5E An Argument for Why Paladins are the Strongest Class in 5E D&D

Aebir-Toril

Creator of the Elfgrinder Mech
The Paladin, as vile a creature as it is, is endowed with great strength in this age, the Fifth Era... Ahem...

At base, the Paladin retains its ability to fight on the front lines, with its d10 hit die, Heavy Armor proficiency, and proficiency in Martial Weapons. Even though a Paladin will not be able to attack with the same ferocity as a Fighter at early levels, or with the same endurance as a Barbarian, the Paladin has a great kit of level 1-3 abilities that make it stand out from the rest of 5E's classes.

Lay On Hands is a mid-range healing ability that has consistent use, and can be used to offer a quick shot of Adrenaline to a comrade or the Paladin. Although the healing offered by Lay On Hands is not immense, it is nevertheless healing, which, in 5E, can mean the difference between a loss and a victory. Just one more round of damage can lead to the downfall of the PC's enemies.

In addition to a midrange healing ability, the Paladin is given access to a repertoire of potent spells, which, although they may be sacrificed (in the form of slots) for Divine Smite, can be used to cast essential spells such as Detect Magic and Cure Wounds. Able, already, to fight on the front lines and act as a mid-range (in terms of power) healer, the Paladins gains yet another potent class ability.

This ability is the Divine Smite, which can be used to deal additional radiant damage to the target of an attack in exchange for the expenditure of spell slots. With its ability to self-sustain, sustain team mates, and make itself immune to debilitating diseases and poisons, a 3rd-level Paladin is a thing to be feared. One mighty blow from the Paladin (Searing Smite spell + 1 spell slot expended for Divine Smite) can knock a foe into oblivion. Yet, even though much of the Paladin's damage is "Nova" rather than sustained, a Paladin armed with a greatsword, even devoid of Spell Slots, can still be a mighty warrior, healing him or herself for 15 (level 3) hit points using Lay On Hands, and diving back into battle to deal a forceful blow with a powerful martial weapon.

No other class is able to function across so many domains (front lines, healer, assassin) so effectively, and the oath of a Paladin is little constraint at most tables.

So, do you agree with me? If not, why? And, what would you consider the most powerful class if not the vile Paladin?

Edit: @NotAYakk brought up the excellent point that the 6-8 encounter per adventuring day seems to be rare among players and DMs, and adds to the Paladin's strength.
 
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Paladins are especially strong because of the rarity of tables that do 6-8 encounter days, and how common 1 encounter days are.

A Paladin doing a 1 encounter day can dump a smite on every swing, crit or not. Throw in some multiclassing and you can crit-fish and drop your high level slots for obscene spike damage with high reliability.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Paladins are especially strong because of the rarity of tables that do 6-8 encounter days, and how common 1 encounter days are.

A Paladin doing a 1 encounter day can dump a smite on every swing, crit or not. Throw in some multiclassing and you can crit-fish and drop your high level slots for obscene spike damage with high reliability.
This. Paladins are kinda meh if you do enough encounters in a day.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
The thing about balance in an RPG is that the feel of the class is what matters most.

This isn't a competitive strategy game where we can all pick different classes and see who wins.

Jeremy Crawford has stated that they design this way. They aren't looking for perfect numerical balance among classes. His measure of balance is to make each have its own thing that makes that class worthwhile to play.

If one class completely outshines another with everything they can do thematically and mechanically then that is a problem. Also, if a class doesn't fulfill its narrative promises then that is also a weak class.

In other words, most classes are at the exact same tier. They can't be differentiated beyond that.

Rangers can be said to be weak because some of their abilities don't represent the themes they're supposed to. Some of the subclasses in the game are weak for the same reasons.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Rangers can be said to be weak because some of their abilities don't represent the themes they're supposed to. Some of the subclasses in the game are weak for the same reasons.
The Cavalier for me comes off as weak in spite of its fighter chassis because it fails to fulfill on the functional and dynamic theme I have for a defender, some of which you can see in the Battlemaster Maneuvers but which the Cavalier gave up for other core elements of being a defender it is missing the nuanced and active elements of being a defender.
 
At damage yes. Clerics going nova can beat it but you kind of need to know the correct spells.

Also depends on the cleric. Light and life would be near the top.
Paladin is better at single target Nova damage. Cleric is better at AoE while being no slouch at single target damage. Cleric has better healing. Cleric has rituals for out of combat stuff like detect magic.

I can't see the Paladin being crowned as better than the cleric. Both are very good though.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Paladin is better at single target Nova damage. Cleric is better at AoE while being no slouch at single target damage. Cleric has better healing. Cleric has rituals for out of combat stuff like detect magic.

I can't see the Paladin being crowned as better than the cleric. Both are very good though.
They're better at different things. Cleric can be replaced with Druid or Bard.

Can't really replace the Paladin aura.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
1) Use more flying enemies.

2) Use more ranged attackers.

3) Use more hordes.

4) Design more battles where closing into melee isn't as simple as moving into it on Turn 1.

Boom, Paladin weaknesses exposed.
One of these days the community is going to have to bite the bullet and just say "Stop making slow, ground-bound, melee-or-short-range mountains of hp"

Because there so many monsters that fit that description it's a bit absurd.
 
The paladin is in fact one of the strongest classes in the game, but it does have weaknesses. The base class is strong, but the sub-classes add more flavor than actual power to the character.

In the combat pillar, they have normal levels of sustainability, plus the ability to go nova. Higher level aura abilities make saving throws a minimal issue, even if not proficient. They do have problems fighting at range, especially against fliers. Swarms are also another issue, both the creature type and mobs, since they don't have AoE abilities.

In the social pillar, they normally have at least a modest Cha (14 at least), and often have either persuasion or intimidation. While they're not often the best "face" for the party, they can do in a pinch. Their higher level aura abilities are also useful for preventing illusions and charms from influencing the party during these encounters.

In the exploration pillar, they don't have much in the way of base ability. Find Steed can be useful, but that's about it. Obviously background have an impact on this, just like any other character.
 

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