October 9, 2016

[Unearthing the Arcana] The Ranger, Revised, Part 4: The Deep Stalker Conclave

This is the first series for a new column to study the design and thought process of the latest Unearthed Arcana rules put out by Wizards of the Coast. This column aims for me to point out some observations I've made on the rules, imagine its impact at the table and raise discussions of how it would be used or played if it becomes official.

In my previous post, I got disappointed that nothing much has changed from the Hunter Archetype of the Player's Handbook in the new Hunter Conclave, and pointed out some areas where they could have improved on it. Perhaps it was not a priority for the designers in this revision to make any revision for the Hunter Conclave Ranger, so all hope is not lost for another revision.

Moving onto the last Ranger Conclave for this revision, this isn't the first time that the Deep Stalker Conclave was introduced; it being ported over from a previous Unearthed Arcana to put in some Underdark flavor to some of the classes for Out of the Abyss. Though most of Deep Stalker Conclave features read pretty much the same as its previous iteration with some tweaks, but since this is the first time I will be mentioning it for this column, I will inspect it as though this was the first time I'm seeing it.

So let's get right into it.

Underdark Scout

As it says in the description, the Deep Stalker Conclave Rangers are masters in the art of the ambush and this feature fully demonstrates that. Not only does it give additional speed for the Ranger to reach their target creature at its first turn, the Ranger gets to make 2 attacks against it (or another creature). Combine that with the revised Natural Explorer, the attacks can be made with Advantage on creatures that have not acted and that is potentially more deadly than a Hunter Conclave Ranger's Hunter's Prey. This is why I think the revised Natural Explorer is more overpowered than it looks and it only gets more powerful with features like Underdark Scout (again, I'm not even bringing up what happens when multiclassed with Rogue).

Even if the Ranger does not gain advantage from Natural Explorer for having the drop on unacted creatures, the addtional benefits of negating creatures with Darkvision to spot them in low light conditions or in hiding, can grant that advantage for being unseen.

Deep Stalker Magic

It should be no surprise that all the spells given here are non-Ranger spells and none are above 5th level which they can't cast. The selection is seemingly random. With Disguise Self and Seeming being useful illusion spells, the Deep Stalker Conclave could be made for disguising himself or the party, rather than hiding outright (except for Greater Invisibility).

Extra Attack

With this, the Ranger could make 3 attacks with Underdark Scout on its first turn, with or without Advantage.

Iron Mind

A seemingly random benefit to gain, but it's a good fit since the Ranger already relies on its Wisdom as its spellcasting ability. It is also understandable from a flavor perspective. Don't want to get charmed by a Mind Flayer while you're down in the Underdark.

Stalker's Flury

An unusual combat feature that I could see being abused with some multiclassing, but only getting it at 11th level might stave off many of the potential builds. I'm not entirely sure how to explain this flavor-wise, but I generally don't really have a problem with this feature mechanically speaking because of the level deterrent..

Stalker's Dodge

When reading the wording carefully, you would notice that this feature can be applied to all attacks without any limitations on the number of attacks, or how many times it can be used in the Ranger's turn. While that may sound a little overpowered, it is also more likely that a creature would be given Disadvantage to their attack rolls in a different spell or feature, other than this feature, by 15th level. So I guess that balances it out on its own. Again, I'm not quite sure how the flavor of the Deep Stalker Conclave is suppose to grant this, but I find it acceptable, if not anything remarkable about it yet.

While it's always good to see more options for any class, especially for the Ranger, my reactions to the Deep Stalker Conclave is that it has some features to be excited about, but I feel that it needs a little more work in the flavor department. While its combat capabilities may be something to be cautious about, but I believe a little tweak to either the base class features or the Deep Stalker Conclave features would fix this without anyone knowing.

So that's all my thoughts on all the new Ranger Conclaves for this new revision and I hope you find what I had to say to be useful or insightful. Wizards of the Coast has already started gathering feedback on the revision with their October 2016 survey, so don't forget to share your thoughts and experiences with the revised Ranger with them to make it better.

So that's just about it for my first series on the Unearthed Arcana, but just before I end this, I did promise to do a supplemental post on the Beast Conclave to examine the new animal companion. So look forward to that one. 

[Unearthing the Arcana: The Ranger, Revised, Supplement: The Beast Conclave's Animal Companion]

Last updated: 9/10/2016

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