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Best DnD Ranger subclasses 5e

Dungeons and Dragons has some fantastic (and less fantastic) Ranger archetypes 5e – here’s all the DnD Ranger subclasses 5e offers, ranked.

DnD Ranger subclasses 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of an elf Ranger and a hawk

The Ranger is a Dungeons and Dragons class with a turbulent history, meaning your choice of DnD Ranger subclasses (or archetypes) can make or break a campaign experience. Some choices give you a situational and unsatisfying character – but the right choice creates a master hunter, hider, and hitter. If you need help finding the best Ranger subclasses 5e provides, we’re here to help.

Bear in mind that, while we have plenty of opinions about the 5e Ranger subclasses, we’ve not stopped to fully explain them in this guide. You’ll find a complete rundown of each in our dedicated DnD classes guide for the Ranger 5e – essential reading for your next DnD character build.

From bottom to top, here are the best DnD Ranger subclasses 5e:

Wizards of the Coast art of a Beast Master, one of the DnD Ranger subclasses 5e

Beast Master 5e

Found in: Player’s Handbook

The concept of summoning a beloved beast to fight alongside your Ranger is a great one. But the original Beast Master 5e subclass from the player’s handbook sullies it with pitiful levels of power and frankly awful action economy.

There are few good options in the list of available beast companions, and spending an action commanding them to do very basic things in combat feels like wasted energy. Plus, with their relatively puny hit points in early levels, keeping them alive is also a real drain on time and resources.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything brought in some optional rules to patch up the Beast Master, but it remains one of the least satisfying Ranger subclasses to play. 

Wizards of the Coast art of a Hunter, one of the DnD Ranger subclasses 5e

Hunter 5e

Found in: Player’s Handbook

The Hunter 5e subclass is a little basic, but it’s a fairly solid choice for a Ranger who wants durability and fighting power. However, it’s been largely outmoded by newer, more powerful subclasses introduced in supplementary DnD books. In the modern world of D&D 5e, this is now one of the weakest subclasses on offer.

One of the Hunter’s greatest strengths and weaknesses is its customization options. This is a class that offers very beginner-friendly abilities, but it constantly asks players to make decisions that’ll make or break your build.

And while customization gives players who love complexity a fair bit to ponder, it quickly becomes obvious that many of the Hunter’s feature options are situational or chronically underpowered. 

Wizards of the Coast art of a Monster Slayer, one of the DnD Ranger subclasses 5e

Monster Slayer 5e

Found in: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

The Monster Slayer 5e subclass is a streamlined version of the Hunter. It cuts the customization options, adds some extra damage and utility, and offers a far more creative backstory for your Ranger character. It’s less flexible than the Hunter, but this makes it a clearer choice for beginner Rangers.

A Monster Slayer can easily hold their own in battle. But its strongest features are dragged down by others that are still far too situational, leaving the Monster Slayer subclass feeling middle-of-the-road in terms of quality. 

Wizards of the Coast art of a Swarmkeeper, one of the DnD Ranger subclasses 5e

Swarmkeeper 5e

Found in: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

If a subclass could win based on flavor alone, the Swarmkeeper 5e would be our top choice. Summoning swarms of animals or insects feels fantastic from a roleplay point of view – especially when you remember that swarm can be any small creature of your choice.

The Swarmkeeper also has a lot to offer mechanically, but it’s a little lower down the rankings. Your swarm offers several tactical options in combat and only gets stronger with time, but your Ranger misses out on buffs to them in favor of constantly strengthening the swarm.

As long as you’re prepared to commit to one specific playstyle, you’ll have heaps of fun with this.

DnD Ranger subclasses 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of an archer

Horizon Walker 5e

Found in: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

The Horizon Walker 5e is both strong and dexterous, dishing out plenty of damage while teleporting all over the battlefield. This is a Ranger who’s very hard to hit, comes with an excellent selection of 5e spells, and generally feels super satisfying to play.

A few things stopped us from rating the Horizon Walker higher. Firstly, it takes a while to get off the ground, with its most powerful features coming at higher levels. And secondly, it checks a lot of the same boxes as the Gloom Stalker – a subclass we’d recommend choosing if you’re stuck between the two.

DnD Ranger subclasses 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of an elf

Fey Wanderer 5e

Found in: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

The Fey Wanderer 5e is for players who enjoy manipulating the world around them, whether that’s with utility spells or charismatic speeches. The Fey Wanderer can become a strong party Face thanks to its Otherworldly Glamour, and the subclass plays a strong supporting role in combat by spamming Misty Step and charming or frightening their enemies.

This might not be the subclass for players who value simplicity, but it’s very strong in the right hands. Plus it’s packed with Fey flavor.

Wizards of the Coast art of a Drakewarden, one of the DnD Ranger subclasses 5e

Drakewarden 5e

Found in: Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons

The Drakewarden 5e is everything the Beast Master subclass wishes it could be. Your Ranger’s beast companion is replaced with a drake spirit who comes with a far better stat block, flavor, and the ability to act on a bonus action rather than an action.

Both Ranger and drake get buffed as the class levels up, meaning you and your companion can feel like an absolute powerhouse on the battlefield. This subclass offers a character with fantastic damage and defence, and you only get better as time goes on. 

Wizards of the Coast art of a Gloom Stalker, one of the DnD Ranger subclasses 5e

Gloom Stalker 5e

Found in: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

At the top of the Ranger subclass pile is the Gloom Stalker 5e. Every one of its subclass features is so powerful it’s almost silly.

You can rush in on the first turn of combat thanks to high initiative rolls, dealing more damage than any other Ranger. You have excellent Darkvision and you’re invisible to creatures using their Darkvision to try and spot you in a dark room. You become excellent at passing Wisdom saving throws, rarely miss a DnD weapon attack, and become exceedingly hard to hit.

If you don’t mind playing a Ranger that feels more like a DnD Rogue, you shouldn’t sleep on the Gloom Stalker. It’s the ultimate stealthy striker, and the strongest Ranger subclass by far.

For more character options, here’s everything you need to know about DnD races and backgrounds 5e. And, for easy generation, here’s the best DnD character creators to try.