Wysperia Hunter Edit
I recently discovered one with which I've been having a lot of fun. Wysperia Hunter [Ranger]. You get a nice inherent boost to dodge, and you have a 3x chance to dodge if you're sitting on your ULT.
So my strategy has been to pump dex (twice per level seems adequate) and never ever use my ULT. By about level 10, you should be dodging almost everything. Park yourself in defensive mode and do nothing but combo. Very rarely, you might need to use your guardian. This is preferable to healing, since you keep your dodge bonus.
Once you get hunter and your bows maxed out it becomes even better because longer battles are helped along with all the marking.
Oh yeah, and pump armor too. This build is a lot of fun. Lots of missing from the enemies, and it's also capable of inflicting a lot of confuse too. Aim for a shocking bow for extra overpowered fun!
You do have to stay on top of that dex, though.. fall behind and enemies will start hitting you again.
Downside is getting ensnared and then guarded. But you actually dodge so much that you can power your way through with normal combos.
Goern Hunter Edit
Just to note, this is currently experimental(lvl 50 with the build atm), but so far it's been looking pretty solid. To do that I believe you need to get past the 1st Act.
The reason for the development of this build is because I attempted to go through the game as a Wyspera Ranger for about 10 times. In one of those attempts, I managed to get to the 5th Act and lvl 118. Technically, if I had been smarter I could've gotten even further. However, when I reached the 1st boss in that act, I was drunk(didn't realize that the colosseum would not remove the drinking counter) and did not have a guardian charge(all the other bosses were rather easy, so I didn't think I would need the guardian). I believe I ended up getting a perma-bleed and at a certain point was never able to dodge attacks with all the wind-ups, charges, etc. I constantly healed, used any special ability I could, but after getting snared, poisoned, exposed, and wounded constantly, I ended up dying.
I found that the status effects were really killing me, as well as the wind-ups/charges that I thought I could dodge(70%+ dodge chance) but apparently can't. The goal of this build(beyond the perks of having high dex) is to remove or lessen the damage these status effects along with being able to sustain more damage from the wind-ups and charges that I simply could not reposition out of nor cancel.
Character Origin Edit
Goern Hunter is similar to the Wyspera one, but with some important differences. The Goern race provides 50% resistance to bleeding, which helps with general survivalbility esp. during bosses where they perma-bleed you. You heal a bonus amount based on your dexterity; while this isn't too important, I tend to heal more often than use my ult due to the ranger perk for having a charged ult. The last and most vague one is an increase to dodge chance as you lose HP. I still am not sure whether the max dodge is more than wysperia's passive dodge chance(5%), but having a little extra dodge for the ranger in general is never a bad thing.
Stats and Passives Edit
I find the two most important stats would be dex and vit in the beginning, so when looking for armor, weapons, etc., my ideal loot would have those two stats. I normally put all my points in dexterity, but putting some points into vitality or int wouldn't be bad either(the extra MP can help against enemies with <Smiter> affix). When it comes to passives, I initially focus on attack, mostly since I farm Westhaven Fields a good deal for some gear that gives some vitality/dexterity. After a putting a good amount of points in attack(probably when you get to have 10% chance to bleed), I focus on adding HP until it matches my attack so you don't have to manually heal as often. You don't need a lot of MP, but to prevent running out esp. against <Smiter> enemies, putting a good few points in it can help. Armor isn't really needed when you start getting gear with high defense. Atm I have a total of 154 defense with Medium armor and a Light shield, giving me 48% damage mitigation(base dmg mitigation is capped at 70%). So unless you think you need armor in the early game more than HP, there's no need to put skill points into armor.
Later in the game when you have some good gear with a lot of VIT, going for gear with VIT and WIS or VIT and STR would help a good deal if your WIS and/or STR reaches to a total of 300 points. This allows you to get the two affiliated talents from the library(I believe they're called Brute Force(+25% combat damage) and Steady Will(Immune to statuses for 10 turns)). I find these the best two talents for the ranger since having the pure damage upgrade will help defeat enemies quicker while the Steady Will will help continue your combo onto your opponent(statuses like poison, wound, and ensare can force you to break your combo in certain situations).
Type: Bow/Crossbow, since well the class is called the RANGEr class. You also get to have one or two of the ranger perks apply if you have a ranged weapon.
Special: There a lot that would help with this build, but probably the standard to pick would be Swift since you gain 50% bonus damage so long as you're not wearing a heavy armor or shield. This means you get a consistent +50% damage throughout every battle unlike some of the others that require conditions that might not always be met.
Type: Medium, mostly due to the 50% damage reduction from Trample(there are some moments where you simply cannot reposition at the [WIND-UP] stage). Heavy armor reduces your damage by 25% and light armor does not reduce damage from Trample.
Special: Either Cloaking or Deflecting. Marking and Mending are good, but you start getting marks more quickly as you progress, and mending simply isn't as beneficial as Cloaking(reducing EXPOSE by 1 per turn) or Deflecting(reduces damage taken by 5%) are.
Type: Medium, but subject to change. The reason why it's tentative is because Heavy technically has the highest bonus defense, but whether or not the ranger debuff(25% dmg reduction when wearing Heavy armor) only applies to armor or to both armor and shield is uncertain atm. I haven't tried a Heavy shield myself to test it out as of yet, so until that portion is clarified, I would prefer to stick to Medium, esp. if my weapon has the Swift special.
Special: Same as Armor Special(Cloaking or Deflecting) for the same reasons.
Type: Tbh, I still have no idea of the difference between shiny, plain, and dull. My only guess would be that shiny is the "best" type(what it improves, again no idea).
Special: This is mostly situational(e.g. Spudly), but I'll suggest a good number of what I might pick: Deflecting, Cloaking, Holy, Hunter, Spudly, Tetra, and Vile. I normally don't get a good weapon with the name Potato, and to further shorten the list I would ideally have Holy or Tetra. Holy helps the same way Steady Will does, except it's % chance and isn't a limited duration. Tetra can really help get some extra Freeze or Stun so you can comfortably land your combos. The only downside is that Tetra has 0 effect on enemies with the <Resistant> affix.
When it comes to mercenaries, I normally go for the Paladin, since he has the potential to reduce your Expose status by 2 every turn. This comes in handy when you're both exposed and about to be charged at. There are some moments where getting attacked by a charge or pummel is unavoidable, and being exposed can make it that much worse. Picking Barbarian would be a good choice as well, since breaking the enemy's guard without having to reposition can help continue your combos for full damage. When it comes to Wizards, their chance to confuse is nice, but you already have dazing heal, and the wizard's effect doesn't apply to <Resistant> enemies. The Druid's perk of potentially reducing Bleed by 2 per turn is good, but like I mentioned before, some bosses give perma-bleed; you can also heal out of bleed otherwise. Assassin and Ranger mercenaries only provide extra damage, but with your ranger build, the damage they provide is pretty minimal.
General Tips Edit
One of the hardest parts in the build is the early game. You don't have a lot of health, and your dex is low, meaning you can't crit nor dodge often. It's best to farm for some gear in Westhaven fields when you first start out. Avoid boss encounters, the turncoats(guild quest), and the colosseum, specifically the keystone dungeons until you feel confident enough to do so. It's better to have gear with more VIT at the start rather than DEX, since the enemies hit for about a base of 20% of your initial health. Against <Caustic> or <Dooming> can make survival even more difficult.
It's hard to find the right type of gear(and its improved version), but after beating the Terminal and owning the tavern, investing in crafting and the tavern can certainly help speed up that search.