The fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, as much as I enjoy it, isn’t the most balanced game out there. Numerically, some mechanics are more powerful than others. All of this applies to goods and spells, but also to classes as a whole. Despite the fact that I’ve written a lot on Mythcreants about powerful builds and even top subclasses, I’ve never written down my thoughts on how each class as a whole compares up against the others. Let’s rectify that. This is a ranking of each class on its own, not taking into account the possibility of a multiclass option. The addition of multiclassing alters the equation in such a way that it warrants its own section.*
Let’s take a look at D&D 5th Edition’s class power rankings from worst to greatest.
Despite the fact that it saddens me to give the game’s newest class such a disgraceful title, there wasn’t much competition in my mind. This is Wizards of the Coast’s third effort at a half-caster,* and it fails even more horribly than the ranger did. Ten levels of skills are spread out throughout 20 levels of class in this class, which makes it feel like a 10-level class. His damage output is modest, he has a poor survivability rating, and his spell list is standard. Although I’ve heard folks remark that it’s good to support, I disagree. Bard, sorcerer, or wizard are all substantially superior support choices than Druid or Cleric.
Artists are very talented when it comes to creating a variety of magic objects using their Infuse Item function. Using this technique, they can imbue a variety of non-magical goods with specific magical attributes, including mimicking the effect of several magical items described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. But the artificer is too weak to take advantage of this characteristic in a stronger class. You should gift these infused things to the most powerful characters. However, compared to other support options who help the party while also acting as strong characters in their own right, being an item dispensary isn’t enough to be considered a strong support option.
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We have the ranger, who is only saved from the bottom slot by the existence of the artificer. This is not just because of the ranger’s mechanical flaws. Making a good martial ranger is doable. Everything it accomplishes is inferior to what another class can do. Fighters make better archers, and any number of martial arts alternatives create better melee combatants, so it’s a win-win situation.
To make matters worse, a beast companion is not only reserved for one subclass, but it’s also dreadful. As a ranger, having a pet should have been one of the class’s most important features, as it allows the class to maintain a potent core skill regardless of the subclass. Holy Smite, the paladin’s Holy Smite, was one of the greatest classes in the game as a result. As a result, despite the fact that the concerns of the rangers are well-known, no meaningful changes have yet been made. When a class is clearly in need of aid, why won’t they change it?
Lastly, the monk completes our list of the most dreadful classes. On the other hand, I give this class points for having a fundamental class mechanic that is not merely better than another class’ mechanic. Is the mechanic exceptionally good? Not a chance. In addition to being easily attacked and dealing low damage, monks have a rapidly depleting resource pool that prevents them from using their class or subclass features.
In addition, the monk is underrepresented in official Wizards content. Unarmed attacks are boosted by +1 to hit and damage rolls using one item I’ve found. The monks also have no way to develop their unarmed fighting skills outside of what their class provides them with, therefore they are left with nothing. If the Astral Self subclass makes it into official material, I’ll be happy to offer it some much-needed support in my review of Unearthed Arcana.
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In this list, the rogue is the first decent class. As a result, its combat ability is one-dimensional. A single missed Sneak Attack will result in the class dealing no damage for the rest of the round, so the class is fully dependent on its Sneak Attack skill to deal damage. Rogues are also prone to injury, putting them further behind other martial arts. To be competitive in combat, the rogue needs to switch classes to something like Fighter for greater hardiness and fighting style.
Every action taken by the rogue’s non-combat counterpart is also performed by the far superior bard. Since they have more proficiencies and have the Jack of all Trade feature, which grants half their proficiency bonus to any skills they aren’t already skilled in, I’d even argue that bards are superior at fulfilling the job of a skill character. At level 11, rogues gain Reliable Talent, which guarantees them at least a 10 on anything they’re adept in. Rogue is not a bad class, but I think it’s one of the weakest alternatives available.
The barbarian is the next martial character in the series. That it’s here is pretty self-explanatory: barbarians don’t stand up well across all 20 levels of play, and that’s why they’re here. After level 1, they gain Rage and Reckless Attack as well as Danger Sensing and Bear Totem*.
But after obtaining their extra attack, barbarians are doomed to disappointment until they reach the rank of Primal Champion at 20. Despite 14 levels of terrible, our irate friend’s other 6 levels are good enough to win him a ninth-place finish.
Our list’s an only a full caster, and it’s not likely to surprise many people. For some reason, I find the warlock a difficult class to understand. Early levels* have so much content that they feel like the barbarians. It’s almost as if the class was designed for multiclassing, as its potency plummets as you reach level 5*.
Mystic Arcanum, which replaces higher-level spells with Eldritch Invocation, is also a waste of time because it restricts what may be done with arcane magic. In comparison to the other entries on this list, the class pales in comparison to them. Even though Eldritch Blast does its best to help the warlock, a limited spell list and a severe lack of spell slots result in the warlock’s ranking of eight.
As the fighter is often considered to be the default class in D&D 5E, I was pleased to see it in the center of the list. When it comes to damage, monoclassed fighters are dependable and effective. If you’re wearing a lot of gear, your armor class will be higher, and options like Shadow Blade from the Eldritch Knight allow even a sword-and-board warrior to deal decent damage per round. Additionally, the class’s third and fourth strikes provide it a higher amount of scaling than other pure martial* characters. For his consistency and power, the boxer earns a spot in the top 7.
My ranking for the sorcerer would have been significantly lower without Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. This class had minimal advantages over a wizard, except its brief strength spikes from Twin Spelling bonuses like Polymorph. It had a smaller spell list than a wizard and a large bottleneck imposed by how few spells it learned.
All of that altered when the Divine Soul was created. If this subclass had Favored by the Gods at level one, indefinite flight at level 14, and a bonus action to heal half their health at level 18, it would already be one of the greatest choices for a character’s subclasses. They are only icing on the cake compared to what sorcerers currently have, which is access to the whole cleric spell list. Due to the lack of AC and hit points, a monoclassed sorcerer is unable to take full benefit of that second spell list. Spells like Spirit Guardians are best used on the front line.
Clerical spells are one of my favorite things about this class. In addition to their hefty armor, clerics have access to powerful area-damaging spells like Spirit Guardians. Even without multiclassing, a class like the Life cleric may heal extremely well with the help of subclasses like the Life cleric. At higher levels, the cleric spell list does not hold up to other classes, but their ability to up-cast Spirit Guardians ensures that they’ll never be without something to do.
Clergymen, on the other hand, are incredibly versatile, having more subclasses than you could ever imagine. As frontline clerics, Forge and Life clerics can absorb damage and protect their allies. The Light and Grave priests are a good choice for backline casting if you’re looking for a blaster mage. All of these subclasses may not be of the highest caliber*, but the fact that there are so many possibilities is still beneficial in its own right.
As the most powerful martial class in the game, paladins combine offense and defense in the greatest way possible under 5E’s combat system. Because paladins have large hit dice, strong armor and the best saves available, they are prepared for any form of peril. Allies within 10 feet of a paladin can benefit from the enhanced saves and even spell damage resistance* that paladins have. Due to the fact that my first 5E character killed an offensive villain, I’m delighted to see this class come in fourth.
In the early iterations, bards were laughed at, but now they are one of the best classes available. You can use this class to play a variety of roles depending on what you want it to do. Unlike other classes, bards come with a full spell list that can be supplemented with up to eight spells from any other list in the game. As a result of this, the bard receives a high ranking.
The class doesn’t end there, though; there’s more to learn. Due to Expertise and Jack of All Trades, bards have access to the greatest skill proficiencies among the other classes. In addition, bards can use Bardic Inspiration to boost themselves and their companions by bolstering critical rolls or preventing enemy victories. Bard’s greatest drawback, in my opinion, is how fragile the class is, and how much planning is required when choosing spells from other lists. Third place goes to a class whose major issue is picking which power spells to steal.
Circumference of the Moon is what makes the druid stand out above all other classes. There is a huge power gap between the Circle of the Moon and other subclasses. As well as having a comprehensive spell list, moon druids also have the ability to shape-shift into fearsome creatures to protect themselves in battle. It’s true that all druids are capable of shape-shifting, however, druids who take the Moon subclass have access to animals that are more powerful than the druids who don’t.
Moon’s Wild Shape gains Conjure Animals, or Raptor Swarm as I like to call it, just as its first form begins to lose potency. In order to become serious, they can increase their shape-shifting abilities and learn spells like Polymorph. With this continuous power boost, the number of times the druid can change climbs from 2 every brief rest to…unlimited. As a result, druids that are fortunate enough to attain this level become an unstoppable force, as their hit points are constantly reset to 126. Anyone who can serve as a multi-stage boss fight for a whole party is deserving of the second-place honors.
The more D&D evolves, the more it remains the same, and vice versa. Other classes may have great powers, such as bard’s versatility or druidic infinity-mammoth, but none of them can match the raw strength of a wizard. When it comes to magic spells, the wizard is unbeatable. It’s impossible to ignore the exclusive* spells you get at level 1 with Find Familiar. Subclasses such as Evocation and Divination are at the top of the list.
Divination wizards can control dice rolls in a way no other class can, while Evocation wizards can cast their area of effect spells without worrying about friendly fire. They have a weak capstone feature, but they make up for that with an incredible 18th level feature that allows them to cast 1st and 2nd level spells at will. Apart from I wanted to put the wizard in second or third place, but that would be lying. As far as 5E’s wizards are concerned, this is the strongest class.
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