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I have recently created a ranger subclass called the tracker, which is made for a group of rangers focused on purging threats (natural and unnatural) from their home. I updated the tracker from the previous question found at Is this homebrew ranger subclass balanced? (thanks ValhallaGH for the tips).

First Strike: When you choose this subclass, you can quickly get the jump on your enemies. On your first turn in combat, your weapons deal an extra 1D8 damage. This damage increases to 2D8 at 11th level.

Changes: I made the damage scale up at increased levels.
My Idea: This is made to be similar to colossus slayer for the hunter, and it likely will add a similar amount of damage (2D8 assuming longbow extra attack at 5th level)

Defensive Tactics: At 7th level, your favored enemies have disadvantage on attack rolls against you.

Changes: Instead of giving a passive armor class boost, I gave the favored enemies disadvantage, making it easier to remember.
My Idea: It was made to give you a defensive bonus similar to the hunter's defensive options.

Master of thy Enemy: At 11th level, you have a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls against your favored enemies. You also gain an additional favored enemy, learning an associated language as normal.

Changes: I scrapped the previous feature and moved this one up from 15th level
My Idea: This increases the flexibility of the subclass, giving them an additional enemy, and increases their skill against all favored enemies.

Retaliation: At 15th level, you have learned to punish those who harm you with uncanny speed. When you are hit by an attack, you can use your reaction to make an attack against the creature who harmed you. You have advantage on the attack roll and deal an extra 2D8 damage on a hit.

Changes: Completely new feature based off of existing class features for the Barbarian.
Idea: Based off of the Berserkers retaliation feature, this feature gives the ranger power both offensively and defensively by discouraging enemies to attack them and increasing their damage output.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your updates and for helping to make your question the best it can be for us to answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Mar 17 at 15:55
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A couple of notes: This subclass has 2 features that involve being attacked, so I will assume this class is intended to be for a melee ranger as opposed to a ranged ranger, in order to take advantage of these abilities. It is perfectly fine for a subclass to specialize with one weapon type over another, and I will be reviewing based on that.


Balanced, though not always effective.

I'll break down each feature, then summarize.

First Strike:

A Similar 3rd level ranger subclass features can be found with the Gloom Stalker feature Dread Ambusher (Xanathar's p.42-43):

...If you take the Attack action on that turn, you can make one additional weapon attack as part of that action. If that attack hits, the target takes an extra 1d8 damage of the weapon's damage type.

This would likely would match First Strike's damage from 5th to 10th level, but First Strike would exceed beyond 11th level due to the extra damage; I think that is okay, as Dread ambusher has a few other bonuses. I think this ability is balanced.

Defensive Tactics:

This Feature is nice, though it may fall into the Tank Fallacy: the better your defenses, the less likely you are to be targeted. With it already being limited to your favored enemies, it may not see a lot of use besides an initial swing, before the foe changes targets. (Yes, it is not typical of the Ranger to be a parties tank, however they do have a d10 dice roll, and are likely able to take more hits than any full casters in the party)

Master of thy Enemy (MotE):

I think this is a great feature. An additional favored enemy is always needed for the Ranger. At 11th level, an optimized character should have +9 chance to hit on a standard attack. Increasing this to +11 means you are now 22% more effective, and you get some extra damage.
Most other ranger abilities at this level are some form of an additional attack: the Hunter makes as many attacks as there are present enemies in range, the Gloom Stalker and Horizon Walker get an extra attack (conditionally), the Fey Wanderer gets an ally capable of making an attack, and the Beast Master gets an additional attack for their companion.
If you are a dueling Ranger, your optimized average damage at 11th level should be 1d8+7, an average of 11.5 damage per hit. All of the above features give you (roughly) an additional attack, which, for simplicity, we will assume is the same damage average. For MotE, you are given +2 damage, but you are also 22% more effective, so assuming that I know how to do useful math:

11.5 * 3 attacks = 34.5 "standard"
11.5+2 * 2 attacks * 1.222 effectiveness = 33 damage

For Two Weapon Fighting, we have one more attack to consider, dealing 1d6+5 damage, an average of 8.5:

8.5 * 4 attacks = 34 damage "standard"
8.5+2 * 3 attacks * 1.222 effectiveness = 38.5 damage MotE

And for Archery, +2 on attack rolls increases the Rangers effectiveness: your additional effectiveness from MotE is 18.2%, a total of 40.4%:

9.5 * 3 attacks * 1.222 effectiveness = 34.8 damage "standard"
9.5+2 * 2 attacks * 1.404 effectiveness = 32.3 damage MotE

So its damage slightly less for Dueling and Archery, and somewhat more for Two Weapon Fighting. I think this is as close to balanced as you are going to get, without a major change to the feature.

Retaliation:

I am assuming here the reaction attack is a weapon attack, and requires the target to be in range of said weapon.
This is a good feature, but like the 7th level feature I worry this will fall under the tank fallacy: why is an enemy going to target this Ranger when they are heavily punished for it, when there are other combatants in the party they can target instead? As with Defensive Tactics, while the feature is interesting and balanced, it is not likely to see a lot of use, provided the DM is playing the enemy combatants intelligently.


Summary

This subclass is balanced. However, its defensive features will likely not come into play frequently, due to your enemies avoiding fighting you in order to not be punished. What you may want to consider is changes to encourage taking advantage of these features.
Some subclasses that do a good job of working as a tank are the Barbarian's Path of the Ancestral Guardian, and the Fighter's Cavalier. These subclasses have ways to punish an enemy for not attacking them, encouraging themselves to be the center of attention on the battlefield. While a 'tank' may not have been your intention with this subclass, I feel it is the best way to adjust these features without overhauling the subclass.

My suggested changes will only be to Defensive Tactics, and Retaliation:

Defensive Tactics
At 7th level, When your favoured enemy makes an attack against any creature within 5 feet of you, including yourself, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll.

This makes the feature a bit more versatile, and will overcome the tank fallacy as the disadvantage will apply to all creatures nearby, not just the Ranger.

Retaliation
At 15th level, you have learned to punish those who harm you with uncanny speed. If you use your Defensive Tactics feature and the attack hits the target, as part of the reaction you may make a melee attack against the attacking creature. If this attack hits, it deals an additional 2d8 damage of the weapon's damage type.

This again works to overcome the tank fallacy while still applying the same defensive advantages to the ranger. I removed the advantage granted by this feature, as I think the ability to use this on your allies as well as yourself is enough from the feature.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If my math is low value feel free to make some changes. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 22 at 1:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the answer I was looking for when I bountied it! Thanks \$\endgroup\$
    – user70687
    Apr 22 at 16:06
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Good job with the class, I was a little leery about this at first, but I think that you bring good balance by making a lot of the abilities favored enemy related. I do not want to hack at Jon Aristotle's work, I think he did a good job explaining his reasoning and math. I have a different method that I will show below on the break down.

First Strike: I like this ability, you come out of the gates running and at low levels if you are not dropping foes you are giving them something to think about. If someone thinks it is being a bit OP, inform them this is an opening shot not a continuing damage. The hunter punishes them for a bonus 1-8 damage per round if they are already wounded. I would say this is balanced and it will make an opponent question whether they want to fight the damage dealer that just smacked them.

Defensive Tactics: This is a huge bonus even with a low armor class! Nerfed back down to reasonable measures when linked to favored enemy. I would say this is underpowered if anything, unless your campaign has you hunting your favored enemy as the majority of your enemies. Not to mention it can be hard to remember that it is only against your favored enemies.

Master of Thy Enemy (MOTE): I do not find this over powered, once again you are not hitting everyone with it all the time. I do not like to say that something is whatever% powered without giving a base to go off. That said I like the base that Jon started with, a proficiency bonus of +4, and we will assume light weapons with a dexterity of 20. Those dexterity factors provide the bonus of + 5 to hit and damage, for a grand total of +9 to hit. If you break down a d20 by the raw percent value each number is = to 5%. This is raw and not perfect after all we jump from 1 = 0% to 2 = 10% and then go up by 5% until 20 = 100% always no matter what. To provide a better understanding it is nice to throw in an armor class, like 20. An un modified die roll has a 5% chance to hit an AC of 20. The average ranger has a rough average of 45% chance to hit AC 20, meaning an 11 or higher on a d-20 to hit. With the +2 you give them to hit a favored enemy you provide them the ability to hit them 55% of the time, a roll of 9 or better. As far as damage goes we will use the 1d8 weapon and add the +5 damage for your Dexterity modifier. The total minimum and maximum damage is 6 and 13; respectively. The average damage 9.5. (I do not know where Jon came up with the extra 2 points of damage but I would be happy to get the info) with the +2 to damage that your ability provides the damage increases to a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 15, or an average of 11.5. Here is where it gets ugly... With the understanding that I am going to hit 10% more often (55% of the time) and do 2 extra points of damage when I do hit, how does it compare to a 3 attack per round ability that only hits 45% of the time? Do not worry, I did the math. Per round I have an 85.25% chance to hit 1 time and deal 11.5 points of damage with your build. I have a 74.36% chance to hit 1 time and deal 9.5 points of damage with the extra attack per round. To compare these two over time, I used a 10 round simulation with the numbers and in 10 rounds I dealt 98 points of damage using your build and 71 points of damage using the 3 attack build. Those 2 points of damage add up and make your build better. Now remember this data is raw, it does not include magic weapons, spells, tactics etc. that will increase one build over the other.

Retaliation: You first invited them to attack you by dealing some sick damage in your first round, then they hit you and you turn around and smack them for 3d8+5? (1d8 weapon damage + the 2d8 for this ability + 5 stat bonus) Ouch, I think you really did want them to hit you after all! I think this is a good feature, I also like the fact that it is not tied to your favored enemy. You have the HP to take a good hit but that does not mean that you want to have to roll concentration checks on your Hunter's mark every round. A retaliation like that will make them think twice about attacking you again. If people see a warlock they tend to avoid hitting them because they know they have a hellish rebuke. They do not expect a ranger to have a retaliation like this and until they do they will not avoid attacking the ranger who is dealing out some damage. I might think of expanding this to taking damage from someone in range. It would expand the range of your retaliation if you are using missile weapons, but more importantly it will keep those pesky spell casters from lighting you up with no fear of repercussions.

All in all, I think that compared to other classes (not just the ranger) you are a little below average. It is a good build and there was obviously some thought put into it. I call these kind of characters burst damage. You have moments that your damage just explodes, but there are times in the middle that make you struggle just to sustain any damage at all. With the proper tactics this build will obliterate your foes in just a few rounds. Add a party and some spells, toss in a mix of magical items. You, fedadsafd, have made a killer! In the wrong situation you will be getting 2 attacks per round with a 65.25% chance to hit an AC 20 and dealing 9.5 damage per round.

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