Early dissatisfaction with the ranger led to many attempts at revision. A widespread belief that the class was underpowered often met with the counterclaim that of the original two subclasses, one (Hunter) was viable or even quite good, while the other (Beast Master) was awful. My question is how well some kind of "base" build competes with other martial classes.

In order to keep the comparison manageable, we'll stick with Player's Handbook subclasses. For the ranger, use the Hunter subclass with your choice of best option for each Ranger Archetype feature. For other martial classes, use your choice of best subclass. Assume everyone is a non-variant human. Characters should be assumed to have maxed out their attack stat at the earliest opportunity: 16 at 1st level, 18 at first ASI, 20 at second ASI.

Crucially, do not use feats. I realize that this probably hurts the fighter (?) more than other martials, but I'm trying to avoid things that have been covered elsewhere like how Great Weapon Fighting + Great Weapon Master + Polearm Master is better than every other build. If you wish, you can comment on differential benefits of access to feats.

I realize this is complicated by limited resources (e.g. fighters get one Action Surge per short rest, barbarians get 2 rages per long rest at start, more as they level up). Answers could address pedal-to-the-metal fully resourced boss fights, or average over the standard adventuring day of 6-8 encounters broken up by two short rests, or both. The ranger should be assumed to use Hunter's Mark whenever they can, whether that means having retained one 1st level slot for the boss fight, or doling it out throughout the adventuring day.

I also realize this is complicated by conditional effects, such as Colossus Slayer or Horde Breaker. Make your assumptions clear regarding how often this is used.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It could be an interesting addition to this question to include comparison for ranged DPR as well, given that the most classical archetype of the ranger is a bow-wielding character. \$\endgroup\$
    – STT LCU
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 10:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Related: "Weapon attacks compared with damaging cantrips" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 12:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Should we assume concentration on Hunter's mark never ends? Do we do the same for other spells? How many targets do we have available for things like Volley and Whirlwind attack? Should we just assume attacks hit and saves are failed? If not, what are the chances? Should we account for critical hits? Will we get opportunity attacks? Do we have magic items? Can we account for our party composition? What level are we? I feel this question is a too unwieldy given that every class has numerous subclasses, all with different damage outputs, many of which help their allies to deal damage as well \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 12:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @gto the question specifies PHB subclasses as a constraint, so I presume they want to stick to PHB for other things (like general class features) as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ What classes do you consider to be Martial for this? Given that some classes and subclasses include lots of magic, i think specifically stating which subclasses you are interested in comparing would help narrow this question down to something more answerable (but maybe not required.) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 14:51

4 Answers 4


Hunter Ranger DPR is pretty good, though it plateaus in Tiers 3 and 4 where other classes grow. Multiattack at 11th level is good though situational, and it has synergy issues with other features.

I took a look at 12 different builds: a Berserker Barbarian, 4 variations of Fighter, a Monk, 2 variations of a Vengeance Paladin, a Rogue, and 3 variations of the Hunter. (Not all will be in the final answer unless requested to try and keep things manageable)

I worked with the following assumptions:

  • Build logically: when applicable, take an aggressive fighting style that fits main weapon type; increase main attack/damage stat as early as you can; single-class only, single-person only (no mounts/companions)
  • Keep equipment standard based on build: greataxe, longbow, dual shortswords
  • This is a single fight, with limited rationing of resources for later, BUT
  • Where burst damage applies (paladin, battlemaster), apply conservative spending of resources in an attempt to ‘average’ the damage out (1 smite on a 2-attack turn; 1 maneuver per 2 attacks, round down)
  • Assume for the round we're counting, 2WF builds can use offhand attack
  • Rogue gets sneak attack on each turn; Barbarian is already raging; Paladin and Ranger have already cast Hunter's Mark
  • Assume a party exists if only to allow for fights against equal CR creatures without prompt death (which will in turn allow for extremely rough to-hit-chance math)
  • We care about long-term actual-play playability of each build, so take a look at 5th level, 11th level, and 20th level to see how things might change over time.
  • No crits, no advantage/disadvantage (for ease of math)

A Note On the Math:

I am not a stats person, so the math here is layman’s math and is therefore rough. Luckily, with the restrictions given around levelling, everyone’s chance to hit the same target will be equal at the levels we're looking at, with those able to take the Archery fighting style having a minor edge over others: assuming simultaneous ASIs, everyone (else)'s attack bonus is +7 / +9 / +11 at 5th, 11th, and 20th levels.

Against a rough mode AC found in single creatures of equivalent CR to the level (15 for level 5, 17 for level 11), everyone's chance to hit is about 65% (75% for Archers), and generally speaking better for lower-CR creatures. At level 20, that gets very swingy due to the varied nature of high-CR monsters. Encounters will vary, so your experience will as well.

Because I am not a stats person, I calculated minimum, average, and maximum damage for each build’s turn, rounding down for odd numbers of dice, BUT in doing so also assumed each hit lands for the example round to make things easier on me.

Build Notes

Everyone has +4 from their main combat stat by level 5, and +5 by level 11.

Berserker Barbarian:

  • 2 attacks, +1 from Frenzy; +2 damage per hit from Rage; use a greataxe, as the bonus action attack from Frenzy doesn't stack with a bonus action offhand attack from 2WF
  • As you level, Rage damage increases, Capstone increases STR to 24 for +7, and crit dice will increase from Brutal Critical.
  • Formula: 3d12+6+12 => 3d12+9+15 => 3d12+12+21

Battlemaster Fighter:

  • 2 attacks (+1 offhand attack with full stat bonus if 2WF)
  • chosen Maneuver adds to the damage (Disarming Attack, Trip Attack, Menacing Attack, etc.) Once per fight (short rest) can roughly double these numbers with Action Surge
  • 1 manuever per turn for 5th, 11th; 2 per turn for 20th
  • As you level, gain +1 attack per Attack at 11th and at 20th level; Action Surge gains a second use by max level. Superiority die increases to a d10, then a d12; uses increase to 6 per short rest.
  • Formulae:
    • 2WF: 3d6+12+d8 => 4d6+20+d10 => 5d6+25+2d12
    • Archery: 2d8+8+d8 => 3d8+15+d10 => 4d8+20+2d12


  • 2 attacks + 2 from Flurry of Blows; Martial Arts die = d6
  • As you level, your Martial Arts die increases in value to a d8, then a d10
  • Formula: 4d6+16 => 4d8+20 => 4d10+20

Oath of Vengeance Paladin:

  • 2 attacks
  • GWF style
  • +d6 per hit from Hunter’s Mark (oath spell)
  • Can be boosted through Divine Smite burst damage; 2nd level slots available for +3d8 per hit. For our purposes, assume one 1st level Smite in a round.
  • As you level, your spell slots increase in level, allowing more Smite damage. Assume 2nd level slot for level 11, and 3rd level slot for level 20. Max burst damage caps at +12d8 over two successful hits. At 11th level, you gain Improved Divine Smite, which adds a free d8 radiant damage to each melee attack
  • Formula: 2d12+2d6+8+2d8 => 2d12+2d6+10+2d8+3d8 => 2d12+2d6+10+2d8+4d8


  • 1 attack +1 from offhand attack for 2WF
  • 3d6 from Sneak attack
  • As you level, your sneak attack increases (6d6 at 11th, 10d6 at 20th)
  • Formula: 2d6+4+3d6 => 2d6+5+6d6 => 2d6+5+10d6

Hunter Ranger:

  • 2 attacks (+1 from offhand attack if 2WF)
  • +d6 per hit from Hunter’s Mark
  • +d8 per turn from Colossus Slayer
  • As you level, you gain Multiattack at level 11 (separate section); higher spell slot allows for Hunter's Mark to be held for longer, possibly freeing up other slots for other things; your 20th level capstone allows you to add your WIS mod (assume +5) to either attack or damage, once per turn, favored enemy only.
  • Assume target is Favored Enemy to be nice and to get new numbers.
  • Formulae:
    • 2WF: 3d6+12+3d6+d8 => 3d6+15+3d6+d8 => 3d6+15+3d6+d8+5
    • Archery: 2d8+8+2d6+d8 => 2d8+10+2d6+d8 => 2d8+10+2d6+d8+5

OK, but can there be actual numbers please?

I highlighted Hunter Ranger and also the highest average damage each time.

Class Build Lvl 5 min - avg - max Lvl 11 min - avg - max Lvl 20 min - avg - max
Berserker Barbarian 21 - 37 - 54 27 - 43 - 60 36 - 52 - 69
2WF Battlemaster Fighter 16 - 26 - 38 25 - 39 - 66 32 - 53 - 79
Archery Battlemaster Fighter 11 - 21 - 32 19 - 33 - 49 21 - 49 - 76
Monk 20 - 30 - 40 24 - 38 - 52 24 - 42 - 60
GWF Vengeance Paladin 14 - 35 - 60 19 - 50 - 86 20 - 55 - 94
Rogue 9 - 21 - 34 13 - 33 - 53 17 - 47 - 77
2WF Hunter Ranger 19 - 37 - 56 22 - 39 - 59 27 - 44 - 64
Archery Hunter Ranger 13 - 28 - 44 15 - 30 - 46 20 - 35 - 51

If you really need non-bursty, non-magic DPR, Berserker is your best bet until level 20, and Paladin will never not be a precision nuke with the Smites. But Hunter Ranger manages to keep up pretty darn well. One weakness of my layman's math: 2WF and Hunter's Mark have awkward synergy and can clash. If you're fighting something big and you can use your bonus action to offhand attack frequently, you get more milage out of the 2WF fighting style; if your combat needs you to move the spell around a lot, you're missing out on between 7-17 damage per turn.

Poor Archery here has the lowest damage ratings by the end, but is also showing another weakness in my layman's math, as their increased accuracy means that, in actual play, more hits will actually land. Ranger Capstone also lets you increase accuracy so long as it's a Favored Enemy, so you can sacrifice your last possible damage boost in return for an increased chance to hit that Ancient Red Dragon--maximum +18(!) if you optimized an archer.


Multiattack can be extremely useful: using a single action with no limit-per-day, and rolling each hit separately, you can make a [ranged/melee] attack against any number of creatures...

  • Whirlwind: ...within 5ft of you (maximum 8 targets)
  • Volley: ...within 10ft of a point you choose within range (max 16 or possible 24 targets depending on how you calculate "a point" on a gridded battlemap)

That's more attacks than anyone else can get off, ever 1. Tactically speaking, the melee version is great for running in to get yourself mobbed, and the ranged version is great for when a friend gets mobbed. It loses tactical efficacy against small numbers of tough creatures, or enemies that keep themselves spread out; it's unlikely to kill enemies that aren't already quite weakened. This is because any individual hit is a plain weapon hit, d8+5 or d6+5 in this example, and does not benefit from any further increase in damage aside from one or possibly two individual creatures in the mob2.

(Compare against Steel Wind Strike or Hail of Thorns for some interesting pros and cons about using the spell vs. the feature.)

Notably, Multiattack lacks good synergy with Hunter's Mark, the capstone Favored Enemy WIS bonus, and Colossus Slayer: the latter two are explicitly once-per-turn, and Hunter's Mark is applied to the target, not the attacker--and Multiattack is one attack per creature. It does have better synergy with Horde Breaker, which you can use once during a turn when you make a weapon attack; a 2WF Ranger with Horde Breaker and Whirlwind can try to hit everyone around her, and has 2 extra general attacks for that one guy she really wants dead. So like most things Ranger, it depends on what you're fighting.

Ultimately, it looks like a Hunter Ranger has reasonably good DPR, though not record-setting, and Multiattack is situationally useful where there are a lot of enemies on the field, especially if they're hordes of lower-threat creatures. You want to be careful about how you build it though, since there's a greater chance to build a style geared toward specific types of combat encounters through the various feature choices.

[1]: A hasted max-level Fighter using Action Surge and 2WF can make 10 attacks, and also gets to double up on targets. Before level 20, his limit is also 8 attacks.

[2]: A Sidenote for the Table with Feats: OP specified no feats, but I wanted to point out in hindsight the one exception to this statement, which is the synergy between Volley and Sharpshooter. According to the wording of the feature, each attack made as part of Volley is "a ranged weapon attack"; Sharpshooter specifies "when you make an attack with a ranged weapon you're proficient with" you can reduce the attack bonus by 5 to increase the damage by 10. As it doesn't use the capital-A Attack formatting denoting an Attack action, the feat's ability applies to each attack roll in Volley. (In the event you were able to arrange a Great Weapon Ranger build, a similar synergy would occur between Whirlwind and Great Weapon Master.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer. Mine doesn’t come close. Why does the rogue not have a subclass? Assassin can grant a lot of damage, albeit with a precondition of surprise. An assassin rogue, calculating average damage for first three rounds and assuming surprise, would fare much better. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 2:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame I did most of my math while on shift, and so for ease of things kept my rough math to just one round without situational boosts or crits--see also why Monk doesn't have anything for Quivering Palm. (Well, first draft had a theoretical-max-crit-damage column, but it felt too off-point so I left it off.) Also, personal bias: I find surprise very hard to regularly set up successfully in actual play. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 2:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Starting at lvl17, the archery ranger should use swift quiver instead of hunter's mark as their concentration self-buff, as four attacks at 1d8+5 is statistically stronger than two attacks at 1d8+1d6+5. The difference compared to 2WF is especially visible when you have access to sharpshooter, but it should still be visible without it. The spread should look like 30-48-65 if you use swift quiver and horde breaker, making the archery build slightly outdamage the 2WF build in the last tier. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dungarth
    Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 4:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dungarth You're not wrong, and I didn't notice that spell; I kept things as same-y as possible due to primarily doing the math longhand on postits after my lunch break. I do find HM is more consistent over the day, since you can use any of your 15 slots to cast it and keep it up for 1-24 hrs depending on level, while SQ is max 1 minute, 2 casts total. (Honestly, I assumed HM 1) for simplicity, and 2) bc OP asked for it. I wonder if your bringing it up might be the start to a good frame challenge about best damage buffs per tier?) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 4:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer! Did you limit the fighter's maneuvers-per-round to model a sustainable strategy? (That would make sense: just was wondering if that's why you did it, or if there was a rule I wasn't seeing). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 13:48

Here is a basic analysis of the baseline damage from both a battlemaster fighter and a Hunter Ranger assuming both are optimized for using a longbow. I chose level 5 because it is when most classes get their first big feature (extra attack in the case of fighter and ranger), and archery instead of two-weapon fighting as the ranger very often needs to use their bonus action to move hunter's mark or cast a spell, which makes the bonus action attack unreliable in a way that is difficult to calculate because it will vary significantly more from fight to fight than something like to-hit bonus.

This is just their basic damage in each round of combat. If the target begins with full hp, then the ranger's average damage drops by 2.25 damage, as it require both attacks to hit. The ranger can also use spells which can increase it's damage or provide utility, but it must give up it's action to do so.

The Fighter has less base damage on a turn, but each attack with a maneuver allows for a utility in addition to each attack that uses a maneuver. Additionally, the fighter can use Action surge to double it's output for a round. The fighter also only has a limited number of maneuvers, so will compare better to the ranger when there are shorter fights with more short rests, while the ranger will perform better in longer fights with more long rests.

I will assume all attacks have around a 75% chance to hit, which is roughly consistent with what I have found in the games I've played.

Hunter Ranger Level 5: Assume 1.5 Attacks per turn with extra attack. Assume enemy is below full health so colossus slayer can trigger.

First attack: Longbow: 1d8 + 4 = 8.5 Colossus Slayer: 1d8 = 4.5 Hunter's Mark: 1d6 = 3.5 Total: 16.5

Second attack: (50% chance) Longbow: 1d8 + 4 = 8.5 Hunter's Mark: 1d6 = 3.5 Total: 12

Average total: 22.5

Battlemaster Fighter Level 5: Assume 1.5 Attacks per turn with extra attack.

First attack: Longbow: 1d8 + 4 = 8.5 Maneuver: 1d8 = 4.5 Total: 13

Second attack: (50% chance) Longbow: 1d8 + 4 = 8.5 Maneuver: 1d8 = 4.5 Total: 13

Average total: 19.5

Level 11 Analysis:

Hunter Ranger Assume 1.5 Attacks per turn with extra attack. Assume enemy is below full health so colossus slayer can trigger.

First attack: Longbow: 1d8 + 5 = 9.5 Colossus Slayer: 1d8 = 4.5 Hunter's Mark: 1d6 = 3.5 Total: 17.5

Second attack: (50% chance) Longbow: 1d8 + 5 = 9.5 Hunter's Mark: 1d6 = 3.5 Total: 13

Average total: 24

The Volley ability allows the ranger to hit up to 9 enemies within a 10 foot cube. To calculate the average damage, then for each additional enemy beyond 2 (which will be the same as the above calculation), it will be the same damage as the second attack with a 75% chance of hitting (based on our initial assumption). For example, at 9 enemies, the average damage per round is 92.25. However, this requires 9 valid enemies to be clustered tightly together within range of the Ranger. At three enemies, the damage is 33.75.

This makes the Ranger better than the Battlemaster at dealing with clumped groups at 11th level, but not as good at single target.

Battlemaster Fighter Assume 2.25 Attacks per turn with extra attack.

First attack: Longbow: 1d8 + 5 = 9.5 Maneuver: 1d8 = 4.5 Total: 14

Second attack: Longbow: 1d8 + 5 = 9.5 Maneuver: 1d8 = 4.5 Total: 14

Third attack: (25% chance) Longbow: 1d8 + 5 = 9.5 Maneuver: 1d8 = 4.5 Total: 14

Average total: 31.5

  • \$\begingroup\$ Also I'll mention I didn't do barbarian because I haven't even been in a party with one yet, but I've played both a hunter ranger and a battlemaster fighter over multiple levels, so I'm more familiar with how combat tends to go with them than I am with the barbarian \$\endgroup\$
    – Farahad
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know this question is being edited, but I'm a bit confused by the current version. Why are we assuming that the second attack (but only the second attack) hits 50% of the time (what is this representing)? And you mentioned that the "maneuver can be applied to 50% of attacks" (which I get: it's a limited resource), but then you applied it to both of the attacks the fighter made. I like the direction this is going, but the current answer is a bit confusing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 21:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ The second attack is only 50% because I'm assuming an approximately 75% chance to hit overall, and the first hit will be stronger than the second for a ranger with colossus slayer, so I averaged it out this way (technically a very slight overestimate for the Ranger, but it's close enough). Thanks for pointing out the bit about maneuvers. I was originally going to have it only apply on half the attacks, but then I realized you only used it after you know it hit so I didn't do that in the calculation, but forgot to remove it from the description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Farahad
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 23:06

Ok so I am going to ignore one off effects and crits and do the average expected damage assuming you hit, also going to assume phb only - which then means that subclasses at least in this regard matter little and all characters are listed as level 20.

Let's start with Dex based rogue and assume that you are actively attacking people next to your party... that is 79.5 damage per round - but you do have to hope your allies are paying attention (see below)

Second place is Str based Fighter with a non-magical lance on a mount is the best damage option Doing on the average turn 54 damage (+2 per hit with dueling)

Third: A Strength based Barbarian with a non-magical lance on a mount is next up Doing on the average turn (non-raging) 27 damage or (raging) 35 damage ... plus a bit of misc damage from great weapon fighting that I really don't want to get into calculating

Then strength based Paladin same set up with lance 36 (smite does 1d8 on every hit + 2/hit for dueling)

Next: The Ranger same lance set up does 31.5 damage per turn... (+2 per hit dueling, +4.5 if creature doesn't have full hit points... which it doesn't - you hit it 2 times in the same turn)

Just after that is college of Valor bard same lance set up 23 damage per turn and that's before considering that the bard has a full 5 spell slots higher casting in addition to almost doing the same damage on the average turn when it isn't cast spells as a ranger.

And finally the lonely rogue with nowhere to hide, no advantage to be found, and no one to help her: A measly 9.5

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE Rogues get the ability to do stuff that makes it near trivial as long as you are paying attention to do obscene damage without help at 2nd level Fighters can prevent themselves from turning on their allies (indomitable) Barbarians get rage Powers Paladins get smite abilities Bards get spells(aformentioned) to a much greater degree than rangers ... and rangers... might get a pet?

Rangers at least in the PHB are the most mathematically sad class - all because instead of a swift action to target a creature (4th) and it is your quarry they went with the dumb 'every single playable race has it's own subtype - I sure hope you don't pick the wrong one for this campaign' favored enemy and then decided to nerf that to 3 choices down from 5 in 3.5 and to be honest I don't think the 3 favored terrains make up for that. To be perfectly honest - if they were to have gone the route of 'just use ranger off of 3.5' it would be ... significantly better balanced with the rest of 5th edition than the current version of the ranger (both if you decide to force you to get composite to add str, or if you decide to go dex for damage like typical 5th rules) That is how poorly rangers are made in 5th at least in base game.

  • edit: I forgot that a lance on a horse is a one handed weapon somehow after specifically choosing it for that effect - updated numerical stats appropriately, still leaves ranger in a fairly sad state
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you're working along a reasonable path here, but you could greatly benefit from improving the formatting to assist the readability on this. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a reason that Hunter's Mark isn't included in these calculations? I ask because the question specified that "The ranger should be assumed to use Hunter's Mark whenever they can." And it looks like you're calculating the Ranger's damage without it ( (6.5+2+5)*2+4.5= 31.5). Also, wouldn't Two-Weapon Fighting (short swords) do more damage than the lance, assuming Hunter's Mark has already been placed ((3.5+5+3.5)*3+4.5 =40.5)? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 14:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be easier to understand this answer if you spelled out why you are having everyone but the Rogue use a Lance. It seems like it's a good choice for a Fighter, but maybe a sub-optimal choice for other classes. For example, the Raging Barbarian would do more damage with two-weapon fighting short swords ((3.5+4+7)*2+(3.5+4)=36.5) than a lance ((6.5+4+7)*2=35). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, one other tiny note: you mention "a bit of misc damage from great weapon fighting that I really don't want to get into calculating" in the Barbarian section. I think that this was a holdover from your Fighter analysis, because Barbarians don't get great weapon fighting (and besides, I don't think it applies to a lance since they technically don't have the "two-handed" property). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I apologize for piling on here (so many comments so quickly), but there is one other thing I'm not understanding: the Rogue's average damage. The level 20 Rogue's sneak attack damage (10d6) can only be used once per turn, and it will average 35 damage. I'm not sure what weapon you're using, so I can't check your math exactly, but the total of 79.5 per round seems too high. Unless I'm missing something? (I think what may have happened is you calculated for 20d6 sneak attack damage with a 1d8 weapon.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 19:08

Rangers are on par or better than other classes in terms of DPR.

The martial classes are Barbarian, Fighter, Paladin and Ranger (assuming the definition of martial class as ‘class with martial weapon proficiency’, as the other definition ‘class that cannot cast spells’ does not include rangers). Let’s take a look at their DPRs. For these, I will assume a typical example of each class, for example, Barbarian with a Greataxe. As well, I will be looking only at DPR, ignoring the effects of higher or lower attack bonuses, as OP specifically asked about damage. Ranged attack will be ignored, as much of their benefits come from distance and not damage output.

Level 1.

Barbarian: At level 1, a Barbarian can make one attack. Assuming a Greataxe, this attack would deal 10 damage on average, or 12 while raging.

Fighter: At level 1, a Fighter can make one attack and may choose a fighting style. Assuming a longsword and dueling fighting style, this attack would deal 10 damage on average. Assuming a greatsword and Great Weapon Fighting, it deals an average of 10-13 damage (rerolling 1s and 1s is a bit iffy math).

Paladin: At level 1, a Paladin can make one attack. Assuming a longsword, this attack would deal 8 damage on average. Assuming a maul, 10 damage.

Ranger: At level 1, a Ranger can make one attack. Assuming two short swords, the Ranger would also be able to make a bonus action dual wielding attack. These would deal an average of 10 damage.

We can see that average damages range from 8-12. The Paladins average damage output is lower, as they have healing capabilities, while the Barbarians is higher during rage, which is a resource that should be saved. Rangers are directly on par with Fighters, the classic martial.

Level 3.

Barbarian. Our Barbarian at level 3 will take the Berserker subclass, as Totem Warrior does not add much in the way of damage. The Barbarian while not raging can deal 10 DPR on average. While raging, they can deal 12 on average. While Berserker Raging, they can deal 18 on average (calculated by adding Round 1 damage [Greataxe and Rage] to Round 2 damage [Greataxe and Greataxe]).

Fighter. By this level the Fighter can Action Surge, which is a significant boost to its DPR. Our fighter also takes the Battle Master archetype. We will ignore the Maneuver effects except for the adding of the Superiority Dice to damage. Assuming greatsword, Without action surging or spending superiority, they can deal an average of 10 damage per round. With superiority, 15. With action surge, 20, or 30 with action surge and superiority.

Paladin. The main boost to the Paladins DPR comes from the good old Divine Smite. As well, they will take Dueling Fighting Style. Without Smiting, they can deal 10 damage per round on average. With Smite, that number jumps to 20 damage on average.

Ranger. The Ranger will take Two-Weapon Fighting style, Hunter subclass (Colossus Slayer) and Hunter’s Mark. On a normal turn, the Ranger can deal 14 damage per round on average. With Hunter’s Mark active, that amount goes up to 22 damage per round on average. If the target is below its maximum hit points, the DPR goes up by 5, to 27.

By level three, we can clearly see that Rangers outstrip all but a Fighter using all of its resources.

Level 5.

I will continue one with levels 5, 9, 13, 17 and 20 when I have time.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Since the question specifies the Hunter subclass, you may want to start with 3rd level and focus on the levels where Hunter gets combat features. Also, a DPR comparison would mean comparing a DPR-optimized ranger versus DPR-optimized other classes, so the Battle Master fighter and duelist paladin aren't useful data points. For example, a better comparison might be a dual-wielding ranger versus a dual-wielding fighter. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 22:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure. If you believe Battle Master has the best DPR for a fighter, then you should explain that as part of your answer. And if you intend to compare Hunter ranger versus other classes, then you'll need support for why you chose those examples from those classes. Asserting that the duelist paladin is "typical" doesn't help when trying to compare DPR optimization. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Rogue is a martial class. please include them in your analysis. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 2:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast rogues do not have proficiency with martial weapons. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame rapier, short sword, longsword, hand crossbow are martial weapons. They are not a magic using class, so isn't the only other choice "a martial class" or is there something else. (See QW/LF as a point of reference) See rogue weapon proficiency; granted they are not proficient with medium or heavy armor, so perhaps that's a valid criteria for not comparing them. Their attack, cunning action, evasion etc are "always on" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 17:49

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