Best blaster cleric

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
If you're open to semi-official, look at Zeal Domain from Plane Shift:Amonkhet. It gains the maximize ability of the Tempest domain, except instead of thunder and lightning, it's thunder and fire. Oh, and it gets fireball as a domain spell.
That'd do it.

Maximized Fireball will be doing noticeably more damage per spell level than a Maximized Shatter/Call Lightning (48 vs. 32/30 at 3rd, 54 vs. 40 at 4th, 60 vs. 48/50 at 5th, etc.), and over a larger area to boot. And you still have options for Maximized Thunder damage blasting to fall back on if you run into the relatively common Fire Resistance/Immunity.

Perhaps not quite as good as a Tempest Cleric with Call Lightning over a very long adventuring day with several long fights, but those are uncommon. And it's certainly a significant improvement in per-round AoE blasting damage.

Honestly, Tempest is edging towards overpowered as it is (call it "extremely optimal" ;))... I think Zeal would firmly cross the line into overpowered.
 
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Paul Smart

Explorer
Thanks for the advice everyone. I am very interested in playing a character who uses Radiant Damage so I think I will go with an Asimar Light Cleric.
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
I am very interested in playing a character who uses Radiant Damage so I think I will go with an Asimar Light Cleric.
Any other Cleric would also have access to all the same Radiant damage spells as a Light Cleric (including a Tempest Cleric ;) ). These include the Sacred Flame, Word of Radiance, Guiding Bolt, Spirit Guardians, Guardian of Faith, Dawn, Flame Strike, and Holy Weapon spells. None of the Light Domain exclusive spells do Radiant damage.

But a Protector Aasimar Light Cleric certainly fits with the Radiance concept, and would have two additional Radiant damage abilities up its sleeves: the racial Radiant Soul ability (1x/long rest) and Light domain Radiance of Dawn ability (2x/short rest). And they would eventually be doing slightly more damage with their two Radiant damage cantrips than a Tempest Cleric, thanks to Light Domain's Potent Spellcasting, although a number of other Cleric Domains also get that too, including your original choice of Arcana Cleric.
 
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Todd Roybark

Explorer
I guess that the Cantrips for Magic Initiate were Shocking Grasp and Lightning Lure?😊

Not every group uses errata, so I wish the Domain List for Tempest also included Lightning Bolt, as of the two ‘Lightning Lords’ I have seen in play, both had multi-class Storm Sorcerer in their build, and with a couple of tweaks by adding spells I conjecture you could cut down on multi-classing.
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Or Booming Blade. I made good use of Booming Blade with my Half-High Elf Tempest Cleric. (And you don't need a high INT/CHA, like you would if taking the other damage cantrips like Shocking Grasp or Lightning Lure.)

Tempest Cleric 2/Mountain Druid X is another decent option for a multiclass "Lightning Lord" character. You don't have as many Lightning-related spell options as a Sorcerer, but it's less MAD since you're focusing on WIS, and you still get to toss around Maximized Lightning Bolt. Plus, you retain access to Call Lightning, which is only available to characters with 5+ levels in Druid or Tempest Cleric.
 
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Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I've got a storm giant sorcerer with the Giant Soul UA who uses extensive Booming Blade, Lightning Lure, and Shocking Grasps in combat.

I've been tempted to multi to Tempest cleric for the max out damage Channel Divinity.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
At Tier 2, Level 2 spells start to matter less. You can be upcasting that Spiritual Weapon into a 4th level slot for double dice on each hit. Or upcasting that Maximized Thunderwave, Shatter, or Call Lightning into a 4th or 5th level slot for a flat 40 or 48/50 damage. While Radiance of the Dawn is still doing 2d10 + 7/8/9.

You are correct that Thunderwave/Shatter are CON saves, which are less ideal in some situations. But Call Lightning is a DEX save. And it does its damage round after round, with one casting. So while you may be saving the equivalent of 2nd level slots with Radiance of the Dawn, you're saving 3rd (or higher) slots with Call Lightning. And it uses your Action on subsequent turns to call down additional bolts, which leaves your Bonus Actions free, allowing it to still be used in conjunction with Spiritual Weapon, Healing Word, etc.

Radiance of the Dawn is a fine ability, for the reasons you've pointed out. But look at it this way, apples to apples: It's a less powerful Channel Divinity ability than maximizing your thunder/lightning damage, especially at higher levels (5+). And Fireball is a less powerful 3rd level domain spell than Call Lightning. Faerie Fire is a great spell, when your Concentration isn't in use elsewhere, but not enough to make up the difference. So the Tempest Cleric pulls well ahead as far as blasters go, in my book.
True but radiance is a lot better early on when it matters and you are short of spell slots.

Once again the comparison is radiance plus spiritual weapon. If your level 10 that's 2d10+10 and you can cast an upcast spiritual weapon ad well say in that 4th level slot.

And early on you can use it by itself and radiance scales up to 3rd level spell damage as well.
Call lightning and shatter have very small AoEs and tempest cleric doesn't get fireball.

If you're using spell slots a fairer comparison is still RotD plus spiritual weapon vs maximised whatever. Both cases are using spellslot plus channel divinity.

I also value early in way more than later and that's when radiance and fireball are going to matter more.

Call lightning Al can't be used in a Dungeon. Fireball is always available and not hard to use something else if you come across fire resistance critters.

If only light clerics could deal radiant and force damage in some way....
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
If you're using spell slots a fairer comparison is still RotD plus spiritual weapon vs maximised whatever. Both cases are using spellslot plus channel divinity.
As requested...

Assuming 7th level:

Light Cleric
Round 1 RotD plus SW upcast into 4th with 20 WIS: 2d10+7 + 2d8+5 (32 average)
Round 2 RotD plus SW: 2d10+7 + 2d8+5 (32 average)
Rounds 3+ SW: 2d8+5 (14 average)

Tempest Cleric
Round 1 Upcast into 4th level Call Lightning, with Maximized strike: (40)
Round 2 Maximized Lightning strike: (40)
Rounds 3+ Non-max Lightning strikes: 4d10 (18 average)

Both use one 4th level slot and 2x Call Divinities.

Tempest is doing 4-8 damage more per round on average. And has the ability to continue to potentially hit multiple targets in Rounds 3+, whereas Light is limited to damaging one target at a time in Rounds 3+.

If we continue the same routine to 9th level and upcast Call Lightning/Spiritual Weapon into a 5th level slot, Tempest starts doing 16-18.5 more damage per round on average than Light (34/34/14 vs. 50/50/22.5).


Now, I know you specified that specific apples to apples comparison of "RotD plus Spiritual Weapon vs Maximised Whatever". But to be truly fair, in the bigger picture, there are a number of different qualifiers:

-Not every SW attack is going to hit, and not every monster targeted is going to fail their DEX saves against CL/RotD. And there will be situations in which the wider range of RotD will allow you to catch enough additional enemies than the smaller radius of CL that you could be doing more damage overall in some rounds. Someone much smarter than me, with way more time than me, might be able to create a spreadsheet to crunch the numbers of every situation at every level against every number of enemies with every AC and DEX save bonus, to truly declare using precise mathematics which Cleric subclass is the better blaster in every specific scenario.

-In Rounds 3+, CL requires your Concentration and your Action to call down, but leaves your Bonus Action free. Whereas SW requires your Bonus Action to attack, leaving your Action and Concentration free. So if we're talking real world, and not just "2x CD and 1x 4th/5th spell only", the gap would be smaller from the Light cleric tossing out an attack cantrip or additional spell with their Action in Rounds 3+ for more points of potential damage per round. The flip side is that the Tempest Cleric's Bonus Action is still free for things like Healing Words, or casting a Spiritual Weapon of their own starting in Round 2.

-As you correctly pointed out, Call Lightning is not usable everywhere. That's really the only thing keeping the Tempest Cleric from becoming definitively overpowered. If Tempest is relying on just one Maximized Upcast Shatter, Light pulls noticeably ahead, with 32/32/14 vs. 40/0/0, or 34/34/14 vs. 50/0/0. Luckily, by Tier 2 and later, Clerics have enough spell slots to get them reliably through the typical adventuring day while slinging plenty of spells throughout combats. They don't have to ration their spells to just one per fight, like this specific comparison you requested.


TL;DR: I stand by my position that Light is better at Tier 1 when spell slots are more precious, while Tempest is better overall at higher levels starting with Tier 2, with the caveat that Light can potentially still be better in some situations. And in a strict comparison as requested of "RotD plus Spiritual Weapon vs Maximised Whatever", Tempest is doing 4-8 or 16-18.5 more damage per round at Levels 7 and 9.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
As requested...

Assuming 7th level:

Light Cleric
Round 1 RotD plus SW upcast into 4th with 20 WIS: 2d10+7 + 2d8+5 (32 average)
Round 2 RotD plus SW: 2d10+7 + 2d8+5 (32 average)
Rounds 3+ SW: 2d8+5 (14 average)

Tempest Cleric
Round 1 Upcast into 4th level Call Lightning, with Maximized strike: (40)
Round 2 Maximized Lightning strike: (40)
Rounds 3+ Non-max Lightning strikes: 4d10 (18 average)

Both use one 4th level slot and 2x Call Divinities.

Tempest is doing 4-8 damage more per round on average. And has the ability to continue to potentially hit multiple targets in Rounds 3+, whereas Light is limited to damaging one target at a time in Rounds 3+.

If we continue the same routine to 9th level and upcast Call Lightning/Spiritual Weapon into a 5th level slot, Tempest starts doing 16-18.5 more damage per round on average than Light (34/34/14 vs. 50/50/22.5).


Now, I know you specified that specific apples to apples comparison of "RotD plus Spiritual Weapon vs Maximised Whatever". But to be truly fair, in the bigger picture, there are a number of different qualifiers:

-Not every SW attack is going to hit, and not every monster targeted is going to fail their DEX saves against CL/RotD. And there will be situations in which the wider range of RotD will allow you to catch enough additional enemies than the smaller radius of CL that you could be doing more damage overall in some rounds. Someone much smarter than me, with way more time than me, might be able to create a spreadsheet to crunch the numbers of every situation at every level against every number of enemies with every AC and DEX save bonus, to truly declare using precise mathematics which Cleric subclass is the better blaster in every specific scenario.

-In Rounds 3+, CL requires your Concentration and your Action to call down, but leaves your Bonus Action free. Whereas SW requires your Bonus Action to attack, leaving your Action and Concentration free. So if we're talking real world, and not just "2x CD and 1x 4th/5th spell only", the gap would be smaller from the Light cleric tossing out an attack cantrip or additional spell with their Action in Rounds 3+ for more points of potential damage per round. The flip side is that the Tempest Cleric's Bonus Action is still free for things like Healing Words, or casting a Spiritual Weapon of their own starting in Round 2.

-As you correctly pointed out, Call Lightning is not usable everywhere. That's really the only thing keeping the Tempest Cleric from becoming definitively overpowered. If Tempest is relying on just one Maximized Upcast Shatter, Light pulls noticeably ahead, with 32/32/14 vs. 40/0/0, or 34/34/14 vs. 50/0/0. Luckily, by Tier 2 and later, Clerics have enough spell slots to get them reliably through the typical adventuring day while slinging plenty of spells throughout combats. They don't have to ration their spells to just one per fight, like this specific comparison you requested.


TL;DR: I stand by my position that Light is better at Tier 1 when spell slots are more precious, while Tempest is better overall at higher levels starting with Tier 2, with the caveat that Light can potentially still be better in some situations. And in a strict comparison as requested of "RotD plus Spiritual Weapon vs Maximised Whatever", Tempest is doing 4-8 or 16-18.5 more damage per round at Levels 7 and 9.
Way smaller Size though and I find Dex saves better to use than con saves.

I think zeal might beat both. Better spells to maximize.

Most games don't go into the higher levels, even to level 10. 60-70% of that time the light clerics going to be better plus it has a better spell list IMHO.

Less MAD as well.

I'm leaning heavily towards most clerics should be built as casters so potent cantrip is better IMHO than an extra d8 melee damage.

At least with default array. With really high rolled stats reducing MAD I suppose tempest might be better as it kind of wants to be in melee to get full use of class.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Call Lightning is a DEX save, like RotD. Shatter/Thunderwave are CON.
Yeah I was thinking of shatter. Radiant damage us better than lightning though.

Tempest can argueably Nova better but the light doesn't have two. Mass AoE deal around half damage but you can still save the spell slots.

Throw in potent cantrip and you can do cook things twice a combat. Tier two the tempest cleric is still gonna gas out fast until late in the tier.

With two short rests radiance is roughly 6 extra 2.5 spell slots scaling to to level 3 around level 10-12.

It won't quite match fireball damage wise but it's radiant damage, doesn't hit allies, doesn't count as casting a spell hence why I rated it scaling into level 3 slots even if it doesn't quite match the damage it has other advantages.

Outside if that nova the light cleric crushes the tempest cleric. Better spells, better channel divinity, potent cantrip, less MAD.
Shatters reliable, call lightning isn't. Light clerics always reliable even vs fire resistant critters.
 
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