Many of us are familiar with the wood elf ranger. The classic nature-loving elf that goes extremely well with other rangers and druids. As such, I figured I would go into how the reasons why a wood elf ranger synergizes so well, as well as some useful spells, tactics, and roleplay that go hand in hand with a wood elf ranger.
Now the key for any character-building goes to level 3. The reason being, your choices up to that level set the foundation for how your character will play for the rest of the game. Because of this, I will show how this character synergizes to level 3. This way, you can see what an optimized foundation can be built. And then, allow you to make your choices from level 4 and above. That way you are not just copying mine, but also creating your own character with their own unique abilities and moves based off the foundation I gave you.
Why are Wood Elf Ranger Optimal
The first question you might have is “How optimal is a wood elf ranger?” Well, the wood elf ranger is optimal in every regard, with strong ability score improvements, fitting racial traits, and a background that goes well with the standard ranger roleplay. This blends remarkably well, allowing for strong and easy character creation that ensures you are setting yourself up for both roleplay and optimization.
Ability Score Increase
Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
You have proficiency in the Perception skill.
You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.
Elves don’t need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious, for 4 hours a day. (The Common word for such meditation is “trance.”) While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.
You can speak, read, and write Common and Elvish. Elvish is fluid, with subtle intonations and intricate grammar. Elven literature is rich and varied, and their songs and poems are famous among other races. Many bards learn their language so they can add Elvish ballads to their repertoires.
Elven Traits Analysis
Since we are building a wood elf ranger, we need ability scores that synergize extremely well with both race and class. Thankfully the elf blood grants a +2 to dexterity creating a strong ability for attacks and AC. This means we will probably stick with light armor or medium armor and use dexterity-based weapons to attack.
Then, having both darkvision and the perception skills will be extremely useful for a ranger class. The reason being, a ranger focuses first on strength or dexterity. Afterward, they focus on their wisdom score. Which, wisdom is tied to your perception. Meaning you will probably be the party’s eyes with a high perception score and darkvision.
Finally, you gain the most distinguished traits among elves, Fey Ancestry, and Trance. Fey Ancestry will be the most useful as it will help protect you from enemies that try to trick you. The most obvious of these enemies will be creatures from the fey. Fitting as rangers are usually the ones that interact with the fey the most.
Then you have Trance. This synergizes extremely well with you being a wood elf ranger for one primary reason already mentioned. You are the party’s eyes. Therefore, by only having to rest 4 hours a day, you can take watch for the last 4 hours allowing your party to get their much-needed long rest while you take watch fully recuperated. It’s a really solid ability if you are out in the wild, which rangers usually are.
Wood Elf Traits
Now that we have taken a look at the notable elven traits and how they synergize with the ranger class. Let us take a look at the additional benefits by choosing the wood elf subrace for your class’s race.
Ability Score Increase
Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Elf Weapon Training
You have proficiency with the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.
Fleet of Foot
Your base walking speed increases to 35 feet.
Mask of the Wild
You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.
Wood Elf Traits Analysis
Since your wisdom score is your secondary stat for a wood elf ranger, having a +1 to wisdom is great for ensuring this build goes well. Therefore, by having a +2 to Dexterity in your primary focus stat and a +1 to your second most important stat, Wisdom. Your ability score points are the most optimized out of any race.
The Elf Weapon Training actually amounts to nothing for you. The reason being, rangers get proficiency in every weapon. Therefore, gaining another form of proficiency in the same weapon does nothing to help your weapons. So, meh for a wood elf ranger, but could be extremely useful for a wood elf rogue.
Next, we have Fleet of Foot. It might not seem like much at first glance, but it can make a huge difference in a fight. Especially for combat. By having 5 feet more of movement, you are now faster than the average enemy. Meaning, you can reach enemies first or get away from them if you are being pursued. Therefore, this just does well in general.
The last wood elf trait, mask of the wild, this matters for only certain situations. Most of the time DM’s just call for stealth checks but rarely does it matter what is around you. At least with this, you are safer than before if your dungeon masters ask you where you are hiding since you have more options. Works better for rogues with being able to hide as a bonus action, but still useful.
Wood Elf Ranger Suggested Build: Level 1
Now comes the part where I walk through a review on what I would do to build the most effective ranger I could from ranges from levels 1 through 3.
This way if you wish to use your build based off of this you can establish an incredibly strong base for the class and can do whatever you want afterward.
The notable features at level 1 are Favored enemy and Natural explorer. The full description can be found here on D&D Beyond. However, the biggest thing to know about favored enemy is that you gain adv on survival checks, and know the native language of your favored enemy.
Meanwhile, Natural Explorer’s big features are difficult terrain does not affect your group, and when tracking, you can know the precise details that you otherwise couldn’t discern.
Therefore, for Favored Enemy, I would choose two humanoid races of orcs and humans. They come up the most in need to track someone and you would know orcish.
Then, with Natural Explorer, choose forrest. It works well with your character’s race and is one of the more frequent areas where players usually are.
This said this is a general assumption of your playing the usual D&D campaign. If your campaign is taking place in the mountains fighting dragons. Then choose Dragons and mountains for ability choices.
Always adapt to better fit what your campaign is throwing at you and not just the general assumptions.
Wood Elf Ranger Suggested Build: Level 2
Now we get to level 2, this is when a wood elf ranger begins to come online. They get a fighting style, and most importantly spells! Now if you want a detailed review on every fighting style then you should definitely read this article that goes into some of the statistics behind each.
If, you don’t have time for that. Then choose Archery, it is the best fighting style and works extremely well with a high dex based ranger. Roughly translating to a 17% increase at early levels.
Next comes the spells, now there is one spell that is the bread and butter for rangers, wood elf or not. It is called hunters mark and deals an extra 1d6 damage every time you hit them and you know exactly where they are when the spell is on them.
Moreover, you can move it between enemies as a bonus action after they die. So, once you kill one you still have the spell to focus on another.
The second spell to choose would be goodberry. Not only can it heal up to ten points of health when eaten. It can also be spread out to up to ten different people, and keep someone full for a day.
This said, if you give it to ten people, each person only heals 1 hit point. The reason being is you summon ten goodberrys into your hand. They each heal 1 hit point per berry and keep you full for a day. This gives a ton of utility and healing, especially at early levels.
Wood Elf Ranger Suggest Build: Level 3
Now if you are going for the most powerful ranger subclass in 5e, that would be the Gloom Stalker. At level 3 you gain an extra attack on your first turn, darkvision, are invisible from creatures using darkvision, gain your wisdom modifier to the initiative, and your first attack deals an extra 1d8 damage.
It is by far the strongest subclass to choose. That said, from a roleplay perspective it is based in the underdark which most wood elf rangers loathe to be in since it is home to the natural enemy of the drow.
That said, you can always create your backstory to fit this subclass choice so it is by far the most optimized choice.
If you are going for the second-best subclass but fits more for lore. Then choose Monster Slayer as it gives you an ability that stacks with hunters mark allowing you do 1d8+2d6+Dex every turn against foes.
Moreover, it gains really strong benefits later on. Such as canceling spells, gaining a d6 to saves and more. It is phenomenal for shutting down pesky magic casters.
Finally, for my last spell recommendation, at level 3 choose the spell Zephyr Strike, It makes you not get hit by opportunity attacks, have advantage on one attack, deal an extra 1d8 damage from it, and gain an additional 30 feet of movement. The only downside to it is that most of the effects only last one turn and uses concentration.
But is a solid choice for a variety of situations.
Wood Elf Ranger Tactics
Now that you have a base to look at for how an optimized wood elf ranger would look. Let’s take a look at the tactics behind wood elf rangers.
The first thing to take into account is that the most important stat to focus around is dexterity. Why Wisdom is also important for spells, you are a quarter caster, meaning under spell fighting circumstances you cannot stand against them.
This means you need to hit them hard with your physical attributes and make you even more deadly by either buffing yourself with spells or weakening the opponent.
Additionally, since you are most likely to be using ranged weapons, avoid being up close and position yourself away from your allies that are attracting the most attention.
It will be extremely useful when you are fighting and not needing to fight at a disadvantage because they are close. Furthermore, if the main group is focused on the barbarian then you are less likely to be hit, meaning you have to make fewer concentration checks for your spells and preserve hit points.
Then, if you really want to optimize yourself then plan to multiclassing into something that is often based on dexterity. The usual multiclass ranger is rogue since they harmonize so well.
You should do this after level 5 as the rangers main notable abilities are front-loaded and begin falling down in dps as levels go on. Therefore choose another class that has a ton of incredible features early on so if you dip into them you can shore up your later levels.
If you take these rules into account, then no matter what you choose, your character should be effective no matter the level.
And there you have it. A review for those interested in the wood elf ranger. With this, you can see what the popular choices for many D&D players are as they attempt to make the strongest or most useful ranger in the game.
Now for those interested in something that is not deemed optimal but is filled with uses and roleplay. Then you should definitely check out the ranger beastmaster subclass as it is filled with these goodies that make the ranger class so much fun to play. Or check out this guide that gives a rating for options for the ranger after level 3 and can give you a different perspective. As always, I wish you the best of days and tons of fun when playing your Wood Elf Ranger. Till next time!
- P.S. If you enjoyed this post and you have a specific subclass, spell, or anything else, be sure to check out my Patreon to see the rewards!