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Ranger Leveling Guide for PoE - Classic Bow version

Ranger Leveling Guide for PoE - Classic Bow version

Complete Leveling Guide for Ranger using Elemental Bow Attacks dealing on-hit damage

Ranger Leveling Guide
on-hit Bow version

Updated for Patch 3.20

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Guide notes
March 27, 2023
-Guide created



coming soon


Ranger is one of the best characters if you value fast-paced gameplay. Raider and Pathfinder are quite good generalists that can be played in many ways, but the Deadeye is a class performing exceptionally well when combined with Projectile Skills, especially while wielding a Bow. It's not only because of the Ascendancy Keystones but the proximity of Bow nodes near its starting location. It's the go-to ascendancy for this playstyle.

This guide will cover all the basics for leveling with a Bow-wielding Ranger. It has high damage, excellent clear speed, and good mobility, but lacks any substantial defensive options. You'll be most likely relying on the physical distance between you and the enemy, and in case there are any ranged opponents, shoot first and dispose of them before they even appear on the screen. You're also supposed to accumulate some Maximum Life or Evasion Rating and of course Elemental Resistances. Any Bow Attack is suitable, but here we will use Elemental Damage ones, mostly because they're better for clearing and it's easier to gain more Damage this way than by being restricted only to Physical Damage. You will be able to set up additional Ballista Totems with the second setup. A Bow, much like Body Armour, offers another six sockets that can be linked and developed to accommodate a Ballista setup to help you fight bosses. To land Hits you will need Accuracy Rating, and to deal meaningful damage - a good weapon. It's usually the most expensive part of a build, but during leveling phase, there are plenty of Unique substitutes such as Storm CloudDoomfletch, or Windripper. The Attack Skills we've selected all deal damage of Elemental Type, partially converting Physical Damage, but you won't need to convert all of it, as the already mentioned weapon and base Elemental Damage it brings to the table is what matters the most. The transition to any endgame build, most likely Tornado Shot, is gradual - there's no abrupt change that would require sudden funding. The playstyle and most of the spent Passive Skill Points will be preserved. If you plan to transition into other popular Deadeye build archetype that relies on Throwing Attacks like Venom Gyre, or a Wand-wielding Attack build with Kinetic Blast, using this guide to level up is still one of the best options to do it quickly and effortlessly.

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1. Important Skills

We recommend starting with Ice Shot, it's available at level 1. You could keep using it indefinitely as it's quite good, but transitioning to Lightning Arrow at level 12 would yield better long-term results. At level 28 it's possible to implement Storm Rain, which also deals Lightning Damage, and hook it up to Ballista Totem. Note that it doesn't mean you will deal only Lightning Damage - it depends more on the type of added damage you have on, which is often Cold Damage too. These are the only Attacks used here that can carry you up to red maps. Don't forget to use Mana-Reserving Skills for passive bonuses, one Curse, a movement Skill like Dash, and other utility tools that we'll describe in a moment. The first act offers little to no useful Skill or Support Gems, and you're quite limited with Links if you're not using Tabula Rasa.

Lightning Arrow is one of the best Attacks as it targets enemies near the one you've Hit, which massively enhances clear speed. The effect of Shock it causes is magnified, and it results in more Damage against all targets you've Shocked. Usually, your chance to Shock is not particularly high, but causing it on a Unique enemy is nearly guaranteed. Lightning Arrow adds a fair amount of Lightning Damage to your Attacks and converts half of your Physical Damage to Lightning. It's very simple, there's not much more to say about it.

Storm Rain is an Attack that fires multiple arrows up in the air, and after the initial impact with the ground, these will stay there for some time to continuously deal damage. This Attack also converts half of the Physical Damage to Lightning but has no added damage. The damage comes from the sheer number of arrows you left in the ground, the beams of Lightning that occur between any two arrows every half a second will damage the targets nearby, which is particularly great against stationary targets like Kitava. This Attack will be used not by your character but by Ballista Totems which you can deploy during tough encounters. It's achieved by linking the Skill Gem with Ballista Totem Support Gem.

For Mana-reserving Skills use Herald of Ice for added Cold Damage and to Chill enemies. Added Damage is more valuable than Increased Damage, which is sourced from the Skill Tree anyway. Herald of Thunder can be used alongside or instead of it, but it's not as good - Herald of Thunder's secondary effect is a Spell that targets only nearby enemies, and there's not much use for it. Precision is good, it adds Accuracy and increases Crit Chance, but don't level it all the way up as it reserves more and more Mana the higher its Gem Level is. Herald Skills are available in act 2, Precision in act 1. Act 3 Haste reserves half of your Mana Pool but grants you more Movement and Attack Speed, which is great for leveling. Allocate Charisma and get a Mana Leech source to keep your Mana level high.

For mobility use Dash. Blood Rage in act 2 increases your Attack Speed and grants Life Leech, but at the same time drains your Life so you need to be careful with it. For a Curse use Sniper's Mark linked with Mark on Hit Support, enemies will receive increased Damage from Projectiles. Before Mark on Hit becomes available (act 4) you will have to resort to Elemental Weakness, or Conductivity if you deal only Lightning Damage. To inflict exposure and deal more Damage, use Hydrosphere - it makes your opponents Drenched which reduces Cold and Lightning Resistance. In act 4 you can start using Ice Golem, this Minion has an Aura similar to Precision. For a Guard Spell use Steelskin, it may be helpful against bleeding.


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3. Setups

You will need only red and green sockets on your gear. Be sure to avoid gear pieces with Energy Shield as these are often skewed to roll more blue sockets. Tabula Rasa is the sound solution to any of these issues. New Skill Gems are unlocked by entering a new Act and completing a quest, some of them can be granted as a reward but there is no need to pay attention to that, these are extremely cheap. In Act 6 you will be tasked by Lilly Roth to complete a quest, by doing so you're granted access to all Skill and Support Gems available for any class. It will also unlock her shop in your Hideout for every new Character you make in the same League. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Lightning Arrow setup
Lightning Arrow Lightning Arrow - It's a very simple Attack that you will use since level 12 and it will be the main damage provider. It hits the enemy directly struck with an arrow and the opponents near it. It would deal mixed damage sourced from your items, mostly the bow.
Act 1 Support Gems
Onslaught Onslaught Support - Use it to gain the Onslaught buff which makes you move and attack faster.
Mirage Archer Mirage Archer Support - Mirage Archer is one of the Support Gems we recommend using throughout all the acts. It summons a Mirage that uses the same setup as you, but fires slower and deals less damage.
Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support - Adds Cold Damage to Attacks.
Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support - Adds Lightning Damage to Attacks.
Lesser Multiple Projectiles Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support - Adds more Arrows to each of your Attacks allowing you to slay enemies faster, but also lowers your Damage.
Act 2 Support Gems
Trinity Trinity Support - If you have an item granting you some added Cold or Fire Damage, you should be able to generate Resonance stacks with Trinity Support. It greatly increases your Elemental Damage.
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support - You can attack faster, which results in more DPS.
Elemental Damage with Attacks Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support - A simple Suppor Gem you should use to deal more Elemental Damage. It's one of the best ones and you should definitely keep it.
Act 3 Support Gems
Hypothermia Hypothermia Support - Hits against Chilled enemies deal more damage, and you can Feeze Chilled enemies. It's great when combined with Herald of Ice or Skitterbots.
Inspiration Inspiration Support - Attack costs less Mana, has higher Crit Chance, and increased Elemental Damage.
Act 4 Support Gems
Greater Multiple Projectiles Support Greater Multiple Projectiles Support - The best tool for improving clear speed, but you may want to swap it for another, more damage-oriented Support Gem during tough fights.
An example of a final setup: Lightning Arrow, Greater Multiple Projectiles, Inspiration, Elemental Damage with Attacks, Trinity, Mirage Archer. If you can't generate resonances, use Hypothermia instead of Trinity Support.


Ballista Storm Rain setup
Storm Rain Storm Rain - It fires an arrow into the air which will then deal damage to the targets on the ground. It's better the more arrows there are, so it's a great idea o fire it via Ballista Totems which there are a lot of. Improving Attack Speed and the number of fired arrows are also an excellent addition.
Act 1 Support Gems
Ballista Totem Ballista Totem Support - Storm Rain is fired from special Totems that you can have up to three of by default.
Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support
Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
Act 2 Support Gems
Elemental Damage with Attacks Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support
Act 3 Support Gems
Focused Ballista Focused Ballista Support - Ballista Totems from Supported Skills will only Attack when you do, and it's much faster. It also improves Placement Speed and Damage.
Inspiration Inspiration Support
Hypothermia Hypothermia Support
Act 4 Support Gems
Greater Multiple Projectiles Support Greater Multiple Projectiles Support
An example of a final setup: Storm Rain, Ballista Totem, Focused Ballista, Added Cold Damage, Elemental Damage with Attacks, Greater Multiple Projectiles.


Mana-reserving setup
Herald of Ice Herald of Ice - Use Herald of Ice for added Cold Damage and the ability to Shatter enemies, if your Cold Damage is high enough. This added Cold Damage may assist you with activating Resonances with Trinity Support in your main setup.
Haste Haste - Allows you to move and attack faster, which is great if you want to get through the first stages of the game quickly.
Precision Precision - Adds Accuracy, which is necessary to land Hits, and increases Crit Chance, which is not that important early on. Get enough Accuracy to have at least a 95% chance to Hit with each attack. Don't increase this Gem Level carelessly, it will reserve more Mana.
Summon Skitterbots Summon Skitterbots - Skitterbots are invulnerable Minions that Chill and Shock enemies with increased effectiveness. These might not be needed if you can do it yourself.
Utility Skills
Hydrosphere Hydrosphere - In the later stages of the game you might start to lack damage. Hydrosphere will reduce the Cold and Lightning Resistance of the enemies it Hits.
Sniper's Mark Sniper's Mark - It's by far the best Curse you can inflict on enemies. By default, you're limited to only one. Link it with Mark on Hit Support Mark on Hit Support in the fourth act, and before that, you can use Hex Curses which are easier to apply. Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness or Conductivity Conductivity - depending on the types of damage you deal.
Steelskin Steelskin - The Guard Spell you can use to protect yourself from incoming damage and Bleeding. You can set it up as your movement key to activate it as soon as it's ready.
Blood Rage Blood Rage - If you feel like you need more Attack Speed and Life Leech use Blood Rage. This buff refreshes its duration on kill and slowly drains your life.
Dash Dash - Dash is a simple movement tool that increases your overall mobility.
Summon Ice Golem Summon Ice Golem - You can start using Ice Golem in act 4, it grants similar to Precision bonuses but has to stay alive. To resummon it automatically, you can link it to the Cast when Damage Taken Cast when Damage Taken.
Flame Wall Flame Wall - Flame Wall will not deal a lot of damage, but it's used to add Fire Damage to the Projectiles you fire that passes through it.

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4. Gear

On your gear seek added Elemental Damage. We've listed the Unique items that are especially fitting here, but it can also be found as affixes on some rare ones. You can craft them via multiple Essences - of Anger, Hatred, or Wrath. Movement Speed is quite important if you already have enough damage, it will significantly improve your performance. Keep your Maximum Life high, allocate a few clusters with Maximum Life on your Skill Tree, and get some of it on your gear pieces. Evasion Rating and Spell Suppression are not as important. 

Maximum Life on your Gear is a nice thing to have, but it is not important, most of it will come from your Levels themself. The only form of Defense you will need to get on your Rare Items is Elemental Resistances. You should aim to have at least 60% Resistance of each Element, excluding Chaos. To help with that, you should use Essences found during the Campaign, and the Crafting Bench in your hideout. Use the low-tier Crafts, as they are cheap and effective, while high tiers will also raise the Required Level to wear an Item. 

Proper Flask Setup makes Leveling much quicker and easier. Try to get 2 Quicksilver Flasks so you can have at least one active. Silver Flask increases your damage and mobility. If you can't keep up with the damage you receive or the Mana you spend, use more Life and Mana Flasks. 20% Quality on each Flask is an easy way to prolong their Duration.


Tabula RasaTabula Rasa - The single best, and relatively cheap, body armor you can wear since level 1. It always has six, white, linked sockets.
Item has no level requirement and Energy Shield (Hidden)
Item has 6 White Sockets and is fully linked (Hidden)
Hyrri's IreHyrri's Ire - At level 65 you can start wearing Hyrri's Ire as it's overall one of the best unique for these types of builds.
+(40-50) to Dexterity
(140-220)% increased Evasion Rating
25% increased Chill Duration on Enemies
(105-145) to (160-200) Added Cold Damage with Bow Attacks
+30% chance to Suppress Spell Damage
GoldrimGoldrim - A Helmet with a lot of Elemental Resistances that can be worn at level 1.
+(30-50) to Evasion Rating
10% increased Rarity of Items found
+(30-40)% to all Elemental Resistances
Reflects 4 Physical Damage to Melee Attackers
Level Requirement reduced by 100 (Hidden)
ThrillsteelThrillsteel - Permanent Onslaught buff will increase your Movement and Attack Speed.
Le Heup of AllLe Heup of All - It grants Attributes, Resistances, and Damage - one of the best leveling Rings.
Adds 1 to 4 Physical Damage to Attacks
+(10-30) to all Attributes
(10-30)% increased Damage
(10-30)% increased Rarity of Items found
+(10-30)% to all Elemental Resistances
BlackheartBlackheart - Adds tons of extra Damage to Attacks and can be worn at level 1. Later in the game switch it as Chaos Damage will not benefit from increases to Elemental Damage.
Adds 1 to 4 Physical Damage to Attacks
Adds (10-15) to (20-25) Chaos Damage to Attacks
Regenerate (10-15) Life per second
10% chance to Cause Monsters to Flee
death rushDeath Rush - Adrenaline is an extremely powerful buff for more Damage, Attack, Movement Speed, and reduced damage taken.
+(17-23)% to Chaos Resistance
Recover (3-5)% of Life on Kill
Gain Adrenaline for (1-3) seconds on kill
Berek's GripBerek's Grip - Use this Ring for Resistances, increased and added Damage, some Maximum Life, and Life Leech.
+(12-16)% to Cold and Lightning Resistances
(25-30)% increased Cold Damage
Adds 1 to (50-70) Lightning Damage to Spells and Attacks
+(30-40) to maximum Life
1% of Damage Leeched as Life against Shocked Enemies
1% of Damage Leeched as Energy Shield against Frozen Enemies
Karui WardKarui Ward - An excellent Amulet for any character attacking with projectiles. It even increases Movement Speed. Heavily recommended.
+(20-30) to Dexterity
+(20-30) to Strength
+100 to Accuracy Rating
30% increased Projectile Speed
10% increased Movement Speed
30% increased Projectile Damage
string of the servitudeString of Servitude - This belt can be worn at level 1, and with the right Implicit it may be the best source of Elemental Resistances.
<(1-2) Random corrupted implicit modifiers>
Implicit Modifier magnitudes are tripled
Level Requirement reduced by 100 (Hidden)
Desired Implicit: 
(42-48)% to All Elemental Resistances
PrismweavePrismweave - A massive boost to your Damage. It adds all the Elemental Damage types to your Attacks so that you may use Trinity Support in your main setup.
(12-24)% increased Global Physical Damage
Adds (14-16) to (30-32) Fire Damage to Attacks
Adds (10-12) to (24-28) Cold Damage to Attacks
Adds 1 to (60-68) Lightning Damage to Attacks
+(6-15)% to all Elemental Resistances
30% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills during any Flask Effect
Lochtonial CaressLochtonial Caress - You can wear these at level 1 for more Attack Speed and a chance to gain Charges on Kill.
(10-15)% increased Attack Speed
(10-15)% increased Cast Speed
(15-10)% reduced maximum Mana
(10-15)% chance to gain a Power, Frenzy or Endurance Charge on Kill
seven league stepsSeven-League Step - The fastest boots in the game that we can safely recommend for any leveling character.
50% increased Movement Speed
Level Requirement reduced by 100 (Hidden)
WanderlustWanderlust - A bit cheaper pair of boots with useful additions like Freeze Immunity and Mana Regeneration Rate.
+5 to Dexterity
+(10-20) to maximum Energy Shield
(20-40)% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
20% increased Movement Speed
Cannot be Frozen
Quill RainQuill Rain - At level 5 you can start wielding this Bow, which despite Damage reduction is still one of the strongest early-game weapons. It requires quite good Mana Regeneration or Mana Leech if used with Tabula Rasa.
+(10-20) to Dexterity
100% increased Physical Damage
100% increased Attack Speed
Grants 2 Mana per Enemy Hit
(50-100)% increased Projectile Speed
+(25-50) to Accuracy Rating
30% less Damage
Storm CloudStorm Cloud - Storm Cloud has one of the highest Attack Speed among all the Bows. It has no Physical Damage so there's nothing to convert, but that's not a problem, the damage is still very good. You have to have level 9 to wield it.
No Physical Damage
Adds 1 to 85 Lightning Damage
(36-50)% increased Attack Speed
DoomfletchDoomfletch - At level 28 you can switch to Doomfletch, that despite quite a good Physical Damage, adds the same amount of Fire, Cold, and Lightning Damage to your Attacks.
(20-24)% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Adds (12-16) to (20-24) Physical Damage
(10-14)% increased Attack Speed
60% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
Gain 100% of Weapon Physical Damage as Extra Damage of each Element
WindripperWindripper - Windripper is a very popular Bow used in crude Tornado Shot builds. It adds good for its price amounts of Cold and Lightning Damage, and even some rarity and quantity. Requires level 66.
(20-24)% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Adds (48-60) to (72-90) Cold Damage
Adds 1 to (120-150) Lightning Damage
(10-15)% increased Attack Speed
(30-40)% increased Critical Strike Chance
15% increased Quantity of Items Dropped by Slain Frozen Enemies
30% increased Rarity of Items Dropped by Slain Shocked Enemies
Hyrri's BiteHyrri's Bite - At level 14 you can start using this Quiver. It adds a lot of Attributes, some Cold Damage, Attack Speed, and Life on Hit.
Gain (6-8) Life per Enemy Hit with Attacks
+(15-25) to Strength
+(35-45) to Dexterity
+(15-25) to Intelligence
Adds 10 to 20 Cold Damage to Attacks
(7-10)% increased Attack Speed
Gain (2-3) Life per Enemy Hit with Attacks
10% increased Area of Effect
The Fracturing SpinnerThe Fracturing Spinner - At level 60 Switch to The Fracturing Spinner, or better yet - The Shattered Divinity. It adds tons of Elemental Damage, some Resistances, Attributes, and summons a Harbinger which upgrades your Attacks in many, extremely useful ways.
Adds (7-9) to (13-16) Physical Damage to Attacks
Grants Summon Harbinger of Directions Skill
+(30-50) to Strength and Dexterity
Adds (19-22) to (30-35) Fire Damage to Spells and Attacks
Adds (19-22) to (30-35) Cold Damage to Spells and Attacks
+(15-25)% to Fire and Cold Resistances

Stat priorities on Rare Items:

  1. Elemental Resistances
  2. Attributes
  3. Maximum Life
  4. added Elemental Damage
  5. Mana Regeneration
  6. Movement Speed

Suggested Flasks:

  1. Life Flask with Bleeding removal
  2. Bismuth Flask with a magic modifier for additional Elemental Resistances
  3. Quicksilver Flask with a magic modifier for additional Movement Speed
  4. Silver Flask with a magic modifier for additional Attack Speed
silver flaskQuickilver FlaskQuickilver FlaskLife FlaskBismuth Flask


5. Passive Skills

To successfully create the Passive Tree for a Build, you have to consider most of the Passive Clusters for a given build, choose a few of them, and make an optimal path to allocate most of them in the least amount of Passive Skill Points spent. S-tier Passives are great in most cases, and A-tier ones are more specific - these might suit you only in specific circumstances or under other conditions. B is a tier with less useful passives that are to be picked later, or not at all. If you're using Frenzy Charges, go for the nodes for extra Maximum Frenzy Charges. Jewel Sockets are good in the late game. We recommend Resolute Technique, you won't deal Critical Strikes, not during leveling phase. Point Blank is also good if you plan to kill bosses at a close distance.

Passive Tree

The best and most efficient Passives in the Passive Tree. You will want to take them on almost every build.
resolute technique Thick Skin is mostly used for increased Maximum Life, allocating it should cost only two Passive Points.
warriors blood It's two points away from Finesse, going for it will increase your Movement Speed by 9%.
heart of the warrior Grants Strength, Intelligence, and Mana on Hit if you're using Mana Flask.
Born to Fight It is too, not far from Finesse. It grants some Resistances and increases Elemental Damage with Attacks.
barmarism The bottom notable in the large Bow Cluster. It grants Attack Speed, Accuracy, and Projectile Speed.
juggernaut Another source of Maximum Life, but also Flask Recovery Rate.
cleaving A small bonus to Maximum Life, a chance to avoid Stuns, and Life recovery after using a Life Flask.
slaughter Use it for an increased Attack Speed, Dexterity, and Accuracy Rating.
kinetic impacts A small node near Precise Technique that has a substantial chance to grant you Phasing on Kill which increases your Movement Speed.
champion of the cause The first notable you will allocate. It's used for more damage and Projectile Speed.
call to arms You should deal quite a lot of Lightning Damage, allocate it to deal even more. It also allows you to pick a very good Lightning Mastery.
bloodless Acuity is used for more Accuracy and Attack Speed. It also allows you to pick an Accuracy Mastery.
Those are also very good Passives, just not as universal as previous ones
magmatic strikes A big boost to your Elemental Damage, especially during Flask Effect.
lava lash Pick it up to have a 10% chance of getting Onslaught on kill with increased effect.
destroyer Elemental Damage penetrates 10% of Resistances, which is good later on as enemies grow stronger.
steadfast If you lack Mana and Life Leech, allocate Clever Thief.
tribal fury Sooner or later you will need some extra Reservation Efficiency. Charisma is one of the best solutions to that problem.
bastion breaker Increases Maximum Life and recovers Life on kill.
Passives that belong to this Tier fulfill their specific purpose 
deep breaths Near Shadow's starting location you can find Coordination for more Damage and some Attributes.
buthcery Blood Siphon is up next, used for more Maximum Life, Life on Kill, and Strength.
warriors training It should cost only two points to allocate it. It grants Resistances, Evasion, and Maximum Cold Resistance.
diamond skin Highly defensive Notable for Evasion, Maximum Life, and Spell Suppression.
prismatic skin Do shorten the cooldown of Dash and gain more Movement Speed allocate Fleetfoot.
soul of steel Increases Elemental Damage and the Effect of Non-Damaging Ailments.


Masteries Priority
  1. Life Mastery - +50 to Maximum Life - Simply more Maximum Life. Allocate this one first.
  2. Life Mastery - 10% Increased Maximum Life/10% Reduced Life Recovery Rate - Increases maximum Life by 10% but reduces Life Recovery Rate, which is not a big issue. 
  3. Accuracy MasteryPrecision has 100% increased Mana Reservation Efficiency - Precision reserves less Mana so that you can level it up for more Accuracy.
  4. Bow Mastery+100 to Accuracy Rating per Green Socket on Equipped Bow - Bows have naturally a lot of Green Sockets. Pick this mastery for more Accuracy. It's especially good with Precise Technique.
  5. Elemental Mastery+15% to all Elemental Resistances - Allocate it if you need more Elemental Resistances.
  6. Lightning Mastery - Lightning Damage with Non-Critical Strikes is Lucky - With Precise Technique you won't Hit Critically. Use it for a big bonus to your damage.

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If you have any other build requests please leave that in the comments below. We are always open to suggestions and constructive feedback.

Pictures used in this article are the intellectual property of Grinding Gear Games.

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