This past beta weekend, I played about two dozen structured PvP matches with my Ranger, using a build I like to call “Backpedal.” It specializes in movement impairment, meant to keep enemies at bay or slow them down enough for you and your allies to finish them off for the kill.
My weapon sets were axe/dagger and shortbow. Both sets have multiple slows, with Winter’s Bite (chill) on the axe, Crippling Talon (cripple) on the dagger, and Crippling Shot (cripple) and Concussion Shot (daze/stun) on the shortbow. These weapons also offer a few bleed and poison attacks; these aren’t the focus of the build, but since traits focus on conditions, they don’t hurt.
My other skills were:
- Heal as One. The basic heal served well enough. As mobile as you need to be with this build, Healing Spring isn’t a good idea.
- Frost Trap. For the chill.
- Spike Trap. For the cripple – and the bleed doesn’t hurt.
- Muddy Terrain. For the cripple and immobilize.
- Entangle. A great way to slow down an enemy you can’t otherwise seem to snare.
For traits, I went with 30 points in Marksmanship, which increased my condition durations by 30%, and the following major traits:
- Keen Edge. Use Sharpening Stone (applies bleeds) when health reaches 75%.
- Predator’s Instincts. Apply cripple to enemies when they are below 25% health.
- Malicious Training. Increases duration for conditions applied by your pets.
30 points in Skirmishing, for the amazing trap-related traits:
- Trapper’s Defense. Create a spike trap when reviving an ally.
- Trapper’s Expertise. Traps are ground targeted and 50% larger.
- Trap Potency. Conditions caused by traps last twice as long.
And 10 points in Wilderness Survival, which granted me a little extra condition damage and one more trap-related trait:
- Master Trapper. Trap recharges are reduced by 20%.
For runes, I went with four Superior Runes of Ice, which gave me longer chill durations and two Superior Runes of Lyssa, which increased all condition duration.
Finally, my pets were chosen for their activatable (F2) skills: Polar Bear for its Icy Roar (chill), and the Black Widow for its Paralyzing Venom (immobilize), as well as its other immobilization and poison skills.
So, now that you’ve got a build chock full of conditions, especially conditions that slow, what do you do with it? For the most part, you keep your distance and try to take enemies down at range, putting your traps between you and them. The Spike Trap and Frost Trap have infinite durations, as well – until you lay another one – so laying one on the approach to a control point just after you’ve taken it is a nice strategy. Even if you leave the point, it’ll still be there.
Unfortunately, all this focus on crowd control hurts the build’s DPS output. In a 1v1, I found one of two scenarios to happen:
- I could keep the other guy at bay long enough to whittle him down and kill him, or at least make him retreat; or
- No matter what I tried, the other guy, a melee character, would lunge in on me and I couldn’t maintain any separation.
#2 was fairly rare, but it did happen; but there were a fair amount of times when I was able to string someone along long enough for them to follow me — very slowly — to my companions, who would help me finish him off. Curiously, I seemed stronger against ranged characters than melee ones, since ranged characters tended to dance around more and stumble into my traps.
Of course, when traveling with allies, the build is even better, as it hinders the enemies so your high-DPS friends can finish them off. I tended to use the axe/dagger set most of the time, for both its increased DPS and AOE capabilities, switching to shortbow if I needed the range or thought I could land a goodly number of back/side hits with Cross Fire and Concussion Shot.
If you’re willing to do something other than DPS on your ranger, give my Backpedal build a shot. It’s fun watching enemies stumble into your traps and struggle to move around the battlefield as they bleed out or succumb to your poisons.