With so many unique options, it can be difficult to pick a Ranger subclass for your next character.
Sure, all Rangers venture into the uncharted parts of the world and bravely face the threats that lurk there. But each of the subclass options varies so widely from the next that it can be tough to choose!
Never fear, dear reader!
In this article, we’ll be looking at each of the Ranger subclass options in D&D 5e and ranking them.
We’ll specifically be looking at the mechanics, impact on the game, and specific strengths of each subclass for this ranking. Theme and style will be mentioned, but we’ll be keeping this as “apples to apples” as possible in a general campaign setting.
Which Ranger subclass will claim the top spot?
Read on to find out now!
Number 8 – Monster Slayer
Hunting powerful supernatural enemies and standing against some of the darkest magic in the world isn’t an easy job. But, hey, someone’s got to do it!
Pulling inspiration from characters like Van Helsing or Geralt of Rivia, I just absolutely love the theme of the Monster Hunter Ranger.
There’s a major focus on damage output with this subclass, especially when it comes to taking down enemies that rely on magic.
Most of the features that these Rangers gain are handy, but the subclass itself is a bit rigid. The spells are particularly very situational to use effectively.
While it is last place on this list, I wouldn’t say the Monster Slayer is a bad subclass. It’s just a very specific one.
The Monster Slayer Ranger becomes a better option in a campaign that sees you regularly going up against terrifying supernatural creatures.
However, in a more general campaign, the Monster Slayer Ranger might struggle to be more consistently useful compared to other options.
Stand against nightmarish foes with the full guide to the Monster Slayer Ranger!
Number 7 – Hunter
Standing as vanguards between the savage wilderness and civilization, the Hunter Ranger occupies a specific and very necessary role in the world.
The Hunter Ranger is very “what you see is what you get.” It’s straightforward with a heavy focus on survivability and damage output.
That said, despite being so straightforward it also has a ton of decision points as you level up. Thankfully, the choices tend to be pretty clear depending on how you’ve built your character.
Much like with the Monster Slayer, don’t mistake the low ranking here for this being a “bad” option.
The Hunter Ranger knows what it’s about and it does it well. What it lacks in frills, it makes up for in reliability.
While the subclass may have been outpaced by most subclasses that came after it, it’s not one to ignore!
Answer the call of the wild with the full guide to the Hunter Ranger!
Number 6 – Fey Wanderer
Rangers are known for their travels through the wilderness, so is it any surprise that some might get tangled up with the Feywild?
Whether they gained their powers as a gift or by circumstance, Fey Wanderer Rangers are a sight to behold. Juggling martial prowess with plenty of Fey tricks and charms, these characters are great at keeping enemies (and even their own allies) guessing.
This is a surprisingly versatile Ranger subclass that can comfortably fit into several roles in their party. They even get a handy bonus for their Charisma checks which means they can be an adequate Face for the party!
Unless you’re going against a lot of enemies that resist charms, the Fey Wanderer can comfortably fit into pretty much any adventure.
Flexibility and adaptability are key to getting the most out of the Fey Wanderer Ranger.
While that does keep it fun, useful, and fresh, that can also work against newer players who want to play this subclass.
Fey Wanderers don’t exactly fit most of the typical Ranger roles and advice. Instead, they tend to be all over the place which means they’re not as accessible as the other subclass options.
In the hands of someone with an eye for creative tactics and a good knowledge of how D&D 5e works, this rockets up toward the top of the list.
Outwit and charm your enemies with the full guide to the Fey Wanderer Ranger!
Number 5 – Swarmkeeper
Why wouldn’t you want an extra friend or two… or three… thousand…?
Swarmkeeper Rangers have bonded with nature spirits that manifest as swarms of bees, rats, pixies, or other such small creatures.
It’s no surprise that the Swarmkeeper Ranger is big on teamwork and group tactics. While the subclass itself is very straightforward, it also brings a great deal of strategic utility to the table.
Even beyond scouting, survivability, and overwhelming high-priority enemies, your army of little friends is eager to help out.
Your swarm can add extra damage to your attacks, move you or your enemies around, give you cover, and even let you teleport!
All in all, the Swarmkeeper hits an excellent sweet spot of being straightforward and very friendly to new players without being boring or feeling limited.
Though even if you aren’t new to D&D 5e, the Swarmkeeper Ranger makes for an excellent option for players who enjoy strategic combat.
Not to mention the fun you can have re-flavoring descriptions of your spells to be more “swarm-themed”!
Find safety in numbers with the full guide to the Swarmkeeper Ranger!
Number 4 – Beast Master
Even as recently as a few years ago, the Beast Master Ranger would have found itself firmly at the bottom of this ranking.
But times are changing!
With plenty of errata, new Primal Companion options, and some overall loving care from WotC, the Beast Master Ranger is finally getting the love it deserves!
I mean, it doesn’t get much more iconic for Rangers than this subclass. Just ask a certain Drow and his faithful panther companion…
If you’re using the newest rules and options, the Beast Master sits very comfortably here in the upper part of the list. It’s fun, stylish, and incredibly effective!
Just make sure that you’re a responsible caretaker for your companion and always keep some extra treats on you!
Make a new friend with the full guide to the Beast Master Ranger!
Number 3 – Horizon Walker
Horizon Walker Rangers may be especially good in adventures that see plenty of interactions with interplanar portals, but they’re far from a one-trick pony!
It’s borderline criminal how underrated this subclass is. While it might take some time to really hit its stride (level 11 is where it truly comes online), it’s absolutely worth the wait.
I mean, what’s not to love about the visual of a character teleporting around the battlefield while they drop enemy after enemy?!
Whether fighting in melee or at a distance, you’ll never have a shortage of options.
Oh, and we can’t gloss over the spell list you get with this subclass…
Every single spell on the Horizon Walker Ranger spell list is EXCELLENT. You’ve got mobility out the wazoo, a powerful defensive buff, and the always-impressive Haste spell.
Whether you’re hunting extraplanar threats or just simply protecting the current plane of existence, the Horizon Walker Ranger is an impressive option that is worth considering!
Explore new worlds with the full guide to the Horizon Walker Ranger!
Number 2 – Drakewarden
It doesn’t get much more epic than dragons, so why not have one as your closest companion?!
In many ways, the Drakewarden Ranger functions similarly to the Beast Master Ranger. After all, both rely heavily on the Ranger and their companion working together.
But the Drakewarden is also much more than just “a Beast Master but with a dragon.”
Your companion drake may be small at first, but with time and care it will grow into something truly terrifying for your enemies!
The drake is durable and is plenty capable of watching your back in combat. In time, you’ll even be able to ride it as a flying mount.
This is a subclass that rewards investment and playing a long adventure. While most Rangers are at their best in the earlier levels of the game, the Drakewarden is best in the mid and higher levels.
But the staying power is truly impressive.
You’ve got several options for exploiting enemies’ elemental weaknesses (or at least getting around resistances). Additionally, the utility and tactical options that come with having a drake companion are excellent.
The drake is a perfect complement to the Drakewarden Ranger’s features and abilities. What results is a subclass that is effective, fun, dynamic, and exciting!
Unleash draconic fury with the full guide to the Drakewarden Ranger!
Number 1 – Gloom Stalker
Rangers as a class may be the (undeserving) butt of many jokes in D&D 5e, but exceptions are always made for the Gloom Stalker.
I mean, seriously, these Rangers are terrifying to behold!
Then again, considering that Gloom Stalker Rangers are all about skulking through the darkest and most dangerous places in the world, it’s not surprising. There isn’t room for weakness in that line of work!
Gloom Stalkers have learned to turn the darkness against the creatures that hide in it. Even the features they gain right out of the gate are truly impressive!
With patience and deadly skill, they’ve mastered the art of the ambush. Acting quickly, they strike from the shadows to efficiently dispose of their target before quietly skulking away before being noticed.
This is the most Rogue-like of the Ranger subclasses (and is a common choice for multiclassing between the two).
You’ll rarely run into situations where you can’t use darkness against your foes. Whether scouting or dealing some incredible damage, the Gloom Stalker Ranger brings so much to the table.
As much as I like to offer different opinions when it comes to these subclass rankings, I have to give credit where it’s due. There’s just no matching the Gloom Stalker Ranger!
Strike from the shadows with the full guide to the Gloom Stalker Ranger!
Conclusion – Ranking Every Ranger Subclass in D&D 5e
But that wraps it up for this ranking of every Ranger subclass in D&D 5e.
Rangers may have had a rocky start in D&D 5e, but I truly love how unique the subclasses are. As time has gone on, the subclass options have really shown just how much the Ranger class has to offer.
As always, this ranking is ultimately just my own personal opinions and doesn’t account for things like environments. Any subclass on this list has the potential to be your next favorite character, so I would encourage you to check out all your options!
Would you rank these subclasses differently? Let’s chat in the comments!
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You can find the Hunter and Beast Master Ranger subclasses in the 5e Player’s Handbook.
The Monster Slayer, Horizon Walker, and Gloom Stalker Rangers in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
You’ll find the Swarmkeeper and Fey Wanderer Rangers in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
The Drakewarden Ranger appears in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons.
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