Archery has come a long way since the class was first introduced back in Mod 2, having had its ups and downs along the road. The original archer was a crit monster (how I loved Prime Critical feat) but also pulled a lot of aggro with Split Shot. The first big rework saw numerous nerfs to both Archery and Combat trees, which received complete overhauls and Trapper was the new kid on the block. The former two were in stasis for a long time until the Mod 10 changes, with Trapper having been leaps and bounds ahead in all departments beforehand. The good news is that Archery can now compete.
This build is still all about Crit. As such you want to stack as much of it as possible. How you do that is up to you but a good place to start is ability scores. Wisdom increases your Crit Chance so you want to pump that stat up along with Dexterity, which increases your damage. With all my buffs up I reach over 100% Crit Chance so I see a lot of orange numbers on the screen. This build is also about awareness and positioning to maximise your use of Combat Advantage and the damage buff from Longstrider’s Shot. This will be explained in more detail later on.
I initially chose Stormwarden because it was the only Paragon Path available to HRs in Mod 2. Pathfinder was introduced in Mod 3 but I have remained SW through the years because PF really doesn’t offer anything better. Some people will point to Careful Attack, which was the best at-will HRs had before Aimed Shot was buffed in Mod 10 but it has a limited range and caused lag when running large group content in the past. SW is the AoE path while PF is more centred around single target. The SW feature I use the most is Twin-Blade Storm, which increases damage by 16% at Rank 4 when hitting three or more targets. Electric Shot may also see more use now that it has been buffed; I currently favour it over Split Shot. Stormstep Action is another option for a class feature if you’re using Disruptive Shot as one of your dailies. Split the Sky is a good encounter power when fighting dragons and Tiamat.
As Dexterity, Wisdom and to a lesser extent, Strength are the main attributes for a HR, you will want to select a race that augments those scores. For mini-maxing purposes the best choices are Wood Elf (+2 Dex +2 Wis), Drow (+2 Dex +2 Wis), Human (+2 to any ability score), Dragonborn (+2 to any ability score) and Half-Orc (+2 Dex +2 Str). However, if you’re playing the game for fun first and foremost then pick any race you fancy (I always wanted a Moon Elf HR myself but the pack was too pricey for me). Str – which contributes to Resistance Ignored – isn’t as important as Dex and Wis so a starting score of 12 is all you need for pve.
One can see upon inspection that the HR feats were taken from TR (no-one recycles like Cryptic ). There are good choices and bad choices. Battlewise is an obvious bad choice, while Agile Combatant doesn’t help Archery much as they rarely switch stances. Nature’s Enhancement and Lucky Skirmisher should be skipped as both provide Deflect, along with Extra Action as we generate Action Points quite easily. I favoured Swift Footwork over Predatory Action because our dailies don’t do nearly as much damage as the other dps classes so five points for 5% more damage is pittance.
3/3 Weapon Mastery
1/5 Predatory Action
5/5 Swift Footwork
3/3 Endless Assault
3/3 Disciple of Dexterity
2/3 Scoundrel Training
You can’t really go wrong here. Only two feats are passed up entirely (Keen Eye and Stormcaller’s Arrow) while the rest of the points all go into the Archery tree. Keen Eye boosts AP Gain (which we don’t really need) and Stormcaller’s Arrow increases the duration of Split the Sky (also not really needed – even if StS is used). The early feats in the Combat and Trapper trees don’t offer anything better to consider dipping into.
5/5 Broadhead Arrows
5/5 Hasty Retreat
5/5 Unflinching Aim
5/5 Bottomless Quiver
5/5 Rising Focus
5/5 Stillness of the Forest
The buff to Aimed Shot in Mod 10 changed things considerably for Archery. Previously we were relying on Rapid Shot as our main at-will but now we finally have a hard hitter in our arsenal. I use Aimed Shot (with OH class feature) and Electric Shot as my at-wills. While Rapid Shot received a buff too, it just cannot compete with Aimed Shot any longer. Another welcome change in Mod 10 saw the Rain of Arrows radius finally increased after years of begging and pleading, which means more damage. We have an amazing damage buff in our toolkit with Longstrider’s Shot (40%) and good initial burst with Cordon of Arrows. I have tried other encounters but most of them are too clunky or have long animations so I am still running with Rain, Longstrider’s and Cordon, which I switch out for Thorn Ward on single-target fights. For dailies I use Seismic Shot mostly with Forest Ghost seeing action once in a blue moon. Cold Steel Hurricane can be considered on dragon fights while Disruptive Shots works well in conjunction with Stormstep Action. Class features offer slightly more variety in Mod 10 with Aspect of the Falcon a good choice now. Apect of the Pack still stays on my bar, while I switch out between Falcon and Twin-Blade Storm depending on the scenario. Seeker’s Vengeance and Stormstep Action can be used as well.
The powers you want at Rank 4 as soon as possible are:
Rain of Arrows
Cordon of Arrows
Aspect of the Pack
NOTE: I left Aspect of the Falcon off the list as you only need to allocate 1 point to this class feature to get the damage boost.
LOL I seem to have gone over the word-count limit with the update. The last bit can be found on page 5. My apologies for not having the foresight to reserve another slot below this.