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Even with new rules, DnD fans still dislike the Ranger

The new Dungeons and Dragons rules remove many of the DnD Ranger’s worst features, but they’re replaced with disappointing alternatives.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Ranger

The Ranger was one of DnD fifth edition’s more troubled classes, and it seems the new 2024 rules haven’t managed to fix that. On June 28, Wizards of the Coast released a video explaining how the new Ranger class works (see below). And if comments online are anything to go by, the Dungeons and Dragons community isn’t pleased.

In 2014, the Ranger often felt like a poor choice when compared with other DnD classes. The core abilities that made the DnD Ranger unique were highly situational, and some aspects felt so unbalanced that they were heavily reworked in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

Wizards of the Coast has altered many of the Ranger’s hit-and-miss features. For example, Favored Enemy has been completely overhauled, so it no longer makes you a specialist in a particular enemy type. Weaker abilities like Natural Explorer and Primeval Awareness have been stripped out entirely. However, these changes have created new problems for the class.

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The One DnD Ranger’s core identity now revolves around a particular spell, Hunter’s Mark. This lets you target one creature and deal extra damage to them when you make successful weapon attacks. Favored Enemy now lets you cast the DnD spell twice per long rest without using spell slots, and you’ll always have it prepared. As you level up, the number of times you can cast Hunter’s Mark for free will increase.

Hunter’s Mark is a concentration spell, but at level 13, the Relentless Hunter feature means that damage can’t break your concentration on that spell. Precise Hunter gives you advantage on attacks against creatures marked by the spell at level 17, and the damage Hunter’s Mark deals changes from 1d6 to 1d10 at level 20.

There are a number of issues here. Firstly, Hunter’s Mark costs a bonus action to cast, which causes conflict for DnD Ranger subclasses like the Beast Master, who regularly uses their bonus action for other abilities. Secondly, making Hunter’s Mark a concentration spell severely limits the other spells Rangers can use in combat.

The d10 damage at level 20 is also a little underwhelming. Granted, it’s force damage, but the DnD damage type alone doesn’t seem to justify such a low damage output.

These concerns are echoed in fan’s comments under the YouTube video. “So we all agree to homebrew no concentration Hunter’s Mark”, says one. “Did he just say that my level 20 ability that I spent so much time working for…increases my damage to a single enemy I’m concentrating on…by 2?” adds another.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Ranger

Another common criticism is that not enough about the Ranger class has been changed. In the video, designer Jeremy Crawford hypes up the new-ness of the class. But this being a brand-new Ranger is only technically true. While the 2024 Ranger is very different from the 2014 Ranger, it bears a lot of resemblance to the version found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

While there’s never been a definitive ‘worst’ class in fifth edition, the Ranger’s popularity has always been spotty. And it seems, with the release of the new rulebooks, the class isn’t out of the woods yet.

For more on the latest DnD books, here’s everything coming up on the DnD release schedule. We can also tell you more about DnD races to help with your next build.