Ranged is probably the skill which has evolved the most over the history of Runescape. The number of updates which the skill has undergone since the days of Runescape Classic to now is simply astonishing and not all of the updates to the skill have affected only the skill itself.
Back in Runescape classic ranged was fairly useless due to the fact that once you attacked a monster it would run up to you and start attacking and due to the way combat worked you would have to melee them with your fists. “Safe spots” were few and far between so training the skill was hard do, this led to not many people leveling it very high at all which could have led to it being pretty much neglected in classic.
There was next to no armour; just some normal leather and that was it, no dragonhide or anything like that and the choice of weapons was similarly limited with only a crossbow, longbow or short bow to choose from. Towards the end of classic Jagex added the Dwarf Multi-cannon. However, as it cost 750,000gp not many people had one so you were lucky to ever see one let alone own one. Throwing darts and javelins also made their debut in classic however these were very rarely used due to all weapons having the same attack speed. With the release of “Runescape 2” this all changed and ranged became much more useful. The changes to combat meant that you could range your target even if it was up close to you, making it more useful for PvP as well as giving you a lot more training options if you fancied killing some of the lower levelled monsters around the land of Gielinor. On top of this the addition of dragon hide armour was a huge plus, not to mention the Ranged guild located north of Ardougne, and the abundance of safe spots around for killing monsters such as fire giants and greater demons range became insanely useful.
The next major update that came to the skill was the release of Special attacks for weapons and most importantly to the magic short bow. With its ability “snap shot” players could fire two arrows at once and when it was first released you could use two of these special attacks before the meter ran out and if you timed it well you could very well have gotten three in a row if your bar regenerated just once in the time it took to fire those first two specials. This update made rangers a huge threat in PvP combat, with their ability to shoot a lot of arrows in a short period of time they had great potential to kill an enemy before they even knew what hit them.
The change following this came about 6 months later and that was the “nerfing” of the magic short bow special. Jagex decided that the magic short bow special was too powerful and imbalanced the combat triangle. Instead of using the previous 35% of the special bar it was increased to 55% meaning you could only use one special at a time then would have to wait a while to use the other one. A lot of players around Runescape thought this was an unfair change and bought up the argument that the Dragon Dagger uses 25% of the special bar at once and thus could be used four times in a row, on top of this with: 99 Ranged, Rune arrows and a ranging potion the maximum hit that could be obtained per arrow with the magic short bow was in the low to mid 20s (23 I believe the number to be) compared to being able to hit in the 30s with a dragon dagger. This started a period where a lot of players claimed that Jagex “hated” rangers.
As the months went on Jagex didn’t help remove this accusation, less than a month after the nerfing Jagex gave magic a boost with the teleblock spell, a fortnight after that giving melee the dragon scimitar, further 3 weeks after that mages all over rejoiced as they could complete Desert Treasure to unlock the “ancient magicks”. Barrows was the next update which gave rangers more ammunition for their claim, giving warriors four new armour sets along with weapons while both rangers and mages were left feeling a bit left out as they got next to useless special abilities on their sets although having some new “best” armour.
For the next 6 months things calmed down, no major updates to any of the skills, the release of farming gave those interested in non-combat skills something else to do. 7th November 2005 saw the release of the Dagannoth Kings, along with this came some new equipment; for mages there was the useful mud battlestaff and the seers ring, warriors got a berserker ring and a warrior ring depending on which one suited their fancy and a new “weapon” the dragon axe (although primarily used for chopping trees) while the rangers were also given a new ring and the “seercull”, another bow to go into their pile of useless weapons. At this point there was really only one option as far as range weapons go and that was the magic short bow. The crystal bow had its uses and was really the only other piece of equipment rangers had at their disposable that could be classed as usable.
A few months passed again before rangers got another chance to complain, Jagex added yet another new weapon to the warriors arsenal with the addition of the dragon two handed sword, as useless as it turned out to be . It had been just under a year since the infamous magic short bow nerf and rangers had yet to receive anything to compensate for this while mages had a new spell set, a new training arena and warriors had a load bunch of new toys to play with that were actually useful.
Just over halfway through 2006 was when things started to turn around. A week after magic users got yet another new spell book set, Jagex decided it was about time rangers had a proper update and with this they updated crossbows, adding several new types along with new bolt types and the ability to have special “attacks” on the different types of bolts once you enchant them. “Great! Finally rangers are going to have something new to use that’s actually useful!” I thought. I was wrong. These crossbows were good and definitely a step in the right direction but they were too slow to be useful and despite their special abilities just seemed to lack something that the magic short bow had. Just like the crystal bow these had their limited uses at this time.
Less than a month later Jagex gave another boost to rangers and mages with the release of new prayers similar to those that warriors had had since Runescape Classic making both classes a lot more competitive when it came to player vs. player combat.
Toward the end of 2006 rangers got what is arguably the biggest change to the skill – Hunter. With the release of this new skill saw rangers get a new “weapon” the cute but extremely explosive chinchompas. With these little critters players could now train the skill at a remarkable rate by going to an area with a lot of monsters that was also marked for multi-combat. Due to the fast speed at which one can throw a chinchompa and the fact that, through no fault of their own, these gassy guys explode on impact with an opponent also hurting several monsters around them people cruel enough to do so would gain an insane amount of experience. Not knowing the exact figures but I imagine that about 70% of people who get 99 ranged today used this method of training for at least a little bit if not for most of the way there.
11 months after releasing the crossbow Jagex decided it was time to make them useful by making them not only fire faster but hit harder too. Nearly two and a half years after the nerf of the magic short bow rangers could finally rejoice, they had something else to use other than magic short bows! Rangers could more effectively kill bosses and would have arguably the best method of doing so at the time and for the future with the releases of Mithril Dragons and the God Wars Dungeon having methods that rely on rangers and these crossbows to kill effectively.
Over a year on since then and there haven’t been any major updates to the skill; Armadyl armour obtained from the god wars dungeon, and some void gear gotten from Pest Control also gave some other options for use while training. Other than that there’s not been anything of importance, a few updates here and there but nothing which has had a major effect on the skill or the game itself.
What next for ranged? I’m sure Jagex have some things planned over the next 12 months and we’ll just have to wait and see what they throw at us.
NOTE: The Author would like to clarify that no Chinchompas were harmed in the writing of this article although several thousand greater demons were.
Did You Know...
...that Strawberries are the most efficient food available? Putting them into baskets allows for between 20 and 30 Hitpoints per inventory slot, and they are much cheaper then Saradomin Brews or Tuna Potatoes! (Thanks to the Tal Shiar Alliance!)
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