even though it's objectively better than "You deal +10 damage to dragons", because when things are automatic you don't feel like you've done anything at all.
The Ranger is not weak, it's broken, and so making it "stronger" like Wizards continues to try does nothing to address its problems. Power-level is not as significant as power-feel, and you don't feel like Strider or Aragorn when you automatically navigate a forest, especially when there are no publications that would make that an issue without the Ranger. Their skills should be as active as everyone else's; their Favored Enemy should be an active decision that requires in game roleplay like
Beginning at 1st level, you have experience studying creatures to improve your ability to track, hunt and communicate with enemies.
During your short rest, you can study the remains or debris of a creature closely. This creature becomes your favored enemy. You may only have one favored enemy at a time.
You have advantage on all Wisdom (Perception) checks to detect your favored enemy and Wisdom (Insight) checks to determine its motives. You also gain advantage on all Wisdom (Survival) checks made to discover and follow its tracks.
This would make "Let's study the creature from a distance" or "Let's try to kidnap a goblin to learn more about them" a viable option for the party and not just a passive choice that is binarily on or off.
Every revision of the Ranger, including the most recent one, seems to miss that.
- Class Feature Variant Help!!
- The Ranger’s main (core) class feature after level 5 is its spellcasting !
- Thinking about each martial class’s core identity points the way to fixing ranger & monk
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