Ranger? What is a Ranger? Well by technical definition when Everquest was launched we were imagined as a class that would be a hybrid magic caster and light tank mix of the Druid and Warrior classes. What Have we been over the years? The butt of jokes, confused, the odd man out...the guy (or girl) never invited to groups. What are we now? This is the real question I want to answer and elaborate on. I've been playing a ranger since late 1999 we have changed, evolved & been re-imagined many times. What we are now is a utilitarian DPS class. We excel in almost nothing, side the occasional ranged DPS burn..but we can do almost anything required of any raid current or past, class restrictions given. We have been this way for at least the last 3 years of my raiding experience. We have the ability when playing at par to do well on DPS while CC'ing (root/snares) Disc tanking (evasion/WS) and spot healing all while adding to the raids overall Dps via Adps buffs and debuffs. So we come to the first question, if I'm DPS how do I fulfill that portion of my classes role in a raid? So first off, what is DPS? And what is ADPS? Well DPS is maximizing the number spells (abilities/skills) you can cast within a certain time period, and maximizing the amount of damage you can do with each spell (abilities/skills). A.K.A. Damage per Second. ADPS is an ability be it buff or debuff, skill or spell, that modifies your group or raids damage on said target, or targets via debuff the current mobs in the encounter, or buffing your damage done. A.K.A. Additive Damage per Second. The greatest impact on DPS is how you play, it's not really gear or AA's (past certain thresholds). When you look at top damage parses for certain classes you're going to see a large variation, if gear and AA's is what made the difference in top DPS for every person of every class, it would dictate they all be at relatively the same level, which is not the case. One of the main things to maximizing your DPS or maximizing the amount of globals or times you cast in a certain time period is knowing what you're going to cast 1-2 globals ahead of time, compensating for mob positioning, push...possible encounter mechanics etc. For example, if I start casting announced shots I'm going to plan if I need to move at the end of the cast during the global lockout period, to get in line of sight for focused storm or if I can stay still and continue to dps...examples of these would be CoB (for needed movement) and Valley (for not needing to move) I'm going to have these planned out before I actually ever do them. Once you have this planned out and know a general rotation for your class (in this example ranger), you need to know the best way to get the information from your fingers to the game. In other words, the best way to tell your character what to do. The worst way to do this is actually clicking the button on your bar with your mouse, the second worst way is reacting to a finished cast...in other words you see that you're done, and cast reactively based on when you finished. The time difference between one cast and the next in that case would be latency + your reaction time, which are both likely much larger then you'd like to admit and very significant. The method that's going to result in the best use of global cooldowns is spamming your keys, a lot of people like to make fun of this. But the reality is keyboards that have macros (g15, g19 etc series) can be set up to automatically for this, and you can literally hold down a key that will then maximize input to the game (something like 1 input per millisecond). If you don't have this or a similar keyboard, just mash the keyboard. What you're doing with this method is accounting for any error you might make, whether it be not realizing a finished cast or not pressing at all. The time it takes to find the proper key with your mouse, etc. A lot of times this error is a lot greater then people realize/would care to admit. Another thing that's going to help you maximizing your spell/skill/ability usage is planning your movement, the reality is any fight that has a mechanic is going to make you move. If you have an instant cast ability, use this during the movement time...or even better plan your movement for a time period where you know you're going to be dealing with the global lockout (the greyed out spell time when you can't cast). If you combine your ability to move and plan, with the ability to maximize spells cast and damage done you're going to see a significant increase in your total damage done as a ranger. The next step to increasing damage is maximizing the damage each of these spells/skills/abilities is going to do. If you have one buff that increases attack speed by 15% or lets say gives a global weapon speed reduction, and another buff that increase damage done by 62% and you overlap these you'll be doing 62% more damage while attack 15% faster, you're going to do more damage using them together rather then separately, now a lot of people know this but don't necessarily put it to practice. A lot of people think oh, i'll just hit these together...and get maximum possible damage, what they don't realize is if you don't sync them with outside sources (beastlord, bard, shaman, berserkers) you're not actually getting the maximum benefit. So if I know for example, a shaman/bard/beastlord are going to sync at the start of Oratory (a fight I know will only be 40-60s long) I can cast my longest to shortest duration buffs before the fight starts, knowing they will all last longer then 60s (minimum) and get a complete 60s window of full overlap on all buffs (internal and external) example below: In this example, I have all necessary buffs before the fight starts and I attack for the full duration for the max damage possible on every ability possible, the result is a parse 35k above anyone else of the same class even from a ranger in the same group as me getting the external buffs at the same time I am. I'm not claiming I'm better, or somehow more skilled or uber. I'm just stating that the benefit from knowing exactly what to do is clear. In the next example (windsong) I show how you can plan out DPS abilities once you know the general length/timing of the raid. In the above example I made sure I always had a damage modifier sync'd with epics for the add burn, as well as followup damage for the boss sustained DPS phase. This was based around the raid dps + set downtime during each 'inactive' boss phase (if you run out, as in this example) and accounting for trying to give the group i'm in a damage modifier as much as possible as well. Also notice I didn't use Bullseye, this was the first time I did this raid and didn't want to waste burns that may be needed later without knowing, therefore I knew to save it because I was unsure of raid length & if a disc call would be made. This is a good way to approach new fights typically. You need to be aware of how long the fight is going to last, a good estimate of the total active up time attacking mobs, so you can figure out when to use what, and how to use abilities as much as possible with as much overlap as possible. You need to be aware of things in the fight that may give you additional damage benefits, or times your guild will need burns. An example of this is I know from doing CoB with a guild twice I have 18 minutes (minimum) between the first mini, the first port, and the Wilo main burn. This means I can use a 'Main' burn on the first mini, and still have everything up for the first port, and I know I will have 18 minutes after the port before we burn Wilo. A lot of this stuff I have gone over is going to require a lot of practice, but the most important thing is you stay self motivated to improve weekly. You can find little things in every encounter that are going to allow you to do more damage. Things like learning to DPS multiple targets, learning to autofire on mobs as you run from target to target, constantly doing damage while mobile. The second part of our class is utility, I see this as primarily a secondary role but nowhere near inconsequential by any means. Our Adps: 1) Auspice.1: Increase Chance to Critical Nuke by 27% 2: Increase Accuracy by 200% 3: Increase Chance to Critical Heal by 27% 4: Increase Chance to Critical Hit by 195% 5: Increase Chance to Critical DoT by 27% 10: Increase ATK by 165 This is MGB'able and can be pre buffed with tranquil blessings. 2) Group Guardian.4: Increase Melee Haste v3 by 20% 7: Increase Current HP by 600 per tick 8: Increase ATK by 168 9: Increase Hit Damage by 32% This is neither MGB'able or tranquil'able. 3) Third spire of the Pathfinders.4: Absorb Spell Damage: 100% Total: 200 6: Decrease Hit Damage Taken by 3% 7: Increase Critical Hit Damage by 20% of Base Damage 8: Absorb Melee Damage: 3% Total: 100000 12: Increase Critical Nuke Damage by 30% of Base Damage This will buff you+your group. Primary Utility spells: 1) Vinelash Cascade ~ This is a frontal cone root, it snares when the root portion fades. 2) Grasp of Sylvan spirits ~ This is a low resist check quick-cast root AA we got recently, very useful. 3) Volatile/Glacial arrow ~ These are debuffs we can cast off the global lockout for spell damage modification for anyone attacking the marked target. 4) Heals/Deluge/Balm ~ We have a slow-low heal named 'Purespring' a quick large heal named 'Desperate Downpour' and a slow-low cure named 'Wild Balm' all very useful, not only for keeping yourself alive, but your group and other targets if you're short on healers or one dies etc. 5) Entrap ~ Quick cast, AA snare, nearly instant..super low resist check + long duration. 6) Convergence of spirits ~ Instant cast heal + HoT (aa) 7) Protection of the spirit wolf ~ Small ward. (absorbs Y% damage until Xtotal) 8) Outrider's Evasion ~ Melee mitigation buff (evasion based) 9) Weapon Shield Discipline ~ 24 second parry modifier. With that said, lets get to what abilities to use to maximize damage on spells/skills/abilities. #1 | 40-120s fight. a) Prebuffs ~ Get Scouts mastery of fire/ice + Poison arrows + BP proc up. b) Cast Auspice (if you're on mgb, or no one's assigned), Bullseye, First Spire, Imbued, Attack, Guardian c) Get Adps buffs. d) Announced > Focused > Hearthslash > Provoking shot > Cold (VoA) > Fire (VoA) > Cold (HoT) > Fire (Hot) > Cast forced rejuv. e) Repeat d, spam. #2 | 90s-120s fight. a) Prebuffs ~ Scouts mastery of fire/ice + poison arrows + BP proc. b) Bullseye + Attack + Guardian + Imbued + Auspice (if you're on mgb, or no one's assigned) + First spire + Sham/bard epic (and their personal cooldowns) will always be 'main' burn.. #3 | Melee 60-120s fight. a) Outrider's Accuracy + Epic + Cata glyph b) You can also choose to wait until after the next shaman epic, so you don't waste a lot of the glyph time. Things to note: a) You should learn/understand when you can do what in encounters for yourself, there is no substitute for self understanding. It's your job if another ranger is constantly ahead of you (and in the same group as you) to pick apart the parse and figure out exactly what is making the difference. It's also important to understand that if you're not in the same group as other people parsing you're likely not going to parse the same unless buffs are done (from other classes) at that exact same time, the same amount of times, etc. b) Things like Volatile arrow & Glacial arrow are good to keep on your 'spam' key since HoT. 1) Example of spam key: /doability 1/disc XYZ/Alt Act ###/Alt Act ###In this example it would do whatever I have set to ability one, as well as a disc and two AA's.c) Pets are terrible DPS typically, try not to waste a global lockout on casting pack hunt instead of a main dps ability. d) If you don't understand what stacks, or more importantly what a buff actually does...use lucy. e) Bard epic AT 'you are filled with the spirit of vesagran' f) Sham epic AT 'you are blessed with the gift of the ruchu' Below is our (rangers) current damage modification abilities, and a short but simple explanation of how to break down what stacks. Bullseye Discipline Rk. II SlotDescription 1:Increase Archery Skill Check by 20% 2:Increase Archery Damage Modifier by 174% Note the archery damage modifier, Not the damage, minimum damage...or flat base (on hit) additive damage modifier. Also note the slot of the buffs. Guardian of the Forest SlotDescription 2:Add effect: Guardian of the Forest Effect 4:Increase Haste v3 by 25% 7:Increase Hitpoints v2 by 2600 per tick 8:Increase ATK by 325 9:Increase All Skills Damage Modifier by 62% Note how the modifier is categorized as 'All Skills Damage Modifier' and the slot of the buff. No two buffs that are alike would stack, as some might have been told, or found out. These are not alike. While the end is 'more damage' it's not as simple as saying 'they both increase damage, therefore don't stack'. Also while we're on this explanation, I guess I could add why Outrider's Attack goes here also. Outrider's Attack SlotDescription 2:Increase Chance to Hit by 40% with All Skills 3:Increase Chance to Critical Hit by 30% with All Skills 4:Increase Damage Bonus by 130 with All Skills 12:Increase ATK by 250 Notice the damage modifier this time does not mention a specific skill (archery/bullseye disc) nor a modifier (all skills damage modifier/guardian of the forest) ~ This is a flat damage bonus on the end of the DPS algorithim. Outrider's Accuracy SlotDescription 2:Increase All Skills Damage Modifier by 52% 4:Increase Chance to Hit by 160% with All Skills 5:Increase All Skills Minimum Damage Modifier by 29% Refer to guardian stacking. So in this example, and I guess as our main damage modification is now explained, we can all come to understand better how it works. Resources: 1) http://www.eqoutrider.net/index1.html - this is a site with old and new information alike, useful if you use it. 2) http://gambosoft.com/Pages/Downloads.htm - This is a site for gamparse & gamtextriggers both useful tools in everquest. 3) http://raidloot.com/ - a site to dump and compare loot & search spells etc. 4) http://everquest.allakhazam.com/ - good site for basic information, information on epic 2.0 etc. 5) http://lucy.allakhazam.com/ - base information for most spells/abilities.