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Pathfinder: Ranger vs Fighter

   
Ranger vs Fighter

Is there even a reason to play Fighter class anymore?

The ranger gets the same hit die, the same Base Attack Bonus, better saves, an animal companion, more skill points, spells, and better class skills.

The fighter gets slightly more feats (one or two, as the ranger has a ton of feats too), and the ability to wear heavy armor, which can be taken by a feat anyway.

I mean, from an optimization perspective, why would one play a fighter? Let's be honest, mithril makes the reduced armor penalties kind of useless and +1 to fear is a bit too situational to be used even once per adventure, in the best case.

Of all the more martial classes, Fighters are really good in any situation. They don't need to specialize in anything but their chosen weapon style, rather than having to worry about terrain, favored enemies, enemy alignment, or similar limitations.

Weapon-training, fighter-specific feats, and the sheer number of feats they receive means a fighter will be doing a cool combat technique well before a similar class can, and they can afford to take more obscure situational feats that other classes might avoid. Sure, a archer-based fighter and ranger will both likely have PBS, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, and Deadly Aim, but a fighter can easily afford to have Combat Reflexes, Snap Shot, and Improved Snap Shot, becoming an archer that can actually tank; that's only one example.

Fighters don't have to worry about secondary or tertiary stats. They don't have to worry about spell slots. They leave skill-challenges to the more skillful classes, and rely on casters to buff them into killing machines. But even without support, a fighter will always be really good at dealing damage, and in the end, that's often all that matters. Maybe a ranger will out-damage a fighter if they're fighting their favored enemy, but a fighter will always be adding bonus damage from Weapon Training and Weapon Specialization regardless of the situation, and that kind of reliability is quite valuable.

Old news, dude.

OLD news.

Although fighters get lots of feats- which for the first couple levels when they mean the most, is nice.

And most people will tell you that if you're playing melee, do it with a two handed weapon. Not TWF. So that's a reason not to do ranger.

Well yeah, but a Fighter's weapon training/specialization only applies for one weapon, whereas a ranger will be able to swap between long range (up to 110 feet) and melee range (with a 2 handed melee weapon).

Barring certain archetypes, a fighter's Weapon Training applies to a whole group of weapons, and a fighter can afford to utilize multiple quality weapons and fighting styles, but really, I'm yet to really be sold on the whole 'switch-hitter' Ranger thing. Typically, most characters are going to focus on either ranged or melee; specialization is usually preferable to generalization in 3.5/Pathfinder.

Fighters are nice in that they are always operating at max capacity regardless of the situation, with no need to keep track of limited use/day class features. A barbarian has limited rounds of rage per day, suffers status effect penalties when they're finished raging (until high levels) and has lower defenses while raging. They often have to weasel a way to get 'rage cycling' if they want to focus on 1/rage Rage Powers.

Similarly, paladins and cavaliers have limited use/day class features. Once they get into the upper teens they have enough uses to afford smiting/challenging every fight, but up until then they have to really worry about when to use their powers, and in all of the fights where they're not smiting/challenging they're basically a fighter with fewer feats, RP restrictions, and a few other minor bells and whistles.

Most of a ranger's class features are similar to a fighter's in that they're 'always on,' but again, there's situational elements to it. If you're going into a certain campaign well aware of the types of enemies you'll be facing, then a ranger might be a better choice than a fighter. But even most pre-written campaigns have a decent variety of enemy types, and without favored enemy bonuses a ranger starts to fall behind a fighter rapidly.

Sometimes, you don't want to mess with smiting, challenging, picking favored enemies, raging, spells... you just want to play a bad-ass. Some guy who is just damn good at swinging a sword or firing a bow. You might not fight Magical Beasts/Undead/what-have-you every day, but chances are you'll be fighting, and a fighter will be enjoying Weapon Specialization in every fight from the moment they take the feat.

Eh, fair enough, I suppose it's kind of like a wizard vs sorcerer scenario.

In terms of damage per round (DPR) a switch-hitter fighter has a slight edge, but it's fairly close like you say:

L1 (Human) - Quick Draw, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot (Start with rapid-shooting javelins at ranged and a Greatsword in melee - Ranger doesn't have Rapid Shot yet)
L2 - Power attack
L3 - Weapon Focus (Greatsword) - Fighter is probably wearing Full Plate now
L4 - Weapon Specialization (Greatsword) -
L5 - Deadly Aim, Weapon Training (Bows) -
L6 - Manyshot
L7 - Full speed in Full Plate, Weapon Focus (Longbow)
L8 - Improved Critical (Greatsword) (or Precise shot and a Scabbard of Keen edges)
L9 - Weapon Training (+2 Bows/+1 Blades), Weapon Specialization (Longbow)
L10 - Critical Focus (or Improved Precise Shot if you want to keep up with the ranger)

Compared to the ranger, at 10th level, a fighter's AC is about the same (Mithril Full Plate vs. Mithril Breastplate is a +1), but does more damage in most situations:
+3/+5 to hit/damage with the bow, same feats
+2/+4 to hit/damage with the greatsword

The 10th ranger is:
+6,+4,+2 to hit/damage against specifc groups, has a worse or equal AC but has lots of other goodies - spells, skills, a weak companion, etc.

At various times, the Fighter is doing more damage and doing so in heavier armour. The AC edge narrows over time once they both get into Mithril, but the static bonuses to hit and damage give the fighter a slight edge most of the time compared to a situational bonus from Favoured Enemy.

At higher levels still (15th), the Fighter gets more goodies from the Critical Focus stream - (Say Bleed and Exhausted - no save, Ranger gets one of these). At 17th that improves to Exhausted and a save to be Stunned or Staggered.

Still, I'd chose the Ranger myself because the options and something to do outside of combat are more important than strict DPR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greycloak View Post
Compared to the ranger, at 10th level, a fighter's AC is about the same (Mithril Full Plate vs. Mithril Breastplate is a +1)
Slight correction: As you can see here, a full plate has an AC bonus of +9 and breast plate only +6. Mithral breast plate has a M-Dex bonus of +5. But so has the fighter's mithral full plate thanks to amour training.

Whether both can make maximal use of that is another matter of course. But I dare say, a fighter who wants to be good at both melee and ranged combat ought to put his Dex before his Con. So the difference isn't unlikely to be 2 points and could be up to 3. But even with a mere 14 in Dex he would be able to make full use of the armour's Dex bonus eventually. And as he progresses in levels, he will get another +2 to M-Dex, theoretically surpassing the ranger's AC even more.

As, for example, with an Elven Curve Blade (finessable exotic two-handed weapon).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lycar View Post
Slight correction: As you can see here, a full plate has an AC bonus of +9 and breast plate only +6. Mithral breast plate has a M-Dex bonus of +5. But so has the fighter's mithral full plate thanks to amour training.

Whether both can make maximal use of that is another matter of course. But I dare say, a fighter who wants to be good at both melee and ranged combat ought to put his Dex before his Con. So the difference isn't unlikely to be 2 points and could be up to 3. But even with a mere 14 in Dex he would be able to make full use of the armour's Dex bonus eventually. And as he progresses in levels, he will get another +2 to M-Dex, theoretically surpassing the ranger's AC even more.

As, for example, with an Elven Curve Blade (finessable exotic two-handed weapon).
Or Two-weapon fighting with Dueling Swords (finessable exotic longswords).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwutheheadcase View Post
The fighter gets slightly more feats (one or two, as the ranger has a ton of feats too), and the ability to wear heavy armor, which can be taken by a feat anyway.
Whilst the Pathfinder Ranger is a lot more flexible, bear in mind that he still picks feats from a limited list. The Fighter gets a net +1 feat at L1, +2 at L4 and +3 at L8... but the feats the Ranger gets at levels 2, 6, 10, etc are all drawn from a limited list. If you wanted them anyway, great! If not, they're useless to you. So the Fighter is getting twice as many feats, and a much better choice of feats.

If you're looking at pure feat numbers, you'd be counting Heavy Armour, Weapon Training, probably Armour Training too, and maybe even Bravery by L20 as all being worth a feat as well. Of course, the Ranger gets better stuff, but the point is, that when comparing feats you're not quite comparing like with like.




 

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