by Darcena Wolf-Valslayer

Welcome to the results of the 2020 GemStone IV TownCrier Ranger Survey! The intent of this survey was to gather detailed information on player satisfaction in regards to all aspects of the ranger class in the game GemStone IV.

Physical Skills

This section is intended to provide specifics on how players of rangers view their physical skills. Questions asked about: weapons trained in and reasons; weapons used while leveling;  Armor Sub Group worn, training amount, and reasons; satisfaction between hindrance and squishiness; CMAN satisfaction, training amount, and reasons for choosing them; and choices in training ambush and dodge.

Weapons

60 people answered the question asking them to list the weapon types they were currently using while 58 answered the question regarding what weapon types they used while leveling.

Several options were provided for individuals to select regarding why they chose to train in the weapon types they were currently trained in. They were not able to write in an answer and were forced to select from the options provided. They could choose more than one reason.

55 individuals selected at least one reason. One individual stated they didn’t provide a choice because none of them applied. Another individual who didn’t provide a choice stated their reasoning for the weapon they used was because that type was readily available at lower levels. A third who provided no answer indicated that they don’t use a weapon.

Brawling was only to supplement archery versus undead through voln. [Dhairn, 16]

Ranged, even without aiming, is pretty consistently good across the board. It does however have its limits in terms of what you should and shouldn’t hunt, though, as it’s a style that relies on crit kills. Things with piercing immunity, things that don’t crit kill, and noncorp undead/elementals are generally off the table, which is limiting- and will be moreso around the later 60s when moving on from the Citadel, since krag dwellers are basically giant rocks and the Red Forest has a bunch of tree spirits. [Kedsie, 61]

When I started my ranger character I really wanted to do ranged with a bow and arrow, but after researching the mechanics and trying it out it was too complex and burdensome so I switched back to edged weapons. Two weapon combat seemed the most fun for edged weapon melee (and I love not having just one project weapon to customize, but two!). One of my eventual post-cap goals though would be to learn ranged in addition to melee though. In concept it is neat, but the current systems felt too complex and less fun to learn than melee for me. [Aeith, 72]

While the main use of ranged weapons is a style/roleplay choice, I do miss not being able to interchange ranged with edged, or even two weapon. I think overall more weapon choices should be available while leveling mainly for the fun factor. It can get repetitive and less fun to use the same weapon over and over. The “wish” would be that the weapon type is less of a training requirement, i.e. I should be able to put the bow aside, and pick up one (or two) edged weapons and fight without penalty. I used to be able to do this years ago (prior to GS4) and miss it. [Erek, 75]

Before the changes to voln fu, I was dual trained in both ranged and brawling. I dropped brawling in favor of more magical skills since. [Maodan, 86]

Arrow mitigation and non group value, vs brawling, no disarm possibility and group value as an mstriker. [Kreigh, 100]

I chose OHE for my ranger because at the time I started him, it was the weapon type for which nice and affordable items were most commonly available. It also had a relatively low TP cost, so I felt like I would be putting myself at a disadvantage in the long term if I were to choose a different type. That was in the 90s, and things are different now.

I still choose OHE for my ranger because at this point he’s got a pretty nice one, and it still works well enough. UAC as a backup is a post-cap goal for situations where I may get disarmed. As I’ve explained in previous questions, arrow management is obnoxious and so I refuse to go ranged. [Lanzerik, 100]

Armor

60 people answered the question asking them what armor subgroup their ranger was currently wearing and 60 people also answered the question about whether or not they intend to overtrain in armor use above what was necessary to wear that armor subgroup. While the chart below displays the results of the second question by armor subgroup, it was rather even across armor subgroups as well. 31.7% of respondents expected to overtrain in Armor Use, 38.3% expected not to overtrain in Armor Use, and 30% were not sure.

All armor subgroups were included in the question, but any armor subgroup not listed was not chosen by any respondent.

Chart: Text Version of Above Table
Armor Sub Group # of Rangers Wearing Will Overtrain Won’t Overtrain Not Sure if Will Overtrain
8. Double Leather 10 4 4 2
9. Leather Breastplate 1 0 1 0
12. Brigandine Armor 33 12 12 9
13. Chain Mail 2 0 1 1
14. Double Chain 6 0 2 4
15. Augmented Chain 6 2 3 1
16. Chain Hauberk 2 1 0 1

59 individuals answered the following question which asked: “How satisfied are you with the interaction of the level of spell hindrance, amount of “squishiness”, and the ASG of armor you wear?”

Table: Ranger Satisfaction with Interaction Between ASG, Hindrance, and "Squishiness"
Scale Number
6/6 – very satisfied 9
5/6 14
4/6 12
3/6 12
2/6 9
1/6 – very unsatisfied 3

In the comments, many individuals indicated they were unhappy with the spell hindrance associated with their armor, especially for brigandine. Not all related comments have been included below.

previously used brig, got sick of the spell hindrance and switched to doubles… feels like a much better fit [Diria, 58]

feel like I get hit too often, and had to upgrade from brig to chain to offset that, double chain for better arm protection to prevent crits that stop casting [Direthorn, 58]

As previously stated, the open archer build is about striking first and fast and moving before getting ganged up on. I believe most rangers stick to brigandine, but I trained up to double chain (60 ranks) so that on the off chance I *am* hit, there’s less a chance to be put out of commission by a rank 2 arm wound. [in response to a previous question]

It helps mitigate arm wounds, which a rank 2 puts an archer out of the fight. So long as I can find a paladin with Armor Fluidity, it’s basically just like being in brigandine. [Kedsie, 61]

I’m staying in doubles because I hate spell hindrance of any kind. Even going to brig for a short while the tiny amount of failure chance always bothered me. So I decided to stay in doubles (even though I’m still trained in armor use up to brig). But when I get hit it hurts. Crit padding from the WPS helps, but yeah. I just hate spell hindrance so much. I love being magic using ranger and am going to try to stay in doubles as long as I can unless I feel like I’m just getting killed way too much as I approach nearer to cap.

I also like how leather armors feel more rangerly from a roleplaying perspective as well. I’ve always imagined that most ranger armor is something they’ve crafted from hides and skins and leatherwork they’ve mastered along their lifetime. I really like the concept and utility of Resist Nature (620) and I wish there was more rangers could do along that line or with leatherworking or armor working in general. (It would be nice if every class had something as prevalent and useful as Enchant or Ensorcel) [Aeith, 72]

A significant factor in choosing my armor is the Forest Armor script it holds. I would probably use augmented chain if I had equivalent stats on my set. [Maodan, 86]

I wear double chain largely for arm protection. The tradeoff is 8% spell hinderance, but I can live with that as spells in combat are more helpful than essential. [Noldi Stewarti, 96]

I seem to have a higher instance of spell hindrance than the formula would suggest. Considering that ranger spells are ridiculously expensive, this is a source of frustration. [Leifa, 100]

I routinely get Palidan Armor fluidity to reduce spell hindrance to a tolerable level. [Valdarrow, 100]

Dealing with spell hindrance as a “normal” thing would eventually make me quit the game I think, so I avoid it at all costs. I hate it. No amount of physical protection is worth the aggravation in my opinion. Dying while hunting does far less to raise my blood pressure than having a 2% spell hindrance cause my spells to fail four times in a row. And yes, I have had something like that happen. [Lanzerik, 100]

Combat Maneuvers

This section of the survey had multiple questions aimed at understanding how players of rangers perceived combat maneuvers. This included asking overall satisfaction with the CMANs available to rangers, how much skill each person trained in relative to their level, the amount of satisfaction per CMAN design each person felt keeping in mind the CMAN point cost and amount of roundtime incurred (if applicable), and what influenced or the reasoning behind the types of CMANs each person trained their ranger in.

Overall, rangers reported they are very unsatisfied with the CMANs that are available to them. 42 of the participants were on the unsatisfied half of the Likert scale with 16 on the satisfied half.

Table of Ranger Satisfaction with Available CMANs
Scale Amount of Rangers
6/6 – very satisfied 3
5/6 4
4/6 9
3/6 9
2/6 12
1/6 – very unsatisfied 21

Looking at the amount of satisfaction for each available CMAN yielded some interesting results.

The top four CMANs that rangers reported they trained in:

  • Combat Defense (CDEFENSE) [40]
  • Disarm (DISARM) [32]
  • Combat Movement (CMOVEMENT) [29]
  • Shadow Mastery (SMASTERY) [28]

The four CMANs with the least number of rangers reporting they trained in them:

  • Garrote [13]
  • Shield Bash (SBASH) [13]
  • Subdual Strike (SSTRIKE) [13]
  • Trip [13]

The top five CMANs with the highest satisfaction:

  • Cunning Defense (CDEFENSE) [13]
  • Shadow Mastery (SMASTERY) [13]
  • Combat Focus (FOCUS) [8]
  • Combat Movement (CMOVEMENT) [8]
  • Hamstring [8]

The top four CMANs with the highest amount of “very unsatisfied”:

  • Multi-fire (MFIRE) [13]
  • Combat Movement (CMOVEMENT) [8]
  • Combat Mastery (CMASTERY) [7]
  • Disarm Weapon (DISARM) [7]
Table: Ranger Satisfaction with CMAN Designs
Combat Focus (FOCUS) Combat Mastery (CMASTERY) Combat Movement (CMOVEMENT) Cunning Defense (CDEFENSE) Dirtkick Disarm Weapon (DISARM) Feint Garrote Hamstring Multi-Fire (MFIRE) Precision Shadow Mastery (SMASTERY) Shield Bash (SBASH) Side by Side Subdual Strike (SSTRIKE) Sweep Trip Unarmed Specialist (UNARMED SPEC)
Very satisfying or great 8 2 8 13 3 7 7 2 8 1 2 13 2 3 3 6 2 3
Somewhere in between 9 3 8 20 7 16 10 4 3 1 1 5 3 8 1 6 2 4
Very unsatisfying or poor 3 7 8 4 5 7 2 3 3 13 6 4 4 3 3 4 4 2
Too low level to say yet 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0
Don’t use this CM enough to say 3 4 4 3 3 2 4 3 5 7 6 4 4 5 6 6 5 5
Not applicable or don’t have 28 34 22 14 33 20 29 38 31 29 37 24 37 30 38 31 38 37

Looking at the below chart on the amount of CMAN each ranger trained relative to his/her/their level, it’s clear that most trained between 1x-1.4x.

Of the 12 above that amount, the breakdown was as follows for their levels. In the 1.5x-1.9x bracket there were levels 100 (x3) and 43. In the 2x bracket were eight level 100 rangers.

Table: Amount of CMAN Trained Relative to Level
#x CMAN relative to level # of Rangers
I don’t train in Combat Maneuvers. 8
0.1x-0.4x 4
0.5x-0.9x 11
1x – 1.4x 25
1.5x-1.9x 4
2x 8

When asked what influenced the way the individual trained their Combat Maneuvers, most rangers had strong consideration on the defensive power followed by utility. When combining the categories of “strong” and “some” consideration, though, defensive power was still in the lead but offensive power became barely more valued than utility.

Table: Text for Influences on Training Ranger CMANs
Strong consideration Some consideration Little consideration No consideration
Defensive power 38 8 5 5
Offensive power 15 14 9 13
Roleplay 3 4 17 25
Suggestions/advice from other players 7 5 10 27
Utility 19 8 9 17

In the comments, multiple people discussed only training in CMAN in order to receive the passive benefit or defensive benefit from having the same CMAN used against them. Not all of the comments on these topics have been repeated.

SMastery is the only “Must Have” for an archer/brawler, as Multi-fire is currently a joke and Unarmed Specialist does nothing for high DS. I think far too many CMans are profession locked and should NOT be – which would solve much of the versatility in class training paths as well. [Dhairn, 16]

CMans for rangers are just fine (MFIRE is just silly for everyone including rangers). If rangers want more out of CMans they should be playing squares. There are gaps in functionality/playability but they are the result of spells not being tarted up for ages rather than CMan access. Rangers ought to be moaning at the 600s being boring not trying to steal basic rogue stuff for their post cap options.

Ranged is overpowered and compensates for that by being unplayable in other ways (like MFIRE being silly and ammo management). It needs taking down a peg so that it be made playable and have options like a sensible MFIRE added. (just like immo needed taking down a peg to open up wizard dev, and 1030 needs nerfing to open up dev for bards) [Name Withheld, 24]

I simply don’t have the TPs as a ranged ranger to utilize cmans currently. I don’t feel the loss at all. That should tell you the power level of the ranger right there. [Nehor, 38]

Dirtkick is the most useful CM for minimizing EBP which is a big benefit when using a large slow weapon. [Seomanthe, 39]

CM is a post-cap/post-fixstat goal due to my build. If I stayed an open archer, I would want to at least contribute to group hunting via Side by Side, by that would primarily only benefit the group, as ranged doesn’t receive an AS boost from it. [Kedsie, 61]

I find the ranger CMAN options pretty lackluster. Any of the utility maneuvers are outmatched by spells, and the ranged option is no good. Currently the only purpose is to defend. [Maodan, 86]

I’d like to be able to train in Side-by-Side, but it’s extremely expensive, especially considering how infrequently I hunt in groups. I think the thing I enjoy the most about Cunning Defense and Combat Movement is that they are passive…I don’t have to think about using or activating them. [Name Withheld, 92]

I really only maintain disarm and feint for defense against those cmans being used against me. Side by Side is, quite honestly, the best cman that I have access to, due to the increase in attack strength while grouped. [Name Withheld, 100]

i wish rangers had better cmans since we can double in CM. same with SHIELD and ARMOR. [Mitch, 100]

Originally, I looked at training in combat maneuvers for purely defensive purposes. Disarm, hamstring, shield bash, sweep were all maneuvers I encountered either hunting in Old Ta’Faendryl or when dealing with bandits. After trying to come up with a training scheme to help with the most recent Festival of the Fallen, I decided to pick up garrote in order to kill an opponent if my ranged weapons and spells weren’t effective. [Anarquendi Aldudil, 100]

I had shadow mastery for a while and then got rid of it because it’s not passive. Now with the recent rogue updates, I’ll be getting it again. I believe that rangers should have the same or similar affinity with the shadows as rogues, and so I think we should also get shadow dance or something like it. 1 second hard round time to hide for a class build designed around hiding and ambushing just makes sense, and we should have the ability to make shadow mastery permanently passive if we want to go that route. [Lanzerik, 100]

Most of the cmans we have pidgeonhole rangers to training for defense only. I have to have focus because TD is terrible, we all need disarm and cdefense. Sidebyside is anti-rp for a ranger. A bunch of the rest are generic and critters use them against us, so we train them for lack of anything else good. Mfire is trash. You can simply fire 3 arrows faster. They either need to halve the rt (my preference) or double the shots. Smastery is great with the new changes. [Arshwikk Aralock Ardenai, 100]

Ambush and Dodge

Ambush is kind of pointless for flaring weapons. I feel flares are better with a low rt. Dodge is superior to shield in every way but dodge is too expensive to 2x. [Felstump, 29]

Archery requires ambush to force decent aim and pushdown. Dodge is necessary as you lose parry and block DS as an archer. [Dhairn, 16]

1x is the absolute minimum ambush for an ambusher, its all I can afford for the moment but it needs to go higher. You have to have dodge or shield or be prepared to die. I chose dodge, because any halfling can tell you that shields are nasty heavy things and it stacks with 618 and racial AGI rather than working against it. [Name Withheld, 24]

Ambush is kind of pointless for flaring weapons. I feel flares are better with a low rt. Dodge is superior to shield in every way but dodge is too expensive to 2x. [Felstump, 29]

Ambush’s only utility as an open archer is its +1 AS per 4 ranks above 40, otherwise it’s a large investment for little returns at the expense of three or four other necessary skills.

Dodge on the other hand, 1x coupled with Mobility and the other defensive spells achieved through Ranger and Minor Spiritual is a good sweet spot. [Kedsie, 61]

I decided to give up ambush in order to keep a TWC build that didn’t sacrifices spells, or utility. My training points for this build are a tight, so I can only afford to 1x dodge. If I had the points to 2x dodge I would, but rangers get a nice dodge boost from mobility which I feel allows me to stay at just 1x training and not feel horribly exposed with my TWC from the open build. But also for me, personally, I’ve never had much of an interest in an ambushing style character. I’m glad ambushing exists and it’s a viable training path, just personally for me as a player I’d rather walk into a room and just attack and use magic without having to bother with hiding and sneaking 🙂 I’m glad others seem to enjoy ambush though. [Aeith, 72]

My build is all about swinging a falchion from the shadows: I aim for the head and a one-shot kill if possible; otherwise, I take off a leg first and then put my second swing in the head. That is why I 2x in ambushing.

Dodge is a postcap goal for me. In the meantime, I use a tower shield and rely on self-cast 618. It works well enough. [Lanzerik, 100]

because both are very expensive relative to the benefits. For the more ‘physical semi’, physical training costs still seem high. [Stormfleet, 100]

618 makes training over 1x in dodge somewhat useless. Ambush needs to be 2x to max ranged AS. [Amerek, 100]

Qafziel Nalfein

Qafziel Nalfein

Qafziel Nalfein, scholar and political devotee, travels Elanith learning more about the relationships between notable parties. His focus is on the Cooperative Houses of Elanthia and Meeting Hall Organizations and their liaisons, but he’s also known to pop into a town meeting on a whim or congratulate someone on reaching the pinnacle of their studies whether it be in warfare or sorcery or something else entirely. Qaf is always on the lookout for ways to connect individuals and organizations both with each other, with adventurers, and with the TownCrier for the betterment of our society. He maintains a network of informants who assist him in his tasks.