I Wanna be an Airborne Ranger!
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones
So you think you got what it takes to be an AFS Ranger huh? Were you the best person at hide and seek as a kid? Do you hide randomly in your home just for the practice? If so, this Tabula Rasa class may be exactly what you are looking for. The Ranger skills, which are a quiet and deadly part of the Tier 3 class selection, bring an unusual role to the battlefield. Typically not providing skills meant for close quarters battle, the Ranger depends on stealth and combat support in the form of summoned soldiers and air strikes.
How to become a Ranger - As we stated above, the Ranger is part of the Tier 3 class selection and requires you to follow the Soldier branch. When you gain enough experience to become level 5 you will receive a mission to find the Soldier and Specialist trainer. Choosing the Soldier branch will allow you to continue along until you receive enough experience for level 15 and will need to see a Commando or Ranger trainer. While Ranger trainers can be found at many locations, the most accessible is just outside the Foreas Command Center in Foreas Base. After training as a Ranger you will receive the following skills:
- Ability: Spotter
- Ability: Tactical Evasion
- Ability: Fire Support
- Training: Stealth Body Armor
- Training: Net Gun
Spotter - Utilize the power of Logos to tap into the Waypoint Network, bringing an ally on the battlefield to provide combat support. After 15 minutes the ally will return to base. While active, this Spotter will partially negate the effects of enemy Radar Stealth technologies. The amount of enemy stealth negation depends on your total pump levels in this skill and applies to all of your spotters.
What this means is you'll be able to summon a specific type of AI controlled soldier to assist you. Each pump designates the soldier you can call starting off with a fairly weak Pistoleer but progressing up to Rifleman, Medic, Grenadier, and even a Chaingunner. While a reinforcement will obviously never take the place of squadmate, they can come in handy by providing a little extra firepower and more importantly taking some of the damage for you. Your spotter also helps you to detect stealthed adversaries within a certain range; from 15 to 75 meters away. This skill will prove to have more use to people who solo, than for frequent groupers.
You'll need the Friend, Summon and Here Logos to activate this ability.
Tactical Evasion - Utilize Logos and Micromech to generate a blinding flash of light or ring of smoke around yourself. Nearby enemies will be unable to target for a short time. At the highest pump level, momentarily jump away from the location, returning after 1 minute. This ability can be cast on the run.
Much like the Bane Lightbenders, you will be able to temporarily blind the enemy with Mag Flash, making them unable to target. Smoke Screen reduces the damage your squad takes from ranged attacks.
- Mag Flash 1: 10m Radius, Duration of 5 sec, Self Only
- Smoke Screen 1: 5m Radius, Duration of 10 sec, Squad
- Mag Flash 2: 20m Radius, Duration of 5 sec, Self Only
- Smoke Screen 2: 10m Radius, Duration of 10 sec, Squad
- Tactical Retreat: 60 sec Retreat time
You'll need the Area, Defend and Chaos Logos to use this ability, as well as varying amounts of Consumer Grade Micromech.
Fire Support - Create one of more beacons that teleport high-explosive bombs onto the battlefield. There is a slight delay between the creation of these beacons and the arrival of these bombs. Higher pump levels create more beacons; at higher pump levels Carpet Bombing will create a wide swath of destruction on the battlefield.
This is probably hands down the coolest ability Rangers get providing the power to call in an air strike at any time cutting a path of destruction. The unfortunate side of Carpet Bombing is that the strikes not only take a few seconds to land, but cut a straight line providing only a small radial AE. When aligned properly however this can be devastating to a large crowd of hostiles. The more pumps you put in this skill the more area your air strikes will cover.
- Pump 1: Phys Dmg Very High, Dmg Radius 15m, Delay 2.5 sec
- Pump 2: Phys Dmg Medium, Dmg Radius 1m (single target), Delay 5 sec, 4 sec Stun
- Pump 3: Phys Dmg Very High, Dmg Radius 25m, Delay 2.5 sec
- Pump 4: Phys Dmg Medium, Dmg Radius 3m, Delay 5 sec, 6 sec Stun
- Pump 5: Incendiary Dmg Low, Burn Radius 10m, Burn Duration 10 sec, Delay 2.5 sec
You'll need to locate the Communication, Area and Damage Logos to use this ability, and carry Weapons Grade Micromech around with you.
Stealth Body Armor - Allows the use of Stealth Body Armor. Stealth Body Armor makes the wearer hard to detect at range, and invisible to the Radar (useful in PvP). This semi-invisiblity is improved with better training and is based on the number of pieces of Stealth Body Armor worn.
Ranger with her Spotter
Stealth Armor is one of the biggest benefits to being a Ranger and will carry over into the realm of Snipers and Spies. Allowing you to move in much closer, it will increase your survivability and assist you in avoiding unwanted encounters. Each pump in this skill will raise the effectiveness of the armor by 2% per skill providing a maximum of 10% per piece, and reduces Radar Signature from 4 to 20% per piece. This means you will be granted an additional 50% bonus to stealth, but what does that really mean?
It's still being debated, honestly, but most would agree at maximum pump you should be able to move within 20-30 meters of something completely unnoticed, further if you are behind it. This skill is pivotal for Spies as they have a "backstab" ability allowing them to do unbelievable damage.
Net Gun - Allows the use of Net Gun weapons. Net Guns trap opponents, slowing or stopping their movement, while dealing out steady damage to them.
The Netgun is a interesting choice of weapon that will provide utility in a number of situations but not replace your staple weapons such as rifles or shotguns in light of their 3 round clip and 40m maximum range. The ability to "root" an enemy to its place can assist in escaping or slow down something you don't want so close. Having a limited damage type you'll be stuck with electric damage until you reach the early twenties to find fire and ice options. While the first pump of the skill only allows you to use them, additional pumps add a damage bonus of 10% per level up to a maximum of 40%. Netguns use Rockets for ammo.
Recent changes to the Netgun along with statements from NCsoft has indicated the weapon is intended to be "crowd control" meaning it is to be used for pinning down creatures and managing groups. While this was a entire class in other fantasy MMO games, with the speed of Tabula Rasa combat this seems unmanageable. It does have its uses at times so should not be ignored especially when the fire and ice damage types come along.
What else will you want to hold on to? Rage for starters to at least Pump 3 to boost your DPS. Firearms is also a must, as the Netgun will not replace your standard weaponry. There is a debate over the benefits of Reflective vs Stealth Armor. Stealth will reduce your aggro radius by about 50% at Pump 5 and has a much higher armor rating which can be useful if you solo. Reflective Armor will send back 50% of the damage at Pump 5 but note this only works if the target isn't immune. Reflective has a lower armor rating, but a very high regen, which can be useful in certain situations. It might make sense to carry a set of both honestly until you feel comfortable with one set or the other.