[ Disclaimer, --- , ]
Daerim's Ranger Leveling Guide - Where & How?
My name is Daerim and this guide is intended to help aspiring Rangers out there. Rangers are a very fun but challenging class to play, and I'd like to share some of the things I've learned to make the lives of new Rangers out there just a little bit easier or better.
The content I've provided here is not meant to be exhaustive or exclusionary. These are my views and opinions. I'll try to clearly call out where I might not have a lot of first-hand expertise, so you can understand where the advice is coming from. Lastly, I'd encourage anyone wandering by with pearls of wisdom to please add them! :)
Gear Priorities & Progression
I won't get into this too exhaustively because there's a myriad of different ways to advance your character's progression. That's really one of the best facets of EverQuest as a game. However, here are some tidbits of advice I would offer.
Your immediate focus should be getting Banded Armor and a decent weapon or two. I'd strongly suggest a Silver Swiftblade as your starter weapon. This can easily last you as a passable weapon until your high-30's to even 40.
Regardless of what race you pick, one great avenue to acquire money for said gear is killing orcs and looting their belts. These would be either Crushbone Belts or Deathfist Slashed Belts, depending on your locale. Players will often buy these for a few plat per belt to jump-start new characters, as they are turn-ins for fairly good low-level XP-granting quests. You might be thinking, "Well why shouldn't I turn them in myself and level faster?!" The answer is simple, the plat you invest in a set of Banded Armor and a decent weapon will help you level faster for 20-30 levels, not just for 5-10. You're investing in your character's future.
I don't want to be too prescriptive with this guide, because where to take your character next and what goals to set for yourself is half the fun of playing. However, here are a few ideas to consider:
- A Tolan's Darkwood Bracer is invaluable (usable at 45 or 46) regardless of what role you're playing. If you're root/rot soloing, pulling in a group, or even in later raid settings it's invaluable to have a limitless supply of arrows (even low damage arrows like this item summons) for Trueshot or just applying damage when you need to back off a mob. It will also save you time and (some) money on fletching your own arrows. That's time and money you can spend on other things.
- The Woodsman's Staff is a really great weapon post-40 when the damage cap is lifted, and should be something you consider saving towards to replace your Silver Swiftblade with eventually. This can easily hold you over until you get Swiftwind or other epic-equivalent 1-handed weapons.
- After getting a starter set of armor and a decent weapon or two, you likely want to set your sights on saving for a cheaper worn-haste item such as Silver Chitin Hand Wraps (SCHW) or Flowing Black Silk Sash (FBSS).
- Some kind of bow-haste-granting quiver (such as the Thunderhoof Quiver or Fleeting Quiver) is worth considering if you intend to root-rot solo more than once in a blue moon.
- When looking at bows, consider what role you intend to be playing most of the time. A high-damage, high-delay bow will be more valuable when pulling in groups where you might only use it once per mob even if it has a not-so-great damage/delay ratio. A good damage/delay ratio bow even with a low delay would be better for root-rotting. However, also consider that a low delay bow, even with a good ratio like the Wind Saber will burn through arrows more quickly which will increase your downtime.
- A quick comment on stat priorities: This is highly dependent on what you want to do for leveling.
- For Grouping & Face-Tanking: AC and STAM should be given strong considerations, followed by STR and lastly DEX (which really only matters if you have proc weapons or at later levels with proc buffs like Call of Fire). You'll take hits while pulling, situations will arise where you'll need to off-tank when no CC is present, you'll take hits while helping to CC, and you can tank (don't let anyone laugh at that!) in an appropriately composed & leveled group.
- For Fear Kiting: STR > WIS/MANA > Everything else. STR helps you kill things faster, by supplying ATK. WIS/MANA let you kill for longer between breaks to med.
- For Root-Rotting: WIS/MANA > DEX > Everything else. You'll want to use our (pretty bad, admittedly) DOTs while rotting to speed kills and reduce arrow consumption. Add that to the costs of snaring and rooting, and you need a good mana pool. DEX will help with bow damage/crits/procs.
How to Level
There are four main strategies I've employed to gain XP as a Ranger. They are:
- Fear Kiting Animals
This is kind of the "no brainer" option. EverQuest is a game (mostly) built about grouping up with other players and going off to dive into a dungeon or camp a spawn, etc.
There are many jokes dating back to the early days of the game berating Rangers as a "bad" class. It's all in good fun, but its really rooted in people not understanding the class. You're a jack of all trades and master of none. That versatility is your one true strength, and if players don't employ that strength well they're bound to be either disappointed in the class they're playing or they're going to leave a bad impression on players around them. Below is a short explanation on what I consider to be the main roles a Ranger can (and should) play at various points in time. A great Ranger will find themselves weaving between these roles moment-to-moment as the situation demands.
This is, in my opinion, where Rangers shine as a class. The combination of Harmony, long-ranged instant bow attacks, snap aggro tools like Flame Lick, and crowd-control abilities make you an unparalled puller in outdoor zones. Even better than a Monk. Good, consistent, managed chain-pulling in a full group with competent players in all the key roles will grease the skids of the XP train like nothing else. (Tip: Remember to use 3rd-person view to look around corners without getting LOS aggro from a mob. You can cast Harmony without LOS to your target.)
When pulling, it's important to know what your group wants and can handle. Some groups want to push it to the limits. These groups you can bring multiple mobs to camp at once and let the dedicated CC player take care of them, or pitch in with some spot rooting. As soon as the pull is handled you don't even stick around to help with DPS, you just run right back out to wrangle more mobs to pull into the camp. Do this until someone screams OOM.
Other groups, however, either can't or don't want that kind of pulling which entirely reasonable. If you don't have an Enchanter or a Bard, multiple mobs at once might be more of a liability than a benefit. If your group's combined DPS is fairly low, chain-pulling without assisting to do damage might mean the mobs start piling up. Sometimes, groups just want to take a slower and lazier approach and just relax a bit. Totally fine by me. My view as a group's puller is that I'm serving their needs and interests, and in return they're feeding me easy XP. Find the sweet spot of when to turn from doing damage to a mob before you run out to grab the next one. You want to keep your healers' and CCer's mana comfortably high but not full. A full mana bar is wasted mana.
This mindset has earned me many a group. Pull well and people will remember you and invite you back.
Damage Dealer (DPS)
You will deal comparable damage to a Warrior of the same level of stats and gear and a bit less than Monks or Rogues. You will often do less than caster pets such as Magicians, Necros, and charmed Enchanter pets too. However, you still do pretty solid and consistent damage so don't discount it. Also, when comparing yourself to a pet that's out-DPSing you just remember all the versatility you bring to the group that they don't. You can snap aggro with a Flame Lick and spot-root an add or a broken charm that just gibbed your Enchanter and save the day!
Rarely did I find myself in a position where the group wanted me to just sit in camp and deal raw damage. I was almost always pulling or (much less frequently) tanking. However, it can happen. Particularly in indoor zones where Harmony is not available to you for pulling. (I'm looking at you Sebilis!)
Crowd Control (CC)
While Rangers don't CC in the traditional sense of using mezzes like an Enchanter or Bard, they still can do some pretty great CC. While many other classes can root, most of them can't take hits like you can and you will generally be taking a few hits while trying to pull the mob to where you want it rooted and then rooting it. Additionally, you have snap aggro abilities like Taunt, Flame Lick, and Snare to make sure you can peel the mob you want and then root park it away from the group (or out of LOS if its a caster).
You likely will not be asked to be a dedicated CC role in most groups, but you should be ready to supplement the group as needed. This is an invaluable skill to have regardless of whatever main role you're filling. I've CC'ed while pulling, DPSing, and tanking. This is another one of those skills that if you can do it well will leave an impression, build a reputation, and get you invited back to groups.
Tanking (Stop laughing!)
Rangers are not a dedicated tanking class like Warriors, Paladins, and Shadowknights. However, you can still tank better than pretty much anyone else besides those and you'll potentially be a better option than even a dedicated tanking class if you outgear or outlevel them significantly. A Monk that outlevels or outgears you might be able to take hits a bit better, but will lack your snap aggro and CC abilities.
Your raw damage mitigation and lower health pool means that the benefits of Clerics and their complete healing is lessened. Shamans will make the best healers for you, generally, as their slows will be that much more valuable in reducing incoming damage while still providing solid mana-to-health heals.
Generally you will not want to use a shield...ever. You don't get Bash and your ability to do off-hand damage or wield a 2-handed weapon to kill the mob hitting you faster far outweighs any benefits the shield's AC or stats might provide.
Use Flame Lick and Snare for grabbing and holding aggro when tanking. Flame Lick is a better snap aggro spell than Snare, but be mindful that the DOT component can cause problems with CC if you need to switch targets.
I won't get into this extensively because there are a lot of other "leveling location" guides where you can find more information. That said, I'd encourage Rangers that want to group heavily to stick to outdoor zones, because Harmony is just that strong/necessary. Your value is greatly diminished in an indoor zone because of it. Thankfully (or not, depending on your view of these zones) the most popular grouping zones are all outdoor until end-game. These zones are always populated with people wanting to group, which is great. What's not is that they're so popular they are often "over camped" and it can be hard to find groups or if you do find group to find enough mobs to pull as fast as you'd like.
- 1-8: Kill stuff in your starting zone.
- 8-15: Crushbone, Blackburrow, or NRo/EC Dervish and Orc camps.
- TIP: Remember to sell belts for plat to get starter gear!
- 15-30: Estate of Unrest
- 20-40: Castle Mistmoore
- 40-50: City of Mist
- 50+: Karnor's Castle (XP slows down in late 50's unless in the "Hands" or "Basement" camps)
- Gear Alert! - Lupine Dagger, Swarmcaller, Springwood Club, Nature's Wrath, Kunzar Cloak, Sarnak-Hide Mask, Tolan's Darkwood Gauntlets, Tolan's Darkwood Boots
- Epic Alert! - Pulsing Green Stone (Venril Sathirs remains always drops exactly 2 of these stones, which are needed for both the Ranger and Druid epic weapon quest. If you see a force mobilizing to take him down, you might be able to buy the loot rights for the 2nd stone if they don't need it and you have no other means of procuring it.)
Fear Kiting Animals
What is Fear Kiting?
Fear kiting becomes an option for you at level 22 when you get the spell Panic Animal (introduced for Rangers in the Velious expansion). When cast this will cause animal targets only to run away from you for a short period of time. Couple this with your ability to Snare/Ensnare and you'll have a foe slowly flee from you. After doing this you just attack it until it's dead, free of repercussions (even Riposte if you stay behind the mob). Reapply fear and/or snare as needed.
- 22-30: Wooly Mammoths in Everfrost Peaks
- Their tusks are giant-sized so won't fit in many containers, but vendor well (especially by the standards of animal mobs, which tend to have poor drops). Sell them to the Barbarian spell merchant at the temple ruins in the north of the zone.
- 30-40: Snow Cougars in Iceclad Ocean
- Gear Alert! - Cougar Claw Earring
- 40-50: Tigeraptors and Panthers in Wakening Lands
- Haze Panther Skins sell very well to crafters looking to make Haze Panther Armor. Keep See Invis up, as the Haze Panthers are invisible and will not appear on track unless you have this buff.
- Gear Alert! - Helm of the Tracker: The Frostgiant Overseer spawns here which you'll need for this quest. You likely can't solo him, but there are often groups near the Kael entrance grinding faction. If you /ooc asking for help, you'll likely receive it :)
- Gear Alert! - Ice Forged Shackles: You can potentially solo both of the items you need for this quest in this zone, and this can be a decent bracer until end-game gearing.
- 50-55: Sonic Bats in Nagafen's Lair. Being an indoor zone full of winding tunnels, this can get hairy. I recommend the 4 bat spawns near the Guano harvester camp, right by the SolA zoneline.
- Pull to the zone line to start your fear kite, and kite them to approximately where they path up to the bridge. Then return back to the zoneline and wait for fear to break, the bat to path back to you, and re-apply fear. Rinse-and-repeat until dead.
- Keep See Invis up so that you can see the Guano harvester when he spawns. Both to get a decent weight-reduction bag but also to make sure he doesn't stay up and prevent his bat placeholder from spawning.
- A lava duct crawler can path into this room. If LDCs are being camped (usually some Iksar Monk will be soloing them) you don't have to worry. If not, you'll need to root the LDC when it enters the room, finish your current kite, then zone out into SolA to clear aggro. Come back in and get restarted.
- Jump+shoot with your bow to pull the one bat off the high ledge in the room.
- Use a combination of Calm Animal and roots+zone outs to break the camp.
- 55-60: Rhinos and Mammoths in Western Wastes
- WW is a pain of a zone to get to, thanks to Siren's Grotto. Generally only hang out here if you can stay awhile as getting to/from is going to be risky, costly, or both.
- Keep your head on a swivel to avoid ice burrowers, they will wreck you.
- Easiest to do this if you have good Claws of Veeshan faction to avoid dragon adds.
What is Root-Rotting?
Ranger root rotting is basically identical to that of druids, except you're not as good at it. Snare and root the mob in question then apply your best damage-over-time spells (DOTs) to it, rinse-and-repeat until dead. Your best DOTs are equivalent to a level 34 Druid (Immolate + Drones of Doom) and you won't have a mana free DOT from a clickable epic. What you do have though...is a bow.
That bow will actually make up the majority (or at least a significant minority) of your rotting damage. It's basically a 3rd stackable DOT line. However, bow rotting has a number of significant downsides compared to traditional root-rotting classes.
- You'll consume arrows. This means you have to spend time not just medding between fights to regain mana but either fletching new arrows or summoning them with your Tolan's Darkwood Bracer. A bow with a higher delay value will mitigate this, but not eliminate it. Don't sacrifice too much in the way of a damage/delay ratio just to get a slower delay, though. This just means you'll do less DPS which leads to longer times between kills and more mana spent on roots/DOTs that will wash out any savings from shooting fewer arrows.
- You'll need to stand and sit between bow shots to make sure you get med ticks -OR- remaining standing constantly and not regen mana during combat. The choice is yours.
Root-rotting is probably the least efficient means of gaining XP as a Ranger. However, it has some very compelling upsides:
- It's super safe.
- It's not limited to animals or by the hitting power of the mob in question. If you can root it, you can kill it. Probably our best way to farm specific mob camps.
TIP: If the mob will run at 20%, you're better off waiting for your root to break and for it to run while snared then finish it with melee. This will not only allow you to save mana and arrows, but you can use that time for medding.
Too many to list. As stated above, if you can root it then you can kill it. Try to find good pull spots where you can avoid pats or repops while medding/shooting. You don't need tons of room for this tactic, but having some space to kite and re-adjust can be beneficial.
What is Face-Tanking?
This is what you do at level 1. Run up to a mob and hit it until either you or it is dead. You can continue to do this as you level, but it gets progressively harder because mobs health and damage-dealing capabilities scale up at a faster rate than yours. However, it can still serve a purpose.
Generally I resort to face-tanking as a time-filler, such as when I'm trying to find a group and one is not immediately forthcoming. That's because you'll often be in a zone where fear-kiting isn't feasible and root-rotting is just a different beast. Root-rotting is when you're settling in for a nice, long, lazy night of solo camping/XPing. Face-tanking is something that's simpler but less efficient, and generally makes good "time filler" while LFG. You'll also tend to be fully buffed while face-tanking so you can run off to a group whenever a spot opens. Those buffs aren't necessary when root-rotting.
What you want to do:
- Fully buff yourself. Ranger buffs aren't super exciting, but you need all the edge you can get.
- Skin, Coat, COE, SON, DS, Chloro, STR, Wolf Form, Call of Fire, etc. Everything you have that either helps you stay alive or do damage should be up.
- Don't forget to use damage-shields. Your Shield of Thorns/Thorncoat/Call of Earth all stack and will be a reasonably good source of extra damage. The damage/mana ratio will very likely exceed any nukes you could throw out during the fight. Plus they can be pre-cast so no risk of interrupting your swings and regular melee DPS.
- Fight appropriate targets. As you level, you'll want/need to target mobs that are of increasingly lower level than yourself due to how monster strength scales compared to players at higher levels. The sweet spot, in my experience, are finding those mobs that straddle the blue and light-blue /con line. Essentially you want to find mobs that are just 1-2 levels from being a light-blue /con.
- TIP: Mobs in later expansions are, in generally, relatively harder or tougher than mobs in earlier expansions. So a blue /con in Classic zones will be easier than a blue /con in Kunark zones and much easier than a /blue con in Velious zones. Face-tanking level-appropriate mobs is very difficult for Rangers to do efficiently in Velious, and I'd recommend you avoid it as a real means to XP outside of Classic and maybe Kunark zones.
- If face-tanking in a grouping zone, pull your mobs to an appropriate spot. Generally you want to fight near to the zoneline for an easy getaway, but not so close you're going to interfere with people resting at the zone-in or training people unnecessarily. Remember in zones that have "loops" for a zone entrance to always zone-out on the right-hand side (server etiquette). That's the train side of the zone-out and the other side is kept safe. So you can often fight on that right-hand "train" side without interfering with other players.
- Dump your mana during the fight (i.e. weave nukes in between your swings). Killing the mob faster and therefore taking less damage from it will save you time compared to healing after the fight. You'll regen mana while medding much faster than your health will regen.
- If things get hairy then root the mob, back up, and rest. Use that time to heal or reapply key buffs before re-engaging. You can even weave rotting and face-tanking techniques together, if that seems more desirable for your situation.
- Gearing Priorities:
- Good haste items are extremely valuable. Swiftwind and Dark Cloak of the Sky, especially combined, will make this tactic much more viable and let you take on harder targets.
- Slow-proccing weapons such as Swarmcaller or Earthcaller will also be valuable. Obviously the Swarmcaller is much, much easier to obtain but it has sub-prime damage/delay ratio compared to a lot of other affordable options. So while fishing for your slow proc you'll have lowered DPS. If you get unlucky with the RNG this can hose an entire fight, be wary. If you find yourself relying on this tactic you might want to stack DEX to increase your proc rates.
- Use your heals after the fight. Medding is much more efficient resource-gains than health regen or bandaging. I'll usually dump all of my remaining and medded mana into heals post-fight until I'm at about 85% health or so, then med up while my natural regen (plus any regen spells) bring me back to full health. By then I should have enough mana to engage my next mob effectively.
Too many options to list. What you can kill will also be much more gear-dependent than other soloing options. You really need to experiment with trial-and-error to figure out what works for you. Some tips/tricks of places that worked for me.
- While fear-kiting raptors in Wakening Lands you'll find a quest item called Strong Raptor Gut which is for a decent bracer the Ice Forged Shackles. The other drop you need is a Strong Wooden Branch which drop from Holgresh flying-monkeys in the same zone. It's a tough fight for your level, but you can kill these solo if geared reasonably well. Try to take on the wizards rather than the magicians, so you don't have to deal with the pet. Make sure to have Call of Sky up to fish for stun procs that can interrupt their nukes.
- While fear-kiting bats in Nagafen's Lair you'll eventually get to a point where your killing the 4 spawns in the Guano room with resources to spare as you level up there. Grab some of the nearby beetles (or a LDC if you're feeling really good about yourself) and face-tank them for an extra kill or two in your rotation.
- Ravishing Drolvargs in Dreadlands are a good blue /con into your high 50's (some even to 60). They are also bit easier and lower HP than Drolvarg Sentries inside Karnor's Castle. If you're LFG in KC, try to snag some buffs (Clarity really helps) inside the KC zone line. Shout your LFG macro, then zone out into DL. Track for an appropriate-leveled Ravishing Drolvarg and kill it while waiting. Not only are they a slight /undercon compared to other nearby options but they can drop canines which you can turn-in for XP in FV. The XP from that turn-in is pretty small at that level, but every little bit helps, and helps push these as an option over their KC counterparts when killing time. When it's time to rest, run back into KC and rest there while shouting LFG :)