Given the choice of only ONE class, what would you pick for an archer?


Advice

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If you could pick only one class, without multiclassing, what class would you pick to build an archer?

Yeah, yeah, fighter, ranger, rogue, hunter, warpriest, zen archer monk, that's a lot to choose from... but which one do you prefer and why?


Warpriest.

Tactical and strategic flexibility, large range of feats, inbuilt damage boost via the first half of Sacred Weapon, inbuilt damage/accuracy boost and flexibility boost via the second half of Sacred Weapon.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Only one class for an archer?

I'll go skirmisher ranger, because all the tricks and abilities, make me do stuffs like Legolas, yeah shame on me, whatever.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Mymidarch magus, if the GM allows Ranged Spellstrike to work with bows.

Dark Archive

Zen Archer Monk all the way. Class is extremely front loaded, getting pretty much all of the core archery feats by 6th level. Every level past that is just icing on the cake, plus great saves and a ki pool.


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Personally I would say that Ranger, Inquisitor, Warpriest, or Zen-Archer make the strongest archers. Which is strongest...well how do you want to measure?

Ranger has full BAB allowing earlier access to key feats, as well as combat style opening up even more key feats. Once you get access to Instant Enemy you can have a +8 to attack and damage against every enemy. You're also stealthy. And you have an animal companion. Mounted archery enables you to full attack and move at the same time. It's magical.

Personally I found that while Zen Archer was very good at low levels, mid levels sort of just lacked much in the way of static damage modifiers so it lost out on damage potential (IMO).

I did a DPR analysis of Ranger versus Inquisitor, and with the Inquisitors abilities it did have higher DPR for a number of encounters where he could use Bane and Judgements. If you choose the right domain you can still get an animal companion. He also has more and better spells than a ranger.

I haven't built a warpriest archer, but I've heard good things.

Personally I think I'd choose either a Ranger or an Inquisitor.


I have yet to play one (or any dedicated archer) but Zen Archer monks look amazing. Between flurry of arrows and their prerequisite-free bonus feats, they provide an elegant solution to the costly feat tax of archery. Plus, it helps patch up an iffy Core Legacy class while also providing a high willsave option to players that want to shoot stuff but not bother with spell management.

Honorable mention to Fighters for brute forcing it through raw numbers advantages thanks to feats class features. All that while being both available and perfectly functional in Core.

Lantern Lodge

Hooded Champion Ranger.

It has skills to pay the bills.


Archer archetype of Fighter also looks pretty good, with Trick Shots for Combat Maneuvers and Safe Shot and a better replacement for Bravery. You don't even suffer in what armor you can wear, so in an emergency where you can't get away from the enemy you could even be decent with a Greatsword (and later you get Safe Shot so that you can do the Legolas schtick, and eventually you get Volley so that you can do the Lars Anderson schtick, although admittedly this is a LOT later than Zen Archer Monk's Flurry of Arrows).

Grand Lodge

How I rate archers myself:

Zen Archer Monk > Ranger/slayer > Paladin Archer

Bottom of the list fighting over last place:
Fighter, Barbarian, and Rogues.


The fighter archer archetype is actually worse at being an archer than the base fighter. Mostly because he no longer has weapon training and can't benefit from the gloves which increase it.

The only thing he really gets is the ability to perform combat maneuvers at range...which is only so-so to be honest. Everything else that is good comes too late to be of much use.


^Expert Archer seems like it ought to work as Weapon Training(Bows) for the purpose of benefiting from such magic items.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Divine Hunter Paladin is not a bad choice.


JiCi wrote:

If you could pick only one class, without multiclassing, what class would you pick to build an archer?

Yeah, yeah, fighter, ranger, rogue, hunter, warpriest, zen archer monk, that's a lot to choose from... but which one do you prefer and why?

Zen Archer Monk for the versatility of all of the Ki abilities, especially if you go Qinggong. No other archer is better at keeping range between his foe and himself and he gets Pointblank Master for free.

Fighters are good for pure damage but little else. Rangers don't quite maximize some of their class features at range and don't quite maximize their archery trying to switch hit.War Priests, Paladins, Rogues, Bards, etc. are all adequate archers but archery isn't their primary purpose - you're better off specializing to their strengths if you go that route.

Instant Enemy does keep Rangers in the conversation though.


Claxon wrote:

The fighter archer archetype is actually worse at being an archer than the base fighter. Mostly because he no longer has weapon training and can't benefit from the gloves which increase it.

The only thing he really gets is the ability to perform combat maneuvers at range...which is only so-so to be honest. Everything else that is good comes too late to be of much use.

Yeah, if I went Fighter Archer I'd almost definitely go Weapon Master.


Fruian Thistlefoot wrote:

How I rate archers myself:

Zen Archer Monk > Ranger/slayer > Paladin Archer

Bottom of the list fighting over last place:
Fighter, Barbarian, and Rogues.

Then again, you could always play a Master Summoner archer and use demons and elementals as your arrows...


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

A key thing for a Zen Archer after about level 6 is to start to leverage your other abilities and flexibility (Ki powers and your Point Blank Master feat actually mean you are really good wading into the middle of a combat - which is unusual for an archer but amazingly effective).

My PFS Zen Archer I multi classed into Druid - for flavor reasons and for extreme flexibility (at the expense of some archery ability) but a straight Zen Archer is quite strong - it is phenomenally front loaded. This also means that you have a LOT of flexibility with your feats - you can and I would say should pick feats to let you be good at something else that helps your party - give yourself some flexibility. Zen Archers are also far far less MAD than most monks - which also gives you a great deal of flexibility (WIS is really really key for you) - you probably should have a pretty solid STR (for damage flexibility) vs the more usual high DEX for most archers - though DEX is still helpful for saves and defenses and eventually considering getting Combat Reflexes.

If you GM allows Bracers of Falcon's Aim it is an amazing item for any archer (+3 Competence to Perception, +1 Competence to ranged attacks and your crit range changes to 19-20/x3 - doesn't stack with other effects to increase crit range but for a 4000gp item is amazing - so amazing that PFS banned it)

Grand Lodge

UnArcaneElection wrote:

^Expert Archer seems like it ought to work as Weapon Training(Bows) for the purpose of benefiting from such magic items.

Archetype: If an archetype replaces a class ability with a more specific version of that ability (or one that works similarly to the replaced ability), does the archetype's ability count as the original ability for the purpose of rules that improve the original ability?

Quote:

It depends on how the archetype's ability is worded. If the archetype ability says it works like the standard ability, it counts as that ability. If the archetype's ability requires you to make a specific choice for the standard ability, it counts as that ability. Otherwise, the archetype ability doesn't count as the standard ability. (It doesn't matter if the archetype's ability name is different than the standard class ability it is replacing; it is the description and game mechanics of the archetype ability that matter.)

Example: The dragoon (fighter) archetype (Ultimate Combat) has an ability called "spear training," which requires the dragoon to select "spears" as his weapon training group, and refers to his weapon training bonus (even though this bonus follows a slightly different progression than standard weapon training). Therefore, this ability counts as weapon training for abilities that improve weapon training, such as gloves of dueling (Advanced Player's Guide), which increase the wearer's weapon training bonus.

Example: The archer (fighter) archetype gets several abilities (such as "expert archer") which replace weapon training and do not otherwise refer to the weapon training ability. Therefore, this ability does not count as weapon training for abilities that improve weapon training (such as gloves of dueling). This is the case even for the "expert archer," ability which has a bonus that improves every 4 fighter levels, exactly like weapon training.


I like my ranged fighter, he's alot of fun, but as far as "best" i would say Zen Archer... its really front loaded you get alot of your important abilities really really early.


Rycaut wrote:

A key thing for a Zen Archer after about level 6 is to start to leverage your other abilities and flexibility (Ki powers and your Point Blank Master feat actually mean you are really good wading into the middle of a combat - which is unusual for an archer but amazingly effective).

My PFS Zen Archer I multi classed into Druid - for flavor reasons and for extreme flexibility (at the expense of some archery ability) but a straight Zen Archer is quite strong - it is phenomenally front loaded. This also means that you have a LOT of flexibility with your feats - you can and I would say should pick feats to let you be good at something else that helps your party - give yourself some flexibility. Zen Archers are also far far less MAD than most monks - which also gives you a great deal of flexibility (WIS is really really key for you) - you probably should have a pretty solid STR (for damage flexibility) vs the more usual high DEX for most archers - though DEX is still helpful for saves and defenses and eventually considering getting Combat Reflexes.

This is good advice. Leverage something that benefits from your Wisdom score. My Zen Archer was the actually the group's scout with truly outstanding Perception and Sense Motive. He took the Vow of Truth and played it off of his low Charisma score, being the sort to make incredibly insightful observations and speak them regardless of how inappropriate it might be at the time.


Druid.

Liberty's Edge

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I find this question rather... limited in scope.


I'm confused. Is this a question of "best" or "most fun."

I dunno about best. Ranger? Zen Archer Monk? Probably.

My vote is on Inquisitor. Awful lot of variety in that class. Good skills, neat abilities, versatile buffs, damage is more than enough, and a cool spell list. The way Bane works on only one weapon seems like it was made for an archer pumping out as many arrows as possible.

Over a long campaign the versatility of the Inquisitor outweigh it not being the "best" archer, and it's still a damn decent archer in its own right.


Slayer is a Good Archer due to being Full Bab, getting access to combat style, and being able to double as a trap monkey and scout. and even though the slayer's studied target is half the bonus of the rangers favored enemy, they can get it on everything they fight.

Silver Crusade

hmm. I really like the archer Fighter, sure he loses about 2-3 damage from the normal fighter (gloves) but you open that slot up now. You also get nifty ranged combat maneuvers. The only bad thing about this class is the will save, which you can somewhat mitigate with right class selection (half-orc, sacred tattoo's+fates favored+iron will= +4 will off the bat)

The paladin archtype Divine hunter, (or, hell, even the paladin with a bow) vs Evil enemies will laugh at everyone else, vs neutral or good he is meh.

ZAM is best if you are doing low levels only.

In conclusion-
Archer fighter for damage/survivability (Save will spells)

if fighing lots of undead/evil- Archer paladin

If going no higher than level 9ish, ZAM is the best bet.

Scarab Sages

Base Inquisitor isn't that great because you don't get IPS until 15th level. However, if you are a sanctified Slayer, You get archery combat style to give you back early(ish) access to archery feats before your BAB allows.


Dunno. My first instinct is Fighter simply because there are a hojillion feats you want to take and you want to be taking them before the campaign shifts/ends around level 8-13.


An inquisitor can turn off enemy AoO's with a first level spell if they get caught in melee. I'd like it for that alone, but they get buffs of various kinds and with the chivalry inquisition they get a full-level mount to speed around on. They don't get an amazing number of feats but with well-chosen ones they should be good at all levels.


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Divine Hunter Pally, if it's evil it dies.

Grand Lodge

Wizard all the way. Be an elf to get bow proficiency.


Depends on starting level but I'd lean toward zen archer


Elven wizard. They are technically proficient in longbows, and may even use the longbow a little bit at low levels.

If you are looking to be good at archery, then Zen Archer for the good saves and tons of good archery bonus feats and abilities.


Ranger

When I play an archer, I like the hunter/commando style of character which is easy to accomplish with the Ranger due to their combination of skills and spells.


either ranger or cleric. Ranger is certainly a safer bet but a well made archer cleric can be very competent at archery while having a full casters list. a crusader cleric even has an interesting advantage of gaining feats like weapon focus, weapon spec, improved crit and such to help close this gap a little. evangelist cleric with glory/heroism could likewise boost the party big time while shooting or casting making him more diverse than the ranger (despite his switch hitting). The ranger will win out until about level 10 but then the power of the spells, especially summoning, will tip the balance.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Nice thing about a Zen Archer is you can play it all the way to 20th and it will do great, or you can play it to level 6 or so and then pick up a second class that also works against WIS (I have a half-elf Zen Archer / Druid which is a lot of fun - and really really good at Perception between massive WIS and skill focus (Perception) for free.

I've also noted that a Zen Archer while very solid at range really shines up close and personal in a fight - you have the speed to close and if you get high enough level you can make attacks of opportunity with your bow all while not provoking via your Point Blank Master feat. And don't neglect the potency of Perfect Strike (I tend to use it to help my chances of landing that one extra blow in a round with my weaker iterative attacks)

Wisdom of the Flesh is a phenomenal trait for a Zen Archer - my character above took it for Disable Device - really helpful in expanding your utility outside of combat.

Sure a full spell caster has lots of fun tricks but personally I don't think they make very good archers (too many archery feats are needed and most casters are feat starved).

One somewhat complex option for a Zen Archer if you don't wan to do a full class would be to take a level of Sorcerer with the Empyreal wildblooded bloodline, this would make it a WIS based class (basically) - you could then immediately shift into the Arcane Archer prestige class if you wanted. That would forgo some of your higher level monk abilities and you wouldn't get your bloodline abilities but it is a full BAB class that also (slowly) advances your casting abilities + adds some nifty tricks to your shooting (above and beyond what you could already do with a Zen Archer)


kinevon wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

^Expert Archer seems like it ought to work as Weapon Training(Bows) for the purpose of benefiting from such magic items.

Archetype: If an archetype replaces a class ability with a more specific version of that ability (or one that works similarly to the replaced ability), does the archetype's ability count as the original ability for the purpose of rules that improve the original ability?

{. . .}

Well, why did they have to go and do that? Although the the ruling is comprehensible, the choice of where to apply it seems rather arbitrary.

* * * * * * * *

Dennis Deadsky wrote:
Wizard all the way. Be an elf to get bow proficiency.

Actually found a whole guide dedicated to (almost) this (and link to [url=http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2pl4v?Advice-needed-for-my-castercentric-Arcane]discussion thread[/url, since Google Docs is now giving problems accessing the guide itself]. Elf Wizard (or Sorcerer, but not as good; Arcanist would work but came out after this guide) through Level 12, being sure to pick up the prerequisites for Arcane Archer and be sure you learn Anti-Magic Field, then take a 2 to 4 level sojourn in Arcane Archer. At the 2nd level of Arcane Archer, imbue Anti-Magic Field into an arrow; shoot enemy caster with this arrow, and profit.

Silver Crusade

link fixed


Eldritch Scrapper. Full casting plus access to combat feats.

Disclaimer: I am notorious for choosing builds based on how much fun they are, rather than how optimized. :)


UnArcaneElection wrote:

^Expert Archer seems like it ought to work as Weapon Training(Bows) for the purpose of benefiting from such magic items.

It doesn't. There is an even an FAQ which specifically mentions it.

Quote:

Archetype: If an archetype replaces a class ability with a more specific version of that ability (or one that works similarly to the replaced ability), does the archetype's ability count as the original ability for the purpose of rules that improve the original ability?

It depends on how the archetype's ability is worded. If the archetype ability says it works like the standard ability, it counts as that ability. If the archetype's ability requires you to make a specific choice for the standard ability, it counts as that ability. Otherwise, the archetype ability doesn't count as the standard ability. (It doesn't matter if the archetype's ability name is different than the standard class ability it is replacing; it is the description and game mechanics of the archetype ability that matter.)

Example: The dragoon (fighter) archetype (Ultimate Combat) has an ability called "spear training," which requires the dragoon to select "spears" as his weapon training group, and refers to his weapon training bonus (even though this bonus follows a slightly different progression than standard weapon training). Therefore, this ability counts as weapon training for abilities that improve weapon training, such as gloves of dueling (Advanced Player's Guide), which increase the wearer's weapon training bonus.

Example: The archer (fighter) archetype gets several abilities (such as "expert archer") which replace weapon training and do not otherwise refer to the weapon training ability. Therefore, this ability does not count as weapon training for abilities that improve weapon training (such as gloves of dueling). This is the case even for the "expert archer," ability which has a bonus that improves every 4 fighter levels, exactly like weapon training.

Edit: Seems others responded before I was able. In any event, there you have it.


While I dont really care for the warpriest as an overall class, I do think it would be a really good archer since the bonus feats help out a lot.


Bard, then you get to do interesting stuff as well as shooting a bunch of arrows.


Fighter, just straight up fighter, the feat every level really lets you buff up on what ever combat it is that you want to excel in.

Ranger is a good choice also, since all they can focus on is Ranged or two-weapon fighting.


If your only concern is being the best at shooting a bow:
Vanilla Fighter all the way.
You can be a really good archer with many other classes BUT you won't be able to get the full list of feats with any other class. As a DEX build, you will also get full use of Armour Training (wearing mithral full plate while retaining up to +7 DEX to AC can't be done by many others).


Hunter is a viable option for archery. You won't be the very best archer out there but the most badass pet in the game is a fine consolation prize, especially if you have access to the Primal Companion Hunter archetype.


Rub-eta wrote:
As a DEX build, you will also get full use of Armour Training (wearing mithral full plate while retaining up to +7 DEX to AC can't be done by many others).

Yep, and that's why.


As a fighter, you don't even need a great dexterity to be a good archer. (13 works.) A tenth level fighter with a 14 dexterity can easily have a +14 or more to hit.


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Here's a fun option for archery: cleric. Go Evangelist and worship a god who gives bow proficiency and doesn't care about the state of your immortal soul. Take a level of Diabolist for an imp animal companion. As an Outsider it has weapon proficiency, and its own BAB and feats. Give it a bow and all the archery feats. Start bardic performance, Blessing of Fervor, fill the air with insane amounts of arrows.

Bonus points: be an Aasimar, acquire a Celestial Imp with identity issues and Smite Evil.


Bolt Ace gunslinger with crossbows or a homebrew variant for longbows/composite longbows/shortbows. You get a lot of the rogue dodge/evasion abilities at higher levels, rapid reload etc, as long as you maintain one point in your grit pool. Plus you can ignore AC in the first range increment for a crossbow, and add your Dex as damage to it. And you always have your crossbow loaded at any time. Of course, the reality of carrying around a loaded crossbow is a bit stretched, but it's fantasy. You can stock up on bandoliers or efficient quivers with a number of crossbows preloaded, including double, repeaters, hand, light and heavy. The rules even let you dual wield light repeating crossbows, from what I can tell.

Scarab Sages

Rub-Eta wrote:


You can be a really good archer with many other classes BUT you won't be able to get the full list of feats with any other class.

Zen Archer does get all the archery feats, and sooner than the fighter. Fighter pulls ahead in pure DPR at higher levels, but Zen Archer has much more utility both in combat and out of combat.


Rub-Eta wrote:


You can be a really good archer with many other classes BUT you won't be able to get the full list of feats with any other class.

You can get the archery feat with any 3/4 of full BAB class. Feats such as weapon specialization are not really needed, and with some of the buffs some classes can give themselves they will do more damage than a fighter at times.

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