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Selkie February 22, 2021 13:44

Ranger spell review
Ranger spells review (4.2.1)

Book one: Lesser Charms

Remove Hunger - a utility spell that conveniently frees up a slot in your inventory and means you never have to worry about your next meal. I use this all the way through the game. Very useful

Detect Life - another useful spell that's not quite as good as the rogue's detection spell but is about on par with a blackguard's ability to read minds. It can find ant pits (which a blackguard can't) but it has a big blackhole for scary undead pits. I can usually guess where they are by using a level feeling, sense surroundings and the big empty hole in a room. I use this all the way through to the end game.

Cure Poison - not bad, but probably the weakest spell in the book. It quickly gets superceded by Resist Posion. And by the mid game I've usually found armour with resist poison so it becomes redundant.

Resist Poison - even with poison resistance armour this spell still serves a useful purpose against the really scary poison breathers in the mid to late game - it makes drolems and great swamp wyrms foes to kill rather than flee. A strong spell.

Stone to Mud - I use this all the time. In the early game to access treasure in veins, so I don't have to carry a pick. Then in the mid to late game to break into vaults, or to create winding antisummoning corridors. Also good to break LoS on long tunnels with a time vortex zapping at you from the other end. A very good spell.

Sense Surroundings - So I typically play as either a ranger or a rogue because I like treasure hunting and diving. The rogue can detect treasure, and the ranger knows where he is going. It's an interesting trade off. Rods of detect treasure are more common than rods of magic mapping and recharge more quickly, so in the mid game Sense surroundings is easy to get a quick feel for a level. Where the rogue equivalent spell is much stronger (and it's a bit scummy) is running up and down the stairs on the hunt for stat potions and potions of healing. A quick detect and you can nick it before any monsters even know you were on their level. You can upgrade your stats this way faster than any other race. If you don't find an artifact light that maps the entire level, then this spell is useful all the way up to the end game. Overall though, I'd have to say detect treasure is a stronger spell and saves me lugging potions of enlightenment around.

Book Two: Naturecraft

Cover Tracks - first time I played as a ranger I didn't even touch this spell. Then I started playing around with it and it's actually very strong. If I accidentally walk by a pit and hydras start popping their heads out of the door then I'll cast this and haste self and leg it. You probably need speed of around +15 to really make the most of it but it can certainly get you out of a tight spot.

I really want to know the mechanics of it. How does it work in the code? The monsters can still see the character, right? It's not like it boosts stealth, because they're already aware so that wouldn't make a difference.

Anyway, I'll give it a solid 6/10

Create arrows - I have mixed results with this trying to create decent branded ammo. It says it depends on the quality of the stave, but it's not always the case. I've had staves of speed and *destruction* and staves of power that have only given me very vanilla ammo. Then a detect evil stave gives me arrows of slay evil. The only thing I've found is the more charges on the stave, the better the chance the ammo will be a keeper. Fortunately staves are so plentiful that it means quickly you'll be carrying a decent quiver of arrows that can deal damage to any enemy.

Haste Self - Very, very useful spell and it's almost on permanent cast for me at high levels. HS and sense surroundings are my two favourite ranger spells.

Decoy - Another spell that I never used the first time I played ranger in the latest version. I tried it, didn't really understand it and then just forgot about it. Then somebody on here mentioned how imba it was and I started experimenting. I still only ever use it on boss fights, but it's a really powerful trick that is sometimes just broken. I've fought a couple of uniques who seem to get transfixed by it and just stop moving for about 15 turns, and by then the damage is done. It happened in the end fight with Morgorth and I sort of felt bad showering him in arrows. But then suddenly the decoy was destroyed and he turned his attention back to me (albeit considerably weaker than he was). I think of it like the paladin's single combat. A really strong spell for fighting uniques that is perhaps a little bit broken.

Herbal Curing - this is the highest level spell available to the class and it is almost useless. Cures poison (which I could already do at level 4), cures stunning which is a very common bonus on a lot of armour and rings, and cures black breath. It comes at level 40, it costs 20 mana and its failure rate is unfairly high... even higher if you're actually stunned! I just don't get it. It should at least heal 200hp as a bare minimum. The only time I ever use it is to cure blackbreath (but a mushroom of vigour and a potion of RLL could do the same job. I'm going to have to give this a D minus and suggest it repeats the year.

Compared to the old days the 4.2.1 ranger feels like a much more complete character and not just an OP arrow spammer. The spell collection and flavour text make it feel like the dunadan of LotR, which works well. I'd say Stone to Mud and Haste Self are the only two that feel like they stray a little bit out of the realm and into something more magical. But that said, a bit of magic is probably on a ranger's CV so it's not too out of character.

My only suggestions would be to improve herbal curing (I'd recommend 200hp heal and adding a resist poison/confusion/stunning combination). I think haste self spell name and flavour text should be something along the lines of summon steed. You call your horse to speed you up. I think cure poison and resist poison are too similar and occur consecutively. Maybe resist poison should be in the second spell book? Finally, I like the idea of a ranger having the ability to become invisible by hiding in the dungeon. You would select an unoccupied wall and effectively merge into it for a set number of turns without destroying it. SO the monsters don't just stand still once you disappear it would need to create something like a decoy (but not a decoy) further along in the dungeon.

Anyway, if you've read all of this long post - thank you!

archolewa February 22, 2021 19:55

This is a very nice analysis! Ive been meaning to try out the Ranger, but Iove melee brutes so much that I havent gotten around to it.

Playing a bit off of yout last suggestion, I wonder if maybe instead of herbal healing, Rangers get a pass wall spell? A buff that allows them to walk through walld like high level undead. A great way to escape, to ambush dangerous monsters and would presumably make you immune to being crushed by the ceiling. It would also I think fit well with thr Rangers' theme of knowing and using the dungeon.

The Doombringer in TOME4 has a similar spell, and it is one of my favorites.

Nick February 22, 2021 20:34

Yes, excellent analysis, thank you. I agree that Herbal Healing is underwhelming, I'll consider your suggestion (and anything else anyone wants to suggest).

Pete Mack February 22, 2021 21:59

Passwall is insanely overpowered in the same way as LOS abuse, but without any need to prepare the battlefield. It might make sense for druid or Necromancer, but not for a class with already Ethan ranged damage.

Selkie February 23, 2021 00:10

Pete/Nick - please can you tell me what the mechanics of Cover Tracks are? Genuinely interested how it works

archolewa February 23, 2021 03:55


Originally Posted by Pete Mack (Post 151224)
Passwall is insanely overpowered in the same way as LOS abuse, but without any need to prepare the battlefield. It might make sense for druid or Necromancer, but not for a class with already Ethan ranged damage.

What if you disallowed shooting while in a wall? I feel like disabling the Ranger's best offensive capability would go a long way to keeping people from abusing it.
You could disable attacking as well if you were really worried about abuse. In fact, not being able to attack at all could be interesting, because it introduces some situational downsides to it. Don't go passwalling when there are Dreads and Furys nearby!

Nick February 23, 2021 04:37


Originally Posted by Selkie (Post 151227)
Pete/Nick - please can you tell me what the mechanics of Cover Tracks are? Genuinely interested how it works

It does three things:
  1. It reduces the distance at which monsters can see the player by a factor of 4
  2. It reduces the distance at which monsters can hear the player by a factor of 4
  3. It makes the player leave no scent trail

mrfy February 23, 2021 05:59

I still think the nerfing of ranger's extra shots has seriously compromised the class, enough that I don't find them an interesting choice. The spells I find mostly useful and agree with Selkie in their analysis.

Pete Mack February 23, 2021 14:12

Ranger Extra shots aren't all that nerfed. Extra shots from bows and slings are a different story, but the ranger just usually wants extra might instead.

mrfy February 24, 2021 02:44


Originally Posted by Pete Mack (Post 151241)
Ranger Extra shots aren't all that nerfed. Extra shots from bows and slings are a different story, but the ranger ass usually wants extra might instead.

You are correct, in that I should not be complaining about the class being changed but the general nerfing of extra shots. To me, this made it much harder and less interesting to play a ranger. Perhaps a middle ground could be reached.

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