Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

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Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ehrgeix » October 7th, 2014, 3:53 am

This is the third of three articles I’m writing while putting together a party for a Supreme Jerk hardcore (no-reload) run. The first covered weapon choices and party composition, the second optimal attribute point spends for melee characters, and this will look at optimal attribute point spends for ranged characters.

Part 1 (weapons) is available at: viewtopic.php?f=40&t=9765
Part 2 (melee characters) is available at: viewtopic.php?f=40&t=9820

Note: The two sections below (Derived Stats and CLASSIC Attributes) are quite complicated, and covered in both the melee and ranged section of this guide. There’s nothing different between the two, so if you read this stuff while reading about melee characters, feel free to skip down to Ranged Builds.

Derived Stats

Before getting into ranged-specific stuff, I’ll cover the derived stats we have to consider when making a character in WL2:

Combat Initiative: Combat initiative depends when in combat you act, and also how often you act. Combats are split into segments during which a 6 CI character will act 10 times and a 20 CI character will act 33 times.

Max CI character (20) = 33 turns
High CI character (15) = 25 turns
Average CI character (10) = 16 turns
Low CI character (6) = 10 turns

(Data from Mambus’s tests - thanks. Note that these are not break points - a CI12 character will act approximately 20 times per Segment. I have heard some people reference break points like, enemy melee tends to have 15 CI and ranged stuff tends to have 10 CI, so if you have 16/11 you'll act before them, but I'm not sure how consistent this is or whether it remains constant across difficulties.)

Action Points: Action points control what you can do when you act. Firing an M16 Assault Rifle costs 5 AP. Firing it in burst mode (3 shots, but with an accuracy penalty) costs 7 AP. Attacking with Dragon Claws, a Brawling weapon, costs 3 AP.

CI vs AP: CI and AP tend to balance one another out - if they’re roughly equal, 1 AP is worth 2 CI. If you had a weapon that cost 1 AP to fire, ideally you’d stick to a CI/AP balance that looked something like this:

10 CI 05 AP
12 CI 06 AP
14 CI 07 AP
16 CI 08 AP
18 CI 09 AP
20 CI 10 AP

The simplest way to explain why this is an optimal balance is that AP and CI both cost the same amount, so if you invest heavily in one you get a table that looks something like this (in concept):

5*5 = 25
5*6 = 30
5*7 = 35
5*8 = 40
5*9 = 45

Or, alternatively, if you balance the two, your table looks more like this (in concept):

5*5 = 25
5*6 = 30
6*6 = 36
6*7 = 42
7*7 = 49

In the real world, of course, you don’t have 1 AP weapons, so instead you tend to optimize AP around the cost of firing the weapon(s) you’re planning to use, and pump the rest of your points into CI to act as often as possible.

Damage: Damage controls how much damage you do when you attack. It’s primarily obtained by acquiring new weapons. If you’re melee, Strength increases the weapon min and max damage by 2% per point, rounding down. If you’re using Brawling, level increases min/max damage you do by 1 per level, but this is not modified by Strength.

Armor: If the Armor Penetration value on your weapon does not meet an enemy’s Armor value, your attack does substantially reduced damage: -20% for the first point of armor you do not penetrate, -10% each for the next two, then back to -20% per point. This means that if you're attacking an Armor 7 target with a Penetration 1 weapon, you will deal no damage.

Skill Points: Skill Points are used to train Skills. These include weapon Skills (your base hit/crit chance increases), and non-combat Skills (e.g., fixing computers, unlocking doors, etc). Some non-combat skills are essential to progress through the game (e.g., Perception, Demolitions, Lockpicking), and some are only used very rarely (e.g., Animal Whisperer).

Charisma: If we want to recruit certain NPCs, we have to meet specific total-party charisma threshholds. If we do this at all, we’ll dump a lot of charisma on a single character.

A perfect character would have very high AP, CI, and damage. This would mean it could take very long actions, and act very frequently during a segment. It would also have very high Skill Points and Charisma, so we could take all of the Skills we wanted to and recruit all the NPCs we were interested in.

Unfortunately, we have to be a little more selective when designing characters - Wasteland 2 uses a system in which 7 Attributes (CLASSIC) start at rank 1, and characters have 21 points to spend on improving them. They also gain a single Attribute point every 10 levels, meaning characters start the game with 28 Attribute points and tend to finish the game with 32 Attribute points.


CLASSIC Attributes:

[Note that characters start with 3 base AP, 5 base CI, and ? base Con + 3? Con/lvl]

As well as the benefits mentioned below, Strength, Speed, and Intelligence give 0.25 AP per point, combined. This means SSI (sum of Strength, Speed, and Intelligence) should be divisible by 4 to maximize AP gain.

Coordination (1% ranged hit and 0.5 AP per point) is one of the three primary combat attributes in WL2. As it starts at 1, all characters will take it to at least 2 for +1 AP.
Luck (1% crit and some meaningless stuff per point) is a bad investment for combat focused characters.
Awareness (1 CI and 0.5% Evasion per point) is one of the three primary combat attributes in WL2. Generally, SSI will result in an AP/CI balance skewed towards AP, and characters will invest more into Awareness than Coordination to balance it back out.
Strength (0.25 SSI-AP, 3? base Con OR +1 Con/lvl, 2% melee weapon damage, and 10% melee critical strike multiplier per point) is mediocre for ranged characters and excellent for melee characters.
Speed (0.25 SSI-AP, 0.1 Combat Speed, 1% Evasion, and 0.5 CI per point) is one of the three primary combat attributes in WL2. Thanks to the SSI mechanic, 4 Speed returns the same amount of CI/AP as 2 Coordination and 2 Awareness, as well as granting Evasion and Combat Speed. This makes it the best Attribute in the game.
Intelligence (0.25 SSI-AP per point, 2SP/level base, 3SP/level at 4, 4 SP/level at 8, 5 SP/level at 10) is used purely to gain more Skill Points. This is somewhat combat relevant because you have to invest Skill Points into weapon Skills to gain base hit/crit chance.
Charisma is not combat-relevant.

From here, basically we want to figure out how to convert the Attribute points we’re given into the most effective derived stats possible.


Ranged Builds - Maximum Damage:

Ranged characters are easier to optimize than melee for two reasons:
* Their damage comes almost entirely from Speed, Awareness, and Coordination.
* Generally, the attacks they’re going to be using will tend to be 7-9 AP bursts/headshot bursts (or shots/headshots, in the case of Sniper Rifles). (A few stray weapons want 10 AP, but 8-9 is the most common target). We know we’re never going to get 14-16 AP, so we don’t need to go for more action points.

This means it’s easy to put together a maximum damage ranged CLASSIC spend:

C L A S S I C
4 1 S 1 S 1 1 [8 AP, 20 CI]

This gives us 20 CI and 8 AP, at level 1. At level 20 we can extend it to:

C L A S S I C
6 1 S 1 S 1 1 [9 AP, 20 CI]

This gives us 20 CI and 9 AP - perfect. Like, we can’t really get any more damage out of our character here, so let's see how this looks on a spreadsheet:

Image

Image

* - I’ll be using level 20 characters using Assault Rifles / Assault Rifle Headshots with common Arizona mods for most of the comparative stuff here. EWs/SMGs/HWs require 8 AP, but generally SRs/ARs use 7-9, and the damage loss from changes in CI is quite consistent as a percentage.

To explain these columns:

* Damage per AP should be obvious.
* Damage per AP adjusted by accuracy is just damage adjusted by average miss chance.
* Attacks per activation and Damage per activation respect AP costs. So using a normal burst instead of a headshot burst wastes 2 AP here, since we actually have 9.
* Damage per Segment is where we start to account for CI. In a segment, a 6 CI character attacks 10 times. A 20 CI character attacks 33 times.

Our damage per AP spent only changes with weapon selection and accuracy, and we're building these characters to ensure we'll always have enough AP for either a normal burst or headshot burst. This means the differences in damage between this build and those below will primarily come from how high or low their CI is, reflected in "damage per segment".

This build has:
Normal burst damage per segment: 5243 with M16, 8141 with G41
HS burst damage per segment: 5974 with M16, 10585 with G41

Note that the M16 doesn't gain as much from the Headshot burst because it has a higher burst fire accuracy penalty - -15 to the G41's -5.


Ranged Builds - Increased Utility:

Despite the above CLASSIC spend giving us super high damage, we might not actually want 1 Intelligence or 1 Strength. SP is important for a bunch of stuff throughout the game, and 1 Strength leaves us very vulnerable to a stray burst of damage blowing us up. So how much damage do we lose if we want to stay at 9 AP, but aim for 3 SP/Level and 1 more Strength*?

C L A S S I C
4 1 8 2 S 4 1 [9 AP, 18 CI]

* - It makes sense to pick up the +1 Strength here to hit 16 SSI for +4 AP, as discussed in the Derived Stats section.

Image

Image

This build has:
Normal burst damage per segment: 4721 with M16, 7332 with G41
HS burst damage per segment: 5229 with M16, 9298 with G41

This is a damage loss of roughly 10-12%, but you gain +3 Con/Level, and +1 SP/Level. It's hard to say whether this is worth it, because it depends exactly what you're trying to accomplish from the game - more Skill Points open up interesting opportunities, and some extra Con might stop you having to reload when some DBM SMG guy deals 250~ damage to your AR user in 1 action.

What about if we want to have even more Con, and go for 4 Strength? (Note that this is not necessarily a safer option, as while you have more Con, you act less frequently, so enemies are alive for longer).

C L A S S I C
4 1 8 4 8 4 1 [9 AP, 17 CI]

Image

Image

This build has:
Normal burst damage per segment: 4459 with M16, 6925 with G41
HS burst damage per segment: 4938 with M16, 8781 with G41

This is more like a 15-17% damage loss (compared to the first build, not the second). Compared to the second build, you lose 5%~ more damage, but gain an extra 1 Con/Level.

Which of these builds you use is very much down to personal taste, but personally I prefer the middle increased utility build, starting at (this is level 1, and all the starting builds below will be level 1 - the above stats were all level 20, as noted):

C L A S S I C
4 1 6 2 S 4 1 [9 AP, 16 CI]


And putting all your points on level up into Awareness, so that you finish with 9 AP 20 CI.

Edit: If you want to pick up +1 Con/Level but lose 1 CI/2% Evasion, drop 2 Speed for 2 Strength. If you want to use Engagement Rings (a +3CI -1AP trinket), do research - generally you'll want +2 Coordination -2 Awareness and receive some minor endgame benefit + the option to use 2 single M16 shots in early Arizona.


Ranged Builds - 8 AP/Leader/Skill Mule:

edit: I updated the section below based on discussion in thread/Pizepi on 10th October 2014. Thanks to Hector, Frozyx, and others.

So okay, we've covered combat-focused Assault Rifle characters. But what if you want to use SMGs or EWs?

Basically, this is quite simple - you get to make similar choices to the CLASSIC attribute spends above, but you only need 8 AP for burst/HS burst fire, so you drop 2 coordination and have 2 points extra to play with. This tends to mean you can start with a CLASSIC attribute spend of something like:

C L A S S I C
2 1 8 2 S 4 1 [8 AP, 18 CI]

This runs into some issues at level 30, because you'll have already maxed your CI. There are two things you can do to round out the build sensibly:

* Aim for 9 AP and pick up Engagement Rings (-1 AP, +3 CI) in California. This means you finish with 23 CI and 8 AP. There're some problems with this though - while you're leveling Coordination you actually have less CI than if you dumped those points into Awareness (but if you go Aw, Co, Co + Rings, Aw) this is somewhat mitigated. It's like a slightly weaker l10-30 for a large l30+ powerspike.

* Take 3 Charisma and turn this character into your party leader. 3 Charisma is enough of a leadership bubble to cover all of your AR burst guys, and you can still pick up Pizepi, though it requires jumping through some Spiked Collar/Honeydew Melon related hoops.

I was going to look at 8 AP skill mule (10 Intelligence) builds here too, but it turns out that actually you gain so much AP from having 10 Intelligence it's just better to go for 9 AP and use ARs on that character. Something like:

C L A S S I C
2 1 4 2 8 S 1 [9 AP, 13 CI]

With a spend like this, we can still hit 17 CI at level 40. Or, if you wanted more Con, you could drop 2 Speed for 2 Strength [losing 5-7%~ damage], and hit 16 CI at level 40. I think that if you do want to run a 10 Intelligence character, this is the best statline you can put together.

Finally, the only other builds in this section worth considering are AR-focused leaders. There're two - a 3 Charisma 9 AP build, and a 7 Charisma 7 AP build:

C L A S S I C
4 1 4 2 S 4 3 [9 AP, 14 CI]

This is pretty much the 8 AP leader from earlier, but as you're running 9 AP you can't max out CI at level 40.

C L A S S I C
2 1 6 2 6 4 7 [7 AP, 14 CI]

This guy would have a very large leadership bubble, and enough AP to use normal (but not headshot) AR bursts throughout the game. Basically though, 7 Charisma is overkill for Leadership, so the only real gain is making it smoother to recruit Pizepi (or, possible to recruit Pizepi without grinding for Spiked Collars if you save Highpool). It's significantly worse than just having an 8 AP 3 Charisma leader, though.


So, recommendations:

You do not need a leader or skill mule to beat the game. If you do want to use either one, I think the most efficient builds are the 8 AP EW focused leader with 3 Charisma, and the 9 AP AR focused skill mule. But what you actually use depends heavily on whether you plan to recruit Pizepi, when you plan to recruit Pizepi, and whether you plan to give her the GRB or level up ARs on her and use Engagement Rings.

* If you plan to recruit Pizepi early/very early, you probably want a 7 Charisma 7 AP AR leader. Doing this tends to mean it's optimal to use the GRB on her.

* If you plan to skip Pizepi totally, you probably want a 3 Charisma 8 AP EW leader.

* If you plan to recruit Pizepi later, and you're planning to level up ARs on her and use Engagement Rings to bring her to 9 AP 15 CI at level 20 [and 9 AP 17 CI at level 40 - almost a PC!], you probably want a 3 Charisma 8 AP EW leader.

* If you plan to recruit Pizepi later, but you want to use EWs on her, you probably want a 3 Charisma 9 AP AR leader.


Final Notes - Trinkets, AP/Movement:

There's a trinket that's specifically worth mentioning re: ranged optimization (and I discussed it in a few places above) - it gives -1 AP but +3 CI (Engagement Rings). This means that in most AR builds you can swap out 2 Awareness for 2 Coordination, and gain the option to use single shot x2 through Arizona, then later in California pick up an extra +1 CI. It's generally more beneficial for 8 AP builds than 9 AP builds, though, because 9 AP builds just barely max out on CI. 8 AP builds max out on CI and otherwise waste attribute points.

There's also a +5 CI trinket. This will turn whoever you give it to into a killing machine.

The other trinket worthy of note is a +1 AP -5% chance to hit trinket. This is excellent on either melee characters, or Ralphy (can take him from 8 to 9 AP just in time for him to pick up a G41, and start using headshot bursts).

Finally, sometimes you'll need to move characters using ranged weapons a few squares. High Speed helps here. Generally, if you're doing this I just drop down one tier of damage - go from HS burst to normal burst, or normal burst to single shot. If it'd take more AP than this to move (for whatever reason - maybe you want to get into cover a turn~ away), it's better to just use an entire turn's AP on moving and then headshot burst the next turn, don't move halfway + singleshot, then finish + singleshot.

Cheers,

Phil

P.S - (If you’re interested in how I ended up with these numbers, the spreadsheet is available at https://www.dropbox.com/s/afat65wmix774d5/WL2.xlsx but it’s nothing particularly complex, just summing sources of hit/crit, multiplying likely crits by the modified weapon crit multiplier, etc).

P.P.S: - I've had a couple of queries as to what kind of party I'm actually planning to run. I'm just over halfway through my Ironman run now (at Rodia), and I ended up using:

* AR leader (2 1 6 2 6 4 7) // AR, Perception, Leadership
* AR combat (4 1 6 2 S 4 1) // AR, Demolitions, Kiss Ass [unnecessary, but fun sometimes]
* Brawler with int (2 1 4 6 S 4 1) // Brawling, Lockpicking, Comp. Sci [hacking robots is amazing]
* Brawler without int (2 1 4 9 S 1 1) // Brawling, Field Medic
* Pizepi with Gamma Ray Blaster
* Vulture's Cry with Sniper Rifles (Rose is obviously better than Vulture's Cry, but VC is... fine, and I wanted to do Highpool rather than Ag Centre. SRs are bad here but she had so many points in worthless stuff it just kind of happened. I should have rebuilt her to use ARs - she even has 9 AP!)
* Ralphy with ARs

Ralphy and VC cover Weaponsmithing, Toaster Repair, Outdoorsman, and Safecracking. Everyone has Surgeon 1.


Edit: If I could go back in time, I'd probably run a 3 Charisma EW focused leader (with 3 points in SMGs early game), and recruit Pizepi later in the game (shouldn't be too hard with 6 party cha + 10~ from NPCs, and a few Spiked Collars/Melons) and set her up to use Assault Rifles/Engagement Rings. It'd look something like this:

* EW leader (2 1 6 2 S 4 3 - 8 AP, 16 CI) // SMG[r3], EW, Perception, Leadership
* AR combat (4 1 6 2 S 4 1 - 9 AP, 16 CI) // AR, Demolitions, Kiss Ass
* Brawler with int (2 1 4 6 S 4 1 - 9 AP, 14 CI) // Brawling, Lockpicking, Comp. Sci [hacking robots is amazing]
* Brawler without int (2 1 4 9 S 1 1 - 9 AP, 14 CI) // Brawling, Field Medic
* Pizepi rebuilt to use ARs. Dump all SP into ARs, max out Smart Ass very late if at all. Use Engagement Rings for 9 AP 17 CI at Level 40 (a PC would be at 9 AP 21 CI, so this is pretty solid).
* Rose with ARs. (+2 Speed, +1 Coordination, +1 Awareness). Use Engagement Rings for 9 AP 15 CI at Level 40.
* Ralphy with (shockingly) ARs. Use Anarchy Patch for 9 AP 13 CI at Level 40. -5% to hit, but this shouldn't matter so much with a G41/California mods.

Everyone would have Surgeon 1. NPCs need to cover Safecracking, Weaponsmithing, Toaster Repair, Outdoorsman, and (optionally) Smart Ass. That's no problem with Rose 5 SP/Level and Ralphy having at least 1 free skill, though.

Combat wise, this'd be two superb brawlers, 1 superb EW user, 1 superb AR user, and 3 varyingly junky AR users. 4 AR users is kind of a lot of AR ammo, but contrary to my initial beliefs this is pretty much fine. You have to spend a lot of cash on ammo but you generate a lot of cash throughout the game (to the point that it should never really be a problem), and you don't have to spend much on medikits etc since you breeze through most fights. And you have two brawlers cutting down ammo costs even further. Note that for a while I had some fallacy where I thought of ammo spent on NPCs as less useful than ammo spent on PCs, but uh, this isn't really true - even if NPCs don't act very often, they should have high weapon skill ranks still.


Edit #2: I had some discussion on Pizepi in a few edits here, but I rolled it all into the leader section of the main post.
Last edited by ehrgeix on October 10th, 2014, 4:43 am, edited 13 times in total.

damirius
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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by damirius » October 7th, 2014, 4:23 am

You have, without any doubt, the best guides here. Thank you for posting them, this forum needs more hard facts which your guides provide.

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by Azmodael » October 7th, 2014, 4:40 am

Imho 4 Str on Assault Rifle guy is good investment. Besides the extra hp and carry weight it also allows to use heavier armor with less penalties to movespeed.

Otherwise I agree on everything you've written.

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ehrgeix » October 7th, 2014, 4:50 am

Thanks both. The 4 Strength is debatable. Extra Con vs some Evasion and CI - I don't want to say I'm absolutely sure the CI/Evasion is better, but it's my preference right now. I think that going for 4 Strength is fine, but it's helpful to know what you're giving up before you do.

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by Stansfield » October 7th, 2014, 4:53 am

They're definitely interesting reads. I'm going to have to spend quite a bit of time playing on ranger before I go into Supreme Jerk with even the most tested build however. Still, thanks for putting these out!

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by Gruftlord » October 7th, 2014, 5:50 am

4 str also allows more carry weight. which might be usefull, if you intend to keep some explosive weapons as backup on your characters. it's at least something to keep in mind.

there is one thing unclear about your spreadsheets though:
damage per segment. how does this handle weapons that use less AP?
say you could drop 1 ap to gain 2 CI.
a AR guy needs 9 AP (G41 burst head shot) for his most damaging attack, SMG and energy only need 8 (gamma ray, eviscerator).
did you make your calculations with a character with allways the same amount of AP, or did you factor in, that the smg guy could potentially attack 20% more often per segment?
edit: ok i see you did the calculations with 20 CI. hm, ok. i tend to get 10 AP/12 CI and 9 AP/14CI builds most often when i tend to stay reasonable. both get engagement rings, to drop them to 9 and 8 AP.and both have low enough AW to stend all level ups on AW. so, this kind of comparison sneaked up on me. looks like i'll just add 20% damage per segment on the 8 AP weapons, to get the comparison i'm looking for)

btw: do you know what happens, when you exceed 20 CI? theoretically with a trinket 25 CI are possible. does that double the turns per segment compared to 20CI?

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ehrgeix » October 7th, 2014, 6:09 am

Gruftlord wrote:4 str also allows more carry weight. which might be usefull, if you intend to keep some explosive weapons as backup on your characters. it's at least something to keep in mind.

there is one thing unclear about your spreadsheets though:
damage per segment. how does this handle weapons that use less AP?
say you could drop 1 ap to gain 2 CI.
a AR guy needs 9 AP (G41 burst head shot) for his most damaging attack, SMG and energy only need 8 (gamma ray, eviscerator).
did you make your calculations with a character with allways the same amount of AP, or did you factor in, that the smg guy could potentially attack 20% more often per segment?
edit: ok i see you did the calculations with 20 CI. hm, ok. i tend to get 10 AP/12 CI and 9 AP/14CI builds most often when i tend to stay reasonable. both get engagement rings, to drop them to 9 and 8 AP.and both have low enough AW to stend all level ups on AW. so, this kind of comparison sneaked up on me. looks like i'll just add 20% damage per segment on the 8 AP weapons, to get the comparison i'm looking for)

btw: do you know what happens, when you exceed 20 CI? theoretically with a trinket 25 CI are possible. does that double the truns compared to 20CI?
Damage per segment does not handle wasted AP. It's just wasted. If you're looking at 7 AP bursts and you have 9 AP, nothing will unwaste that AP. You basically can't drop an AP to gain 2 CI here - the characters are level 20 already, so they'll be transitioning into headshot bursts very soon and really need the 9 AP at this point. Whether you start the game with 8 or 9 AP is your call though - some people would prefer higher CI earlier, but I quite like M16/FAMAS single shot options.

I did some 8 AP calcs in the leader section - the problem with only needing 8 AP is that you max out your CI at level 30 and then end up wasting Attribute points, so to benefit from having a weapon that requires just 8 AP, you really want to use +3CI/-1AP trinket, and you want that on any EW/SMG/HW user, it comes pretty late, etc. It's awkward. Doable though. I think if I was going to set up a character purely for GRB I'd start:

C L A S S I C
2 1 8 2 S 4 1

And progress something like +1 Awareness, +1 Coordination, +1 Coordination, hopefully pick up Engagement Rings by level 30, then swap those in for 22 CI/8AP, and hit the last +1 Awareness at level 40.

It seems like turn progression is linear above 20 CI, so going from 20 -> 25 is 41 turns/segment. I only have anecdotal evidence for this though (character total damage numbers with different trinkets (some mine and some from Frozyx/Tyraforce), and observation).
Last edited by ehrgeix on October 7th, 2014, 6:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by frozyx » October 7th, 2014, 6:19 am

Very good write-up again! There is just one flaw when you lay down the 'Utility' build (the middle one): it has 30 attrib pts :)

I esp. like that you started with the extreme 20 CI built. I am running this in my current playthrough and i am stoked :) But ofc, dropping INT to 1 has its drawbacks. Its not sth for ppl who want to experience the 'full' game, as they cant seriously cover all skills within their party then. At least not when they run all PCs on 1 INT, as you have to basically discard 1 Skill per 1 INT char compared to 4 INT ones. I skipped all Ass skills for my new party for example.

From my experience on a full SJ playthrough from two AR users with the two different builds you discussed - 4162A41 vs. 4164821 with the latter having +2 STR and -2SPD - i can only advase taking the former built with the added SPD. It played overall just better, as the 1 extra CI definitely had more impact than the STR, which never felt like it would make a difference, neither for keeping the char alive from HP, nor from wearing better armor in mid AZ to early LA (note that STR wont give you better armor in mid-end LA). The SPD might actually even be better for survivability due to the 2% more evade and the faster run speed to get into cover etc.

I would now however even suggest dropping AP to 8 for the start and running 2182A41 with 2 more CI instead - even for an AR user. Reason is that 8 AP lets you shoot two single shots in early game with FAMAS or HK33 (which is what you use until after HP or AgC) - both have 4AP attacks. And the 8 AP is also fine afterwards for normal bursts with the M16 or the AK47 - which costs 7 AP. The 9th AP wouldnt actually do a lot in both cases, although taking a step can sometimes be helpful. But 2 more CI is just so great as it will actually ALWAYS be beneficial. Note that you can still get to 9 AP when you want it - mostly from lvl 30 onwards, when you are about to get G41 and the best mods, which is what makes HS Bursts viable.

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ehrgeix » October 7th, 2014, 6:23 am

frozyx wrote:Very good write-up again! There is just one flaw when you lay down the 'Utility' build (the middle one): it has 30 attrib pts :)

... More sensible stuff
All of the example builds for bursts/HS bursts have 30 points and are level 20 - I thought that'd be sensible because that's the kind of time you're actually using bursts a lot and thinking about migrating to HS bursts. I tried to make this explicit in the OP. You can choose whether to start it with 8 AP 18 CI or 9 AP 16 CI. (and if you do start 8 AP 18 CI, whether to go 19 CI at 10 and 9 AP at 30, or whether you want 9 AP at 20 - I think most of this depends on weapon choices and level speed, though - as well as where you want to use your Engagement Rings).

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by damirius » October 7th, 2014, 6:28 am

frozyx wrote:Very good write-up again! There is just one flaw when you lay down the 'Utility' build (the middle one): it has 30 attrib pts :)
That's level 20 build, he starts with 4 Awareness and puts 1 point per 10 levels in it after that.

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by frozyx » October 7th, 2014, 6:31 am

Oh i see. My fault then :)

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ehrgeix
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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ehrgeix » October 7th, 2014, 6:32 am

No worries. I just made a few edits to the OP to try to make stuff more explicit, and talked more about 8 AP options and Engagement Rings being better used there. Thanks again for the posts though. =)

Kakita Tatsumaru
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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by Kakita Tatsumaru » October 7th, 2014, 6:41 am

Best guide I've seen so far.

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Gruftlord
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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by Gruftlord » October 7th, 2014, 7:06 am

while you can max CI with 9 AP, you really need to focus on it. it's as someone posted above not that practical, if you wish to run with a more broader skilled party.
currently you run with 3x4 and 1x1 int and 2 str on your AR Rangers.
for my own group i think i want to go with 3x4 and 1x10 int, all ranged, and maybe 2-3 of them with more than 2 Str, to carry some stuff like explosives/LAWs.
so, naturally, i'm a bit more tight on CI.
my SMG guy will be able to get 2 CI higher than the AR guys therefor, independent of whether i aim for that -1AP trinket or not.

edit: ok, i see, that new additions to the build pretty much mention a similar line of thinking now.

overall i think it's a really conclusive guide and well thought out. thank you for writing it all down and doing the maths

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frozyx
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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by frozyx » October 7th, 2014, 9:52 am

ehrgeix wrote: * Pizepi with Gamma Ray Blaster (This is *way* better than having an EW guy on your team - the rest of the EWs are trash, and Pizepi is... almost a real character, especially if you can pick her up a -1AP +3 CI trinket later)
This is one statement i dont really and/or fully agree on. Now its an easy choice to give Pizepi the Gamma Ray, as EW in general aint too great besides the Gamma Ray and Pizepi cant really use any other weapon unless you want to build up a new skill on her. So if you actually go for Pizepi, which also is reasonable as she is one of the best NPCs around, its an obvious thing to do.

However, its also kind of a trap to recruit Pizepi imo. Let me explain it a bit:

Thing is, you will be giving her the Gamma Ray if you get her. And while she is a solid fighter with 10 AP and 12 CI on lvl 20, its still far away from being the perfect user for the by far best weapon for a very long time. The one that is only outclassed by a fully modded G41 AR. And actually only marginally. Now consider giving that weapon to someone with 20 CI instead. That char will be firing the Gamma Ray 66% more often than Pizepi with her 12 CI (33 actions vs 20 actions in a 33 turn segment). Thats quite a huge boost and the reason i would rather want to bring my own EW user (with 20 CI ofc) and just skip Pizepi as other EWs arent really worth it. Esp. as the Gamma will pretty much rule from late AZ to mid LA and still be almost on par with the fully modded G41 in lategame.

Skipping Pizepi btw also allows you to drop CHR significantly, freeing up other attributes. So thats another boost to your party. Now ofc this is all min-max talking - if someone likes green mutants then there is nothing wrong with picking her up and handing her the Gamma Ray. But for a super efficient party, its imo best to not get her in.

So therefore i for my part decided to bring a 21A1A13 char, starting with 7 AP and 20 CI and getting to 8 AP by level 20 (which is around the time you are gonna get the Gamma Ray). That is ofc another extreme 1 INT char, but you can prolly as well boost INT a bit, and then get to 8 AP and 18 CI by lvl 20. Still better than 12 CI. The 3 CHR btw is enough to pick up Scotchmo and also grants an imo sufficient leadership radius, that can futher be enhanced with a Spiked Collar if needed. But b/c its all about the Gamma Ray, that char might actually the one where dropping to 1 INT is worth the sacrifice :)

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ZonkerBrainless » October 7th, 2014, 10:11 am

So here's my question: This is a combat optimized party, correct? You do this by setting INT to 1 for everybody, so they all get much lower non-combat skill advancement, meaning you miss out on a lot of loot.

Does leaving a whole bunch of loot lying around the wasteland unlooted have any effect on combat?

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frozyx
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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by frozyx » October 7th, 2014, 10:28 am

ZonkerBrainless wrote:So here's my question: This is a combat optimized party, correct? You do this by setting INT to 1 for everybody, so they all get much lower non-combat skill advancement, meaning you miss out on a lot of loot.

Does leaving a whole bunch of loot lying around the wasteland unlooted have any effect on combat?
I dropped all Ass skills, but kept the 'loot' skills Picklock, Safecrack and Toaster Repair, alongside Demolitions to untrap loot boxes ofc. Thus i dont have that sort of issues. Dunno what im gonna miss out from lacking the Ass skills though. I remember about the Comp Sci book from monk silo. Not sure if there is anything else apart from XP.

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ZonkerBrainless » October 7th, 2014, 10:32 am

Angel Oracle is a very -ass skill heavy location. You miss out on a lot of stuff there. As a consequence of certain quest outcomes becoming unachievable, you also lose a bunch of toaster quests (although if you know this ahead of time you can just finish the toaster quests first).

That's my understanding anyway. Maybe I'm wrong.

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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ZonkerBrainless » October 7th, 2014, 10:33 am

Man, I had absolutely no idea that combat initiative not only determines who moves first but how many "moves" you get. That's nuts.

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ehrgeix
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Re: Building a Better Ranger: Ranged Character Optimization

Post by ehrgeix » October 7th, 2014, 10:50 am

frozyx wrote:
ehrgeix wrote: * Pizepi with Gamma Ray Blaster (This is *way* better than having an EW guy on your team - the rest of the EWs are trash, and Pizepi is... almost a real character, especially if you can pick her up a -1AP +3 CI trinket later)
This is one statement i dont really and/or fully agree on. Now its an easy choice to give Pizepi the Gamma Ray, as EW in general aint too great besides the Gamma Ray and Pizepi cant really use any other weapon unless you want to build up a new skill on her. So if you actually go for Pizepi, which also is reasonable as she is one of the best NPCs around, its an obvious thing to do.

However, its also kind of a trap to recruit Pizepi imo. Let me explain it a bit:

Thing is, you will be giving her the Gamma Ray if you get her. And while she is a solid fighter with 10 AP and 12 CI on lvl 20, its still far away from being the perfect user for the by far best weapon for a very long time. The one that is only outclassed by a fully modded G41 AR. And actually only marginally. Now consider giving that weapon to someone with 20 CI instead. That char will be firing the Gamma Ray 66% more often than Pizepi with her 12 CI (33 actions vs 20 actions in a 33 turn segment). Thats quite a huge boost and the reason i would rather want to bring my own EW user (with 20 CI ofc) and just skip Pizepi as other EWs arent really worth it. Esp. as the Gamma will pretty much rule from late AZ to mid LA and still be almost on par with the fully modded G41 in lategame.

Skipping Pizepi btw also allows you to drop CHR significantly, freeing up other attributes. So thats another boost to your party. Now ofc this is all min-max talking - if someone likes green mutants then there is nothing wrong with picking her up and handing her the Gamma Ray. But for a super efficient party, its imo best to not get her in.

So therefore i for my part decided to bring a 21A1A13 char, starting with 7 AP and 20 CI and getting to 8 AP by level 20 (which is around the time you are gonna get the Gamma Ray). That is ofc another extreme 1 INT char, but you can prolly as well boost INT a bit, and then get to 8 AP and 18 CI by lvl 20. Still better than 12 CI. The 3 CHR btw is enough to pick up Scotchmo and also grants an imo sufficient leadership radius, that can futher be enhanced with a Spiked Collar if needed. But b/c its all about the Gamma Ray, that char might actually the one where dropping to 1 INT is worth the sacrifice :)
Hm. How important do you think Leadership is? Do you just keep all your AR-guys close and miss it on NPCs sometimes?

Imo the problem with using an EW guy yourself, is that all the EWs kind of suck. So they'll be mediocre until you finish ToT. This applies to Pizepi as well, but for a shorter window and she's less important than a PC. I agree with the rest of your points, but not sure if it's objectively better to skip her. You're clearly stronger through Damonta -> mid LA somewhere if you do, and not having so much Cha gives you a nicer earlygame start too.

That said, I uh, enjoy green mutantgirls <3, and I still think that if you do go for Pizepi you should give her the Gamma Ray (I guess you agree with that, though). And I think you can salvage her a little more by giving her the +CI -AP trinket, but that's an investment on her that could be a 23 CI PC, I guess.

I think it's sort of about where you want to be stronger and if you save the DBM base fight/Abandoned Railway until after you have GRB, etc.

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