With the release of the Alachian Sea right around the corner, it is now time to prepare ourselves for a new adventure!
I thoroughly enjoyed playing the first zone for a very long time. All but one of my character slots are max level and I still do dabble in it from time to time. Still, it was merely an introduction of things to come. With so much new content coming in the second zone of Hex campaign, I could not be happier. I also feel like the best way to experience this new content after we’ve been waiting for it for so long will be to start a brand new character, with the new class, of course!
Know the terrain
Ever since the ranger class was revealed, I started to work on deck lists for level 2 characters of all races. I obviously wanted these lists to fully take advantage of the signature class power: Call “pet” | Train “pet”. The key thing to keep in mind here is that you will be able to get a free troop on turn 2, and another one on turn four (or “train” it if it didn’t die). This added troop consistency opens up a lot of room to work with. First, being able to have a troop at no resource costs consistently on two and four means that we can abuse cards that have a sacrifice component to their cost. It also ensures that we have a troop target for any actions or powers that relates to troop modifications. On top of that, each Race has its own dedicated ranger pet, each of which has its own set of attributes that will most definitely affect our deck building decisions as we level up. However, since I decided to build lists for level 2 characters I did not concern myself with what specific pets would bring in but more towards what each shard grid would be.
One thing to note about the shard grids is that it is defined by the race of a character alone, not by its race/class combination. This essentially means that even though we may not have all the finer details on the context of the Ranger class at a high level yet, we can still start building valid lists for its early levels.
The late game is also very important to me as I strongly believe the Ranger class will be, at the very least, on par with the warrior as the gold/loot farming class of choice with AZ2. As such, I did want to make sure that my level 2 ranger lists would enable us to clear the third dungeon of the first zone as quickly as possible to access AZ2 right away (you should be around level 5 at that point).
The last piece of the puzzle is that at level 2 (earliest level you can edit your deck), you will only have access to 3-2-1-1 (C,U,R,L) of the prime shards for your race. This means we want to make sure we use the strongest commons available to ensure best consistency.
Side note, if your goal is to farm gold at max level in AZ2, make sure you have a Vennen character that is either a Ranger or a Warrior in your roster. With level 15, Vennens get a 5% increased gold passive while also arguably having the strongest dungeon related bonus as well: two charges if you won last encounter. (Even at level 1, a Vennen Ranger will be able to put his pet down on turn 1 and then train it on turn two if he has won previous encounter, and that should significantly help win any subsequent ones!)
Finding the prey
With now clearer goals in mind, I started to refine a few of the early lists I came up with.
One of the first things that was apparent is that two shards in particular really stood out to me in terms of power related to what the ranger had to offer. The first one was the blood shard. Not only do we get some very good troop improvement cards (Abominate, Taste For Blood, and Kog’Tepetl’s Thirst) at common rarity, but we also get access to very efficient removal at common as well (Kill and Gruesome Deed). Gruesome Deed particularly feels powerful when you can have a serviceable troop on demand!
The second shard that seemed to be a match made in heaven was Sapphire. The reason for it was Cloudwalk with its legendary equipment Cloudfeather Fan. The fact that we can guarantee having a troop early on add a whole new level of consistency to Cloudwalk ensuring we can pull the combo off in the early stage of the game consistently when we have it in our opening hand.
After working through a few different iterations of both ideas, I ended up with two core or “Paths” that would satisfy the shard grid of all races but Elves (who do not have either shard as a major focus early on).
Both paths should carry you out to a relatively pain-free third dungeon clear without too many modifications along the way. I did try both on two different Vennen Warriors (while never using my champion power) and I was able to get to the “AZ2 Quest” at level five in roughly three hours for both!
The blood path
This ranger blood “path” as I love to call it is all about improving our pet to deal as much damage as possible in a short amount of time. We are stacking on many great evasive troops and a lot of ways to improve them. The list works surprisingly well even without the pet! While testing, I was able to get two perfect Frost Ring Arena clears out of 6 runs.
22x Blood Shard
(H) Reaper’s Helm (Strongly recommended)
(T) Locket of Lost Memories
(C) Robes of Dark Rebirth
(G) Bloodsoaked Knuckles (Strongly recommended)
(F) Gnatmare Anklebiters
(W) Duskwing Taming Whip (Strongly recommended)
The dragon path
This Ranger path revolves around using your pet as an enabler to play some massive flight troops as early as turn two to take a massive lead early on. Depending on your race, this core will change significantly. For instance, Human and Dwarf Rangers both have access to ruby which pushes the list even more into the “combo” territory. Coyotle rangers have access to diamond which provides a healthy amount of options for strong flight troops while also opening up to Ethereal Healers shenanigans. Vennen rangers, on the other hand, have access to blood for a more controlling build while also having access to very strong flight troops. Card draw and card selection is very important here since all Cloudwalk lists do want to “go off” as consistently as possible. (Don’t be afraid to abuse your free mulligan!)
Overall, for the dragon path, all lists came down to roughly the same sapphire core. Just adapt it to your race of choice for a lot of explosive power!
(T) Cloudfeather Fan (Mandatory)
(G) Eagle Feathered Gloves (Strongly recommended)
(F) Tidal Boots (Strongly Recommended)
Bonus list, the Elven way! (untested)
(H) Gardener’s Hat
(T) Furybiter Bridle
(C) Chain of the Marksman
(G) Conflagration Handguard
(W) Lyricist Quill
Talents (all lists)
In terms of talents, I would advise using Pet Training: Shared Exercise for the first talent point at level two. Then, as soon as you reach level 3, reset your points and select Pet Training: Ferocity instead. Being able to give the pet +2/+2 early on should make a HUGE difference both in your clear time and success rate.
At level 4, this is where you will likely be branching out. Not only will you have a few good options for the 3rd talent point, but this is also when most races get an updated grid. Use this new context to your advantage! Update the list to better fit which type of Ranger you are while keeping in mind the main attributes of your pet!
Strategy Beyond Level 5
Remember, there are lots of ways to get one to two additional charges at the start of an encounter (talents, race traits, party passives). This is definitely the strategy I would recommend going with while you take your first few steps in the new zone! Even just one bonus charge at the start of an encounter ensures you can have your pet ready to attack as soon as turn two most fights! And if you tested the previously suggested lists at all, you likely already figured that being a whole turn faster will make a very significant difference in both clear time and success rate of most encounters!
Keep in mind that these lists are in no way “optimized” and are meant to be cheap and reliable options to reach the start of AZ2 on your brand you Ranger. Do not hesitate to modify and adapt to your collection! There are tons of valuable Rare and Legendary cards that can transform these lists from good to amazing!
I also started a new resource gathering and saving deck lists for the campaign. If you have good lists you’d like to share (characters, mercenaries, ships) don’t hesitate to post it in this thread.
Hope you enjoyed this early guide to the ways of the Ranger and to see you all very soon conquering the Alachian Seas!
Editor’s note: Thoughts on Rangers? Do you have your own build? Want to build around some mercenary bonuses? Comment here and we will draw 2 comments to receive 2016 convocation codes which give you a 2016 convocation pack and a chance to spawn a 2016 convocation sleeve.