To say that ranged toons don’t get a lot of love either ingame or on the forums would be like saying that Honey Boo Boo is an annoying no-talent brat – in other words, a gross understatement.
I didn’t know about the ranger hatred when I bought Vic her first repeating crossbow, or when I rolled up Char, my ranger AA. In Vic’s case, going ranged was a matter of, “Well, she’s squishy, but hey! I get repeater proficiency free so she doesn’t have to melee!”
(Side note: When I say “ranger,” I’m referring not just to the ranger class, but to any toon that relies heavily on ranged weapons.)
Char, on the other hand, exists solely because I know some AWESOME rangers, and after running with Slvr, Baz, Day, El (where the heck did you disappear to, anyway?) and a few others, I wanted to try some of that ranged goodness for myself.
Then I started seeing the ranger hate on the forums, and noticing that a fair number of LFMs that are open to every other class specifically exclude rangers. This baffled me. What’s not to like? Depending on the build, rangers can help buff and heal, dish up GREAT DPS, and even do some crowd control. The ranger class gets Manyshot, which has no downside unless you count its two-minute cooldown (and c’mon, that’s really not much).
So I was puzzled. Once I saw an LFM up for any class but ranger and sent the leader a tell to ask why; he replied with something like, “Because too many of them are idiots.” For Char’s sake, I was offended.
And then came the day I ran with a ranger who WASN’T all that awesome. WF AA with a rogue splash, respectable if not impressive hit points as I recall, nothing at first glance to suggest he would be anything less than an asset to the group.
But that’s why you should always take a SECOND glance.
I was on Dissy doing Vale S/R/E on the Shavarath side. While five of us were fighting the stuff that was right there in front of us, this guy apparently had the mindset that if he could target it, then he should shoot at it. No matter how far away it was. No matter how many mobs we were already fighting. In a lot of places, this might not have been such a big deal because the faraway mobs would probably have rubber-banded back to their original locations before getting close enough to do any damage.
But the Shav side of Vale is rife with orthons and horned devils. You know what they do when you hit them? They teleport to you. And this moron just kept targetting everything he could see and shooting it – we kept getting dungeon alerts because he’d hit an Orthon and then, instead of finishing it off, he’d target another one and get THAT one dropping in on us.
Of course, since the WF was the one who shot all this stuff, he was the one it all aggroed on… which he then complained about.
Poor Dissy – when she wasn’t throwing out heals or playing Spellsong Vigor in an attempt to help our poor overworked cleric – kept trying to put up disco balls, but it wasn’t easy because she kept getting knocked down (damn bezekiras).
Meanwhile our WF AA just kept bringing us more mobs to fight. It became apparent REAL fast that, when his Manyshot was on cooldown, his ranged damage was pretty minor. The party leader asked him (rather tactfully) to switch to melee in between Manyshots. I’m not sure if that was to get a little more DPS or to keep him from aggroing yet more mobs on us or a combination of both. The guy replied that he never melees, but after a bit of discussion, grudgingly agreed.
VERY grudgingly. His idea of “melee” was to run off from the group, smack a few trogs or trolls with a club that looked suspiciously like Muckbane, and run back to us, hit points dropping and fresh mobs in tow. He might as well have been screaming, “SAVE ME!” because that’s clearly what he expected us to do.
Luckily, most ranged toons I’ve grouped with haven’t been nearly this idiotic. In fact, for the most part they’re not idiotic at all. But sadly, the ones that stick in your mind are the ones like that WF.
After that group, I did a lot of thinking about the way I play Vic and Char. If someone groups with one of MY ranged toons, I want to make sure I represent the genre as best I can. So I made some guidelines for myself.
Just because it’s in range doesn’t mean you should shoot it. (This may be the most important rule of all.)
If you can’t handle its aggro, don’t shoot it and then expect the party to save your ass. Let the tank types get its aggro. THEN shoot it (plus, this lets you get sneak attack damage).
Don’t be afraid to melee if you can handle it, especially when Manyshot is on cooldown. A well-built ranger, even an AA, is a potent melee threat.
If you’ve already got stuff to fight, or if people are shrining/looting/afk/etc., don’t bring more stuff to the group.
Be ESPECIALLY careful ranging casters that aren’t already aggroed on the party, since once you wake them up, they can do a lot of damage with ray spells even if they’re a distance from the group.
Seems simple, doesn’t it? Apparently it’s not, though. Maybe that’s just my perspective. I look at ranged damage as another form of DPS to fight the mobs currently facing the party. It’s great for taking out mobs on ledges or other hard-to-reach places, like the Drow near the shrine in VoN 3. Unless it’s a truly exceptional build, ranged toons should NOT be trying to grab aggro and tank.
I guess it holds true for any class, really – play smart and be a team player. But it seems like ranged toons might need a reminder sometimes.