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Ranger Guide

By on Jul 5, 2012 at 9:14 am, in Article, RIFT, Rogue  |  Comments: 20 comments

Ever since it was buffed in patch 1.8, Ranger has become the bread and butter soul for rogue DPS, but there are many things about the soul that aren’t obvious at first glance.

When should I use Ranger?
Ranger is, simply enough, your default spec for DPSing in raids. It does higher single-target damage than any other rogue ranged soul. Certain melee builds can beat it (most notably Bloodstalker), but considering that most raid encounters are very unfriendly to melee DPS, you’ll likely spend more time as Ranger than as any other spec.

That being said, Ranger will quickly run out of energy if you don’t have either Living Energy (from a Chloromancer) or Anthem of Fervor(from a bard)—and because you often don’t have those in smaller groups, it’s less useful in 5-man dungeons (and some 10-man raid groups).

Unfortunately, Ranger is a very weak soul in PvP, due to weak defenses, heavy reliance on the pet, lack of utility, and low mobility. As a result, this guide will focus on PvE.

Let’s take a look at what Ranger is good at, and what it isn’t.


  • Strong ranged DPS
  • Does not lose any damage while moving
  • Can Diffuse some abilities to the pet, saving your life
  • AoE interrupt


  • Energy starved without Living Energy/Fervor, especially when AoEing
  • Mediocre AoE damage
  • Very little utility or mobility
  • Some enemy abilities can kill your pet

Enough overview. Let’s take a look at the specifics.

Ranger is an “all-or-nothing” soul—you’re going to put 51 points into it, no matter what, because Feral Aggression and King of the Jungle are too valuable to give up.

This is the standard build. 51 points in Ranger, and then 15 more in Marksman. Having Assassin as your 0-point subsoul gives you Virulent Poison, which is a small DPS boost. If you feel that you need more mobility, you can use 0-point Riftstalker instead, which gives you Shadow Step. If that’s not enough, you can even drop one point out of Penetrating Shots to pick up On the Double, which will give you this build, but either of those variants will deal less damage.

There aren’t really any variants worth looking at, unfortunately. If you’re using ranger, you’re focused on one thing: ranged single-target DPS, and no other build will do a better job.

Here is where things can get a little complicated.

First off, the easy part: use a Blood Raptor pet. For buffs, you’ll use Electrified Munitions, Feral Instincts, and Virulent Poison (skip this last one if you’re using the Riftstalker variant). If your pet dies, use Hasten Call and resummon it.

Single Target Rotation

The basic priority is simple enough. You’ll use combo point builders to get up to 5 points, then use a finisher. When Feral Aggression is up, use it.

There are a few ways to do the ranger rotation, depending on how much you want to micro-manage your abilities. The simplest variant uses two macros, and a third hotkey for Feral Aggression—and because it’s so easy to do, it’s great for those who are trying out Ranger for the first time:

#show Shadow Fire
cast Shadow Fire
cast Splinter Shot
cast Piercing Shot
cast Crippling Shot
cast Quick Shot

#show Rapid Fire Shot
cast Rapid Fire Shot
cast Head Shot

The above rotation is simple, but if you want to really push yourself to deal more damage, you can go for the advanced version. For this one, you’ll need the Rapid Fire Shot macro above, but you’ll replace the combo point builder macro with these two macros:

#show Shadow Fire
cast Shadow Fire
cast Splinter Shot
#show Piercing Shot
cast Piercing Shot
cast Crippling Shot
cast Swift Shot

In addition to those three macros, you’ll need a separate hotkey for Quick Shot. The priority is as follows:

  1. Finisher (if at 5 combo points)
  2. Feral Aggression
  3. Shadow Fire acro (only if you’re below 4 combo points, and Shadow Fire or Splinter Shot is off cooldown)
  4. Quick Shot (only if the bleed effect from Improved Quick Shot isn’t on the target)
  5. Piercing Shot macro

Lastly, if you’re not low on energy, and you don’t need to interrupt or AoE any time soon, then Concussive Blast is a DPS gain over Head Shot, because it’s not on the global cooldown. If you do this, then hit a combo point builder immediately after using Concussive Blast.

For the advanced rotation, an addon to track cooldowns and debuffs is absolutely necessary. Karuulalert works well for this—use it to track cooldowns for Shadow Fire, Splinter Shot, Concussive Blast, and Feral Aggression, as well the duration on Improved Quick Shot. Ideally, you’ll end up with it looking something like this:

AoE Rotation

The Ranger AoE rotation will vary depending on how many enemies are present.

First off, you’ll want to maintain the buff from Shadow Fire.

Second, if Concussive Blast is off cooldown, then use Trick Shot to build up to 5 combo points and use it.

After that, things branch out.

If there’s two or three enemies, then use Trick Shot until you reach 5 combo points, at which point you’ll use a finisher (Concussive Blast>Rapid Fire Shot>Head Shot). Then start using Trick Shot again. Repeat until the enemies are dead.

If there’s more than three enemies but less than nine, then use Fan Out, while continuing to keep up Shadow Fire and Trick Shotting for Concussive Blast.

If there’s nine or more enemies, use Rain of Arrows. If the enemies are moving a lot (or if you are), then this won’t be possible, and you’ll continue to use Fan Out. Again, make sure to use Shadow Fire and Concussive Blast.

Overall, Ranger is a great soul— it’s easy to play, but there lots of tricks that can help you to push out a bit more DPS with practice. It may not be good for much other than straight DPS, but then, with enough DPS, you don’t need much else.

  • Oz-

    Overall, a simple and well written overview of Ranger. Though, I think you overlooked one thing–the Ranger Hammerknell synergy crystal. Shadow Fire’s buff lasts longer than it’s cooldown (by roughly 8 seconds if I remember correctly) and Shadow Fire is a 2 second cast time without the synergy crystal’s 4 piece bonus.

    This means that if you don’t have at least 4 pieces of the Hammerknell Tier Set & have the Hammerknell Synergy Crystal, than you should not be using Shadow Fire in a macro as doing a 2 second cast time shot on cooldown will result in a DPS loss. Instead, Shadow Fire only when there is ~4 seconds left on the Shadow Fire buff. This way you minimize your time spent casting your shots and still maintain a 100% uptime on the Shadow Fire buff as well as ensure that Shadow Fire will benefit from it’s own buff.

    • Richard Whiting

      Good point– I wasn’t thinking about that.

      Although, I tend to feel that Marksman is a better choice until you get geared up with your synergy crystal, because the extra utility is very useful in Tier 1 raids and expert dungeons, not to mention the stronger AoE.

      It’s also worth noting that without the synergy crystal, you shouldn’t use Splinter Shot, either.

    • Radek Pacion

      you do not have to have 4p HK , 3pHK is also good .

  • Rahka

    I think there’s a LOT of flaws in this guide. First of all, while there’s been an equally high amount of debate on the subject, I think Predatory Instincts is a bit better than Feral Instincts. Also, I think you’ve missed out on some of the real potential of the 51 Ranger build’s single-target damage with your macro setups.

    I’ll recommend some keybinds here. You may want to move things around for your own comfort, but this is what I consider to be ideal.

    (“1. Shadow Fire” means “pressing 1 casts Shadow Fire.”, “1. Shadow Fire > Splinter Shot” means “pressing 1 runs a macro that casts on the priority of Shadow Fire over Splinter Shot”. Also, I’ll only bother talking about single target here. I hate text walls but I support the free flow of information.)

    For a beginner:
    1. Head Shot
    2. Shadow Fire > Splinter Shot > Piercing Shot > Crippling Shot > Quick Shot
    3. Rapid Fire Shot > Head Shot
    4. Feral Aggression

    For a more advanced player (I’d recommend an addon such as KaruulAlert to keep track of Shadow Fire, Splinter Shot, and Quick Shot):

    1. Head Shot
    2. Shadow Fire
    3. Splinter Shot
    4. Piercing Shot > Crippling Shot > Swift Shot
    5. Quick Shot
    6. Rapid Fire Shot > Head Shot
    7. Feral Aggression

    Your opening to a fight should be slightly different than your standard rotation as you want to put an emphasis on getting your four main self-buffs up as soon as practically possible. That’s Shadow Fire, Predatory Soulstone, Bestial Fury, and Feral Aggression.

    Your opening should look like this:

    Shadow Fire -> Head Shot -> Feral Aggression -> Splinter Shot -> Piercing Shot -> Crippling Shot -> Quick Shot -> Rapid Fire Shot

    For a beginner:
    2, 1, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3

    For a more advanced player:
    2, 1, 7, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6

    After this a beginner should simply spam 2 until 5 combo points and then hit 3, keeping Feral Aggression on cooldown.

    A more advanced player will want to micromanage their abilities a bit more, using Shadow Fire only when the buff is just about to expire, not using Splinter Shot when at 4 combo points, and not clipping the Improved Quick Shot DoT. Again, keep Feral Aggression on cooldown.

    Also, on the off chance that an admin here reads this (Implying that someone bothered reading my text wall): I submitted an application to write for Rift Junkies yesterday and very much look forward to hearing back from you.


    • Richard Whiting

      Simple math shows that Feral Instincts is far better. While crit RATING is worse than attack power, Feral Instincts gives a flat percentage, meaning that it actually becomes better as your gear improves (by further reducing the amount of non-crit attacks and increasing the uptime on both Increased Fire Power and Prey on the Weak). If you want to argue otherwise, you’ll need to bring some math that backs that up.

      As far as keybinds go, I actually don’t recommend using the number keys for core rotational abilities. Doing so generally means that you aren’t able to easily reach all of the movement keys, and as a result, your DPS will suffer whenever you have to move (or your movement will suffer when you’re trying to do max DPS). The ideal solution is to use a gaming mouse (I use a Razer Naga) and bind most abilities to the side buttons, but certain letter keys are a decent substitute for players who don’t have one. I like to use the number keys for stuff that I need to have easy access to, but isn’t necessarily spammed or used all that often, such as Concussive Blast or Feral Aggression.

      Putting up Bestial Fury prior to using Feral Aggression is often not worth it, because it means you’re delaying the first usage by roughly nine seconds. Using Feral Aggression immediately guarantees you a Prey on the Weak proc, which will substantially increase your damage. If you get a proc while building up to your first finisher, then it’s fine to hold off on FA until you use Head Shot, but that’s not really something you can rely on. The extra damage from rushing FA will far outweigh the extra damage from rushing Head Shot.

      Regarding use of Shadow Fire– it’s a DPS gain to use it on cooldown, assuming that you have the synergy crystal bonus to make it instant cast. It does substantially more damage than any other combo point builder, and gives you two combo points to boot.

      • Rahka

        Regarding the choice of instinct – Your argument here seems to be related solely around the proccing of crit-based self-buffs. However, since the shortest of these buffs is Increased Fire Power with a 10 second duration, then if you’re not able to maintain 100% uptime on this without Feral Instincts then you’ve clearly built your gear wrong. You should have 100% uptime with the base 50% crit (45% soft cap + 5% from Eagle Eye).

        On a pure DPS standpoint, attack power will always be better than crit. While both increase your expected DPS, crit creates a larger variance in your DPS as well as you become a bit more reliant on the game’s random number generator to pump out those critical hits.The 46 AP from Predatory Instincts is a great buff as AP isn’t something we build easily and Ranger has great AP scaling.

        Perhaps it’s a personal preference, but I’d rather have the more consistent DPS boost from AP rather than a variable boost from physical crit.

        Regarding the choice of keybids – I tried to be clear that these are just my own personal preference and I apologize if I was not clear enough. When I write these out, I have two main biases that I should have said from the start:

        1. I do not own a gaming mouse.
        2. I am a contortionist and my hand can easily bend about mid-fight to press keys that are out of the way. I can touch-type so I don’t have to look at my keyboard either.

        Regarding placement of Feral Aggression: My placement has it being used on the 3rd GCD. This is hardly “roughly nine seconds”. Forcing a Head Shot in beforehand will allow all of your self-buffs to stack and make the most out of your first uses of Splinter Shot and Rapid Fire Shot.

        Is this really “the best” way to go about it? I don’t think anyone can say for sure. You can crunch numbers and argue semantics all day long but there’s no formula for practicality.

        Regarding use of Shadow Fire: Macroing Shadow Fire with Splinter Shot is certainly an option. I kept them separated because those are probably the easiest skills to separate in order to cut down on macro lag a bit more. Ultimately this is a pretty minor detail, though.


        • Richard Whiting

          You’re confusing crit rating with crit percentage. You’re correct that AP is better than crit rating on a point for point basis.

          Feral Instincts does not give crit rating, however. If it were a competition between an equal amount of AP and crit, then yes, you’d be correct. But it’s not. It’s 3% crit, unaffected by the crit cap. This means that it’s worth ~78 crit rating prior to the crit softcap, and ~400 crit rating after the softcap.

          Based on the math in Qan’s BiS spreadsheet (Found here: ), AP is worth about 4 times as much as crit rating after the softcap (for Rangers, it varies for other souls). In order for Predatory Instincts to compete with Feral Instincts (post softcap), it would therefore need to give about 100 AP. It only gives 46– less than half of what you’d need. The increased uptime on the procs (which are admittedly already extremely high) is just the icing on the cake.

          Moving right along…

          You’re using Head Shot prior to hitting 5 CPs?

          That’s a DPS loss. It speeds up energy starvation (which limits the use of Concussive Blast as an oGCD finisher). It also reduces the amount of damage you get for that finisher’s GCD, which means that you’re substantially lowering your damage per effective time (DPET).

          You can separate out Splinter Shot from Shadow Fire if you wish. Personally, I think it’s substantially more trouble than it’s worth, considering how minor macro lag.

          Regarding the keybind issue, what you mentioned is one of the reasons that I dislike recommending specific keys. What you have works for you. Different people may have smaller or bigger hands, or more nimble fingers, or missing fingers, or whatever. Maybe they’re used to a specific setup that’s somewhat standardized across all of their characters. I find that it’s far preferable to let people find something that works for them, rather than pegging everyone to a specific set of binds.

        • Richard Whiting

          My previous reply seems to have disappeared, unfortunately.

          My argument is actually based on the math. You’re correct that attack power is better than crit rating on a point for point basis, but Feral Instincts does not give crit rating– it gives a flat percentage of crit, which is unaffected by the softcap.

          Post-softcap, it takes 131.75 crit rating to get 1% crit. This means that Feral Instincts is worth 395.25 crit rating (except that it doesn’t count towards the hardcap, but since that’s basically unattainable anyways, it can be safely ignored for purposes of this discussion).

          Based on Qan’s rogue DPS spreadsheet ( ), Attack Power is almost exactly four times stronger than post-softcap crit rating. This means that in order for Predatory Instincts to be on par with Feral Instincts, it would need to give ~98 attack power. It only gives 46, which is less than half that.

          Moving on…

          As I understand it, you’re saying that you use Head Shot at two combo points, correct? That’s actually a DPS loss. Finishers cost more energy when you’re not at five CPs, which means that rushing it energy starves you faster, and with less energy, you won’t be able to use as many Concussive Blasts in each Verse of Joy cycle. Secondly, Head Shot will deal substantially less damage when rushed (a quick glance shows that it’s about 500 less). In order for the 5% buff to make up for that, it would need to add more than 500 damage from your next three GCDs, which would require dealing over 3300 damage with each of your next three combo point builders. Even Shadow Fire doesn’t come close to that.

          You can certainly separate out Shadow Fire and Splinter Shot. I find it to be far more trouble than it’s worth, because a small amount of macro lag on a rarely used ability isn’t a big deal. If it were a button that got spammed a lot, like the Piercing Shot macro, then it would be a bigger deal.

          • Athis

            Obviously both of you know your stuff. While I had the numbers down in previous games….I have not taken my Rift Rouge as serious as I did my WoW hunter for example so I can’t say otherwise here.
            But just as a shallow observation from using my 51MM, it seems that the advantage of the 51ranger is the pet/FA buff and Assassin souls VP.

            Does the VP from assassin stack with poisonous coating? And how much increase/decease in dps difference is there if you chose to go RS for the 3% attack power for the 1 point sink instead?

          • Richard Whiting

            Yes, Virulent Poison stacks with Poisonous Coating.

            Putting 1 point into RS is a straight-up DPS loss over putting that point into Marksman, because each point in MM buffs Electrified Munitions, and the armor penetration you get is very powerful. I don’t know the exact numbers, and it’s a small difference either way, but still, there’s zero reason to put that point into RS according to the math I’ve seen. Not only does it deal less damage, but it means you can’t freely switch out your 0-point soul.

          • Athis

            Cool, thanks for the reply Richard. :)

    • dsf

      you both are wrong, the reason feral instincts is better than predatory instincts is because your pet gets the bonus from feral and not from predatory. simple as that

      • Richard Whiting

        Pets benefit from your attack power, therefore they inherit the benefit of Predatory Instincts.

        Predatory is better for the reasons I outlined below.

        • Lisa

          Predatory is NOT better than Feral at ALL. You can go on the Rogue forum again and read through the other original 51 Ranger guide (10 pages worth of posts) and a lot of them discuss and tell you to use Feral. Your pet doesn’t even gain any AP from your Predatory Instincts buff; Your AP value stays the same on your pet. You’ll see some personal non-raid buffed DPS increase but your pet DPS is exactly the same. Feral Instincts affects your Pet’s Crit which mean it effects pet’s DPS AND your own crit/DPS. That’s an overall DPS increase.

          I’m also confused because in your own guide you state “Feral Instincts” as the buff to use but your comments show otherwise. Did you just rip off this guide or something?

          8/8 Rogue

          • Richard Whiting

            I meant to say Feral was better. Got the names mixed up, is all– thanks for catching that. I’ve edited my previous post to avoid confusion.

  • ergew

    @3a2172fe4ee363639afc08ee95599391:disqus you sir are wrong. ranger crystal just makes SF insta cast, so it still lasts 25sec with a 20s cd. if you do NOT have hk ranger crystal, you do NOT want to recast SF with 4 sec left on it… heres why. say you have 4 sec left of buff, u waste 3sec of that by casting sf + the global cooldown, you want to wait until sf runs out b4 reapplying it because you are going to have to cast a 2sec cast either way, better off continuing to use insta cast abilities for the duration of SF. also any dots ect applied while SF is up will continue to have the bonus even if SF runs out b4 the dot does.

  • Tryst Honeykhist

    Great guide, clear, concise and easy to implement. You have helped me leave gimphood behind, and become uber ranjah. Thanks

  • Paul

    Thx bro nice macro guide and all. I have been trying to find some macro buiilds for a level 23 Marksman but can only seem to find like 50-60 =/ Any links you may have or advice? Im fairly new to the game but likng it so far. Ivv played almost every mmo since back when EQ in still in beta.

  • Zz

    could this possibly be updated for 2.5?

  • Nahaz67

    Would love to see an update to guide, as it’s 2 years old now.