Playing Ranged Combat

The hunter surveys the valley below her. She spots the enemy camps, their fires piercing the darkness of the night. Beneath her, her team takes formation and springs into action. In the midst of the chaos, she picks out the leader, draws her bow string, and with great precision releases a single, deadly shot.

Role

The role of the ranged combatant is to deal physical (and sometimes magical) damage from a distance. The ranged combatant deals damage quickly while avoiding the possibility of getting hit. This character is usually the sniper of the team and provides support to the main tank and melee support classes. This role is not usually classified as an “essential” role, but regardless, it is one that is very fun and versatile to play.

Strengths

Being a support class, the main strength of the ranged combatant would be its damage output. Often, these characters are implemented with certain abilities which allow for damage to be released over time (essentially “bleeding out” the enemy) and abilities which slow movement. When used correctly, this distances the time it takes for the enemies to reach and maximizes the overall damage per second (which is abbreviated as dps in the gaming world). The faster the enemies lose their health, the better. On top of that, some games allow for “imbued ammunition”, meaning each shot has a special elemental damage (such as fire, electricity, spirit damage, etc.)

To add to this, ranged characters are often very fast. Some games implement bonuses to these classes which allow them to move faster naturally while others simply give them abilities that allow them to move about more quickly for a certain amount of time. Furthermore, many times these classes come with stealth abilities as well. This is convenient when looking for objectives or picking out vantage points within enemy camps (I can’t recount how many times I’ve used stealth when walking around in enemy ruins. I would back up into a wall and just start picking off enemies). These bonuses aren’t used much in combat I’ve found, but it makes travel rather convenient when you just want to get the job done.

Weaknesses

The biggest weakness of ranged characters are their low resistance for damage. Because these characters are designed to remain at a distance, they shouldn’t be facing toe-to-toe combat often. If you’re toe-to-toe, there’s a problem. Your main defense is not your armor or your resistances, but to avoid being hit altogether.

Ranged combatants often have a difficult time in player versus player combat as well. Being poorly defended against incoming melee attacks, the ranged character won’t survive long face-to-face with another player. When fighting spellcasters, spellcasters are almost always more powerful at ranged damage than the ranged combatant is. So regardless of which side you fight, you’re at a disadvantage unless you know your tactics.

Tactics

Ranged characters have one effective tactic that never fails to annoy players and enemies caught in it: kiting.

When a person flies a kite, they run against the wind with the kite tailing them in the air. The technique of kiting is aptly named since that is exactly what the player is doing. Kiting involves running an enemy or a group of enemies around while keeping a steady flow of damage on them. This continues until the opponent drops dead.

There are several stages to kiting:

  • Preparation
  • Slowing the enemy
  • Running
  • Damage Over Time (otherwise known as a DOT)
  • Repeat

Preparation- This involves setting out the battlefield before attracting the enemy. The player wants to clearly define their path, clear it of enemies, and set whatever traps they may have along the path (ranged characters often come with trap abilities). This also includes using any beneficial powers or equipment before the action starts (such as an ability that ignites your arrows).

Slowing the enemy- As soon as you grab the enemy’s attention, there’s no turning back. This is why the player needs to unload as many possible slowing abilities on the enemy as possible. This ensures that no matter how fast you run, the enemy will never catch you. This also gives you time to turn around and shoot them for good measure.

Running- Now that you’ve slowed the enemy, you want to lead them through the path you decided upon in the first stage. Lead the enemy into your first series of traps. These traps will buy you time to turn around and initiate the next phase before running again.

Damage Over Time- As a ranged combatant, you likely have abilities that cause the enemy to bleed out and take continual damage. Since you don’t have time to attack while you’re running around, unload these on your enemy (if you need to, refresh your slowing abilities as well). This way the enemies continue to be killed while you’re running away from them.

Repeat- Just keep running from your enemy. Keep turning to slow them and DOT them. If this is done right (meaning avoiding too many outside enemies and keeping your distance from your intended target), the enemy will soon bleed out without a hitch.

NOTE: if you’re facing an enemy with natural regeneration, be careful. Your overall DPS must be greater than the rate of their regeneration. Otherwise you’re just going to run the enemy around without accomplishing anything.

Summary

Although not always “necessary” within a team, the ranged combatant is a unique role to play. It is a role that takes consideration and skill behind each attack. Keeping distance from your enemy is not always easy, but necessary for survival. Early in the game, these characters may be among the strongest considering their fast attack rate and their range. But when mid-game comes around, the ranged character will be very dependent on their team.

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2 Responses to “Playing Ranged Combat”

  1. s4ndm4n2006 Says:

    Just a note. I like this theme. Have you decided whether to keep this one or not?

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