Barrage is an elite bow attack skill for Rangers that hits up to 7 targets, one being the primary target. Because each arrow will trigger on hitting a target, using skills that trigger on multiple hits or every hit become very effective.
The term "Barraging" stems from a Ranger spamming Barrage to deal a constant stream of AoE damage to a group of enemies. In essence, Rangers only need Barrage on their skill bar to spam it. The rest of the skills usually consist of buffs that modify and increases the damage output from Barrage. Rangers are free to bring a multitude of skills as they see fit. The fact that Barrage is the only skill required for the build makes it very flexible and thus popular among both new and veteran players.
Barrage isn't solely limited to Rangers however. Other professions have also found success with the use of Barrage, mainly Ritualists and Assassins.
To use Barrage, you will of course need a bow. In the case of Barrage, spamming the skill means everything. There are two factors when it comes to spamming:
- The actual activation of Barrage, which is figured by the refire rate of the bow. An IAS will modify this activation time.
- There will always be a 3/4 second delay after using Barrage, which is added to the refire rate. Barrage will begin recharging when the bow is fired, not when the attack animation finishes.
You will begin an autoattack when the skill animation finishes, this can lead to some confusion on activating Barrage again. There is a misconception that bows with longer refire rates will cause a longer delay than bows with shorter refire rates. If you fire a short bow, it will take less time to get through the animation than if you fire a long bow. Activating Barrage again cancels this animation. It will seem like you wasted more time with the firing animation of the shortbow compared to the longbow, but the autoattack interval will be the same. Another misconception comes from the fact you only see an attack animation begin about a second after initiating the attack and finishing around a second after the attack takes place. It will seem that the Ranger finishes attacking right when Barrage recharges. This is merely for aesthetics.
To summarize, the only factor affecting your ability to spam Barrage is the refire rate of the bow, since the delay is constant. You'll want to bring an IAS such as Lightning Reflexes, Frenzy, or Tiger's Fury.
- Flatbows: They have a high arc accompanied with longbow range, which means it will be hard to hit moving foes. They have the same refire rate as a shortbow, so this is the bow you'll usually want to use.
- Shortbows: This is the opposite of the flatbow, with a lower range and flight time. Keep in mind that the short range and arc keeps you from shooting over hills easily.
- Longbows: Similar to Flatbows, but with a lower arc and slower refire rate. Unless enemies are moving around, you're better off with a flatbow.
- Recurve Bows: They have the lowest arc in the game and the smallest arc while also maintaining a bit of range. This doesn't really increase the effectiveness of Barrage but helpful if you'll be interrupting enemies as well.
- Hornbows: Hornbows have the 10% sundering advantage but also the slowest refire rate in the game. It will work well as long as you bring an IAS to counter the fire rate.
There are a few commonly used Barrage builds used by players. These are general descriptions to give you an idea what the build is and how it works. The ranger build should always have 13 or more Expertise to reduce the cost of Barrage to 2 energy unless additional energy management such as a zealous bowstring is used. Because Barrages damage doesn't increase drastically with the points invested in Marksmanship and the amount of enemies hit is constant, it is common to raise other attributes first and put the rest in Marksmanship. Superior runes can be used to increase Marksmanship afterwards.
Most of the time, players will just bring Barrage and a few skills that provide utility. Distracting Shot and Savage Shot are common to use since they provide cheap interrupts and can be used while Barrage is recharging. Favorable Winds is used to reduce the arc and increase damage while Winnowing just increases damage. Other multiple hit skills, such as Dual Shot and Triple Shot, are popular since they receive the same bonuses as Barrage. PvE skills such as Ebon Vanguard Assassin Support can also be used. Experiment with what PvE skills will be useful for you and doesn't restrict your ability to spam Barrage.
Rangers often bring a pet to accompany them since Rangers spend most of their time spamming Barrage and don't make use of the rest of the skill bar. The build became widely popular in use in farming the Tomb of the Primeval Kings. The name was abbreviated B/P, which stands for Barrage/Pet, when forming groups. The pets were used to farm a meatwall against enemies while the Rangers spammed Barrage as well as provide bodies for a Minion Master. Pet skills are convenient because they can be activated while you spam Barrage. For example, Scavenger Strike will provide energy management and Melandru's Assault will provide additional AoE damage. The PvE-only skill Never Rampage Alone requires a pet, it provides a constant IAS for Rangers.
Splinter Weapon works by hitting adjacent foes each time an attack triggers. When used with Barrage, it is triggered multiple times, delivering a satisfying blue flare and a mass of numbers to pop up if it hits a group. Before it was nerfed, Splinter Weapon used to hit all adjacent foes, rather than up to three, each time it triggered, and it hit up to 6 foes at 14 Channeling Magic rather than 5.
Another build commonly used is a Ranger with one of the three Conjure skills: Conjure Flame, Conjure Frost, and Conjure Lightning. The effect applies to each arrow that hits a target. The problem is you need an elemental bowstring to use these skills. Winnowing and skills that apply to physical damage such as Order of the Vampire will not work. You also won't be able to use a zealous or vampiric bowstring.
Rangers have complete access to secondary professions due investing in only two attributes and this makes them very flexible. The secondary profession is typically used to increase the damage output from Barrage directly or indirectly.
As aforementioned in the above section, Splinter Weapon works by hitting up to three adjacent foes each time an attack triggers. All your arrows hit the enemies at the same time. In this exact moment, each arrow triggers Splinter Weapon. In the end, you end up with a "cluster bomb" effect, doing a significant AoE damage. This damage is armor-ignoring so the damage will be the same against any group. If the Ranger is bring Splinter weapon himself, the cost of spamming it can be countered with a zealous bowstring or Spirit Siphon. Heroes can also bring Splinter Weapon to spam on the Rangers. This allows for a higher spec, which means more damage and more enemies hit, and it will cost the Ranger nothing. They can be fiscal with using Splinter Weapon on you sometimes, but they are quite effective with it. Here is an example situation on how effective Splinter Weapon is when used with Barrage:
Let's assume you are in a group in Tomb of Primeval Kings fighting a group of Grasping Ghouls. A Ritualist casts Splinter Weapon on you; he has 14 Channeling Magic. Splinter Weapon will trigger 5 times, each time it will hit up to three adjacent foes. You fire Barrage into the group of Ghouls and they all hit. Each Ghoul takes damage from Barrage and will be hit by Splinter Weapon up to 5 times. We'll assume that since this is a group of 5 Ghouls, they will each be hit 4-5 times. The damage dealt to each Ghoul will be: Damage from Barrage + (5*47) damage from Splinter Weapon = around 250 damage. That means in 2-3 more repeated Barrages, the enemy will be completely wiped out.
Nightmare Weapon will activate for three of the arrows providing a nice health spike. It can also be used with Triple or Dual Shot. A useful PvE-only skill called Summon Spirits allows you to move Favorable Winds and any other spirits with you so you will always be under their effects. Spirit Siphon will provide fantastic energy management and works on Nature Rituals. You can bring Vampirism or Bloodsong to provide fodder or fuel Spirit Siphon, they are affected by Expertise so they're cheap to activate.
Refer to the Conjure Barrager on details with using Conjure on a Ranger. There are only a couple other notable skills available with an Elementalist. If you're feeling brave, you can bring Meteor or Meteor Shower for an AoE knockdown. Mark of Rodgort will cause an AoE burning effect with a fiery bowstring. Glyph of Lesser Energy can offset the cost of these spells.
The two most commonly associated Necromancer skills are Order of Pain and Order of the Vampire. Order of Pain increases the damage by each individual arrow while Order of the Vampire steals health. Mark of Pain deals armor-ignoring damage every time the foe takes physical damage, this adds up with 3-4 Barragers, they don't necessarily need to know which enemy is under the effects of Mark of Pain either. Blood Bond works wonders with Barrage. It activates on each arrow and stacks with Order of the Vampire, providing a healthy spike in health for the Barragers. Death Nova can used on pets to create bombs, if the Barrage ranger decides to bring one.
Live Vicariously and Vigorous Spirit will provide health on hit like Order of the Vampire, a zealous bowstring would be advised when using Live Vicariously. Mending Touch is a great way to remove conditions at a cheap cost, similar to why it is used in PvP. If a player or hero has access to Judge's Insight, it is quite useful in areas with undead foes. It causes attacks to turn to holy damage and that damage is doubled vs. undead foes.
Similar to Judge's Insight. Heart of Holy Flame would be a better option for Rangers who want to bring holy damage themselves. Mystic Vigor provides a generous heal if you get enough enchantments going.
One of the most popular skills to take is "Save Yourselves!". Because Barrage hits multiple foes, it will quickly charge Save Yourselves. As the Ranger is generally within shout range of the backline, the backline can be easily protected for a majority of the battle. Rangers also get more IAS options such as Flurry and Frenzy.
Up until now, we've talked about Barrage in terms of a Ranger using it. There are a couple professions that are commonly used with spamming Barrage.
This build abuses the Assassin's prime attribute Critical Strikes to boost the damage from Barrage. It's often used in place of primary Ranger Barragers. The typical bar for a Critical Barrager looks like this:
With 14 points in Critical Strikes and the buffs up, you will hit criticals on every use of Barrage. This provides plenty of energy to use PvE skills and so on. The build also has synergy with Disrupting Accuracy; note that Barrage will remove the skill so it should only be used to disable key enemies. The build provides a much higher base damage compared to a Ranger but it is restricted to skills available to it's two professions.
Ritualist primary is mostly used in PvE spike teams to abuse the armor-ignoring damage of Splinter Weapon combined with Barrage. The build is similar to a Ranger primary except the Ritualist raises Channeling Magic to 16 to increase the damage from Splinter Weapon. This allows the Ritualist to inflict a massive AoE spike to a group of foes.