In this Baldur’s Gate 3 Build Guide I’m going to be covering my Hunter (Ranger) Build for Early Access, and showing you what I’ve found to work best. I’ll be doing more Build Guides at the launch of Baldur’s Gate 3, but for now, let’s look at how you can use an Hunter effectively in the first Act of the game.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Builds: Ranger Guide (Hunter)
Rangers can become Hunters at Level 3 in Baldur’s Gate 3, and when they do they gain the choice of a powerful passive. Colossus Slayer will provide an extra 1-8 damage to any target they hit with a weapon attack. Since the damage from the attack is calculated before Colossus Slayer is determined, this works with full health targets, even though the description makes it seem as though it does not. This allows Hunters to deal incredible damage every round, without expending any resources. NOTE that this has changed since the Update 4 Patch, and no longer works on full health targets, though it is still a solid choice.
Hunter’s Mark is a Spell that does nearly the same thing as Colossus Slayer, but rolls slightly less damage (1-6), and the target must die somewhat quickly or you will not be able to reapply it for free. While this isn’t particularly hard to do, sometimes you need to jump to get to places where you can get Advantage, using up your Bonus Action. You cannot then cast Hunter’s Mark, and miss out on the extra damage from it. Using Colossus Slayer you solve this problem, as well as free up an additional Spell for something else. If these two things stacked together it would be an amazing combo, but sadly they do not.
Additionally, you cannot use Ensnaring Shot on a target that is Marked or you will remove the mark, because both Spells require Concentration. This means if you’re using Hunter’s Mark and Speak with Animals, you have almost no need for Wisdom, as you’ll only have one Spell left you can choose from that might use it.
Hunter Character Creation
In this section we’ll take a look at how to setup your Hunter during Character Creation for the best results. You don’t have to follow this to the letter, and it’s likely this will change at full launch of the game. However, this will hold you in good stead during Early Access.
Which Background you choose is not particularly important, but you will have a lot of Wisdom so selecting a Background that affects Wisdom Skills is a good choice. Wisdom Skills are: Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Perception, and Survival.
The Races I like for this Build are Wood Elf, Strongheart Halfling and Human. Wood Elves can reach 17 Dexterity, they gain Proficiency with Perception, they have Darkvision, they gain proficiency with Stealth, and they also gain +1 Wisdom. This makes them the clear favorite for a Ranger.
Strongheart Halflings can reach 17 Dexterity as well, but also gain Lucky, allowing them to reroll attack rolls when they roll a 1. They also resist Poison and gain +1 Constitution.
Humans have an all around good stat spread, and while not as good as the above 2 Races, I think a lot of people like to roleplay as a Human Ranger. Additionally, they can still reach 16 in Dexterity and Wisdom during Character Creation, which is good if you plan to use spells that are benefited by it like: Cure Wounds or Hail of Thorns.
For Skills again it’s not super important, but you’ll have high Dexterity and Wisdom, so selecting Skills that fall under these Abilities is ideal. Dexterity has: Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand and Stealth, and I’ve already listed what Wisdom Skills there are.
Abilities needed for this Build are Dexterity (since we’re going to focus on Bow combat), and Constitution for HP and to help with Concentration. Wisdom is also needed to make good use of some offensive Spells, so you’ll want to invest here. Your Abilities should look something like this: STR 10, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 8, WIS 16, CHA 10.
Which Favored Enemy you take is not particularly important for this Build, but I’ll just give you some suggestions here. If you plan to use Ensnaring Strike then you’ll want to take Bounty Hunter to make it harder to escape. What happens here is while you and your allies gain an Advantage on Attack Rolls against the target, they incur a Disadvantage on the same rolls as well as their Dexterity Saving Throws. As such, they are not going to be as effective in combat, nor will it be simple for them to escape the situation. If not take Sanctified Stalker. True Strike just isn’t as good as it sounds, and you don’t need Heavy Armor with such a large investment into Dexterity.
When it comes to the passives here I suggest either Beast Tamer, if you plan to use Astarion in your party, or Urban Tracker if you don’t wish to use him. Beast Tamer will let you summon a familiar that can assist you in combat, and Urban Tracker will give your Proficiency with Thieves Tools, which helps to Lockpick more efficiently.
Ranger Level 2
At level 2 you’re going to gain 2 Spells and 2 Spell Slots. Here you should take Speak with Animals and either Ensnaring Strike or Hail of Thorns. Ensnaring Strike allows you to Restrain a target dealing damage each turn if they can’t make a Saving Throw, and Hail of Thorns allows you a high damage shot that also AoEs a small amount. Speak with Animals is self explanatory.
You will also gain a powerful passive here, and for this Build I suggest Archery for +2 to your Attack Rolls with Ranged Weapons. This will add a total of +7 to your Attack Rolls, and +8 at Level 4, which I believe is the highest you can achieve for any Class in Early Access without using Bless.
Hunter Level 3
At Level 3 your Ranger can take the Hunter Subclass, and you’ll get to choose one of 3 passive abilities. They are all pretty good, but for this Build we’re going to take Colossus Slayer to get that increased damage with every weapon attack you do. This passive ability is especially potent against stronger enemies, which are predominant in Early Access. But it’s important to remember to reduce their HP beforehand to trigger its effect. Because of this, Colossus Slayer isn’t as useful against enemies you can one-shot so it’ll just be a waste.
Hoard Breaker has such a small range that you almost never get to use it, and it’s just easier to not have to worry about managing Hunter’s Mark, especially if you’re a new player.
At this level you will get to also choose a third Ranger Spell, and you should decide if you want Ensnaring Strike, Hail of Thorns or Cure Wounds. If you are not running with a Cleric in your party, you may want to take Cure Wounds, but you can choose whichever you like here.
Cure Wounds is a decent alternative to these Spells since it allows you to heal an ally you can touch. Because of your +3 Wisdom Modifier, you’ll be able to effectively heal more HP than expected.
Hunter Level 4
At Hunter Level 4 you’ll gain two Ability Points to place into Dexterity, bringing it to 18 and your Modifier to +4. This will not only increase the likelihood of you connecting with your attacks, but also will increase your damage by 1. Nothing else here is needed.
For Weapons you’ll want to use a Longbow, and you can find a Longbow +1 a bit later into the game, which is even better. Another great Martial Two-Handed Ranged Weapon is the Heavy Crossbow +1, which you can purchase from Derrith Bonecloak in the Myconid Village of the Underdark. This is due to the high damage potential you’re able to inflict, plus you gain Brace (Ranged). What this weapon action does is it grants an Advantage to your Damage Rolls to further improve your chances of dealing greater damage. The only caveat is you can’t move when you use Brace so you have to position yourself optimally right from the start.
You can use Jump or even Misty Step from the Amulet of Misty Step, which we’ll talk about later. And finally, you can also wield the Giantbreaker from the Zhentarim Hideout to inflict Reeling on the target. With this Condition, they receive a -1 penalty on their Attack Rolls as they’re trying to recover from the heavy blow that hit them, thereby lowering their chances of successfully hitting you and your allies.
For melee weapons you can dual wield any Finesse weapons that you want, but Shortswords are not a bad option. You’re not going to use these often, but sometimes you will need to melee or face Disadvantage on your Bow attacks.
For Armor, you can use Studded Leather Armor as this will accommodate your entire Dexterity Modifier, and will give you a total Armor Class of 16. You could also use the Githyanki Half Plate that Lae’Zel comes with if you are not using her and don’t mind Disadvantage on Stealth rolls, and this will give you 17 Armor.
For Accessories you can use the Amulet of Misty Step, which will allow you to teleport to any location that you can see. This is great for getting you up high where you gain Advantage on your attacks, allowing you to roll your D20 twice, using the best of the two rolls. Or you can use Broodmother’s Revenge for even further Poison damage when you are healed. Beastmaster’s Chain is also not a bad choice if you didn’t take the Animal Friendship spell.
Use Ensnaring Strike on enemies that you need to keep in place and ones that are particularly dangerous. Remember that you need to maintain Concentration to keep up the effect, so try to avoid taking damage, and try to remain far from melee enemies. If you get hit this effect will end if you cannot make a Constitution Saving Throw.
You can use Hail of Thorns on a single target to get an additional 1-10 damage and you don’t have to use it as an AoE. Just make sure not to hit your Companions with it, because even Saves still take damage.
Lastly, Remember that even though you are using a Bow to attack, if you’re duel wielding in your melee slot you will gain the Offhand Attack (Melee) Bonus Action. This can allow you to move in and finish off a target if you didn’t deal enough damage with your Bow. Just be careful not to stay in melee if possible, because you have Disadvantage with Ranged Weapon attacks while Threatened in melee combat.
Stay tuned for more Baldur’s Gate 3 content as we take a look at Classes and Builds, and be sure to drop by our Twitch channel if you have questions about the game. If you need something specific, check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 Wiki which is being worked on night and day!