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Intro: Will does not like Elves. He DOES like bees.
First thoughts on Rangers: Will: Despite their flaws every time they’re at the table they’re still fun. So the hate is a bit overblown.
Kevin: 2 main issues. The core stuff is over specific. And that favored terrain puts your ranger into way too specific of an archetype. Second, all of the rangers stuff makes an entire pillar obsolete. The exploration pillar.
Jarred: The exploration pillar is generally ignored as it is. And it takes the DM focusing on that in order to make the Ranger feel more worthwhile.
Kevin: Third bad thing, the beast master.
Optional Class Variants: Canny: Definitely gives off a ranger vibe. Let’s the ranger take Nature as a prof and get double their prof bonus so that way they don’t need a high INT as well. Or anything else that fits their archetype that they have in mind. A Van Helsing type could take Religion.
Roving: More important than the increase in speed (though I like that) is the climb and swim speed for free. I have noticed recently just how much things change when you can climb straight up for free. It makes maps feel more 3D. Swimming speed also lets you fight well in water instead of having a bunch of debuffs. And of course is fitting for rangers.
Tireless: This feels a little weak for a 10th level feature until you compare it to the non-variant feature, your 3rd favored terrain. A whole action to get 1d8+4 or 5 temp HP is a bit of a cost. I think I’d have liked it as a bonus action so it got more combat use. It’s seems the expectation is to use that outside of combat.But, the exhaustion reduction with a short rest is awesome. And that’s the type of thing that makes a class feel unique. No one else can do that. And it feels like the ranger is accustomed to moving long days over land and a bit of rest is all they need to be back up and running.
Would be really nice if you could mix it with Frenzy barbarian but not for 10 levels.
Favored Foe: This is like a baked in hunter’s mark light at level 1. But it is always going to be worth it over casting hunter’s mark if you got it. I do wish it ignored concentration, but that’s alright. Rangers have dealt with it up to this point and there’s no reason they need to cast more now. All that this really does is keep you from using a spell slot. But rangers' big issue really is the concentration, not the spell slots.
It is a bit of a boon to multiclassing into ranger. But that’s it. And 1 level into warlock will always be better.
I definitely like the new style. It simplifies summoning and makes it feel worthwhile instead of making 8 cr 1/8th creatures. My only issue is the stat block is a bit confusing. I’d have rather they just split up the different ones into different stat blocks. It’s also a bit weird when it says “+Spells level” as I assume that means even at the base level. So the bestial spirit base AC is 11+2 for the fact that it’s cast at level 2.
Fighting Styles: I am SO happy they added these. I always hated that the fighting styles were the same as fighters but washed down. This once again differentiates the ranger much better.
Blind Fighting is really cool but just a bit too specific. A little situational but I think it works well with a party that likes to cast Darkness.
Druidic Warrior is pretty cool. I don’t think it excites ME personally. But I like the idea of half casters having a chance at getting cantrips and giving up the fighting style is the perfect way to do that.
Throw Weapon Fighting: Just a cool way to play. It’s similar in spirit to the Archery feat. My only concern is that you’re going to have to have like 80 daggers on your person. I could see this making Hand Axes more useful. 1d6 + light means you can hold two of them. Still a bit hard to hold on to them all.
Primal Awareness: This was a totally useless feature before. Now it is mostly a flavor one. That said you get a bunch of great scouting abilities which I do like. Lots of good spells out of it for free that you dont need to prepare and probably never need more than 1 time a day.
Martial Versatility: Uhh neat! I guess I like when these things are codified but I probably didn’t need this.
Nature’s Veil: This is pretty good and replaces that god awful Hide in plain Sight Feature as well. Which is so bad it makes 10 for rangers a dead level basically. Instead, now you can use a BA to be invisible until the start of your next turn. Notice it does not say “or until you attack”
That is a whole turn with advantage attacks and attacks against you had disadvantage unless the enemy has some invisibility seeing. Using this up to your Prof bonus is pretty good as well. At that level you’ll get 4 uses per long rest. All the way up to 6. Seems like a reasonable amount to me.
Overall this has done a lot to fix the ranger and make it feel more differentiated. BUT it ignores the capstone of the ranger. I expect it was ignored as most people don't get to level 20 anyways.
Fey Wanderer: I feel like the flavor of this is odd only because while reading it I had this thought of “Is this even new?”. I feel like we’ve done the fey ranger thing in the past but in reality, there’s just a bunch of other “fey touched” classes. Guess it’s time for the ranger to get on board.
I think this is quite fitting for rangers and you can weave in some time spent in the fey wild. Or time spent with fairies in the forest. Or whatever.
It’s Dreadful Strikes feature is pure damage. Which is great! I have nothing more to add for that hahaha. Except that I do like that the damage is psychic if only for the fact that so few things resist it.
The spells they get are all fitting and nice adds to the ranger list.
Otherworldly Glamour: I am definitely a fan of this as it basically lets you use your wisdom for the charisma skills and gives you one of those skills. It’s a cool way to let the Ranger be the party face and not have to go deep into Cha. But even a +1 with their +4 or 5 to wisdom would be really helpful on those checks.
Beguiling Twist: This is really odd. It definitely lets you feel unique that’s for sure. Sadly beyond the Charm Person spell you get at 3rd level you cannot specifically set this up. The bright side of this is that there are plenty of creatures that charm or frighten and if you have a party member who can do this you can give their spell a second chance.
Fey Reinforcements: I think this ability is actually a bit lackluster. I do like that you can summon the creature for free without concentration. That is amazing. But it only comes in with 30 HP. I feel like that just isn’t enough to really justify.
You know what. I take that back. If someone told me it was an ability that got you an extra attack and 30 extra HP I would say that is amazing at any level. And the fact that the attack bonus goes up with your prof does make that a lot better.
Misty Wanderer: This is really cool. I think it’s a bit weird this whole subclass feels like it just gives you spells with different uses. But why fix what aint broke? Misty step is probably one of the top 3 Bonus Action spells in my book. And letting you do it free up to 5 times per long rest AND take someone else with you is beautiful.
It can actually make up for movement hindrances that other players may have. If the wizard is stuck you can run up to them and then misty step them away to safety. And it’s not like one of you has to stay behind. Now you’re both where you want to be. I do somewhat wish that Fey Reinforcements was switched with Misty Wanderer and that Fey reinforcements was cast at level 5 for free. But that’s alright. They’re both great abilities. I just hate how long you have to wait for what feels like the most defining feature this class gives you.
So this is probably one of the stronger ranger classes i have seen in awhile. Extra 1d6 damage per turn, neat battlefield control, additional movement I guess?
Being able to push people around is great and I could see using that to set up your wizard for a sick AOE.
Magic: I appreciate that you get Mage Hand. If someone said that your bugs can do all this stuff but can’t act as a magic hand for you that’d be real dumb. So good on them for getting on top of that.
The rest of the spells are pretty cool but nothing particularly special I guess.
Writhing Tide: And now we get the only ranger that can fly! 10ft flying speed isnt crazy but I definitely see it getting some use. Especially if you’re a ranged ranger. Number of times equal to your Prof bonus, as dictated by causality.
Mighty Swarm: Nice direct upgrade. Knocking prone is nice but can you just knock them prone without moving them? I could see a melee ranger wanting to just move them into themselves in order to prevent movement and just let the prone go through. Half cover is alright but I actually wish it just added +2 to your AC. It’s a lot cleaner phrasing and stuff like sharpshooter wouldn’t get around it.
Swarming Dispersal: Definitely a neat feature. It’s funny how it's kinda similar to the Fey Wanderer in that it’s basically a misty step. But when you take damage. Getting resistance is cool. Idk this is just cool. It’s a solid 15th level ability
Beast Master Companions
Beast Master Ranger, highly regarded as one of the worst classes in 5e, came out 6 years ago. After all this time, the fix that WotC tries to put down, is a new beast. Don’t get me wrong. The beast was part of the problem. But all that this really did was add a bit more HP and simplify things a bit. And let you make the animal whatever you want instead of being tied to the meta best options. And on average increased the AC for non meta picks. And let the beasts ability tie to your spell save. And let you add your prof bonus to any saving throws the beast makes. And raise the average damage by making it + it’s attacking skill AND your prof bonus
Okay....okay. So it actually kinda fixed a lot.
I do appreciate the different animals for land, air, and sky. It makes me think of the Pokemon Training character in Super Smash. Where you have your 3 options you rotate through.
Overall...this is much better. Especially mixed in with the new Ranger variants.
ALL HAIL THE NEW RANGER.