GW2: Ranger Experiment (And Preview Weekend Thoughts)

I’m going to look for some feedback from GW2 folks in a moment. Please keep reading!

I had intended to write a post about the PoF Preview weekend, but then a fascinating GW2 discussion came up across the blogosphere. It started over at Endgame Viable where a group of us began discussing the difficulty of the story instance in the Preview Weekend. I’ll talk about that in a bit.

That led to some analyzing of the difficulty level and new/returning folks in a number of interesting posts. If you have any concerns with these topics, I suggest you check them out:

There’s a lot of good conversation in the comments, as well.

Anyhow, the newest discussion of ranged vs. melee has me sorely tempted to roll and boost a Ranger-Druid just to test the difference (since I’m mainly a melee player). I’m not giving up on my Necro, but I am curious to test this out – For Science!

Rolling Ranger – Help Me! 🙂

Druid is actually a spec I’m somewhat interested in. But I’m a complete Ranger noob, so I’m looking for a bit of help first:

  • Is Druid okay at soloing (especially HoT)? Will I do enough damage?
  • Best weapon combos?
  • Is there an example of a build I should work towards? I’m terrible at making a build from the ground up.
  • Best armor/rune combos?
  • Can I still use pets?

Basically, I’d have to put my necro progress on hold (and I don’t have a lot of play time as it is), so I want to make sure I go into this experiment knowing as much I can so I can be effective.

PoF Preview Weekend

Now, with that out of my way, on to my experiences with the PoF Preview Weekend. Because I needed to roll a new demo character for this, and I was curious how Charr sit on mounts when they ride, I decided to roll a Charr that looks similar to Nipp.


Because this was a demo, I thought it would be a fine time to try out the only job I haven’t played yet – Revenant.  I mean, certainly, a demo weekend that is partially there to snag the interest of returning players wouldn’t be too hard, right?


Okay, so they shoved endgame story battle into the demo, nearly first thing. All these Balthazar jerks gang up on you… and me having not a clue what any of my skills did… I saw the defeated screen quite a bit.

I know I had no clue about my class, but really? I’d think that this would be tuned so that a new or returning player would be able to pick up the fully kitted out, newly-rolled demo character and enjoy the process.

I also had no clue until later that they put a bunch of armor, runes and food in our bags. Not like I’d have known what to do with them on a class I’ve never played.

But anyhow. I finally got past that to the raptor section — the part I was really there to see in the first place. Actually, Charr ride quite well. There is some tail clipping, as I assumed, when it comes to the raptor swishing its own tail, but not terrible.


I enjoyed my time riding the raptor and getting used to the controls. I know some people reported motion sickness due to the animations, but I didn’t have any issues there. So I hope ANet can find a middle ground that doesn’t take away from the mount too much.

The raptor felt really solid to ride. I don’t know if it had to do with the sound effects (jingling saddle!) or the way it side-hops when you start up, or how it handles. It wasn’t a flighty mount like you get in some games that didn’t have any weight. I felt like my character was on a giant, fast and leaping dino, and this pleased me.

I did finally get to the town, but I didn’t do a whole lot there. I saw a Hero Point off in the bay, but every time I tried to commune with it, I was constantly interrupted by crabs or sharks or whatever. Finally, when I had  a vet shark tearing into me, I gave up on it, swam back to shore and called it a night from frustration. I didn’t want to spoil the story anyhow.

tl;dr: Playing Revenant for the demo wasn’t a good idea.

Preview Weekend Revisited

After reading that I wasn’t the only one who found the story in the demo frustrating, I decided to re-roll as a Reaper Necro to see if my troubles were caused due to not knowing my job. This time, I knew that I had runes and gear in my inventory… though interestingly, all of the gear I saw had condition damage built into it.

No power reaper for you!

So my Necro build was sub-optimal compared to what I’d normally run on, but the story instance was still much easier the second time. I knew what to expect, of course, but also playing a familiar class helped so much. I got through the story instance the second time without any deaths. And then, right before the raptor part, I got disconnected.

This was fine, because logging back in sent me to the city (I wish I’d known that before), and I already had my raptor from my previous unlock. So, now I was free to explore a lot more.


I didn’t go too far because I didn’t want to spoil too much, but I really loved riding my raptor, and the desert looked fantastic. There was just enough of a GW1 vibe here, mixed with the new GW2.

I did a heart in the town where you had to use the raptor to catch fireflies, which they adorably like. I experimented with how far the raptor could leap and getting a good feel for how to ride. Besides that, I didn’t delve too much.

I’m glad I came back and gave it a second try, though I still worry what impression that intro story instance will give returning or new players. While I gave it a second shot, that doesn’t mean everyone else will.

This will be the only PoF demo I try out for GW2 because I’m not going to PvP and I don’t really have a lot of interest in the new specs PoF is introducing. I’m still looking forward to mounts in my GW2, though!

He loves being scratched right there! Too cute!


  1. I am a necro main so take my druid advice with a grain of salt 🙂 Though my second most played character is my ranger.

    I think druids are a lot of fun so I am always happy to offer some advice. They have a solid damage build with conditions and short bow. The staff gives a lot of solid support so learning those two weapons will be really helpful. For condi damage if you are concerned about survivability I would recommend Carrion gear. It’s cheap gives you a bunch of health and it can give you a bit of power for direct damage too. Druids are really nice in that their traits can be swapped fairly easily if you get into a zerg to provide solid zerg support.

    Pets in the open world are not super important from a type perspective. The melandru’s stalker is very popular for their solid damage. I like the Murellow which is a hairless bear that creates a poison field you can shoot through to add poison to your attacks. The wiki has locations for all the ranger pets if there is one you really want.

    As far as skills there is a great druid glyph that does a ton of CC which is important for breaking enemy break-bars.

    If you want to go with a good power build use soldier’s of Valkyrie’s gear. Using the long bow with an axe and war horn are super fun. Once you are comfortable surviving at range you can start swapping in zerker gear starting with weapons then trinkets (use laurels or better LW3 map currency to buy ascended trinkets) and finally your armor. This will actually help your survivability as you should be able to find a good mix of gear that reduces your time to kill while still letting you comfortably soak new attacks that you are not familiar with.

    If you have more questions let me know, Spirit my guild leader has a MASSIVE amount of experience on ranger/druid and can give better advice than me.

    1. This is really helpful info to have — especially thanks for you giving suggestions on how to ease into things slowly. Gearwise, thanks for offering cheap starting points — I see that Viper’s is all the rage with condition builds, but I’m nowhere near starting something like that!

      1. yeah vipers is a pain! The rocks (black diamonds) you use to make it are still 60s a piece and you need 5! Vipers is also a glass cannon stat-set. Trailblazers which you get from the HoT story is a good alternative if you want to go pure condi, since it increases condi duration like vipers does but still give some survivability. The only place you need glass cannon builds right now is in raids, but if you are raiding you should have a healer (druid or tempest) countering the damage you are taking. In the open world you don’t have that healer so unless you want to get to know your down state well survival stat-sets are really nice for learning.

        I also take more survival-centric skills in open world PvE than when I raid as up time on a champion or enemy is more important that doing 20k dps… which I can’t pull in raids anyways 😛

        Finally in the open world I tend to take more escapes on classes that can (necro escapes are super limited and usually about slowing your enemies so you can jog casually away). Invulnerability skills and teleports like druid staff 4 make getting away much easier.

  2. Ok, I’ll bite. Most meta builds for ranger are condi-based right now, but I think it’s unfair to make a new/returning player go for Viper stats right away. I happen to have a charr ranger I wanted to boost, so I did a bit of experimental theorycrafting.

    Goal: Cheap, good in open world, can survive in HoT; I take no responsibility if someone tries this in dungeons or group content.

    All Berserker stats, exotic armor, exotic weapons, ascended trinkets if at possible. Longbow, greatsword, staff on standby when you get enough points for druid.

    (I was mildly tempted by sword/warhorn, mostly for the warhorn skills in the open world, but I think the ranger sword can be a little hard to handle – evade rolling off cliffs is not fun, and that’s two weapons to get instead of one. So, greatsword.)

    Traits: Marksmanship 2 2 3 (where top is 1, middle is 2, and bottom option is 3)
    Nature Magic 2 1 2
    Beastmastery 2 2 1

    (This is extremely atypical for most published ranger/druid builds, which focus around group content and buff support, but I chose these for as much “selfish” might/boons/survival (protection, pet taunts) options as possible.)

    The rune/sigil choice is probably not the most optimal by any means, but I was going for CHEAP and relatively effective.

    6 Superior Runes of Infiltration gives extra precision, damage and the last gasp survival option of if you get hit to 20% health, you stealth and can bravely run away like Sir Robin to fight another day.

    Superior Sigil of Intelligence and Superior Sigil of Battle on the longbow. When you swap into it, you get some might and your next 3 attacks automatically crit. If you use bow 2 or 5 at this point, whatever’s your target is in for a world of hurt.

    Superior Sigil of Battle and Superior Sigil of Speed on the greatsword. it’s not the best option, Force and Air would be better for damage, but the prices of those sigils can be prohibitive. So the next best is just get a bit of extra gogogo for open world movement.

    Greatsword swap is if anything gets in your face anyway, most times a bit of longbow 1 and 2 pewpew with 4 knockback should take care of things.

    Heal Skill: We Heal As One! Straightforward strong heal with boons.

    Utility Skills: Frost Trap, Protect Me!, Signet of the Hunt – again quite atypical choices; I was going for a keep-away protective approach. The chill on frost trap will slow pretty much anything, the stun break gives protection, reducing damage and your pet will taunt, signet of the hunt gives extra movement speed for quality of life and easier kiting.

    Elite Skill: Strength of the Pack, gives you stability when cc is coming in hot and heavy, extra fury for added damage and swiftness for combat movement or running the heck away.

    Look for the juvenile smokescale and juvenile bristleback as pets when you can. Use whatever you have in the meantime – my boosted ranger only came with jungle stalker, which is good for might and damage; bears or drakes are also pretty tanky, etc..

    1. This is awesome and checks all the boxes I was hoping for: Cheap, good in open world, can survive in HoT. It’s tough to find plain up open world builds because “PvE” often means Fractal and group builds now days.

      I was leaning towards a power longbow build, and I like that you went the way of Beastmastery as the pet part (I know, wonky AI) is appealing to me. When I open Druid (as I said, I’m thinking of using my level 80 booster), should I change this trait out? You mentioned using staff later. Do you feel it’s better just to practice with basic ranger for a bit first until I get all of Druid unlocked?

      Thanks again!

      1. To be honest, I am not good with druid, so I am not the best person to answer this.

        I would experiment with dropping either Nature Magic or Beastmastery for the Druid traitline.

        And if you find you like healing, it would be best to look for a meta druid spec that is magi stat based at that point. Berserker (or condi stats) do not provide very strong heals (not enough healing power), and may frustrate you trying to heal with them.

        As is, the druid portion of a zerker or condi druid is to pop into a healing stance (celestial avatar) for a brief period of decent heals, plus to stack Grace of the Land (an offensive buff) and then pop back out again.

        As far as I vaguely understand it, the staff is more for building astral force quickly (heal + damage) to get into celestial avatar. It’s not something you can solely rely on to heal your way out of an encounter, nor is it a fantastically good damaging weapon. It’s a group support weapon with some utility. Dropping the greatsword and playing around with it in big meta events most likely wouldn’t hurt.

  3. I’m going to echo some things here, but maybe also dissent?

    Yes, I think you should run druid. Imagine instead of reaper shroud you get healing shroud. That’s effectively druid. You don’t get a free health bar, but you can have better raw ranged damage, and a ton of healing.

    Speaking of, if you really want to cheese this, and make it cheap, you could honestly go for cleric gear and focus on, say, beast mastery with druid and whatever gives your pet more damage. Pick up a pet with good AI and use troll unguent and anything giving you regen. You’ll be more or less unkillable. Damage is quite a bit lower, but you’re closer to the brutish tanky nature of a Reaper.

    If you play ranger and find maybe you’re okay without the defense, grab berserker gear. The jump from a shroud focused Reaper to a Ranger is interesting though.

    Maybe this could be your melee setup with sword and dagger and greatsword to abuse dodges while pet does the damage (Panthers are great).

    Rangers are not my thing, but my 2cp

    1. Sorry that my blog ate your reply again — I found it and posted it, though!

      I’m happy to see there’s a lot of choice in how you can build a Druid, depending on what you want to use them for. Once I wrap my head around all this, I’ll come back and sort it all out. 🙂

  4. This should give Jeromai a laugh, at least. Here’s my Druid, as I currently play him:

    Armor – Apothecary’s (Exotic) – Healing, Toughness, Condi
    Runes – Dwayna – all healing or regen bonuses, boosts and effects
    Jewellery – Various Ascended bought with Laurels – Apothecary stats or very similar
    Infusions – Healing (from WvW) on everything plus another WvW only option in the other slot
    Weapon 1 – Staff (Ascended – Yggdrasil from the Druid Collection) – Power, Toughness , Healing
    Staff Sigils – Transference, Water – All healing effects
    Weapon 2 – Shortbow (Exotic) – Condi, Toughness, Precision (Rabid stats)
    Shortbow Sigils – Accuracy and OMG I haven’t put the second one in!
    Underwater Head and Weapons – Apparently whatever I had in the bank! Don’t fit the build so not going to list them. Note to self – I should change these.

    Healing Skill – Healing Spring
    Utility Skills – Signet of Renewal, Signet of the Hunt, Glyph of Alignment
    Elite – Strength of the Pack (mainly for on-demand Stability)

    Specializations –

    Wilderness Survival (Oakheart Salve, Shared Anguish, Empathic Bond)
    Nature Magic – Instinctive Reaction, Evasive Purity, Protective Ward
    Druid – Cultivated Synergy, Live Vicariously, Lingering Light

    Food – Delicious Rice Balls
    Utility – Peppermint Oil

    Pets – I have a dog and a cat that I’ve used forever. I just noticed that renaming them overwrites the species so I don’t even know for sure what they are! A wolf that breathes a cone of cold and a cat that gives AE might. They were picked for WvW so they aren’t really fit for purpose for PvE. Should probably change them.

    There we are – that build is pretty much indestructible but takes forever to kill anything. It’s absolutely fantastic for exploring, it’s extremely useful in big PvE fights with a lot of other players around, it’s strong in a duo with someone who has good DPS and it gets me through LS story instances with a minimal number of deaths – just don’t expect to kill stuff solo.

    1. Sorry that my blog ate your reply — I approved it, so all is good. I don’t know why WordPress has been doing that lately! This is the second one today!

      Anyhow, it’s really neat to see how very different all the ranger builds are! Thanks for sharing yours — I’m gathering up ideas and seeing what all might work for me. 🙂

  5. Hi,

    Re: PoF intro instance, we too found this so frustrating. Husband and I only squeezed in one short session late Sunday. Both wanted to try Revenant as we didn’t do HoT at all. Worst choice ever, trying to melee through that mess of mass ganking on a new class wasn’t pleasant. As an re-intro to the game for older vets it wasn’t a great advert. I’m still quite keen to guve it a whirl but I fear husband is going to give it a pass :-/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.